Sunday, November 30, 2008

Op-Ed: How to Publish Without Perishing, New York Times, 11/29/08

Op-Ed by James Gleick, via New York Times: How to Publish Without Perishing:

"Which brings us to the settlement agreement, pending court approval, in the class action suit Authors Guild v. Google. The suit was filed in September 2005 when Google embarked on an audacious program of copying onto its servers every book it could get its hands on...On its face this looked like a brazen assault on copyright, but Google argued that it should be protected as a new kind of “fair use” and went on scanning during two and a half years of secret negotiations (I was involved on the authors’ side)...

As a way through the impasse, the authors persuaded Google to do more than just scan the books for purposes of searching, but go further, by bringing them back to commercial life. Under the agreement these millions of out-of-print books return from limbo. Any money made from advertising or licensing fees will go partly to Google and mostly to the rights-holders. The agreement is nonexclusive: If competitors to Google want to get into the business, they can.

This means a new beginning — a vast trove of books restored to the marketplace. It also means that much of the book world is being upended before our eyes: the business of publishing, selling and distributing books; the role of libraries and bookstores; all uses of books for research, consultation, information storage; everything, in fact, but the plain act of reading a book from start to finish."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Review of Lawrence Lessig: Decriminalizing the Remix, Time, 10/17/08

Via Time: Review of Lawrence Lessig: Decriminalizing the Remix:

"In his latest book, the Stanford professor and Wired columnist rails against the nation's copyright laws — regulations he believes are futile, costly and culturally stifling. Citing "hybrid" economies like YouTube and Wikipedia (both of which rely on user-generated "remixes" of information, images and sound), Lessig argues in favor of what he calls a "Read/Write (RW)" culture — as opposed to "Read/Only (RO)" — that allows consumers to "create art as readily as they consume it.",8599,1851241,00.html

Woody Guthrie: Open Source Pioneer, Newsweek, 9/24/08

Via Newsweek: Woody Guthrie: Open Source Pioneer:

Review of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig, Newsweek, 11/21/08

Via Newsweek, Review of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig:

"Stanford law prof Lessig is a veteran critic of America's copyright laws. He argues that corporate-inspired attempts to tightly regulate the use of words, ideas and images has produced a profit-driven perversion of the noble objective of protecting the rights of creators. In this latest offering, his zeal to convince the public that current intellectual-property rules are ruining our culture burns brighter than ever. Lessig charges the IP authoritarians and the media companies that sign their checks with crimes against both youth and art, and he offers his own approach to balancing the conflict between copyright and creativity."

Markets Declare Truce in Copyright Wars, Google concedes that information isn't free, Wall Street Journal, 11/17/08

Wall Street Journal: Markets Declare Truce in Copyright Wars, Google concedes that information isn't free:

"This shift by Google led Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, to wonder if the book settlement could have lessons for other owners of content. "Google has now conceded, with a very large payment, that information is not free," Mr. Osnos wrote for the Century Foundation. "This leads to an obvious, critical question: Why aren't newspapers and news magazines demanding payment for use of their stories on Google and other search engines? Why are they not getting a significant slice of the advertising revenues generated by use of their stories via Google?"

Alas for the troubled news media industry, so much of its news is commoditized that people won't pay for it online. But as digital media mature, we'll see more redefinitions of legal concepts such as fair use. There will also be revisions of business practices regarding who gets paid what by whom. The Google settlement is a reminder that owners of intellectual property can choose to lock it away, give it away, or, most sensibly, share it in exchange for reasonable compensation.

Porn bill for couple who can't download, London Guardian, 11/29/08

Via London Guardian [Caution, some graphic language in linked article]: Porn bill for couple who can't download, Innocent people are getting letters from lawyers claiming they should pay for films they've never seen:

"He questions the amount demanded and methods used to identify computers alleged to have downloaded material. He believes the sum demanded is out of all proportion to the alleged injury. "In one case, Davenport Lyons wanted £500 for a £20 game. The alleged file-sharing would have cost only about £50 - the rest is legal costs.""

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seuss lawyers stop holiday Who-ville in Louisville, USA Today, 11/25/08

Via USA Today: Seuss lawyers stop holiday Who-ville in Louisville:

"There will be no Who-ville in Louisville this Christmas.

The city of Louisville is scrapping plans to use the iconic Dr. Seuss village and characters as part of its annual Christmas display after receiving a cease and desist letter from Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

"It appears these lawyers' hearts are two sizes too small," Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said...

But the cease-and-desist letter from the law firm DLA Piper, which represents Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said the "Who-ville" name and image, as well as the Grinch, are copyrighted and cannot be used without permission."

Copyright claim to university's name `baffling', Toronto Star, 11/20/08

Via Toronto Star: Copyright claim to university's name `baffling', Councillor for Oshawa, Durham, has threatened newspapers over technology school:

"Just as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa looks for a new name, a city councillor claims he owns the current one.

