"Game of Thrones is the reigning champion, emerging as the most pirated television series for the third consecutive year. Not only does the HBO fantasy drama top TorrentFreak‘s 2014 list, but the estimated 8.1 million downloads rank higher than the 7.6 million legal viewers."
Monday, December 29, 2014
TJ Dietsch, ComicBookResources.com; ‘Game of Thrones’ Most Pirated Show For Third Straight Year:
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Suzy Evans, New York Times; A Parody of a Mockumentary. Now That’s Meta:
"And while Corky may have wished for mainstream recognition, Mr. Griggs realizes that the national spotlight might come at a cost. “We don’t have any rights,” he said. “We’re doing it as a parody, and that’s worrisome.” He added that he is terrified about receiving a call from the movie studio. “I also know full well that it being in The New York Times, this’ll get us closed.”"
Monday, December 8, 2014
Allan Kozinn, New York Times; Rare Dylan Recordings Set for Release in Copyright-Extension Bid:
"Thanksgiving has come and gone, and there’s a nip in the air — no question about it, European Copyright Extension season is upon us. Since 2012, when the European Union passed a revised copyright law, extending the copyright on recordings from 50 years to 70 – but only if the recording was published during its first 50 years – record companies have been exploring their vaults for potentially marketable material in danger of losing its copyright protection if it is not released."
Clyde Haberman, New York Times; Grappling With the ‘Culture of Free’ in Napster’s Aftermath:
"Napster did not last long, two years. But for a while at the dawn of this century it claimed to have 70 million registered users. It spawned a host of Internet music-swapping providers, more than a few of them falling on the dubious side of the law. Most important, it irrevocably altered not only the way in which Americans absorbed music but also their belief system in what they should pay. The conviction theologically held by many boiled down to a single word: nothing. “You have a generation of people now who expect their music for free,” Greg Hammer, managing director of Red Bull Records, a branch of the energy-drink company, told Retro Report. “It’s very difficult to change.” The music industry is not alone in coming to terms with altered realities. As every sentient soul surely knows by now, the “culture of free” — words borrowed from the title of this week’s video — has turned the print world upside down, pushing newspapers, magazines and book publishers into a frantic search for financial safe harbors. With the advent of broad Internet use in the 1990s came a notion that information should be free. Never mind that the gathering and transmission of information can be a costly proposition and that (dirty word alert) money is needed if the survival of, say, a newspaper is to be ensured. As with music in Mr. Hammer’s observation, a generation now believes that the written word, whether on processed wood or in pixels, should come without charge."
Kyle Wiens, Wired.com; Copyright Law Is Being Rewritten Right Now, and You Can Help:
"Strap in, folks—because we’re about to talk copyright law. I’m aware that as soon as I string the words “copyright” and “law” together, eyes start to glaze over. I get it. Copyright law isn’t Kim-Kardashian’s-oiled-butt level stuff; it doesn’t break the internet. But important things hardly ever do. Believe it or not, copyright law is shaping up to be the next big battleground in technology. And its fundamentally redefining ownership. Copyright isn’t just about pirating music or downloading DVDs anymore. Like a creature alive, copyright is evolving and expanding. Traditional “dumb” products are being replaced by an internet of things — and copyright is hitching along for the ride. Its DNA is being woven through the programming that powers your car, the firmware in your phone, the code in your kid’s talking teddy bear, and the software that calibrates your hearing aid."
Monday, November 17, 2014
Ben Sisario, New York Times; Sirius XM Has Setback in Lawsuit:
"A federal judge in New York has ruled against Sirius XM over an obscure copyright issue that has galvanized the music industry: royalties for recordings made before 1972. Sirius XM and Pandora Media have both been hit in the last year by a series of lawsuits over old recordings. Neither company pays record labels or performing artists on songs recorded before 1972, when federal copyright protection was first applied to recordings. (Both services, however, pay separate royalties for songwriting.)"
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Anne L. Kim, Roll Call; Leahy Introduces Same-Sex Copyright Inheritance Bill:
"A bill introduced Wednesday would let spouses in same sex marriages inherit their each other’s copyrights regardless of whether or not the state where the copyright owner dies recognizes same-sex marriage."
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed; Open Minds, Open Access:
"What I will say is that it seems wonderfully appropriate that we are thinking through the legal implications of this practice during Open Access Week. This annual event is in its eighth year and we have seen progress made. If you're not quite sure what open access means, the best two-minute explanation was written by Peter Suber and he explains it well, if not in as much depth as in his book about it. A lot of scholars now buy into the idea that it makes sense for their research to be available to all who have an internet connection, not just to those who are lucky enough to work at a research institution or have the resources to purchase all the books and articles they might want to look at. There's a persistent misperception among many scholars that all open access publishing operations charge authors (most don't), that they are not peer reviewed (most are), and that they're run by scammers (yes, some scammers have set up faux publishing sites, but they're pretty obviously bogus. Rejecting all open access publications as a result is kind of like saying you will only accept messages that come on paper in an envelope with a stamp because email is a scam run by Spanish Prisoner crooks.) One argument against open access that has never made sense to me is that the system we have works perfectly well and anyone who needs access to research already has it. Publishers have said this to members of the US Congress with a straight face. To me, this is a startlingly anti-intellectual stance."
Research Is Just the Beginning: A Free People Must Have Open Access to the Law; Electronic Frontier Foundation, 10/23/14
Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Research Is Just the Beginning: A Free People Must Have Open Access to the Law:
"The bad news: the specter of copyright has raised its ugly head. A group of standards-development organizations (SDOs) have banded together to sue Public.Resource.Org, accusing the site of infringing copyright by reproducing and publishing a host of safety codes that those organizations drafted and then lobbied heavily to have incorporated into law. These include crucial national standards like the national electrical codes and fire safety codes. Public access to such codes—meaning not just the ability to read them, but to publish and re-use them—can be crucial when there is an industrial accident; when there is a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina; or when a home-buyer wants to know whether her house is code-compliant. Publishing the codes online, in a readily accessible format, makes it possible for reporters and other interested citizens to not only view them easily, but also to search, excerpt, and generate new insights. The SDOs argue that they hold a copyright on those laws because the standards began their existence in the private sector and were only later "incorporated by reference" into the law. That claim conflicts with the public interest, common sense, and the rule of law. With help from EFF and others, Public.Resource.Org is fighting back, and the outcome of this battle will have a major impact on the public interest. If any single entity owns a copyright in the law, it can sell or ration the law, as well as make all sort of rules about when, where, and how we share it."
Kerry Flynn, HuffingtonPost.com; Downloading Music Is Quickly Going Out Of Fashion:
"First records died, then cassette tapes, then CDs and now, downloads. That's right, we're all but officially in the age of streaming services. Apple might operate the largest online music store in the world, but the Apple Store's iTunes digital music sales have fallen about 13 percent this year, a source familiar with the matter tells the Wall Street Journal. The writing is on the wall."
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Joseph Storch, Inside Higher Ed; Why We Need Bright Lines:
"Frankly, the dueling decisions in these cases, and the numerous articles and statements by serious copyright scholars on both sides of this analysis, show that even those who steep themselves in the details of fair use can disagree on whether a certain use is fair or violative. When intellectual property law experts cannot agree, we should not expect our history and math faculty to do justice to the fair use analysis each time. Instead, faculty will divide into two camps. One group will “throw caution to the wind” and use whatever content they wish in whatever form they desire, hoping never to raise the ire of the publishing companies. The other, out of an abundance of caution, will self-censor, and fail to make fair use of content for fear that they might step over a line they cannot possibly identify, and can never be certain of until a judge rules one way or the other. Either way, our students and the publishers lose out.""
Louis Menand, New Yorker; Crooner in Rights Spat: Are copyright laws too strict? :
"This almost instinctive distinction between what is proper in the analog realm and what is proper in the digital realm is at the center of a global debate about the state of copyright law. Statutes protecting copyright have never been stricter; at the same time, every minute of every day, millions of people are making or using copies of material—texts, sounds, and images—that they didn’t create. According to an organization called Tru Optik, as many as ten billion files, including movies, television shows, and games, were downloaded in the second quarter of this year. Tru Optik estimates that approximately ninety-four per cent of those downloads were illegal. The law seems to be completely out of whack with the technology."
