Thursday, February 26, 2009

Law Professor Weighs In On 'Hope' Squabble, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, 2/26/09

Via Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Podcast [9 min. 18 sec.] and Show Summary for "Law Professor Weighs In On 'Hope' Squabble":

"Law professor Greg Lastowka talks with Fresh Air about the intellectual-property issues involved in what might be called the audacity-of-"Hope" case."

Mannie Garcia: The Photo That Sparked 'Hope', Fresh Air with Terry Gross, 2/26/09

Via Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Podcast [10 min. 58 sec.] and Show Summary for "Mannie Garcia: The Photo That Sparked 'Hope':

"In April 2006, Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia took a batch of photos of then-Sen. Barack Obama at a National Press Club discussion about the crisis in Darfur. One of those photographs later became the basis for Shepard Fairey's iconic "Hope" poster, an image that came to be intimately associated with Obama's campaign."

Shepard Fairey: Inspiration Or Infringement?, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, 2/26/09

Via Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Podcast [25 min. 34 sec.] and Show Summary for "Shepard Fairey: Inspiration Or Infringement?":

"The Associated Press has threatened to sue the artist who created the iconic "Hope" poster of Barack Obama for copyright infringement, but Shepard Fairey says his work is protected under the principle of "Fair Use," which exempts artists and others from some copyright restrictions, under certain circumstances.

Fairey based his poster on an April 2006 photo of Obama taken by AP photographer Mannie Garcia."

OP-ED: The Kindle Swindle?, The New York Times, 2/24/09

OP-ED, Roy Blount, Jr., Via The New York Times: The Kindle Swindle?:

"The Kindle 2 is a portable, wireless, paperback-size device onto which people can download a virtual library of digitalized titles. Amazon sells these downloads, and where the books are under copyright, it pays royalties to the authors and publishers.

Serves readers, pays writers: so far, so good. But there’s another thing about Kindle 2 — its heavily marketed text-to-speech function. Kindle 2 can read books aloud. And Kindle 2 is not paying anyone for audio rights...

What the guild is asserting is that authors have a right to a fair share of the value that audio adds to Kindle 2’s version of books. For this, the guild is being assailed. On the National Federation of the Blind’s Web site, the guild is accused of arguing that it is illegal for blind people to use “readers, either human or machine, to access books that are not available in alternative formats like Braille or audio.”

In fact, publishers, authors and American copyright laws have long provided for free audio availability to the blind and the guild is all for technologies that expand that availability. (The federation, though, points out that blind readers can’t independently use the Kindle 2’s visual, on-screen controls.) But that doesn’t mean Amazon should be able, without copyright-holders’ participation, to pass that service on to everyone."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jackson Browne vs. John McCain: Round 3, The New York Times, 2/24/09

Via The New York Times: Jackson Browne vs. John McCain: Round 3:

"A legal dispute between Jackson Browne and Senator John McCain over Mr. Browne’s song “Running on Empty” will keep running: In federal district court in California on Friday, a judge denied motions filed by Mr. McCain and the Republican National Committee to halt a lawsuit brought against them by Mr. Browne, according to court documents. In his suit, Mr. Browne said that Mr. McCain and the committee had infringed on his copyrights by using “Running on Empty” in a presidential campaign commercial without Mr. Browne’s permission. Mr. McCain and the R.N.C. had argued that First Amendment and fair-use rules permitted the use of the song because it occurred in a political context, but Judge R. Gary Klausner was unconvinced; Judge Klausner also set a late April date for a hearing to set a schedule for a jury trial."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pirate Bay Trial Begins With Theatrics, Wall Street Journal, 2/17/09

Via Wall Street Journal: Pirate Bay Trial Begins With Theatrics:

"At the helm of The Pirate Bay are the site’s rebellious founders, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Fredrik Neij, along with the company’s financial backer, Carl Lundstrom. All four men staunchly claim their innocence and argue that the site, which launched back in 2003 and has since garnered 22 million users, merely serves as a search engine that uses bit torrent technology to direct users to copyrighted material without actually hosting it.