Robert Lutczyk, who sits on both the Oshawa and Durham Region councils, registered a copyright for "University of Ontario Institute of Technology" in 2005 and has recently forbidden several newspapers from printing the phrase under threat of legal action.

He's also registered "Medical School in Oshawa" and "Medical School at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology," neither of which exist...

Intellectual property lawyer Ziad Katul said the university itself has registered a trademark with UOIT and a slogan, which it owns. Lutczyk's copyright does not prevent the school, or the media, from using the name, he said."

Jonathan Yardley on 'The Man Who Invented Christmas', Washington Post, 11/30/08

Via Washington Post: Jonathan Yardley on 'The Man Who Invented Christmas', Dickens was facing financial ruin when he imagined Ebenezer Scrooge:

"In the United States pirated editions of the book were quickly issued, including one from the ostensibly reputable Harper and Brothers, which infuriated Dickens, a passionate advocate of international copyright. A bogus edition appeared in England as well, but there he won his legal case against the offending opportunist. There also were dozens of unauthorized stage adaptations, but by and large he was less concerned about them. The practice was widespread, and the dramatizations provided free publicity for the book."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cinema 'cops' deploy night vision devices, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/26/08

Via Sydney Morning Herald: Cinema 'cops' deploy night vision devices:

"In response to an increase in pirated movie recordings coming out of Australia, the copyright police are patrolling cinemas with night vision devices - and it's not just commercial pirates they're after.

Movie studios are providing the scopes to cinema ushers across the country and training them in how to spot people illegally taping films using camcorders and even mobile phones."

Is a picture really worth £1,000?, London Guardian, 11/27/08

Via London Guardian: Is a picture really worth £1,000?
A church and small businesses are just some of those accusing picture agencies of using heavy-handed tactics when pursuing payment

"Dozens of small businesses and charities tell similar stories. On the online forums run by the Federation of Small Businesses, copyright infringement blows away every other subject. Many of those posting on the federation's forum have tried to do everything right; they aren't arguing about copyright. It's the enforcement tactics they find objectionable...

In the UK they'd struggle to make these amounts stick," he says. "UK law is only concerned with restoring the situation had licensing been correctly obtained. The courts don't like to be used as a means of extortion."

Drake says: "I understand the difficulty companies like Getty have and photographers have - they have a product that needs to be protected. But where is the Getty publicity campaign? Why aren't they issuing press releases and education to remind people that these images are not to be used?"

Judge says BU can't turn over infringers' IPs in P2P case, ARS Technica, 11/26/08

Via ARS Technica: Judge says BU can't turn over infringers' IPs in P2P case:

"The music industry's requests for more personal information regarding the identity of several accused file-sharers have been shot down by a federal judge. Judge Nancy Gertner quashed a subpoena this week in the infamous London-Sire v. Does 1-4 case, saying that the IP addresses of three anonymous Boston University students could not be handed over because the university had "adequately demonstrated that it is not able to identify the alleged infringers with a reasonable degree of technical certainty."

The legal system has been chipping away at the London-Sire case all year, starting this spring when Judge Gertner said that making files available on a P2P network does not equal copyright infringement."

Once More, With Feeling: Copyright Is Not A Welfare System For Musicians, TechDirt, 11/26/08

Via TechDirt: Once More, With Feeling: Copyright Is Not A Welfare System For Musicians:

"Performance rights in the UK only last 50 years, so music performed in the 60s has started to move into the public domain, and some musicians are freaking out...

First of all, copyright was never intended to be a welfare system. Studio musicians knew the terms of the deal, and if they chose to rely on earnings from a single performance in 1958 for 50 years, it's difficult to see why the government should bail them out for their own short-sighted thinking, and their decision to live off of a single performance for all those years...

But, of course, that won't stop the propaganda fueled by the record labels who stand to make a nice, totally unearned, profit from an extension. They've put together a video of these "poor studio musicians" begging the government for a handout...

The UK government should reject this blatant and unfair renegotiation of terms, and tell the musicians if they want to ask someone for a handout, why not turn to the record labels who apparently didn't pay them enough in the first place."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

EU bashes DRM, won't support "three strikes" rules, ARS Technica, 11/24/08

Via ARS Technica: EU bashes DRM, won't support "three strikes" rules:

"Try as they might, the French simply cannot seem to get the rest of the EU to go along with their favored measure for handling Internet piracy. The French, responding to requests from the content industry, have decided that illicit file-swapping demands a "graduated response," a euphemism for a three-strikes approach that would ultimately see ISPs cut off the Internet access of repeat pirates. The rest of Europe remains largely uncomfortable with this approach, and has managed to keep graduated response out of the EU's formal conclusions for dealing with online content and cultural material."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Film studios to become 'police, judge, executioner', Sydney Morning Herald, 11/24/08

Via Sydney Morning Herald: Film studios to become 'police, judge, executioner':

"ISPs argue that, like Australia Post with letters, they are just providing a service and should not be forced to become copyright police.

