Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lil Wayne, Birdman hit with copyright suit in NYC; AP, via Yahoo News, 10/30/09

Jennifer Peltz, AP, via Yahoo News; Lil Wayne, Birdman hit with copyright suit in NYC:

"A Florida man wants rappers Lil Wayne and Birdman to show him respect — for using his voice in an album track called just that.

Thomas Marasciullo filed a copyright infringement lawsuit Friday in a Manhattan federal court against the rappers, their record label and various music distribution outlets.

The lawsuit said Cash Money Records had him cut some "'Italian-styled' spoken word recordings" in 2006, then used them without pay or permission on "Respect" and other tracks from the rappers' joint 2006 album "Like Father, Like Son" and Birdman's 2007 "5 (Star) Stunna.""

Firebowls, Copyright And Crowdfunding (Oh My); TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Firebowls, Copyright And Crowdfunding (Oh My):

"Here's the summary of the situation:

Unger makes "firebowls" -- decorative metal bowls that you light a fire in (I had no idea such things existed).

He copyrighted the design of his firebowls.

He then discovered that Rick Wittrig was making firebowls that look remarkably similar, but are a bit cheaper.

Unger got angry and sent a cease-and-desist

Wittrig filed a lawsuit to claim that Unger's registered copyrights are not legitimate, as there shouldn't be any copyright on utilitarian objects.

Unger writes up his side of the story (small artist being ripped off!) and asks people to fund his legal defense using popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter"

Anti-File Sharing Lobbyists/Lawyers Shove Each Other Aside To Blame P2P Rather Than Dumb Guy For Congressional Leak; TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Anti-File Sharing Lobbyists/Lawyers Shove Each Other Aside To Blame P2P Rather Than Dumb Guy For Congressional Leak:

Oregon Tries Claiming Copyright Over Gov't Materials Again; TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Oregon Tries Claiming Copyright Over Gov't Materials Again:

"You may recall last year that the state of Oregon tried to claim copyright in preventing others from republishing Oregon laws. Yes, that seems incredibly counterproductive, and eventually the state backed down. However, it looks like Oregon's Attorney General is now also claiming copyright on the Attorney General's Public Record and Public Meeting Manual. Yes. A government official claiming copyright over a document on the public record. Wonderful. Carl Malamud is trying to get the Attorney General to issue an opinion that such things will not be covered by copyright. But, again, can anyone provide any good reason why any government document should be covered by copyright?"

Licensing Agreements Now Covering 'The Universe' And Future Media Not Yet Developed; TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Licensing Agreements Now Covering 'The Universe' And Future Media Not Yet Developed:

"However, it looks like lawyers drafting such legal arrangements are beginning to recognize this as an issue and are trying to prepare for such eventual new media opportunities. Eric Goldman alerts us to a WSJ article, highlighting how phrases like "in all media, throughout the universe" are becoming increasingly common in licensing contract language. While some decry this as being imprecise and overly broad, I tend to fall on the other side of the fence."

Will Three Strikes Ever Really Get Implemented In The UK?; TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Will Three Strikes Ever Really Get Implemented In The UK?:

"With Peter Mandelson announcing this week (as everyone expected) that he's going to introduce a proposal to kick file sharers off the internet under a "three strikes" plan, it's been amusing watching defenders of this idea try and fail to answer the question "how will this make people buy more stuff." ...

But, perhaps an even bigger question is whether or not it will ever actually get implemented in the UK."

Brooklyn Law School No Fan Of Due Process; Apparently Handing Names Over To MPAA [Updated]; TechDirt, 10/30/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Brooklyn Law School No Fan Of Due Process; Apparently Handing Names Over To MPAA [Updated]:

Vampire fever is biting hard; Sydney Morning Herald, 10/31/09

Jonathan Dart, Sydney Morning Herald; Vampire fever is biting hard:

"Hamish Fraser, a partner at Truman Hoyle law firm, warned people to not get too fired up by Halloween and start copying ideas that might belong to someone else.

It follows a case in Britain where a single mother was sent a warning letter by Warner Bros over potential copyright breaches, after she planned a Harry Potter themed dinner event.

"What probably went wrong in the United Kingdom in this case was that it might have looked, to Warner Brothers, that this woman was trying to earn money rather than having a fun night," Mr Fraser said.

"The problem is that the copyright law is what it is. If you copy the Harry Potter logo, for instance, you are almost certainly infringing copyright.''

But in a year when vampires are so popular, Mr Fraser said it will be harder for companies to suck the blood out of parties by protecting copyright - recent Twilight-themed parties have been held everywhere from Yass Valley Council Library to the Loft Bar in Darling Harbour."

Friday, October 30, 2009

MI5, an ISP lawsuit and an e-petition: More opposition to piracy cut-off plans; ZDNet, 10/30/09

Zack Whittaker, ZDNet; MI5, an ISP lawsuit and an e-petition: More opposition to piracy cut-off plans:

"There has been more controversy this week with a major Internet service provider, a petition set up to harness the power of democracy, but also the British Security Service, MI5, all opposing the cut-off laws which are being pushed through by a key figure in the British government’s cabinet.";col2

HP bets on paper books and magazines in digital age; San Jose Business Journal, 10/21/09

San Jose Business Journal; HP bets on paper books and magazines in digital age:

"Hewlett-Packard Co. is placing a big bet on paper magazines and paper books, even as electronic books and readers become more popular, with Barnes & Noble introducing its new Nook reader Tuesday.

HP is setting up projects to allow people to print their own magazines and to print old books that are out of copyright.

Palo Alto-based HP (NYSE: HPQ) is working with Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, who started Wikipedia, on Mag Cloud, a service that lets people pay about 20 cents a page to create and print magazines from Wales’ for-profit Wikia business. Someone can put together content from various Wikia pages and print them out as a magazine.

People can print books if the copyright has expired using another HP service called BookPrep. To print a 250-page book will cost about $15, for example."

Yes on One Ad Rankles NPR; Maine Public Broadcasting Network, 10/21/09

Josie Huang, Maine Public Broadcasting Network; Yes on One Ad Rankles NPR:

The campaign to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law is taking on an unlikely new adversary: National Public Radio. NPR wants the Yes on One/Stand for Marriage Maine campaign to stop airing television spots featuring audio from an NPR story because the organization does not want to be associated with a political issue. But the campaign says it is ignoring the cease-and-desist order from NPR and will keep airing the ads.

""This is a ridiculous and frivolous complaint," says Scott Fish, spokesman for the campaign to repeal the gay marriage law, reading from a prepared statement. "Stand For Marriage Maine has the absolute right to use news clips aired on NPR in our advertisement. This is a protected exercise of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and is expressly contemplated as 'fair use' in our nation's copyright laws."

"Fair use" describes a legal principle in which copyrighted materials can be used under certain conditions, such as how much of it is used, and whether it hurts the copyright holder in any way.The 30-second ad excerpts 20 seconds from a 2004 NPR story titled "Massachusetts Schools Grapple with Including Gay and Lesbian Relationships in Sex Education." The piece examined how teachers were approaching the issue of same-sex relationships following the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts.

Of course, fair use, is all subjective, and NPR contends that this is not a case of fair use. "We've not had a potlicial organization use our content in this manner and, frankly, violate our copyright in this manner," says Dana Davis Rehm, a senior vice president at NPR overseeing communications.

She notes that two-thirds of the ad is comprised of audio from the NPR story. She further argues that the TV spots harm the reputation of NPR. "It may give people the impression that NPR permitted the use of the content in this manner, it may give people an impression that NPR has a position on this topic, either for or against the issue being discussed."

NPR has asked the Website YouTube, and other sites that were streaming the video, to stop, which they have. But Rehm says NPR has not yet approached television stations, and is still reviewing its legal options.

NPR could seek a court injunction to completely halt the ads, but it is running out of time. Voters will be asked to decide whether to repeal the same-sex marriage law in exactly two weeks.

