"When Congress amended US copyright law in 1976, they extended the copyrights on works whose creators had produced them with the promise of not more than 56 years. Since then, almost nothing has entered the US public domain. Every year, Jennifer Jenkins and Jamie Boyle at the Duke Center for the Public Domain list out all the works that today's artists would be free to work from -- as the creators who got their copyrights extended in 76 did -- except for the retroactive extension of copyright terms. This year, we lost a lot of good stuff."
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Happy public domain day: here's what copyright term extension stole from you in 2015; BoingBoing.net, 12/31/15
Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net; Happy public domain day: here's what copyright term extension stole from you in 2015:
USPTO Director’s Forum Blog:
"Guest blog by Deputy Director Russell Slifer I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our stakeholders and employees for their patience and support as we worked to repair USPTO operations to full functionality. I also want to extend our sincere appreciation to the hundreds of employees, contractors, and service providers who have been working around the clock, through the holidays, to restore operation of thousands of servers, network switches, firewalls, databases, and their connections. The USPTO contracts, through service providers, for clean uninterrupted power from state of the art, redundant, uninterrupted power supplies for our data systems. On December 22, both of these power supplies were damaged, resulting in a complete power outage to our data systems. Analysis of the damage over the last week confirms our earlier assessments and eliminates any concerns of foul play. We will take this opportunity to work with our service providers to ensure that lessons are learned and improvements are made. We regret that any interruption occurred, and we strive to provide service equal to the best in government and industry. The USPTO continues to invest in improving our IT systems and many of these improvements allowed the agency to bounce back more quickly. I am proud to say that the USPTO teams returned operation to many systems as early as the next day, successfully restored data from our backup systems, and made all the necessary hardware repairs to return to nearly 100 percent operations by December 28th. Thanks to the tireless dedication of so many people, the USPTO is again operating on an uninterrupted power supply."
Dave McNary, Variety; Quentin Tarantino Sued Over ‘Django Unchained’ Alleged Copyright Infringement:
"Quentin Tarantino, The Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures have been accused of copyright infringement through their 2012 movie “Django Unchained.” The filmmaker and the distributors were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed on Dec. 24 in federal court in Washington, D.C., by Oscar Colvin, Jr. and his son Torrrance J. Colvin. The Colvins assert that the defendants have infringed on the copyright of their screenplay “Freedom,” citing what they allege are extensive similarities to Tarantino’s Oscar-winning script for “Django Unchained.”"
Russ Choma, Mother Jones; Jeb Abandons Jeb! :
"Last winter, months before Jeb Bush announced he was running for president, a Miami intellectual property attorney filed a trademark request for the word "Jeb!" on behalf of a mysterious Delaware corporation called BHAG LLC. As we discovered this summer, BHAG was an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This phrase came from one of Bush's favorite business management books, and when he was governor he used this term to motivate his underlings. It wasn't until Bush, as a declared candidate, filed his financial disclosure form in July that the world learned he directly owned BHAG. One of BHAG's few activities was to trademark "Jeb!" As is par for the course, the US Patent and Trademark Office accepted the submission and requested additional information before it would grant the trademark. But according to that office, on November 9 Bush's application was officially abandoned. Technically, Bush has until January 9 to restart the process, but for now the name is not trademarked and open for anyone else to try to grab."
Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal; Crowdfunded ‘Star Trek’ Fan Film Accused of Copyright Infringement:
"The lawsuit, which Hollywood Reporter wrote about, claims the fan film incorporates “innumerable” copyrighted elements of Star Trek, from the Federation starship bridge to the Vulcan and Klingon races."
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Todd Van Luling, Huffington Post; 'Game Of Thrones' Is The Most Pirated TV Show Of The Year, Again:
"The life of a pirate is traditionally full of untimely death, and 2015 was no exception. For the fourth year in a row, Internet pirates looted streams of the show where everybody dies, "Game of Thrones.""
Sunday, December 27, 2015
America's Orchard? Adams County eyes fruit trademark; Hanover Sun via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/25/15
Chris Cappella, Hanover Sun via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; America's Orchard? Adams County eyes fruit trademark:
"The way Idaho is associated with potatoes, or Napa Valley, Calif., is associated with wine, Adams County, Pa., could be associated with its own signature identity, said Marty Qually, county commissioner. That identity could be America’s Orchard, a trademark proposed by the Adams County Office of Planning and Development for the fruit belt region in western Adams County, Mr. Qually said. “It’s an effort to really kind of brand the fruit belt in Adams County as being something significant on a national level, which we all know it is,” he said. “We have something that is unique to the nation, so this is America’s Orchard.”... The planning and development office started working on the trademark about a year ago, Ms. Clayton-Williams said. After research and ideas were complete, the trademark was submitted to the U.S. Trademark and Patent office in October. By mid-February, they expect to have a final decision on approval, she said. The group anticipates the trademark being approved because they don’t believe it’s currently in use, Ms. Clayton-Williams said. As that process comes to an end, the office is looking to create a trademark branding advisory committee for local stakeholders, she said. The goal of the committee would be to create a logo and sustainable model for the trademark, Ms. Clayton-Williams said."
Eyder Peralta, NPR; Government Can't Deny Trademarks Over Offensive Names, Appeals Court Rules:
"The court ruled that their name — The Slants — is private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The government, the court writes, has no business trying to regulate it by denying the band a trademark. At issue in the case was Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to deny or cancel a trademark if it is "disparaging" of persons, institutions or national symbols. In a 10-2 decision, the court decided parts of that section were unconstitutional. Conferring a trademark, the court argues, does not make the band's name government speech. Here's the comparison the majority uses: "The PTO's processing of trademark registrations no more transforms private speech into government speech than when the government issues permits for street parades, copyright registration certificates, or, for that matter, grants medical, hunting, fishing, or drivers licenses, or records property titles, birth certificates, or articles of incorporation.""
