Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UK Copyright Expiration On Popeye May Be A Test For Mickey Mouse,, 12/31/08

Via UK Copyright Expiration On Popeye May Be A Test For Mickey Mouse:

"And... the reality is that not very much different might happen.

That's because even though the copyright on the character has fallen into the public domain, the trademark remains -- and the current holder of the Popeye trademark in the UK, King Features (owned by Hearst), is expected to "protect its brand aggressively." That means people will still be quite limited in how they can use Popeye. If King Features is able to successfully use trademark law to keep Popeye under control, perhaps Disney won't go quite so crazy trying to extend the copyright on Mickey Mouse again... Either way, this little "experiment" will be worth watching."

Creative Commons flourishing despite rough economy, Ars Technica, 12/31/08

Via Ars Technica: Creative Commons flourishing despite rough economy:

"Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig to encourage copyright reform and provide a legally-sound licensing framework for works that could be freely redistributed. The licenses and file metadata scheme devised by Creative Commons are increasingly popular and have been adopted by a diverse group of artists and writers ranging from the music group Nine Inch Nails to science fiction novelist Charles Stross. In the years since it was founded, Creative Commons has expanded its focus to encompass similar efforts, including a Science Commons project and an open learning initiative.

Lessig stepped down as CEO of the organization earlier this year when he announced plans to shift his focus towards broader political issues. He was replaced by Joi Ito, a Japanese entrepreneur who has close ties with silicon valley startups. "

Can links kill?, Guardian, 12/30/08

The Guardian: Can links kill?, Linking to online content is the essence of the web. But for newspapers, when does it cross the line to stealing content?:

"The future of online journalism may depend on the outcome of a legal battle between two financially ailing media giants [The New York Times Company and GateHouse Media]...

GateHouse has sued the Times Company for copyright infringement and related charges, claiming that the Your Town sites are an attempt to steal the content of GateHouse's Wicked Local websites for the Times's own commercial gain.

It's easy to take the Times's side in this battle. Linking, after all, is the essence of the web. Some of the smartest people in media are pushing news executives to look beyond their own walls and link to outside content, whether through blogging or something more comprehensive...

But wait. There's another side here, and it deserves to be carefully pondered rather than mockingly dismissed.

Seen from GateHouse's point of view, a Your Town site – for instance this one covering the town of Needham – links not just to a few stories, but scoops up every item of interest from GateHouse's Needham Times, making it unnecessary for anyone to visit the Wicked Local Needham homepage...

GateHouse managers have a right to complain, and to take retaliatory action. (In its legal complaint (pdf), the company says it failed in an attempt to make it technologically impossible for the Globe to link to its stories. But there are other steps it could consider.)...

Legitimate linking practices could come under unwarranted legal scrutiny as well...

The case – GateHouse Media v New York Times Company – is scheduled to go to trial on January 5 in US District Court. (Judge William Young has already rejected GateHouse's request for a temporary restraining order.)"

Judge Delays Ruling on Blocking Release of ‘Watchmen’ Film, New York Times, 12/30/08

Via New York Times: Judge Delays Ruling on Blocking Release of ‘Watchmen’ Film:

"Hollywood ownership fights are not rare, but a dispute over a film that has already been shot and is on the verge of being released is highly unusual. Warner released a statement saying, “We respectfully but vigorously disagree with the court’s ruling and are exploring all of our appellate options.”

The film has been eagerly awaited since last year, when the director Zack Snyder, best known for “300,” announced that he planned a movie based on the widely known graphic novel “Watchmen.”

But the film became embroiled in an extraordinary dispute between studios last winter, when Fox filed suit, claiming that it owned the property on which the movie was based. As the case progressed, fingers pointed from all sides at Lawrence Gordon, the veteran producer who brought the film to Warner after failed attempts over the years to make it with Fox, Universal Pictures and then Paramount...

Judge Feess then weighed in with an unusual reprimand. In a footnote to his order indicating that he would rule in favor of Fox, the judge said Mr. Gordon’s decision to invoke attorney-client privilege rather than testify about his contractual arrangements had helped Fox.

“The court takes a dim view of this conduct,” Judge Feess wrote. “The court will not, during the remainder of this case, receive any evidence from Gordon that attempts to contradict any aspect of this court’s ruling on the copyright issues under discussion.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

With Flickr Layoffs, Whither 'The Commons'?,, 12/30/08

Via With Flickr Layoffs, Whither 'The Commons'?:

"In mid-December, when Yahoo laid off George Oates, one of the original employees of the photo-sharing website Flickr, Oates immediately feared for The Commons, Flickr's project to have its millions of members turn their distributed intelligence to the world's photo archives.

Though less than a year old, The Commons hosts tens of thousands of copyright-free historical photos from 17 cultural institutions including the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library."

Why Fox is licking its lips over Watchmen, The Guardian, 12/30/08

Via The Guardian: Why Fox is licking its lips over Watchmen, A Christmas Eve ruling on the disputed rights to Alan Moore's graphic novel has left Warner forlorn and the film's release date up in the air:

"After four months of deliberation, Judge Feess decided that 20th Century Fox "owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture"...

This is Feess's preliminary judgment, prior to a full trial, and now it's left to the two studios to thrash out an agreement, or take further legal action. If Warner Bros (and Paramount, who will be handling the film outside the US) appeals, the film could conceivably not emerge until 2011...

It seems as though Warner Brothers made an unfortunate hit on the one-tenth part of the old adage about possession and the law, and now it is paying the price for its gamesmanship."