Quentin Hardy, New York Times; Cloud Computing Is Forcing a Reconsideration of Intellectual Property:
"Almost overnight, our technology revolution is shaking up entire industries and remaking society. Don’t get caught up in the small stuff, though: Tech really is changing how we think about our ideas. We’ve used ideas to sculpt the globe since the Industrial Revolution, thanks largely to the way we handle intellectual property. When machines, and machines to make identical machines, mass-produced reliably identical goods, it was because people understood the same set of instructions. Mass-produced books, music and movies were possible, too. Like machine-making instructions, these items were made reliable and protected with laws of copyright, patent and trademark. Now, according to people involved in the business of protecting ideas, all of that is set to change. Software, lashing together thousands of computer servers into fast and flexible cloud-computing systems, is the reason. Clouds, wirelessly connected to more software in just about everything, make it possible to shift, remix and borrow from once separate industrial categories."
Deb Amlen, New York Times; Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame:
"The artist formerly known as Prince and who is apparently very sensitive about copyright has prevented any videos of “RASPBERRY BERET” from being played on YouTube."
Hilda Bastian, Scientific American; Teenage Mutant Ninja Journal! Celebrating an Open Access Birthday:
“The world of medical journals needs a fresh infusion of idealism.” And with those words from PLOS founders, Mike Eisen, Pat Brown, and Harold Varmus, the first issue of PLOS Medicine launched 10 years ago today. Its “mutant” superpower was being open access. Then – as now – it was bold, idealistic, and an active advocate for open science. The year before, when PLOS had just arrived, Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, wrote: “An historic realignment of power is beginning to take place in scientific and medical journal publishing. Nobody is certain about the final outcome.”"
OPEN ACCESS WEEK @ Pitt, 2014
"Open Access Week, a global event now entering its seventh year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they've learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research."
Celebrating Open Access Week: Research Should Be Free, Available, and Open; Electronic Frontier Foundation, 10/20/14
Electronic Frontier Foundation; Celebrating Open Access Week: Research Should Be Free, Available, and Open:
"Welcome to the eighth annual Open Access Week! We're joining an international community—researchers and students, doctors and patients, librarians and activists—to celebrate free and open access to knowledge. This is also a time to discuss the barriers and costs of keeping research and information locked up with restrictive licenses and publisher paywalls. This week, we'll be blogging daily about various aspects of open access, as well as ways to get involved in the movement. Visit this page throughout the week to find a list of all our blog posts. If you have further questions, be sure to tune in on Thursday at 10 a.m. PT for a reddit AmA, where we’ll be joined by fellow advocates and researchers."
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net; "Copy Me" episode 3: "Early Copyright History" :
"Alex writes, "It features censorship, hangings, dissent and criticism, a whole bunch of state and church control, angry queens, sad Stationers, and, of course, our terrible culprit: the printing press.""
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Kady O'Malley, CBC News; Conservatives' copyright law changes could backfire:
"It's not hard to imagine the Conservative advertising department working overtime to come up with a new ad centred on a clip of Trudeau's now infamous comments. If done right — and until Trudeau came along, that ad department had an excellent track record, at least as far as demolishing the credibility of Liberal leaders — a campaign focusing on Trudeau's most ungainly on-camera moments of late could at least start to make up for the time and money wasted in trying to depict him as Canada's new Prince of Pot. But last spring, representatives from Canada's major broadcasters — CBC, Radio Canada, CTV, Rogers and Shaw, owner of Global — served notice to all political parties that they were seriously considering imposing a collective blackout on ads making use of their proprietary footage without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. Under that policy, if the Conservative Party can't strike a deal with one of the networks that happened to be filming Trudeau at the time, they would likely find the ad blocked from the airwaves."
NBCNews.com; YouTube Has Paid $1 Billion to Copyright Holders Since 2007:
"YouTube has paid out a cool $1 billion to copyright holders since 2007, the company confirmed to NBC News. It's all part of YouTube's Content ID program, which, according to a Google spokesperson, scans 400 years' worth of content every single day for potential copyright issues... The majority of Content ID's 500-plus partners decide to monetize instead of ban those videos, according to Google, which could explain why the entertainment industry shifted from complaining about YouTube to awarding it a Primetime Engineering Emmy Award in 2013."
Monday, October 6, 2014
Jenna Wortham, New York Times; Readers Debate Online Piracy and the Future of Digital Entertainment:
"On Sunday, The New York Times published the story of a popular — and illegal — website that let people stream and download movies and television shows at their leisure. The site was taken offline in 2010 by the federal government, and the administrators behind the site were charged with conspiracy and copyright infringement. Nearly all served time in prison. The article touched a nerve among Times readers, eliciting hundreds of reactions about copyright infringement and intellectual property, and how the digital world complicates both. Here is a sampling of their comments..."
Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; Supreme Court won’t intervene in Shuster-DC fight over Superman:
"The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to intervene in the copyright dispute between the Joe Shuster Estate and DC Comics, effectively ending the long, and frequently bitter, battle over who owns Superman. By denying the estate’s petition, the justices let stand a November 2013 ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Shuster’s nephew is prevented by a 1992 agreement with DC from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the first Superman story under a clause of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act. At issue was a now 22-year-old deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to the property in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension."
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Corey Blake, ComicBookResources.com; Kirby vs. Marvel settlement: The King’s goal fulfilled:
"Nearly one month after what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 97th birthday, the announcement was made: Concluding a five-year copyright battle, and decades of contention about credit and compensation, Marvel and the Kirby family revealed Friday that they had reached a settlement, just ahead of a conference to decide whether the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the case. “Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes,” they said in a joint statement, “and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.” This is, without question, excellent news, and cause for celebration. As is typical with settlements, the terms of their agreement aren’t made public, and the one-sentence statement gives no indication of how Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history will be honored."
Samuel Gibbs, Guardian; Grooveshark employees are guilty of copyright infringement, judge rules:
"Griesa pointed to an internal memo sent in 2007 where Greenberg asked employees to “please share as much music as possible from outside the office” to help the service get off the ground. “By overtly instructing its employees to upload as many files as possible to Grooveshark as a condition of their employment, Escape engaged in purposeful conduct with a manifest intent to foster copyright infringement via the Grooveshark service,” Griesa wrote. Griesa gave the parties 21 days to reach agreement to stop further infringement. “Escape respectfully disagrees with the court’s decision, and is currently assessing its next steps, including the possibility of an appeal,” John Rosenberg, a partner at Rosenberg & Giger representing the defendants told Reuters. The ruling opens the door to a multimillion-pound damages suit from the record labels, who are keen to see the service shut down, calling it a “linear descendant” of file sharing services Grokster, LimeWire and Napster all of whom have been shutdown over copyright infringement."
Thursday, October 2, 2014
For Bill on Disabled Access to Online Teaching Materials, the Devil’s in the Details; Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/30/14
Rebecca Koenig, Chronicle of Higher Education; For Bill on Disabled Access to Online Teaching Materials, the Devil’s in the Details:
"As smart classrooms become the norm on more campuses and online courses proliferate, some observers worry that the digital revolution will leave students with disabilities behind. But a bill under consideration in the U.S. Congress, the Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505), would deal with that concern by creating accessibility guidelines for electronic materials used or assigned by college professors and administrators. While the bill, known as the Teach Act, has bipartisan support in Congress, several higher-education organizations have raised concerns about what they consider the legislation’s broad language, inflexibility, and misplaced oversight."
