Friday, June 15, 2018

Protests greet Brussels copyright reform plan; BBC News, June 15, 2018

BBC News; Protests greet Brussels copyright reform plan

"The vote on the Copyright Directive comes before the European Parliament on 20 June.

It aims to rebalance copyright controls for the net age but critics say it is will stifle freedom of expression.

Net veterans have signed an open letter against the directive and others have made tools to aid lobbying efforts."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Copyright in tattoos - a prickly legal question; Lexology, June 4, 2018

Nicole Smalberger, Adams & Adams; Lexology; Copyright in tattoos - a prickly legal question

[Kip Currier: Posted this story today for my IP and "Open" Movements course. Tattoo-related copyright issues have fast become a topic of fascination--and often, surprise--for the inked and non-inked...]
"Would it ever occur to you that a third party might be able to claim rights in your skin? In the case of art that has been inked into your skin, namely tattoo art, that may well be the case.
A tattoo is an artistic work. If it is original and reduced to a material form (which it very arguably is when it is inked into your skin), copyright subsists. In the case of artistic works, it is the artist or creator of the work who owns the copyright, namely the tattoo artist and not the person on whom the tattoo appears, irrespective of the fact that the latter has paid for his/her tattoo. In short, when you pay your tattoo artist, you pay for the tattoo, not the copyright subsisting in it.
This issue has come up for legal consideration in the United States..."

10 million patents: A celebration of American innovation; Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership, Thursday, June 14, 2018

Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership
10 million patents: A celebration of American innovation

"On June 19, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will issue patent number 10 million—a remarkable achievement for the United States of America and our agency. More than just a number, this patent represents one of ten million steps on a continuum of human accomplishment launched when our Founding Fathers provided for intellectual property protection in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of our Constitution.

Appropriately, patent number 10 million will be the first issued with a new patent cover design, which we unveiled in March at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. It was created by a team of USPTO graphic designers including Rick Heddleston, Theresa Verigan, and led by Jeff Isaacs."

10 Million Patents; Patents Through History, U.S. Patent and Trademark office (USPTO), 2018

Patents Through History, U.S. Patent and Trademark office (USPTO); 10 Million Patents

"The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will issue the 10 millionth utility patent in summer 2018. This milestone of human ingenuity perhaps exceeds even the Founding Fathers’ expectations when they called for a patent system in the Constitution to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” Follow the timeline below for important moments, notable inventors, changing patent designs, and other interesting facts over more than two centuries of innovation in America."

“We rely on a quilt of rights”: inside Starbucks’ trademark strategy"; World Trademark Review, June 14, 2018

World Trademark Review; 

We rely on a quilt of rights”: inside Starbucks’ trademark strategy"

"To counter rampant infringement, the company relies on “a quilt of rights”, including trademark, patent, copyright and design rights, and will often initiate claims that include more than one type of intellectual property. However, before initiating claims, a number of factors are considered. “The team is good about checking in with each other, to ensure consistency in our approach across the globe,” Oktay explains. “We have developed a reputation as vigilant enforcers of our brand rights, but we temper our enforcement with soft approaches in most cases. Most infringement can be resolved amicably in our experience, and a soft approach helps.”

The team comprises four lawyers and eight paralegals, all of whom are based in Seattle, with the exception of one lawyer in Shanghai. “Nearly half of our global enforcement – nearly 1,200 matters – occurs in China, so having a lawyer there is necessary.” As to the characteristics of the team, Oktay is proud that the company hires bright people who are dedicated to its mission. “The paralegals, who handle an enormous volume of work, are truly outstanding at what they do. And, a sense of humour is paramount to success in this group!”"

Expert in Native American intellectual property joins ASU Law Indian Legal Program; Arizona State University, June 11, 2018

Arizona State University; Expert in Native American intellectual property joins ASU Law Indian Legal Program

"In 2007, [Trevor Reed] moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia, beginning a decade-plus of music-inspired study that would result in three master’s degrees, a PhD and a Juris Doctor. He initially went to Columbia hoping to break into the music industry, figuring his best shot at a career in the arts would require being in either New York or Los Angeles.

“When I got there, it opened up so many new issues for me,” Reed said. “It just so happens that Columbia owns this massive archive of Native American musical recordings that I don’t know if anybody had really ever heard about. When I learned about that, it sparked an interest in wanting to return music and other types of archival collections, artifacts and other types of intellectual property back to Native American tribes.”