Popeye the Sailor copyright free [in UK] 70 years after Elzie Segar's death, London Times, 12/30/08

Via London Times: Popeye the Sailor copyright free [in UK] 70 years after Elzie Segar's death:

"From January 1, the iconic sailor falls into the public domain in Britain under an EU law that restricts the rights of authors to 70 years after their death. Elzie Segar, the Illinois artist who created Popeye, his love interest Olive Oyl and nemesis Bluto, died in 1938.

The Popeye industry stretches from books, toys and action figures to computer games, a fast-food chain and the inevitable canned spinach.

The copyright expiry means that, from Thursday, anyone can print and sell Popeye posters, T-shirts and even create new comic strips, without the need for authorisation or to make royalty payments...

The question of whether any enterprising food company can now attach Popeye's famous face to their spinach cans will have to be tested in court.

While the copyright is about to expire inside the EU, the character is protected in the US until 2024. US law protects a work for 95 years after its initial copyright.

The Popeye trademark, a separate entity to Segar's authorial copyright, is owned by King Features, a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation — the US entertainment giant — which is expected to protect its brand aggressively.

Mark Owen, an intellectual property specialist at the law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said: “The Segar drawings are out of copyright, so anyone could put those on T-shirts, posters and cards and create a thriving business. If you sold a Popeye toy or Popeye spinach can, you could be infringing the trademark.”

Mr Owen added: “Popeye is one of the first of the famous 20th-century cartoon characters to fall out of copyright. Betty Boop and ultimately Mickey Mouse will follow.”

Segar's premature death, aged 43, means that Popeye is an early test case for cartoon characters. The earliest Mickey Mouse cartoons will not fall into the US public domain until at least 2023 after the Disney corporation successfully lobbied Congress for a copyright extension."

Music firms want royalties from hotels and prisons, London Times, 12/28/08

Via London Times: Music firms want royalties from hotels and prisons, Recording industry to fight Ireland’s copyright exemption in court as sales decline:

"MUSIC corporations are taking the [Irish] government to court for giving hotels and prisons an exemption from royalties when they pipe songs into bedrooms and cells.

The case is a further sign of record companies’ determination to open up new revenue streams as profits from CD sales decline sharply due to internet downloads. "

Trial transcript of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas now available online, Ray Beckerman's Recording Industry vs. The People Blog, 12/28/08

Via Ray Beckerman's Recording Industry vs. The People Blog: Trial transcript of Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas now available online:

"We are pleased to announce that the complete transcript of the Duluth, Minnesota, jury trial, which took place October 2, 2007, to October 4, 2007, in Capitol Records v. Thomas, is now available online:

Transcript, October 2, 2007, pp. 1-278

Transcript, October 3, 2007, pp. 280-543

Transcript, October 4, 2007, pp. 544-643"

RIAA appeal in Jammie Thomas case refused, Ars Technica, 12/29/08

Via Ars Technica: RIAA appeal in Jammie Thomas case refused:

"Saying that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was quite clear on the matter, [federal judge Michael] Davis refused to allow the appeal in a December 23rd order. "While Plaintiffs can point to a number of courts from other jurisdictions that have disagreed with this Court's conclusion," he wrote, "the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has explicitly held that actual distribution is required."

With the "interlocutory" appeal denied, the RIAA will have to wait until a final judgment has been issued before filing an appeal. That means a complete retrial first; given the RIAA's new moves toward "graduated response" deals with ISPs and the cessation of its widespread legal campaign, it's not clear that the industry will be willing to gear up for yet another high-profile trial against Thomas."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Harvard Team Asks Court To Allow Live Broadcast Of Tenenbaum Case Against RIAA,, 12/29/08

Via Harvard Team Asks Court To Allow Live Broadcast Of Tenenbaum Case Against RIAA:

"A bunch of folks have sent in the story that Charles Nesson of Harvard, who is challenging the constitutionality of the RIAA's lawsuits against file sharers, has filed a motion asking that the trial be broadcast live over the internet, amusingly using the RIAA's own words to support his request. From the beginning, the RIAA has always insisted that its lawsuits were part of a broad "educational campaign" to teach people about the evils of file sharing."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Judge Says Fox Owns Rights to a Warner Movie, New York Times, 12/25/08

Via New York Times: Judge Says Fox Owns Rights to a Warner Movie:

Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling said."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

OpEd by Lawrence Lessig: Prosecuting Online File Sharing Turns a Generation Criminal, U.S. News & World Report, 12/22/08

OpEd by Lawrence Lessig, Via U.S. News & World Report: Prosecuting Online File Sharing Turns a Generation Criminal:

"It is time we recall what the nation learned 75 years ago: The remedy to a failed war is not to wage an ever more violent war; it is to sue for peace. Rather than continuing to sue to stop what no lawyer could ever stop, Congress needs to consider the scores of proposals that have been advanced by some of the best scholars in the nation to legalize this sharing while enabling other ways to compensate artists.

These include a voluntary collective license, allowing individuals to file share for a low, fixed rate; a more expansive "noncommercial use levy" that would be imposed on commercial entities benefiting from peer-to-peer file sharing, to help compensate artists; or most expansive of all, that copyright give up regulating the distribution of copies and instead compensate artists based upon the estimated frequency by which their works are consumed. These and a host of other ideas all raise different advantages and disadvantages—but are better than criminalizing a generation.

The failure of Prohibition taught social reformers something important about regulatory humility: Too often liberals and conservatives alike simply assume that a law will achieve what the law seeks to achieve. Too rarely do they work out just how. Humility teaches us to rein in the law where it is doing no good, if only to protect it where it does good or where it is necessary.

Copyright law's extremism is not necessary. We can achieve the objectives of copyright law—compensating artists—without criminalizing a generation. We need to start doing that, now."

