Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Educational fair use: a provocation, Collectanea Blog with Peter Jaszi, 3/30/09

Via Collectanea Blog with Peter Jaszi: Educational fair use: a provocation:

"Let me make two modest suggestions:

1. First, it's important that educators refrain from claiming too much under the heading of fair use--and, in particular, that they avoid the simple (and erroneous) proposition that merely because a use is educational, it is definitionally fair...

2. Second, it is crucial to develop the arguments for treating various kinds of educational use as "transformative." Like it or not, this is the current mantra of fair use jurisprudence, and educators need to recognize this jurisprudential fact and respond accordingly. They need to generate more and better explanations (the fair use code for media literary, referenced above, being one example), of how educational uses don't just repeat quoted material for its original purposes, but both repurpose that material and add value to it."


AT&T Learns From Mom in Fighting File Sharing, The New York Times, 3/26/09

Via The New York Times: AT&T Learns From Mom in Fighting File Sharing:

"For customers who continue to share files, the e-mail messages became tougher. Eventually, repeat offenders received certified letters. This repeated nagging did get most of the people who continued to share files after the first notice to stop.

“Then you are down to a handful of people who don’t care, who are 24/7 engaged in copyright theft,” he said. “At that point it is up to the copyright owner to determine the next steps.”

AT&T, however, did not and does not plan to take any action on its own against those customers, like canceling their service, even though they ignored repeated warnings.

We are not under any circumstances going to suspend or terminate any customer’s service as a result of a third-party allegation unless they have a court order,” Mr. Cicconi said. “The copyright owner has legal rights, and we are not going to be the agent to enforce their rights.”"


Monday, March 30, 2009

Public-Domain Status of Early Sound Recordings Delayed Until 2067 According to Library Report, Library of Congress, 3/30/09

Via Library of Congress: Public-Domain Status of Early Sound Recordings Delayed Until 2067 According to Library Report:

"Sound recordings were not protected by federal copyright law until 1972. A Library of Congress report indicates that the miscellany of state laws protecting pre-1972 sound recordings will extend copyright protection until 2067, creating a situation where some recordings dating to the 19th century are not available in public domain.

The Library announced today the completion of a commissioned report that examines copyright issues associated with unpublished sound recordings. This new report from the Library of Congress and the Council on Library and Information Resources addresses the question of what libraries and archives are legally empowered to do, under current laws, to preserve and make accessible for research their holdings of unpublished sound recordings made before 1972.

The report, "Copyright and Related Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Unpublished Pre-1972 Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives’ is one of a series of studies undertaken by the National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), under the auspices of the Library of Congress. It was written by June Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts at Columbia University. The report is available free of charge at http://www.loc.gov/global/disclaimer.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.clir.org%2Fpubs%2Fabstract%2Fpub144abst.html."


Publishers Face Pressure From Libraries to Freeze Prices and Cut Deals, Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/27/09

Via Chronicle of Higher Education: Publishers Face Pressure From Libraries to Freeze Prices and Cut Deals:

"A price increase of about 5 percent a year has been the industry standard, according to Mr. Price, but Oxford has not yet announced its fee structures for 2009-10. "We're waiting for pricing decisions to be made," he said. "The question is, Do you raise prices in a year like this?"

Now more than ever, publishers feel they must walk a fine line. "We want to make sure we're not undervaluing our product, but we don't want to be seen as harsh," Mr. Price explained. "We're trying to be mindful of tough times."

He has heard from colleagues in the business that some publishers are likely to hold prices flat in response to the economic downturn, or even lower their prices...

Even consortia have had to adjust their strategies. It might be a stretch to call this a silver lining, but members of Mr. Doyle's consortium have been working to make the most of their collective resources. For instance, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University have talked about coordinating database cuts so that they don't both end up axing the same useful resource. "When things get tight," Mr. Doyle said, "you have to think about doing things a little differently.""


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time, NPR's All Things Considered, 3/16/09

Via NPR's All Things Considered: Remixing YouTube, One Video At A Time:

"The latest viral video doesn't just come from YouTube — it's a remix of it. Amateur musicians with video cameras and homemade gadgets are all the playthings of an Israel-based musician and producer named Kutiman, who blends their sounds and images into unique songs. To date, his videos have accumulated more than 3 million views and climbing.