Steve Sunu, ComicBookResources.com; Kurt Busiek Breaks Down the Marvel/Jack Kirby Legal Battle:
"Additionally, Busiek posits a theory as to why Marvel decided to settle -- and it has to do with various organizations, including the Writer's Guild, the Director's Guild, the Screen Actor's Guild and more, filing amicus briefs that argued Marvel's current definition of employee is "not workable." "[I]f the Supreme Court upholds it, it'll create chaos for other industries, where things that used to be classed as rights sales suddenly got redefined as work for hire. So they wanted the Supreme Court to hear the case and decide that no, the rules of work for hire don't work that way. "And that's where things sat until Friday, when Marvel and the Kirbys settled, on the last possible business day before the Supreme Court started discussing whether to take the case. "Based on that, it sure doesn't look like Marvel's throwing the Kirbys a few bucks to go away. If that's what they wanted to do, they could have done that any time within the last few years. Whoever blinked, it was the side that had the most to lose if the case went to the Supreme Court and risked a ruling they didn't like."
New UK Copyright Exception Allows Mashups -- But Only If Judges Think They Are Funny; TechDirt.com, 10/1/14
Glyn Moody, TechDirt.com; New UK Copyright Exception Allows Mashups -- But Only If Judges Think They Are Funny:
"Leaving aside the fact that judges tend to be somewhat advanced in years, and are therefore likely to have a very different idea from young creative artists of what "funny" means, there is also the point that this narrow definition excludes a huge class of mashups that aren't even intended to be funny, just creative."
Monday, September 29, 2014
Noah Berlatsky, Pacific Standard; How Copyright Law Protects Art From Criticism:
"Oliver Wendell Holmes is right—judges aren’t necessarily going to be experts on, or very thoughtful about, aesthetic issues. Courts have to consider aesthetics in copyright law, but the result is often going to be messy and painful and often even unjust. There isn’t any way out of that. However, there is a change that could ameliorate the situation to some extent. Gone With the Wind was published in 1936. That means that it’s 78 years old. The first American copyright act of 1790 allowed for a copyright term of 14 years, which could be renewed for another 14-year term if the author was alive. If that original law was still in effect, Gone With the Wind would have gone out of copyright almost 50 years ago. For that matter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Spider-Man, Faulkner’s oeuvre, and Stephen King’s early books would all be out of copyright. If you wanted to do a parody or sequel to any of those, no court would have to rule on the aesthetic value of anything. It wouldn’t matter if a court believed Stephen King’s work was canonical, or if they thought Faulkner’s racial views deserved to be undermined and questioned. When a work is out of copyright, it’s aesthetic value, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. Whether it’s great or whether it’s awful, the work is fair game for parodists, remixers, piraters of cheap editions, and anyone else."
Ridiculous Ruling Says University Can't Release Course Syllabi Because That Would Violate Professors' Copyright; Forbes, 9/29/14
George Leef, Forbes; Ridiculous Ruling Says University Can't Release Course Syllabi Because That Would Violate Professors' Copyright:
"On August 26, a Missouri appeals court held that course syllabi are protected by federal copyright law. That trumps the state’s Sunshine Law, so the court ruled that the university is correct in refusing to allow NCTQ or anyone else to have copies. NCTQ will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Missouri... On legal grounds, the University of Missouri’s refusal to release the syllabi looks very shaky. Do professors really hold copyright over their syllabi? One expert in copyright law, Chapman University law professor Tom Bell, thinks not. In an email to me, he wrote, “While debate continues over whether scholarship prepared in the course of employment with a university falls within the work-for-hire doctrine, there can be little doubt that syllabi do, meaning that the copyrights in them vest in the university rather than the professor.” Another reason for believing that the court’s ruling is incorrect is the “fair use” exception to copyright. Under “fair use,” people are permitted to make reasonable use of copyrighted material. Among the factors that are to be considered are whether the use is for a non-profit educational purpose and how the use would affect the market value of the work. Here, the analysis to be done on the syllabi is for a non-profit educational purpose (assessing the quality of the education school courses), and it has no impact at all on the market value of the syllabi, which is zero."
BBC News; Parody copyright laws set to come into effect:
"Changes to UK legislation are to come into force later this week allowing the parody of copyright works. Under current rules, there has been a risk of being sued for breach of copyright if clips of films, TV shows or songs were used without consent. But the new European Copyright Directive will allow the use of the material so long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version. The new law will come into effect on 1 October. Owners of the copyrighted works will only be able to sue if the parody conveys a discriminatory message. It would then be down to a judge to decide if the parody is funny. "The only, and essential, characteristics of parody are, on the one hand, to evoke an existing work while being noticeably different from it and, on the other, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery," the EU rules state. "If a parody conveys a discriminatory message (for example, by replacing the original characters with people wearing veils and people of colour), the holders of the rights to the work parodied have, in principle, a legitimate interest in ensuring that their work is not associated with such a message.""
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Jenna Wortham, New York Times; The Unrepentant Bootlegger:
"To the government, Ms. Beshara was a thief, plain and simple. The Motion Picture Association of America alerted the federal government to NinjaVideo and nine other movie-streaming sites, and they all went dark at the same time. The raids were carried out by several federal agencies working to combat counterfeiting and piracy, and the scale of the operation was meant to send a warning that the government wasn’t ignoring the freewheeling world of illegal online streaming and downloading. Ms. Beshara, however, still can’t accept that what she was doing deserved the heavy hammer of the law. She served 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement, but she still talks about NinjaVideo as something grand. It was a portal that spirited her away from the doldrums of her regular life as a receptionist living with her parents to an online community that regarded her as its queen. Sure, she showed movies that were still playing in theaters, but it seemed like harmless, small-stakes fun. “In hindsight — I know it’s naïve — but I never imagined it going criminal,” she said. “It didn’t seem like it was something to be bothered with. Even if it is wrong.” She is not the only one who feels that way. It has proved very difficult to reverse a pervasive cultural nonchalance about what constitutes intellectual property theft on the web. Despite the government crackdown in 2010 and subsequent efforts to unplug websites that host or link to illegal content, new sites have emerged that filled the void that NinjaVideo left behind. Online piracy is thriving. File-sharing, most of it illegal, still amounts to nearly a quarter of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index. And a recent report from Tru Optik, a media analytics firm, said that nearly 10 billion movies, television shows and other files, including games and pornography, were downloaded globally in the second quarter of 2014. Tru Optik estimates that about 6 percent of those downloads were legal. In July, a high-quality version of “The Expendables 3,” the Sylvester Stallone action comedy film, surfaced online and was downloaded millions of times, well before its release in theaters."
Carrie Goldman, New York Times; A Stolen Video of My Daughter Went Viral. Here’s What I Learned:
"In early September, someone downloaded my video of Cleo, stripped it of all identifying information, changed the title from “Cleo on Equality” to “Wisdom of a 4-Year-Old”, and re-uploaded it to YouTube, passing it off as his or her own video. A woman in Amsterdam posted an embedded version of the stolen video to her Facebook page, from which it went viral. Within a matter of days, the stripped-down version of the video had been shared over 80,000 times. I only learned about it when the pirated video began appearing in the news feed of people who recognized Cleo and noticed that it was not linked to any of my accounts. I felt sick on multiple levels. I have always known, of course, that the mere act of uploading a video to any digital site means potentially losing control over that content. But now it had happened, and even though the shares appeared to be harmless — approving, even — it was still terrifying. What if someone decided to do something creepy with it? There was also a part of me that saw all the comments lauding Cleo’s grasp of acceptance, and I wanted those people to be linked back to my anti-bullying work. I missed the opportunity to share what I do for a living with a wide audience. I was sad and confused. Was I upset because the video was out there being viewed by tons of strangers, or was I upset because it was out there and I wasn’t getting credit? Both, probably... I knew I had rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Since I speak to students and teachers all the time about good digital citizenship, I knew what steps to take next: • Do not retaliate against someone online • Take a screen shot and record the evidence • Use this online form to report the violation to Facebook. • Use this online form to report a copyright infringement on YouTube."
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Alex Wild, Ars Technica; Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer:
"Here is a true story about how copyright infringement costs my small photography business thousands of dollars every year. Or, maybe it isn’t. It could also be a true story of how copyright infringement earns me thousands of dollars every year. I can’t be sure. Either way, this is definitely the story of how copyright infringement takes up more of my time than I wish to devote to it. Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year. And it's why, in part, I am leaving professional photography for an academic position less prone to the frustrations of a floundering copyright system."
