Tuesday, September 30, 2008
"Both Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Az.) provide lengthy position papers on their Web sites. Let's dig through McCain's first, then Obama's. But let's also set aside verbiage covering broader economic topics, such as upgrading the educational system or reforming research-and-development tax credits, to focus on each candidate's stances on five key consumer-tech topics: broadband availability, "net neutrality," copyright policy, the patent system and electronic privacy...
McCain's roughly 2,700-word statement doesn't get to any of those issues until about halfway down the page. There, we have a statement that might not exactly thrill the folks at the RIAA and the MPAA:
Protecting intellectual property creates the incentives for invention and investment in commercial innovations. Yet too much protection can stifle the proliferation of important ideas and impair legitimate commerce in new products to the detriment of our entire economy.
But there's little substance following it, aside from the goals of hiring more patent examiners and setting up a faster mediation process to resolve patent disputes...
On intellectual-property policies, Obama "believes we need to update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated." But how? I was looking for more info on that this spring and I still am now. (For what it's worth, the Copyright Alliance, a group advocating stronger copyright enforcement, seems slightly nervous about Obama's views in this blog post.)
Obama, like McCain, wants to hire more patent examiners but, in addition, endorses "opening up the patent process to citizen review."
People who read Obama's tech-policy statement this spring may notice that the current version is shorter and less detailed, but it links to a roughly 5,200-word PDF that fills in some of those blanks. "
"Hollywood's six major movie studios on Tuesday sued RealNetworks Inc. to prevent it from distributing DVD copying software that they said would allow consumers to "rent, rip and return" movies or even copy friends' DVD collections outright...
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges RealNetworks' RealDVD program, which launched Tuesday, illegally bypasses the copyright protection built into DVDs...
The software locks the copy to the hard drive where it is copied and to the program it was copied with, Kimball said, and he asserted that copying one's personal collection of DVDs amounts to "fair use" allowed by law. "
"[T]he Bush administration also doesn't want a copyright czar, a position on par with the nation's drug czar Congress created in 1982 to wage the War on Drugs...
The proposed copyright czar, a position which requires Senate confirmation, "constitutes a legislative intrusion into the internal structure and composition of the president's administration. This provision is therefore objectionable on constitutional separation of powers grounds," the White House wrote lawmakers.
That was code for the Bush administration being in no mood to commence another war, this one the War on Piracy. The government is too busy battling the War on Terror and the War on Drugs."
Monday, September 29, 2008
"To be clear, it has been established by the United States Supreme Court (no less) that the law and judicial decisions cannot be copyrighted. They are in the public domain and can be used and reused in any way possible, even resold.
Yet, in the real world, judicial decisions and laws and regulations can be exceedingly hard to find without paying for them, either in book form or online...
“The law is pretty clear that laws and judicial opinions and regulations are not protected by copyright laws,” said Pamela Samuelson, a professor at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. “That isn’t to say that people aren’t going to try.”
A favorite method of trying, as Ms. Samuelson and other legal scholars explain, is to copyright the accoutrements surrounding the public material...
In other words: the beer is free, but you have to pay for a specially designed stein."
Sunday, September 28, 2008
By Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights:
"Legislation is pending in Congress that would ease the “orphan works” problem....Based on the recommendation of my office, as published in our 2006 Report on Orphan Works, the legislation would allow good-faith users of copyrighted content to move forward in cases where they wish to license a use but cannot locate the copyright owner after a diligent search...The problem is pervasive. Our study recounts the challenges that publishers, film makers, museums, libraries, universities, and private citizens, among others, have had in managing risk and liability when a copyright owner cannot be identified or located..."
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"While proceedings are open to free viewing, any re-use is subject to licensing by the Speaker of the House of Commons. This states that material "must not be hosted on a searchable website and must not be downloadable". The reason for the restriction, Helen Goodman, parliamentary secretary to the House of the Commons, told MPs earlier this year, "is to ensure that it is not re-edited or reused inappropriately for campaigning or satirical purposes.