That led to the Hopi Music Repatriation Project, a joint project of the Hopi Tribe and Columbia University, which Reed began leading as a master’s degree student. Think Indiana Jones, the fictitious archaeologist and university professor, but the complete opposite. Instead of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” plundering wondrous works from indigenous cultures, it was “Returners of the Lost Art.” The project focused not only on returning recordings and rights, but also working with tribal leaders, educators and activists to develop contemporary uses for the materials.

“I stayed on at Columbia well after my business degree had finished, and I joined the PhD program in ethnomusicology, which is essentially the anthropology of music,” Reed said. “And we just set to work on this project, and it carried through law school, and I was able to refine my work in copyright and cultural property. It’s been an interesting ride.”"

Europe's New Copyright Rules Will Be Devastating to the Internet as We Know It; Motherboard, June 14, 2018

Karl Bode, Motherboard; Europe's New Copyright Rules Will Be Devastating to the Internet as We Know It

"The formal death of net neutrality and the AT&T-Time Warner merger have received plenty of justified attention this week for the numerous ways they will negatively impact free speech and internet competition. But activists, startups, and businesses alike warn that a new copyright proposal out of the European Union has the potential to cause even greater damage to the internet as we know it.

The EU proposal in question is an attempt to shore up existing problems with EU copyright law. But the poorly crafted nature of the effort could have a profoundly negative impact on everything from your ability to share hot memes to the survival of new startups."

Sunday, June 10, 2018

5 Common Copyright Misconceptions Held by Photographers; PetaPixel, June 6, 2018

Allen Murabayashi, PetaPixel; 

5 Common Copyright Misconceptions Held by Photographers

"The most recent version of the Copyright Law of the United States (December 2016) weighs in at a whopping 354 pages. And while there are areas of ambiguity, the basics and benefits of copyright registration for photographers are well-documented. Unfortunately, well-documented doesn’t mean well-understood, so we asked attorney (and former photo rep) Leslie Burns to weigh in on a number of common copyright misconceptions that still persist, and why you should register your copyright."

Friday, June 8, 2018

Pitt Rises to 21st in Annual Global Patent Ranking; University of Pittsburgh, June 7, 2018

Kimberly K. Barlow, University of Pittsburgh; Pitt Rises to 21st in Annual Global Patent Ranking

"The University of Pittsburgh has continued its rise among the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents.

A utility patent, or patent for invention, protects the rights of the creator of a new or improved product, process or machine. Pitt innovators were granted 94 such patents in calendar year 2017 to rank No. 21 worldwide, continuing a three-year ascent in the annual rankings. Pitt ranked No. 35 in the 2015 report and No. 27 in 2016.

 The rankings, compiled by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, are based on United States Patent and Trademark Office data. The report, which highlights the vital role patents play in university research and innovation, ranks the top 100 universities named as the first assignee on utility patents granted by the office."

BBC; Copyright law could put end to net memes, June 8, 2018

BBC; Copyright law could put end to net memes

"Digital rights groups are campaigning against the Copyright Directive, which the European Parliament will vote on later this month.

The legislation aims to protect rights-holders in the internet age.

But critics say it misunderstands the way people engage with web content and risks excessive censorship.

The Copyright Directive is an attempt to reshape copyright for the internet, in particular rebalancing the relationship between copyright holders and online platforms."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Copyright Term: When Does a Work Enter the Public Domain?; Lexology, May 24, 2018

Workman Nydegger - J. Dustin Howell, Lexology; Copyright Term: When Does a Work Enter the Public Domain?

"Years ago, there was a radio show that featured a lawyer who would take calls from listeners and answer their legal questions. A man called into the show and said he had obtained some photographs of warplanes from a museum. A cable network had contacted the man about using the photographs as part of a documentary it was making. This man was wise enough to know that the photographs may very well be protected by copyright. He wanted to know how to find out if the photographs were still protected by copyright and who owned them, because without owning the copyrights himself or having a license from the copyright owner, the man could not authorize the cable network to use the photographs. Whether a work (e.g., photograph, literature, music, sculpture, movie, etc.) is protected by copyright or whether it is in the public domain for anyone to use can depend on a variety of factors."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

When Scientists Develop Products From Personal Medical Data, Who Gets To Profit?; NPR, May 31, 2018

Richard Harris, NPR; When Scientists Develop Products From Personal Medical Data, Who Gets To Profit?

"If you go to the hospital for medical treatment and scientists there decide to use your medical information to create a commercial product, are you owed anything as part of the bargain?

That's one of the questions that is emerging as researchers and product developers eagerly delve into digital data such as CT scans and electronic medical records, making artificial-intelligence products that are helping doctors to manage information and even to help them diagnose disease.

