Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why Google’s fair use victory over Oracle matters; Guardian, 5/31/16

Pamela Samuelson, Guardian; Why Google’s fair use victory over Oracle matters:
"Further cascades of liability could have happened outside the Android ecosystem. An Oracle victory in the Google case would have emboldened other software firms with valuable APIs to become more aggressive in challenging unlicensed uses of those APIs. Someone wanting to develop a program to run on another firm’s platform must use that platform’s API to enable the second program to interoperate with the platform. (Think of an API as an information equivalent to the plug and socket configurations that are necessary for physical devices to interoperate with the electrical grid.) If the second program isn’t configured to send and receive information in the precise way that the first program’s API specifies, it just won’t work at all.
If the developer of an API owns copyright in that API, it can say no to any unlicensed use of it. Or it can condition its willingness to license use of the API on high royalties or impose restrictions on the other firm’s development (such as forbidding adaptation of the same program to run on other platforms).
Since 1992, courts have overwhelmingly rejected copyright claims in program interface specifications. These rulings are consistent with the prevailing norm in the computing industry since its early days: that it is OK to use another firm’s API as long as the second firm reimplements the API in independently written code. Over the past two decades, the software industry has thrived because the court rulings converged with industry norms that allow innovative software developers to build upon existing programs and platforms to offer consumers many choices of products for smart phones and other computing devices."

Open Data Platform Lets Aid Groups Respond More Efficiently To Crises; Huffington Post, 5/27/16

Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post; Open Data Platform Lets Aid Groups Respond More Efficiently To Crises:
"When a humanitarian crisis hits, there’s an inevitable mad scramble to collect data, which is often scattered, limited and fail to offer a “big picture” of the situation at hand.
Nearly two years after the launch of the Humanitarian Data Exchange, however, governments, nonprofits, aid workers and the general public can now share information from the ground and upload it to one platform so that it’s stored, and accessible, in a single location.
The goal is to be able to offer up humanitarian aid in an efficient and faster way.
The project, which is managed by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, now covers about 250 locations across the world. Those include Ecuador and Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, according to Reuters."

Kraftwerk loses hip-hop music-sampling copyright case; Ars Technica, 5/31/16

Jennifer Baker, Ars Technica; Kraftwerk loses hip-hop music-sampling copyright case:
"After a decades-long battle, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the supreme German Constitutional Court) has overturned a ban on a song that used a two-second sample of a Kraftwerk recording.
In 1997, music producer Moses Pelham used a clip from 1977 release Metall auf Metall (Metal on Metal) in the song Nur mir (Only Mine) performed by Sabrina Setlur.
Lead singer of Kraftwerk, Ralf Huetter, sued Pelham, and in 2012 the electropop pioneer won his case for copyright infringement in Germany's Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), gaining damages and a block on Nur mir. However, in today’s judgment, the eight judges of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the lower court did not sufficiently consider whether the impact of the sample on Krafwerk might be “negligible.”
Pelham successfully argued that sampling is common practice in the hip hop genre and that in some cases “artistic freedom overrides the interest of the owner of the copyright.""

Monday, May 30, 2016

Universities seek united front in open access debate; University World News, 5/13/16

Munyaradzi Makoni, University World News; Universities seek united front in open access debate:
"Both a unified front and a paradigm shift around access to knowledge were needed in order to deal with rising journal costs and exclusionary copyright provisions imposed by the mainstream academic publishing industry, a Leadership Dialogue on open access and African research publishing heard.
Embracing open access initiatives was now critical, according to Piyushi Kotecha, chief executive officer of the Southern African Regional Universities Association or SARUA, which hosted the Leadership Dialogue in Cape Town ahead of the British Council’s Going Global 2016 conference, held from 3-5 May.
Attended by vice-chancellors from a range of countries, the meeting was supported by UNESCO, the Magna Charta Observatory and the University of Cape Town’s Intellectual Property Unit.
With an emphasis on collaborative solutions, the aim was to explore open access approaches as a means to address problems of scholarship access among Southern African universities at a time when the global debate was shifting to “less dogmatic ways of interpreting open access”, according to the event invitation."

Why Google's victory in a copyright fight with Oracle is a big deal; Vox, 5/26/16

Timothy B. Lee, Vox; Why Google's victory in a copyright fight with Oracle is a big deal:
"Google's version of Java didn't reuse any code from Oracle's version. But to ensure compatibility, Google's version used functions with the same names and functionality.
This practice was widely viewed as legal within the software world at the time Google did it, but Oracle sued, arguing that this was copyright infringement. Oracle argued that the list of Java function names and features constitutes a creative work, and that Google infringed Oracle's copyright when it included functions with the same names and features.
Google argued that the list of function names, known as an application programming interface (API), was not protected by copyright law.
Google's defenders pointed to a landmark 1995 ruling in which an appeals court held that the software company Borland had not infringed copyright when it created a spreadsheet program whose menus were organized in the same way as the menus in the more popular spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3.
The court held that the order of Lotus 1-2-3 menu items was an uncopyrightable "method of operation." And it concluded that giving Lotus exclusive ownership over its menu structure would harm the public...
Google believed that its own copying was directly analogous to what Borland had done. There were thousands of programmers with expertise in writing Java programs. By designing its platform to respond to the same set of programming commands as Oracle's Java system, Google allowed Java programmers to become Android programmers with minimal training — just as Borland's decision to copy Lotus's menu structure avoided unnecessary training for seasoned Lotus 1-2-3 users."