In an interview with Melissa Block, Kutiman says he was searching for guitar licks on YouTube when he came across a drummer explaining a funky groove. It inspired a slew of mash-ups."


REMIX: buy the remix, Lessig Blog, 3/11/09

Via Lessig Blog: REMIX: buy the remix:

"This video [from ThruYou music album by Ophir Kutiel AKA Kutiman] is Jefferson's Moose. If you come to the Net armed with the idea that the old system of copyright is going to work just fine here, this more than anything is going to get you to recognize: you need some new ideas."


Kutiman's ThruYou Mashup Turns YouTube Into Funk Machine, Wired.com, 3/25/09

Via Wired.com: Kutiman's ThruYou Mashup Turns YouTube Into Funk Machine:

"Five years ago he'd never heard of the "godfather of soul," James Brown. Now an Israeli mashup artist is basking in the spotlight after making the funkiest tracks on the internet, using YouTube clips of musicians who've never met each other.

Earlier this month, Ophir Kutiel, aka Kutiman, released seven videos made by mixing and matching found footage for his project, called ThruYou. The clever musical mashups have since been viewed more than a million times, and Kutiman is basking in the glow of raves from MySpace commenters and mainstream media alike...

Thanks mostly to Twitter, it wasn't long until Kutiman had logged more than 1.5 million views on YouTube. Praise came from outlets as varied as National Public Radio and Gawker, and Kutiman drew plaudits from open source advocates like Lawrence Lessig, who called ThruYou a nail in the coffin of copyright as we know it."


Remixing Is Creating And Original -- It's Not Just Derivative Copying, TechDirt.com , 3/27/09

Via TechDirt.com: Remixing Is Creating And Original -- It's Not Just Derivative Copying:

"At the beginning of the month we were one of the first to write about the amazing Thru-You "album" created by a DJ named Kutiman, who took individual sounds off of YouTube and mixed them into a full album. I've always been a believer in the concept that remixing something is a creative endeavor in its own right, but I'd never seen the point driven home quite as clearly as in this album...

The idea that what he's done is almost certainly illegal and copyright infringement (he seems incredulous at the idea) should be a clear indication that something is wrong with the current copyright regime."


Friday, March 27, 2009

At Columbia Conference, Harvard’s Darnton Asks: Is Google the Elsevier of the Future?, Library Journal, 3/18/09

Via Library Journal: At Columbia Conference, Harvard’s Darnton Asks: Is Google the Elsevier of the Future?:

"Is the public’s interest in books at risk with the pending Google Book Search Settlement? That was one of many issues addressed at an all-day conference on the settlement, held on March 13 at Columbia University.

In the final panel of the day, which addressed public interest issues, Google’s Alexander Macgillivray, associate general counsel for products and intellectual property, responded a bit pugnaciously...He suggested that “a special type of researcher,” such as automated translation experts, would also benefit enormously from the database, that “the long term effects of those researchers having access to this corpus” could even lead “to more peace in the world,” and that the database would add significantly to access to books by disabled people, citing an endorsement from the National Federation of the Blind...

“The downside has to do with the danger of monopoly,” he [Harvard University librarian Robert Darnton] said, adding that, while not all monopolies are bad, the danger comes in the abuse of power, notably via monopoly pricing. “So we have a situation where Google can really ratchet up prices, and that’s what really worries me,” he said. “There’s no real authority to enforce fair pricing… I’m worried that Google will be the Elsevier of the future, but magnified by a hundred times.” Without a mechanism to police pricing, he warned, “it’s going to ruin libraries.”...He called the provision of one terminal in public libraries “one of the weakest provisions,” and predicted chaos in a large urban public library. Google, meanwhile, has said it would consider more than one terminal in larger libraries.