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Reuters via New York Times; Re-Print of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' Unleashes Row in Germany:
"For the first time since Hitler's death, Germany is publishing the Nazi leader's political treatise "Mein Kampf", unleashing a highly charged row over whether the text is an inflammatory racist diatribe or a useful educational tool. The 70-year copyright on the text, written by Hitler between 1924-1926 and banned by the Allies at the end of World War Two, expires at the end of the year, opening the way for a critical edition with explanatory sections and some 3,500 annotations. In January the 2,000 page, two-volume work will go on sale after about three years of labor by scholars at Munich's Institute for Contemporary History."
Protecting Rudolph - trade marks and copyright helping commercialise Christmas songs; Lexology, 12/23/15
Marks & Clerk, Lexology; Protecting Rudolph - trade marks and copyright helping commercialise Christmas songs:
"With festive songs from years gone by playing on the radio and familiar family films returning to our television screens, many of us are ready for Christmas. It is no secret that many businesses have spent months, if not the whole year, readying themselves for the holiday season, which is one of the key events in their annual sales cycle. Indeed, it is thanks to strategic commercial planning on the part of businesses that many of these films, songs and books which we enjoy during the Christmas period make a return year after year. This strategic forethought almost always involves IP protection, including trade marks and copyright. Some of the most memorable songs like Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” first released in 1942 and Johnny Marks’ “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”, composed in 1949, have long histories, in which copyright and trade marks play key roles. Copyright and trade marks are closely associated but protect different legal rights. In legal speak, copyright serves to protect original literary and artistic works from unauthorised copying; trade marks seek to guarantee the commercial origin of particular goods and services. This distinguishes those goods and services from their competitors’."
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Richard Sandomir, New York Times; Ruling Could Help Washington Redskins in Trademark Case:
"The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington made the ruling in a case involving an Asian-American dance-rock band that sought to register a trademark for its provocative name, the Slants. The court said the First Amendment “forbids government regulators to deny registration because they find the speech likely to offend others.” Writing for the majority, Kimberly A. Moore, a judge on the appeals court, said: “It is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment that the government may not penalize private speech merely because it disapproves of the message it conveys.”... Still, Tuesday’s ruling was considered a major one in trademark law — the striking down of a provision of the nearly 70-year-old Lanham Act that deals with disparaging or offensive trademarks. “The majority opinion is a very broad rejection of the proposition that the federal government can refuse registration or use of a trademark based on whether certain groups find the mark to be disparaging,” said Jeremy Sheff, a law professor at St. John’s University School of Law who specializes in intellectual property. “It was exactly on that basis that the Redskins’ marks were canceled.” Whatever happens in the appeals court to the Redskins’ registered trademarks, the team’s use of its name is not in jeopardy. Although it symbolizes racism and intolerance to some, and has inspired groups to demand that it be replaced, the Redskins’ owner, Daniel Snyder, has vowed never to drop it. He has fought a public battle to prove the name does not offend all Native Americans. And he has the backing of the N.F.L., which has been paying the costs of defending the trademarks."
Guardian; Kim Dotcom's extradition to US cleared by New Zealand judge:
"A New Zealand court has ruled that Kim Dotcom, the Megaupload founder, can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering. The decision, which can be appealed, comes almost four years after New Zealand police first raided Dotcom’s mansion west of Auckland at the behest of the FBI. US authorities shut down the entrepreneur’s file-sharing website, which had been used to illegally download songs and movies... US authorities say Dotcom and three co-accused Megaupload executives cost film studios and record companies more than US$500m and generated more than US$175m in profits by encouraging their paying users to store and share copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows. The New Zealand prosecution, which argued the case for the US government, said Dotcom and his executives had encouraged and paid users to upload the pirated films and music to generate profit."
UK journal Library and Information Research has published a special issue on copyright in LIS, Vol. 39 No. 121 (2015)
UK journal Library and Information Research has published a special issue on copyright in LIS:
"Library and Information Research has just published its latest issue at http://www.lirgjournal.org.uk. (This is an open access journal, published by the Library & Information Research Group, a special interest group of CILIP that encourages practitioners to engage in research and promotes collaboration between faculty and practitioner-researchers.) This is a special issue focusing on copyright and related rights and library and information services, guest edited by Adrienne Muir. View the table of contents and then visit the journal website to read the articles."
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
All Bill Information (Except Text) for H.R.4241 - Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act; Introduced 12/11/15
All Bill Information (Except Text) for H.R.4241 - Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act:
Pitt Law Professor Michael Madison will give a talk on intersections among academic freedom, copyright and publishing, and new media and communication platforms on Tuesday, 1/12/16 4 PM, University of Pittsburgh
Talk on 1/12/16 4 PM at University of Pittsburgh: Pitt Law Professor Michael Madison will give a talk on intersections among academic freedom, copyright and publishing, and new media and communication platforms: You may have heard that the topic of the 2016 Senate plenary will be academic freedom in the 21st century. As a lead-up event, the University Senate invites you to an open discussion with Pitt Law Professor Michael Madison on intersections among academic freedom, copyright and publishing, and new media and communication platforms. Please see the attached announcement for additional details. We hope you will attend. Day/Time: Tuesday, January 12 at 4:00pm, 2500 Posvar Hall. A new announcement is available. Click the link below to view it: http://www.universityannouncements.pitt.edu/std1222.pdf
Monday, December 21, 2015
Hong Kong netizens worry copyright bill will limit freedom of expression; Los Angeles Times, 12/19/15
Violet Law, Los Angeles Times; Hong Kong netizens worry copyright bill will limit freedom of expression:
"Gathering for a rally outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, with a banner nearby proclaiming, “Fight for the freedom of the next generation,” several hundred raised their voices against a copyright bill they say could further chill freedom of expression in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. Protesters said they fear the legislation could be wielded as a tool of political prosecution against those who use memes to mock politicians, and even expose them to criminal charges... In recent years, Hong Kong has sprouted an online parody subculture, as disaffected local netizens lampoon officials and criticize government policies by repurposing pop songs or doctoring screen grabs. The new bill carries exemptions for caricature, parody, pastiche, satire, news reporting and commentary. It also requires those who repurpose others’ material to cite the source of the original work and obtain permission from copyright owners. Opponents say the requirement puts too heavy a burden on authors of derivative works and would leave them vulnerable to civil liabilities and criminal charges. Opponents of the legislation are also pressuring lawmakers to amend the bill to exempt fair use, as is the case under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S., or all user-generated content, a concept pioneered in Canada’s copyright law, saying these laws afford users the impunity to exercise their freedom of expression."
