"Meerkat, a weeks-old service that allows users to broadcast live video over the Internet via Twitter, is the app du jour. It hit the popularity jackpot at this month's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. And political media have fallen in love with the prospect of live streaming every speech and candidate interaction for the next 18 months... But as Meerkat tries to keep up with its exploding user base (Rubin says the app hit the 400,000-user mark Tuesday) it may be loping into a legal minefield. The same characteristics that make the app attractive to the hundreds of thousands of people who are downloading it—its ease of use and engaged users—make it perfect for another of the Internet's favorite pastimes: piracy. Copyright infringement has been a problem since before the Internet existed, and every new generation of technology presents an easier, faster way to share movies and TV without paying."
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Kaveh Waddell, National Journal; Meerkat, Game of Thrones and a Brewing Copyright Nightmare:
Glyn Moody, Ars Technica; EU announces plans to banish geo-blocking, modernize copyright law:
"At the heart of the European Union lies the Single Market—the possibility for people to buy and sell goods and services anywhere in the EU. So it is ironic that the European sector least constrained by geography—the digital market—is also the least unified. To remedy that situation, the European Commission has announced its Digital Single Market Strategy, which addresses three main areas. The first is "Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services" and includes two of the thorniest issues: geo-blocking and copyright. As the EU's strategy notes, "too many Europeans cannot use online services that are available in other EU countries, often without any justification; or they are re-routed to a local store with different prices. Such discrimination cannot exist in a Single Market." There is strong resistance to removing geo-blocking, particularly from copyright companies that have traditionally sold rights on a national basis and which therefore want geo-blocking to enforce that fragmentation."
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Amanda Bronstad, National Law Journal; Judge Hears Copyright Fight Over 'Happy Birthday To You' :
"In a court battle involving perhaps the only song more popular than “Blurred Lines,” a federal judge is set to decide whether a Los Angeles-based music publisher has unlawfully been collecting licensing fees for the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You.” U.S. District Judge George King of the Central District of California heard more than two hours of arguments on Monday on whether to declare Warner/Chappell Music Inc.’s copyright invalid and find that “Happy Birthday to You” should be in the public domain. At stake are potentially millions of dollars in licensing fees to what the complaint calls the “world’s most popular song.”"
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Reuters via New York Times; Seth MacFarlane Wins in Lawsuit Claiming He Stole 'Ted' Idea:
"A California production company that sued Seth MacFarlane for allegedly stealing its idea for a foul-mouthed talking bear with a penchant for drinking, drugs and prostitutes for his 2012 hit movie "Ted" has withdrawn its copyright lawsuit. Bengal Mangle Productions LLC had contended in a July 2014 complaint that Ted was "strikingly similar" to its own teddy bear Charlie, who was created in 2008 and has appeared on websites such as YouTube and FunnyorDie. But in a Monday court filing, Bengal Mangle said it cannot pursue its case, being "satisfied that, based on discovery produced in the action, the character Ted was independently created by Seth MacFarlane using his own efforts and creativity and was not copied from plaintiff's Charlie character.""
Natasha Singer, New York Times; Bill Would Limit Use of Student Data:
"Is the digital revolution in the classroom giving the education technology industry carte blanche to exploit student data? That was the question some teacher and parents groups have posed in their public responses to the news last week that Pearson, the education publisher, had been covertly monitoring social media sites to identify students who might have disclosed questions from its assessment tests. In an effort to ease parent and teacher concerns, two congressmen are planning to introduce a bill on Monday that would place limits on how education technology companies can use information about kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Called the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, the bill would prohibit companies that operate school services — like online homework portals, digital grade books for teachers or student email programs — from knowingly using or disclosing students’ personal information to tailor advertisements to them. It would also bar them from collecting or using student data to create marketing profiles."
Saturday, March 21, 2015
J. Peder Zane, New York Times; In the Age of Information, Specializing to Survive:
"Of course, not all information is equal. Those exabytes do include a few great novels, stirring films and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Most are flotsam wrapped in jetsam: insipid blog posts and text messages, YouTube videos of cuddly cats and pornographic acts, ignorance that poses as knowledge. “We are overloaded with junk,” said Daniel Levitin, a professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University whose books include “The Organized Mind.” “It’s becoming harder and harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. The problem with the Internet is anyone can post, so it’s hard to know whether you are looking at a fact or pseudofact, science or pseudoscience.”... If the information age makes knowledge seem like a straitjacket, David Galenson, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, notes that progress often hinges on those rare individuals who have escaped its bonds. Artists from Picasso to Bob Dylan and entrepreneurs including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world by finding “radically new ways of looking at old problems,” Mr. Galenson said. “They cut through all the accumulated stuff — forget what’s been done — to see something special, something new.”... For many who don’t share that kind of vision, the response to information overload is simple: Just search and forget (repeat as necessary). Even more ambitious absorbers of knowledge like Jonathan Haber will most likely find that the key to lifelong learning is a human mediator, someone who has engaged in the ancient task of searching and sorting through knowledge. Until, of course, a modern-day Leonardo invents a machine that can do that too."
Friday, March 20, 2015
Nina Siegal, New York Times; As Artworks Enter Public Domain, Rules Remain Confusing:
"Piet Mondrian, the Dutch modern master, died 71 years ago. Are his works now copyright-free? The answer — a highly qualified “yes, but” — has ramifications for scholars, publishers, museums, heirs and anyone else who has an interest in seeing and studying works of art in a global context. The issue turns on a discrepancy between European and American copyright law that is coming to light this year because, as of Jan. 1, 2015, Mondrian’s works enter the public domain in Europe. Under European Union law, the term of copyright for works of art expires on the 1st of January following 70 years after the author or artist’s death. But the case is particularly complex with Mondrian because he produced part of his work while living in Europe and part of it in the United States, where copyright laws are different. Although the lack of uniformity in national copyright laws affects reproduction rights for works by any artist, it is becoming a more complicated issue with the growth of online sharing, especially as museums are increasingly interested in offering the public access to their collections on the web."