"The new rules for exemptions to copyright's DRM-circumvention laws were issued today, and the Librarian of Congress has granted much of what EFF asked for over the course of months of extensive briefs and hearings. The exemptions we requested—ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars—have each been accepted, subject to some important caveats. The exemptions are needed thanks to a fundamentally flawed law that forbids users from breaking DRM, even if the purpose is a clearly lawful fair use. As software has become ubiquitous, so has DRM. Users often have to circumvent that DRM to make full use of their devices, from DVDs to games to smartphones and cars. The law allows users to request exemptions for such lawful uses—but it doesn’t make it easy. Exemptions are granted through an elaborate rulemaking process that takes place every three years and places a heavy burden on EFF and the many other requesters who take part."
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 10/27/15
Parker Higgins, Mitch Stoltz, Kit Walsh, Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses:
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Reuters via Guardian; It's OK to hack your own car, US copyright authorities rule:
"Car owners and security experts can tinker with automobile software without incurring US copyright liability, according to newly issued guidelines that were opposed by the auto industry. The Library of Congress, which oversees the US Copyright Office, agreed with fair use advocates who argued that vehicle owners are entitled to modify their cars, which often involves altering software."
Friday, October 23, 2015
Robinson Meyer, Atlantic; After 10 Years, Google Books Is Legal: Thanks to a landmark ruling, information just got a little more free:
"In other words, Google Books is legal. And not only that, but the case is likely resolved for good. In 2012, a district court ruled that Hathitrust, a university consortium that used Google Books’s scans to make books accessible to blind students, was not only a legal form of fair use but also required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Experts say that the Supreme Court is unlikely to hear an appeal, because so many district court judges, and two different federal circuits, have found themselves so broadly in agreement about the nature of transformative use online. “The Authors Guild is deluding itself to think that this is an area that is open and controversial in the view of the lower courts,” Grimmelmann said. This isn’t only good news for fans of Google Books. It helps makes the legal boundaries of fair use clear to other organizations who may try to take advantage of it, including libraries and non-profits. “It gives us a better senses of where fair use lies,” says Dan Cohen, the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America. They “give a firmer foundation and certainty for non-profits.”"
Strategic Plan 2016-2020 Public Draft: Positioning the United States Copyright Office for the Future; U.S. Copyright Office, 10/23/15
U.S. Copyright Office; Strategic Plan 2016-2020 Public Draft: Positioning the United States Copyright Office for the Future:
"Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante today released a public draft of the Copyright Office’s Strategic Plan, setting forth the Office’s performance objectives for the next five years. Reflecting the results of four years of internal evaluations and public input, the Strategic Plan lays out a vision of a modern Copyright Office that is equal to the task of administering the Nation’s copyright laws effectively and efficiently both today and tomorrow. It will remain in draft form for 30 days to permit public feedback, and will take effect on December 1, 2015."
Senators Probe Copyright’s Impact on Software-Enabled Devices; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 10/23/15
Kit Walsh, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Senators Probe Copyright’s Impact on Software-Enabled Devices:
"Senators Grassley and Leahy, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, have published a letter to the Copyright Office asking it to analyze the impact of copyright law on “software-enabled devices” (such as cars, phones, drones, appliances, and many more products with embedded computer systems). This issue is crucial because technology and the law have evolved in a way that no one could have intended when Congress wrote the present copyright laws, and that evolution has restricted customers’ freedoms to repair, understand, and improve on the devices they buy. Many problems with the current state of the law have been catalogued: Security researchers, patients with networked medical devices, smart phone owners who want to switch carriers or to improve their phones, and auto repair communities have all come forward asking for relief from one of the most problematic laws, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. And those communities represent just a handful of the twenty-seven categories being considered for exemption from Section 1201 in this one proceeding... At this time, the senators are not proposing any particular reforms, merely asking the Copyright Office to conduct a study and take input from the public."
Globe Editorial, Globe and Mail; Copyright concessions may be downside of TPP deal:
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good deal for Canada. It will give Canadian businesses new access to markets in Asia and provide consumers with less expensive goods. But no deal is perfect. Based on the few details available at this point, Canada may have yielded to changes to its copyright regime by agreeing to extend protections on original works from the current 50 years beyond the death of the author, to 70. In effect, this country and the other TPP partners will adopt U.S. rules that were largely crafted by lobbyists for Disney, which sought to forestall Mickey Mouse entering the public domain. There is no mention of this on the federal government website summarizing the pact. Instead, it emerged via leaks and information released by other countries, and was brought to the fore by intellectual property experts like University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who reckons Ottawa “caved.”"