Friday, September 26, 2014
ComicBookResources.com; Marvel & Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute:
"Deadline reports that Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have settled their legal battle in advance of the Supreme Court taking the case into conference. A joint statement has been released and reads as follows: "Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.""
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Andy Beta, New York Times; Behind the Groundbreaking Design of Aphex Twin’s Record Covers:
"Tomorrow sees the release of “Syro,” a double album on the pioneering electronic label Warp Records that finds the reclusive genius — now a father of two living in rural Scotland — at his mischievous, beat-twisting best. (It can be streamed here in its entirety; a Spotify account is required.) The record also shares a lineage with the eye-catching, face-distorting cover art of releases like 1997’s “Come to Daddy” and 1999’s “Windowlicker,” again finding James collaborating with the groundbreaking firm The Designers Republic (TDR) on the visuals. Here, the collective’s founder and creative director, Ian Anderson, chats with T about the thought process behind some of Aphex Twin’s most iconic cover art... “Come to Daddy Remixed” (1997) “For us the key elements in the ‘Come to Daddy’ art were the typographic deconstructions of the photographic imagery and of the TV ad for Orange Mobile, which had used one of the Aphex Twin remix tracks. For copyright reasons we weren’t allowed to show an image of the art, so we reduced the ad to a short descriptive text in reversed white out of orange.”
Ed Christman, Billboard; SiriusXM Copyright Battle: What Does the Latest Ruling Mean for Digital Music? :
"The U.S. Federal Court decision that SiriusXM violated the Turtles' pre-1972 master copyrights by playing their music without licensing it or paying performance royalties is a big win for the music industry, but does it have meaning beyond California where the legal battle took place? Like all lawsuit decisions, the ruling may have legal implications for other ongoing court cases, but the ruling has just decided a battle, not the war. That war centers on whether SiriusXM and other digital music services like Pandora, have the right to play pre-1972 recorded music without licensing nor paying royalties to record labels and the artists because -- those services argue -- the master recording copyright didn't exist until 1972 in federal law. Digital service, as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, must pay master recordings rights-holders and music publishers for broadcast, unlike terrestrial radio, which only has to pay royalties to publishers. But Sirius only pays for recordings created after 1972 when federal law recognized the master recording copyright."
Monday, September 22, 2014
Anderson J. Duff, Wired; ‘Let’s Take a #Selfie,’ Said the Monkey: A Case of Questionable Copyrights:
"The United States Copyright Office chimed in with its two cents in the recently published third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices – the first revision in over two decades. While prior publications were largely internal, the third edition is a push to make the practices and standards of the Copyright Office more timely and transparent while providing guidance on some fundamental principles of copyright law. Its verdict? Monkey selfies can’t be copyrighted. In the age of hyperconnected, always-on, muploads, likes and hashtags, how does intellectual property fit into the equation? How do we define “ownership” when pieces of content — especially images — are continuously created and uploaded into the public domain in a matter of seconds? As preteens, celebrities, President Obama, the Pope — and now, yes, even monkeys — jump on the selfie train, we may not think twice before uploading photos to Instagram or Facebook. But one filter we rarely consider is looking at the world through copyrights."
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Molly Wood, New York Times; Apple and Amazon Take Baby Steps Toward Digital Sharing:
"In the physical world, you can share a book or DVD or CD that you bought with as many friends and family as you like. You can even sell those items if you want, thanks to the first sale doctrine. But digital media has been excluded from that doctrine, because, essentially, when you buy a digital song or movie or book, you’re being granted a license to use that media, but you don’t actually own it. As a result, there are far more restrictions on what you can do with an MP3 than on what you can do with a CD... So, while Family Sharing and Family Library seem like a victory at first, “to me, this is really a failure of our copyright law,” said Corynne McSherry, who heads intellectual property policy research at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It presupposes that the content owners should be able to have that kind of control over what they buy,” she said. “Copyright law isn’t changing with our times, because what doesn’t change is that people want to be able to give someone a copy of a book or song that they legally bought.” “The fact is,” Ms. McSherry said, “that we need Amazon or Apple to have elaborate license agreements in order to make it possible for their customers to be able to do what they should be able to do anyway.”"
Jonathan Hutchison, New York Times; Online Renegade, Wanted in U.S., Shakes Up New Zealand Election:
"It was not an ordinary political rally, but it has been anything but an ordinary election. The hundreds of people who packed Auckland Town Hall on a recent evening were regaled by speeches by Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder; and Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, the last two appearing by Internet video link. Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden said the New Zealand government had carried out, or at least participated in, mass domestic surveillance. But at the center of the show was the event’s organizer, Kim Dotcom, an Internet entrepreneur accused of mass copyright theft whose fledgling Internet Party stands a chance at winning seats in Parliament in the national elections on Saturday. “We are going to work really, really hard to stop this country from participating in mass surveillance,” Mr. Dotcom told the crowd. “And we’ll close one of the Five Eyes,” he added, referring to the intelligence alliance that consists of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The crowd erupted in cheers."
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Christopher Williams, Telegraph; Murdoch renews hostilities with Google over 'contempt' for copyright:
" Rupert Murdoch has intervened in a European row over the power of Google, with News Corp accusing the search engine of being "contemptuous of intellectual property" and having "cynical management" that provides "a platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks". In a letter to Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner at the head of a long-running investigation of allegations that Google abuses its dominance of the web search market to crush competition and exploit publishers, Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp launched a scathing attack."
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Joel Gurin, Forbes; How Open Data Is Transforming City Life:
"Start a business. Manage your power use. Find cheap rents, or avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods. Cities and their citizens worldwide are discovering the power of “open data”—public data and information available from government and other sources that can help solve civic problems and create new business opportunities. By opening up data about transportation, education, health care, and more, municipal governments are helping app developers, civil society organizations, and others to find innovative ways to tackle urban problems. For any city that wants to promote entrepreneurship and economic development, open data can be a valuable new resource. The urban open data movement has been growing for several years, with American cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington in the forefront. Now an increasing number of government officials, entrepreneurs, and civic hackers are recognizing the potential of open data. The results have included applications that can be used across many cities as well as those tailored to an individual city’s needs."
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Liam Hyslop, Stuff.co.nz; Top 10 political copyright infringements:
" Many candidates use tracks without permission in the hopes the artist will not notice and then, when they are inevitably caught out, issue an apology. It seems to have become increasingly common in recent years, with 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain having no fewer than six artists asking him to not use their music. In light of all of that, here is our top 10 list of political copyright infringements."
Friday, September 12, 2014
Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pitt sets deadline for transfer of intellectual property rights:
"Asked if researchers must transfer intellectual property rights to campuses in return for federal funding, the National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research provided a three-paragraph statement that said signed agreements verifying compliance with Bayh-Dole are required. The language did not appear to specifically address transferring intellectual property rights to universities. The faculty assembly Tuesday passed a resolution drafted by the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee asking Ms. Beeson and Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher to slow down the process to allow faculty and administrators to jointly address the ramifications. Barry Gold, pharmacy faculty member and co-chairman of the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, said he has heard from a couple of investigators who are refusing to sign and others with concerns. Pitt administrators and Michael Spring, president of the faculty assembly, have said the agreements would be subject to the existing campus policies and therefore no additional rights would seem to be ceded, but some have asked what happens if the policies change, Mr. Gold said. “Does that mean we would get to re-sign those agreements?” Asked his reaction to Monday’s memo, Mr. Gold replied: “I don’t know what to say other than this is just another effort to steamroll faculty into signing.”"
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Questions raised about intellectual property rights at Pitt:
"The University of Pittsburgh is telling all faculty and nonclerical staff they must sign agreements stating they “irrevocably assign and transfer to the university my rights, title and interest to all intellectual property” they develop while employed there. The administration says the agreements simply reflect existing campus intellectual property policies and that the signatures have become necessary to obtain federal research funding because of a 2011 Supreme Court case that Pitt says requires schools not only to have policies but also confirmation that employees will abide by them. But an official with the American Association of University Professors, which has seen a number of agreements drafted by schools since the Stanford vs. Roche decision, said Wednesday such signatures are not a requirement to secure grant funding. Forcing faculty to sign them is a violation of academic freedom, said Cary Nelson, AAUP’s immediate past president."