Conversely, the TV and movie industry want ISPs to disconnect people it has identified as repeat infringers. There would be no involvement from police or the courts and the industry would simply provide the IP addresses of users they believe to be illegal downloaders.

"To shift the burden of proof and require that ISPs terminate access to users upon mere allegations of infringement would be incredibly harmful to individual internet users in Australia," the online users lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia said.

"Every citizen has a right of due process under the law and, when faced with having their internet service terminated, every citizen has the right to ask that the case against them be proven first.""

Now for something completely different, London Guardian, 11/24/08

Via London Guardian: Now for something completely different -- Sick of losing revenue to illegally uploaded videos, the Monty Python team are among those signing up for YouTube's new ID initiative:

"For three years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them up on YouTube." So begins one of the current hottest viral videos. It stars the Monty Python team, and explains why they have decided to stop attempts to remove the illegally uploaded videos on YouTube - and have instead signed up to the site's Video ID system, which identifies rights holders' material and allows them to choose to have it either removed from the site, or have adverts attached to it...

The Pythons have decided on the second option

Saturday, November 22, 2008

All-Star Witness List In Lawsuit Over Constitutionality Of RIAA Lawsuits, TechDirt, 11/20/08

Via TechDirt: All-Star Witness List In Lawsuit Over Constitutionality Of RIAA Lawsuits:

"The list includes:

John Perry Barlow (former songwriter for The Grateful Dead, founder of the EFF, and well known digital thinker)
Prof. Johan Pouwelse (technical and scientific director of European research project P2P-Next)
Prof. Lawrence Lessig (needs no introduction, I imagine, for folks around here)
Matthew Oppenheim (who has a somewhat murky relationship with the RIAA, at times representing the RIAA, and at other times insisting he does not represent the RIAA)
Prof. Terry Fisher (a director of Harvard's Berkman Center and author of Promises to Keep, an early book looking at how the internet was changing the entertainment industry, and how it's business models need to change)
Prof. Wendy Seltzer (well known copyfighter, law professor, former staff attorney at the EFF and founder of the Chilling Effects site)
Prof. John Palfrey (Harvard law professor, co-director of the Berkman Center, author of Born Digital)
Prof. Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard and Oxford law professor, co-director of the Berkman Center, author of The Future of the Internet)
Andrew Grant (former antipiracy specialist at DRM company Macrovision)"

McCain Responds To Jackson Browne Lawsuit: Here's How Fair Use Works, TechDirt, 11/21/08

Via TechDirt: McCain Responds To Jackson Browne Lawsuit: Here's How Fair Use Works:

Legal Jujitsu in a File-Sharing Copyright Case, New York Times, 11/18/08

Via New York Times: Legal Jujitsu in a File-Sharing Copyright Case:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Google book search deal is good news for copyright law, London Times, 11/19/08

Via London Times: Google book search deal is good news for copyright law, The search giant's settlement with publishers could be a game-changing legal event, says the MP for Intellectual Property:

"Many US libraries are intending to make out of print material available to Google on this basis. The impact on access to such works in the US is likely to be significant, enabling consumers to access works they previously would have struggled to find.

The effect of this agreement will in the most part be limited to the US. And yet the announcement is of interest to users of the copyright system worldwide. Why? Because this is an agreement that, if it works as it should, will strike a middle ground between the need for public access to works and the right of authors and publishers to control and be paid for the use of their creations.

The result, if it works, will be an evolution in the way copyright licensing for printed works is administered and a revolution in the freedom of access to harder-to-find works — all within a system that will remunerate rights holders fairly and give them control over the use of their works. "

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Billion Dollar Charlie vs. the RIAA, Boston Globe, 11/18/08

Via Boston Globe: Billion Dollar Charlie vs. the RIAA:

"[Charles] Nesson and his [Harvard Law School] students have decided to "litigate in the court of public opinion," as well as in the courtroom, and they are putting on quite a show. Legally, they are arguing that the RIAA is using civil litigation to punish alleged criminal activity, which they say violates the Constitution. Moreover, Nesson et al have posted all manner of fascinating materials at the CyberOne website of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tennessee Adopts $9.5 Million University Piracy Measure Despite School Layoffs,, 11/18/08

Via Tennessee Adopts $9.5 Million University Piracy Measure Despite School Layoffs:

