Saturday, May 30, 2015

How copyright law threatens your right to repair your car; Vox, 5/28/15

Timothy B. Lee, Vox; How copyright law threatens your right to repair your car:
"The DMCA prohibits anyone from "circumventing" electronic locks that prevent copying of copyrighted content, including software. The law was designed for the kind of copy-prevention schemes used by DVDs and online music stores like iTunes.
But the software baked into your car is also copyrighted. In theory, that means carmakers could invoke the DMCA to shut down third-party diagnostic tools, shut out independent mechanics, and prevent customers from repairing their own vehicles. Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress, which has the authority to grant DMCA exemptions, to allow customers and independent mechanics to repair their vehicles without the permission of automakers.
Most automakers oppose the petition. General Motors, for example, argues that the ban on tinkering with car software is an important safety feature. "The proposed exemption presents a host of potential safety, security and regulatory concerns that proponents have not fully considered," the carmaker says.
They point out, for example, that someone could use software to disable a car's airbag and then sell the vehicle to another customer, who would have no way of knowing the airbag wouldn't deploy in an accident.
This isn't a crazy argument. The software on your smartphone or PC can't get anyone killed. The software in your car can. So it's worth being concerned about the safety risks of unauthorized software tampering.
But people have had the ability to modify their cars in potentially dangerous ways since long before the invention of software."

No more DIY farmer? John Deere copyright battle brings farm equipment ownership in question; Kankakee Daily Journal, 5/30/15

Dennis Moran, Kankakee Daily Journal; No more DIY farmer? John Deere copyright battle brings farm equipment ownership in question:
"Deere & Co. is among major manufacturers engaged in a U.S. Copyright Office battle, one over sophisticated electronic systems.
At issue is access to the software controlling much of the operation of modern cars, trucks and tractors. The software is copyright-protected and, beyond that, locked to prevent hackers and do-it-your-selfers from altering or copying it.
The people and organizations asking the Copyright Office to permit access to the software say it's a matter of fully "owning" the tractor or car you paid for, and that open access would enable consumers to make do-it-yourself repairs without having to go through authorized repair shops with software access codes.
Deere isn't the only company fighting the proposed change — General Motors, the Association of Global Automakers and Eaton Corporation are among the half dozen or so companies and manufacturer associations filing briefs in opposition — but it seems to have become the whipping boy for the opposition with one provocative online story making the rounds.
"We Can't Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership," reads a headline for an opinion piece on Wired, a popular magazine that reports on the culture of emerging technologies."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Appropriation art meets Instagram: Is copyright law ready?; MSNBC, 5/26/15

Christopher Buccafusco, MSNBC; Appropriation art meets Instagram: Is copyright law ready? :
"Prince is an appropriation artist; he takes other people’s works and repurposes them in new, slightly different ways. The field of appropriation art dates back to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, a signed and dated urinal laid flat on the ground, and it includes Sherrie Levine’s re-photographing of famous Walker Evans images. An appellate court in New York recently declared that Prince’s modifications to photographs taken by Patrick Cariou were fair use, insulating Prince from liability for copyright infringement.
In his new work, Prince isn’t borrowing from established artists—he may be borrowing from you. His new show in New York’s Frieze Art Fair includes blown up images taken (I assume, without authorization) from other people’s Instagram accounts. According to The Washington Post, Prince left the images and the usernames intact, but he substituted his own, somewhat unusual comments beneath the images.
Will the original Instagram users be upset? They might be after they hear that Prince’s works sold for $90,000 each. Will they successfully be able to sue him? Probably not.
Again, the reason why will be the fair use doctrine. Copyright law gives people rights to encourage creativity. Although copying someone else’s creative work without paying for it is often against the law, certain kinds of copying isn’t. The fair use doctrine protects some kinds of copying when doing so is beneficial to society. For example, a reviewer can reproduce a portion of a book or movie in order to criticize it."