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post; How copyright became the best defense against revenge porn:
"Reddit had, in effect, just learned a lesson that revenge-porn activists, attorneys and victims have known for years: Despite the obvious privacy violations, the apparent harassment, and — in many cases, including this one — the overwhelming evidence of computer crimes, the quickest, easiest way to get compromising images off the Internet is frequently copyright law. “It’s the path of least resistance,” explains Amanda Levendowski, a recent graduate of NYU Law who has written extensively on revenge porn and copyright. “I wouldn’t say it’s the best solution, and it’s not a perfect fit, but it does do what victims want.” “Doing what victims want” — a.k.a., getting their misappropriated images off the Internet — turns out to be a messy, labyrinthine legal goal. For one thing, Levendowski says, every revenge porn case is different: some photos are selfies and some aren’t; some were hacked and some were uploaded by exes; some victims are under 18, and some are well over it. Different laws and legal concepts apply in each of those cases, which makes any kind of comprehensive approach impossible."
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Mike Isaac, New York Times; Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up:
"Reddit said its moderators were unable to keep up with a torrent of requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove the images, made by those who own rights to the photos. After a moderator removed a post in response to a D.M.C.A. request, another post would pop up in its place. Taking down the entire forums, Reddit said, was the only way to avoid playing a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole.” The moves came amid an continuing debate over the role websites play in hosting objectionable content online, and how much user-generated content platforms should or should not interfere with what their users post. Twitter, for instance, has faced increasing pressure to protect users from abuse and hate speech on its service, while YouTube has been used at times for distribution of horrifying videos. Despite its content removal, Reddit continues to maintain its hard-line stance on issues of free speech, even as it decided to take down the forums in question. The company said it had always dealt with D.M.C.A. removal requests by redirecting rights holders to the companies that host the photos on their servers. It has also held a zero-tolerance policy toward some content, such as child pornography. “We uphold the ideal of free speech on Reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to,” said Yishan Wong, Reddit’s chief executive, but because the company believes that the user “has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil,” and that it is the user’s responsibility to do so. His company blog post was titled “Every Man Is Responsible for His Own Soul.”"
Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast; Mickey Mouse Takes Deadmau5 to Court:
"As Mouse-watchers know, none of these questions really matter to Disney, which has gained a reputation as the world’s largest copyright enforcer (some would say copyright troll). Ranked #66 on the Fortune 500, Disney has plenty of lawyers to keep busy. They’ve sued Etsy stores, Stan Lee, Megaupload.com, YouTube, and hundreds of unauthorized merchandisers, dealers, and artists. And in addition to passing the Mickey Mouse Protection Act just before the Mouse himself was to enter the public domain, Disney lobbied hard for SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have authorized court orders barring search engines and advertisers from even linking to infringing websites. And Disney doesn’t just sue—it gets nasty. In 2008, Disney sued a family that bought unauthorized Tigger and Eeyore costumes on Ebay for $1 million plus legal costs. Really? A million bucks for a Halloween costume? And now, Deadmau5. There are three reasons why this case may be different, though."
Saturday, September 6, 2014
The Conversation, Science 2.0; AAAS Chooses Not To Advance Open Access:
"Some universities and funding organizations, including those administered by governments, now mandate open access, recognising its potential to increase the impact of research paid for by public money. The United Nations is considering the importance of open access to ensure the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications”. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is the largest scholarly society in the world, has recently launched a new open-access journal. But its approach is at odds with that of other major open-access publishers and could impair the goals of the movement. The journal Science Advances, to be launched in February by the AAAS, plans to publish articles under a license that would prevent commercial reuses by default. This includes publication on some educational blogs and incorporation into educational material, as well as reuse by small-medium enterprises. By definition, this is not open access. AAAS will give authors the option to publish their work under a fully open license, but will levy a US $1,000 surcharge on top of the US$3,000 base publication fee. A reason for this surcharge was not given. Science Advances is going to be an online-only journal, but AAAS will also charge authors US$1,500 more to publish articles that are more than ten pages long. They believe editorial services are enough justification for this charge, but there is no calculation to support this claim."
Alex Hern, Guardian; 4chan website introduces copyright mechanism after celebrity hacking:
"Internet image board 4chan has introduced a policy for complying with the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for the first time. The site was the place where hundreds of naked selfies stolen from celebrities including actors Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were posted. The policy sets out for the first time a procedure by which copyright holders can send a DMCA takedown notice to the site’s administrators. These inform a website hosting user-generated content that one of their users has uploaded copyrighted material illegally, telling them to take down the relevant content or face legal action. A DMCA policy is important in helping a site gain “safe harbour” protection from lawsuits, deflecting responsibility for user-generated content that it has not explicitly approved. 4chan has named a DMCA agent for the first time and offers a postal address in Delaware – apparently a box at a professional services firm. Up until now, 4chan has been relatively well shielded from the consequences of the DMCA because of the ephemerality of the site. Although almost every post on 4chan involves an image, most of which are not licensed for use, most posts are deleted within a few hours of creation because the site trims any board bigger than ten pages."
Randy Kennedy, New York Times; The Heir’s Not Apparent: A Legal Battle Over Vivian Maier’s Work:
"The state public administrator’s office for Cook County, in Chicago, which is charged with overseeing estates until relatives or others are approved by the courts to do so, created an estate for Maier on July 1 and has sent letters to Mr. Maloof and others who sell her work — prints can cost more than $2,000 apiece — warning them of possible lawsuits over Maier’s assets. The Stephen Bulger Gallery, in Toronto, which lists dozens of Maier prints on its website, received a letter on Aug. 19 from a Chicago law firm, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, representing the estate, asking it to preserve all documents related to her work and its sale. “We are investigating the potential misuse and infringement of copyrighted works whose rights are held by the estate,” the letter said, adding that the firm anticipated “filing litigation against the responsible parties upon completion of our investigation.” An exhibition of her work is on view at the Toronto gallery."
Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; Conan Doyle Estate Told to Pay Legal Fees:
"A federal court has ordered the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to pay $30,679.93 in legal fees to the plaintiff in a successful copyright challenge, calling its practice of demanding licensing fees for use of the character Sherlock Holmes “a form of extortion” with “no legal basis.”... The reimbursement of legal fees, the ruling noted, was necessary to level the playing field between creators and copyright holders, who capitalize on people’s willingness to pay use fees rather than take the costly risk of litigation. It cited the example of the song “Happy Birthday to You,” for which a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, in the words of a 2009 decision, “receives approximately $2 million per year” in royalties, “despite the fact that the song is most likely in the public domain.” Last year a documentary film company filed a suit arguing that the song is no longer under copyright and requesting that the millions of dollars in use fees collected over the years be returned."
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Rob O'Neill, ZDNet; Open data's Achilles heel: re-identification:
'Governments around the globe are embracing the mantra of open data and talking up its productivity benefits, but none have so far made the re-identification of this mass of anonymised data illegal... The possibility of outlawing re-identification is now being discussed in New Zealand, with both the Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, and a May report (pdf) from the New Zealand Data futures Forum suggesting legal protections against re-identification may be necessary. Edwards told ZDNet he is trying to look towards the future and ensure that the value in government data can be safely extracted in ways that maintain public confidence. “One of the methods might be a prohibition on re-identification. If we did that we would be world leaders," he said. Similarly, the Data Futures Forum report said it is necessary to develop a "robust data-use ecosystem" and to get the rules around open data right. This should include a data council to act as guardians and advisers, and a broad review of legislation."
Kevin L. Smith, Library Journal; Hard Cases Make Bad Law:
"From both of these cases we can learn some basic truths; basic, but not universally recognized, which means that we need to remind ourselves and others about them. Copyright is a human institution that protects human creative effort within specific limits. One of those limits is the public domain, which has always been a part of copyright and which itself protects the ability of future authors to exercise their own creativity. Copyright is a set of economic rights held by authors, but it is not a form of mind control; simply knowing something, or remembering it, is not—and cannot ever be—a copyright problem. All laws need limits, lest they become an excuse for tyranny. These are some of the limits that are built into copyright, and they protect us from the unique types of tyranny that such a law might be prone to, including the illusion that every piece of culture must be owned by someone and that every use, even in one’s own mind, must be paid for."