Web activist charity MySociety is challenging this position in the latest phase of its campaign to open government up on the web. With the help of a small army of volunteers, it has created a searchable library of video clips of MPs speaking in the Commons, indexed by name and subject, on its website, theyworkforyou.com...
Another MySociety venture, the freedom of information clearing-house site whatdotheyknow.com, has had a head-on collision with Parliament over the issue of copyright. A request for information made through Whatdotheyknow has been refused because "the material could not be posted on the whatdotheyknow web pages without breaching copyright"...
"Parliament is supposed to be the home of the core of transparency and accountability, yet sometimes it seems to be the least responsive and least culturally open of the 100,000 bodies covered by Freedom of Information."
"While some of the worst provisions were removed, this still remains a bill that has one purpose: to protect an obsolete business model, rather than letting more innovative models proliferate."
"The RIAA voiced its support for the bill. "This bill truly is music to the ears of all those who care about strengthening American creativity and jobs," Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief executive of the RIAA, said in a statement. "At a critical economic juncture, this bipartisan legislation provides enhanced protection for an important asset that helps lead our global competitiveness. The intellectual property industries are widely recognized as a cornerstone of the U.S. economy. Additional tools for intellectual property enforcement are not just good for the copyright community but for consumers who will enjoy a wider array of legitimate offerings."
Friday, September 26, 2008
"Until recently dubbed the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, S.3325 was rebranded as the "Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act," or PRO-IP, to match its sibling in the House of Representatives. It also now resembles the House bill, which passed overwhelmingly in May, in that it lacks a clause that would have given the Justice Department authority to bring civil suits against patent and copyright infringers, turning the damages over to the IP holders."
Background: The Senate today passed S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008. The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“It is unfortunate that the Senate felt it necessary to pass this legislation. The bill only adds more imbalance to a copyright law that favors large media companies. At a time when the entire digital world is going to less restrictive distribution models, and when the courts are aghast at the outlandish damages being inflicted on consumers in copyright cases, this bill goes entirely in the wrong direction.
“Instead of being focused on giving large media companies what they want, Congress instead should take a comprehensive look at the current state of the law, and of technology and write legislation that recognizes the reality of the situation and the reality that consumers have rights also.
“At a minimum, we are pleased that the Senate bill as passed does not include the egregious provision allowing the Justice Department to file civil suits against alleged copyright violators on behalf of copyright holders. This provision was a total waste of the taxpayers’ money. We are grateful to Senator Wyden for his leadership in getting that provision removed. We still would have preferred that the bill not pass.”
Note: We understand the House may pass the bill tomorrow under suspension of the rules.
A copy of the bill, as passed by the Senate, is available here:http://www.publicknowledge.org/pdf/110-s3325-20080926.pdf"
"The measure (.pdf) creates an executive-level "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" -- a copyright czar requiring Senate confirmation.
The executive and its office would be charged with creating a nationwide plan to combat piracy and "report directly to the president and Congress regarding domestic international intellectual property enforcement programs...
The intellectual property measure approved Friday was strongly backed by Hollywood, the recording industry, unions, manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce...
Digital rights groups, including Public Knowledge, opposed the measure.
Gigi Sohn, the group's president, said the bill goes too far but she was nonetheless pleased that the Justice Department won't be suing copyright infringers on behalf of the entertainment industry. "
Thursday, September 25, 2008
"At first glance, the decision appeared to have deflated the RIAA's legal position, (.pdf) which has helped it prevail in almost every one of its 30,000 cases –- most all of which have settled out of court.
But almost in passing, Judge Davis said that the music files the RIAA investigators allegedly downloaded from Thomas' share folder on Kazaa "can form the basis of an infringement claim."
$222,000 Copyright Infringement Damage Award for RIAA Against Jammie Thomas Overturned - ars technica, 9/24/08
"A federal judge has overturned the $222,000 copyright infringement verdict against Jammie Thomas, striking a huge blow to the RIAA's pet legal theory that making a file available over a P2P network is copyright infringement. He also calls on Congress to fix the Copyright Act so that the RIAA can't get six-figure judgments for P2P use."