This issue cropped up in 2016, when Google DeepMind decided to test an app that measures kidney health by gathering 1.6 million records from patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The British authorities found this broke patient privacy laws in the United Kingdom. (Update on June 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET: DeepMind says it was able to deploy its app despite the violation.)

But the rules are different in the United States."

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Data mining: why the EU’s proposed copyright measures get it wrong; The Conversation, May 24, 2018

Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Glasgow and
Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property and Internet Law, University of Glasgow,
The Conversation;  
Data mining: why the EU’s proposed copyright measures get it wrong

"Data that is mined with the help of machine learning techniques has been a rapid area of technological advancement – with good and bad consequences for everyone. And EU copyright law is currently caught in the crossfire.

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s recent data scandal, which involved the profiling of users from their online behaviour facilitated by social networks, brought important issues to the surface about web privacy, only after it was reported that millions of people had their data harvested and improperly shared with a political consultancy.

But the same data mining technique also offers great societal benefit in fields such as traffic prediction, natural language processing and the identification of potential cures for diseases.

Many people think that regulating the use of data is a matter of data protection or privacy laws. However, where the raw material subjected to analysis is not “personal data” but material protected under copyright law, such as texts or certain structured databases, another set of legal norms come into play. This has far reaching and little understood consequences."

Judge Denies Author Attempt to Trademark 'Cocky' ; Publishers Weekly, June 4, 2018

Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly; Judge Denies Author Attempt to Trademark 'Cocky'

"Although Hopkins had obtained her trademark, the law only allows trademarks in limited cases. The law prevents individual titles from being trademarked, only series titles, and allows that common words cannot be trademarked at all, unless they develop an association in the minds of the public with a particular source...

In denying Hopkins’ motion for an injunction, Judge Hellerstein found that the injunction was unlikely to proceed on the merits, noting that “cocky” is a common word and a weak trademark."

Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your trademark restrictions; The Boston Globe, June 5, 2018

Maria Cramer, The Boston Globe; Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your trademark restrictions

"Companies pay the Patent and Trademark Office a small fee to register for a trademark, and generally it is not unusual for trademark applications to go unchallenged, said Jennifer Rothman, a law professor at Loyola Law School in California who teaches trademark law and is not connected to the case.

“The Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t have a lot of time to review these things,” Rothman said. “If no one opposes it, they approve it.”

Some companies take advantage of the less-than-robust screening process to snap up well-known names, then file complaints against businesses that have used the names for their products to leverage payments, Rothman said."

In Defense Of Fair Use; Intellectual Property Watch, June 4, 2018

Roy Kaufman, Managing Director, Business Development, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), Intellectual Property Watch; In Defense Of Fair Use

"Copyright law, to be sustainable, calls for a balance. Under copyright law, creators receive exclusive rights to allow or prevent others from making copies of their works for a limited time as an incentive to create. Users receive benefits from the results of the creator’s labor, perhaps through watching, reading or listening to those results. Users may also benefit pursuant to a license to use the works in other ways. Eventually the works fall into the public domain, allowing further reuse by everyone

Recent litigation involving a graffiti artist and a purveyor of sportswear shows how sometimes a flexible mechanism for balancing the copyright entitlements of creators and users makes sense. In this case, clothier H&M used graffiti painted without authority in a public park as backdrop for an ad. The case, as reported in The New York Times, asks “Does a mural painted illegally in a public park in Williamsburg deserve the safeguards of federal copyright law?”"

Monday, June 4, 2018

Photographers Shutter at Plan to Boost Copyright Fees; Bloomberg, June 4, 2018

Anandashankar Mazumdar, Bloomberg; Photographers Shutter at Plan to Boost Copyright Fees

"A U.S. Copyright Office proposal to nearly double some fees has freelance photographers feeling exposed.

The agency wants to increase fees for a range of services. The fee for registering a single book or song, for example, would rise from $55 to $75 under the proposal. The fee for registering up to 750 images at once—something photographers often do—would jump from $55 to $100. The office will accept comments on the proposal until July 23.

The proposal is one more potential hurdle for photographers, who have grappled with rapid changes in markets and technology since the 1990s and struggle to police their copyrights in the digital age. Critics say the increase will discourage photographers from registering their copyrights, which runs counter to public interest."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

NAFTA negotiators must protect U.S. intellectual property; Dallas News, May 30, 2018

Tom Giovanetti, Dallas News; NAFTA negotiators must protect U.S. intellectual property

"When the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect, the U.S. economy was already more dependent on innovation than upon traditional manufacturing. And in the 30 years since, that trend has only continued. Today, the U.S. is a creators' economy; we patent new inventions, copyright new creative works, and trademark strong new brands.