Skrillex and Justin Bieber on Sorry copyright claims: 'We didn't steal this'; Guardian, 5/30/16

Guardian; Skrillex and Justin Bieber on Sorry copyright claims: 'We didn't steal this':
"Dienel, also known as White Hinterland, claims the pair used her vocal loop without permission on their No1 track. The clip in question is used repeatedly through her 2014 song Ring the Bell, and she reportedly claims that the “unique characteristics of the female vocal riff” have been copied.
When asked about the case, US DJ Diplo, who worked with Bieber and Skrillex on the Jack Ü project, told TMZ: “I thought they sampled it, but I thought they cleared it. I’m sure they’ll work out a deal with her. They don’t want to go to court with it.""

Sunday, May 29, 2016

In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020; Science, 5/27/16

Martin Enserink, Science; In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020:
"In what European science chief Carlos Moedas calls a "life-changing" move, European Union member states today agreed on an ambitious new open access (OA) target. All scientific papers should be freely available by 2020, the Competitiveness Council—a gathering of ministers of science, innovation, trade, and industry—concluded after a 2-day meeting in Brussels. But some observers are warning that the goal will be difficult to achieve.
The OA goal is part of a broader set of recommendations in support of Open Science, a concept which also includes improved storage of and access to research data. The Dutch government, which currently holds the rotating E.U. presidency, had lobbied hard for Europe-wide support for Open Science, as had Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation...
A spokesperson for the Competitiveness Council admits the 2020 target "may not be an easy task," but stresses the importance of the council's new resolve. "This is not a law, but it's a political orientation for the 28 governments. The important thing is that there is a consensus."
The council's statement is also slightly ambiguous on what exactly should be accomplished by 2020."

Must stop bill to copyright public records; San Jose Mercury News, 6/28/16

Thomas Peele, San Jose Mercury News; Must stop bill to copyright public records:
"In a blog post EFF legislative counsel Ernesto Falcon made it clear the potential chilling effect on free speech and public participation Stone has proposed.
"Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain," Falcon wrote. "If a citizen infringed on a state owned copyright by making a copy of a government publication, or reading that publication out loud in a public setting, or uploading it to the Internet, they could be liable. ..."
Does Stone want to keep news organizations and others from freely posting public records that show wrongdoing, abuse, corruption, misuse of public funds?
Rather than working to make access to records more difficult, state lawmakers should working to make them more accessible."

Judge Orders Release of Documents in Trump University Lawsuit; Wall Street Journal, 5/28/16

Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal; Judge Orders Release of Documents in Trump University Lawsuit:
"Among the documents to be unsealed are two sets of Trump University “playbooks,” outlining rules and procedures for running Trump University events and employee scripts for engaging with customers.
Some of the documents have already surfaced online. Online political website Politico in March posted a 2010 Trump University playbook, which instructed employees to rank students by liquid assets to help determine what kind of course packages they could afford to buy.
Other documents would be made public for the first time, including a sales playbook the judge said contained marketing techniques for selling Trump University programs. The unsealed versions will redact phone numbers and noncorporate email addresses.
Judge Curiel ordered the documents released by June 2. He was responding to an April request by the Washington Post for the records to be unsealed. Lawyers for Mr. Trump opposed making the documents public, arguing that the materials contained trade secrets."

Friday, May 27, 2016

Google Prevails as Jury Rebuffs Oracle in Code Copyright Case; New York Times, 5/26/16

Nick Wingfield and Quentin hardy, New York Times; Google Prevails as Jury Rebuffs Oracle in Code Copyright Case:
"Some lawyers cautioned against viewing the verdict as a green light for the type of software development Google performed, saying that the earlier federal appeals court decision validated the idea that A.P.I.s can be copyrighted.
“I don’t think the industry can sit back and rely on this decision and exhale and say these things won’t be protected,” said Christopher Carani, a lawyer at McAndrews, Held & Malloy. “I think what you’re still going to see is a lot more attention paid to securing approval to use other copyrights before the fact.”
John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, a consumer rights group, cheered the verdict in a statement, but said he remained troubled by the implications of the earlier court decision. “Other courts of appeal should reject the Federal Circuit’s mistaken finding of copyrightability,” he said. “For now, though, the jury’s verdict is a welcome dose of common sense.”"

Thursday, May 26, 2016

One company has a big edge in the fight to dominate the Internet of Things; Quartz, 5/23/16

Joon Ian Wang, Quartz; One company has a big edge in the fight to dominate the Internet of Things:
"Most of the innovation on the so-called Internet of Things is locked up in patents held by the companies that make the innards of sensors, routers, and other devices, according to a study by LexInnova, a consultancy.
The study finds that the companies with the greatest number of IoT patents globally are the chip-makers Qualcomm and Intel, followed by Chinese network-gear maker ZTE...
Where Qualcomm and Intel are neck and neck on absolute numbers of patents, Qualcomm has a significantly stronger patent portfolio, according to LexInnova’s research. This might be a major problem for Intel, which has staked its future on IoT. Brian Krzanich, its chief executive, called the company’s IoT group a “primary growth engine” in his 2015 shareholder’s letter. It reported revenue of $651 million for its IoT group for the first quarter of 2016, 22% higher than the previous year. Qualcomm doesn’t report numbers for its IoT products, although it said last year that it made $1 billion in revenue from chips used in smart homes, city infrastructure, cars, and wearables."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Unaffordable Medicines Now Global Issue; System Needs Change, Panellists Say; Intellectual Property Watch,

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; Unaffordable Medicines Now Global Issue; System Needs Change, Panellists Say:
"At a side event to this week’s annual World Health Assembly, a member of the Netherlands Ministry of Health delivered an unexpected speech on access to medicines, calling for more clarity in the setting of medicine prices, looking inside and outside of the patent system for solutions, and praising de-linkage. Other panellists viewed partnerships as a key ingredient to fill research and development gaps. And a representative from the Gates Foundation advised against a hasty switch to new system."