Another solution?
Is Congressional intervention on the public’s behalf a possibility? Does the settlement, for example, make it harder, or perhaps easier to go to Congress for authorization to create a national digital library? “I hate to say this, I don’t think it’s possible,” Darnton said. “We’ve got this settlement, and if it’s not modified now, it’s going to shape the world of digital information for the near future, maybe the far future.”"


Register of Copyrights Not Asked by Congress To Weigh in on Google Book Search?, Library Journal, 3/20/09

Via Library Journal: Register of Copyrights Not Asked by Congress To Weigh in on Google Book Search?:

"Out of last Friday's all-day Columbia University conference on Google Book Search came this interesting little tidbit: Register of Copyrights Mary Beth Peters had recommended against the Library of Congress participating in Google’s initial Library Partners program, because she wasn’t sure that Google’s indexing of copyrighted books was a fair use.

That in and of itself is not a shocker—a lot of experts are still torn over whether the plan was indeed a fair use. But as Cornell University’s Peter Hirtle noted, the real surprise is that Congress, well, just didn’t seem to care about the program.

“Most disturbing of all was Peters’s admission that not one member of Congress has asked the Copyright Office to comment on the settlement," Hirtle blogged “even though it may fundamentally change how Americans can access and use copyrighted information.”

Certainly, that insight has to make one wonder how much Congress cares about the promotion of progress at the bedrock of copyright law. Last year, Congress failed to pass orphan works legislation but passed a draconian bill stiffening infringement penalties. And while sitting out the potentially momentous discussion over copyright as raised by Google Book Search, Congress is agian considering the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act—controversial legislation that would bar public access to research funded by taxpayers, and would undo the NIH’s access policy, enacted last year.

Notably, Peters was also not asked to testify at a hearing on the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act during a congressional hearing last year—but, curiously, a former register of copyright, Ralph Oman was asked, and did testify. Oman told lawmakers that the public access policies, like the NIH’s, would harm publishers and gut copyright."


Thursday, March 26, 2009

In a First, Oregon State University Library Faculty Adopts Strong OA Policy, Library Journal, 3/25/09

Via Library Journal: In a First, Oregon State University Library Faculty Adopts Strong OA Policy:

"On March 13, the library faculty at Oregon State University (OSU) announced the school has adopted its own, Harvard-like Open Access (OA) mandate, the first in the nation for a library faculty.

Under the policy, library faculty members are now required to give an electronic copy of “the final published version of the work,” in an appropriate format (such as PDF), to be made available in the libraries’ institutional repository, ScholarsArchive@OSU."


Monday, March 23, 2009

Touchdown Steelerbaby, Pittsburgh City Paper, 3/19/09

Via Pittsburgh City Paper: Touchdown Steelerbaby:

"Fairey's own Obama poster is now the subject of litigation with the Associated Press, which claims the poster's imagery improperly borrowed one of its photographs. Obey Giant Art's [cease and desist] notice was delivered the same day the AP filed suit.

When news of Fairey's reversal hit the Internet, in fact, some bloggers speculated the lawsuit was the reason for the change. AP, some suggested, might have used Fairey's attack on Steelerbaby to bolster its own challenge.

But Michael Madison, a trademark and copyright-law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says that the two situations raise totally different legal issues. AP is accusing Fairey of violating copyright laws, which govern writing, photos and other original work. Fairey's objection to Steelerbaby, meanwhile, was that it violated trademark laws, which govern logos and words used to identify a company's products. Different legal questions apply in those situations, Madison says. Legally speaking, "There is no inconsistency to what Fairey is doing."

On the other hand, Madison adds, "It looks like there is some inconsistency at the conceptual level." After all, Madison says, "He's staked his career on appropriating other peoples' works.""


As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes, The New York Times, 3/23/09

The New York Times: As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes:

"In early December, Juliet Weybret, a high school sophomore and aspiring rock star from Lodi, Calif., recorded a video of herself playing the piano and singing “Winter Wonderland,” and she posted it on YouTube.

Weeks later, she received an e-mail message from YouTube: her video was being removed “as a result of a third-party notification by the Warner Music Group,” which owns the copyright to the Christmas carol.