Al Tompkins teaches broadcast ethics at the Poynter Institute. "In the two weeks that is going to pass between now and election time, it's highly unlikely that you'd be able to get a court to do much in a way of judgement on this, so the election will be over before you get much legal help."

But David Ardia, who directs the Citizen Media Law project at Harvard University, says that NPR may still be able to have an impact with its actions. "When you're talking about a political campaign, where time is of the essense, the fact that a video has been taken down during that time period can actually have the effect the copyright holder wants."

He notes that it is standard practice for a video to stay off YouTube for at least 10 days during which the copyright holder relents or decides to pursue legal action against the user. "And when you're talking about a 10-day window and only two weeks between the take down notice and the election, that can result in the video being down for most of the relevant time period."

Meanwhile, though, the ads are still running on television."

ImageRights Launches to Help Protect Photographers and Stock-Photo Agencies from Copyright Infringement; Reuters, 10/22/09

Reuters; ImageRights Launches to Help Protect Photographers and Stock-Photo Agencies from Copyright Infringement:

New Service Enables Individuals and Agencies to Upload Photos and ReceiveReports Indicating Which Persons or Companies are Using Proprietary ImagesWithout Prior Consent or Payment

"ImageRights International, an Internet-based services company, today announcedthe availability of its first service-ImageRights-a low-cost, easy to usesolution designed to help protect the copyrights of photographers and stock-photo agencies. Targeted to the estimated three million worldwide commercial photographers, ImageRights is applying visual search and image recognition technology to track the use of photographs and illustrations across the Internet, enabling rights holders to discover and ultimately recover fees for the unlicensed use of their works."

British Copyright Org Threatens Singing Store Employee, Then Apologizes; DailyTech, 10/23/09

Jason Mick, DailyTech; British Copyright Org Threatens Singing Store Employee, Then Apologizes:

"The humorous tale involves the organization catching wind of a “heinous” offense -- an employee singing in public. Sandra Burt, 56, who works at A&T Food store (a British supermarket) in Clackmannanshire, UK was told by organization representatives that she would likely face fines for lost royalties for her "performance".

The debacle began earlier in the year when the PRS threatened the grocery store she worked at, telling them to ditch the radio that played in earshot of customers or pay royalty fees. Missing the music, Ms. Burt decided to start singing some of her favorite tunes. She describes, "I would start to sing to myself when I was stacking the shelves just to keep me happy because it was very quiet without the radio.

"Then came new threats from the PRS. Ms. Burt describes, "When I heard that the PRS said I would be prosecuted for not having a performance license, I thought it was a joke and started laughing. I was then told I could be fined thousands of pounds. But I couldn't stop myself singing."

Book Review: 'Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars' by William Patry; LA Times, 10/23/09

Book Review: 'Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars' by William Patry; Reviewed by Jonathan Handel; LA Times:

"Into this copyright war walks William Patry. Extraordinarily well-credentialed, Patry has been a copyright lawyer for 27 years as a professor, practitioner and government attorney. Currently, he's Google's senior copyright counsel. Though Patry says he's in favor of "effective" copyright protection, he writes that "bad business models, failed economic ideologies, and acceptance of inapposite metaphors have led to an unjustified expansion" of those laws.

Patry's stature makes "Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars" an "important" book. Unfortunately, what the book delivers is a choppy and directionless narrative, sometimes illuminating but too often scattershot, unoriginal and strident. Unsupported claims abound...

This presentation is informative, but it's marred by Patry's habit of presenting arguments as though he were the first to devise them. An example is his claim that entertainment companies attack file sharing instead of innovating: Books by Lawrence Lessig, Tarleton Gillespie and others have made similar arguments more effectively. Patry discusses few of these works and adds little.

In fact, Patry has nothing good to say about copyright law. What do "effective" copyright laws look like? Read his book and you still won't know. The Constitution offers a hint: Copyright is intended to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Various scholars interpret that to mean a delicate balance of rights. Of course, the devil is in the details, but Patry offers none...

The author all but celebrates illegal file sharing, but would he be so sanguine if his own company's intellectual property -- its computer source code -- were shared in this fashion? One might imagine that what's good for the goose is good for the Google, but it's more likely the company would sue. Indeed, the entire technology industry is built on copyrights, patents and trade secrets, backed up by tough contracts and tougher lawyers. (By the way, Patry advocated copyright reform years before joining Google and says the book should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of his current employer.)

Certainly it's untenable for entertainment companies and copyright law itself to remain at war with millions of citizens. For better and worse, technology has unleashed new norms, and some accommodation must be found. Unfortunately, this book sheds little light on how that should happen.",0,6896339.story

Universities in hot water over students' peer-to-peer sharing; ZDNet, 10/25/09

Zack Whittaker, ZDNet; Universities in hot water over students' peer-to-peer sharing:

"The battle against online piracy is heating up: a new artist led initiative is taking on the diplomatic and negotiation approach whereas governments and legislators are hitting down punitive policies on their citizens.

Jon Newton of p2pnet, alongside Billy Bragg, musician and director of the Featured Artists Coalition, have begun work on, a campaign started to discuss how artists can cut out the middleman - such as the suicide inducing RIAA - and ensure artists are fairly remunerated.

Along with their mission statement, the efforts seem to be focused towards not only admitting there is no technological solution to the problems artists already face, but that users would be “willing to pay for music if they can be sure that the money is going to the artists whose work they enjoy.”"

David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection; Guardian, 10/27/09

Mark Sweney, Guardian; David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection:

Intellectual property minister tells C&binet Forum delegates that progress on copyright piracy cannot be made without a 'European consensus'

"David Lammy, the intellectual property minister, has today warned that the UK cannot solve the problem of copyright piracy without the support of other European governments.

Lammy, speaking at the government's digital creative industries conference C&binet, said the UK has been stymied in its efforts to strengthen the enforcement of copyright because it is a "minority" player on the European stage.

"Some people tell me that content is national, they tell me the solutions lie in my backyard [but] this is not right, content is international," he added.

"Solutions lie internationally. For us, solutions lie in Europe. The UK must continue to encourage and support wider innovation and improve access to copyright works. But we can do relatively little domestically. A great deal of policy making is harmonised at European level and progress simply can't be made without a European consensus," Lammy said.

"The UK often finds itself in the minority in Europe when it comes to copyright issues. I want to see the UK play a greater role in influencing European action."

He added that while models needed to be developed to make legitimate content attractive to all, consumers needed to understand they had to pay to make the system work.

"If the world wants to continue to enjoy works that are protected by copyright, then the world must be a paying customer," he said. "Consumers have built a digital culture based on access, even if it cuts across the law. I want a world where rights holders will be paid for their efforts. For me, the balance must always tilt strongly in favour of freedom. But freedom to access material is not the same thing as access for free."

Lammy added that the current copyright system was out of step with the digital age and that government and businesses had "sleepwalked" into the piracy situation.

"The mechanisms by which copyright operates can be too complex. I don't want to see copyright, in the UK, or anywhere in the world, lagging so far behind technology that it loses relevance," he said. "I don't want to see a regime based on arbitrary rules. It must ensure that it allows limited copying for personal use of lawfully obtained material. I want to see this made possible rather than discouraged."

Chinese Authors Object to Google’s Book Scanning; New York Times, 10/30/09

Sharon LaFraniere, New York Times; Chinese Authors Object to Google’s Book Scanning:

"Two Chinese writers’ groups claim that Google has scanned Chinese works into an electronic database in violation of international copyright standards. The organizations are urging China’s authors to step forward and defend their rights.

“Google has seriously violated the copyrights of Chinese authors. That is an undeniable fact,” Chen Qirong, a spokesperson for the China Writers’ Association, said by telephone. The group says it represents nearly 9,000 writers.

Google has sent a representative to Beijing to meet on Monday with officials of the China Written Works Copyright Society, which manages Chinese copyrights. The company insists it has fully complied with copyright protections...

