Tuesday, September 29, 2015

No, You Don’t Need to Post a Facebook Copyright Status; New York Times, 9/28/15

Daniel Victor, New York Times; No, You Don’t Need to Post a Facebook Copyright Status:
"In short: Your legal rights are determined not by any status you post, but by the social network’s Terms of Service, which all users agreed to upon creating an account. Information about how Facebook uses your information is available there and in the network’s data policy.
If you are concerned about privacy, you can adjust your settings by tapping on “More” and “Privacy Shortcuts” in the mobile apps, or, on a desktop, clicking on the lock near the far right of the blue bar at the top of the screen."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection; Wall Street Journal, 9/23/15

Joe Palazzolo, Wall Street Journal; Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection:
"The Batmobile is a car that has almost everything: weapons, ahead-of-its-time computers, wing-shaped tail fins and an assortment of gadgets perfectly suited to Batman’s diverse crime-fighting needs. (The Bat-ray of the 1960s version, for instance, opened enemy car doors, while the version driven by Michael Keaton fired a grappling hook that allowed him round corners at improbable speeds.)
On Wednesday, the Batmobile received another upgrade: copyright protection.
To determine whether characters in comic books, television shows or movies are entitled to such protection, courts conduct a three-part test. First, the character must have “physical as well as conceptual qualities.” It also has to be “sufficiently delineated” so people recognize it as the same character across time. And third, the character has to be “especially distinctive.”
The Batmobile passed the test in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with Judge Sandra S. Ikuta declaring in the introduction to Wednesday’s ruling, “Holy copyright law, Batman!”
DC Comics, the publisher and copyright owner of Batman comics, first introduced the Batmobile in 1941, just a few years after the Caped Crusader’s first comic book appearance."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip and Print Is Far From Dead; New York Times, 9/22/15

Alexandra Alter, New York Times; The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip and Print Is Far From Dead:
"Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.
As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online. Print sales dwindled, bookstores struggled to stay open, and publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business...
“E-books were this rocket ship going straight up,” said Len Vlahos, a former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research group that tracks the publishing industry. “Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music.”
But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.
Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.
E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television."

Music copyright reform takes center stage in Nashville; The Tennessean via USA Today, 9/21/15

Nate Rau, The Tennessean via USA Today; Music copyright reform takes center stage in Nashville:
"A group of congressional leaders, including the Republican chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, will be in Nashville on Tuesday for a listening session on music copyright issues.
The stop in Nashville, which will take place Tuesday morning, is part of a broader listening session tour for the committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia. In 2013, Goodlatte put music copyright reform on the table and kicked off a series of hearings featuring music industry leaders, broadcasters, technology companies, artists, songwriters and other stakeholders. There's consensus that the country's copyright laws are outdated and in need of reform.
Two pieces of legislation championed in Nashville — the Songwriter Equity Act and the Fair Play Fair Pay Act — have been offered up in the past year as well...
The gist of the problem is that new delivery services such as Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM and Apple Music have made existing copyright laws obsolete. Songwriters, artists, publishers and record labels argue that their royalty payments have been diminished by the outdated laws. The technology companies say their services represent the future of music consumption and undue increases in government-set royalties would dampen their growth."

'Happy Birthday' song copyright is not valid, judge rules; Los Angeles Times, 9/22/15

Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times; 'Happy Birthday' song copyright is not valid, judge rules:
" a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, a federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not hold a valid copyright claim to the "Happy Birthday To You," song.
Warner had been enforcing its copyright claim since it paid $15 million to buy Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which owned the original copyright. Royalties on the song bring in about $2 million a year for Warner, according to some estimates.
Judge George H. King ruled Tuesday afternoon that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific arrangements of the music, not the actual song itself.
"Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics," wrote King. "Defendants, as Summy Co.'s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics."
"'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years," said Randall Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, which included a group of filmmakers who are producing a documentary about the song. "Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable.""