These industries, identified as the intellectual property-intensive industries by the Commerce Department, are responsible for nearly one-third of all U.S. jobs and for more than 38 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. So there's a good chance you or someone close to you works in these industries, which include software, music and book publishing, movies and entertainment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and enzymes, patented and hybridized plants and seeds, microchip design or aircraft manufacturing.

In any given year, the intellectual property-intensive industries are responsible for around 60 percent of all U.S. exports. In other words, the majority of what the rest of the world wants from the U.S. is our creative output."

Most Popular Game on the Planet Accused of Copyright Violation; Bloomberg, May 28, 2018

Yuji Nakamura and Sam Kim, Bloomberg; Most Popular Game on the Planet Accused of Copyright Violation

"The companies behind two of the world’s most popular video games are squaring off in court.

PUBG Corp., an affiliate of South Korean studio Bluehole Inc., is suing the Korean unit of North Carolina-based Epic Games, arguing that its smash hit Fortnite copies many of the characteristics of its own PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The suit, alleging copyright infringement, was filed in South Korea.

PUBG introduced its game last year and it became a huge hit as players embraced the Hunger Games-style concept in which 100 players race to kill each other until there’s a sole survivor. But the game’s features have been embraced by rivals, prompting earlier legal action. Fortnite has a similar concept of 100 people competing with each other, but differs by letting players build fortifications similar to Minecraft and using more cartoon-like graphics aimed at younger players."

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Why thousands of AI researchers are boycotting the new Nature journal ; Guardian, May 29, 2018

Neil Lawrence, Guardian;
Many in our research community see the Nature brand as a poor proxy for academic quality. We resist the intrusion of for-profit publishing into our field. As a result, at the time of writing, more than 3,000 researchers, including many leading names in the field from both industry and academia, have signed a statement refusing to submit, review or edit for this new journal. We see no role for closed access or author-fee publication in the future of machine-learning research. We believe the adoption of this new journal as an outlet of record for the machine-learning community would be a retrograde step."

Ivanka Trump Wins China Trademarks, Then Her Father Vows to Save ZTE; The New York Times, May 28, 2018

Sui-Lee WeeThe New York Times; Ivanka Trump Wins China Trademarks, Then Her Father Vows to Save ZTE

"China this month awarded Ivanka Trump seven new trademarks across a broad collection of businesses, including books, housewares and cushions.

At around the same time, President Trump vowed to find a way to prevent a major Chinese telecommunications company from going bust, even though the company has a history of violating American limits on doing business with countries like Iran and North Korea.

Coincidence? Well, probably.

Still, the remarkable timing is raising familiar questions about the Trump family’s businesses and its patriarch’s status as commander in chief."

Statement on Steps to Protect Domestic Technology and Intellectual Property from China’s Discriminatory and Burdensome Trade Practices; Press Release, The White House, May 29, 2018

Press Release, The White House; 

Statement on Steps to Protect Domestic Technology and Intellectual Property from China’s Discriminatory and Burdensome Trade Practices

"On March 22, 2018, the President signed a memorandum announcing that the United States would take multiple steps to protect domestic technology and intellectual property from certain discriminatory and burdensome trade practices by China.  These actions were announced following a report of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding China’s practices with respect to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.  In accordance with the March 22 memorandum, the President has been updated on the progress of the announced actions as follows:
  1. To protect our national security, the United States will implement specific investment restrictions and enhanced export controls for Chinese persons and entities related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology.  The proposed investment restrictions and enhanced export controls will be announced by June 30, 2018, and they will be implemented shortly thereafter.
  2. The United States will continue to pursue litigation at the World Trade Organization for violations of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights based on China’s discriminatory practices for licensing intellectual property.  The United States filed the case regarding these violations on March 23, 2018.
  3. Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the United States will impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the “Made in China 2025” program.  The final list of covered imports will be announced by June 15, 2018, and tariffs will be imposed on those imports shortly thereafter.
In addition, the United States will continue efforts to protect domestic technology and intellectual property, stop noneconomic transfers of industrially significant technology and intellectual property to China, and enhance access to the Chinese market.  Likewise, the United States will request that China remove all of its many trade barriers, including non-monetary trade barriers, which make it both difficult and unfair to do business there.  The United States will request that tariffs and taxes between the two countries be reciprocal in nature and value.  Discussions with China will continue on these topics, and the United States looks forward to resolving long-standing structural issues and expanding our exports by eliminating China’s severe import restrictions."