Court saves Les Mis sequel novels, BBC News, 12/20/08

Via BBC News: Court saves Les Mis sequel novels:

"In 2001, novelist Francois Ceresa published the follow-ups to the acclaimed 19th-Century classic.

But Hugo's family objected to the books - Cosette and the Time of Illusions and Marius or The Fugitive - arguing they were an insult to the original work...

But the court ruled on Friday that Hugo's novel was in the public domain, meaning Ceresa was therefore free to invent a sequel."

RIAA Qualifies Statement on No New Copyright Lawsuits,, 12/23/08

Via RIAA Qualifies Statement on No New Copyright Lawsuits:

"Cara Duckworth, an RIAA spokeswoman, e-mailed Threat Level in a bid to clear the air. She wrote that any suits recently filed were already in the "pipeline" for months.

"We are not initiating any new lawsuits and have not since August. Any lawsuit that has been filed since then is a named lawsuit or those for which we've received identifying information about the ISP (or issued the subpoena for). Simply put, we are continuing those that have already been in the pipeline but nothing new has been initiated since August," Duckworth said."

Aggregation aggravation: NYTCo hit with copyright suit over hyperlocal content, The Guardian, 12/23/08

Via The Guardian: Aggregation aggravation: NYTCo hit with copyright suit over hyperlocal content:

"Aggravation over aggregation: It's been a while since sites threatened legal action related to aggregated content. The GateHouse-NYTCo suit comes a few days after Huffington Post's Chicago-based site was called on the carpet of using parts of Chicago Reader's concert reviews without permission. Also, the suit is being brought at a time when local and regional papers are feeling crushed by the economy and the general state of the newspaper business. NYTCo rep Catherine Mathis tells that the its hyperlocal sites aren't doing anything different from what blogs have been doing all along. Mathis: "Far from being illegal or improper, this practice of linking to sites is common and is familiar to anyone who has searched the web.""

Podcast: Lawrence Lessing's 'Remix' For The Hybrid Economy, NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, 12/22/08

Podcast [37 min. 51 sec.] : Via NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Lawrence Lessing's 'Remix' For The Hybrid Economy:

Blurb: In his new book Remix, law professor Lawrence Lessig explores the changing landscape of intellectual property in the digital age — and argues that antiquated copyright laws should be updated.

Lessing is a columnist for Wired and the chair of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that promotes the legal sharing, repurposing and remixing of creative work.

GateHouse Media sues NY Times Co. over copyright, International Herald Tribune, 12/23/08

Via International Herald Tribune: GateHouse Media sues NY Times Co. over copyright:

"Dan Kennedy, an assistant journalism professor at Northeastern University who also runs the Media Nation blog that is tracking the lawsuit, said the case could have national implications because it could settle questions on how much content one news organization can use from another.

"What the Globe is doing is what everybody says newspapers should be doing," said Kennedy, referring to aggregating content like Google News.

Kennedy, however, said the model is different since it puts up advertising, unlike Google News.

GateHouse, he said, can make an argument that is profiting from GateHouse journalism.

"It will be interesting to see the outcome," Kennedy said. "This is one of the most important stories about the newspaper business right now."

Monday, December 22, 2008

The RIAA’s prosecution of copyright law is unconstitutional, Mass High Tech, 11/28/08

By Charles Nesson, Esq., William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Via Mass High Tech: The RIAA’s prosecution of copyright law is unconstitutional:

"We believe, and are asserting legally by counterclaim, that the RIAA litigation campaign against Joel [Tenenbaum] and the millions of his generation like him is an unconstitutional abuse of law. Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs on the order of $3,000 to $7,000 in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of a federal court...

Tenenbaum is, in every way, representative of his born-digital generation. The tension remains that our antiquated legal system has not caught up to the social reality of digital natives, a term my colleague John Palfrey coined to describe the generation that grew up immersed in digital technologies and for whom a life fully integrated with digital devices that are, by design, free and open is the norm."

Target of RIAA lawsuit says music piracy case has been an ordeal, Computer World, 12/19/08

Via Computer World: Target of RIAA lawsuit says music piracy case has been an ordeal, College student Joel Tenenbaum claims trade group wanted to make an example of him:

"Tenenbaum said that although online piracy is a problem, the larger issue lies with what he characterized as the music industry's continued insistence on seeing the Internet as a threat instead of as a tool that can transform the manner in which music is consumed.

"I don't think anybody thinks artists shouldn't be rewarded for their work," Tenenbaum said. But there are other ways to do so on the Net that the music industry has stubbornly refused to consider, he added."

Warner stops the music on YouTube, London Guardian, 12/22/08

Via London Guardian: Warner stops the music on YouTube:

"Content will be removed from the site along with recordings owned by Warner Music's record publishing business, Warner/Chappell Music, which controls the copyright to songs including Happy Birthday to You and Winter Wonderland. Warner Music's withdrawal also covers amateur clips that feature its artists or copyrighted songs - potentially widening the action to hundreds of thousands of additional postings."

Warner Music videos removed from YouTube, Los Angeles Times, 12/21/08

Via Los Angeles Times: Warner Music videos removed from YouTube:

"Warner Music Group's videos began disappearing from YouTube this weekend, the casualty of a contract impasse between the music company and the Internet's dominant video site

Negotiations broke down last week over licensing fees for Warner's music and videos, say people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

On its blog, YouTube alerted its audience to the collapse in talks, noting that professionally produced music videos and those that fans create using Warner songs would begin to disappear...