“We take the view, backed up by international copyright law, that no copyright is violated in this process since the amount of text displayed is so small and it’s purely for information,” said Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, in an phone interview from Singapore. “In fact, it’s comparable to a quotation from a book in a review or our Web search results, both of which are perfectly legal.” Ms. Hohne said it is virtually impossible for Google to discover who holds the rights to all of the millions of books on library shelves. Waiting for copyright holders to surface would doom any effort to create a comprehensive electronic index, she said. If a copyright holder does object, Google removes the snippets or even all reference to the book from the search engine, she said.

The Chinese groups see it differently. “It is as you have something nice in your living room and Google takes it and puts it in its living room,” said Zhang Hongbo, deputy director general of the Chinese copyright society. “We are definitely opposed to using our works without our permission.”...

Marybeth Peters, the top copyright official in the United States, told Congress in September that the settlement could put “diplomatic stress” on the government because it would affect foreign authors whose rights are protected by international treaties. The governments of France and Germany formally oppose the deal."

Down Under musician says he's dinkum; Sydney Morning Herald, 10/30/09

Joel Gibson, Sydney Morning Herald; Down Under musician says he's dinkum:

"Larrikin Music Publishing, which owns the rights to Kookaburra, is suing Hay and Strykert and their publishing company, EMI, claiming they reproduced more than half of Kookaburra and made a small fortune from it in royalties, licences and sheet music sales.

Larrikin wants 40 to 60 per cent of income earned from Down Under in future and in the past six years, which is as far back as the law allows. But the authors and EMI say the use of the Kookaburra melody was unconscious, and is a fair adaptation under the Copyright Act.

Even if it was an infringement, they argue Larrikin is ''over-reaching'', saying many of the 20-plus versions of the song do not contain the flute riff."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Med students hoist P2P Jolly Roger to get access to papers; TechDirt, 10/29/09

John Timmer, Ars Technica; Med students hoist P2P Jolly Roger to get access to papers:

Med students hoist P2P Jolly Roger to get access to papers

"The ease with which information can be spread through the Internet has exacerbated tensions among those who pay for, conduct, and publish scientific research. Many journals still require subscription or per-article payments for access to the research they publish, which often leaves the public, who funds a significant percentage of the research, on the wrong side of a pay wall. So far, however, there's been little evidence that the public has been interested enough in research to engage in the sort of widespread file-sharing that plague other content industries. But a new study suggests that may just be because nobody's looked very carefully.

The study, which was spotted by TechDirt, appears in an open-access journal, so anyone can read its entire contents. It describes the sharing of over 5,000 research papers on a site frequented by medical professionals, and the formal community rules that governed the exchange.

During the six months in 2008 that the author tracked the activity on the site, which was a discussion board focused on medical fields, it had over 125,000 registered users. Anyone could start an account, but many of the fora were focused on specific issues, such as those faced by nurses and residents. In addition to those, however, there was a section called the Electronic Library that contained a forum called "Databases & Journals—Requests and Enquiries."

Up to three times a day, users were allowed to submit a request for a published research article, accompanied by a link to the free abstract hosted at the journal's website. Other users would then download the full article and host it somewhere, providing a link in the discussion. If everything was set up properly, the site would track the number of downloads.

Over the course of six months, over 6,500 articles were requested, and over 80 percent of those requests were successfully filled."

F. Scott Fitzgerald Made $8,397 On Great Gatsby; His Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It; TechDirt, 10/29/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; F. Scott Fitzgerald Made $8,397 On Great Gatsby; His Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It:

"There have been an increasing number of questions raised about both the length of copyright and the fact that it passes on to heirs after the original creator passes on. The original purpose of copyright had nothing to do with creating a welfare system for the children of content creators, no matter how much some content creators would like it to work that way. Economist Greg Mankiw points out a "factoid" that drives home the oddity that comes from such long copyrights:

Royalties from The Great Gatsby totaled only $8,397 during Fitzgerald's lifetime. Today Gatsby is read in nearly every high school and college and regularly produces $500,000 a year in [F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter] Scottie's trust for her children."

TalkTalk threatens legal action over Mandelson's filesharing plan; Guardian, 10/29/09

Mark Sweney, Guardian; TalkTalk threatens legal action over Mandelson's filesharing plan:

Carphone Warehouse-owned internet service provider attacks plans to cut off connections of persistent filesharers

"TalkTalk, the second largest internet service provider in the UK, has threatened to launch legal action if business secretary Peter Mandelson follows through with his plan to cut off persistent illegal filesharers' internet connections.

Carphone Warehouse-owned TalkTalk, which has more than 4 million ISP customers and owns the Tiscali and AOL brands, claimed the government's plan was based on filesharers being "guilty until proven innocent" and constituted an infringement of human rights.

"The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court," said Andrew Heaney, the executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk. "We know this approach will lead to wrongful accusations."

The government plans to look at increased action against illegal downloaders, including potentially suspending the accounts of persistent offenders, from July 2011 if a 70% reduction in online piracy is not achieved by sending warning letters. Customers will have the right to appeal if they are targeted and their connection subjected to technical measures.

"If the government moves to stage two, we would consider that extra-judicial technical measures, and would look to appeal the decision [to the courts] because it infringes human rights," Heaney said. "TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal."

BT, the largest ISP in the UK, said it "remains concerned" about some of the government's proposals and is "interested to hear whether or not customers will have some form of fair legal hearing before their broadband supplier is required to take any action against them"."

Costs would exceed savings on Mandelson plan, ISPs say - and streaming companies not eager either; Guardian, 10/28/09

Charles Arthur, Guardian; Costs would exceed savings on Mandelson plan, ISPs say - and streaming companies not eager either:

Implementing "three strikes" rule would weigh down ISPs while bringing music industry no benefit - and streaming companies unhappy

"Lord Mandelson's proposals to cut off "persistent" file sharers do not make financial sense, according to estimates of its cost put forward by those who would have to implement it.

British Telecom and Carphone Warehouse estimate that running the enforcement system would cost about £2 per broadband line per month - a total of £24 per broadband line per year. With 17.6m broadband connections in the UK as of September, means it would cost £420m annually to run a system to defeat a problem the music industry complains costs it £200m per year.
Lord Mandelson said that "ISPs and rights-holders will share the costs, on the basis of a flat fee that will allow both sides to budget and plan."

If the costs of running the system are equally shared between rights-holders and ISPs, that means that ISPs will have to push up bills for the majority of law-abiding customers who do not download illegally, while the rights-holders spend as much as they claim they are losing.
Reactions from the music and music streaming industry to Lord Mandelson's reasserted determination to cut off "persistent" file-sharers has not been positive either."

Google Accused of 'malicious Revenge' in China; PC World, 10/28/09

Owen Fletcher, PC World; Google Accused of 'malicious Revenge' in China:

"The official newspaper of China's ruling communist party has accused Google of seeking "malicious revenge" after a malware warning appeared by one of its Web sites in Google's search results.

The Google notice, which said the books section of the People's Daily site could contain malware, appeared last week and prevented some visits to the Web page because its link redirected to a Google warning, according to a local media report also posted by the People's Daily. A site representative was cited in the report as blaming "malicious revenge from Google" and saying the paper would take actions against such "vile behavior" by the company. The paper would not rule out legal action, the representative was cited as saying.

The paper's statements are the latest negative press Google has received this year in China, where its share of the user search market began slipping in recent months. Chinese authorities and state media earlier this year slammed Google for allowing pornographic links to appear in its search results. Google's book scanning project has also come under fire in China in recent weeks as local authors have begun voicing concerns about copyright violation by the search engine...

The top headline on the book news site on Wednesday led to a collection of stories about local opposition to Google's book scanning program. "Is the Google library an angel or a devil?" read one headline near the top of the page."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EFF opens the "Takedown Hall of Shame"; Ars Technica, 10/28/09

Nate Anderson, Ars Technica; EFF opens the "Takedown Hall of Shame":

Missing that wonderful surge of anger that comes from hearing about some bogus attempt at shutting down free speech with a DMCA takedown notice? The EFF has you covered, opening a new "Hall of Shame" to highlight the worst of the worst.