PETA wants court to grant copyright to ape that snapped famous selfie; ArsTechnica.com, 9/22/15

David Kravets, ArsTechnica.com; PETA wants court to grant copyright to ape that snapped famous selfie:
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is trying to turn copyright law on its head: in this instance, with the mug of a macaque monkey named Naruto, whose selfies went viral and have been seen around the world.
PETA filed suit Tuesday, asking the courts to declare Naruto the rightsholder and hence an owner of property: a copyright.
David Slater, the British nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the Indonesian jungle, said he has been granted copyright protection in the UK for the photos. He said he was "very saddened" over PETA's lawsuit (PDF) in the United States.
This is the second time this year animal rights groups have asked the US courts to bestow onto monkeys the legal status that humans enjoy. Last month, a New York state court ruled against two chimpanzees represented by the Nonhuman Rights Project that claimed they were being deprived of their civil liberties while being housed at a university research facility.
The copyright case comes a year after regulators from the US Copyright Office agreed with Wikipedia's conclusion that a monkey's selfies cannot be copyrighted. The office said works "produced by nature, animals, or plants" cannot be granted that protection."

Friday, September 18, 2015

Big new copyright fair use decision involving part owner of Miami Heat; Washington Post, 9/17/15

Eugene Volokh, Washington Post; Big new copyright fair use decision involving part owner of Miami Heat:
"I blogged about this case back when the magistrate judge issued his report, but today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed (Katz v. Chevaldina), and concluded that defendant Irina Chevaldina’s use of the photo shown above is a fair use. The twist: The subject of the photo, Raanan Katz, bought the photo after it was published and used by Chevaldina, and then sued her in his capacity as now-owner of the photograph. No dice, said the court, concluding — in my view correctly — that Chevaldina’s use was a “fair use” and thus not an infringement..."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rapper Rick Ross Loses 'Everyday I'm Hustlin'' Copyright Claim; Reuters via New York Times, 9/16/15

Reuters via New York Times; Rapper Rick Ross Loses 'Everyday I'm Hustlin'' Copyright Claim:
"Rapper Rick Ross cannot copyright the words "Everyday I'm hustlin'," a U.S. judge has ruled, putting an end to his claim against music group LMFAO for selling T-shirts with the similar catch-phrase "Everyday I'm shufflin'."
In a ruling released on Tuesday in Miami federal court, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Ross's slogan, a prominent part of his 2006 debut hit "Hustlin'," is a short expression that courts have repeatedly said cannot be copyrighted...
In her order on Tuesday, Williams said that "Hustlin'," as a song, is protected by copyright. But Ross' three-word slogan, is made up of ordinary words and cannot be copyrighted, she said. The judge compared it to other music catch-phrases from the past, such as "you got the right one, uh-huh," "holla back," and "we get it poppin'," saying it is a "short expression of the sort that courts have uniformly held uncopyrightable.""

Why I gave up my copyright: Kirill Medvedev; Guardian, 9/17/15

Kirill Medvedev, Guardian; Why I gave up my copyright: Kirill Medvedev:
"The Russian poet has been releasing his work free of ownership since 2004, insisting that publishers can only make editions without contracts and without his consent. He explains how opening his poems up to piracy is both a political protest and a liberating step towards intellectual sovereignty"

Monday, September 14, 2015

Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use in long-awaited copyright ruling; ArsTechnica.net, 9/14/15

Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica.net; Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use in long-awaited copyright ruling:
"The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today issued a ruling that could change the contours of fair use and copyright takedown notices.
In an opinion (PDF) published this morning, the three-judge panel found that Universal Music Group's view of fair use is flawed. The record label must face a trial over whether it wrongfully sent a copyright takedown notice over a 2007 YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song. That toddler's mother, Stephanie Lenz, acquired pro bono counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF in turn sued Universal in 2007, saying that its takedown practices violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The judges ruled today that copyright holders "must consider the existence of fair use before sending a takedown notification.""