A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000; Washington Post, 5/25/15

Jessica Contrera, Washington Post; A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000:
"This month, painter and photographer Richard Prince reminded us that what you post is public, and given the flexibility of copyright laws, can be shared — and sold — for anyone to see. As a part of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, Prince displayed giant screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos without warning or permission...
The collection, “New Portraits,” is primarily made up of pictures of women, many in sexually charged poses. They are not paintings, but screenshots that have been enlarged to 6-foot-tall inkjet prints. According to Vulture, nearly every piece sold for $90,000 each.
How is this okay?
First you should know that Richard Prince has been “re-photographing” since the 1970s. He takes pictures of photos in magazines, advertisements, books or actors’ headshots, then alters them to varying degrees. Often, they look nearly identical to the originals. This has of course, led to legal trouble. In 2008, French photographer Patrick Cariou sued Prince after he re-photographed Cariou’s images of Jamaica’s Rastafarian community. Although Cariou won at first, on appeal, the court ruled that Prince had not committed copyright infringement because his works were “transformative.”"

The Turtles Win Class Action Certification In SiriusXM Copyright Lawsuit, Opening Door For Others; Forbes, 5/28/15

Nomi Prins, Forbes; The Turtles Win Class Action Certification In SiriusXM Copyright Lawsuit, Opening Door For Others:
"Legally, theses suits hinge on the demarcation between federal and state copyright laws. Under Section 114 of the federal Copyright Act, there is a statute of limitations on exclusive rights to recordings made on or after February 15, 1972. SiriusXM and others are operating legally under that law. Certain state laws, on the other hand, cover pre-1972 recordings. The Turtles have filed class-action suits against SiriusXM in California, Florida and New York, requesting more than $100 million in damages.
Granting this suit class action status leaves the door wide open for other artists with pre-1972 recordings to enter the class. The result could be substantial settlements, or many years of litigation, or both."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Publishing World Gathers This Week for Book Conventions; Associated Press via New York Times, 5/26/15

Associated Press via New York Times; Publishing World Gathers This Week for Book Conventions:
"The digital revolution that was supposed to have prevailed by now remains stalled. Independent bookstores, supposedly on the same path to oblivion as video stores and record shops, have grown for six consecutive years. Authors and agents are unhappy with the standard e-book royalty, 25 percent, but the once-predicted exodus to Amazon and other digital companies offering higher rates has yet to happen.
"I think traditional publishing offers elements that are still essential to writers and readers," said Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild, a trade association for thousands of writers. "No one in the writing community likes the low e-book royalty rates, and I think you'll see a concerted effort to change them. But for many writers, the advantages offered by traditional houses still outweigh the disadvantages."
"It's not that nothing has changed," said literary agent Eric Simonoff, noting the downfall of the Borders superstore chain and the prevalence of e-books for romance novels and other genres. "But it's still a generally healthy business and it's still primarily physical books. It speaks to the reports of the demise of publishing being greatly exaggerated.""

Obama administration asks U.S. top court to decline Google copyright appeal; Reuters, 5/26/15

Lawrence Hurley and Dan Levine, Reuters; Obama administration asks U.S. top court to decline Google copyright appeal:
"The Obama administration on Tuesday sided against Google Inc and said the U.S. Supreme Court should not hear the company's appeal in a case against Oracle Corp with wide implications for the technology industry, according to a court filing.
The case involves how much copyright protection should extend to the Java programing language. Oracle won a federal appeals court ruling last year that allows it to copyright parts of Java, while Google argues it should be free to use Java without paying a licensing fee.
Google, which used Java to design its Android smartphone operating system, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court then asked the Obama administration in January for its opinion on whether it should take the case because the federal government has a strong interest."

Mr Holmes and the strange case of the alleged copyright infringement; Guardian, 5/26/15

Ben Child, Guardian; Mr Holmes and the strange case of the alleged copyright infringement:
"The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is suing Hollywood studio Miramax over a forthcoming detective mystery starring Ian McKellen as an elderly Sherlock Holmes.
Bill Condon’s film Mr Holmes is based on the 2005 book A Slight Trick of the Mind by US author Mitch Cullin, but Conan Doyle’s heirs say it also borrows from later stories by the great Scottish novelist which remain under copyright in the US. Most Sherlock Holmes stories are now in the public domain, a situation which has led to a glut of productions featuring the famous sleuth on the big and small screens in recent years.
The new suit was filed in New Mexico, where Cullin was born, last week. It is the latest attempt by the Conan Doyle estate to re-establish copyright over Sherlock Holmes stories in the US, and follows the failure of a previous legal action last August."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Judge Wants to Know If 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Was Abandoned; Hollywood Reporter, 5/18/15

Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter; Judge Wants to Know If 'Happy Birthday' Copyright Was Abandoned:
"U.S. District Judge George King wants to hear more about whether the 19th century schoolteacher who has been credited with writing "Happy Birthday to You" — the English language's most popular song — had abandoned the copyright to the lyrics. On Monday, King directed parties involved in a fight over whether the song is copyrighted to brief him on the issue of abandonment.
The lawsuit is a proposed class action that if successful would mean that film and TV producers no longer have to pay license fees to use the song. Is the "Happy Birthday" licensing cash cow about to be over? Maybe not. Although the deceptive headline might suggest otherwise, King's new order could actually be a favorable sign for defendant Warner/Chappell in its efforts to defend the validity of its copyright.
To understand why this is potentially good news for the song publisher, one must understand the arguments presented at summary judgment."

Google Wins Copyright And Speech Case Over 'Innocence Of Muslims' Video; NPR, 5/18/15

Bill Chappell, NPR; Google Wins Copyright And Speech Case Over 'Innocence Of Muslims' Video:
"In a complicated legal battle that touches on questions of free speech, copyright law and personal safety, a federal appeals court has overturned an order that had forced the Google-owned YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim video from its website last year.
Both of the recent decisions about the controversial "Innocence Of Muslims" video originated with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last year, a three-judge panel agreed with actress Cindy Lee Garcia's request to have the film taken down from YouTube on the basis of a copyright claim. But Monday, the full en banc court rejected Garcia's claim.
"The appeal teaches a simple lesson — a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship," Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the court's opinion."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The benefits of studying copyright law? They're patently obvious; Guardian, 5/14/15

Oli Palmer, Guardian; The benefits of studying copyright law? They're patently obvious:
"Copyright law is at the forefront of a changing technological world. It moves incredibly fast in unexpected capacities, which makes it a fascinating subject to study at university...
Studying copyright law forces you to become creative. This form of law is relatively young, which means there are many grey areas you’ll have to make decisions on. In effect, you become the judge.
Studying copyright law can also help you to acquire skills many law firms and other businesses desire, such as an acute attention to detail...
“A student who wishes to acquire commercial awareness would find the study of copyright law extremely useful for his or her professional development.”...
But the best thing about copyright law is how enjoyable it is and how applicable it is to everyday life, which is bizarre when you consider the intangible nature of its rights.
Rachel Metcalf, 22, who studied copyright law at Durham University, says: “My studies gave me an awareness of why the law should be appreciated by all, not just lawyers.”
Merely reading this article is interacting with copyright. So is watching back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix, or listening to your Friday night Spotify playlist. Why not begin to read between the lines?"

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Super-scholars: MPAA offers $20,000 for academic research in copyright battle; Guardian, 5/7/15

Sam Thielman, Guardian; Super-scholars: MPAA offers $20,000 for academic research in copyright battle:
"If you’re an academic who loves conservative interpretations of copyright law, the MPAA might be willing to pay you enough to go see The Avengers about 1,500 times (not in 3D, though).
In an effort to “fill gaps in knowledge and contribute to a greater understanding of challenges facing the content industry”, the Motion Picture Association of America is available to fund academic research to the tune of $20,000 per successful proposal, according to guidelines released recently by the movie industry lobbying group.
An email from the Sony WikiLeaks hack, quoted by copyright news site TorrentFreak, had a fairly direct statement about the conference’s purpose from Sony global general counsel Steven B Fabrizio: “[T]he MPAA is launching a global research grant program both to solicit pro-copyright academic research papers and to identify pro-copyright scholars who we can cultivate for further public advocacy.”"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Podcast] Providing Universal Access to Modern Materials – and Living to Tell the Tale, Spring 2015