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a big fan of naming and shaming. When it launched its patent-busting project a few years back, the activist group put up a "Wanted by EFF marshals" poster; eight of the ten patents on the list have already been narrowed, invalidated, or reexamined.

So when it wanted to highlight the overzealous use of DMCA takedown notices on the Web, the EFF went a similar route with its new "Takedown Hall of Shame."

Initially, eight items have been granted the coveted laurel wreath of infamy:

NPR's takedown request of some All Things Considered audio used in a recent same-sex marriage ad

The National Organization for Marriage's takedown request on audition footage for its anti-gay marriage ad

Nativist radio host Michael Savage's takedown request against the Council on Islamic-American Relations for posting clips of the rhetoric found on Savage's show

Polo Ralph Lauren's takedown request against Boing Boing and the Photoshop Disasters blog over a ridiculously photoshopped model whose head looked like a pumpkin on a toothpick

Warner Music Group's YouTube takedowns against "literal videos" and teens singing Warner songs a cappella for friends

Diamond giant DeBeers' attempt to shutter a parody site that looked like the New York Times and contained a fake DeBeers ad reading: "Your purchase of a diamond will enable us to donate a prosthetic for an African whose hand was lost in diamond conflicts. DeBeers: from her fingers to his."

Diebold's 2003 takedown attempt against internal e-mails revealing problems with the company's voting machines

NBC's takedown request of an Obama campaign video in which Tom Brokaw calls the election for John McCain...

One other item of interest: Big Content is represented less than one might think. The complete list does mention NBC, NPR, Warner Music, CBS News, and Universal Music, but it's dominated by smaller, non-media players like Union Square Partnership, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Uri Geller, Diebold, and DeBeers.

If you talk to lawyers for the big content providers (which we do so you don't have to! I kid, they're nice people), they will point out that the flood of DMCA takedown notices they issue results only in a handful of problem cases. These are then—unfairly, in their view—harped on repeatedly to suggest that they care nothing for fair use, have no sense of proportion, and probably nibble on succulent children for breakfast."

Internet Hating Sony Pictures CEO Insists Piracy Is Killing Movie Business; But Facts Show Otherwise; TechDirt, 10/28/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Internet Hating Sony Pictures CEO Insists Piracy Is Killing Movie Business; But Facts Show Otherwise:

"Ah, remember Michael Lynton? The Sony Pictures CEO who earlier this year insisted that nothing good had come from the internet at all. When everyone started mocking him for this statement, rather than back off, he doubled down and insisted it was true, using examples that were easily debunked. Apparently, he hasn't learned his lesson. He's back at it, pushing for the UK (and others) to pass laws kicking people off the internet (so-called "three strikes" laws) while insisting that due to piracy there's less money to make movies and fewer movies being made. Of course, those are things that can be fact checked, and the folks over at TorrentFreak did exactly that, pointing out that more movies are coming out each year and more money is being made. Oops."

Japanese Prosecutors Still Want To Blame Developer Of File Sharing Program For Copyright Infringement By Users; TechDirt, 10/28/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Japanese Prosecutors Still Want To Blame Developer Of File Sharing Program For Copyright Infringement By Users:

"We were happy earlier this month to learn that the Osaka High Court had overturned a lower court ruling, against the creator of the popular Japanese file sharing service, Winny...Unfortunately, Japanese prosecutors didn't recognize the common sense and basic logic of such a ruling and are now appealing the case to the Supreme Court in Japan."

French Papers Aim at Younger Readers; New York Times, 10/28/09

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; French Papers Aim at Younger Readers:

"Newspapers have tried many things to stave off a seemingly relentless decline in readers. Now France is pushing forward with a novel approach: giving away papers to young readers in an effort to turn them into regular customers.

The government Tuesday detailed plans of a project called “My Free Newspaper,” under which 18- to 24-year-olds will be offered a free, yearlong subscription to a newspaper of their choice.
“Winning back young readers is essential for the financial survival of the press, and for its civic dimension,” the culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, said...

While newspapers nearly everywhere in the developed world are in crisis, hurt by an advertising slump and readers’ defection to the Internet, the problems are particularly pronounced in France. On a per-capita basis, only about half as many papers are sold as in Britain or Germany, according to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers in Paris.

Readership in France is especially low among young people. According to a government study, only 10 percent of those aged 15 to 24 read a paid-for newspaper daily in 2007, down from 20 percent a decade earlier."

Labour's plans to block filesharers take shape; Guardian, 10/28/09

Jack Schofield, Guardian; Labour's plans to block filesharers take shape:

"The government has proposed a complicated and expensive system of letters, independent bodies and First Tier Tribunals as a way to stop the sharing of copyright content, but it seems unlikely to work

"Lord Mandelson has "warned internet users today that the days of 'consequence-free' illegal filesharing are over," according to my colleague Mark Sweney. This will no doubt give most of the large copyright owners a warm glow, but whether it will make any practical difference is another matter. I suspect it won't.

The government plan has two stages....In stage 1, a "rights holder" is going to identify the IP address of an illegal uploader by "phishing" on a file-sharing site, then get the ISP to send that user a warning letter. After sending more than one warning, the rights-holder takes legal action.
In stage 2, the ISP takes "technical measures" against the "serious infringer", who can then appeal to "an independent body established by Ofcom". (These "technical measures" may include the not-very-technical suspension of the user's account.) If that appeal is unsuccessful, the "serous infringer" can appeal to a "First Tier Tribunal", following which the "technical measures" are either re-implemented or dropped.

It sounds like an expensive and extremely bureaucratic plan where the cost of implementation will be far higher than the cost of the content. Mandy's thinking is presumably that making a public example of a small number of "serous infringers" will discourage others. It should certainly discourage peer-to-peer file-sharing, at least among those smart enough to realise that if they are downloading something, they are probably uploading it as well."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Down Under riff based on folk song, court hears; Sydney Morning Herald, 10/27/09

Joel Gibson, Sydney Morning Herald; Down Under riff based on folk song, court hears:

UK Law Enforcement Tells UK Gov't: Please Don't Kick File Sharers Offline; TechDirt, 10/27/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; UK Law Enforcement Tells UK Gov't: Please Don't Kick File Sharers Offline:

Medical Researchers Resort To File Sharing To Get Access To Journal Research; TechDirt, 10/27/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Medical Researchers Resort to File Sharing to Get Access to Journal Research:

Vivendi head calls for 'three-strikes' rule to tackle UK filesharers; Guardian, 10/27/09

Mark Sweney, Guardian; Vivendi head calls for 'three-strikes' rule to tackle UK filesharers:

Jean-Bernard Levy tells the C&binet [sic] Forum that UK should follow France's lead by cutting off internet access for persistent illegal downloaders

"Jean-Bernard Levy, the chief executive of Vivendi, the French owner of the world's largest record company, Universal Music, said the UK government needs to bring in a "three-strikes" policy that would ultimately cut off persistent illegal filesharers.

Levy, speaking at the UK government's Creativity & Business International Network conference (C&binet) today on the issues facing the creative industries as they move to digital production and distribution, said that while it was too soon to gauge the results of the introduction of the "three-strikes" policy in France, it was a necessary step to protect content owners.

"Britain should be more in favour of developing the media industries and even if France is ahead in legislation it should be obvious [that the UK should] be doing something like three strikes," he added.

Levy said Vivendi, despite owning one of France's largest internet service providers (ISPs), telecoms operator SFR, was convinced the tough legislative strategy would not harm internet use. He added that he expected no real reduction in legal web traffic.

"ISPs should be in favour of legislation," he argued, because a lot of the massive investment to increase broadband capacity was going into supplying bandwidth used by illegal net users...

Gail Rebuck, the chief executive of publisher Random House, told the C&binet conference today that the fact that more than 70 illegal filesharing websites were online within 24 hours of the launch of bestselling author Dan Brown's new novel, The Lost Symbol, showed the urgency with which the government must crack down on digital piracy. This number has since jumped to more than 170 unauthorised websites capitalising on the novel, she added.