Copyright Office seeks your comments on its crazy, broken plan to deal with orphan works; BoingBoing.net, 9/14/15

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net; Copyright Office seeks your comments on its crazy, broken plan to deal with orphan works:
"In June, the U.S. Copyright Office announced a widely criticized proposal to create a licensing system to clear these rights, with the goal of facilitating full-text access to copyrighted works for nonprofit and educational uses. The Copyright Office is currently soliciting comments on its proposal.
It’s a good thing that they’re soliciting comments: the proposal the Copyright Office came up with is an unworkable mess, filled with restrictions and gaps in coverage. It doesn’t solve the orphan works problem -- instead, it makes the problem worse, and adds a tax on cash-strapped, desperate libraries to the mix.
The Copyright Office needs to hear why its proposal is a bad idea. Comments are due to the Office by October 9, 2015. I submitted mine (below). You can submit yours online."

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The International Fight Over Marcel Duchamp's Chess Set; Atlantic, 9/8/15

Quinn Norton, Atlantic; The International Fight Over Marcel Duchamp's Chess Set:
"Often called Moral Rights, French creators and their heirs are entitled not only to remuneration, but a high degree of creative control on how their works are used or represented in the world. It was this idea, of controlling how the artist's creation is used by others, that brought the estate to issue their Cease and Desist against Kildall and Cera. Farcot is particularly interested in how 3D printing is influenced by the mishmash of Berne laws governing the world. I spoke with him while he was waiting on an Ultimaker print of toys he was giving children in an upcoming weekend workshop he was teaching.
“It’s not black or white,” Farcot said. “It’s not easy for the creators, Kildall and Cera, to... say they should go ahead, go to court and they will win easily.” Facing a ruinously expensive legal fight thousands of miles and an ocean away, Kildall and Cera backed down. They quietly removed the files from Thingiverse, and negotiated a resolution with Duchamp’s heirs.
If the case was too hard to fight in French court, it would have been almost too easy to fight in U.S. court, the jurisdiction that could affect the lives of Kildall and Cera. “So under U.S. law, the chess pieces are absolutely in the public domain... and a U.S. court won’t honor French moral rights. I don’t see any practical way for the Duchamp estate to sue over the 3D-printed chess pieces in a U.S. court,” said Mitch Stoltz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who specializes in intellectual property."

Friday, September 11, 2015

More Closed-Door Meetings, a New Chief Transparency Officer, and Growing International Opposition to the Deal: What's Going on with the TPP; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 9/11/15

Maira Sutton, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); More Closed-Door Meetings, a New Chief Transparency Officer, and Growing International Opposition to the Deal: What's Going on with the TPP:
"Civil society groups and advocates have meanwhile continued the fight against the TPP. In New Zealand, thousands of people went to the streets to protest the TPP, as other leading advocates have filed a legal challenge over the government's refusal to release documents relating to the agreement. A group of Japanese health advocates, including eight lawmakers and 157 lawyers, are also suing their government, on the grounds that the deal is unconstitutional and a danger to public health. The TPP's Copyright Trap, which is an EFF campaign to fight back against the agreement's 20-year retroactive copyright term extension, succeeded in directing hundreds of messages to TPP negotiators to resist the United States' copyright maximalist demands. Our U.S. action to petition the Register the Copyrights to reaffirm its commitment to balanced policy has garnered thousands of signatures."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

R.E.M. bashes Trump, Cruz for using 'It's the End of the World' at rally; CNN.com, 9/10/15

Holly Yan, CNN.com; R.E.M. bashes Trump, Cruz for using 'It's the End of the World' at rally:
"Donald Trump has been blaring R.E.M. on the campaign trail, and the band doesn't feel fine about it.
The GOP presidential candidate took to the podium Wednesday on the steps of Capitol Hill to slam President Barack Obama's proposed Iran nuclear deal. His walk-up music? R.E.M.'s 1987 hit "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."
Rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, whom Trump acknowledged having a political "romance" with, was the one who invited Trump to speak at the rally.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe was livid after the use of his band's song at the event.
"Go f*ck yourselves, the lot of you -- you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men," Stipe said in an email to The Daily Beast. "Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.""