And as one of the Web’s most popular file-sharing sites, The Pirate Bay founders have a storied and eccentric following behind them–the company was formed based on the ideals of PiratbyrĂ„n, a Swedish anti-copyright organization, and now has the backing of a political group called the Pirate Partythat was created in the Web site’s honor.

The trial looks to be a litmus test of sorts for other file-sharing sites under the gun for copyright infringement issues, with big ticket names such as MGM Pictures and Sony BMG as plaintiffs and bigwigs from the Motion Picture Association of America snarling that “the operators of the Pirate Bay and others like them are criminals who profit handsomely by facilitating the distribution of millions of copyrighted creative works and files protected under the law.”

But co-founder Sunde has pointed out that file-sharing has a life of its own and that even if The Pirate Bay is shut down, the practice will be up and running somewhere else. Moreover, he has remarked, “It does not matter if they require several million or one billion. We are not rich and have no money to pay. They won’t get a cent.”

Pirates vs. University Presses, Inside Higher Ed, 2/24/09

Via Inside Higher Ed: Pirates vs. University Presses:

"Princeton University Press has emerged as something of an expert on the issue -- a distinction the press wishes it didn't have. Over the summer, an author the press declined to identify informed the publisher that his book was being made available for downloading in its entirety on one of these Web sites. For several months, Princeton had a staffer focused on identifying piracy sites with its books, and following up with "take down" notices that threaten legal action for keeping the books up. Some of the Web sites take the books down, but then others pop up. Most of these sites operate outside the United States and take advantage of countries with relatively loose copyright laws, at least as applied to digital publishing...

Some of the pirate sites themselves are proud of their role.

Peter Sunde, one of the founders of the Pirate Bay, a Swedish operation that is at the center of these disputes, said via e-mail that he doesn't care if university presses are bothered by his organization's actions. "If I say the world is flat, does that make it true?" he asked.

He said copyright was irrelevant because "we're letting anyone share whatever they want with whomever they want. That's it.... Blaming us for what people do is like blaming the people who build roads for helping people rob banks, for God's sake.""

Library Associations Oppose Repealing Public Access Bill, Urge Action, Information Today, 2/23/09

Via Information Today, Library Associations Oppose Repealing Public Access Bill, Urge Action:

"The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, H.R. 801 (, recently introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would repeal the NIH Public Access Policy and prevent other federal agencies from enacting similar open access policies. In response, 10 library associations and advocacy groups, including AALL (American Association of Law Libraries), ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries), ALA (American Library Association), ARL (Association of Research Libraries), and GWLA (Greater Western Library Alliance), have sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee members opposing the bill ( and expressing their long-standing and strong support for the NIH Open Access Policy. A SPARC-sponsored analysis that outlines why the NIH Public Access policy does not affect copyright law was attached to the letter."

Obama Administration Mulls Constitutionality of Copyright Act, Wired, 2/19/09

Via Wired, Obama Administration Mulls Constitutionality of Copyright Act:

"In a few weeks, we'll likely know the Obama administration's position on whether it supports hefty monetary awards in file sharing litigation brought by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The Bush administration's position was clear. It supported the Copyright Act's penalties of up to $150,000 per infringed song.

"Congress acted reasonably in crafting the current incarnation by ensuring that it serves both a compensatory and deterrent purpose. Congress established a damages range that provides compensation for copyright owners in a regime in which actual damages are hard to quantify," the Bush administration wrote in 2007...

The minimum penalty under the Copyright Act equals a ratio of about 750 times the actual injury, assuming the value of a single music track costs $1 to purchase. Rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts say financial punishments exceeding a 9-to-1 ratio are unconstitutional."

[New Zealand] Government delays copyright laws, TVNZ, 2/23/09

Via TVNZ, [New Zealand] Government delays copyright laws:

"WATCH the video (1:31)"

"After weeks of protest the government has delayed introducing controversial copyright laws.
It has told the industry to find a way to make the legislation work or it will be dumped altogether

The government has announced it is delaying the controversial section 92a that critics say will force internet providers to cut people's connections without proving first they have breached copyright.

The Prime Minister has told the laws backers they have a month to figure out how they will make it work, or it goes...