Rebuck said measures with strong legal backing needed to be introduced to curb digital copyright abuse. She said: "From where I sit, protecting our copyright is the single most important thing we can debate here. We must protect our authors' work."

"I'm very much for the carrot and stick approach," she added, referring to the need for a combination of promoting the benefits of legal content downloading alongside measures such as letters warning persistent filesharers they are breaking the law.

"As a content owner, I am all for the ultimate sanction," she said, indicating support for measures such as cutting off the worst infringers. "Surely the response is not to say goodbye to copyright.""

Photographer wins copyright ruling; Guardian, 10/26/09

Roy Greenslade, Guardian; Photographer wins copyright ruling:

"The high court made a ruling on 16 October that has important ramifications for newspaper and magazine publishers and photographers, but it appears to have slipped under the mainstream media radar.

Judges found in favour of a freelance photographer Alan Grisbrook who had sued Mirror Group Newspapers for infringing his copyright in archived images.

In a 2002 consent order, following a previous legal action taken by Grisbrook against MGN over unpaid licence fees, MGN agreed to delete all electronic copies of his photos from its systems.
So when Grisbrook discovered last year that MGN were making available back copies of their titles to paying customers through websites, and that these contained some of his images, he believed MGN were infringing his copyright and breaching the previous consent order.
He said that he had never consented to the inclusion of his images in the group's back numbers database nor on their websites.

MGN argued that the use of the images was in the public interest, and that Grisbrook's licence extended to back copy editions archived electronically.

Following the ruling, technology lawyer Tom Cowling said that photographers should look at their licences.

If they have licensed images to a newspaper which, like MGN, is making back copies of their editions available online to paid subscribers, they may well have a claim in copyright infringement if their licence agreement did not clearly allow such use."

Harry Potter and the chamber of lawyers; Guardian, 10/26/09

Marmite Lover, Guardian; Harry Potter and the chamber of lawyers:

Warner Bros' lawyers have asked Ms Marmite Lover to rename a 'Harry Potter Dinner' at her Underground Restaurant. What alternative dishes can you suggest for 'Generic Wizard Night'?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Perpetual Protection Of Traditional Knowledge “Not On Table” At WIPO; Intellectual Property Watch, 10/22/09

Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch; Perpetual Protection Of Traditional Knowledge “Not On Table” At WIPO:

"The director general also weighed in on issues of copyright.

On the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Gurry said that WIPO too did not know a great deal about the talks.

“Naturally we prefer open, transparent international processes to arrive at conclusions that are of concern to the whole world,” he said, citing WIPO’s role as an international, United Nations agency. And, he added, “IP is of concern to the whole world.”

On copyright protection in the internet age, the “problem we have is massive,” he said, citing the example of the newspaper industry and the music industry, both suffering as new technology necessitates changes in old business models."

Hulu to charge for content, but needs to sweeten the deal; Ars Technica, 10/23/09

Jacqui Cheng, Ars Technica; Hulu to charge for content, but needs to sweeten the deal:

Would you start paying Hulu for content that you previously got for free? The company's backers sure hope so, and they want to stick some content behind a paywall as early as 2010. "It's time to start getting paid for broadcast content online," said one exec.

"The free-for-all days of Hulu may soon be over. News Corp. executives indicated (again) this week that the free, ad-supported model wasn't bringing home enough bacon and that the company was preparing to start charging users for content as soon as 2010. This news comes as a harsh reality check to dedicated Hulu fans, and Hulu will have to offer them more than just a browser-based stream if the company wants people to start forking over money.

"I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value," News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey said at the B&C OnScreen summit this week. "Hulu concurs with that; it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.""

EFF defends Yes Men from business rage over climate hoax; Ars Technica, 10/23/09

Matthew Lasar, Ars Technica; EFF defends Yes Men from business rage over climate hoax:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is telling the US Chamber of Commerce to get over a parody site that turns the trade group's opposition to greenhouse gas legislation on its

"The nation's leading business trade association is not a happy camper about a parody site that has rewritten its controversial position on climate change legislation. Attorneys for the United States Chamber of Commerce have issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown demand notice against the latest prank by the Yes Men, that self-described "genderless, loose-knit association of some 300 impostors worldwide who agree their way into the fortified compounds of commerce"—and then unleash the clowns of public relations war.

But lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation are telling the Chamber to cool off about the whole affair.

What's the furor about? The Yes Men staged a fake press conference this week at the National Press Club in Washington. A "Yes Man" calling himself "Hingo Sembra" actually took to the podium in front of reporters to announce the Chamber's shift on climate change, only to have the whole spectacle turn truly bizarre when a real Chamber official showed up.

According to CBS News, "The press conference began normally but dissolved into a surreal scene when a legitimate Chamber official burst into the event, having heard about it from a reporter, and exclaimed that 'Sembra' was a phony. The activist holding the press conference then called the Chamber official, Eric Wohlschlegel, a fake and demanded his business card."

European Internet sinking fast under 3-strikes proposals; Boing Boing, 10/23/09

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; European Internet sinking fast under 3-strikes proposals:

"Things look bad for the European Internet: "3 strikes" (the entertainment industry's proposal for a law that requires ISPs to disconnect whole households if one member is accused -- without evidence or trial -- of three copyright infringements) is gaining currency. Efforts to make 3-strikes illegal are being thwarted by the European bureaucracy in the EC.

The Pirate Party, which holds a seat in the European Parliament, proposed legislation that said, essentially, that no one could be disconnected from the Internet without a fair trial. When the proposal when to the European Commission (a group of powerful, unelected bureaucrats who have been heavily lobbied by the entertainment industry), they rewrote it so that disconnection can take place without trial or other due process.

On the national level, France's Constitutional Court have approved the latest version of the French 3-strikes rule, HADOPI, which has created a kind of grudging, joke oversight by the courts (before your family's Internet connection is taken away, a judge gives the order 1-2 minutes' worth of review, and you aren't entitled to counsel and the rules of evidence don't apply -- the NYT called it similar to "traffic court"). Under this rule, there is now a national list of French people who are not allowed to be connected to the Internet; providing them with connectivity is a crime.

The only bright light is that this will play very badly in the national elections coming up in many European jurisdictions; the Swedes, in particular, are likely to kick the hell out of the MPs who voted for criminal sanctions for downloading and replace them with Pirate Party candidates, Greens, and members of other parties with a liberal stance on copyright."

Canadian Musicians vs. Canadian Recording Industry Spokesperson; Michael Geist Blog, 10/25/09

Michael Geist, Michael Geist Blog; Canadian Musicians vs. Canadian Recording Industry Spokesperson:

"The government continues to play catch-up with the copyright consultation submissions (my submission appeared on Friday). It has just posted two interesting contrasting submissions: the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, actual Canadian musicians who warn against DMCA-style reforms and Don Hogarth, CRIA's communication person, who warns against people who warn against DMCA-style reforms."

New US Ambassador To Canada Kicks Things Off By Pushing For Bad Copyright Laws; TechDirt, 10/23/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; New US Ambassador To Canada Kicks Things Off By Pushing For Bad Copyright Laws:

"So it looks like the "timing" on Barrie McKenna's ridiculous Globe & Mail column spewing a bunch of recording industry propaganda wasn't so random after all. Just after it came out, the new US ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, made a point of scolding Canada for its copyright laws, and sticking by the decision to put Canada on the "watch list" in the USTR special 301 report. Once again, despite early suggestions that the new administration might actually take an evidence-based approach to intellectual property, it looks it's instead decided to simply act as an enforcer for Hollywood make believe. Too bad."

Pro-Stronger Copyright Propaganda Shows Up In Canadian Press; TechDirt, 10/21/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Pro-Stronger Copyright Propaganda Shows Up In Canadian Press:

"Rob Hyndman points us to a column in Toronto's Globe & Mail by Barrie McKenna that is basically all of the recording industry's talking points on copyright, without even a nod to the views of the other side. It appears that most of the info is (surprise, surprise) based on a recording industry lawyer. It starts with a nice little moral panic about how file sharing sites are rushing to base themselves in Canada due to the country's supposedly lax copyright laws. Of course, that's ridiculous. Canada has very strong copyright laws already. What they don't have is a DMCA. That's what the industry wants. McKenna tries to bolster his claim that Canada has weak copyright laws with the following:

"Earlier this year, the Obama administration put Canada on its blacklist of shame - a "priority watch list" of intellectual property laggards, joining the likes of China, Russia and Venezuela."