The law provides a four-point test for the fair use of copyrighted works, taking into account things like the purpose, the size of an excerpt and the effect the use might have on the commercial value of the actual work...

The body of law is ever-evolving, and each era and technology seems to force new interpretations. In the 1960s, for example, the Zapruder film, the home movie that captured the Kennedy assassination, was bought and copyrighted by Time magazine. But a judge denied that it could be a copyrighted work because of its value to the public interest.

Many of the offending videos of the user-generated variety like Ms. Weybret’s — as opposed to copies of music videos produced by Warner and its artists — would fall under fair use, according to Mr. von Lohmann, because they are noncommercial and include original material produced by the user.

Others, including Warner Music’s lawyers, might argue that the videos, while themselves created for noncommercial purposes, are nevertheless being shown on YouTube, which is a moneymaking enterprise."


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sony Reaches Deal to Share in Google’s E-Book Library , The New York Times, 3/18/09

Via The New York Times: Sony Reaches Deal to Share in Google’s E-Book Library:

"Aiming to outdo Amazon.com and recapture the crown for the most digital titles in an e-book library, Sony is announcing Thursday a deal with Google to make a half million copyright-free books available for its Reader device, a rival to the Amazon Kindle.

Since 2004, Google has scanned about seven million books from major university and research library collections. For now, however, Google can make full digital copies available only of books whose copyrights have expired...

Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, has said that works in the public domain, like those Google is making available to Sony, are easy to get since there are no copyrights attached.

Google has been working to encode books in a free, open electronic publishing format, ePub, which makes them easier to read on devices like the Reader. The company is aiming to gradually increase the number of copyright-free books in the Google Book Search catalog available to Sony and any other e-book distributor that shares its goals of making books more accessible."


NIH Open Access mandate made permanent, Science Commons, 3/17/09

Via Science Commons: NIH Open Access mandate made permanent:

"The NIH Public Access Policy, which was due to expire this year, has now been made permanent by the 2009 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law last week...

Prior to NIH’s mandatory deposit requirement, under a voluntary policy NIH began in 2005, the compliance rate in terms of deposits in PubMed had been very low (4%, as published in an NIH report to Congress in 2006). Shortly after the adoption of the new mandatory policy, submissions spiked to an all time high, prompting an NIH official to project compliance rates of 55-60%. Just take a look at this NIH chart, and note the sharp rise after the policy took effect in early 2008."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Associated Press Files Countersuit Over Obama Poster, The New York Times, 3/11/09

Via The New York Times: Associated Press Files Countersuit Over Obama Poster:

"The Associated Press has filed a countersuit against the artist Shepard Fairey, who created the famous “Hope” poster of Barack Obama, The A.P. said in a statement."


Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets?!?, TechDirt, 3/13/09

Via TechDirt: Obama Administration Claims Copyright Treaty Involves State Secrets?!?:

"Plenty of folks are quite concerned about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations are being negotiated in secret. This is a treaty that (from the documents that have leaked so far) is quite troubling. It likely will effectively require various countries, including the US, to update copyright laws in a draconian manner. Furthermore, the negotiators have met with entertainment industry representatives multiple times, and there are indications that those representatives have contributed language and ideas to the treaty. But, the public? The folks actually impacted by all of this? We've been kept in the dark, despite repeated requests for more information. So far, the response from the government had been "sorry, we always negotiate these things in secret, so we'll keep doing so...

Can the US Trade Representative please describe the damage to national security if the public gets to see what's being proposed that would require governments around the country to enact significantly more draconian intellectual property laws?"


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Research copyright bill would end free health info, Detroit Free Press, 3/5/09

Detroit Free Press: Research copyright bill would end free health info:

"Current law requires scientists to submit NIH-funded work to PubMed Central when it is accepted for publication in a journal. It's free to the public after one year.

The [Fair Copyright in Research Works] bill would keep studies protected under journals' copyrights, often for decades, according to the U.S. Copyright Office.

"I don't think there's a good thing to say about this bill. It's basically a corporate giveaway," said Jessica Litman, a copyright law professor at U-M. "The people own it, they shouldn't have to pay to see it again.""