The decision comes after weeks of opposition to the law."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use, The New York Times, 2/18/09

The New York Times: Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use:

After a wave of protests from its users, the Facebook social networking site said Wednesday that it would withdraw changes to its so-called terms of service concerning the data supplied by the tens of millions of people who use it.

The about-face was made known to many users in a message posted on the Facebook home page saying : “Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.”

The posting invited users to click on a link to get more details."

Facebook’s Users Ask Who Owns Information, The New York Times, 2/17/09

Via The New York Times: Facebook’s Users Ask Who Owns Information:

"Reacting to an online swell of suspicion about changes to Facebook’s terms of service, the company’s chief executive moved to reassure users on Monday that the users, not the Web site, “own and control their information."

The online exchanges reflected the uneasy and evolving balance between sharing information and retaining control over that information on the Internet. The subject arose when a consumer advocate’s blog shined an unflattering light onto the pages of legal language that many users accept without reading when they use a Web site.

The pages, called terms of service, generally outline appropriate conduct and grant a license to companies to store users’ data. Unknown to many users, the terms frequently give broad power to Web site operators.

This month, when Facebook updated its terms, it deleted a provision that said users could remove their content at any time, at which time the license would expire. Further, it added new language that said Facebook would retain users’ content and licenses after an account was terminated...

Greg Lastowka, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Law who is writing a book on Internet law, said Facebook’s language was not unusual. “Most Web sites today offer terms of service that are designed to protect and further the interests of the company writing the terms, and most people simply agree to terms without reading them.”

For Facebook, the ability to store users’ data and use their names and images for commercial purposes is important as it seeks to make more money from the virtual interactions of friends.

But balancing the desire for sharing with the need for control remains a challenge for Facebook as it turns five years old this month. “We’re at an interesting point in the development of the open online world where these issues are being worked out,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Truckie's Amazing copyright fight, Daily Telegraph, 2/7/09

Via Daily Telegraph: Truckie's Amazing copyright fight:

"TRUCK driver and musician Mark O'Keefe has penned more than 1000 songs.

He acknowledges that none have been hits - except, he claims, the one he co-wrote with singer Alex Lloyd on a beer coaster at a Rozelle pub.

The single Amazing took Lloyd to fame and fortune, topping Triple J's Hottest 100 poll in 2001 and becoming the most frequently played song on Aussie radio in 2002. Used as the soundtrack for a series of ad campaigns, the song has kept the royalties rolling in.

Mr O'Keefe is suing Lloyd, saying he jointly authored the song and is entitled to half the profits. With no money to pay lawyers, Mr O'Keefe, 47, yesterday represented himself at a Federal Court hearing.",27574,25018997-5006009,00.html

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

EFF Chastises YouTube, Seeks Fair Users; Public Knowledge, 2/4/09

Via Public Knowledge: EFF Chastises YouTube, Seeks Fair Users:

"In a post to the Deep Links blog yesterday, EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann makes it quite clear that he's had enough of Big Content's efforts to squelch fair uses on YouTube. He points to a recent spate of abusive takedowns--largely believed to be the result of a breakdown in negotiations between YouTube and the Warner Music Group--as evidence that the DMCA notice and takedown system is now being used blatantly as a tool for censorship, rather than copyright enforcement. His proposed solution comes in two parts. First, YouTube must fix Content ID, its automatic digital fingerprinting/filtering system...

Second, von Lohmann thinks that it's time for a little impact litigation and he's looking to the YouTube community for help".

YouTube Copyright System Gone Mad, EFF Prepares to Sue: Read Write Web, 2/3/09

Read Write Web: YouTube Copyright System Gone Mad, EFF Prepares to Sue:

"Using YouTube's new automated copright detection technology, Warner Brothers detected last month that 15 year old Juliet Weybret had posted a video of herself playing the piano and singing the 1934 song Winter Wonderland. This unrepentant little criminal might have thought that such a widely covered tune had entered the public domain, 75 years after it was recorded, but Juliet was clearly unfamiliar with legislation like the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act, which extended copyright protection to 95 years or more after publication date.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is not happy with the situation...