Can R.E.M. demand Donald Trump “cease and desist” playing their song?; Salon.com, 9/10/15

Scott Timberg, Salon.com; Can R.E.M. demand Donald Trump “cease and desist” playing their song? :
"We spoke to intellectual property lawyer Joel Schoenfeld, a former counsel for the Record Industry Association of American and now an attorney at the New York firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. The interview has been edited slightly for clarity.
This week we have another couple of cases of political figures using rock songs at rallies and the bands objecting. Do the musicians – R.E.M. and Survivor in these cases — have any legal leg to stand on?
Yes. Basically, when an artist records a song, there are usually two copyrights involved. One is the musical composition being performed, which may or may not be written by the people who perform it, and the other is the master recording of that song, usually owned by the artist or the band. Usually, if they’re relatively successful, the artist or band has signed a deal with their record label, who has then the full rights to exercise their copyright in that master recording. Same with a songwriter or composer, who has probably done a deal with a music publisher who also has those rights.
There are [also] artists who alleged public confusion – making the public think that artist is endorsing that politician. I’m not aware of any case that’s come to a judgment, but they’re usually settled and the politician is usually the one that apologizes."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Defiant Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Could Face More Legal Trouble. This Time for Copyright.; Mother Jones, 9/9/15

Gabrielle Canon, Mother Jones; Defiant Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Could Face More Legal Trouble. This Time for Copyright.:
"Yesterday, Kim Davis—the now-infamous Rowan County clerk who was held in contempt for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky—was released from a five-night stint in jail. Escorted by Mike Huckabee, the GOP presidential hopeful who helped throw the rally for her release, an emotional Davis threw her arms in the air, closed her eyes, and basked in the sounds of "Eye of the Tiger," Survivor's 1982 hit about being awesome.
Unfortunately for Davis, the writers of that song don't think Davis is so awesome—and they never agreed to let her or Huckabee broadcast their song at the rally. Survivor's Jim Peterik tweeted his disapproval, saying Davis would be receiving a "cease and desist" letter from his publisher"

Copyright and other Library of Congress computer systems are working again; Washington Post, 9/8/15

Peggy McGlone, Washington Post; Copyright and other Library of Congress computer systems are working again:
"The online registration system at the U.S. Copyright Office is back online after more than a week of being down, Library of Congress officials confirmed. In addition, the Braille and Audio Reading Download system, or BARD, has also come back online.
The Copyright Office’s electronic registration system was reinstated on Sunday, nine days after it was taken down as part of scheduled maintenance at the Library of Congress. The BARD system, a free service of recorded books and magazines that was offline since Sept. 1, became operational Tuesday, a week after it failed."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

‘Mr. Holmes’ Lawsuit Reaches Settlement, Says Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Attorney; Variety, 9/3/15

Ted Johnson, Variety; ‘Mr. Holmes’ Lawsuit Reaches Settlement, Says Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Attorney:
"The attorney for the estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle said they have reached an agreement in principle with the makers of the recent Sherlock Holmes movie “Mr. Holmes,” which the estate claimed infringed on stories that still remain under copyright.
In May, the Conan Doyle estate sued Miramax, Roadside Attractions and director Bill Condon over the movie, which starred Ian McKellen in the title role and opened in July. The lawsuit also named writer Mitch Cullin and Penguin Random House, publisher of Cullin’s “A Slight Trick of the Mind” — a new Holmes tale on which the movie “Mr. Holmes” is based...
On Wednesday, Allison and Laura Schauer Ives, attorney for Penguin Random House and Cullin, filed a notice of dismissal for their portion of the case, without costs to any party. Allison said that the e-book version of “A Slight Trick of the Mind” now acknowledges “use of copyrighted material by kind permission of the Conan Doyle estate.”
The movie depicted an aged, retired Holmes looking back on his life and getting involved in an unsolved case.
The estate noted in its lawsuit that although many of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, 10 works published between 1923 and 1927 remain under copyright. Those works develop details of Holmes’ retirement and later life."