The stalled discussions suggest that Warner is dissatisfied with the revenue stream it gets from YouTube.",0,6252484.story

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Discord on golden oldies' earning power, London Guardian, 12/21/08

Via London Guardian: Discord on golden oldies' earning power, Extending copyright on recordings would swell the labels' coffers, but the lure of selling old tunes may eclipse new signings:

"Record labels spend a huge amount of time and money searching for the artists of the future - but their profits are underpinned by the pop stars of the past. Back catalogues are big business for the major music groups, generating cash that can be ploughed into "A&R" ("artists and repertoire") - the inexact science of discovering and promoting tomorrow's big acts...

But all that could change if copyright on music recordings is not extended from 50 to 95 years, as the major music labels would like, and as the European Commission has recently proposed. Without the extension, early Beatles recordings such as Love Me Do will lose copyright protection from 2012, after which anyone would be free to use these versions of the songs free of charge. The implications for those who made the recordings are obvious.

In the UK, an artist earns a royalty every time their version of a song is sold or played publicly - a copyright that is valid for 50 years and generally administered through the artist's label. But there is also a separate copyright for the songwriter, currently valid for 70 years from the date of his or her death - the same rules that apply to authors outside the music industry. Those rights are generally held by music publishers, which exist both as standalone companies and as divisions within record labels. The music industry has been lobbying for several years to extend the copyright on performances and recordings so they are on equal terms with songwriting and other forms of copyright...

But not everyone agrees that a copyright extension would lead to more investment in new music, and some fear that it would encourage record labels to become more like music publishers and put yet more emphasis on their library."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Music Industry Drops Effort to Sue Song Swappers, Via New York Times, 12/19/08

Via New York Times: Music Industry Drops Effort to Sue Song Swappers:

"''We're at a point where there's a sense of comfort that we can replace one form of deterrent with another form of deterrent,'' said RIAA Chairman and Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol...

The group says it will still continue to litigate outstanding cases, most of which are in the pre-lawsuit warning stage, but some of which are before the courts.

The decision to press on with existing cases drew the ire of Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who is defending a Boston University graduate student targeted in one of the music industry's lawsuits.

''If it's a bad idea, it's a bad idea,'' said Nesson. He is challenging the constitutionality of the suits, which, based on the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999, can impose damages of $150,000 per infringement, far in excess of the actual damage caused...

Brian Toder, a lawyer with Chestnut & Cambronne in Minneapolis, who defended single mother Jammie Thomas in a copyright suit filed by the RIAA, said he is also set to retry the case March 9 after a judge threw out a $222,000 decision against her.

''I think it's a good thing that they've ended this campaign of going after people,'' Toder said.

''But they need to change how people spend money on records,'' he said. ''People like to share music. The Internet makes it so easy. They have to do something to change this business model of theirs.''

RIAA's New Piracy Plan Poses a New Set of Problems, Via Washington Post, 12/20/08

Via Washington Post: RIAA's New Piracy Plan Poses a New Set of Problems, The RIAA is backing down from consumer copyright infringement lawsuits, but consumers should still be concerned:

"Effectively, RIAA has turned itself into the sheriff, and your ISP into its deputy. Based on the same data gathering and user identification methods that have come under fire from the start, RIAA will now be able to get your Internet access limited or discontinued on its own if it for some reason flags you as an illegal filesharer...

"This means more music fans are going to be harassed by the music industry," saysFred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"The problem is the lack of due process for those accused," von Lohmann continues. "In a world where hundreds of thousands, or millions, of copyright infringement allegations are automatically generated and delivered to ISPs, mistakes are going to be made. ... Anyone who has ever had to fight to correct an error on their credit reports will be able to imagine the trouble we're in for."

In essence, the music industry is trading one questionable practice for another. Striking a deal to deem itself the judge and your ISP the regulator is not the answer -- and it's not going to win the war, either.

What is the solution, then? The EFF suggests RIAA support a "voluntary collective licensing regime" -- basically, a legal peer-to-peer network that'd let music fans pay a small monthly fee for the right to freely trade music. A survey conducted this summer found an overwhelming 80 percent of current peer-to-peer users would be interested in paying for such a system."

RIAA Strikes a 'Three Strikes' Deal, Everybody Loses, Via Public Knowledge, 12/19/08

Via Public Knowledge: RIAA Strikes a 'Three Strikes' Deal, Everybody Loses:

"According to the Wall Street Journal, these deals between the RIAA and the ISPs were brokered by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who reportedly "wanted to end the litigation." While it's hard not to agree with that sentiment, you've got to wonder whether there might not have been another solution to the problem that didn't involve content companies and ISPs deciding who should and shouldn't have access to the Internet.

After all, if Cuomo had bothered to look across the pond, he would have noticed that the European Union saw fit to strike down "three strikes" policies with an amendment that referred to such agreements as "…measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of Internet access." Access to the Internet is increasingly becoming a necessity for ensuring full participation in our society, democracy and economy. Should we allow an industry trade group with a notoriously bad track record to serve as the gatekeeper to the Internet?

To be fair, not everything in the RIAA's outlined strategy is nefarious. Under the new regime, the RIAA will not ask ISPs to reveal the identities of their users. Rather, the association will identify users anonymously, using only their IP address...

There are other proposals currently on the table--EFF's voluntary collective licensing proposal being the most prominent one--that would address the issue of piracy without criminalizing users or stripping them of their right to access the Internet."

Friday, December 19, 2008

No ISP Filtering Under New RIAA Copyright Strategy, Via, 12/19/08

Via No ISP Filtering Under New RIAA Copyright Strategy:

"The Recording Industry Association of America on Friday announced a new strategy in its quest to curtail online copyright infringement — a plan that for now requires no filtering from internet service providers...