Sounds nice, but incredibly misleading. The "blacklist of shame" that McKenna mentions, but does not explain, is actually the US Trade Rep's special "301 Report." Mention it to just about any policy maker (excluding those pushing for protectionist policies for a specific industry, of course), and you get an eye roll. It's not so much "the Obama administration" but industries with wishlists attempting to restrain trade in foreign countries by putting forth scary stories about what's happening in those countries. The USTR basically takes those industry-submitted reports and wraps them up into the 301 report. It's a joke. Most of the complaints in the report concern countries that actually are in perfect compliance with international treaties -- but which the industry still wants to go further.

Of course, given that McKenna's source is an industry lawyer, perhaps it's not surprising that such info wasn't shared. But, the next claims go from the just uninformed to the unbelievable:

"Canada, which has repeatedly promised but so far failed to deliver on copyright reform, isn't just out of step with the United States, but with much of the Western world."

This is simply untrue. Canada's copyright law is actually quite in line with most of the Western world, no matter what the entertainment industry suggests (and, you might think that McKenna would ask someone other than the person representing the industry that benefits from this). Furthermore, the line that Canada has "so far failed to deliver on copyright reform" is either blatantly misleading or simply ignorant of rather recent history. Canadian politicians have tried to push forth copyright reform, but due to a massive public outcry from people who actually understand how things like the DMCA cause all sorts of problems -- especially concerning free speech and consumer rights -- those politicians were forced to back down.

That's called informed democracy in action. Oh, McKenna also claims that the last time the Canadian government tried copyright reform was in 2007. According to his bio, McKenna is based in DC, not Canada, but even down here in the States plenty of us were aware that Jim Prentice introduced copyright reform in 2008.

So, McKenna makes it out like Canada has no strong copyright laws (false), that it's laws are different from most of the western world (false) and that it hasn't tried to add more draconian copyright laws (false again). From there, he comes up with this bizarre justification for more draconian copyright law:

"The world has gone digital. And there's now an explosion of legitimate download sites in the U.S. and Europe, including ground-breaking music sites and But you can't use them in Canada.

These and other businesses are choosing to bypass the market entirely, in part because of licensing problems.

And the creative industries that produce music, software and the like - industries that contribute significantly more to the economy than BitTorrent sites - may also shun Canada if nothing is done."

Actually, you have Canadian record labels like Nettwerk, that are doing quite well, even as its CEO has declared that copyright is obsolete and should be done away with entirely within a decade. And the reason that those services can't be used in Canada isn't because the law is too lax, but because the laws are too strict, in terms of figuring out special licensing setups in each country. It's such a pain to get them licensed in a single country that the services have been forced -- against their will in many cases -- to block access in other countries like Canada."

The (legal) music fades out for Canadians; Globe and Mail, 10/20/09

Barrie McKenna, Globe and Mail; The (legal) music fades out for Canadians:

The world has gone digital but legitimate download sites shun Canada in part because of licensing problems

"There are good reasons for Canada to embrace reform - and not only because the Americans and Europeans are pushing Ottawa to do it.

The world has gone digital. And there's now an explosion of legitimate download sites in the U.S. and Europe, including ground-breaking music sites and But you can't use them in Canada.

These and other businesses are choosing to bypass the market entirely, in part because of licensing problems.

And the creative industries that produce music, software and the like - industries that contribute significantly more to the economy than BitTorrent sites - may also shun Canada if nothing is done.

That hurts Canadians, and most people don't even know it's happening."

Canada deserves spot on U.S. naughty list due to lax copyright laws; Canadian Press, 10/22/09

Canadian Press; Canada deserves spot on U.S. naughty list due to lax copyright laws:

"The new U.S. ambassador won't apologize for his country's decision to scold Canada for its lax copyright laws by placing it on a priority watch list.

David Jacobson says Canada may be America's closest friend and neighbour, but that shouldn't exempt it from respecting copyright laws that protect artists, entertainers, authors and software developers.

He suggests stronger legislation would be mutually beneficial as it will encourage innovation in both countries.

Jacobson made the comments at a Montreal conference on Canada-U.S. relations.

Wendy Noss of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association says Canada sticks out in a bad way on this naughty list which includes countries like China, Algeria, Pakistan and Russia.
She says Canada has failed for more than a decade to amend copyright laws to deal with the digital age, leaving creative industries at a loss when it comes to fighting piracy."

European laws present challenges for Google Books; CNet, 10/23/09

Tom Krazit, CNet; European laws present challenges for Google Books:

"Even the hardiest Google opponents agree that a digital library of the scope Google is proposing will have tangible benefits for the world. This is especially true for the European libraries, which store books dating as far as the 17th century that are crumbling with the advance of age. Few people are able to see those books because of their value and the remoteness of their location, but putting them online could allow the world to read books they would have once traveled thousands of miles to see, allow researchers from around the world to study their contents, and preserve the knowledge for future generations.

But some, such as German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, are wary about a single company controlling such a library. "The German government has a clear position: copyrights have to be protected on the Internet," The Guardian quoted her as saying last week.

In any event, at the moment European libraries are on the outside when it comes to unlocking the knowledge stored in the millions of out-of-print but copyright-protected books on their shelves. Google's argument all along in the U.S. has been that it was allowed to scan those types of books under fair-use laws, which was disputed by authors and publishers in 2005 but authorization to do so is a key part of the proposed settlement.

Copyright laws vary across Europe, but the concept of fair use generally does not exist, and most books are protected by copyright for 70 to 80 years after the death of the author, the librarians said. Historical works are in the public domain, but that's just a fraction of the overall number of books stored in libraries throughout the world...

Manuela Palafox, head of digital editions at the University of Complutense of Madrid, Spain, took it a step further. "The most important thing in Europe is to review our copyright laws. We need to adapt it to the digital age."

This, of course, is part of the opposition to Google's settlement in the U.S. Instead of leaving it up to Congress to reform U.S. copyright laws to settle once and for all whether digitizing out-of print but copyright-protected books should be allowed, the settlement is granting that unique sweeping right to a single corporation, and forcing others who may want to digitize these books to cut licensing deals with an organization funded by Google and staffed by directors picked by the groups representing authors and publishers.

So while Google works feverishly on a new settlement in the U.S. ahead of a November 9th deadline, its legal battles may be just beginning. Chinese authors are reportedly gearing up to oppose Google's efforts, and its mission of organizing the world's information may be stymied if European copyright laws forbid the digitization of a huge swath of books published in the last century."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Muggle lawyers ban Harry Potter feast; Guardian, 10/25/09

Anushka Asthana, Guardian; Muggle lawyers ban Harry Potter feast:

"Warner Bros has banned a woman who runs a restaurant at her home in west London from hosting a Harry Potter Night to celebrate Hallowe'en.

The owner of The Underground Restaurant, who uses the pseudonym Ms Marmite Lover, regularly holds themed evenings and for her latest event she had planned a menu of food and drink enjoyed by Harry Potter and his friends in the JK Rowling stories: from dandelion wine and pumpkin soup to Dumbledore's favourite sweets, such as mint humbugs. Guests were to be taken down Diagon Alley (the side of the house) before entering and would be met by a portrait of the "Fat Lady" to whom they would have to give a password.

However, Warner Bros has written to her warning that it owns all things Harry Potter: the "name, stylised logo, the name of the characters, themes, incidents and other associated indicia from the series of... books and films".

The letter from the company's legal and business department says: "Dear Ms Marmite Lover. While we are delighted you are such a fan of the Harry Potter series, unfortunately your proposed use of the Harry Potter properties... without our consent would amount to an infringement of Warner's rights."