We’re All Artists Now; New York Times, 9/4/15

Laura M. Holson, New York Times; We’re All Artists Now:
"Choosing to be more creatively focused, though, can be disturbing at first. Ms. Cameron argues in “The Artist’s Way” that it can upend the delicate balance of relationships. “Many of us find that we have squandered our own creative energies by investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams and plans of others,” she writes. Others perceive a creative life as a quit-your-job-or-nothing proposition. They “like to think they are looking at changing their whole lives in one fell swoop,” Ms. Cameron writes, adding that, in “fantasizing about pursuing our art full time, we fail to pursue it part time — or at all.”
Indeed, many people aren’t interested in a wholesale career switch. Instead they are simply seeking a respite from a harried work and home life...
Beyond grown-up coloring books, the possibility for creative self-exploration is everywhere — especially in our phones. It is easy now to record and edit images, audio and video on our cellphones, making the commoditization of creativity even more pronounced. “We’ve become fascinated with innovation as a culture,” said Aaron Rasmussen, a founder of MasterClass, a new online education company that features writers, actors and sports figures teaching classes about the creative process. “People used to look at a movie and say, ‘I could do better than that,’ but they had no vehicle.”"

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t; New York Times, 8/19/15

Steven Johnson, New York Times; The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t:
"If you believe the data, then one question remains. Why have the more pessimistic predictions not come to pass? One incontrovertible reason is that — contrary to the justifiable fears of a decade ago — people will still pay for creative works. The Napsterization of culture turned out to be less of a threat to prices than it initially appeared. Consumers spend less for recorded music, but more for live. Most American households pay for television content, a revenue stream that for all practical purposes didn’t exist 40 years ago. Average movie-­ticket prices continue to rise. For interesting reasons, book piracy hasn’t taken off the way it did with music. And a whole new creative industry — video games — has arisen to become as lucrative as Hollywood. American households in 2013 spent 4.9 percent of their income on entertainment, the exact same percentage they spent in 2000.
At the same time, there are now more ways to buy creative work, thanks to the proliferation of content-­delivery platforms. Practically every device consumers own is tempting them at all hours with new films or songs or shows to purchase. Virtually no one bought anything on their computer just 20 years ago; the idea of using a phone to buy and read a 700-page book about a blind girl in occupied France would have sounded like a joke even 10 years ago. But today, our phones sell us every form of media imaginable; our TVs charge us for video-­on-­demand products; our car stereos urge us to sign up for SiriusXM.
And just as there are more avenues for consumers to pay for creative work, there are more ways to be compensated for making that work."

In a dark corner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership lurks some pretty nasty copyright law; Washington Post, 9/3/15

David Post, Washington Post; In a dark corner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership lurks some pretty nasty copyright law:
"The copyright issue relates to so-called “orphan works.” As a consequence of many factors — the absurdly long term of copyright protection [life of the author plus 70 years — see my comments here on the liberation of Sherlock Holmes, after a lo-o-ong time, from his copyright shackles], along with the elimination of copyright notice, or copyright registration, requirements as preconditions for copyright protection — there are literally millions upon millions of works — books, letters, songs, articles, poems . . . — created in the ’30s, ’40s, or ’50s that are (a) still protected by copyright, and for which (b) it is virtually impossible to ascertain who owns the copyright, or even whether the copyright is still in force...
The solution is pretty obvious — a true legislative no-brainer: Amend the Copyright Act to eliminate statutory damages for these orphan works. Surely even Congress can see how idiotic it is that this class of invisible rights holders can keep this treasure trove of information out of the public’s hands, and there has indeed been significant movement recently (including a Copyright Office proposal to this effect) toward just such a change.
So what does all this have to do with the TPP? I’m glad you asked. It appears that the latest version of the treaty contains, buried within its many hundreds of pages, language that could require the U.S. to scuttle its plans for a sensible revision of this kind.[I say that this “appears” to be the case, because, of course, the text of the TPP has not been revealed to the public, so all we have are leaked versions appearing from time to time on WikiLeaks.]...
These (and other — poke around at the KEI site for more evidence) copyright provisions in the TPP are pretty dreadful and continue the disturbing trend of making copyright bigger, longer and stronger just when public policy demands the opposite...
[And as an ironic footnote to all this, part of the reason we’re in all this mess, as I mentioned at the start, is that we no longer have a sensible regime for copyright notice and copyright registration. Why don’t we? Because of another international agreement, the Berne Convention on Literary Property, that we acceded to in 1989 (and which prohibits all “copyright formalities).”] We would have been much, much better off on our own on that one."