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Eliza Collins, Politico; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director: 'Unconscious bias' in tech exists:
"Michelle Lee said Thursday there is an “unconscious bias” in tech, but it isn’t just specific to women. Lee was speaking at POLITICO’s Women Rule event. Lee, the undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, challenged leaders to make sure they’re giving equal jobs to men and women. “Unconscious bias applies to both men and women,” said Lee, the first woman to serve as director of the Patent and Trademark Office."
Lauren Silverman, Marketplace.org; Got an invention? Head to your regional patent office:
"There are lots of obstacles in the patenting process – money, time, knowledge. Every year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives hundreds of thousands of applications. There’s a backlog of more than 550,000 ideas that need to be sifted through. The head of the agency – Google veteran Michelle Lee – hopes hiring more patent officers and stationing them at outposts across the country will speed up the process. The four regional offices that have opened are in Denver, Detroit, San Jose and Dallas. The Dallas office will employ 80 patent examiners – meaning for the first time, applicants in the region won’t have to travel to the beltway if they want to meet face-to-face with their assigned examiners."
Whitney Blair Wyckoff, FedScoop; Patent office launches international application tracking tool:
"The Patent and Trademark Office has debuted a new online tool that it says will help those filing for intellectual property protections abroad. Called Dossier Access, the service allows users to track the status of patents in the world’s five largest patent offices: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, China’s State Intellectual Property Office and the Japan Patent Office. U.S. patents only offer protection for inventions in this country. To receive similar protections abroad, inventors must file with foreign patent offices as well, USPTO’s Deputy Commissioner for International Patent Cooperation Mark Powell told FedScoop. But that process can be expensive and complicated. Even checking the status of an application can be tricky because other offices' application documents are not always in English, he said."
Bethany Mclean, Vanity Fair; Everything You Know About Martin Shkreli Is Wrong—or Is It? :
"I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but I liken myself to the robber barons.” So says Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical-company C.E.O., who achieved instantaneous notoriety last fall when he acquired the U.S. rights to a lifesaving drug and promptly boosted its price over 5,000 percent, from $13.50 a tablet to $750. The tsunami of rage (the BBC asked if Shkreli was “the most hated man in America”) only got worse when Shkreli said he would lower the price—and then didn’t. An anonymous user on the Web site Reddit summed up the sentiment bluntly: “Just fucking die will you?” “The attempt to public shame is interesting,” says Shkreli. “Because everything we’ve done is legal. [Standard Oil tycoon John D.] Rockefeller made no attempt to apologize as long as what he was doing was legal.” In fact, Shkreli says, he wishes he had raised the price higher. “My investors expect me to maximize profits,” he said in an interview in early December at the Forbes Healthcare Summit, after which Forbes contributor Dan Diamond summed up Shkreli as “fascinating, horrifying, and utterly compelling.”"
DC universes collide in epic final ‘Justice League: Crisis’ fan trailer; ComicBookResources.com, 12/18/15
Kevin Melrose, ComicBookResources.com; DC universes collide in epic final ‘Justice League: Crisis’ fan trailer:
"UltraSargent has debuted what’s described as the “final trailer” in the series that began in October, and it’s by far the longest and most ambitious yet. Using footage from DC Comics live-action adaptations dating back to Christopher Reeve-era Superman, the four-and-half-minute trailer offers a new take on Crisis on Infinite Earth, with Grant Gustin’s Flash at its center... As it stands, thought, Crisis draws from wide array of sources, from 1989’s Batman and 1990’s The Flash to Smallville and Supergirl. NBC’s short-lived Constantine even shows up."
Exceptions To Copyright To Remain On Agenda Of WIPO Copyright Committee; Intellectual Property Watch, 12/17/15
Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; Exceptions To Copyright To Remain On Agenda Of WIPO Copyright Committee:
"Copyright exceptions for libraries, archives, educational and research institutions and persons with disabilities other than visual impairment will remain on the agenda of the next session of the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee. The subject is touchy as developing countries deem those exceptions vital for development and developed countries say that the current global copyright framework leaves enough space for national exceptions to copyright. The topic of exceptions and limitations to copyright in favour of libraries and archives has made more progress than the other topics on exceptions and limitations and last week, during the 31st session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), delegates considered a chart, which had been prepared by the committee chair, Martin Moscoso of Peru. The chart [pdf], according to the foreword by Moscoso, was “designed to serve as a useful tool to provide a structure to discuss the substance for each topic.”"
Friday, December 18, 2015
Andy Greenberg, Wired.com; 6 Men Admit to Running a Global $100M Software Piracy Ring:
"On Thursday the Department of Justice announced that it’s reached plea agreements with all six individuals charged in a six-year massive fraud scheme, which prosecutors say sold more than 170,000 copies of Adobe and Microsoft programs including Windows, Office, Photoshop, and Creative Suite, complete with valid registration codes and even physical certificates of authenticity. The men, who were tracked by investigators at the Department of Homeland Security, offered those pirated copies of the software at a discount through sites including Amazon, Overstock, eBay, Craigslist, and in some cases their own individual websites. Five of the convicted men face up to five years in prison (the sixth faces just three years) and up to a quarter million dollars in restitution each. “It appears to be one the biggest software piracy cases, if not the biggest, the department has ever handled,” US Attorney Tammy Dickinson told WIRED in a phone interview."