Under the new proposal, instead of filing lawsuits against individuals its investigators detect sharing music online, the RIAA will send notices to ISPs pointing out the offending parties' IP addresses. The ISPs, in turn, will notify (.pdf) the alleged offender in the United States by snail-mail or e-mail of the alleged violations. Violators could lose internet access after three or more alleged violations, said Cara Duckworth, an RIAA spokeswoman. (The details are still being hashed out, but Duckworth said a procedure would be put in place to administratively challenge violations.)"

Music Industry to Abandon Mass Suits, Via Wall Street Journal, 12/19/08

Via Wall Street Journal: Music Industry to Abandon Mass Suits:

"After years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy.

The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others, several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl.

Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider's customers making music available online for others to take...

Meanwhile, music sales continue to fall. In 2003, the industry sold 656 million albums. In 2007, the number fell to 500 million CDs and digital albums, plus 844 million paid individual song downloads -- hardly enough to make up the decline in album sales."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

OpEd: Editorial: Google Deal or Rip-Off?, Via Library Journal, 12/15/08

OpEd: Via Library Journal: Editorial: Google Deal or Rip-Off?:

"One public access terminal per public library building. Institutional database subscriptions for academic and public libraries that secure once freely available material in a contractual lockbox, which librarians already know too well from costly e-journal and e-reference database deals. No remote access for public libraries without approval from the publisher/author Book Rights Registry, set up to administer the program. And no copying or pasting from that institutional database, though you can print pages for a fee. Of course, you can always purchase the book, too.

Those are just a few of the choice tidbits from the 200-page settlement in the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Authors Guild three-year-old suit against Google, drawn from Jonathan Band's “Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement.” Band's report was commissioned by the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries...

The restrictions were obviously too much for one of the original five Google partners, Harvard University Library (HUL), which criticized the settlement. Robert Darnton, the HUL director, said the deal had “too many potential limitations on access to and use of books” for academia and public libraries and questioned what the price for access would be, given that “the subscription service will have no real competitors.”"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Copyright extension is out of tune with reality, Financial, 12/17/08

Via Financial Copyright extension is out of tune with reality:

"Copyright is an economic instrument, not a moral one, and if you consider the economic arguments – as I did two years ago at the request of Gordon Brown – you will find that they do not stack up. All the respectable research shows that copyright extension has high costs to the public and negligible benefits for the creative community.

Consumers find themselves paying more for old works or unable to access “orphan works” where copyright ownership is unclear...

There are issues here that demand policy intervention, but they have nothing to do with Mr Burnham’s pet project. They suggest a focus on the balance and flexibility of copyright, and on better enforcing the protection that already exists – not on extending a right largely derided by younger citizens...

There are two broader messages. First, to music companies: you have moved beyond trying to close the internet down as a distribution channel, but you have still not done enough to exploit the swirl of creative and commercial opportunities unleashed by the world of social networks and web 2.0. Please focus on innovation, not on trying to eke more rent from the successes of yesteryear."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creative Commons 6th Birthday Celebration, Public Knowledge, 12/16/08

Via Public Knowledge: Creative Commons 6th Birthday Celebration:

6:30-9:00pm, Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Join D.C. Copynight for a Creative Commons 6th Birthday Celebration. Bring some CC-licensed media to share. There will be pizza, beer, CC media & swag, and good cheer—perhaps even great cheer.

Public Knowledge1875 Connecticut Ave. NWSuite 650Washington, DC 20009

RSVP at:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rhode Island Pub Owner Faces Suit Over Music Copyrights, New York Times, 12/14/08

Via New York Times: Rhode Island Pub Owner Faces Suit Over Music Copyrights:

"The bar’s owner, Patrick Griffin, is being sued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or Ascap. The organization says the bar violated federal copyright law during the show and is seeking up to $120,000 in damages."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pamela Samuelson on Copyright Reform,, 11/13/08

Via Pamela Samuelson on Copyright Reform at Free Culture Conference, Berkeley 2008:

"I think one reason that it’s really important to think about copyright reform is because really pretty much every 40 years there has been copyright reform. So it’s time to really get that conversation started. And a lot of what we need to do is move to better principals about what a good copyright law would look like. It shouldn’t be as long – current copyright law is 200 pages long, 300 if you buy certain editions – and it’s too complicated. I can’t make my way through about half the provisions because they’re so incomprehensible. Maybe it was ok that copyright law was really abstruse at a time when the only people who needed to know anything about it were the industry lawyers who essentially were mediating these kind of inter-industry disputes. If they knew what it meant and nobody else did, who cared, as long as it just applied to them. But now that copyright law is really affecting and regulating our daily activities, we the people deserve a copyright law that’s simple, that’s fair, that’s balanced, and that gets us to a much better way of thinking about what good role copyright law can play.

Like some of the earlier speakers, I worry a lot about the implications of copyright for the activities that all of you do on a daily basis. There’s a really fun essay that was written by one of my colleagues in Copyright, John Tehranian, entitled,Infringement Nation.” What John does in the article is go through the average day of a professor (seems to be modeled on himself)."

Lawrence Lessig to leave Stanford for Harvard Law School to direct Safra Center; Lessig Blog, 12/12/08

Lawrence Lessig via Lessig Blog: Lawrence Lessig to leave Stanford Law School for Harvard Law School to direct Safra Center:

"In November, the Provost of Harvard University invited me to become the director of the Safra Center. Last week, I accepted the offer. In the summer [2009], I will begin an appointment at the Harvard Law School, while directing the Safra Center." A Copyright Resource for New York Musicians A Copyright Resource for New York Musicians:

Press Release from Public Knowledge, 10/27/08:

Public Knowledge today opened a new Web site dedicated to copyright issues as they affect musicians. The site, NYMusicCopyright.Org, is funded by a grant from the New York State Music Fund.