Ms Marmite Lover has now renamed the event, as Warner Bros suggested, "Generic Wizard Night".

The Underground restaurant is one of the first of a new trend of "pop-up restaurants" – dining experiences operated out of people's homes and advertised via Facebook and word-of-mouth. However, the publicity it has generated also brought it to the attention of Warner Bros.

Ms Marmite said: "I understand that you need to protect the rights but this is two dinners, one-offs, from which I am not making a profit, inspired by the books and the mentions of food in them. My daughter is a huge fan, even an obsessive."

Feeling the corporate might of Warner Bros is quite a surprise for the new chef. When she hosted a Marmite night at The Underground Restaurant, with the spread included in every dish, the company was more than a little pleased. Instead of warning her about its copyright position, it made sure she was stocked up with plenty of marmite – and all for free."

Behind the music: Parley with the Pirate party; Guardian, 10/23/09

Helienne Lindvall, Guardian; Behind the music: Parley with the Pirate party:

Nick Griffin wasn't the only one to stir up controversy this week. Sweden's Pirate party were in Manchester to debate their ultra-laissez-faire ideas on copyright

"Nick Griffin isn't the only controversial party leader to head into a debate this week. This past Sunday I was on a panel debating with Rick Falkvinge, the leader of the Swedish Pirate party. The event was part of the In the City music conference in Manchester, and with me on the panel were Jon Webster (chief executive of the Music Managers Forum), Paul Saunders (ISP Playlouder), Patrick Rackow (CEO of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) and Andrew Orlowski (the Register).

As with Griffin, many people didn't agree with Falkvinge being included in the debate, nor getting a platform to peddle his agenda. Though I believe in free speech and problem solving by engaging in dialogue, I admit that the difficulty in challenging extremist views is that you have to come way over to their side of the pitch. Still, I'm convinced that you have to face these people head-on to be able to expose the huge gaps in their reasoning.

Key issues for the Pirate party are civil liberties, privacy laws, getting rid of copyright for all non-commercial use and limiting copyright for commercial use to five years...

It may surprise some people that the debate did not end up becoming a screaming match. In fact, most of the panel focused on finding a solution to how creators would survive in the future. Incidentally, I told Falkvinge that I was thinking of starting a political party that would protect the livelihood of creators. When I said I was going to call it the Pirate party, he said I couldn't – since the name is trademarked. I guess the Pirate party cherry-picks rights according to their own agenda."

Dutch court orders Pirate Bay to remove links; Sydney Morning Herald, 10/23/09

Sydney Morning Herald; Dutch court orders Pirate Bay to remove links:

"The three founders -- Frederik Neij, Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholmmen -- and a fourth defendant were found guilty on April 17 by a Swedish court of having promoted copyright infringement through their filesharing site.

They were sentenced to a year in jail and ordered to pay 30 million kronor (2.72 million euros, 3.56 million US dollars) to the movie and recording industry.

They are currently appealing the verdict.

The verdict against them did not concern the website itself, which continues to function.

Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.

None of the material can be found on The Pirate Bay server itself.

The Pirate Bay claims to have some 22 million users worldwide."

OpEd: Proposed Google book settlement leaves libraries' rights in question; San Jose Mercury News, 10/22/09

OpEd: Melinda Cervantes and Jane Light, San Jose Mercury News; Proposed Google book settlement leaves libraries' rights in question:

"The problem with the initial proposed settlement is a lack of specificity about how public libraries throughout the United States would be able to provide access to Google Book Search for millions of citizens. Would each library, regardless of its size and number of users, only be allowed to have one computer that could be used to access the Google Book Search?

What about access for the many library cardholders who use their home or work computers to "visit" the library's online resources? Would they be shut out?

Would the public be required to give up anonymity and privacy in order to explore Google's digitized library? Who would hold this information, and what assurance would library users have that the data would not be used for commercial purposes?

What would be the cost to libraries to access Google's Book Search — and should they have to pay anything at all, considering that much of Google's collection is material already in the public domain, and many of the books they are scanning come from publicly funded libraries?

These are troubling questions, and not just for librarians. They get to the heart and soul of what libraries are all about: equal access to information for everyone and a guarantee of privacy.

More people than ever are coming to their local libraries for resources. Some are budding inventors and entrepreneurs who are seeking inspiration for the next great innovation. Some are self-motivated independent learners who want to read, research and learn just for the fun of it. And, of course, many are students who rely as much on the public library as their school library for access to the world of information. The needs of the public are equally important as the intellectual property rights of authors.

So far, the Google settlement is being treated as if it were just another private litigation. It's not. Google's digitized library represents a huge worldwide public policy issue with complex, significant impacts that need further exploration."

Friday, October 23, 2009

France Approves Wide Crackdown on Net Piracy; New York Times, 10/23/09

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; France Approves Wide Crackdown on Net Piracy:

"France thrust itself into the vanguard of the global battle against digital piracy on Thursday, approving a plan to deny Internet access to people who illegally copy music and movies.

The country’s highest constitutional court approved a so-called three-strikes law after rejecting the key portions of an earlier version last spring. Supporters say they hope that France, by imposing the toughest measures yet in the battle against copyright theft, will set a precedent for other countries to follow.

Britain appears set to introduce similar legislation next month.

“France is acting as a spearhead,” said David El Sayegh, director general of the Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique, the French music industry association. “Piracy is not just a French problem, it is a global problem.”

Critics of the legislation call the sanctions draconian and say they will be ineffective in curbing file-sharing, or in converting pirates into customers of legitimate digital media businesses. They argue that disconnecting Internet accounts is unfair because of the increasing importance of the Web as a venue for commerce and political expression.

“It is a very sad day for Internet freedom in France,” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a group that had campaigned against the law. He said opponents of the law would seek new ways to subvert it.

The law creates a new agency that will send out warning letters to people accused of copying music, movies or other media content illegally via the Internet. Those who ignore a second warning and copy files illegally a third time could face yearlong suspensions of their Internet access, as well as fines.

Mr. El Sayegh said that members of the agency would be appointed in November and that the first letters could go out as soon as January. Suspensions could occur as soon as the middle of next year, he added.

The court reviewed the proposal because of a challenge by the opposition Socialist Party following parliamentary approval in September. The reversal is a big victory for President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose wife, Carla Bruni, a singer and model, had championed the measure.

The main difference between the initial proposal blocked by the constitutional court and the version approved Thursday is that a judge, rather than the new agency itself, will be required to sign off on any account suspensions. Without that protection, the court had said, the law would have violated free-speech protections.

Campaigners against the plan complained that even the new version will deny the accused the right to due process because the procedures will follow a fast-track procedure similar to that employed for traffic violations.

Approval of the law in France comes as the European Parliament, which last spring sought to enshrine Internet access as a fundamental human right, potentially blocking any government-imposed cutoffs, appears to be softening its opposition to such penalties. New provisions included in a proposed telecommunications law would permit account suspensions, analysts say.

Across Europe, policy makers have been wary about embracing “three strikes” solutions. Critics say disconnecting people’s Internet access is inconsistent with many governments’ stated objective of increasing broadband penetration.

But Britain, which had consistently ruled out account suspensions, reversed course last month, saying that it would consider such measures as a last resort in the battle against file-sharing."

McSteamy Vid Lawsuit? It’s a Copyright Beef; New York Times, 9/25/09

David Carr, New York Times; McSteamy Vid Lawsuit? It’s a Copyright Beef:

"As we wrote about on Thursday, Eric Dane, an actor from “Grey’s Anatomy” - aka “Dr. McSteamy” - and his wife Rebecca Gayheart had their attorney Marty Singer file a $1 million suit against Gawker Media for its role in publishing a video of them romping in the altogether. The little imps at Gawker, not ones to let a lawsuit cramp their style, posted the complaint in its entirety. And as it turns out, the actors are not alleging libel, slander or invasion of privacy as a primary cause of the action, but rather that Gawker violated their copyright on the salacious video. The complaint states that “Plaintiffs timely (sic) registered with the United States Copyright Office their rights as authors and owners of the video. The copyright registration number is PAu 3-404-881.”