Monday, March 9, 2009

Steelerbaby Blues, Pittsburgh City Paper, 3/5/09

Via Pittsburgh City Paper: Steelerbaby Blues:

"Shepard Fairey is the creator of the iconic Obama "Hope" poster. He's been admired by critics and guerilla artists, and just weeks ago he was the subject of a profile on CBS Sunday Morning. But Pittsburgh graphic designer Larkin Werner has a different perspective. To him, Fairey is the guy who is "picking on a baby."

The baby in question is Steelerbaby, a blue-eyed kewpie doll clad in a knit black-and-gold uniform. Steelerbaby became an online hit -- he boasts more than 2,000 friends on Facebook -- after Werner created a Web site for the doll during the NFL playoffs in 2005. The following year, he started designing and selling Steelerbaby merchandise at the online store cafepress.com to satisfy demand for the doll Werner describes as "slightly creepy."

But early last month, Werner learned that Fairey's company, Obey Giant Art Inc., sent cafepress.com a cease-and-desist letter, informing the online store that Steelerbaby's merchandise marked with the word "Obey" was infringing on the artist's trademark. "


Friday, March 6, 2009

Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions on Copyright, Corruption, and Congress, The New York Times Freakonomics Blog, 3/2/09

Via The New York Times Freakonomics Blog: Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions on Copyright, Corruption, and Congress:

"Last week we solicited your questions for Stanford Law School Professor (and open-source hero, and anti-corruption leader) Lawrence Lessig. (Past Q&A’s can be found here.)...

Q: Do you find any proposed “optimum copyright” period plausible? If so, which one, and which arguments did you find persuasive?– Nat Howard

A: There are two different issues with copyright terms: first, how long should they be? Second, should they ever be extended? The answer to the second question is, as Milton Friedman put it, a “no brainer”: “No. Never.” Copyright is about creating incentives. You can’t create incentives backward. Even the United States Congress can’t order George Gershwin to create anything more. His creativity is over — however sad that may be.

The answer to the first question is harder. The term should be as long as it needs to be to create the incentives to create, but not longer. And the obvious point is that at some point, the promise of future benefits adds essentially nothing to present incentives to create. Economists who have estimated the matter have calculated between 14 and 28 years as an optimal copyright term. I’d be happy even to get it down to 50.

Finally, regardless of the length, the one huge mistake we’ve made is to give up any system to require copyright owners to take steps to maintain their copyright. The result is, after a relatively short time, it is practically impossible to identify the owner of a vast majority of copyrighted work. Our framers insisted on formalities as a condition to getting copyright protection. I wouldn’t go that far, but I would require that after an initial term of automatic protection, a copyright owner would be required to take steps to register or maintain clear title to his or her copyrighted works, after, say, 14 years.

(And to the copyright mavens out there, this requirement would apply to domestic works only, so there’s no “Berne problem.”)"


Monday, March 2, 2009

Copyright Challenge for Sites That Excerpt, The New York Times, 3/1/09

Via The New York Times: Copyright Challenge for Sites That Excerpt:

"Generally, the excerpts have been considered legal, and for years they have been welcomed by major media companies, which were happy to receive links and pass-along traffic from the swarm of Web sites that regurgitate their news and information.

But some media executives are growing concerned that the increasingly popular curators of the Web that are taking large pieces of the original work — a practice sometimes called scraping — are shaving away potential readers and profiting from the content.

With the Web’s advertising engine stalling just as newspapers are under pressure, some publishers are second-guessing their liberal attitude toward free content."


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Amazon lets authors mute Kindle books read-aloud feature (AFP), Yahoo Tech, 2/28/09

Via Yahoo Tech: Amazon lets authors mute Kindle books read-aloud feature (AFP):

"Amazon is yielding to concerns of authors by letting them selectively silence a read-aloud feature in Kindle 2 electronic book readers that hit the market in February.

The US Authors Guild had warned that the new Kindle feature could pose a "significant challenge" to the publishing industry and hinted at possible legal action by saying they were studying the matter closely.

"Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given," Amazon said late Friday in an announcement posted online."