Brett White, ComicBookResources.com; FAN TRAILER BRINGS "X-MEN: APOCALYPSE'S" GRAVITAS TO '90S CARTOON:
"Thanks to the "X-Men" cartoon from the 1990s, Apocalypse was introduced to an entire generation of fans as an intimidating figure with a booming voice that stood in contrast to his purple armor and big blue lips. Surprisingly, a lot of the odd details of Apocalypse's design have made their way into the live action version of the character, who Oscar Isaac plays in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse." But for many fans, the definitive version of En Sabah Nur exists in the cartoon -- and now there's a trailer for those very fans. YouTube user Phillysteak took the audio track from the first "X-Men: Apocalypse" trailer, which debuted last week, and paired it with scenes from the '90s "X-Men" cartoon."
Rick Anderson, Inside Higher Ed; Open Access and Academic Freedom:
"As they have gained momentum over the past decade, the open access (OA) movement and its cousin, the Creative Commons licensing platform, have together done a tremendous amount of good in the world of scholarship and education, by making high-quality, peer-reviewed publications widely available both for reading and for reuse. But they have also raised some uncomfortable issues, most notably related to academic freedom, particularly when OA is made a requirement rather than an option and when the Creative Commons attribution license (CC BY) is treated as an essential component of OA. In recent years, major American and European funding bodies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Research Councils UK have all instituted OA mandates of various types, requiring those whose research depends on their funding to make the resulting articles available on some kind of OA basis. A large number of institutions of higher education have adopted OA policies as well, though most of these (especially in the United States) only encourage their faculty to make their work openly accessible rather than requiring them to do so."
Larry Downes, Washington Post; The 4 worst patents of 2015:
"This was another depressing year for patent law, which long ago lost sight of its constitutional moorings as a balanced and limited source of incentives for innovators. Though Congress, the courts and the Patent and Trademark Office each tried in their own way to rein in a system widely-regarded as out of control, in the end nobody made much progress... The polite name for such companies is “non-practicing entities,” but most of us know them as patent trolls. And according to the Consumer Technology Association, these parasites have drained over $150 billion from the U.S. economy since 2013, at a pace that is accelerating. Beyond the trolls, there’s a more fundamental problem. The mismatch between expanding patent coverage and the quickening pace of disruptive change has become one of the greatest sources of danger to the innovation economy. That’s especially true of patents granted for basic software and abstract business methods — categories that have only recently been recognized in the first place."
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lines up trademarks for ‘Star Wars’ mayonnaise, wind chimes, baby blankets and pretty much everything else; New York Daily News, 12/17/15
Gersh Kuntzman and Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News; ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ lines up trademarks for ‘Star Wars’ mayonnaise, wind chimes, baby blankets and pretty much everything else:
"The new sci-fi epic opens on Friday — but “Star Wars” corn chips, diaper bags, marshmallows, cork screws, dry erase writing boards and a host of other mundane products may be hitting stores soon after. And you can thank the moviemakers’ legion of lawyers, which has been hard at work for months locking down trademarks on pretty much everything in the film that moves... “They need to be aggressive about protecting the franchise’s new characters right out of the gate,” says New York lawyer Kenneth Falcon (no relation to Millennium), who focuses on copyright and trademark litigation. “People will try to rip off the ‘Star Wars’ brand forever because it’s so lucrative.” The company began securing the rights to all products back in 2014, Patent and Trademark Office documents show. Some other trademarks were sought earlier this year, as plotlines and characters were being finalized."
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Heirs of Abbott and Costello Lose Copyright Claim Over ‘Who’s on First’; Associated Press via New York Times, 12/17/15
Associated Press via New York Times; Heirs of Abbott and Costello Lose Copyright Claim Over ‘Who’s on First’ :
"A federal judge ruled on Thursday that Abbott and Costello’s heirs had failed to get past first base with copyright claims against the producers of the Broadway play “Hand to God,” in which a character uses a sock puppet to perform part of the comedians’ “Who’s on First” routine... Judge George Daniels of United States District Court in Manhattan tossed out the lawsuit on Thursday, saying the play transformed the original routine enough that it did not violate copyrights."
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Guardian; Jeff Koons sued for appropriating 1980s gin ad in art work sold for millions:
"Jeff Koons, a US pop artist whose works can fetch millions, is facing allegations he used a New York photographer’s commercial photo from the 1980s in a painting without permission or compensation, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. The photographer, Mitchel Gray, said in the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court that Koons reproduced his photo, which depicts a man sitting beside a woman painting on a beach with an easel, “nearly unchanged and in its entirety”. Gray is also suing New York-based auction house Phillips Auctioneers and an as-yet-unnamed former owner of the Koons print, which sold for $2.04m in London in 2008... There is a three-year statute of limitations on copyright actions, but “the clock doesn’t start ticking until the plaintiff learns of the infringement”, his lawyer, Jordan Fletcher, of the law firm Kushnirsky Gerber, said in an interview."
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Steve Lohr, New York Times; Samsung’s Patent Loss to Apple Is Appealed to Supreme Court:
"The case, if heard, could have far-reaching implications for design patents, which cover how a product looks, and the sort of financial penalties allowed under the law. Design patents are far less common than utility patents, which cover how a product functions. The legal framework for design patents, according to Samsung, some other major technology companies and legal experts, is largely shaped by a 19th-century law intended to protect the designs of carpets, fireplace grates and ornamental spoons. Back then, the design was the heart of such products, so seizing most or all of the gains of a copycat — known as the “total profit rule” — was justified. But today, a complex product like a modern smartphone is a dense bundle of intellectual property with more than 100,000 patents conceivably laying claim to some small aspect of the phone... Beyond this case, design patents will probably get more legal attention in the future, said David J. Kappos, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. As high-tech products become increasingly complex, the skill that yields a competitive advantage is making products easy to use. “And usability comes down to design,” said Mr. Kappos, a former director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office."