Huawei sues Samsung over patents; BBC News, 5/25/16

BBC News; Huawei sues Samsung over patents:
"However, Huawei has said at least some of them are classed as Frand - an acronym referring to "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory". This means the Chinese company has committed itself to offering anyone a licence so long as they agree to a non-excessive compensation.
This kind of agreement is common in the tech sector as it makes it possible for different companies' products to communicate and share data formats with each other...
"Huawei may have initiated litigation as lever to get a settlement," commented Ilya Kazi from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.
"We don't know if it intends to go all the way through. Most cases do settle.""

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


"Marvel and DC Comics have officially dropped a case against small businessman Graham Jules over the use of the word "superhero." According to The Mirror, Jules can now legally use the word in his book title "Business Zero to Superhero."
When Jules attempted to publish his start-up manual, the two major comic book companies contested his use of "superhero," as the two publishers had jointly trademarked the word in 1979, covering a range of products, from comic books and playing cards to pencil sharpeners and glue. Their renewal of that mark in 2006 drew widespread attention, as well as scrutiny from those who question whether such a term should be allowed to be registered. They claimed Jules' title infringed on this trademark, while he argued that the word had become part of everyday language.

Embarking on a New Adventure: Open Data at the US Patent and Trademark Office; USPTO, 5/24/16

Michelle K. Lee, Huffington Post; Embarking on a New Adventure: Open Data at the US Patent and Trademark Office:
"When the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office heard President Obama’s call to provide the public with transparency and open government, I wasn’t exactly sure how one of the country’s oldest federal agencies would be able to respond. I challenged a small internal team to act like a “start-up” and develop some new ideas on how to use the vast reserves of data the USPTO gathers to help solve some of the agency’s age old challenges. They built a platform to dive into what very well may be the world’s largest repository of data on innovation and research and development technology trends. The unveiling of the USPTO’s new Open Data and Mobility Program offers a new platform in an ecological way to discover, explore, and innovate.
I’m thrilled to say this month we made a great leap into exposing the world to this wealth of information when we launched the USPTO’s new Developer Hub. We’re providing vast data sets, interactive visualizations, and a community platform for sharing and discussing this data. While this treasure trove of data has been available to the public for centuries, we also provided a step-by-step guide for you, the user, to create your own insights about innovation and share it with the world in the community café. Go to github link to get the tutorial and be empowered - http://commercedataservice.github.io/tutorial_pto/."

Making the Transition to Gold Open Access; Library Journal, 5/19/16

John Parsons, Library Journal; Making the Transition to Gold Open Access:
"Unlike other digital goods markets like eBooks or music, where a single dominant player can coordinate rapid change, scientific publishing is fragmented and heterogeneous. There are a multitude of publishers, disciplines, and funding organizations. “Like any other platform shift, it will take everybody on both sides to do it,” said Mark McCabe, a lecturer at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, and Professor and Director of the Digital Business Program at SKEMA Business School in France. “The transition between business models is a process that requires major players to subsidize or sponsor it. In the context of OA, the coordination challenges are substantial. This will take time...”
However, increasing pressure from researchers outside Western Europe and North America, as well as mandates from the EU, may eventually force even reluctant publishers and institutions to adopt the Gold model. “The thing about science is that if traditional publishers were to disappear tomorrow, research would still be conducted and articles would still be written,” McCabe said. “Research authors aren’t selling books or songs; they just want to get their stuff out there in the best way possible, and have it read by anyone who needs it.”"

A Little Understanding Motivates Copyright Abusers To Pay Up; Forbes, 5/23/16

Michael Blanding, Forbes; A Little Understanding Motivates Copyright Abusers To Pay Up:
"Obtaining an image from the Internet is as easy as right-clicking and downloading. We’ve all done it—or, ahem, know someone who has. We rarely think about who created these images or whether we have the rights to use them. This leaves the owners of those images with a conundrum: Should they pursue the violators?
First off, the monetary amounts at stake are often small—tens or hundreds of dollars in licensing fees. Is it worth the time, cost, and effort to send a bunch of settlement request letters? Second, few of these types of digital copyright infringements wind up in court. So why bother if the ultimate enforcement mechanism seems so far-fetched?
Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Hong Luo looks at these questions in a 2015 working paper, “Copyright Enforcement: Evidence from Two Field Experiments,” co-written with Julie Holland Mortimer of Boston College and the National Bureau of Economic Research. The paper was updated earlier this year.
Their findings about how to motivate copyright violators to actually pay up are important not only for copyright holders, but also applicable to many disputes involving small amounts."

Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet; Guardian, 5/23/16

Alex Hern, Guardian; Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet:
"Censorship by copyright
The motivation of Ashraf can only be guessed at, but censorship using the DMCA is common online. The act allows web hosts a certain amount of immunity from claims of copyright infringement through what is known as the “safe harbour” rules: in essence, a host isn’t responsible for hosting infringing material provided they didn’t know about it when it went up, and took it down as soon as they were told about it.
In practice, however, this means that web hosts (and the term is broadly interpreted, meaning sites like YouTube, Twitter and Google count) are forced to develop a hair-trigger over claims of copyright infringement, assuming guilt and asking the accused to prove their innocence.
As such, a very easy way to remove something from the internet is to accuse its creator of infringing copyright. Worse, the potential downside of such a false claim is minimal: the accused would have to first file a counterclaim, proving they own the copyright; then file a private lawsuit, and prove material damage; and then track down the offending party to actually recover any monies granted by the court.
That doesn’t happen all that often.
But in recent years, big web companies have started funding lawsuits themselves, to fill the gap in the law and tilt the scales a bit further in favour of content creators wrongly accused."

Hungarian singer sues Kanye West for $2.5m over New Slaves sample; Reuters via Guardian, 5/23/16

Reuters via Guardian; Hungarian singer sues Kanye West for $2.5m over New Slaves sample:
"Presser described his song, which roughly translates in English as “Pearls in Her Hair”, as “one of the most beloved pop songs ever in Hungary and across eastern Europe”. He is seeking at least $2.5m in damages for copyright infringement.
Lawyers for West and co-defendant Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, a joint venture between Sony Corp and the estate of pop star Michael Jackson, did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment.
Presser said he had no inkling his song was being used until West’s lawyer emailed him soon after marketing began, indicating that West “would like to work out a deal with you as soon as possible” and giving him 24 hours to respond.
West’s lawyers later sent Presser a $10,000 check and insisted that he grant a license. But Presser never cashed the check, the complaint said."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Paramount to Drop Lawsuit Against ‘Star Trek’ Fan Film; Comic Book Resources, 5/21/16

Kevin Melrose, Comic Book Resources; Paramount to Drop Lawsuit Against ‘Star Trek’ Fan Film:
"Paramount Pictures plans to withdraw its controversial lawsuit against a crowdfunded “Star Trek” fan film, a move that will undoubtedly earn the studio goodwill as it prepares to release “Star Trek Beyond” amid the franchise’s 50th-anniversary celebration.
The announcement was made Friday by J.J. Abrams during a fan event on the Paramount lot, where the filmmaker said the litigation is “going away” within the next few weeks."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oracle-Google Dispute Goes to Heart of Open-Source Software; New York Times, 5/19/16

Quentin Hardy, New York Times; Oracle-Google Dispute Goes to Heart of Open-Source Software:
"With jury deliberations expected to start next week, whether it makes sense to nontechies that Google, as Mr. Page contends, engaged in “established industry practice” and not old-fashioned copyright infringement could have a significant impact on how the technology industry creates new products.
The copyrights that are crucial to the trial are related to open-source software, which is created and shared for general use. Open-source technology is at the heart of many current innovations, from Google’s Android to the hardware going into giant cloud-computing data centers.
“The open-source community will heave a huge sigh of relief if Google wins, and will be very worried if Oracle wins,” said Pamela Samuelson, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. “It will have a chilling effect.”"

Avengers and X-Men wage war in action-packed fan trailer; Comic Book Resources, 5/20/16

Kevin Melrose, Comic Book Resources; Avengers and X-Men wage war in action-packed fan trailer:
"Fans at last saw Spider-Man introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War, but it will be a long, long time before they witness the X-Men do the same. Until then, they can watch this epic fan trailer, which pits Marvel’s mutants against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, over and over and over again."

Do You Love Music? Silicon Valley Doesn’t; New York Times, 5/20/16

Jonathan Taplin, New York Times; Do You Love Music? Silicon Valley Doesn’t:
"Unfortunately, there is a sad history of undervaluing musicians in the United States. Terrestrial radio, a $17 billion industry, pays publishing rights (payments to songwriters) but has never paid artists or record companies for music. In addition, the satellite radio company, SiriusXM, pays below-market royalties, thanks to a giveaway it first wrested from Congress 20 years ago. Conglomerates like iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications) and other online services like Pandora, which are required to pay artists for digital streams, have exploited federal copyright law to deny payments for work recorded before 1972 (songwriters are paid; performers are not). This means artists like Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry and John Coltrane never received a dime from AM/FM radio and or from many digital services for some of their greatest music.
The last meaningful legislation in this area was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, which was based on the idea that creators should monitor the Internet for illegal copies of their works and give “notice” to websites and services to take pirated material down. Under the act’s “safe harbor” provisions, any service or site that makes a minimal effort to address these notices is immune from liability for piracy or theft."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Google patents 'sticky' layer to protect pedestrians in self-driving car accidents; Guardian, 5/18/16

Nicky Woolf, Guardian; Google patents 'sticky' layer to protect pedestrians in self-driving car accidents:
"Google has patented a new “sticky” technology to protect pedestrians if – or when – they get struck by the company’s self-driving cars.
The patent, which was granted on 17 May, is for a sticky adhesive layer on the front end of a vehicle, which would aim to reduce the damage caused when a pedestrian hit by a car is flung into other vehicles or scenery...
It is not known whether Google has active plans to install the new technology on their self-driving cars in the future. The company did not respond immediately to a request from the Guardian for comment, but a spokesperson told the San Jose Mercury News, who first reported the story, that “we hold patents on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas later mature into real products and services, some don’t.”"