“This new site is dedicated to helping musicians understand a very complicated copyright landscape,” said Gigi B. Sohn, Public Knowledge president and co-founder.

On the site, users will find an introduction to copyright.

There are also sections on:

Music licensing
Alternative methods of distribution
Remedies for copyright infringement
Device makers and infringement
Internet service providers and infringement
Peer-to-peer technologies
Digital rights management
Orphan works

“We hope musicians and those interested in the music industry will take advantage of this exciting new resource,” Sohn said."

New European online library to remain down until January, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/10/08

Via Sydney Morning Herald: New European online library to remain down until January:

"With 14 staff members and at an annual cost put at around 2.5 million euros (3.2 million US dollars), Europeana -- which can be found at -- has more humble beginnings, despite the massive interest.

The prototype which was launched, briefly, last month contains around two million digital items, all of them already in the public domain, as the most recent items are plagued by problems linked to copyright and their use online."

Google adds magazines to online book archive, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/10/08

Via Sydney Morning Herald: Google adds magazines to online book archive:

"Google announced on Tuesday that it had begun adding magazines to its online archive of books in a partnership with publishers...

A search on will now not only bring up links to relevant books but also to magazine articles related to the query. Users can also use advanced search on Google Book Search to search through magazines only...

In late October, Google settled a copyright dispute with the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild over the Internet giant's plans to scan millions of books."

Online Rebel Publishes Millions of Dollars in U.S. Court Records for Free,, 12/12/08

Via, Online Rebel Publishes Millions of Dollars in U.S. Court Records for Free:

"[Carl] Malamud is a man accustomed to finding ways to provide free and easy online access to government documents...

He's since won battles freeing the nation's catalog of copyrights, Oregon's book of state laws, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark database. Now, he's after congressional-hearing videos, expensive but copyright-free building codes, and the Code of Federal Regulations, in addition to all the court filings in the PACER database."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pantomime renames dwarfs to avoid breaching Disney copyright,, 12/04/08

Via Pantomime renames dwarfs to avoid breaching Disney copyright, A Christmas pantomime has renamed the dwarfs in its production of Snow White, to avoid breaching Disney copyright:

"Doc, Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy and Bashful have been ditched from the show at The Albert Halls theatre in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Their roles have been taken by a crack team of dwarfs going by the names Goody, Loopy, Lazy, Growler, Noisy and Shabby.

But the seventh dwarf – Sneezy – has been allowed to keep his part, apparently because Disney failed to copyright his name."

Landgrab For Ownership Of Library Catalog Data,, 12/10/08

Via Landgrab For Ownership Of Library Catalog Data:

"There's been an interesting (and somewhat troubling) behind the scenes fight going on concerning library catalog data over the past few months. The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is a nonprofit, made up of member libraries that basically tries to help facilitate access to information among libraries. That seems like a good thing. One of its offerings is WorldCat -- basically a big online catalog of library collections, so that it's easy for anyone to find books that are available at other libraries. This, obviously, seems quite useful, and many libraries agree and are a part of WorldCat. However, a month ago, OCLC announced new policies for WorldCat that effectively allowed OCLC to claim ownership over the records that any library put in its system -- and, upon doing so, limiting what libraries could do with that data (such as, say, giving it to competing cataloging services). "

Culture Secretary suggests extending copyright term to 70 years, Music Week, 12/11/08

UK Cultural Secretary Andy Burnham, Via Music Week: Culture Secretary suggests extending copyright term to 70 years:

"The online revolution has changed all the rules and ever since we’ve been struggling to catch up. For creative talent like you, it’s a genuinely double-edged sword – liberating and democratising on the one side, allowing people to bypass the traditional gatekeepers to the creative system.

But on the other side, what the online revolution has done is promote a prevailing sense with the online generation that creativity is free to enjoy.

We enjoy a whole lot more choice and opportunity – which is good. And a lot of people enjoy all that for free – which is good for them but not for everyone –and not good for the long term prospects for new music and new ideas, and fresh talent coming through...

The big creative challenge now is to come up with the new ideas that keep people listening and which set a true and realistic value on talent. In short, we need to create a new business model that is fairer to everyone – music-buying public, performers, and those who have built up the industry."

Tyler Perry wins suit over copyright infringement, Washington Post, 12/10/08

Via Washington Post: Tyler Perry wins suit over copyright infringement:

"A woman who accused actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry of stealing material from her play for his movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" lost her federal lawsuit against the entertainer on Tuesday.

Jurors in the East Texas town of Marshall found Donna West did not present evidence that supported her claim of copyright infringement."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Coldplay deny plagiarism allegations, London Guardian, 12/10/08

Via London Guardian: Coldplay deny plagiarism allegations, Chris Martin says that any similarities between Viva La Vida and Joe Satriani's If I Could Fly are 'purely coincidental'. Oh yeah? Maybe he should listen to this YouTube mash-up:

"Coldplay have responded to Joe Satriani's allegations of copyright infringement, describing the similarities between theirs and the guitarist's work "entirely coincidental".

Satriani filed his suit less than a week ago, alleging that Coldplay's Viva La Vida borrows heavily from his six-and-a-half-minute guitar noodle, If I Could Fly. The 52-year-old guitar nerd claimed credit, damages, and "any and all profits from the song.""

DRM-Free iTunes Seems Unlikely, Despite Report,, 12/9/08

Via DRM-Free iTunes Seems Unlikely, Despite Report:

"French technology site ElectronLibre claims that Apple will remove DRM from every song in the iTunes store today. We're not so sure...

