Sunday, July 20, 2014

The End of ‘Genius’; New York Times, 7/19/14

Joshua Wolf Shenk, New York Times; The End of ‘Genius’ :
"WHERE does creativity come from? For centuries, we’ve had a clear answer: the lone genius. The idea of the solitary creator is such a common feature of our cultural landscape (as with Newton and the falling apple) that we easily forget it’s an idea in the first place.
But the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at “The Daily Show” or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney and myriad other examples with which we’ve yet to fully reckon...
In 1710, Britain enacted its first copyright law, establishing authors as the legal owners of their work and giving new cultural currency to the idea of authors as originators.
This is when we start to see the modern use of “genius.” In an essay published in 1711, Joseph Addison cited Shakespeare as a “remarkable instance” of “these great natural geniuses” — those lit up by an inner light and freed from dependence on previous models."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Six Suggestions for Not Screwing Up Copyright Reform (Guest Post); Billboard, 7/9/14

Craig Havighurst, Billboard; Six Suggestions for Not Screwing Up Copyright Reform (Guest Post) :
"Craig Havighurst is a music journalist and media producer in Nashville with a public policy M.A. from Duke's Sanford School. He's followed intellectual property issues since covering the music business for The Tennessean in the 2000s.
Far too late and amid far too much partisan dysfunction, Congress has revived efforts at modernizing copyright law. But if recent hearings are an indication, we’ve launched a fight over slices of a depressingly diminished pie rather than a debate about first principles and solutions that could grow the creative industries again. This critical reform effort deserves better.
So what would wise and lasting copyright reform look like? Without getting into the weeds of PRO consent decrees and royalty courts, here are six ideas anyone can understand that would ensure a fair framework for creators and consumers. They propose a system that would license intellectual property in thousands of small ways that are missed entirely today. My focus is music, because that’s what I know best, but the principles could apply to photos, video clips and other works."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Bill to Unlock Cellphones; New York Times, 7/11/14

Editorial Board, New York Times; A Bill to Unlock Cellphones:
"The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a good measure that would make it legal for Americans to “unlock” their cellphones, making it easier to switch wireless providers. The House passed a similar bill earlier this year."

The Lost and Found Legacy of Barbara Ringer; Atlantic, 7/11/14

Amanda Levendowski, Atlantic; The Lost and Found Legacy of Barbara Ringer:
"I came across a quote a few weeks ago—one that so perfectly encapsulates the outdatedness and skepticism surrounding copyright law—that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen before: “The 1976 Copyright Act is a good 1950 copyright law.”
It was attributed to someone I didn’t know: Barbara Ringer.
She was one of only a few women in her graduating class at Columbia Law School back in 1949. Just after graduation, she took a position with the Copyright Office as an examiner, where she determined the registrability of applicants’ submitted works. When she wasn’t busy working her way up through nearly every position at the Copyright Office, Ringer was drafting the Universal Copyright Convention, attending international copyright conferences, and teaching at Georgetown Law Center as the university’s first woman adjunct professor of law.
She conducted empirical research. She published her work in law journals. She even wrote the article about copyright law for the Fifteenth Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
And then I realized that I did know her. We all sort of know her: She was one of the lead architects of the 1976 Copyright Act."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Should Germans Read ‘Mein Kampf’?; New York Times, 7/7/14

Peter Ross Range, New York Times; Should Germans Read ‘Mein Kampf’? :
"GERMANY is once again passing through the wringer of its past. At issue this time are not the deeds but the words of Adolf Hitler and the planned republication of his infamous manifesto-as-autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” a book that has been officially suppressed in the country since the end of World War II...
Since then, although “Mein Kampf” has maintained a shadow presence — on the back shelves of used bookstores and libraries and, more recently, online — its copyright holder, the state of Bavaria, has refused to allow its republication, creating an aura of taboo around the book.
All that is about to change. Bavaria’s copyright expires at the end of 2015; after that, anyone can publish the book: a quality publisher, a mass-market pulp house, even a neo-Nazi group."

Monday, July 7, 2014

WIPO Copyright Committee In Disarray Again; Development Dimension Questioned; Intellectual Property Watch, 7/7/14

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; WIPO Copyright Committee In Disarray Again; Development Dimension Questioned:
"For the second time this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee could not agree on the conclusions of its session or on any recommendation to be made to the September General Assembly on the protection of broadcasting organisations or the establishment of an international regime of exception and limitations for libraries and education.
The development dimension of the United Nations specialised agency was again called into question by developing countries calling for more balance in the treatment of the issues on the agenda. Developing countries are pushing for limitations and exceptions to copyright, developed countries contend that the current copyright system is adequate."

Is Europe Serious About Reforming Copyright, or Just Greasing the Squeaky Wheel?; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 7/3/14

Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Is Europe Serious About Reforming Copyright, or Just Greasing the Squeaky Wheel? :
"Coordinated enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights—copyright, patents and trade marks—has been an elusive goal for Europe. Back in 2005, the European Commission struggled to introduce a directive known as IPRED2 that would criminalize commercial-scale IP infringements, but abandoned the attempt in 2010 due to jurisdictional problems. IP maximalists took another run at it through ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, but that misguided treaty was roundly defeated in 2012 when the European Parliament rejected it, 478 votes to 39...
Although no response to that consultation has yet been officially released, we can get an inkling of how the Commission might view these proposals for reform from the recently leaked draft of a whitepaper that examines areas of EU copyright policy for possible review...
Similar reticence towards copyright law reform was demonstrated by the Commission this week at WIPO where its representative made a very clear statement that it was not willing to consider work leading to international instrument for limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives; doubling down on a position it adopted at the previous meeting of the same WIPO committee.
This does not paint a positive picture of the future of copyright in Europe."