[Podcast] Providing Universal Access to Modern Materials – and Living to Tell the Tale:
"The Internet Archive (IA), an independent non-profit, provides access to digital materials (including books, websites, music, video, TV and software) on the Internet. In this plenary talk from CNI's recent spring meeting, digital library pioneer and IA founder Brewster Kahle describes the particular challenge of providing open access to modern materials, particularly in light of repeated admonishments by legal advisors that, in doing so, "bad things would happen."
Providing Universal Access to Modern Materials – and Living to Tell the Tale is now available online:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard; New York Times, 5/4/15

Ron Cowen, New York Times; Ghostly Voices From Thomas Edison’s Dolls Can Now Be Heard:
"Last month, the Historical Park posted online three never-before-heard Edison doll recordings, including the two from the Rolfses’ collection. “There are probably more out there, and we’re hoping people will now get them digitized,” Mr. Fabris said.
The technology, which is known as Irene (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), was developed by the particle physicist Carl Haber and the engineer Earl Cornell at Lawrence Berkeley. Irene extracts sound from cylinder and disk records. It can also reconstruct audio from recordings so badly damaged they were deemed unplayable.
“We are now hearing sounds from history that I did not expect to hear in my lifetime,” Mr. Fabris said.
The Rolfses said they were not sure what to expect in August when they carefully packed their two Edison doll cylinders, still attached to their motors, and drove from their home in Hortonville, Wis., to the National Document Conservation Center in Andover, Mass. The center had recently acquired Irene technology."

Grooveshark Shuts Down to Settle Copyright Infringement Suit; New York Times, 4/30/15

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Grooveshark Shuts Down to Settle Copyright Infringement Suit:
"Add Grooveshark to the list of music websites that have been sued out of existence over copyright infringement.
On Thursday, Grooveshark, a free streaming site that once had 35 million users and advertising from the likes of Mercedes-Benz — but which drew the ire of major record companies for failing to receive permission for hosting music — agreed to shut down, ending a series of lawsuits stretching back four years.
In a statement posted on its site, Grooveshark said, “We started out nearly 10 years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize.”
Grooveshark said it had also agreed to “wipe clean all of the record companies’ copyrighted works and hand over ownership of this website, our mobile apps and intellectual property, including our patents and copyrights.”"

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Library Associations Spearhead New Copyright Coalition; Library Journal, 4/30/15

Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Library Associations Spearhead New Copyright Coalition:
"A group of technology companies, trade associations, and civil society organizations have joined forces to form Re:Create, a national coalition to advocate for balanced copyright policy. In the wake of recent proposals to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as well as constant advances in the field of knowledge creation, coalition members are calling for responsive copyright law that balances the interests of those who create information and products with those of users and innovators, providing robust exceptions as well as limitations to copyright law in order that it not limit new uses and technologies.
Particular attention will be paid to the concept of fair use, considered a “safety valve” within U.S. copyright law and an important reinforcement of the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. This emphasis is particularly timely, as on April 29 register of copyrights Maria Pallante announced at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that the U.S. Copyright Office would launch a Fair Use Index—a searchable database listing court opinions pertaining to fair use...
Partners from all sectors will be working together toward Re:Create’s agenda: ALA, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Media Democracy Fund, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and the R Street Institute. According to its website, Re:Create will be “Supporting a Pro-Innovation, Pro-Creator, Pro-Consumer Copyright Agenda.”"

Periscope Piracy Sets Up Grudge Match: Hollywood vs. Twitter; Variety, 5/3/15

Andrew Wallenstein, Variety; Periscope Piracy Sets Up Grudge Match: Hollywood vs. Twitter:
"Forget Mayweather-Pacquiao. There’s a more interesting fight brewing between Twitter and Hollywood.
The piracy of Saturday’s welterweight boxing championship enabled by Periscope, a livestreaming app recently acquired by Twitter, is setting up a conflict that could be just as brutal.
HBO and Showtime, which partnered on what will likely be the most popular boxing pay-per-view event ever, took a one-two punch of their own Saturday. First, they watched multiple pay-TV distributors experience technical problems transmitting the fight, which probably cut into their sales total.
But what made matters even worse is that countless people who did pay for the fight used their smartphones to re-transmit the fight to users of Periscope and, to a lesser extent, rival app Meerkat. Each stream reached hundreds or thousands of non-paying fans with a picture quality that was shaky and pixilated, yet still quite adequate."