Ben Child, Guardian; Netflix sued for streaming Bicycle Thieves 'without copyright' :
"Netflix has been accused of illegally streaming the classic Italian neo-realist drama Bicycle Thieves. Corinth Films, which claims copyright for Vittorio De Sica’s famous 1948 tale of poverty-stricken postwar Rome, has filed a suit in a New York federal court. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the company accepts that Bicycle Thieves is in the public domain in the US but suggests the subtitled version of the film, which Netflix has previously included on its service, remains under copyright. “At no time have defendants contacted the plaintiff in order to seek its license for the internet exhibition of the picture, either in whole or in excerpted portions,” the complaint reads. “Despite lacking any rights to exhibit the English subtitled version of the picture, defendants act as though they have exhibition rights.” Bicycle Thieves, which is also known as The Bicycle Thief in the US, is considered by critics to be one of the greatest films of all time. In a 2008 review for the film’s re-release, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw described De Sica’s harrowing drama as a “brilliant, tactlessly real work of art”."
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed; Open Access Without Tears:
"There are journals that anyone can read for free that don’t require a fee from the author to publish. Some of them are highly respected though few of them have the long histories to carry the prestige that the big-name journals have. An exception is Cultural Anthropology, a flagship society journal that has gone open access and is trying to develop and maintain a new funding model to keep it open. My profession’s major journal, College and Research Libraries, has also taken the leap and even the back issues are digitized and freely available, which is awesomely great when you want to share something with others by linking to it. Ask around; keep an eye out. There may be a brash new open access kid on the block that someday will have the name recognition that journals established in the print era have. You can explore the Directory of Open Access Journals’ subject lists, but people in your discipline who care about this stuff may be better guides to newly emerging reputations... There are studies that says making your scholarship open access will increase its visibility and the chances it will be cited. That’s nice – but that’s not why I personally am committed to open access. I just think scholarship is worth sharing, and it’s a shame to limit its potential audience to those who are in a position to pay or have affiliation with an institution that can pay on their behalf."
Friday, October 16, 2015
Titanic victory for fair use: appeals court says Google's book-scanning is legal; BoingBoing.net, 10/16/15
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net; Titanic victory for fair use: appeals court says Google's book-scanning is legal:
"The Second Circuit ruling is remarkable for many reasons. First, the venue: the Second, which incorporates publishing's home base in New York City, is a court that is generally favorable to rightsholders. This isn't the first time the Second has surprised copyright extremists, though: last year, the court ruled that the Hathi Trust's noncommercial/academic book-scanning project was also fair use, making this the second high-profile loss for the Authors Guild in two years. The Hathi Trust ruling completely freaked out the Authors Guild and copyright maximalists everywhere. The Copyright Office, which is friendly to those interests, was motivated by Hathi to create a bizarre, incoherent proposal to put the Authors Guild in charge of who can use literature in America, giving them the power to collect license payments on behalf of writers who never joined the organization, including anonymous and long-dead writers -- this, of course, would give the Authors Guild more money with which to launch foolish, doomed, high-profile lawsuits. The Librarian of Congress is retiring after a generation in office and may well be replaced by someone who believes in fair use and user rights and a balanced approach to copyright, and since the Librarian of Congress controls the Copyright Office, the people outraged by Hathi are totally flipping out and calling for the separation of the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, so that they can continue to have outsized influence over the future of creativity, culture and scholarship in America. The Google Books ruling will only make this fight more intense. Appointing a new Librarian will be one of Obama's last acts in office, and the Democratic party is deeply riven by internal disputes between the netroots and the big entertainment companies who are its financial backers. The war-rooms of both camps are definitely buzzing this morning."
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Bob Warburton, Library Journal; Senate Passes 10 Year Term for Librarian of Congress:
"As President Obama ponders his choice for the next Librarian of Congress, the first time in nearly three decades that such a nomination will be necessary, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to put a 10-year term on the position. If passed by the House and signed by the president, the bill will strip the job of the lifetime tenure it has carried since 1802... Politics aside, another reason supporters feel the limit is now necessary is the accelerating rate of change—in library service, in technology, and in the demands on and challenges to copyright law that tech brings in its wake."