"The much-maligned, drafted-in-secret, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is an odd beast. It's being drafted by a group that includes the US, the EU, and Japan... but also Canada, Mexico, and Korea, which are on US Trade Representative's "special 301" watch list for intellectual property problems."
"Earlier this week, the US Trade Representative held an open hearing on the international intellectual property agreement currently being negotiated in secret, ACTA."
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Copyright's Paradox: brilliantly argued scholarly book tackles free speech vs. copyright - BoingBoing.net, 9/18/08
"Netanel explores the history of copyright through this free speech lens, starting with the first copyright statutes in the 18th century and moving through the history of American publishing, the explosion in reproduction technologies at the start of the 20th century, and the horrible mess that is the 21st century."
"Fox News sent a tersely-worded “cease and desist” letter to the McCain campaign today, demanding the removal of Fox correspondent Major Garrett’s voice from a campaign ad, according to Politico...
The campaign has also received a long list of similar requests from artists and their representatives, whose material has been used without permission in ads, videos and campaign events, including: musicians Jackson Browne, Van Halen, Heart, Frankie Valli and comedian Mike Myers."
"The NBC reporter who became known as the Scud Stud during the first Gulf War has settled a lawsuit against the makers of "Charlie Wilson's War" over footage used in the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts movie.
Arthur Kent, whose live reports on Iraq's Scud missile attacks on Saudia Arabia made him a celebrity, claimed in a lawsuit filed last April that Universal Studios and other violated his intellectual property rights by using without his consent segments of a 1986 news program he made about the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"We've been asking for months why the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty is being negotiated in near total secrecy, allowing the entertainment industry to effectively rewrite international copyright law in substantial ways with almost no legislative review. Basically, various trade representatives, together with industry insiders, have been crafting ACTA to their own liking, with a plan to push it through for approval, claiming it's a trade agreement that shouldn't involve any legislative overview. It's an incredibly one-sided affair, from what's been leaked so far, and would substantially change copyright law around the globe in favor of protecting the entertainment industry's business model. "
"The release of Hari Puttar, a children's Bollywood film, has been postponed after Warner Bros complained its name was too similar to Harry Potter.
The Hollywood company filed a lawsuit against Bollywood film-makers Mirchi Movies because the name of the film was "confusing" and could infringe their copyright...
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal battles to protect the intellectual property rights of Scottish author JK Rowling's hugely successful creation."
"Unauthorized sharing of files will prevail in darknets, online and offline. On the other hand, certain non-digital activities, like book publishing, continue to work relatively well under the terms of classical copyright law designed for printing presses. Still other fields, like software and music, are characterized by complex competition among different models, where some make money on selling copyable units, while others profit by delivering uncopyable services. A qualified guess is that we will have to live in this landscape of gray zones for quite a while, for good and bad."
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"Unlike other projects that share course materials, notably OpenCourseWare at M.I.T., Connexions uses broader Creative Commons license allowing students and teachers to rewrite and edit material as long as the originator is credited. Teachers put up material, called “modules,” and then mix and match their work with others’ to create a collection of material for students. “We are changing textbook publishing from a pipeline to an ecosystem,” he said."
"[University of Idaho researcher Darryl] Woolley said that piracy may not be perceived as an “immoral behavior” for students. They may not see it as unethical because they have no first-hand knowledge of prosecutions for piracy, and they may try to rationalize it because of financial situations. “They also view recording labels negatively and think that it does not hurt the recording artist,” he said."
Saturday, September 13, 2008
"Hundreds of people have complained about the copyright protecting system on the long-awaited game Spore. Scathing criticism of the Digital Rights Management (DRM) system have been posted by reviewers on Amazon.com...
In what reviewers described as "a draconian DRM system", the game can only be installed three times...
But many reviewers reacted with anger at the SecuROM DRM system used by EA. Some wrote that it would stop them from purchasing the product; others cancelled pre-orders...