If ElectronLibre's information (translation) is accurate, the deadlock between Apple and the three largest record labels has broken, and Apple can finally start selling music from all the world's labels without its Fairplay copyright protection. That is an enormous "if," and the signs don't point to it."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Five easy steps to plug online music leaks,, 12/7/08

Via Five easy steps to plug online music leaks:

"Recent new releases from rock bands Guns N' Roses, Metallica and AC/DC all found their way onto peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks before they reached the stores, proving that even the most closely guarded projects are vulnerable.

But it's not the end of the world. After angrily beating your head against the wall, there are several measures you can implement to mitigate the damage. Here are five recommendations not intended for artists or managers who deliberately leak their own material."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tyler Perry takes the stand in copyright lawsuit, Washington Post, 12/4/08

Via Washington Post: Tyler Perry takes the stand in copyright lawsuit:

"Actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry testified in a copyright infringement lawsuit Wednesday that he did not steal material from a woman's play for his blockbuster movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."

Donna West is suing Perry in federal court, arguing that he lifted material from a script she wrote titled "Fantasy of a Black Woman," which was based primarily on her own experiences. She wants a jury to award her family all the profits made from Perry's 2005 film, which earned some $50 million.

Perry insisted that his screenplay is an original work, but under questioning by West's attorney, said he did not know whether anyone actually saw him write the script, The Marshall News Messenger reported for its Thursday editions.

Perry's attorney said his client doesn't have an original copy of his script because he sends all his work to the Library of Congress for a copyright. "

Laptop searches at border might get restricted,, 12/8/08

Via Laptop searches at border might get restricted:

"Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, asserts that it has constitutional authority to conduct routine searches at the border - without suspicion of wrongdoing - to prevent dangerous people and property from entering the country. This authority, the government maintains, applies not only to suitcases and bags, but also to books, documents and other printed materials - as well as to electronic devices.

Such searches, the government notes, have uncovered everything from martyrdom videos and other violent jihadist materials to child pornography and stolen intellectual property...

While Homeland Security points out that these procedures predate the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, civil liberties groups have seen an uptick in complaints about border searches of electronic devices in the past two years, according to Shirin Sinnar, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus. In some cases, travelers suspected border agents were copying their files after taking their laptops and cell phones away for anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks or longer.

Now Congress is getting involved. A handful of bills have been introduced that could pass next year.

One measure, sponsored by Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, would require reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to search the contents of electronic devices carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents. It would also require probable cause and a warrant or court order to detain a device for more than 24 hours.

And it would prohibit profiling of travelers based on race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., is sponsoring a bill in the House that would also require suspicion to inspect electronic devices. Engel said he is not trying to impede legitimate searches to protect national security. But, he said, it is just as important to protect civil liberties."

Did Coldplay Plagiarize Guitarist Joe Satriani?, NPR, All Things Considered, 12/8/08

Via NPR, All Things Considered: Did Coldplay Plagiarize Guitarist Joe Satriani?:

"When [Guitarist Joe] Satriani tried to contact Coldplay and didn't hear back after several months, he filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against the band last week...

This certainly isn't the first time two songs have sounded the same. The Chiffons waged a lengthy legal battle against The Beatles' George Harrison over the similarities between "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' "He's So Fine." Harrison eventually admitted to "subconsciously copying" the song and paid the band royalties."

Read NPR story:

Listen to NPR story:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

RDR Drops Rowling Appeal; Has New Book, Publishers Weekly, 12/7/08

Via Publishers Weekly: RDR Drops Rowling Appeal; Has New Book:

"RDR publisher Roger Rapoport said the new book “has a new focus and purpose, mindful of the guidelines of the court.” The $24.95 trade paperback is set to be released January 12...

He emphasized that the new book, which features material from Vander Ark's original Web site, new commentary and a blend of material, "followed the road map" the judge laid out in his opinion about how a companion to the Potter books may be published without infringing Rowling's copyright. "We did what the judge told us to do," Rapoport said."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Post by Georgia Harper to Digital Copyright Listserv, University of Maryland University College, re Publisher Restrictions on Linking, 12/5/08

Post by Georgia Harper [Scholarly Communications Advisor for the University of Texas at Austin Libraries and 2006-2008 Intellectual Property Scholar, University of Maryland University College, Center for Intellectual Property] to Digital Copyright Listserv, University of Maryland University College, re "Publisher restriction on linking":

"Lori: You asked, "Does this licensing agreement just side-step copyright law and guidelines? Can publishers really stop educational fair use in this way? I'd be very interested in outside reading on this topic, links to blogs, etc., and your comments.

Answers: Yes. Yes. Comment: You've stumbled upon the famous Harvard Business Review exception to everything. Contracts that are negotiated, which your institutional subscription to EBSCO was (by someone), allow the parties to agree to just about anything they want to, short of ax murdering (i.e., crimes and misdemeanors, civil wrongs, etc.). So there you have it. HBR wants separate permissions licenses (or a heftier share of the EBSCO dinero) for the uses that everyone expects they are paying for when they subscribe to EBSCO, so be it. Sign here (again, which someone at your institution did). Outside reading - Harvard's explanation that fails to address the basic question, "why do you think your stuff is worth so much more than everyone else's:"
I suppose the answer is, "well, it is worth more if people will pay more,right?" Right.

To learn more about how and under what circumstances licenses trump copyright rights and privileges, well, that's a huge topic. Google 'relationship contract law copyright' for starters. Several good links on the first page, enough to get you going."

Google and the libraries, International Herald Tribune, 12/5/08

OpEd: Via International Herald Tribune: Google and the libraries:

"In 2004, Google signed a deal with five major research libraries to digitize all the books in their collections. "Google's mission is to organize the world's information, and we're excited to be working with libraries to help make this mission a reality" proclaimed company cofounder Larry Page. It looked like an encouraging first step toward a world in which all knowledge was online, all the time.