Ben Sisario, New York Times; In Choreographed Campaigns, Candidates Stumble Over Choice of Music:
"The disputes also point to what experts say is a legal gray area over licensing rules for music in political campaigns. After Neil Young complained in June that Mr. Trump had used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” without permission, Mr. Trump’s campaign responded that it had obtained a so-called public performance license from Ascap, the music rights agency. In addition, the venues where most major campaign events are held — convention halls, hotels, sports arenas — often carry their own licenses from Ascap and BMI, another rights agency, that allow them to play the millions of songs in those agencies’ catalogs. The issue gets more complicated when the uses of these songs are captured on video and shared on social media — as they almost inevitably are."
Sam Thielman, Guardian; Wikileaks release of TPP deal text stokes 'freedom of expression' fears:
"Among the provisions in the chapter (which may or may not be the most recent version) are rules that say that each country in the agreement has the authority to compel anyone accused of violating intellectual property law to provide “relevant information [...] that the infringer or alleged infringer possesses or controls” as provided for in that country’s own laws. The rules also state that every country has the authority to immediately give the name and address of anyone importing detained goods to whoever owns the intellectual property. That information can be very broad, too: “Such information may include information regarding any person involved in any aspect of the infringement or alleged infringement,” the document continues, “and regarding the means of production or the channels of distribution of the infringing or allegedly infringing goods or services, including the identification of third persons alleged to be involved in the production and distribution of such goods or services and of their channels of distribution.”"
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Paul Post, New York Times; A ‘Star Trek’ Dream, Spread From Upstate New York:
"It was a sequence for “Star Trek: New Voyages,” a project inspired by the childhood passion that James Cawley, the show’s executive producer, had for the 1960s science-fiction television series. Episodes, which are only available online, feature a handful of professional actors in lead roles (including Brian Gross as Kirk and Brandon Stacy as Spock) and volunteers who do whatever is needed to keep the spirit of Star Trek alive... Mr. Cawley founded a nonprofit 12 years ago to create the series. It was produced in two smaller spaces before moving last year into a studio inside the old Family Dollar store, where an inaugural episode was shot in early summer. “It’s basically a big Star Trek fan club,” he said. “It gives people a chance to work on the show and be on the show. Episodes are basically crowdfunded, crowdsourced for the fans, by the fans.” Mr. Cawley’s sets are careful replicas of those used for the original series, including the transporter room (“Scotty, beam us up”), captain’s bridge — where Kirk guided the Enterprise to bold new worlds — and the sick bay, where Dr. Leonard McCoy treated ill crew members... “Star Trek” was first broadcast on NBC, but the rights to the show are now owned by CBS. The Ticonderoga studio steers away from copyright issues by not charging people to view the episodes, Mr. Cawley said."
Monday, October 12, 2015
David W. Dunlap, New York Times; Flooding Threatens The Times’s Picture Archive:
"A broken pipe on Saturday morning sent water cascading into the morgue — the storage area where The Times keeps its immense collection of historical photos, along with newspaper clippings, microfilm records, books and other archival material — causing minor damage and raising significant alarm. And it raised the question of how in the digital age — and in the prohibitive Midtown Manhattan real estate market — can some of the company’s most precious physical assets and intellectual property be safely and reasonably stored? Jeff Roth, the morgue manager, said it appeared that about 90 percent of the affected photos would be salvageable, but it is too early to say with any certainty how many were lost. Though he stood undaunted among rubber drums and wastebaskets catching the residual water dripping from the ceiling, Mr. Roth made it clear that this was the stuff of nightmares."
Thursday, October 1, 2015
David Gelles, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Matthew Dolan, New York Times; Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood:
"Given the challenges of regulating complex software, some experts are calling for automakers to put their code in the public domain, a practice that has become increasingly commonplace in the tech world. Then, they say, automakers can tap the vast skills and resources of coding and security experts everywhere to identify potential problems. “We should be allowed to know how the things we buy work,” Mr. Moglen of Columbia University said. “Let’s say everybody who bought a Volkswagen were guaranteed the right to read the source code of everything in the car,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the buyers would never read anything. But out of the 11 million people whose car was cheating, one of them would have found it,” he said. “And Volkswagen would have been caught in 2009, not 2015.” Automakers aren’t buying the idea... Volkswagen, through its trade association, has been one of the most vocal and forceful opponents of an exemption to a copyright rule that would allow independent researchers to look at a car’s source code, said Kit Walsh, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for user privacy and free expression. “If copyright law were not an impediment,” he said, “then we could have independent researchers go in and look at the code and find this kind of intentional wrongdoing, just as we have independent watchdogs that check vehicle safety with crash-test dummies.”"