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Colleges Shouldn’t Have to Deal With Copyright Monitoring; Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/17/16

Pamela Samuelson, Chronicle of Higher Education; Colleges Shouldn’t Have to Deal With Copyright Monitoring:
"Colleges have a big stake in the outcome of the lawsuit that three publishers, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications, brought against Georgia State University officials for copyright infringement. The lawsuit, now in its eighth year, challenged GSU’s policy that allowed faculty members to upload excerpts (mainly chapters) of in-copyright books for students to read and download from online course repositories.
Four years ago, a trial court held that 70 of the 75 challenged uses were fair uses. Two years ago, an appellate court sent the case back for a reassessment under a revised fair-use standard. The trial court has just recently ruled that of the 48 claims remaining in the case, only four uses, each involving multiple chapters, infringed. The question now is, What should be the remedy for those four infringements?...
Appellate courts generally defer to lower-­court fact-finding, especially when the findings are as extensive as in the GSU case. As an author of book chapters (for which I have never been paid, but which I would like students to read) and as a faculty member who posts some in-copyright materials on course websites, I’m rooting for GSU on the coming appeal. If the overwhelming majority of the university’s uses were fair, it doesn’t make sense to impose substantial and costly compliance measures on it. Colleges, students, faculty members, and academic-book-­chapter authors will win if the publishers lose once again."

USPTO Regional Offices Forge Ahead in 2016; USPTO Director' Forum Blog, 5/17/16

Michelle K. Lee, USPTO Director' Forum Blog; USPTO Regional Offices Forge Ahead in 2016:
"Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee
USPTO regional offices support our core mission of fostering American innovation and competitiveness by offering services to entrepreneurs, inventors, and small businesses, while effectively engaging communities and local industries. All four of our regional offices now have directors, making us well-positioned to fully advance this mission. The establishment of four USPTO regional offices fulfills a commitment dating to September 16, 2011, when President Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) into law. All the regional offices have been busy these last few months, including holding events for World IP Day and enabling local innovators to participate virtually in the Patent Quality Community Symposium...
The USPTO regional offices play an important role in supporting the overall mission of our agency, including ensuring easier access by innovators and entrepreneurs to resources and intellectual property protections they need to compete in today’s global economy. To find out more about events in any of our regional offices, visit the events page of the USPTO website, and for employment opportunities, visit USAjobs.gov for openings. I will continue to keep you informed about new updates on our regional offices throughout the year on this blog."

GSU e-Reserves Decision; Library Journal, 5/12/16

Kyle K. Courtney, Library Journal; GSU e-Reserves Decision:
"The infamous Georgia State University (GSU) e-reserves case (Cambridge University Press v. Patton) emerged last month from its long winter slumber to give us yet another 200+ page decision which librarians, lawyers, and publishers have begun to parse and analyze. And, like me, they are probably asking themselves: What does this decision actually mean?"

Monday, May 16, 2016

Printed book sales rise for first time in four years as ebooks decline; Guardian, 5/13/16

Mark Sweney, Guardian; Printed book sales rise for first time in four years as ebooks decline:
"Sales of printed books have grown for the first time in four years, lifted by the adult colouring book craze and 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, as ebooks suffered their first ever decline.
Ebook sales fell by 1.6% to to £554m in 2015, the first drop recorded in the seven years industry body the Publishers Association has been monitoring the digital book market. Meanwhile, sales of printed books grew by 0.4% to £2.76bn."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A World Without Patents; Forbes, 5/12/16

David Pridham, Forbes; A World Without Patents:
"On the surface, Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee is about whether the Patent Office (PTO) can use a different standard in hearing challenges to a patent’s validity after it’s been granted than the standard used by the federal courts. It’s also about whether the taking of a legal property right (a patent) ought to happen via an administrative hearing, without judicial review.
During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed shocked by the PTO’s system for challenging patents, known as Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs), calling it a “bizarre way … to decide a legal question” and a “very extraordinary animal in legal culture to have two different proceedings addressing the same question that lead to different results.” He was referring to the fact that a patent upheld as valid and infringed by the federal courts can then be taken by the infringing defendant to the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and declared invalid!...
Even if you stipulate that there are bad patents that shouldn’t have been issued, is it really believable that 90% of all patents granted are invalid — despite being issued only after careful review by PTO examiners in a process that takes over two years and results in the rejection of half of all patent applications?
If we really believe that 90% of Patent Office output is garbage, then we should just shut the agency down and save everyone all the trouble.
There would be consequences, of course. Without patents and the competitive protections they afford, individuals and companies will not invest the money it takes to develop new cures for disease or create new technological wonders. That’s because they know others will simply copy their inventions with impunity and then sell them at a much lower cost, since it didn’t cost them a dime to develop these in the first place. This is a terrific way to drive the innovators out of any industry."

California's Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 5/13/16

Ernesto Falcon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); California's Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works:
"AB 2880 will give state and local governments dramatic powers to chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain.
The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill (AB 2880) to grant local and state governments' copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. At its core, the bill grants state and local government the authority to create, hold, and exert copyrights, including in materials created by the government. For background, the federal Copyright Act prohibits the federal government from claiming copyright in the materials it creates, but is silent on state governments. As a result, states have taken various approaches to copyright law with some granting themselves vast powers and others (such as California) forgoing virtually all copyright authority at least until now.
EFF strongly opposes the bill. Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright."

Friday, May 13, 2016

PA DCNR's open data portal

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' open data portal:
"Welcome to PA DCNR's open data portal. This site provides access to all of our published GIS data, which includes over 130 datasets relative to state parks, state forests, geology, recreational opportunities and more! Select a category below by clicking on an icon, or use the search tool above to discover our data, which you can map, style and chart right on the site. You can also connect directly to the data, download it or share it!"