"Just-signed legislation requires the 222,000-student system to spend an estimated $9.5 million (.pdf) for file sharing "monitoring software," "monitoring hardware" and an additional "recurring cost of $1,575,000 for 21 staff positions and benefits (@75,000 each) to monitor network traffic" of its students.
Tennessee's measure, (.pdf) approved Wednesday by Gov. Phil Bredesen, was the nation's first in a bid to combat online file sharing within state-funded universities. The law, similar versions of which the Recording Industry Association of America wants throughout the United States, comes as the Tennessee public university system is increasing tuition, laying off teachers and leaving unfilled vacant instructor positions to battle a $43.7 million shortfall."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Law professor fires back at song-swapping lawsuits,, 11/17/08

Via Law professor fires back at song-swapping lawsuits:

"A Harvard Law School professor has launched a constitutional assault against a federal copyright law at the heart of the industry's aggressive strategy, which has wrung payments from thousands of song-swappers since 2003.

The professor, Charles Nesson, has come to the defense of a Boston University graduate student targeted in one of the music industry's lawsuits. By taking on the case, Nesson hopes to challenge the basis for the suit, and all others like it.

Nesson argues that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it effectively lets a private group — the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA — carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the music industry group abused the legal process by brandishing the prospects of lengthy and costly lawsuits in an effort to intimidate people into settling cases out of court."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What Is Art For?, New York Times, 11/14/08

Via New York Times: What Is Art For?:

"For the Copy Left, as for Hyde, the last 20 years have witnessed a corporate “land grab” of information — often in the guise of protecting the work of individual artists — that has put a stranglehold on creativity, in increasingly bizarre ways. Over dinner not long ago, he told me about the legal fate of Emily Dickinson's poems. Dickinson died in 1886, but it was not until 1955 that an “official” volume of her collected works was published, by Harvard University Press. The length of copyright terms has expanded substantially in the last century, and Harvard holds the exclusive right to Dickinson’s poems until 2050 — more than 160 years after they were first written. When the poet Robert Pinsky asked Harvard for permission to include a Dickinson poem in an article that he was writing for Slate about poetic insults, it refused, even for a fee. “Their feeling was that once the poem was online, they’d lose control of it,” Hyde told me.

In highlighting the absurd ways in which intellectual copyright has overreached, Hyde brings to mind such iconic Copy Left figures as Lawrence Lessig, a constitutional-law scholar at Stanford. Yet Hyde’s new book, which he allowed me to read in draft form (it is unfinished and untitled), addresses what he considers a more fundamental issue. We may believe there should be a limit on the market in cultural property, he argues, but that doesn’t mean that we have “a good public sense” of where to set that limit. Hyde’s book is, at its core, an attempt to help formulate that sense."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Panel Issues Guide to Using Copyrighted Material in the Classroom - Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/11/08

Via Chronicle of Higher Education: Panel Issues Guide to Using Copyrighted Material in the Classroom

"The guide, to be released today, is called "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media-Literacy Education." The center created the guide over the course of 10 meetings that involved more than 150 educators, and it was reviewed by a panel of lawyers who are experts in fair use—the doctrine that allows people to reproduce portions of copyrighted works for purposes like teaching or scholarship...

The guide argues that discussion of copyright in education has too often been shaped by copyright holders, "whose understandable concern about large-scale copyright piracy has caused them to equate any unlicensed use of copyright material with stealing." The authors say they hope their work will help professors understand their rights better under current law...

Will a misstep on copyright in the classroom get you sued? "That's very, very unlikely," says the new guide. "We don't know of any lawsuit actually brought by an American media company against an educator over the use of media in the educational process.""

Monday, November 10, 2008

Copyright code developed to guide teachers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/10/08

Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Copyright code developed to guide teachers

"Many educators, however, miss these opportunities because they don't know their rights under fair use, have been given bad information or lack administrators who will back them up, said a report last year by American and Temple universities. The report, "The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy," found that many teachers were censoring themselves.

Now American and Temple universities and several national associations have combined to try to remove the teachers' reluctance to use various sources including print, video, audio and the Internet -- in their media literacy lessons.

At the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia tomorrow, they will release the "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.""

Monday, November 3, 2008

MySpace ad deal lets members use copyright video - BusinessWeek, 10/2/08

Via MySpace ad deal lets members use copyright video:

"Instead of trying to take down all copyright-protected videos that its members post, MySpace will let certain clips stay -- and give the creators of the original content a cut of the revenue from advertising that will be attached to the snippets."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Harvard Slams Google Settlement; Others React with Caution - Library Journal, 10/30/08

Via Library Journal: Harvard Slams Google Settlement; Others React with Caution:

"As LJ noted in its initial report, most observers say that the success of the deal will be in the details—and, as of now, this broad, complex business arrangement, still seeking court approval, simply leaves many questions open—especially for libraries. LJ has put together a quick roundup of thoughtful opinions now circulating about what the settlement means..."