"The digital revolution that was supposed to have prevailed by now remains stalled. Independent bookstores, supposedly on the same path to oblivion as video stores and record shops, have grown for six consecutive years. Authors and agents are unhappy with the standard e-book royalty, 25 percent, but the once-predicted exodus to Amazon and other digital companies offering higher rates has yet to happen. "I think traditional publishing offers elements that are still essential to writers and readers," said Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, a trade association for thousands of writers. "No one in the writing community likes the low e-book royalty rates, and I think you'll see a concerted effort to change them. But for many writers, the advantages offered by traditional houses still outweigh the disadvantages." "It's not that nothing has changed," said literary agent Eric Simonoff, noting the downfall of the Borders superstore chain and the prevalence of e-books for romance novels and other genres. "But it's still a generally healthy business and it's still primarily physical books. It speaks to the reports of the demise of publishing being greatly exaggerated.""
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Publishing World Gathers This Week for Book Conventions; Associated Press via New York Times, 5/26/15
Associated Press via New York Times; Publishing World Gathers This Week for Book Conventions:
Lawrence Hurley and Dan Levine, Reuters; Obama administration asks U.S. top court to decline Google copyright appeal:
"The Obama administration on Tuesday sided against Google Inc and said the U.S. Supreme Court should not hear the company's appeal in a case against Oracle Corp with wide implications for the technology industry, according to a court filing. The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programing language. Oracle won a federal appeals court ruling last year that allows it to copyright parts of Java, while Google argues it should be free to use Java without paying a licensing fee. Google, which used Java to design its Android smartphone operating system, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court then asked the Obama administration in January for its opinion on whether it should take the case because the federal government has a strong interest."
Ben Child, Guardian; Mr Holmes and the strange case of the alleged copyright infringement:
"The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is suing Hollywood studio Miramax over a forthcoming detective mystery starring Ian McKellen as an elderly Sherlock Holmes. Bill Condon’s film Mr Holmes is based on the 2005 book A Slight Trick of the Mind by US author Mitch Cullin, but Conan Doyle’s heirs say it also borrows from later stories by the great Scottish novelist which remain under copyright in the US. Most Sherlock Holmes stories are now in the public domain, a situation which has led to a glut of productions featuring the famous sleuth on the big and small screens in recent years. The new suit was filed in New Mexico, where Cullin was born, last week. It is the latest attempt by the Conan Doyle estate to re-establish copyright over Sherlock Holmes stories in the US, and follows the failure of a previous legal action last August."
Friday, May 22, 2015
Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter; Judge Wants to Know If 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Was Abandoned:
"U.S. District Judge George King wants to hear more about whether the 19th century schoolteacher who has been credited with writing "Happy Birthday to You" — the English language's most popular song — had abandoned the copyright to the lyrics. On Monday, King directed parties involved in a fight over whether the song is copyrighted to brief him on the issue of abandonment. The lawsuit is a proposed class action that if successful would mean that film and TV producers no longer have to pay license fees to use the song. Is the "Happy Birthday" licensing cash cow about to be over? Maybe not. Although the deceptive headline might suggest otherwise, King's new order could actually be a favorable sign for defendant Warner/Chappell in its efforts to defend the validity of its copyright. To understand why this is potentially good news for the song publisher, one must understand the arguments presented at summary judgment."
Bill Chappell, NPR; Google Wins Copyright And Speech Case Over 'Innocence Of Muslims' Video:
"In a complicated legal battle that touches on questions of free speech, copyright law and personal safety, a federal appeals court has overturned an order that had forced the Google-owned YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim video from its website last year. Both of the recent decisions about the controversial "Innocence Of Muslims" video originated with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last year, a three-judge panel agreed with actress Cindy Lee Garcia's request to have the film taken down from YouTube on the basis of a copyright claim. But Monday, the full en banc court rejected Garcia's claim. "The appeal teaches a simple lesson — a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship," Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the court's opinion."
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Oli Palmer, Guardian; The benefits of studying copyright law? They're patently obvious:
"Copyright law is at the forefront of a changing technological world. It moves incredibly fast in unexpected capacities, which makes it a fascinating subject to study at university... Studying copyright law forces you to become creative. This form of law is relatively young, which means there are many grey areas you’ll have to make decisions on. In effect, you become the judge. Studying copyright law can also help you to acquire skills many law firms and other businesses desire, such as an acute attention to detail... “A student who wishes to acquire commercial awareness would find the study of copyright law extremely useful for his or her professional development.”... But the best thing about copyright law is how enjoyable it is and how applicable it is to everyday life, which is bizarre when you consider the intangible nature of its rights. Rachel Metcalf, 22, who studied copyright law at Durham University, says: “My studies gave me an awareness of why the law should be appreciated by all, not just lawyers.” Merely reading this article is interacting with copyright. So is watching back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix, or listening to your Friday night Spotify playlist. Why not begin to read between the lines?"
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Sam Thielman, Guardian; Super-scholars: MPAA offers $20,000 for academic research in copyright battle:
"If you’re an academic who loves conservative interpretations of copyright law, the MPAA might be willing to pay you enough to go see The Avengers about 1,500 times (not in 3D, though). In an effort to “fill gaps in knowledge and contribute to a greater understanding of challenges facing the content industry”, the Motion Picture Association of America is available to fund academic research to the tune of $20,000 per successful proposal, according to guidelines released recently by the movie industry lobbying group. An email from the Sony WikiLeaks hack, quoted by copyright news site TorrentFreak, had a fairly direct statement about the conference’s purpose from Sony global general counsel Steven B Fabrizio: “[T]he MPAA is launching a global research grant program both to solicit pro-copyright academic research papers and to identify pro-copyright scholars who we can cultivate for further public advocacy.”"