In a copyright the pair registered two days after the video went public — you can see it here at The Smoking Gun — the work is entitled “ED-RG-KAP Video by ED & RG.” While that title may be lack in lyricism, it does contain all the relevant initials. In the application claiming dominion over the 12-minute film, which brings to mind the Mumblecore movement at its edgiest, Mr. Dane and Ms. Gayheart share credits for direction and cinematography. No costume credits are listed for reasons that are probably obvious.

By disseminating the tape, Gawker allegedly violated the plaintiff’s exclusive rights to “PAu 3-404-881″ aka “ED-RG-KAP Video by ED & RG.” hearafter and forthwith known as the McSteamy video."

Book Scanning Prompts Review of EU Copyright Laws; New York Times, 10/19/09

AP via New York Times; Book Scanning Prompts Review of EU Copyright Laws:

"The European Commission said Monday it may revise copyright law to make it easier for companies like Google Inc. to scan printed books and distribute digital copies over the Internet.

Such changes would likely include ways to more easily compensate authors and publishers, possibly through a statutory license in which a company would automatically get rights to scanning and would pay royalties to a collective pool. Money from that pool would then get distributed to copyright holders.

Under Europe's current patchwork of copyright laws, rights are now managed separately in each of the European Union's 27 nations, making it difficult to seek permission to republish or digitize content, especially when the rights holder is hard to find.

The European Commission said it would start work next year, with the goal of encouraging mass-scale digitization and suggesting ways for compensating copyright holders. Any suggested changes to European law would have to be approved by EU governments and lawmakers.
The commission said the move was partly triggered by a hearing it held in September where European authors, publishers, libraries and technology companies spoke out about how they would be affected by a deal Google is negotiating in the U.S."

Corporate bullying on the net must be resisted; Guardian, 10/20/09

Cory Doctorow, Guardian; Corporate bullying on the net must be resisted:

The entertainment industry's plans to attack copyright violators is plain embarrassing – and ignorant of real-world implications

"Back in September, my Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin blogged a photo of a Japanese Ralph Lauren store display featuring model Filippa Hamilton with her proportions digitally altered so that "her pelvis was bigger than her head." Xeni posted the image as a brief and pithy comment on the unrealistic body image conveyed by couture advertising – in other words, she posted it as commentary, and thus fell into one of the copyright exemptions that Americans call "fair use" and others call "fair dealing".

Ralph Lauren – as with many corporate giants – would prefer not to be criticised in public, so his lawyers sent our internet service provider (the Canadian company Priority CoLo) a legal threat, averring that our use was a violation of copyright law and demanding that Priority CoLo remove our post forthwith.

The story has a happy ending: Priority CoLo is a wonderful ISP and don't take these legal notices at face value. Instead, they talk them over with us, and since we all agreed that Lauren's legal analysis didn't pass the giggle test, we decided to respond by posting the notice and making fun of Lauren's insecurity and legal bullying. The story resonated with the public – who are tired of legal bullying from the corporate world – and was picked up by major news outlets around the world. Lauren apologised for his photoshoppery (but not for the spurious legal threat – and the model was fired for not being skeletal enough to appear in Lauren's campaigns). Lauren learned a thing or two about the Streisand Effect, wherein an attempt to suppress information makes the information spread more widely...

So, the notice-and-takedown system – a feature of copyright law the world round, thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties that require it – has become an easily abused, cheap, and virtually risk-free way of effecting mass censorship on the flimsiest pretence. Everyone from the Church of Scientology to major fashion companies avail themselves of this convenient system for making critics vanish.

Of course, we predicted this outcome in 1995, when the treaties were being negotiated. A system that removes checks and balances, that requires no proof before action, that replaces judges and laws with a deepest-pockets-always-wins "begs" to be abused. As Anton Chekhov wrote: "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off." Leaving naked power without consequence lying around where anyone can find it and use it is an invitation to an abuse of that power.

It's been 13 years since the WIPO treaties passed in 1996, and we have an abundance of evidence to support Chekhov, and yet we continue to repeat the notice-and-takedown mistake. Today, the entertainment industry is bent on establishing a "three strikes" system, with the enthusiastic support of Peter Mandelson, whereby someone who is accused of three copyright violations would lose his internet connection (as would all the household members who shared that connection). Even if we accept the entertainment industry's assurances that "they" would never abuse this power (admittedly, you'd have to be a fool to believe this), what about "everyone else"? What about the Ralph Laurens of this world, or the mad-dog racists who'd love to have their critics vanish from the debate, or the school bullies who want to add new torments to their victims' lives?"

Google Books in China; Chapter Two; Wall Street Journal, 10/22/09

Loretta Chao, Wall Street Journal; Google Books in China; Chapter Two:

"In response to the recent uproar over Google’s (GOOG) digital library in China, Google initially gave a boilerplate response about its U.S. book settlement applying only to U.S. books, and that the company will “of course” listen carefully to concerns and work hard to address them.

Thursday, journalists received an updated statement from the company saying the Chinese books in its library are available only in snippets, unless use of the full texts is approved by rights holders. Yet somehow, state-run newspaper China Daily seems to have taken this to mean Google plans to make a new settlement with Chinese authors. Today’s headline read, “Oodles of woe for Google,” and the lead paragraph says the company “may draw up a new statement to put out its copyright fire in China, according to a statement.”

Is it possible that China Daily got a different statement than other media, or is it merely putting another spin on Google’s comments? In its article, the paper uses quotes that were in Google’s initial, boilerplate statement, which certainly did not seem to imply any new settlement. Here is the latest from Google:

“Today we have more than 50 Chinese publishers participating in Google Book Search, who together have authorized more than 30,000 books to be found through Google web search–and made available through a short preview. We also have some Chinese books that have been scanned by our Book Search library partners; in those cases, we only make the books available as a short snippet of text–as we do with web search–unless the rightsholder authorizes a greater use. We also honor rightsholders’ preferences if they ask not to be included.”

“Like all rightsholders, Chinese authors and publishers will be able to tell Google whether or not to display their books, and will be paid if the books are included in sales or subscriptions authorized under the settlement.”

Either way, according to the China Daily story, Google’s new tack is still unacceptable to the China Written Works Copyright Society.

“We want Google to admit its infringement, apologize, and authorize a formal negotiator to discuss specific compensation with Chinese authors,” Zhang Hongbo, CWWCS deputy director-general, told China Daily."

EFF Urges Court to Ensure Fairness in Google Book Search Amendment Process; Electronic Frontier Foundation, 10/22/09

Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation; EFF Urges Court to Ensure Fairness in Google Book Search Amendment Process:

"EFF today led a coalition of authors, publishers, companies and nonprofit organizations in sending a letter to the judge overseeing the Google Book Search settlement urging the Court to ensure that those concerned about the settlement receive adequate notice of, and have sufficient time to study and comment on, any amended settlement agreement that Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers present.

Those following the twists and turns of the Google Book Search settlement will recall that the original Fairness Hearing scheduled for October 7, 2009, was put off because of what the Court called: "significant issues, as demonstrated not only by the number of objections, but also by the fact that the objectors include countries, states, non-profit organizations, and prominent authors and law professors." The Court received over 400 submissions about the settlement, including the EFF-led coalition of authors and publishers concerned about reader privacy, as well as significant concerns raised by the Department of Justice.

As a result, the parties have promised the Court that they will submit an amended settlement on November 9, 2009. Today's letter arises from the parties' discussions with the Court in which they have suggested that the amendments to the already complex agreement be subject to limited notice and ability to comment and a truncated schedule ending with a Fairness Hearing in late December or early November. It states: "We signatories raised different specific concerns and issues about this settlement from a number of different vantage points. We are united, however, in our concern that the parties' requests to limit notice and the time and scope of objections will be unfair to us and to other class members."

The Google Book Settlement is simply too important -- and too complex -- to be rushed through the court approval processes without sufficient opportunity for analysis and comment."