Deena Zaru, CNN; Congressman troubled by Taylor Swift's attempt to copyright '1989' :
"Rep. Justin Amash and pop star Taylor Swift may not quite have bad blood just yet, but efforts by the musician to trademark certain common words, phrases and dates might have him seeing red. The Michigan Republican's sour note followed reports that Taylor Swift's rights-management company has filed for trademark requests on use of -- among other words -- the number "1989," which is the year of her birth and the name of her fifth studio release."
Pitt among medical research groups cited for failure to report findings; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/15/15
Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pitt among medical research groups cited for failure to report findings:
"The University of Pittsburgh was among top research institutions that did not report clinical research findings to a public government database, violating a federal law that was intended to advance medicine and help doctors and patients make treatment decisions. Pitt along with drugmakers, hospitals, federal agencies and other universities nationwide failed to report results of trials involving human volunteers to a public database operated by the federal government, according to Stat News, a Boston-based startup media outlet that is affiliated with the Boston Globe newspaper. Federal law requires these findings to be submitted to clinicaltrials.gov, a website operated by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md... “These laws get put on the books, but no one is there to enforce them,” he said. “The level of enforcement is extremely poor.”"
Monday, December 14, 2015
BBC News; Taylor Swift makes 'Swiftmas' trademark bid:
"Taylor Swift is seeking to trademark the word "Swiftmas" and "1989", the name of her album, in the US. It is the 25-year-old's latest attempt to stop others from using phrases associated with her on merchandise. "Swiftmas" is the word the singer's fans use to describe the random acts of kindness she makes, such as giving them unexpected presents. Earlier this year Swift applied to trademark some of her song lyrics such as "this sick beat". The pop star submitted her requests to the US Patent and Trademark Office on 3 December."
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Germany, Italy Leading Resistance To EU Ratification Of Marrakesh Treaty, Blind Union Says; Intellectual Property Watch, 12/10/15
Intellectual Property Watch; Germany, Italy Leading Resistance To EU Ratification Of Marrakesh Treaty, Blind Union Says:
"The World Intellectual Property Organization Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled was adopted on 27 June 2013. In a press release today, the European Blind Union (EBU) said “while a range of countries such as India, Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Paraguay, Mali and others have already ratified the Marrakesh Treaty, the EU and its members are still failing in doing so.”... According to the release, 21 EU member states have expressed their consent for a proposed compromise, while seven members “led by Germany and Italy,” have rejected the compromise and “are forming a blocking minority which stalemates the ongoing ratification negotiations.”... This week, WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), which negotiated the Marrakesh Treaty, is meeting for discussions on further exceptions and limitations to copyright, this time for the benefit of libraries, archives, research and educational institutions, and people with other disabilities than visual impairment (IPW, WIPO, 7 December 2015)."
Saturday, December 12, 2015
David Pridham, Forbes; Intellectual Property: The Secret Sauce Of Great Products:
"Intellectual property (IP) is much in the news of late. But unfortunately, the coverage is mostly about patent litigation and patent reform. Lost in all this reportage is the positive and powerful role IP plays outside of the courtroom — in the daily operations of the enterprise. Here, largely unnoticed, IP serves as one of the key drivers of business success in today’s Knowledge Economy. Take corporate revenues. These are often heavily dependent upon intellectual property — margins and market share are buttressed by brands, trademarks and patents, after all — but this fact is largely unreported by the media. Similarly, IP and other intangible assets, while compromising up to 80% of the market value of public companies today, are rarely reflected on corporate balance sheets, thanks to a 600-year-old accounting system designed for a bygone era in which tangible assets like plant, equipment, and raw materials were the chief sources of wealth. It’s no surprise, then, that some people call IP “the secret sauce of corporate value creation.” I’ll be revealing many of IP’s secrets with this new “IP at Work” column you’re reading — the first-ever regular column in a mainstream business publication that focuses on the ways that intellectual property can be deployed inside the enterprise to enhance corporate performance."
Friday, December 11, 2015
David Post, Washington Post; A misguided attempt to “defend trade secrets” :
"Along with 41 colleagues, I recently joined a letter submitted to the Committee opposing DTSA in which we tried to point out some of the ways in which putting this weapon in the hands of trade secret owners is likely to backfire, becoming a “strategic weapon” that will be used mostly for anti-competitive purposes that have nothing to do with preventing “cyber-espionage.” [A more detailed critique of the ex parte seizure provisions can be found in this article by Eric Goldman, one of the authors of the law professors’ letter] It is often difficult, when considering intellectual property law, to see the downside of proposals meant to strengthen legal protection (while relatively easy to see the upside). Trade secret law has profound effects on employee mobility; the vast majority of trade secret litigation in this country involves employees moving from one company to another (and allegedly taking their former employer’s trade secrets with them). The DTSA will have little or no effect on Chinese government agents, but it is likely to have a deeper and much more lasting effect on the health of the labor market in this country, and not for the better."
David J. Kappos, The Hill; The Defend Trade Secrets Act: IP legislation ready to move forward now:
"The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015 (DTSA), for which identical bills were proposed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate on July 29, 2015, would significantly improve federal protections to curb trade secret theft and thus secure the value of trade secrets. In our modern knowledge economy where (no surprise) knowledge is a source of immense value, American companies are finding themselves the victims of trade secret theft at an alarming rate. Unscrupulous business practices free-riding off of the investment of innovative competitors is hardly a recent phenomenon. But the impact of mass digitization has enabled theft on an unprecedented scale. A 2013 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study estimated the cost of cybercrime to the United States was upward of $120 billion; a 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers/CREATe.org report estimated that theft of trade secrecy amounts to 1-3 percent of U.S. GDP."