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Michelle Starr, CNet; Tap millions of copyright-free book images via Flickr:
"The Internet is a magnificent resource -- and, Internet Archive believes, it has a lot of potential as a free library for researchers, historians, scholars and those who are just plain curious about the world. And, with a new project, that library is getting bigger. In collaboration with the Internet Archive, Georgetown University academic Kalev Leetaru is in the process of uploading more than 14 million images from more than 2 million public domain e-books (more than 600 million pages) to Flickr. The books, which are from the Internet Archive's library, span a period of 500 years and are automatically tagged thanks to a tool that scrapes the text before and after each image, making for a fully searchable database... Leetaru and the Internet Archive plan to share the code with library partners, allowing them to add to the already extensive archive. Meanwhile, the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr page is available online for anyone to use."
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Alex Fitzpatrick, Time; Here’s How Celebs Can Get Their Nude Selfies Taken Down:
"Some of the celebrities, like Lawrence, have pledged to go after whoever’s responsible for the privacy violation. While the hacker remains unidentified, the victims have at least one weapon to try and stop the images from spreading any further: Copyright law. Here’s how that could work: In the United States, copyrights on photos are granted to whomever took the image. Since so many of the stolen images are reportedly selfies, that means the women in the images took the photos themselves — and, therefore, they get the copyright on them."
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Ben Child, Guardian; Deep Throat production company fails in Lovelace copyright claim:
"Producers of the most successful porn movie of all time, Deep Throat, have lost a legal battle against the makers of a biopic about its tragic lead, Linda Lovelace. A New York judge ruled on Monday that Lovelace, the 2013 biographical drama starring Amanda Seyfried as the title character, does not infringe copyright of the infamous 1972 porn film that inspired it... The decision will presumably cause some relief in Hollywood, which routinely recreates famous scenes for biographical films. Had the ruling gone differently, movies such as My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 film that depicted the shooting of scenes from the 1957 romcom The Prince and the Showgirl, might conceivably have found themselves mired in legal difficulties."
Ariel Kaminer, New York Times; Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two:
"Amy Quispe, a summit-meeting organizer who was finishing her studies at Carnegie Mellon University, said struggles over campus data were so bad in some cases that “in a lot of ways students’ creativity was being stifled.” Campus software developers say they see evidence that some colleges are becoming more comfortable with these collaborations, though as with any learning process, the path is not always a straight one. Alex Sydell and William Li collaborated on a website, Ninja Courses, that made it easy for fellow students at Berkeley, and later at four more U.C. campuses, to compare every aspect of different courses as they built their schedule for the semester. Berkeley saw the website’s value and went so far as to pay them for their innovation. (“For students, the offer they gave us was very generous,” is all Mr. Li will say about the amount.) But when their point person moved onto another job, Mr. Sydell says, they got a cease-and-desist letter accusing them, among other things, of violating U.C. copyrights by using the colleges’ names."
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Harvard’s Copyright First Responders to the Rescue:
"While most academic librarians are familiar with the basics of copyright law, the questions they’re asked are getting more complex. Issues of fair use and open access, MOOCs and repositories, and the push to digitize mean that students and faculty need more guidance on copyright matters than ever. This spring Kyle K. Courtney, Harvard University’s copyright advisor, brought together a pilot group of librarians known as Copyright First Responders (CFRs) to address this situation. The CFRs, who work in libraries across campus, are spending the summer in Courtney’s Copyright Immersion program studying the intricacies of copyright law. In fall 2014 they’ll begin serving as the first line of defense for copyright concerns expressed by students, staff, and faculty."
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Bill Chappell, NPR; If A Monkey Takes A Photo, Who Owns The Copyright? :
"An argument is brewing between British photographer David Slater and the folks at Wikimedia over who owns the rights to a photo a monkey took with Slater's equipment. The website says the famous photo should be freely distributed, because it believes isn't bound by copyright law. The dispute stems from 2011, when Slater's wildlife photography field trip to Indonesia produced a striking image of a smiling crested black macaque; another image shows it holding the camera. The story went viral, with Slater explaining that a group of macaques had taken over his equipment for a bit during the three days he spent in their company."
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Nick Wingfield, New York Times; Bill to Legalize Unlocking Cellphones Passes Congress:
"On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would make it legal for consumers to open the digital locks on their cellphones so that they could more easily switch wireless carriers. The Senate has already passed the bill. Under a law intended to prevent copyright infringement, consumers now risk fines of up to $500,000 and five years in jail if they unlock their cellphones without the consent of their wireless carriers. The restrictions against unlocking are deeply unpopular with the public... Cellphone unlocking was actually legal until last year, when an earlier exemption to copyright laws granted by the Library of Congress, the overseer of the United States Copyright Office, expired... President Obama, in a statement on Friday, said he looked forward to signing the bill, called the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, into law."
Nick Bilton, New York Times; The Pirate Bay Goes Mobile With New Site:
"People can complete all sorts of tasks with a smartphone now — order tickets, check the weather or call a taxi. Starting Thursday, people will also be able to easily steal copyrighted content on their mobile phones. The Pirate Bay, one of the most popular sites on the web for illegally downloading copyrighted material, announced that it is releasing a mobile-centric version of its website, called The Mobile Bay... Some media companies have acknowledged using pirating sites, including The Pirate Bay, to their benefit. Last year, a senior Netflix executive said the company used such sites to determine the genre of new shows that viewers might be interested in, and the type of shows Netflix should produce or license. Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, also said that pirated content could be “a tremendous word-of-mouth thing.” While authorities and some entertainment companies have tried to stop The Pirate Bay from growing, the site has doubled its traffic since 2011, according to internal numbers about site use that Pirate Bay organizers released this month."
Josh Taylor, Gen Why? via ZDNet; Piracy discussion paper focuses on copyright stick not content carrot:
"If we are to understand the government's move to crack down on online copyright infringement from its now-officially-released discussion paper, the plan is to disproportionately address the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes. Censoring websites and forcing ISPs to police their consumers' internet use seems to be the main thrust of the questions arising from the discussion paper released by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Malcolm Turnbull yesterday... For now, it seems like any new legislation brought in will be all about making it harder for customers and ISPs. As one executive remarked to me recently, the government is being very small government when it comes to the copyright industry, and very big government when it comes to consumers and the telecommunications industry."
SCOTUSblog Founder Joins Marvel Superhero Appeal for Jack Kirby Estate (Exclusive); Hollywood Reporter, 7/29/14
Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter; SCOTUSblog Founder Joins Marvel Superhero Appeal for Jack Kirby Estate (Exclusive) :
"In what might be yet another sign that Marvel should begin to fret that the U.S. Supreme Court could review a massive superhero rights dispute, the respected attorney Tom Goldstein is now co-representing Jack Kirby's family members. Goldstein is perhaps most famous for running the invaluable SCOTUSblog, which on July 21 highlighted Kirby v. Marvel Characters as its "Petition of the Day." The dispute started when the family of comic book legend Kirby sent termination notices to Marvel and its licensees Sony, Fox and Universal over such superhero characters as Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and others. The bid fell short when the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that the former Marvel freelancer had contributed his materials as a "work made for hire." As such, Marvel was considered the statutory author, and Kirby (and his heirs) never had any termination rights under the 1976 Copyright Act. The high court has been asked to review the 2nd Circuit opinion, and in recent months there's been signs that it could indeed be taken up: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Marvel to respond to a cert petition after it initially declined to do so. Then Kirby's side got amicus support from the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the former U.S. register of copyrights and various Hollywood labor guilds."