Controversy Hides Within US Copyright Bill; Intellectual Property Watch, May 29, 2018

Steven Seidenberg, Intellectual Property Watch; Controversy Hides Within US Copyright Bill

"In a time when partisanship runs wild in the USA and the country’s political parties can’t seem to agree on anything, the Music Modernization Act is exceptional. The MMA passed the House of Representatives on 25 April with unanimous support. And for good reason. Almost all the major stakeholders back this legislation, which will bring some badly needed changes to copyright law’s treatment of music streaming. But wrapped in the MMA is a previously separate bill – the CLASSICS Act – that has been attacked by many copyright law experts, is opposed by many librarians and archivists, and runs counter to policy previously endorsed by the US Copyright Office."

The Demise Of Copyright Toleration; Techdirt, May 24, 2018

Robert S. Schwartz, Techdirt; The Demise Of Copyright Toleration

"Although denying fair use, these content owners were acknowledging a larger truth about copyright, the Internet, and even the law in general: It works largely due to toleration. Not every case is clear; not every outcome can be enforced; and not every potential legal outcome can be endured. Instead, “grey area” conduct must be impliedly licensed, or at least tolerated.

Counsel then or now could not have cited a single court holding on whether the private, noncommercial recording of a song is a lawful fair use. Long before the Supreme Court in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. said that video home recording from broadcasts as a fair use, the music industry could have pursued consumers for home audio recording from vinyl records. But the risk of losing and establishing a bad precedent was too great.

Toleration endured because fair use, and the practicalities of enforcement, had to be endured by content owners. They recognized that their own creative members also relied on fair use in adapting and building on the works of contemporaries as well as earlier generations. They also realized that offending consumers by suing them might not be a good idea – a reason (in addition to the possibility of losing) why the Sony plaintiffs dropped the individual consumer defendants they had originally named."

Friday, May 25, 2018

‘Big Deal’ Cancellations Gain Momentum; Inside Higher Ed, May 8, 2018

Lindsay McKenzie, Inside Higher Ed; ‘Big Deal’ Cancellations Gain Momentum

"Also last year, SPARC, an advocacy group for open access and open education, launched a resource tracking big-deal cancellations worldwide. Greg Tananbaum, a senior consultant at SPARC, said that there is a “growing momentum” toward cancellations.

According to data from SPARC (which may not be comprehensive, said Tananbaum), in 2016 five U.S. and Canadian institutions announced cancellations with big publishers such as Springer Nature, Wiley, Taylor & Francis and Elsevier. In 2017, seven more North American institutions said they planned to cancel their big deals, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kansas State University, among others. 

Motivation for Cancellation 

Both Tananbaum and Anderson agree that one factor driving cancellations of big deals is that library budgets are not growing at the same rate as the cost of subscriptions. Given budget restrictions, “there’s just a reality that tough choices have to be made,” said Tananbaum."

Why Every Media Company Fears Richard Liebowitz; Slate, May 24, 2018

Justin Peters, Slate; Why Every Media Company Fears Richard Liebowitz

"Key to Liebowitz’s strategy is the pursuit of statutory damages. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, federal plaintiffs can be awarded statutory damages if they can prove “willful” infringement, a term that is not explicitly defined in the text of the bill. (“What is willful infringement? It’s what the courts say it is,” explained Adwar. Welcome to the wonderfully vague world of copyright law!) If a plaintiff had registered the work in question with the Copyright Office before the infringement occurred or up to three months after the work was initially published, then he or she can sue for statutory damages, which can be as high as $150,000 per work infringed. That’s a pretty hefty potential fine for the unauthorized use of a photograph that, if it had been licensed prior to use, might not have earned the photographer enough for a crosstown taxi.

“Photographers are basically small businesses. They’re little men. But you have this powerful tool, which is copyright law,” said Kim, the freelance photographer. The question that copyright attorneys, media executives, and federal judges have been asking themselves for 2½ years is this: Is Richard Liebowitz wielding that tool responsibly? “He offers [his clients] nirvana, basically. He essentially offers them: I will sue for you, I don’t care how innocuous the infringement, I don’t care how innocuous the photograph, I will bring that lawsuit for you and get you money,” said attorney Kenneth Norwick. And the law allows him to do it. So is Liebowitz gaming the system by filing hundreds of “strike suits” to compel quick settlements? Or is he an avenging angel for photographers who have seen their livelihoods fade in the internet age? “They can call Richard Liebowitz a troll,” said Kim. “Better to be a troll than a thief.”...