Maira Sutton, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); How the TPP Will Affect You and Your Digital Rights:
"The Internet is a diverse ecosystem of private and public stakeholders. By excluding a large sector of communities—like security researchers, artists, libraries, and user rights groups—trade negotiators skewed the priorities of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards major tech companies and copyright industries that have a strong interest in maintaining and expanding their monopolies of digital services and content. Negotiated in secret for several years with overwhelming influence from powerful multinational corporate interests, it's no wonder that its provisions do little to nothing to protect our rights online or our autonomy over our own devices. For example, everything in the TPP that increases corporate rights and interests is binding, whereas every provision that is meant to protect the public interest is non-binding and is susceptible to get bulldozed by efforts to protect corporations. Below is a list of communities who were excluded from the TPP deliberation process, and some of the main ways that the TPP's copyright and digital policy provisions will negatively impact them. Almost all of these threats already exist in the United States and in many cases have already impacted users there, because the TPP reflects the worst aspects of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The TPP threatens to lock down those policies so these harmful consequences will be more difficult to remedy in future copyright reform efforts in the U.S. and the other eleven TPP countries. The impacts could also be more severe in those other countries because most of them lack the protections of U.S. law such as the First Amendment and the doctrine of fair use."
Senate Panel Leaders Condemn Companies for Drug Price Hikes; Associated Press via New York Times, 12/9/15
Associated Press via New York Times; Senate Panel Leaders Condemn Companies for Drug Price Hikes:
"The leaders of a Senate panel are condemning four companies for aggressively increasing prices for prescription drugs. They say the companies have exploited a system lacking in competition to hike prices for critically needed medicines. An investigation by the Senate Special Committee on Aging focuses on Turing Pharmaceuticals, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin Inc. and Rodelis Therapeutics. The first two faced especially harsh criticism. "The Turing and Valeant price spikes have been egregious," Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who heads the panel, said at a hearing Wednesday. Collins added that like those two companies, Retrophin and Rodelis also bought the rights to brand-name drugs whose patents had expired and then hiked their prices. Public outrage boiled over this fall after news that Turing increased by more than 5,000 percent the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat a life-threatening infection, jacking it up from $13.50 to $750 per pill."
Editorial Board, New York Times; The Tarnished Trump Brand:
"It takes a lot of work to make brands successful, and they can be undone quickly by controversy and scandal. Thanks to Mr. Trump himself, his name increasingly stands for bigotry and racism. His licensees should ask themselves if they want to be linked to a brand that carries those connotations."
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian; Northwestern Digital Library Collections, Northwestern University
Northwestern University, Northwestern Digital Library Collections; Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian:
"Sensitive images and text This site presents the complete contents of The North American Indian originally published by Edward S. Curtis between 1907-1930. The images and descriptions reflect the prevailing Euro-American cultural perspective of Curtis’s time, that Indians were “primitive” people whose traditions represented a “vanishing race”. Contemporary readers should view the work in that context. In The North American Indian some ceremonial rituals and objects are portrayed which were not intended for viewing by the uninitiated. No material has been excluded or specially labeled in this online edition. All descriptions and images are included in order to represent the work fully." Copyright and use restrictions This online edition has been derived from a copy of The North American Indian held by the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University Library. Northwestern University Library is not aware of any current U.S. copyright or other restrictions to the use of the original work. The contents of this site are provided for educational, personal, and non-commercial use, provided that the site is properly credited. Sample credit line: Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis's "The North American Indian," 2003. http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/site_curtis/ Written request for permission is required for any publication, distribution, or transmission of data, images or text presented on this web site, beyond that allowed by fair use."
WIPO Copyright Committee Hears Case For Exceptions For Museums; Intellectual Property Watch, 12/10/15
Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; WIPO Copyright Committee Hears Case For Exceptions For Museums:
"A study [pdf] was presented yesterday on the need for copyright exceptions and limitations for museums by Lucie Guibault, co-authored with Jean-François Canat, and Elisabeth Logeais, who collaborated on the study. According to the authors, the study investigates the issue of limitations and exceptions to copyright for museums and means to raise the international understanding on the need for museums to have adequate limitations to copyright. The study gives an overview of relevant existing legislative provisions. Museum collections include diverse objects, such as objects of art, texts, drawings, paintings, photographs, maps, films and sound recordings, according to the study. Museums have to adapt to the digital age and consider digitising and disseminating their collections via the internet. In principle, said the authors, museums need rights holders’ permission to reproduce any copyright-protected objects in their collections, unless an exception or limitation to copyright applies. Of the 188 WIPO members, only 45 of them have laws which contain provisions specifically allowing museums to make certain uses of works in their collections without prior authorisation of the rights holder, the study found."
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Noah Berlatsky, Guardian; Batman v Superman: the latest exercise in corporate fan fiction:
"Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ended their creative input in the 1940s; for decades the duo’s main involvement with Superman was lawsuits over rights. Batman’s main creator, Bill Finger, was denied credit from the beginning by artist Bob Kane, and he died in poverty. Not much of a dawn of justice there. At this point, there is no right or wrong version of Superman, or Batman, or Lex Luthor. Batman v Superman is just the latest exercise in corporate fan fiction, remixing bits and pieces of fan fiction based on fan fiction past. The result may be good, or bad, or mediocre, and you can love or hate Jesse Eisenberg’s performance for any number of reasons. But to say he’s not true to Luthor is to pretend that there’s some “true” version of Luthor to begin with – and to create a platonic, real Luthor who exists separately from, and overshadows, the original folks who, intentionally or by accident, came up with the character. Better to just take the upcoming film on its own merits, or lack thereof – and maybe give a nod to Leo Nowak, and his own stumbling lack of fidelity to Lex Luthor past."