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Joshua Wolf Shenk, New York Times; The End of ‘Genius’ :
"WHERE does creativity come from? For centuries, we’ve had a clear answer: the lone genius. The idea of the solitary creator is such a common feature of our cultural landscape (as with Newton and the falling apple) that we easily forget it’s an idea in the first place. But the lone genius is a myth that has outlived its usefulness. Fortunately, a more truthful model is emerging: the creative network, as with the crowd-sourced Wikipedia or the writer’s room at “The Daily Show” or — the real heart of creativity — the intimate exchange of the creative pair, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney and myriad other examples with which we’ve yet to fully reckon... In 1710, Britain enacted its first copyright law, establishing authors as the legal owners of their work and giving new cultural currency to the idea of authors as originators. This is when we start to see the modern use of “genius.” In an essay published in 1711, Joseph Addison cited Shakespeare as a “remarkable instance” of “these great natural geniuses” — those lit up by an inner light and freed from dependence on previous models."
Monday, July 14, 2014
Craig Havighurst, Billboard; Six Suggestions for Not Screwing Up Copyright Reform (Guest Post) :
"Craig Havighurst is a music journalist and media producer in Nashville with a public policy M.A. from Duke's Sanford School. He's followed intellectual property issues since covering the music business for The Tennessean in the 2000s. Far too late and amid far too much partisan dysfunction, Congress has revived efforts at modernizing copyright law. But if recent hearings are an indication, we’ve launched a fight over slices of a depressingly diminished pie rather than a debate about first principles and solutions that could grow the creative industries again. This critical reform effort deserves better. So what would wise and lasting copyright reform look like? Without getting into the weeds of PRO consent decrees and royalty courts, here are six ideas anyone can understand that would ensure a fair framework for creators and consumers. They propose a system that would license intellectual property in thousands of small ways that are missed entirely today. My focus is music, because that’s what I know best, but the principles could apply to photos, video clips and other works."
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Editorial Board, New York Times; A Bill to Unlock Cellphones:
"The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a good measure that would make it legal for Americans to “unlock” their cellphones, making it easier to switch wireless providers. The House passed a similar bill earlier this year."
Amanda Levendowski, Atlantic; The Lost and Found Legacy of Barbara Ringer:
"I came across a quote a few weeks ago—one that so perfectly encapsulates the outdatedness and skepticism surrounding copyright law—that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen before: “The 1976 Copyright Act is a good 1950 copyright law.” It was attributed to someone I didn’t know: Barbara Ringer. She was one of only a few women in her graduating class at Columbia Law School back in 1949. Just after graduation, she took a position with the Copyright Office as an examiner, where she determined the registrability of applicants’ submitted works. When she wasn’t busy working her way up through nearly every position at the Copyright Office, Ringer was drafting the Universal Copyright Convention, attending international copyright conferences, and teaching at Georgetown Law Center as the university’s first woman adjunct professor of law. She conducted empirical research. She published her work in law journals. She even wrote the article about copyright law for the Fifteenth Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. And then I realized that I did know her. We all sort of know her: She was one of the lead architects of the 1976 Copyright Act."
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Peter Ross Range, New York Times; Should Germans Read ‘Mein Kampf’? :
"GERMANY is once again passing through the wringer of its past. At issue this time are not the deeds but the words of Adolf Hitler and the planned republication of his infamous manifesto-as-autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” a book that has been officially suppressed in the country since the end of World War II... Since then, although “Mein Kampf” has maintained a shadow presence — on the back shelves of used bookstores and libraries and, more recently, online — its copyright holder, the state of Bavaria, has refused to allow its republication, creating an aura of taboo around the book. All that is about to change. Bavaria’s copyright expires at the end of 2015; after that, anyone can publish the book: a quality publisher, a mass-market pulp house, even a neo-Nazi group."
Monday, July 7, 2014
WIPO Copyright Committee In Disarray Again; Development Dimension Questioned; Intellectual Property Watch, 7/7/14
Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; WIPO Copyright Committee In Disarray Again; Development Dimension Questioned:
"For the second time this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee could not agree on the conclusions of its session or on any recommendation to be made to the September General Assembly on the protection of broadcasting organisations or the establishment of an international regime of exception and limitations for libraries and education. The development dimension of the United Nations specialised agency was again called into question by developing countries calling for more balance in the treatment of the issues on the agenda. Developing countries are pushing for limitations and exceptions to copyright, developed countries contend that the current copyright system is adequate."
Is Europe Serious About Reforming Copyright, or Just Greasing the Squeaky Wheel?; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 7/3/14
Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Is Europe Serious About Reforming Copyright, or Just Greasing the Squeaky Wheel? :
"Coordinated enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights—copyright, patents and trade marks—has been an elusive goal for Europe. Back in 2005, the European Commission struggled to introduce a directive known as IPRED2 that would criminalize commercial-scale IP infringements, but abandoned the attempt in 2010 due to jurisdictional problems. IP maximalists took another run at it through ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, but that misguided treaty was roundly defeated in 2012 when the European Parliament rejected it, 478 votes to 39... Although no response to that consultation has yet been officially released, we can get an inkling of how the Commission might view these proposals for reform from the recently leaked draft of a whitepaper that examines areas of EU copyright policy for possible review... Similar reticence towards copyright law reform was demonstrated by the Commission this week at WIPO where its representative made a very clear statement that it was not willing to consider work leading to international instrument for limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives; doubling down on a position it adopted at the previous meeting of the same WIPO committee. This does not paint a positive picture of the future of copyright in Europe."
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Vikas Bajaj, New York Times; After Aereo:
"As Emily Steel wrote in The Times on Monday, several companies are already selling devices that would allow people to capture over-the-air TV signals from antennas in their own homes, record them and stream them over the Internet so they can watch shows on their phones and other devices when they are not at home. One such device, made by Simple.TV, costs $199. For several years, another company named Slingbox has sold similar devices that allow people to watch their cable-TV service from anywhere. It’s possible that broadcasters will challenge the use of such devices, as they did Aereo’s service. But before they do that, they may want to revisit a 1984 Supreme Court decision in a famous case involving the sale and use of VCRS that came to be known as the Betamax ruling."
Friday, July 4, 2014
Anya Kamenetz, NPR; Big Data Comes To College:
""So academics are scrambling to come up with rules and procedures for gathering and using student data—and manipulating student behavior...Yet another set of concerns arises because a lot of the new educational data collection is proprietary. Companies like Pearson, Blackboard and Coursera each have information on millions of learners. "This is not a new problem for science," Stevens says, pointing to pharmaceutical and medical research. "But it is a new fact in the field of education research." A fact that raises big questions: Who owns this data? The student, the institution, the company or some combination? Who gets to decide what is done in whose best interest?"
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Kyle Anderson, Entertainment Weekly; 'Weird Al' Yankovic: The Stories Behind The Songs:
"For 35 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has been music’s most reliable satirist, sending up the biggest pop hits and the most iconic artists for the sake of belly laughs. He’s about to release a brand new album called Mandatory Fun on July 15, so to prepare for a fresh batch of tunes we caught up with Yankovic to get the stories behind hits both big and small... “Eat It” (1984) “It was pretty obvious back then that Michael Jackson was the biggest star in the universe. Everything revolved around him. ‘Eat It’ is not that clever a variation on ‘Beat It.’ It’s probably the most obvious pun. If YouTube had existed in 1984, there would have been a million ‘Eat It’ parodies. I just gravitated toward the most obvious parody, and it seemed to work. This really was a bona fide hit. That was number one in Australia, number 12 in the States. If it hadn’t been for Michael Jackson, I don’t know that I would have a career to this day, because getting permission from him in 1984 opened a whole lot of doors for me. Prior to that, we were getting a lot of resistance and reluctance from people who were like, ‘I don’t know about this Weird Al guy and if I should let him do a parody.’ But after we were able to tell them, ‘Well, Michael Jackson didn’t seem to have a problem with it,’ they were like, ‘Well, sure! If it’s OK with Michael, it certainly should be OK with me.’ That logic seems to work."