"Our system works just like online music services that limit the number of machines on which you can you can play a song," an EA spokesman told the BBC. "This system is an effort to control piracy."
Friday, September 12, 2008
"Here at PK, we’ve been keeping our heads down the past few days, trying to fight against some really bad legislation. Once we finally get word of one, another one popped up. There are three in all (so far) are four (another was introduced during the writing of this post!!!) and we’re going to need your help to put them away...
First up is the Senate’s version of the House’s PRO-IP bill, S. 3325, “The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008.”...
[Second:] The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act
Not long ago, Congress required that when grants from National Institutes of Health for research are made, researchers must deposit a copy of their articles in PubMed Central, an online archive...
[Third:] Broadcast Flag
Believe it or not, we’re hearing rumors of the broadcast flag returning...
[Fourth:] International Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement Act of 2008
We just received word of this bill being dropped this morning...."
A Great Day for Creators:
"It is in my humble opinion a no-brainer that everybody wins when copyright laws are better enforced. Creators see their rights upheld. Both creators and their partners in distribution earn more due to a decrease in lost sales. Federal, state and local governments see tax revenue increases as goods that are taxed (legitimate creative works) are bought vs. untaxed goods (counterfeits). And society benefits, as the incentive remains for those works to be created to begin with.
The Senate Judiciary Committee demonstrated their understanding of that earlier today with the overwhelming passage of S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008, authored by Chairman Leahy (D-VT) and ranking Republican Specter (PA)."
"The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008 (PDF available here), S.3325, would create a new appointed federal office called the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), who would report directly to the President. That person would chair what the bill describes as an "interagency advisory committee" on IP law enforcement, as well as serve as the principal coordinator of policy with regard to anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy activities.
But opponents see this IPEC position as a potential loose cannon..."
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Besides the [Quebec] Chronicle-Telegraph, other newspapers that have already agreed to allow Google to copy and host their archives include the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the St. Petersburg Times in Florida...
Google already has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to make electronic copies of books and other material kept in dozens of libraries around the world. The book-copying program, launched in 2004, has triggered a lawsuit from group of authors and publishers that alleges it infringes on copyrights — a charge that Google is fighting."
KFC shoring up security for secret recipe: "Colonel Harland Sanders' handwritten recipe of 11 herbs and spices was to be removed Tuesday from safekeeping at KFC's corporate offices for the first time in decades. The temporary relocation is allowing KFC to revamp security around a yellowing sheet of paper that contains one of the country's most famous corporate secrets...
I don't want to be the president who loses the recipe," KFC President Roger Eaton said. "Imagine how terrifying that would be...
The biggest prize, though, is a single sheet of notebook paper, yellowed by age, that lays out the entire formula — including exact amounts for each ingredient — written in pencil and signed by Sanders."
Monday, September 8, 2008
"Harry Potter" author Rowling Wins Copyright Infringement Suit; Insufficient Transformative Use by Plaintiff, Vander Ark - New York Times, 9/8/08
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry is a community working together to build a union catalog of copyright evidence based on WorldCat, which contains more than 100 million bibliographic records describing items held in thousands of libraries worldwide...
The goal of the Copyright Evidence Registry is to encourage a cooperative environment to discover, create and share copyright evidence through a collaboratively created and maintained database, using the WorldCat cooperative model to eliminate duplicate efforts...
Users can search the Copyright Evidence Registry to find information about a book, learn what others have said about its copyright status, and share what they know...
The WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry Beta can be accessed at http://www.worldcat.org/copyrightevidence."
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Dave Dederer feels your pain. As a songwriter and former guitarist for the Presidents of the United States of America, the owner of a record label and an Internet music entrepreneur, he is especially suited to assess the rights of artists, fans and distributors. After a close study of the laws that regulate his business, one thing is clear, he says: “It’s a swirling cesspool.”" http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/technology/personaltech/04basics.html?ex=1378267200&en=5941bed8165f9d07&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink