Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rights Holders Launch Initiative To Protect Content In Africa; Intellectual Property Watch, 8/26/10

Dugie Standeford, Intellectual Property Watch; Rights Holders Launch Initiative To Protect Content In Africa:

"Foreign content producers and broadcasters hope the soon-to-be-launched Africa Media Rights Watch will help convince the region’s regulators and consumers alike to increase respect for copyright."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Comic Book Writer Mark Waid Defends Copying, Points To The Value Of The Public Domain; TechDirt.com, 8/30/10

Mike Masnick, TechDirt.com; Comic Book Writer Mark Waid Defends Copying, Points To The Value Of The Public Domain:

"[F]amed comic writer Mark Waid gave a keynote talk at the comics' Harvey Awards event over the weekend, where he apparently gave a stirring defense of unauthorized downloading, content sharing and the public domain..."


Russian spy Anna Chapman films risque video in Moscow; (London) Guardian, 8/26/10

Luke Harding, (London) Guardian); Russian spy Anna Chapman films risque video in Moscow:

"A diplomat's daughter, Chapman was the most high-profile of 10 Russian "sleepers" arrested in America in June after being caught trying to embed themselves in American society while secretly reporting to the Kremlin and leading double lives.

The first clue that Chapman was in Moscow surfaced this week when she posted a photo taken during the session on her Facebook page.

According to lifenews.ru, Heat is now taking legal action against Chapman, accusing her of breach of copyright. It is not clear when the magazine's exclusive with the 28-year-old spy, who spent several years working in London and is a former employee of Barclays Bank, will appear."


Copyrighting Fashion: Who Gains?; New York Times, 8/30/10

Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman, Freakonomics, New York Times; Copyrighting Fashion: Who Gains?:

"Kal Raustiala, a professor at UCLA Law School and the UCLA International Institute, and Chris Sprigman, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, are experts in counterfeiting and intellectual property. They have been guest-blogging for us about copyright issues. Today, they write about new efforts to extend copyright law to the fashion industry."


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

[OpEd] Free That Tenor Sax; New York Times, 8/22/10

[OpEd] New York Times; Free That Tenor Sax:

"For jazz fans, nothing could be more tantalizing than the excerpts made available by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem of newly discovered recordings from the 1930s and ’40s. Nearly 1,000 discs containing performances by masters like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and the long-neglected Herschel Evans suddenly re-emerged when the son of the audio engineer, William Savory, sold them to the museum.

The museum is doing its best to clean up and digitize the recordings. But because of the way copyright laws work, excerpts may be all that fans can hear for some time. The museum paid for the discs, but cannot distribute the music until it has found a way to compensate the estates of the musicians, many of which may be very difficult to track down after all these decades."


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Copycats vs. Copyrights; Newsweek, 8/20/10

Ezra Klein, Newsweek; Copycats vs. Copyrights: Does it make sense to legally protect the fashion industry from knockoffs?:

"At a certain point, copyrights stop protecting innovation and begin protecting profits. They scare off future inventors who want to take a 60-year-old idea and use it as the foundation to build something new and interesting. That’s the difficulty of copyrights, patents, and other forms of intellectual protection. Too little, and the first innovation won’t happen. Too much, and the second innovation—the one relying on the first—will be stanched."


Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review; New York Times, 8/24/10

Patricia Cohen, New York Times; Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review:

"“What we’re experiencing now is the most important transformation in our reading and writing tools since the invention of movable type,” said Katherine Rowe, a Renaissance specialist and media historian at Bryn Mawr College. “The way scholarly exchange is moving is radical, and we need to think about what it means for our fields.”

That transformation was behind the recent decision by the prestigious 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly to embark on an uncharacteristic experiment in the forthcoming fall issue — one that will make it, Ms. Rowe says, the first traditional humanities journal to open its reviewing to the World Wide Web...

Today a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars is rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged by inviting online readers to comment on books in progress, compiling journals from blog posts and sometimes successfully petitioning their universities to grant promotions and tenure on the basis of non-peer-reviewed projects...

“Knowledge is not democratic,” said Michèle Lamont, a Harvard sociologist who analyzes peer review in her 2009 book, “How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment.” Evaluating originality and intellectual significance, she said, can be done only by those who are expert in a field.

At the same time she noted that the Web is already having an incalculable effect on academia, especially among younger professors...

“There is an ethical imperative to share information,” said Mr. Cohen, who regularly posts his work online, where he said thousands read it. Engaging people in different disciplines and from outside academia has made his scholarship better, he said.

To Mr. Cohen, the most pressing intellectual issue in the next decade is this tension between the insular, specialized world of expert scholarship and the open and free-wheeling exchange of information on the Web. “And academia,” he said, “is caught in the middle.”


[Book Review] An Un-'Common' Take On Copyright Law; NPR, 8/24/10

[Book Review] ]Michael Schaub, NPR; An Un-'Common' Take On Copyright Law:

"Some people believe that not only are current copyright laws too stringent, but that the assumptions the current laws are based on are artificial, illogical and outdated.

Among them is Lewis Hyde, a professor of art and politics who has studied these issues for years. In his new book Common As Air, Hyde says he's suspicious of the concept of "intellectual property" to begin with, calling it "historically strange." Hyde backs it up with an impressive amount of research; he spends a significant amount of time reflecting on the Founding Fathers, who came up with America's initial copyright laws.

Hyde is a contrarian, but he's not a scorched-earth opponent of all copyright laws. He does believe the national paradigm for intellectual property issues should be changed, though, at one point offering several examples of the absurd situations the current laws have created. (In one particularly weird example, an e-book publisher insisted its edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland "cannot be lent to someone else" and "cannot be read aloud.") Hyde advocates for a return to a "cultural commons" and quotes, approvingly, Thomas Jefferson, who believed that "ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man."


[Book Review] A Republic of Letters; New York Times Book Review, 8/22/10

[Book Review] Robert Darnton, New York Times Book Review; A Republic of Letters:

"Intellectual property has become such a hot topic that it needs to be doused with some history. Strange as it may sound, this is an argument developed convincingly in Lewis Hyde’s “Common as Air,” an eloquent and erudite plea for protecting our cultural patrimony from appropriation by commercial interests."


Photographer Withdraws Lawsuit in Shepard Fairey Case; New York Times, 8/23/10

Randy Kennedy, New York Times; Photographer Withdraws Lawsuit in Shepard Fairey Case:

"The photographer who took the shot of Barack Obama that was later transformed by the street artist Shepard Fairey into the well-known “Hope” campaign poster has withdrawn a lawsuit against the Associated Press, in which he claimed he was not working for the agency when he took the picture."


Theater Talkback: Who Owns Sheet Music?; New York Times, 7/15/10

Jason Robert Brown, New York Times; Theater Talkback: Who Owns Sheet Music?:

"[C]omposer Jason Robert Brown (“13,” “Parade”) discusses the ethics, creative implications and financial consequences of illegally downloading sheet music — including his sheet music — on the Internet."


The Purpose of Copyright; Open Spaces, 8/10

Lydia Pallas Loren, Open Spaces; The Purpose of Copyright:

"The newspaper you read this morning, the television show you watched last night, the movie you are going to see this weekend, the computer software you use to prepare your letters or send your email, the music you listen to in the car on your way to work: they are all copyrighted. Copyright permeates our lives and yet, despite its impact on our lives, relatively few people, including lawyers, have sufficient knowledge or understanding of what copyright is. And far too many people, including lawyers, have major misconceptions concerning copyright. These misconceptions are causing a dangerous shift in copyright protection, a shift that threatens the advancement of knowledge and learning in this country. This shift that we are experiencing in copyright law reflects a move away from viewing copyright as a monopoly that the public is willing to tolerate in order to encourage innovation and creation of new works to viewing copyright as a significant asset to this country's economy. The most recent example of this shift is the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, sign by the President on October 28, 1998.

Understanding the root cause and the dangers of this shift requires exposing the most fundamental and most common misconception concerning the underlying purpose of the monopoly granted by our copyright law."


Google's count of 130 million books is probably bunk; ArsTechnica.com, 8/9/10

Jon Stokes, ArsTechnica.com; Google's count of 130 million books is probably bunk:

""After we exclude serials, we can finally count all the books in the world," wrote Google's Leonid Taycher in a GBS blog post. "There are 129,864,880 of them. At least until Sunday."

It's a large, official-sounding number, and the explanation for how Google arrived at it involves a number of acronyms and terms that will be unfamiliar to most of those who read the post. It's also quite likely to be complete bunk...

But the problem with Google's count, as is clear from the GBS count post itself, is that GBS's metadata collection is a riddled with errors of every sort. Or, as linguist and GBS critic Goeff Nunberg put it last year in a blog post, Google's metadata is "train wreck: a mish-mash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess."

Indeed, a simple Google search for "google books metadata" (sans quotes) will turn up mostly criticisms and caterwauling by dismayed linguists, librarians, and other scholars at the terrible state of Google's metadata. Erroneous dates are pervasive, to the point that you can find many GBS references to historical figures and technologies in books that Google dates to well before the people or technologies existed. The classifications are a mess, and Nunberg's presentation points out that the first 10 classifications for Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" classify it as Juvenile Nonfiction, Poetry, Fiction, Literary Criticism, Biography & Autobiography, Counterfeits and Counterfeiting. Then there are authors that are missing or misattributed, and titles that bear no relation to the linked work."


Friday, August 13, 2010

Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer’s; New York Times, 8/13/10

Gina Kolata, New York Times; Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer’s:

"The key to the Alzheimer’s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.

No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort.

“It was unbelievable,” said Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s not science the way most of us have practiced it in our careers. But we all realized that we would never get biomarkers unless all of us parked our egos and intellectual-property noses outside the door and agreed that all of our data would be public immediately.”


Viacom's billion-dollar lawsuit lives on; ArsTechnica.com, 8/12/10

Nate Anderson, ArsTechnica.com; Viacom's billion-dollar lawsuit lives on:

"The billion-dollar Viacom lawsuit against YouTube/Google trudges on. After a federal judge sided completely with YouTube in summary judgment, Viacom has now filed its appeal to take the case to the next level."


Why Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Fashion; New York Times, 8/13/10

Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman, New York Times; Why Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Fashion:

"It strikes many people as strange that fashion designs are not already protected against copying. Creative artists like musicians and filmmakers argue, quite persuasively, that their success requires copyright protection for their work. If others could steal it, they say, innovation would grind to a halt.

But there is a good reason that fashion designs have never been protected by copyright. Some designers have lost sales to knockoffs, but the copying of designs has not been a serious threat to the survival of the industry. To the contrary, much of the growth and creativity in the industry depends on imitation."


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Most Ridiculous Bootleg DVD Covers Of All Time (PHOTOS); HuffingtonPost.com, 8/11/10

Katla McGlynn, HuffingtonPost.com; The Most Ridiculous Bootleg DVD Covers Of All Time (PHOTOS):

"You've seen them being sold on blankets on the streets of New York, on shelves in other countries, or even in your friend's living room: bootleg DVDs. Whether actually bootleg or just in foreign packaging, these DVD and VHS covers all have one thing in common and that is extreme misinformation. Take a look at that "Battlestar Galactica" DVD for example. Not only do they call it a "tween comedy" but they actually Photoshopped in the U.S.S. Enterprise from "Star Trek" on the front. On the front. Of the DVD. That they sell. It's a crazy world out there people, so next time you buy a movie or DVD of your favorite TV show, make sure you're buying the real thing."


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pat Conroy and the e-book future; Associated Press via YahooNews.com, 8/10/10

Hillel Italie, Associated Press via YahooNews.com; Pat Conroy and the e-book future:

"Conroy is a good example of the divided state of electronic books. With standard contracts now including digital rights, e-editions of his recent works — from "South of Broad" to a memoir out this fall, "My Reading Life" — are handled by Random House, Inc., which also releases the bound versions. Meanwhile, rights to his older books have shifted among outside companies."


Monday, August 9, 2010

Google: 129 Million Different Books Have Been Published; PC World, 8/6/10

Joab Jackson, PC World; Google: 129 Million Different Books Have Been Published:

"For those who have ever wondered how many different books are out there in the world, Google has an answer for you: 129,864,880, according to Leonid Taycher, a Google software engineer who works on the Google Books project.

Estimating the number of books in the world is more than an exercise in curiosity for the search giant: It also provides a roadmap of some of the work still left to be done in meeting the company's ambitious goal of organizing all the world's information...

As of June, the company has scanned 12 million books, according to a presentation given by Google Books engineering manager Jon Orwant at the USENIX Annual Technical Conference in Boston. These books have been written in about 480 languages (including 3 books in the Star Trek-originated Klingon language) .

The company plans to complete the scanning of existing books within a decade. The resulting virtual collection will consist of four billion pages and two trillion words, Orwant said.

About 20 percent of the world's books are in the public domain, Orwant explained. About 10 to 15 percent of these books are in print. The remaining books -- the vast majority of all titles -- are still under copyright but out of print. Google is in the process of borrowing copies of these books in order to digitize them, from about 40 large libraries worldwide.

It's this act of scanning in books that are out-of-print but still covered by copyright that has been met with some resistance by the publishing industry.

The company is now waiting for a judgement from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, on whether it can scan these books. "


Sunday Times faces £150,000-plus payout over Jimi Hendrix CD; (London) Guardian, 8/6/10

Josh Halliday, (London) Guardian; Sunday Times faces £150,000-plus payout over Jimi Hendrix CD: US companies linked with musician's estate win ruling that paper did not obtain proper copyright clearance for giveaway disc:

"High court judge Sir William Blackburne last Friday ruled that the Sunday Times covermount had delayed by a year the receipt of $5.8m in earnings to Experience Hendrix and Last Experience from the Hendrix concert film. He ordered Times Newspapers to pay damages equivalent to one year's interest on that sum.

The exact damages figure is still being worked out by the two sides' legal teams, but MediaGuardian.co.uk understands it will be just over $250,000."