Pennsylvania DCNR Offering Open Data Website; Affords Users Detailed, Easily Accessible Information; PR Newswire, 5/13/16

PR Newswire, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Pennsylvania DCNR Offering Open Data Website; Affords Users Detailed, Easily Accessible Information:
"Speaking Thursday night before an annual, statewide gathering of environmental professionals, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn unveiled her department's innovative move to offer detailed, easily accessible information to all.
"In line with Gov. Tom Wolf's call for transparent, easily accessible government, DCNR is offering an Open Data site that should prove invaluable to this audience of science-based, data-driven environmental professionals," Dunn told more than 100 members of the Pa. Association of Environmental Professionals. "I urge you all to take advantage of this new service."
"Governor Wolf's recent announcement that Pennsylvania is joining the open data movement -- and that DCNR is at the forefront -- will lead to exciting opportunities -- not only for environmental professionals, but for the media, students, academia, taxpayers, businesses. The list is endless.""

Gene Kelly's Widow Claims Copyright In Interviews Done By Gene Kelly, Sues Over Academic Book; TechDirt, 5/12/16

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Gene Kelly's Widow Claims Copyright In Interviews Done By Gene Kelly, Sues Over Academic Book:
"Another day, another story of copyright being used for censorship, rather than as an incentive to create. Here's the headline: Gene Kelly's widow is suing to stop an academic book exploring various interviews that were done over the decades with the famed actor/dancer. And here's the lawsuit, in which Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, who was married to Gene Kelly for the last seven years of his life, claims that she holds the copyright on every interview that Kelly ever did...
Now, the legal issues here are at least somewhat nuanced. The question of who actually holds the copyright in an interview is actually a hotly debated topic in some copyright circles, and the answer is not as clear or as simple as you might think (or as it probably ought to be). Remember, of course, that the law is pretty explicit that copyright is given to whoever fixes the interview into a tangible medium. So, in most cases, it would seem that whoever is recording/transcribing/publishing the interview likely holds the copyright in it."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

President Obama signs trade secrets bill; The Hill, 5/11/16

Vicki Needham, The Hill; President Obama signs trade secrets bill:
"President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation into law that will provide a federal remedy for U.S. companies seeking relief from the theft of trade secrets, which costs companies billions every year.
Flanked by a bipartisan group of seven lawmakers, Obama praised congressional efforts to pass an enforcement bill that allows companies to seek damages through criminal and civil actions against those who steal valuable trade secrets.
"As many of you know, one of the biggest advantages that we've got in this global economy is that we innovate, we come up with new services, new goods, new products, new technologies," Obama said.
"Unfortunately, all too often, some of our competitors, instead of competing with us fairly, are trying to steal these trade secrets from American companies," he said."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Google and Oracle's $9.3 Billion Fair Use Fight Starts Today, Here's a Guide; Fortune, 5/9/16

Jeff John Roberts, Fortune; Google and Oracle's $9.3 Billion Fair Use Fight Starts Today, Here's a Guide:
"Why are Google and Oracle in court?
The case is about intellectual property. It began six years ago when Oracle sued Google for using APIs tied to Java (more on this below) without permission. Google won at an initial trial in 2012 when a jury found the company didn’t infringe Oracle’s patents, and a judge concluded the APIs didn’t qualify for copyright protection.
But in a ruling that shocked the tech community, an appeals court found in 2014 that Oracle’s APIs were indeed covered by copyright. The ruling also kicked the case back to the lower court to determine whether Google’s use of the APIs counted as a “fair use.” Now, at this second trial, a jury will look at the fair use question."

Judge: Star Trek fanfic creators must face CBS, Paramount copyright lawsuit; Ars Technica, 5/10/16

Megan Geuss, Ars Technica; Judge: Star Trek fanfic creators must face CBS, Paramount copyright lawsuit:
"On Monday, a Los Angeles-based US District Court judge ruled that Axanar Productions, a crowd-funded Star Trek fanfiction production company, would have to face a copyright infringement lawsuit (PDF) from CBS and Paramount, which own the rights to the Star Trek TV and film franchise...
"Although the Court declines to address whether Plaintiffs’ Claims will prosper at this time,” the judge wrote, "the Court does find Plaintiffs’ claims will live long enough to survive Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.”
In another blog post, Peters wrote that Axanar Productions is trying to settle with CBS and Paramount "so we can move forward with telling the story of AXANAR in a way that satisfies both the studios and the over ten thousand fans who financially supported our project.”"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Biden calls for open-data research; Politico, 5/10/16

David Pittman, Politico; Biden calls for open-data research:
Vice President Joe Biden issued some of his strongest words yet in support of sharing clinical and research data, in remarks to data scientists Monday at Health Datapalooza. He said science was at an inflection point, with the ease of genomic sequencing, massive increases in computing power and digitization of health records. “You told me that this is the way we can make great progress, by sharing more data, breaking down the silos,” Biden told a standing-room only crowd in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt. “Imagine what we could, you could do to help in the fight against cancer if you had access to millions of cancer pathologies, genomic sequences, family histories and treatment outcomes.”
Calls for a national research database:
The country needs a way to share and make public underlying data from medical research, Biden said, a one point criticizing the New Journal of Medicine editor for saying such policy would breed “data parasites.”
Flying records cross country:
The Biden family had to literally fly Beau’s medical records to Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center because EHR systems couldn’t talk to each out. And this was the vice president’s son. “We spent $35 billion to avoid that kind of thing from happening.”"