Not everyone was so enthralled with this beatific vision of the Future According to Google.

Authors had the temerity to insist they be paid for their digitized content, which was going to be used to sell Google ads, or, down the road, be loaded into a possible Google Reader. The Authors Guild sued, and eventually settled with Google, resulting in a complicated agreement about royalty payments that awaits the approval of a judge.

Libraries excluded from the Google project wondered where they would fit in. The words "Free to All" are etched in stone above the Boston Public Library, but last I checked, those words do not appear on the fuselages of the Boeings and Gulfstreams owned by Google founders Page and Sergey Brin.

Google executives sound like they are doing the world an immense favor by digitizing books, rarely mentioning that they are in business to sell stuff, not give it away...

In a heated philippic, "Free Our Libraries!" posted on the Web site of the Boston Library Consortium, Richard Johnson, an adviser to the Association of Research Libraries, decries the "momentous, ill-considered shift...that threatens to limit the public rights in the collections assembled and maintained, often at public expense, in libraries around the globe."

"Companies are paying nothing for access to the crown jewels," Johnson writes. "We may awaken one day to find that our digital heritage has become private property rather than a public good."

Librarians of the world, unite! You have everything to lose: your books."

Mattel wins permanent injunction vs MGA in Bratz case, Yahoo News, 12/4/08

Via Yahoo News: Mattel wins permanent injunction vs MGA in Bratz case:

"A federal judge in California on Wednesday ordered MGA Entertainment Inc to stop selling its popular Bratz dolls and banned it from using the Bratz name, finding that "hundreds" of Bratz products infringe on copyrights owned by rival toymaker Mattel Inc (MAT.N).

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson also ordered MGA to recall all Bratz dolls from retailers and to destroy "specialized plates, molds and matrices" used to make the dolls, according to a permanent injunction issued late on Wednesday, but stayed until at least early next year.

The ruling appears to allow MGA and retailers to sell the Bratz dolls through the Christmas holiday season."

Author Says ‘Harry Potter Lexicon’ Will Be Published, New York Times, 12/6/08

Via New York Times: Author Says ‘Harry Potter Lexicon’ Will Be Published:

"After months of litigation, a dispute between J.K. Rowling and the author and publisher of a Harry Potter encyclopedia has magically disappeared. On Friday, Steven Jan Vander Ark, the author of “The Harry Potter Lexicon,” a reference guide to Ms. Rowling’s best-selling boy-wizard novels, said that his book would be published on Jan. 12 after amending it to a judge’s specifications, the Associated Press reported."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Will EU repeat US copyright error?, London Guardian, 12/6/08

By Cory Doctorow, Via London Guardian: Will EU repeat US copyright error?:

"As I type this, members of the European Parliament are preparing to repeat one of the worst mistakes in copyright history — enacting a European version of America's reviled Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998.

The EU version will tack 45 years onto the duration of copyright for existing and future sound recordings, making for a grand total of 95 years' worth of monopoly control for companies that produce recordings...

Giving additional copyright for existing works can't possibly create the incentive to make more works — you could give Elvis Presley a million years' worth of copyright on his 1955 recordings and he still won't record any more music...

The US extension of copyright has turned almost every work created in America's history into an "orphan" — a work whose copyright has not expired, but whose copyright holder has been lost to the mists of time.

The court in Eldred held that an astonishing 98% of works in copyright were orphaned...

Experts all agree: extending the copyright on existing works provides no benefit save a windfall to a small minority of already-wealthy artists and giant corporations (if your music is still commercially viable after 50 or 95 years, you're a billionaire like Paul McCartney, not a struggling artist — or you're the giant label that acquired the rights to one of the lucky few artists' works)."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Machines Reproduce Custom Books on Demand, Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/5/08 Issue

Via Chronicle of Higher Education: New Machines Reproduce Custom Books on Demand:

"If you wonder what the future of book publishing might look, smell, and sound like, head north to the University of Alberta's bookstore in Edmonton. There a $144,000 machine is churning out made-to-order paperbacks at a cost of a penny a page.

It's the Espresso Book Machine, which converts digital files into bound books, one order at a time, in under 15 minutes...

But the machine has limitations. It cannot print just any book. Copyright law limits the books that can be offered, the texts must be PDF's, and it can take days to get a repairman when something breaks...

In addition to the technical restrictions, however, U.S. copyright regulations require that books be in the public domain (which includes anything printed before 1922), or that the copyright holder must grant permission for reprinting. Canadian law offers more avenues for reproduction under copyright, which may explain why two Canadian universities — Alberta and McMaster University, in Ontario — are among the sites using the machine. Printers in Canada must pay a royalty fee of no more than $10 for each copy of an out-of-print book, Mr. Anderson says. The law requires books in print to carry a royalty of no more than 10.3 cents per page."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Questions Raised About Google Library Project’s Impact On Knowledge Access, Intellectual Property Watch, 11/26/08

Via Intellectual Property Watch: Questions Raised About Google Library Project’s Impact On Knowledge Access:

"Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, recently raised concerns about Google’s new settlement with publishers allowing the search engine to continue borrowing millions of books from libraries and scanning them to make a digital library.

His remarks were made to an international library copyright event in Chisinau, Moldova on 13 November where he spoke on the subject of “copyright’s ever-expanding empire” addressing digital rights management (technologies for controlling copyrighted content), licences and the privatisation of public information.

The key concern is that the Google project, likely to go into effect in 2010, will be in the private sector, which has different implications than public libraries, which von Lohmann described...

The Google project was settled out of court, which may prevent the outcome from being a precedent, noted von Lohmann, who added, “I think it [the Google project] raises many questions that are going to be with libraries for many years.”"