Over the past 2½ years, Liebowitz has attained boogeyman status in the C-suites of major media organizations around the country. Like the villain in a very boring horror movie featuring content management systems and starring bloggers, his unrelenting litigiousness has inspired great frustration amongst editors and media lawyers fearful that they will be the next to fall victim to the aggravating time-suck known as a Richard Liebowitz lawsuit. And he is probably all of the things his detractors say he is: a troll, an opportunist, a guy on the make taking advantage of the system. He is also a creature of the media industry’s own making, and the best way to stop him and his disciples is for media companies to stop using photographers’ pictures without paying for them—and to minimize the sorts of editorial mistakes borne out of ignorance of or indifference to federal copyright law. “People should realize—and hopefully will continue to realize,” said Liebowitz, “that photographers need to be respected and get paid for their work.”"

It Took 17 Years: Freelancers Receive $9 Million in Copyright Suit; The New York Times, April 30, 2018

Jaclyn Peiser, The New York Times;It Took 17 Years: Freelancers Receive $9 Million in Copyright Suit

"Seventeen years after nearly 3,000 freelance journalists filed a class-action lawsuit claiming copyright infringement by some of the country’s biggest publishers, the checks are finally in the mail.

The 2,500 writers who made it through the tortuous legal process will start receiving their pieces of a settlement totaling $9 million this week...

The Authors Guild filed the suit — along with the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Writers Union and 21 freelance writers named as class representatives — in 2001 after publishers licensed articles by freelancers to the electronic database Lexis/Nexis and other digital indexers without getting the writers’ approval. The publishers include The New York Times, Dow Jones, and Knight Ridder, as well as Reed Elsevier, the provider of Lexis/Nexis.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

New privacy rules could spell the end of legalese — or create a lot more fine print; The Washington Post, May 24, 2018

Elizabeth DwoskinThe Washington Post; New privacy rules could spell the end of legalese — or create a lot more fine print

"“The companies are realizing that it is not enough to get people to just click through,” said Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s former chief technologist. “That they need to communicate so that people are not surprised when they find out what they consented to.”

That has become more apparent in the past two months since revelations that a Trump-connected consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, made off with the Facebook profiles of up to 87 million Americans. Cranor said that consumer outrage over Cambridge was directly related to concerns that companies were engaging in opaque practices behind the scenes, and that consumers had unknowingly allowed it to happen by signing away their rights.

Irrespective of simpler explanations, the impact and success of the GDPR will hinge upon whether companies will try to force users to consent to their tracking or targeting as condition for access to their services, said Alessandro Acquisti, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and privacy researcher. "This will tell us a lot regarding whether the recent flurry of privacy policy modifications demonstrates a sincere change in the privacy stance of those companies or is more about paying lip service to the new regulation. The early signs are not auspicious.""

Public Knowledge Welcomes Sen. Wyden’s ACCESS to Recordings Act; Public Knowledge, May 23, 2018

Shiva Stella, Public Knowledge; Public Knowledge Welcomes Sen. Wyden’s ACCESS to Recordings Act

"Today, Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the ACCESS to Recordings Act, which would extend federal copyright protection to pre-1972 sound recordings, and in doing so, harmonize them with their modern counterparts. Public Knowledge applauds Senator Wyden for acknowledging the injustices posed by the current system and fighting to rationalize our copyright law.

 The CLASSICS Act, a flawed bill that would hurt consumers, was recently incorporated into the Music Modernization Act, a larger bill addressing other issues in music licensing. Public Knowledge supports the ACCESS to Recordings Act because it provides full federal protection for pre-1972 sound recordings -- something the CLASSICS Act avoids."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

No one’s ready for GDPR; The Verge, May 22, 2018

Sarah Jeong, The Verge; No one’s ready for GDPR

"The General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect on May 25th, and no one is ready — not the companies and not even the regulators...

GDPR is only supposed to apply to the EU and EU residents, but because so many companies do business in Europe, the American technology industry is scrambling to become GDPR compliant. Still, even though GDPR’s big debut is bound to be messy, the regulation marks a sea change in how data is handled across the world. Americans outside of Europe can’t make data subject access requests, and they can’t demand that their data be deleted. But GDPR compliance is going to have spillover effects for them anyway. The breach notification requirement, especially, is more stringent than anything in the US. The hope is that as companies and regulatory bodies settle into the flow of things, the heightened privacy protections of GDPR will become business as usual. In the meantime, it’s just a mad scramble to keep up."