Hacker Who Stole IDs and Scripts From Celebrities Pleads Guilty; New York Times, 5/9/16

Benjamin Weiser, New York Times; Hacker Who Stole IDs and Scripts From Celebrities Pleads Guilty:
"Mr. Knowles said that it was difficult to go after “a high profile celebrity,” so he would begin by going after friends found in photographs with them. He would then hack the friends’ accounts to find the celebrities’ telephone numbers and other personal information.
“It boils down to the weakest link in the chain,” a former official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Austin P. Berglas, told The New York Times in December, after the charges were announced.
At one point, the complaint said, Mr. Knowles showed the undercover agent a list of names, with phone numbers or email addresses of about 130 celebrities.
Mr. Knowles, in court, apologized to the judge, Paul A. Engelmayer, and acknowledged that he knew his actions had been wrong and illegal.
He pleaded guilty to both of the counts charged in a federal indictment against him: criminal copyright infringement and identity theft.
He could face a total of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 25. The federal sentencing guidelines, which are only advisory, suggested a sentence of 27 to 33 months, according to the plea agreement in the case."

'Game of Thrones' Plot Leaker Risks Drag-on Battle, Dungeon; US News, 5/9/16

Steven Nelson, US News; 'Game of Thrones' Plot Leaker Risks Drag-on Battle, Dungeon:
"Though some of the spoiler's supporters scoff that HBO is misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to force YouTube to remove videos that don't contain copyrighted imagery, experts say it's clear that divulging TV plots does violate U.S. copyright law.
"If he's giving away detailed plot information, he definitely faces the possibility of being liable for criminal copyright infringement, no question," says Deborah Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
"The coolest thing about 'Game of Thrones' is you think, 'They're not going to go there,' and then they go there – that's such a critical part of the creativity of this work," she says. "When you have a fictional plot that's an original creation of an author, especially a plot like this one in a fantasy work, you get to the area copyright protects: creative expression."
Gerhardt says HBO's right to first publication of its creative works can be enforced using either criminal or civil penalties.
The U.S. Supreme Court, she also points out, ruled against The Nation magazine's fair use defense after it published a leaked part of ex-President Gerald Ford's memoir dealing with his pardon of predecessor Richard Nixon."

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fair use does not mean free: Copyright recommendations would crush Australian content; Sydney Morning Herald, 5/6/16

Kim Williams, Sydney Morning Herald; Fair use does not mean free: Copyright recommendations would crush Australian content:
"The Productivity Commission's draft report on Australia's copyright arrangements makes recommendations that would be incredibly detrimental to our national creative talent. The report is overall profoundly disappointing and a major cause for concern."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

[Webinar] Who Pays the Freight? Open Access: The Future of Funding, 5/25/16

[Webinar] Who Pays the Freight? Open Access: The Future of Funding:
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Duration: 1 hour
"Who Pays the Freight? Open Access: The Future of Funding
Now in full flight, the Open Access movement promises to revolutionize the discipline of peer-reviewed research. Billed as a treasure trove for citizen scientists and major institutions alike, the benefits of Open Access still need to be paid for - but by who?
The attention on funding models has been increasing for years, as has discussion around journal transition and conversion. Best practices presume these models are continually refined through historical experience, policy and competition. But the iterative nature of OA can come with a cost in terms of implementation, integration, and aggregation performance. Questions remain about sustainability and integrity.
So, who pays the freight? In this webcast, our experts will highlight how librarians are tackling this important issue, and how the library can shape the future of funding Open Access.
Ann Oakerson, Senior Adviser, The Center for Research Libraries
Rebecca Jozwiak, Analyst, The Bloor Group"

Elsevier defends its value after Open Access disputes; The Bookseller, 4/28/16

Benedicte Page, The Bookseller; Elsevier defends its value after Open Access disputes:
"[D]irector of access and policy Alicia Wise, vice-president of global corporate relations Tom Reller and policy director Gemma Hersh say criticism from a vocal minority is unrepresentative of the publisher’s regular contact with millions of researchers. The trio say that detractors obscure a key fact: that Elsevier is seeking to negotiate the new landscapes of OA and content-sharing in such a way that its economic sustainability, and therefore ability to maintain quality, is not compromised.
Publishers are “rubbish at communicating their value,” says Hersh (left), then proceeds to attempt to do just that. “We have over one million submissions a year and immediately reject a third of those,“ she says. “The management of that process in itself is an enormous feat. You then have the co-ordination of those manuscripts you have accepted, finding the right people to peer review those, making that as efficient a process as possible. That takes time.
“Once you’ve gone through the peer review process, if you look at the article that is actually published in a journal, it looks radically different [to the one submitted due to] that process of transformation, the copy-editing, the database linking, the data visualisation tools, making sure that the metadata for the article is all right, so when people come to [Elsevier database] ScienceDirect or type a search into Google, they can actually find what they are looking for on their platforms.”
She continues: “The plagiarism detection tools that we invest in to make sure research is reliable and trustworthy; with journals like The Lancet, the statisticians it employs to verify what goes into the article so it is treated as high-quality, cutting-edge research. The marketing of the journal brand—there’s a reason why journals are well known. People want to publish in them because they are known as having high-quality content. We do all that marketing. The investments we make off the back of that, so people know how their articles are being used, how they can identify collaborators to work with after publication and how they can use tools like [Elsevier’s institutional research networking platform] SciVal.”"