The Music-Copyright Enforcers; New York Times, 8/8/10

John Bowe, New York Times; The Music-Copyright Enforcers:

"Baker, 30, is a licensing executive with Broadcast Music Incorporated, otherwise known as BMI. The firm is a P.R.O., or performing rights organization; P.R.O.’s license the music of the songwriters and music publishers they represent, collecting royalties whenever that music is played in a public setting. Which means that if you buy a CD by, say, Ryan Adams, or download one of his songs from iTunes, and play it at your family reunion, even if 500 people come, you owe nothing. But if you play it at a restaurant you own, then you must pay for the right to harness Adams’s creativity to earn money for yourself. Which leaves you with three choices: you can track down Ryan Adams, make a deal with him and pay him directly; you can pay a licensing fee to the P.R.O. that represents him — in this case, BMI; or you can ignore the issue altogether and hope not to get caught.

P.R.O.’s like BMI spend much of their energy negotiating licenses with the biggest users of music — radio stations, TV and cable networks, film studios, streaming Internet music sites and so on. But a significant portion of BMI’s business is to “educate” and charge — by phone and in person — the hundreds of thousands of businesses across America that don’t know or don’t care to know that they have to pay for the music they use. Besides the more obvious locales like bars and nightclubs, the list of such venues includes: funeral parlors, grocery stores, sports arenas, fitness centers, retirement homes — tens of thousands of businesses, playing a collective many billions of songs per year.

Most Americans have no problem with BMI charging for its music — except when they do. As Richard Conlon, a vice president at BMI in charge of new media, put it: “A few years back, we had Penn, Schoen and Berland, Hillary’s pollster guys, do a study. The idea was, go and find out what Americans really think about copyright. Do songwriters deserve to be paid? Absolutely! The numbers were enormously favorable — like, 85 percent. The poll asked, ‘If there was a party that wasn’t compensating songwriters, do you think that would be wrong?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes!’ So then, everything’s fine, right? Wrong. Because when it came time to ask people to part with their shekels, it was like: ‘Eww. You want me to pay?’ ”


Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to Find Cheaper College Textbooks; New York Times, 8/3/10

Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times; How to Find Cheaper College Textbooks:

"The cost of buying the textbooks can easily add up to $1,000 a year or more.

Thankfully, federal rules that went into effect in July may help ease the pain. Publishers can no longer bundle their textbooks with accompanying materials like workbooks, and they must reveal their prices to professors when making a sales pitch. Colleges, meanwhile, are now required to provide students with a list of assigned textbooks during course registration, which allows for more time for shopping before classes begin.

That’s especially important now because there are an increasing number of ways to save on books if you buy or rent them online. This Times article from last year provides a lot of helpful information. But we also spoke with Nicole Allen, textbook advocate at the Student Public Interest Research Groups, for some more tips.."


Friday, August 6, 2010

Schumer Bill Seeks to Protect Fashion Design; New York Times, 8/5/10

Cathy Horyn, New York Times; Schumer Bill Seeks to Protect Fashion Design:

"The American fashion industry has been pushing hard over the last four years for copyright protection for its designs. A bill in the House of Representative died in committee after clothing makers argued that protection against knock-offs would only encourage frivolous lawsuits from people claiming they had the idea first. Today, after a year of negotiations, Senator Charles E. Schumer introduced a bill that seemed to satisfy the different sides of the fashion industry — and may provide some protection, too.

The bill, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act, has the support of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), whose individual members represent the creative core of the industry, and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents more than 700 manufacturers and suppliers and by its estimate accounts for about 75 percent of the industry’s business. The AAFA had argued that the House bill was too broad and would expose its members to lawsuits."


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gary Friedrich's Ghost Rider lawsuit against Marvel lives on; ComicBookResources.com, 8/3/10

Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; Gary Friedrich's Ghost Rider lawsuit against Marvel lives on:

"A lawyer for Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich asserts the writer's copyright-infringement lawsuit against Marvel will proceed, despite reports in June that the action had been dismissed."


Monday, August 2, 2010

JailbreakMe released for Apple devices; (London) Guardian, 8/2/10

Josh Halliday, (London) Guardian; JailbreakMe released for Apple devices: JailbreakMe – which will unlock iPhones, iPads and iPods – ruled legal by the US Library of Congress:

"Less than a week after the US Library of Congress established the "jailbreaking" of Apple iPhones as "fair use", a plucky hacker yesterday launched a browser-based service to do just that.

JailbreakMe 2.0 will "jailbreak" – unlock from restrictions imposed by the manufacturer – the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad when visited from the device."


Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age; New York Times, 8/2/10

Trip Gabriel, New York Times; Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age:

"“This generation has always existed in a world where media and intellectual property don’t have the same gravity,” said Ms. Brookover, who at 31 is older than most undergraduates. “When you’re sitting at your computer, it’s the same machine you’ve downloaded music with, possibly illegally, the same machine you streamed videos for free that showed on HBO last night.”"