How The Recording Industry Hid Its Latest Attempt To Expand Copyright (And Why You Should Call Your Senator To Stop It); Techdirt, May 21, 2018

Mike Masnick, Techdirt; How The Recording Industry Hid Its Latest Attempt To Expand Copyright (And Why You Should Call Your Senator To Stop It)

"Larry Lessig has a piece over at Wired where he explains how this is really just the latest attempt at copyright extension. Earlier this year, we had noted (happily!) that it appeared that the usual crew of copyright maximalists had appeared to give in, saying they had no intention to push for any sort of copyright term extension this year, meaning that for the first time in decades in the US, some works may actually enter the public domain on January 1st next year. And while the CLASSICS Act isn't a straight-up copyright term extension, it is a form of copyright expansion on old works, done for no other purpose than to give the copyright holders more ways to extract money, without any corresponding public benefit. As Lessig notes, this is explicitly a welfare system for musicians...

Now, I should note that I've seen some recording industry lobbyists mocking Lessig's piece, claiming that how could he be against supporting musicians. This, of course, is the whole setup of this bill. It's designed -- like so many copyright expansions in the past -- to make it hard for people to question, because, really, who doesn't want to support the content creators we like? But that ignores the other side of this equation. Copyright is designed to benefit the public. The whole setup is to give an exclusivity to content creators for a limited time in order to give them the incentive to create.

 For EVERY SINGLE WORK that would be impacted by this bill, that incentive worked. It worked decades and decades ago. Those recordings were all created prior to 1972. So why do they now need more incentive for the works that were already created? And why, if we're giving them more incentive, does the public not get anything back in return? That's the hidden part that the lobbyists and think tank shills for the recording industry are hoping you'll ignore. The "expansion" here is at the expense of the public. And it's a big expense. For no benefit at all. The copyright system was an incentive system for creation, in the recognition that it would then help the public get access to content. But the CLASSICS Act flips that over. It takes away from the public and provides no new incentives to anyone."

Music Modernization Act Gains Momentum in Senate; Variety, May 15, 2018

Ted Johnson and Paula Parisi, Variety; Music Modernization Act Gains Momentum in Senate

"[Smokey] Robinson spoke forcefully on behalf of the MMA and particularly the CLASSICS Act, sharing how a few years ago, he audited the digital services playing his music and found they owed him $250,000. After confronting them, he was offered $12,000 and told, “If you don’t like it, sue us.” Robinson noted there are few artists with the economic means to take on that sort of battle, concluding “We need your help!’”

The legislation passed the House unanimously last month, and it also includes sweeping changes to the licensing regime for digital music services. A Senate version was recently introduced.

The Senators seemed inclined to provide that help."

Monday, May 21, 2018

Patent and trademark office coming to Durango; The Durango Herald, May 18, 2018

Patrick Armijo, The Durango Herald; Patent and trademark office coming to Durango

"Several workshops with officials from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, are planned for Tuesday and registration for the workshops has been extended until Monday.

The workshop schedule includes: 

9:15-10:30 a.m.: An Overview of Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade Secrets. 

10:45 to noon: Conducting Preliminary Federal Trademark Search Using USPTO Website.

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Seven-Step Strategy for Preliminary U.S. Patent Search Using USPTO Databases.  

2:45 to 3:15 p.m.: Non-USPTO Solicitations and Invention Promotion Scams: Asking the Right Questions.

 3:15-4:15 p.m.: A local panel for resources on patent and trademark issues with Ken Freudenberg, an intellectual property attorney; Ryan Finnigan, co-founder of the Maker Lab at the Powerhouse Science Center; Mark Radtke, assistant regional director for the Rocky Mountain Regional Patent and Trademark Office in Denver; John Wolgamott, president of StoneAge Inc.; and Roger Zalneraitis, executive director of La Plata Economic Development Alliance."

‘Westworld’ Season 2: Seven Big Things We Still Don’t Know at Midseason; The New York Times, May 21, 2018

Scott Tobias, The New York Times; ‘Westworld’ Season 2: Seven Big Things We Still Don’t Know at Midseason


"Delos cares about its intellectual property. The theme parks are merely a means to an end — that much was clear from the first season, even clearer from the second, in which recovering Dolores’s father, Peter Abernathy (Louis Herthum), has been a top priority.”

Hasbro trademarks Play-Doh's distinctive "sweet, slightly musky" scent; CBS, May 18, 2018

CBS; Hasbro trademarks Play-Doh's distinctive "sweet, slightly musky" scent

"Hasbro has trademarked the scent of Play-Doh. The toy company on Friday announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recognized Play-Doh's distinctive smell with a registered trademark, something rarely issued for a scent."