Sony patents contact lens that records what you see; CNet, 5/2/16

Michelle Starr, CNet; Sony patents contact lens that records what you see:
"A new patent, awarded to the company in April, describes a contact lens that can be controlled by the user's deliberate blinks, recording video on request.
Sensors embedded in the lens are able to detect the difference between voluntary and involuntary blinks. The image capture and storage technology would all be embedded in the lens around the iris, and piezoelectric sensors would convert the movements of the eye into energy to power the lens.
Of course, at this point, this technology isn't small enough to be comfortably embedded in a contact lens, so it's only theoretical."

The X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer Cut With Animated Footage Is Perfect; Gizmodo, 5/5/16

Germain Lussier, Gizmodo; The X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer Cut With Animated Footage Is Perfect:
"YouTube user Philysteak took the audio and shots from the latest trailer (which we broke down here) and edited it with very, very similar footage from the ’90s TV show...
The trailer is so good, in fact, it got tweeted out not only by Singer, but the film’s producer too.
X-Men: Apocalypse opens May 27, but reviews will start rolling in next week."

Happy Together' Copyright Dispute in NY Top Court; Associated Press via New York Times, 5/3/16

Associated Press via New York Times; Happy Together' Copyright Dispute in NY Top Court:
"New York's highest court has agreed to rule on a case pitting the owner of The Turtles' 1967 hit "Happy Together" against Sirius XM Radio.
The issue is whether the copyright owners of recordings made before 1972 have a common law right to make radio stations and others pay for their use."

Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks; New York Times, 5/4/16

Room for Debate, New York Times; Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks:
"The Supreme Court may soon take up two cases in which the government does not want to register trademarks it considers disparaging — for the Washington Redskins football team and an Asian-American band called The Slants. The major federal law on trademarks lets the government deny registration to trademarks that are “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous” or that “disparage.”
Is it a denial of free speech for the government to prohibit registration for such trademarks?"

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Future Of Open Access: Why Has Academia Not Embraced The Internet Revolution?; Forbes, 4/29/16

Kalev Leetaru, Forbes; The Future Of Open Access: Why Has Academia Not Embraced The Internet Revolution? :
"One of the most remarkable aspects of the story of the web’s evolution is that the collective output of the world’s universities has remained largely absent from the open online world, even as most other forms of information have shifted to some form of open online access. In the case of encyclopedias, entirely new forms of collaborative knowledge documentation like Wikipedia have emerged, while journalism has shifted to free advertising-supported distribution and even music and videos are increasingly legally available through ad-supported streaming services or affordable licensed download services.
Academic papers, the lifeblood of the scholarly world of academia, have resisted this transition. To those outside academia it might be surprising that most universities don’t publish all of their books, papers, presentations and course materials on their websites for the world to access...
Yesterday Science published a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Sci-Hub, one of the most infamous academic pirating sites, which provides free access to more than 50 million illegally acquired papers. One of the most fascinating findings is that its download traffic comes not exclusively from the developing world for which journal subscriptions are often claimed to be inaccessible, but also extensively from major Western universities which likely have legal subscriptions to the journals already. One of the reasons for this, the article claims, is the cumbersome and difficult-to-use web portals that university libraries provide to their holdings, making it incredibly difficult to locate a paper even if the university has a legal subscription to the journal. Having spent more than a decade and a half in academia at multiple institutions from public to private, I can personally attest to just how difficult it can be to navigate library portal systems to locate a particular paper...
As the drumbeat of open access continues to grow, the fierce debate over the future of how academic research is published and distributed will only rage louder. In parallel, as the trend towards open access expands to data sharing and replication, the pressure to change how academia does business will reach a breaking point where change will become inevitable. In the end, it is a fascinating commentary that the world of academia, from which the modern web sprung, has been among the most resistant to change and one of the last to embrace the internet revolution."

A Fight Over Cheerleading Uniforms Is Heading to the Supreme Court; Fortune, 5/2/16

Chris Morris, Fortune; A Fight Over Cheerleading Uniforms Is Heading to the Supreme Court:
"The high court has agreed to hear a case over whether stripes, zigzags and colors worn on uniforms by cheerleaders can be copyrighted under federal law. While it’s a case that might sound unusual, it’s one that could have far-reaching effects.
At issue is an August 2015 ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. That decision allowed Varsity Brand to pursue a copyright claim against Star Athletica, based on similar uniform designs. Justices said the stripes, chevrons, zigzags, and color blocks in the outfits were more than aesthetic touches – and, in fact, made the outfit a cheerleading uniform.
The 6th Circuit Court Justices, in a split opinion, said the original ruling, which found that the designs weren’t subject to copyright laws “would render nearly all artwork unprotectable.” Also at issue, they wrote, could be designs on laminate flooring as well as the decorative base on some lamps...
Copyright law, when it comes to clothing, is less protective than you might think. Fabric designs are covered, but aspects like sleeve styles, pockets and necklines are not copyrightable, since they’re considered inseparable from the chief purpose of the outfit – to cover your body."

‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ Pits Zappa vs. Zappa; New York Times, 4/29/16

Ben Sisario, New York Times; ‘Zappa Plays Zappa’ Pits Zappa vs. Zappa:
"This month, the Zappa Family Trust, which owns the rights to Mr. Zappa’s music, informed Dweezil that he did not have permission to tour as Zappa Plays Zappa — the name is a trademark owned by the trust — and that he risked copyright infringement damages of $150,000 each time he played a song without proper permission.
“My last name is Zappa; my father was Frank Zappa,” Dweezil said. “But I am not allowed to use the name on its own. I’m not allowed to use a picture of him. I’m not allowed to use my own connection with him without some sort of deal to be struck.”"