Inspiration Or Appropriation? Behind Music Copyright Lawsuits; NPR, 9/5/15

Allyson McCabe, NPR; Inspiration Or Appropriation? Behind Music Copyright Lawsuits:
"Where do you draw the line between inspiration and appropriation when it comes to musical compositions? That question is at the heart of several high-profile court cases, including the recent "Blurred Lines" trial and a current copyright-infringement lawsuit involving "Stairway to Heaven." But it isn't always easy to prove a song is yours – particularly when you're up against one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm & Sanrio slice into cake-frosting seller; ComicBookResources.com, 9/4/15

Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm & Sanrio slice into cake-frosting seller:
"Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm have joined with Sanrio to stop a company from selling unlicensed cake frosting featuring their incredibly lucrative properties.
As first reported by THR, Esq., the entertainment giants filed a trademark- and copyright-infringement lawsuit against George and Danielle Wilson, whose Wilson Cake Imaging offers printed, edible frosting sheets and cake toppers depicting a wide range of characters and performers."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Copyright Office’s online registration hasn’t worked for almost a week; Washington Post, 9/3/15

Peggy McGlone, Washington Post; Copyright Office’s online registration hasn’t worked for almost a week:
"The U.S. Copyright Office’s electronic registration system has been down since Friday, costing the office an estimated $650,000 in lost fees and causing headaches for approximately 12,000 customers.
The outage is part of a bigger computer failure at the Library of Congress, the federal agency that oversees the national library, provides Congress with research advice and operates the Copyright Office, a major player in the global digital economy.
Scheduled maintenance on the library’s James Madison Building resulted in buildingwide power outages, officials said. The library’s information technology office is trying to restore the systems, but officials can’t say when service will return.
“This is pretty significant, and we have to do everything to make sure this never happens again,” said U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante about the computer crisis. “It’s ridiculous.”"

Outage slams copyright registration system at Library of Congress; FCW, 9/2/15

Adam Mazmanian, FCW; Outage slams copyright registration system at Library of Congress:
"The online system used to register initial copyright claims at the Library of Congress is down. Users looking to obtain copyright on books, art, music, film and other creative works are going to have to mail in paper copies of registration forms for the time being.
The system went down Aug. 29 after scheduled maintenance on the Library's James Madison building, which involved a power shutdown. An equipment failure during the restart resulted in the system, called eCO, going offline, according to a spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol. The eCO website informs users that there is no "estimated time for service resumption." The spokesperson told FCW via email that the CIO team is "working to restore the system as quickly as possible.""

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can open data prevent a global food shortage?; Guardian, 9/2/15

Sean Hargrave, Guardian; Can open data prevent a global food shortage? :
"As the world goes from seven billion mouths to feed to nearly 10 billion by 2050, the pressure is on to produce 70% more food than today without harming the environment.
It is a huge task that has prompted the G8 countries and 120 governments and organisations around the world to to set up and support the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (Godan) initiative. It encourages governments to open up data and help each other’s farmers learn from the information. According to its programme director, Martin Parr, it is the only way a growing population will be fed.
“The world needs a new agricultural revolution and that’s going to come through a data revolution,” he says."