Law Professors Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Reject or Amend CLASSICS Act; Public Knowledge, May 15, 2018

Press Release, Public Knowledge; Law Professors Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Reject or Amend CLASSICS Act

"Yesterday, more than 40 intellectual property law professors sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and all members of the committee, urging them to reject or, at a minimum, amend the CLASSICS Act to ensure that its provisions are in line with existing federal copyright law.

The Senate recently combined the Classics Act, a flawed bill that hurts consumers, with the Music Modernization Act, a bill that creates a database of songwriters and performers to ensure that creators receive fair compensation for their work. Public Knowledge supports the Music Modernization Act, but agrees with these law professors that the CLASSICS Act harms the public interest. Public Knowledge contends that the CLASSICS Act fails to provide full federal protection for pre-1972 sound recordings, making it out of sync with the rest of copyright law. 

The following can be attributed to Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

 “The expert consensus is clear: The CLASSICS Act is a problematic attempt to shortcut full federalization of pre-1972 copyrights. At best a half-measure, at worst a ploy to avoid difficult but necessary conversations about artist and consumer rights, CLASSICS complicates the status of legacy recordings without any countervailing benefit to protect nonprofit users and archivists. We welcome the insight of the more than 40 professors on this letter and look forward to working to bring true reform and harmonization to these works.”  

You may view the letter here. You may also view Meredith Rose’s testimony from today’s hearing on “Protecting and Promoting Music Creation for the 21st Century” for more information on the CLASSICS Act and why it should be amended or rejected from the Music Modernization Act."

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Congress' Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguided; Wired, May 18, 2018

Lawrence Lessig, Wired; Congress' Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguided

"That this statute has nothing to do with the constitutional purpose of “promot[ing] Progress” is clear from its very title. The “Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act” (or CLASSICS) is as blatant a gift without any public return as is conceivable. And it's not just a gift through cash; it's a gift through a monopoly regulation of speech. Archives with recordings of music from the 1930s or 1940s would now have to clear permission before streaming their musical content even if the underlying work was in the public domain.

Yet there is no registry of these owners anywhere. And while massive digital suppliers, such as Apple Music and Spotify, could probably afford to carry the burden, no public or non-profit website could even begin to bear the cost of assuring they were not committing a crime. The act doesn’t harmonize American law with international law. Indeed, it creates more disharmony. No other jurisdiction creates a similar right anywhere. The act is simply a gift, paid for by further weakening the ability of archivists to keep our culture accessible. That’s why more than 40 professors of intellectual property of all political stripes signed a letter this week asking Congress to reject the CLASSICS Act."

Friday, May 18, 2018

States Offer Information Resources: 50+ Open Data Portals; Forbes, April 30, 2018

Meta S. Brown, Forbes; States Offer Information Resources: 50+ Open Data Portals

"The United States federal open data portal,, launched in May, 2009, with just 47 datasets. It was not an instant hit.

 Today, with more 200,000 datasets, it’s a lot more popular. Still, real-life demands for information about our governments, people and economy exceed the supply of available data.

The creation of a centralized portal for federal government data has fostered open data initiative across the country. Dozens of cities have established their own open data portals (here are 90 examples).

 In the 50 years since the federal Freedom of Information Act was passed, US states have been gradually introducing similar laws (see freedom of information laws by state). Likewise, many are now developing state-level open data portals.

These state data resources vary in style and depth. Some look much like, and include a wide variety of datasets. But not every state has a comprehensive data portal yet, let alone deep selections of data.

Here’s a listing of general and geographic open data portals for US states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico..."

Europe’s open-access drive escalates as university stand-offs spread; Nature, May 17, 2018

Holly Else, Nature; Europe’s open-access drive escalates as university stand-offs spread

"Bold efforts to push academic publishing towards an open-access model are gaining steam. Negotiators from libraries and university consortia across Europe are sharing tactics on how to broker new kinds of contracts that could see more articles appear outside paywalls. And inspired by the results of a stand-off in Germany, they increasingly declare that if they don’t like what publishers offer, they will refuse to pay for journal access at all. On 16 May, a Swedish consortium became the latest to say that it wouldn’t renew its contract, with publishing giant Elsevier.

Under the new contracts, termed ‘read and publish’ deals, libraries still pay subscriptions for access to paywalled articles, but their researchers can also publish under open-access terms so that anyone can read their work for free.

Advocates say such agreements could accelerate the progress of the open-access movement. Despite decades of campaigning for research papers to be published openly — on the grounds that the fruits of publicly funded research should be available for all to read — scholarly publishing’s dominant business model remains to publish articles behind paywalls and collect subscriptions from libraries (see 'Growth of open access'). But if many large library consortia strike read-and-publish deals, the proportion of open-access articles could surge."