Glyn Moody, ArsTechnica.com; New EU copyright rules would give travelers cross-border Netflix access:
"The European Commission says it wants to tackle the lack of consistency across the EU when it comes to copyright exceptions. As it notes: "The fragmentation of copyright rules in the EU is particularly visible in the area of exceptions. The exceptions set out in EU law are, in most cases, optional for Member States to implement and are often broadly defined. As a consequence, an exception in the law of one Member State may not exist in a neighbouring one, or be subject to different conditions or vary in scope." In its new copyright framework, the European Commission proposes a number of initiatives in this area. These include: finally ratifying the Marrakech Treaty, which allows for the creation and distribution of special formats of print material for people with disabilities, without needing additional licences; permitting "public interest research organisations" to carry out text and data mining of material they have already licensed; and clarifying the scope of an exception for teaching materials. The Commission also wants to sort out the freedom of panorama issue—the public's ability to take pictures of external objects like buildings and to distribute them without permission of the architect."
Ben Sisario, New York Times; ‘Happy Birthday’ Copyright Case Reaches a Settlement:
"After more than two years of litigation, “Happy Birthday to You” — often called the most popular song in the world, but one that has long been under copyright — is one step closer to joining the public domain. In September, a federal judge ruled that Warner Music, the song’s publisher, did not have a valid copyright claim to “Happy Birthday,” which has been estimated to collect $2 million a year in royalties. But what that ruling meant for the future of the song — and Warner’s liability — was unclear, and a trial had been set to begin next week. In a filing on Tuesday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the parties in the case said they had agreed to a settlement to end the case. The terms of that deal are confidential. But if the settlement is approved by the court, the song is expected to formally enter the public domain, meaning that it will not be covered by copyright and can be performed freely."
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Milano cookie battle: Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over copyright infringement; Fox News, 12/7/15
Fox News; Milano cookie battle: Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over copyright infringement:
"Pepperidge Farm is suing Trader Joe’s for infringing on the trademark of its popular Milano cookie. According to a complaint filed on Wednesday in New Haven, Conn., federal court, the grocery chain’s version of a sandwich cookie, called Trader Joe’s Crispy Cookies, look too similar to the Milano cookie and the products’ sale is “damaging its goodwill and confusing shoppers,” reports Reuters. Milano cookies, which were introduced to the market in 1956, are crispy oval-shaped vanilla cookies with a chocolate crème filling. Over the years, variations have been introduced, including mint chocolate, orange chocolate and even pumpkin spice. The cookie was trademarked in 2010."
Monday, December 7, 2015
BBC News; War of the Worlds sequel sets 2017 publication date:
"A sequel to HG Wells's The War of the Worlds is to be published in 2017 when the copyright on the original expires. Written by Stephen Baxter, The Massacre of Mankind will see the Martians from Wells's story invading Earth once more, having learned from the mistakes they made first time around. Gollancz will publish the sequel in hardback and eBook on 19 January 2017. The copyright on the original, which was published in book form in 1898, lasts until 31 December 2016."
Patrick Frater, Variety; Hong Kong Copyright Law To Be Fiercely Debated:
"Hong Kong’s legislature is Wednesday to debate a bill that seeks to make the territory’s copyright laws appropriate for the Internet age. The government seems certain to win the vote in the Legislative Council (LegCo), but the bill is likely to be fiercely contested and extra security may be drafted outside the LegCo building. Opponents say that the bill reinforces the position of business and copyright owners, but stifles freedom of speech. In particular, they say that the proposed law does not take enough account of user-generated-content and that it will narrow the scope for sampling of copyright works for parody."
Friday, December 4, 2015
Reuters; China vows copyright protection for online news media:
"China will crack down on illegal reproduction of online news, the country's media watchdog said, days after an influential Chinese news magazine complained publicly about what it described as unauthorized republishing of its stories. China's government has long vowed to rein in intellectual property infringement from knock-off goods to the theft of commercial secrets. But violations remain rampant. While the republishing of other news outlets' articles is common practice in China, some companies in the country's increasingly competitive media industry have become more vocal about what they say is unauthorized use of original content."
Thursday, December 3, 2015
[Post-Public Draft 2016-2020 Strategic Plan] Positioning the United States Copyright Office for the Future: Strategic Plan 2016-2020; U.S. Copyright Office, December 2015
[Post-Public Draft 2016-2020 Strategic Plan] Positioning the United States Copyright Office for the Future: Strategic Plan 2016-2020:
[Excerpt]"This Strategic Plan organizes and prioritizes objectives for the next five years. It draws on four years of internal evaluations and public input — that is, two initial years of fact-findings, public inquiries, and special projects, and two additional years of public roundtables, reports, and Congressional hearings. These initiatives, announced in October 2011, coincided with government-mandated budget cuts as well as staff reductions and backlogs. We seized these challenges, however, as an opportunity to examine inefficiencies, dismantle dated practices, and propose new paradigms. Much of this exciting work and our accomplishments to date are described in the back of this Plan. We also introduce here a revised mission statement that better captures our statutory mandate. Here is my vision for a modern Copyright Office: Customers should be able to transact with the Office easily, quickly, and from anywhere at any time, using mobile technologies and any number of consumer-friendly platforms and devices to secure rights or access data. They should have at their fingertips an integrated life-cycle of copyright information — not only the date on which a work was created, published or fell into the public domain, but also all of the authors, owners, licensees, derivative uses, rights, and permission information that are both relevant to the marketplace and invaluable to meaningful research. The Office should have businessto-business capabilities that both leverage and support private sector activities, while ensuring and facilitating transparency and fairness. Although technology improvements are an essential part of the future, true modernization involves much more than making incremental upgrades to hardware or software. It requires re-envisioning almost all of the Copyright Office’s services, including how customers register claims, submit deposits, record documents, share data, and access expert resources, and it requires meeting the diverse needs of individual authors, entrepreneurs, the user community, and the general public. Maria A. Pallante United States Register of Copyrights, Director, U.S. Copyright Office
Judge: Company must pay $684k for suing Life360 in “exceptionally weak” patent case; ArsTechnica.com, 12/2/15
Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica.com; Judge: Company must pay $684k for suing Life360 in “exceptionally weak” patent case:
"Family networking service Life360 won a patent trial earlier this year against a Florida company called Advanced Ground Information Systems (AGIS) that sued it for patent infringement. Now it has won a significant chunk of its legal fees for fighting the case. Yesterday, US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks ordered AGIS to pay Life360 the sum of $684,190.25. That amount represents the legal fees paid from November 21, 2014, when Middlebrooks issued a claim construction order, through the end of the trial on March 13, 2015."
