Thursday, October 1, 2015

Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood; New York Times, 9/26/15

David Gelles, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Matthew Dolan, New York Times; Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood:
“We should be allowed to know how the things we buy work,” Mr. Moglen of Columbia University said. “Let’s say everybody who bought a Volkswagen were guaranteed the right to read the source code of everything in the car,” he said.
“Ninety-nine percent of the buyers would never read anything. But out of the 11 million people whose car was cheating, one of them would have found it,” he said. “And Volkswagen would have been caught in 2009, not 2015.”
Automakers aren’t buying the idea...
Volkswagen, through its trade association, has been one of the most vocal and forceful opponents of an exemption to a copyright rule that would allow independent researchers to look at a car’s source code, said Kit Walsh, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for user privacy and free expression.
“If copyright law were not an impediment,” he said, “then we could have independent researchers go in and look at the code and find this kind of intentional wrongdoing, just as we have independent watchdogs that check vehicle safety with crash-test dummies.”"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

No, You Don’t Need to Post a Facebook Copyright Status; New York Times, 9/28/15

Daniel Victor, New York Times; No, You Don’t Need to Post a Facebook Copyright Status:
"In short: Your legal rights are determined not by any status you post, but by the social network’s Terms of Service, which all users agreed to upon creating an account. Information about how Facebook uses your information is available there and in the network’s data policy.
If you are concerned about privacy, you can adjust your settings by tapping on “More” and “Privacy Shortcuts” in the mobile apps, or, on a desktop, clicking on the lock near the far right of the blue bar at the top of the screen."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection; Wall Street Journal, 9/23/15

Joe Palazzolo, Wall Street Journal; Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection:
"The Batmobile is a car that has almost everything: weapons, ahead-of-its-time computers, wing-shaped tail fins and an assortment of gadgets perfectly suited to Batman’s diverse crime-fighting needs. (The Bat-ray of the 1960s version, for instance, opened enemy car doors, while the version driven by Michael Keaton fired a grappling hook that allowed him round corners at improbable speeds.)
On Wednesday, the Batmobile received another upgrade: copyright protection.
To determine whether characters in comic books, television shows or movies are entitled to such protection, courts conduct a three-part test. First, the character must have “physical as well as conceptual qualities.” It also has to be “sufficiently delineated” so people recognize it as the same character across time. And third, the character has to be “especially distinctive.”
The Batmobile passed the test in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with Judge Sandra S. Ikuta declaring in the introduction to Wednesday’s ruling, “Holy copyright law, Batman!”
DC Comics, the publisher and copyright owner of Batman comics, first introduced the Batmobile in 1941, just a few years after the Caped Crusader’s first comic book appearance."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip and Print Is Far From Dead; New York Times, 9/22/15

Alexandra Alter, New York Times; The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip and Print Is Far From Dead:
"Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.
As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online. Print sales dwindled, bookstores struggled to stay open, and publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business...
“E-books were this rocket ship going straight up,” said Len Vlahos, a former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research group that tracks the publishing industry. “Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music.”
But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.
Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.
E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television."

Music copyright reform takes center stage in Nashville; The Tennessean via USA Today, 9/21/15

Nate Rau, The Tennessean via USA Today; Music copyright reform takes center stage in Nashville:
"A group of congressional leaders, including the Republican chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, will be in Nashville on Tuesday for a listening session on music copyright issues.
The stop in Nashville, which will take place Tuesday morning, is part of a broader listening session tour for the committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia. In 2013, Goodlatte put music copyright reform on the table and kicked off a series of hearings featuring music industry leaders, broadcasters, technology companies, artists, songwriters and other stakeholders. There's consensus that the country's copyright laws are outdated and in need of reform.
Two pieces of legislation championed in Nashville — the Songwriter Equity Act and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act — have been offered up in the past year as well...
The gist of the problem is that new delivery services such as Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM and Apple Music have made existing copyright laws obsolete. Songwriters, artists, publishers and record labels argue that their royalty payments have been diminished by the outdated laws. The technology companies say their services represent the future of music consumption and undue increases in government-set royalties would dampen their growth."

'Happy Birthday' song copyright is not valid, judge rules; Los Angeles Times, 9/22/15

Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times; 'Happy Birthday' song copyright is not valid, judge rules:
" a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, a federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not hold a valid copyright claim to the "Happy Birthday To You," song.
Warner had been enforcing its copyright claim since it paid $15 million to buy Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which owned the original copyright. Royalties on the song bring in about $2 million a year for Warner, according to some estimates.
Judge George H. King ruled Tuesday afternoon that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific arrangements of the music, not the actual song itself.
"Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics," wrote King. "Defendants, as Summy Co.'s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics."
"'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years," said Randall Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, which included a group of filmmakers who are producing a documentary about the song. "Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable.""

PETA wants court to grant copyright to ape that snapped famous selfie;, 9/22/15

David Kravets,; PETA wants court to grant copyright to ape that snapped famous selfie:
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is trying to turn copyright law on its head: in this instance, with the mug of a macaque monkey named Naruto, whose selfies went viral and have been seen around the world.
PETA filed suit Tuesday, asking the courts to declare Naruto the rightsholder and hence an owner of property: a copyright.
David Slater, the British nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the Indonesian jungle, said he has been granted copyright protection in the UK for the photos. He said he was "very saddened" over PETA's lawsuit (PDF) in the United States.
This is the second time this year animal rights groups have asked the US courts to bestow onto monkeys the legal status that humans enjoy. Last month, a New York state court ruled against two chimpanzees represented by the Nonhuman Rights Project that claimed they were being deprived of their civil liberties while being housed at a university research facility.
The copyright case comes a year after regulators from the US Copyright Office agreed with Wikipedia's conclusion that a monkey's selfies cannot be copyrighted. The office said works "produced by nature, animals, or plants" cannot be granted that protection."