What does the EFF intend to do about it? The organization has put out a call to people who have had videos taken off of YouTube at the behest of Warner and whose videos were both noncommercial and substantially original. The EFF says it will help serve a counter notice and offer legal protection to as many people as it can. "We can't promise to take every case," they say, "but neither will we stand by and watch semi-automated takedowns trample fair use.""

KFC's Secret Recipe Returns Home,, 2/10/09

[Trade Secret is one of the four types of Intellectual Property (the others being Patent, Trademark, and Copyright). Along with Coca Cola's secret recipe, KFC's is among the most famous trade secrets in the world] Via KFC's Secret Recipe Returns Home:

""This recipe has amazing global importance and the reason is that you could maybe put on your hand the number of world, global trade secrets that are housed in a single packet, in a single form," said KFC President Roger Eaton.""

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Copyright Research Bill ReIntroduced, LIS News, 2/4/09

Via LIS News: Copyright Research Bill ReIntroduced:

"The Fair Copyright in Research Works bill, a controversial measure that would ban public access policies similar to those of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was reintroduced in Congress last night, after being shelved at the end of 2008.

The bill resurfaces as proponents in the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP) Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division holds its annual conference today in Washington, DC. Although the text of HR 801 has yet to be posted online, those who have seen it say it has much the same text as HR 6845, which was the subject of a spirited hearing held before a Congressional subcommittee last year.

In a statement, AAP officials praised the bill's reintroduction, and said the legislation "would help keep the Federal Government from undermining copyright protection for journal articles." The library community, however, strongly opposses the measure."

AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image, Associated Press, 2/4/09

Via AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image: AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image:

"The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement. "AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's lawyer, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School."

One Man’s Blanche Is a University’s Infringement, The New York Times, 2/5/09

Via The New York Times: One Man’s Blanche Is a University’s Infringement:

"Through friends Mr. Rosenthal obtained pro bono representation from lawyers at the New York office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, who argued that First Amendment rights contained in the legal doctrine of fair use allowed Mr. Rosenthal to create a new performance piece partly inspired by the “Streetcar” character.

But in a cease-and-desist letter to Mr. Rosenthal’s lawyer, sent on Jan. 22, the university’s legal team disputed that the fair-use doctrine applied to this play."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Some Fear Google’s Power in Digital Books, The New York Times, 2/1/09

Via The New York Times: Some Fear Google’s Power in Digital Books:

"To Thomas Augst, an English professor at New York University who has studied the history of libraries, including those in the past that were run as businesses, what is significant is that the digitization of books is ending the distinction between circulating libraries, meant for public readers, and research libraries, meant for scholars. It’s not as if anyone from the public can walk into the Harvard library.

“A positive way to look at what Google is doing,” he said, “is that it is advancing the circulating of books and leveling these distinctions.”

In a final twist, however, the digital-rights class-action agreement has the potential to make physical libraries newly relevant. Each public library will have one computer with complete access to Google Book Search, a service that normally would come as part of a paid subscription.

One of Mr. Darnton’s concerns is that a single computer may not be enough to meet public demand. But Mr. Augst already can see a great benefit.

Google is “creating a new reason to go to public libraries, which I think is fantastic,” he said."

Copyright in the Age of YouTube, ABA Journal, February 2009 Issue

Via ABA Journal: Copyright in the Age of YouTube, As user-generated sites flourish, copyright law struggles to keep up:

"“The entertainment industry wants to change the law to protect their existing business models,” he says, “rather than change their business models to adapt to new technology.”

Protectionist behavior by copyright owners is nothing new. “There’s a recurrent pattern whenever a new technology crops up,” [Jessica] Litman says. “Existing content industries insist that the new technology must play by the old copyright rules. ... The new companies say that the old rules fit your technology and business models, but they don’t fit our technology and business models. Some­times the older companies impose restrictions that try to stop the new technology, but in the end, the old and new companies reach some compromise.”

This time, however, copyright owners may need to compromise with more than just the new online businesses. Content owners may need to reach an understanding with tens of millions of U.S. Internet users.

History tells us that unless the [copyright] rules will accommodate their interests, there will be no stability,” Litman says. “If the public does not see the rules as legitimate, they won’t obey them.”