Why Shouldn't Copyright Be Infinite?; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 9/1/15

Maira Sutton, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Why Shouldn't Copyright Be Infinite? :
"Australia National University’s Dr. George Barker suggested that New Zealand could do well by strengthening its copyright legislation. He warned against the fair dealing exceptions that have crept into the law and asked, “Why not have copyright law like property law—i.e. it lasts forever?”
That is a good question. And it is an important one as New Zealand and other countries consider extending the term of copyright under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Current New Zealand law maintains copyright in written and artistic works for 50 years after the death of the writer. Copyright in film and sound recordings is shorter, lasting 50 years from the works being first made available. While the text of the TPP is not yet public, it appears that the agreement would extend copyright’s duration to 70 years from the death of the creator.
So why shouldn’t copyright be infinite?"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rousting the Book Pirates From Google; New York Times, 8/29/15

David Segal, New York Times; Rousting the Book Pirates From Google:
"Q. Book piracy has taken a new form. Someone scanned my entire e-book, “Graphic Design Solutions,” created a new cover and is selling it on Google Play. It is the same e-book, verbatim, and inside are the same images, same layout and the same interviews. The only difference is the name of the author. A person named Jazmin Bonilla gets the credit.
My royalties have plummeted, which affects my ability to donate to scholarships for my university students. Both my publisher and I have notified Google, but no action has been taken. Maybe the company will listen to you.
A. The Haggler’s first thought: Find Jazmin Bonilla. Call and ask, “Is it a spectacular coincidence that you wrote the exact same book as Robin Landa? Or, are you a fiction invented by an e-book pirate? And if you are a fiction, why do you have a phone?”
Actually, his first thought was that if e-book piracy were a serious issue on Google Play, there would be other examples. There are many. A quick search led the Haggler to a site called The Digital Reader. There, the writer Nate Hoffelder detailed “rampant” e-book piracy, as he put it in a May post, in Google Play. He found that one shop was selling more than 100 pirated versions of best sellers by authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Sidney Sheldon and Ellery Queen.
They cost $2.11 each. But even these oddly priced bargains were kind of a rip-off. Mr. Hoffelder downloaded a few and found they “were clearly inferior copies with missing formatting, generic or outdated covers, and other problems,” he wrote."

In My View: The Human Cost of Comics Piracy; DownTheTubes.net, 8/28/15

Jay Gunn, DownTheTubes.net; In My View: The Human Cost of Comics Piracy:
"Piracy sites like the ones that are hosting my comic for ‘free’ hurt me – and yet I see sites are already hosting Issue Four only two days after release. If I search for my comic, the results for files (including images of the covers etc) come up pretty quickly.
I’ve had this debate many times with people – some say that piracy can actually be a positive element as it helps your work to reach a wider audience and some of those who ‘ripped’ your work may go on to actually buy future works. Maybe. Large corporate TV companies like HBO have even claimed that they can take the hit of piracy and that they are proud that their Game of Thrones show is the most pirated show on TV. However, I’m not HBO, I don’t have their vast finances. I don’t have the same clout, revenue streams or financial backing that HBO has. I’m simply a small first time comic creator that, some might say unwisely, decided to invest his own money into crafting a comic series."

Lost 'Happy Birthday' Manuscript Found in Kentucky as Debate Over Song's Copyright Drags On; Billboard, 9/1/15

Marc Schneider, Billboard; Lost 'Happy Birthday' Manuscript Found in Kentucky as Debate Over Song's Copyright Drags On:
"While the battle over "Happy Birthday’s" copyright drags on, a college librarian in Kentucky has discovered the long-lost manuscript of the ditty’s earliest version. Tucked inside a sketchbook that was donated to the University of Louisville half a century ago is the only known manuscript of Mildred Hill's song "Good Morning to All," which evolved into the pre-candle-blowout soundtrack we all know so well.
James Procell, the director of the school's Dwight Anderson Memorial Music Library, recently discovered the manuscript along with other papers and compositions by Hill, a native of the area. They were donated in the '50s by a local philanthropist but almost immediately lost when they weren’t archived properly.
The composition, which Hill co-wrote with her sister Patty, boasts a slightly different melody from the published version, yet the lyrics are the same. "The question is, is this the original version of the song, or was Ms. Hill somehow unhappy with the published version and this represents a revision of the song?" Procell said."