Erik Kain, Forbes; Lindsay Lohan Sues 'Grand Theft Auto V' Maker [Updated] :
"Last December we reported that actress and controversy magnet Lindsay Lohan had called her lawyers about the inclusion of a character with her likeness in the blockbuster video game Grand Theft Auto V... The suit claims that the character Lacey Jonas is an “unequivocal” reference to Lohan, depicting everything from her likeness to her clothing line to the Chateau Marmont hotel where Lohan once lived... According to the Digital Media Law Project: “As a general matter, you will not be held liable for using someone’s name or likeness in a creative, entertaining, or artistic work that is transformative, meaning that you add some substantial creative element over and above the mere depiction of the person. In other words, the First Amendment ordinarily protects you if you use someone’s name or likeness to create something new that is recognizably your own, rather than something that just evokes and exploits the person’s identity.” I’m not a legal expert, but Rockstar seems to fall well within this guideline. The character in question was not specifically Lohan, and engages in entirely fictional activities that are designed to parody a certain type of celebrity. I sincerely doubt that this case has legs."
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Kaskade's Free Music: Beer, or Speech? A Look at Sampling, Creative Commons and Copyright (Op-Ed); Billboard, 7/1/14
Steve Martocci, Billboard; Kaskade's Free Music: Beer, or Speech? A Look at Sampling, Creative Commons and Copyright (Op-Ed) :
"While Kaskade's "Ain't Gotta Lie" stems are free, Kaskade still owns the stems under the Copyright Law and can choose to enforce his rights at any time, potentially rendering all of the stem users liable for infringement. "Free as in free speech" implies liberty and freedom from restrictions. With free software, you're encouraged to contribute to the source code, to modify, improve and redistribute it. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright law, but the rights-holder is able to remove these restrictions by accompanying the software with a license (like GNU, MIT or Apache). Open source software is possible because of licenses like this. Similar to software developers, music creators continually borrow, mix, and enhance each other's sounds. Evolution in music comes from continual experimentation and inspiration from the past and present. Producer Mark Ronson recently said in a TED Talk, "The dam has burst. We live in the post-sampling era. We take the things that we love and we build on them." Ronson is right. We live in a thriving remix culture where the creation of derivative work is inevitable. Consumers obtain and re-distribute copyrighted material illegitimately all the time. It's become ubiquitous. Activist Lawrence Lessig, pioneer of Creative Commons and author of "Remix," asserts "outdated copyright laws have turned our children into criminals."... Kaskade closes his manifesto with an aspirational declaration: "Free the music, and your cash will follow." Artists that want to advance an open source future for music need to reconsider their definition of free. Releasing stems free of charge isn't enough. To protect creators, the stems need to be freed from restrictions by choosing a Creative Commons license. So Kaskade...how can we use these stems? Are they free as in beer or free as in free speech?"
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Derek Willis, New York Times; The Lost Emails of the I.R.S. Point to a Wider Problem:
"Even requiring agencies to store emails as electronic records rather than on paper might not solve the federal government’s problems with record management. Carl Malamud, the founder and president of the nonprofit Public.Resource.Org, which places state and federal government information in the public domain, described a deeper problem: Despite spending billions on information technology, the federal government has not kept pace with advances in technology. It has developed a defensive posture when the public and Congress demand information. “In my view, one reason people dump so much on the Civil Service is that the Civil Service is forced to work with the most God-awful tools known to modern organizations,” Mr. Malamud said. “We spent $80 billion a year on I.T., and I’ve heard that 75 percent of that is a total waste, the end result being that we paralyze the bureaucracy and they in turn develop a real attitude.” Mr. Malamud’s own experience with the I.R.S. includes performing audits on publicly available information to ensure that taxpayer data such as Social Security numbers do not get released by the agency. (He found tens of thousands of examples in one I.R.S.-managed database last year). The problem, he said, “is a people problem, not a money problem.” A 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, agreed. “Technology alone cannot solve the problem without commitment from agencies,” it concluded. Insufficient training and senior officials who did not follow established procedures were among the concerns that the G.A.O. cited, calling email management “especially problematic.”"
Monday, June 30, 2014
Emily Steel, New York Times; After Supreme Court Ruling, Aereo’s Rivals in TV Streaming Seize Opening:
"The day after the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo in a copyright case brought by the nation’s major broadcasters, Mr. Ely was trying to scoop up Aereo customers by promoting his start-up, Simple.TV, on social media. “Former Aereo customer? Join the Simple.TV Family,” the company wrote on Twitter on Thursday... The television establishment still has much to worry about after its Supreme Court victory on Wednesday over Aereo, the digital start-up that had threatened to upend the economics of the media business. “Television is a castle filled with money,” said Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer at Vivaki, the Publicis Groupe’s digital marketing unit. “People are trying to get into that castle and take some money.” But while the court’s decision broadens the moat, traditional broadcasters still must find ways to defend themselves against an array of companies like Mr. Ely’s that want to give viewers an alternative to the their model. Eager for a piece of the $167 billion American television market, dozens of companies are offering options for the growing number of viewers known as cord cutters, who are canceling their traditional pay-television subscriptions."
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Open access is not enough on its own – data must be free too: Academics have been encouraged to make their research freely available, but their data also needs to be open to scrutiny; Guardian, 6/26/14
Susanna-Assunta Sansone, Guardian; Open access is not enough on its own – data must be free too: Academics have been encouraged to make their research freely available, but their data also needs to be open to scrutiny:
"If your research has been funded by the taxpayer, there's a good chance you'll be encouraged to publish your results on an open access basis – free at point of publication and with reuse and redistribution rights. This final article makes publicly available the hypotheses, interpretations and conclusions of your research. But what about the data that led you to those results and conclusions? Isn't the underlying data just as important to support the quality of the findings? A huge amount of data is being produced by scientists every day, but too often key information is left to rot in an Excel document on someone's desktop, or handwritten in a notepad that is later thrown away. Increasingly, policymakers and funders are introducing data-sharing and stewardship policies to solve this problem. Funders want to see this data being properly described, stored, shared and reused, to realise its full potential. Data producers are also somebody else's data users, and they have also come to the same realisation. Open data ensures that the scientific process is transparent, helps others to reproduce results and can even help speed up the process of scientific discovery."
Jocelyn Kaiser, Science; Output Drops at World's Largest Open-Access Journal:
"The number of papers published by the world’s largest open-access journal, PLOS ONE, has plummeted over the past few months after rising fairly steadily for years, notes a scholarly publishing blogger. Phil Davis suggests the closely watched PLOS ONE may have become a less attractive option for scientists as its impact factor has fallen and other open-access publishers have come on the scene. Founded 14 years ago, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) has been a leader in open access—online journals that are free for anyone to read and cover costs by charging authors a fee. But PLOS has also drawn criticism, because the nonprofit broke even only after starting the multidisciplinary PLOS ONE, which accepts all papers that pass technical scrutiny regardless of their importance. The model has drawn the complaint that PLOS ONE bulk publishes low-quality papers to make its more selective journals sustainable. That high volume made PLOS ONE the largest scientific journal in the world in 2010, with more than 8600 research papers. Last year, the site featured 31,509 papers. But this year, the trend has been downward, notes Davis, a publishing consultant."
WIPO Copyright Committee: More Rights Or Limitations/Exceptions? ; Intellectual Property Watch, 6/29/14
Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; WIPO Copyright Committee: More Rights Or Limitations/Exceptions? :
"The World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee meets next week with some uncertainty. Unable to agree on the future work of the committee at the end of the last session, delegates will have to decide how they want to advance work on a proposed treaty protecting broadcasting organisations, and on limitations and exceptions to copyright for the benefit of libraries and education. The 28th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is taking place from 30 June to 4 July."
Friday, June 27, 2014
Mitch Stoltz, SCOTUS Blog; Symposium: Aereo decision injects uncertainty into copyright:
"Wednesday’s decision in American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo raises a big question about the right sources of interpretive authority in copyright cases. Justice Breyer’s majority opinion, finding that Aereo performed television programs publicly, was driven by legislative history and first principles, with analysis of the statutory text an afterthought. That approach turned a pure question of statutory interpretation into something more like common law adjudication. This is a departure from Justice Breyer’s past decisions on copyright, which have generally put the text first. If the new approach becomes the norm in Aereo’s wake, it could transform copyright into a more flexible but also far more unpredictable legal regime."