David Kravets, ArsTechnica.com; Sharing of television news clips hangs in the fair-use balance:
"Fox News is winning more than just the news network ratings wars. It's also winning the battle against copyright's fair use doctrine. In August, a federal judge sided (PDF) with the news station's copyright-infringement lawsuit against a television and radio clipping service known as TVEyes, which charges as much as $500 a month for its service. A New York federal judge ruled that wanton sharing, time searching, and downloading of Fox News' news segments is not fair use. Then in November, US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled TVEyes could not allow its clients—like the White House, American Red Cross, members of Congress, and others—to download Fox News clips. The judge also ordered TVEyes to block users from searching Fox News clips and from allowing them to share them on social media... All of this begs the question of what is fair use. It's complicated, and there is no bright-line rule."
Hallie Golden, NextGov.com; COPYRIGHT OFFICE NEEDS MORE TECH AND DATA EXPERTS:
"To keep pace with the demands of the digital age, the U.S. Copyright Office needs fewer file clerks and more techies, Maria Pallante, the office's director, told lawmakers on Wednesday. “It used to be catalogers, now it needs to be technology and data [experts],” Pallante described the agency’s hiring needs. “I don’t know how we can administer the law without it.” Every year, the Copyright Office's staff examines and register hundreds of thousands of copyright claims submitted by book authors, music artists, software manufacturers and other creators of intellectual property. The office needs to restructure its workforce, Pallante told members of the Committee on House Administration during a hearing on the office’s tech plans. The office would like to eventually “morph” about a third of its staff -- 150 employees -- into tech and data experts, she said. “These experts should not merely be assigned or on-call from another part of the agency, but rather be integrated into the copyright office mission where they can work side by side with legal and business experts,” she said."
Whitney Blair Wyckoff, FedScoop.com; Library of Congress, Copyright Office butt heads over IT vision:
"During the hearing, U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante reiterated a call for more autonomy over her agency’s technology. She referenced a report her agency released Tuesday that laid out a five-year plan that heavily focused on technology improvements. “What we’re asking for is the autonomy to make sure that IT is intertwined with our business and legal expertise,” Pallante said. (Some House lawmakers have been shopping a draft bill to make the office an independent agency, but the legislation has yet to be introduced.) Pallante also underscored the need to update the office’s 10-year-old copyright registration system, called eCO — which she said was “probably outdated by the time it was implemented.” The system, she said, simply replaced rather than improved upon paper copyright registration forms. It doesn't have a digital interface that is interoperable with the private sector technology and isn't flexible enough to be updated as copyright law evolves, she said... “Your predecessor did many wonderful things in his long career,” Lofgren said to acting Librarian Mao. “Being a techie was not one of his fine points. So you have your work cut out for you.”"
Whitney Blair Wyckoff, FedScoop.com; Copyright Register: IT outage shows why agency must modernize:
"U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante still grimaces at the mention of a major IT outage that struck her agency this summer. What started as routine data center maintenance shuttered critical Library of Congress IT systems — including those at the Copyright Office — for nine days. Pallante said it forced her staff, who were unable to fix the problems directly, to field angry calls from customers unable to register their songs, books or other creative works online. “This is an illustration of the fact that my IT, and my databases, are in the hands of people who are not statutorily responsible for that information,” she told FedScoop, speaking in a Copyright Office conference room lined with the portraits of past registers. She added, "I just really feel that people who work on Copyright Office IT should be in the Copyright Office, in the mission, working side by side with the other experts." It’s a point alluded to in the Copyright Office's five-year strategic modernization plan, finalized and released Tuesday. The 65-page document includes overarching goals that span from building a robust and flexible technology enterprise to recruiting a diverse workforce. But woven into the report is the need to tailor the office's technology to the needs of the people it serves. “I think the main message of this is that the Copyright Office has to be directly involved in technology — for one, we can’t administer the law without having control of tools to allow us to do that,” said Pallante, who spent nearly 10 years as intellectual property counsel and director of the licensing group at the Guggenheim Museums before coming to her current job in 2011."
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Alison Smale, New York Times; Scholars Unveil New Edition of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ :
"Not since 1945, when the Allies banned the dubious work and awarded the rights to the state of Bavaria, has Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” been officially published in German. Bavaria had refused to release it. But under German law, its copyright expires Dec. 31, the 70th year after the author’s death. That allows a team of historians from a noted center for the study of Nazism, the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, to publish its two-volume, 2,000-page edition, a three-year labor complete with about 3,500 academic annotations. The intention is to set the work in historical context, to show how Hitler wove truth with half-truth and outright lie, and thus to defang any propagandistic effect while revealing Nazism."
Andrew Pulver, Guardian; James Bond goes to Ottawa in For Your Eyes Only remake:
"A duo of low-budget Canadian film-makers have announced plans to remake the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, thanks to a loophole in copyright laws. Lee Demarbre and Ian Driscoll, whose back catalogue includes the Mexican-wrestler thriller The Dead Sleep Easy and comedy musical Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, say they are planning to take advantage of Canada’s 50-year copyright limit to start work on a new adaptation of Ian Fleming’s 1960 short story. Unlike most other major film markets, Canada does not enforce the Berne convention that extended authors’ copyright to 70 years after death, meaning that Fleming, who died in 1964, is in the public domain in the country... The film-makers concede that copyright regulations mean they would be unable to release the proposed film in the US, limiting potential investment, but suggest that the restriction would not apply to “China and most of Asia”."