Friday, July 31, 2009

Amazon sued over Kindle deletion of Orwell books; Yahoo News, 7/31/09

Tim Klass, AP Writer, via Yahoo News; Amazon sued over Kindle deletion of Orwell books:

"A high school student is suing Inc. for deleting an e-book he purchased for the Kindle reader, saying his electronic notes were bollixed, too.

Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos has apologized to Kindle customers for remotely removing copies of the George Orwell novels "1984" and "Animal Farm" from their e-reader devices. The company did so after learning the electronic editions were pirated, and it gave buyers automatic refunds. But Amazon did it without prior notice.

The lawsuit seeking class-action status was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle on behalf of Justin D. Gawronski, 17, a student at Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township, Mich., as well as Antoine J. Bruguier, an adult reader in Milpitas, Calif."

Hollywood Still Thinks That The Industry Needs DRM; Tech Dirt, 7/30/09

Mike Masnick via tech Dirt; Hollywood Still Thinks That The Industry Needs DRM:

"A bunch of folks have sent in various versions of how the entertainment industry is trying to convince the Copyright Office not to grant a special DMCA exemption for breaking DRM in the very limited -- but quite real -- scenario where a DRM server goes dark, taking away access to content people thought they had legally purchased. This seems like a perfect example of a reasonable DMCA exemption (people legally bought something, and they can no longer access it without getting around the DRM). On top of that, the music industry especially has finally come to terms with the fact that DRM not only doesn't work, but decreases the value of the music and makes people less willing to buy. So you might think that they wouldn't put up much of a fight. But, you'd be wrong."

Judge: Tenenbaum guilty of copyright infringement; Ars Technica, 7/30/09

Eric Bangemen via Ars Technica; Judge: Tenenbaum guilty of copyright infringement:

"In a reversal of her decision Thursday night, Judge Nancy Gertner has issued a directed verdict against P2P defendant Joel Tenenbaum, ruling that he is liable for infringing the record labels' copyrights on all 30 of the songs in question. It will be up to the jury to determine whether the infringement was willful and the size of the award—which could be as high as $4.5 million.

Judge Gertner's change of heart came after she had a chance to review the transcript of Thursday's testimony by Joel Tenenbaum. During direct examination, Tenenbaum was asked a simple question by the labels' counsel: "on the stand now, are you admitting liability for downloading and distributing all 30 sound recordings that are at issue and listed on Exhibits 55 and 56 of the exhibits?" His simple "yes" answer was enough to hand the labels a victory on the question of liability...

For all of the theatrics in the months leading up to the trial, things have gone down differently since the trial started Monday morning. Judge Gertner eviscerated Tenenbaum's Fair Use defense right before things got underway, and it has been all downhill from there for the defendant. Should the jury throw the book at Tenenbaum on the issue of damages, his counsel, Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, will challenge the constitutionality of the damage provisions of the Copyright Act. But that's another chapter; this one is all but written."

Tenenbaum takes the stand: I used P2P and lied about it; Ars Technica, 7/30/09

Ben Sheffner via Ars Technica; Tenenbaum takes the stand: I used P2P and lied about it:

"Accused of sharing 30 songs on the Internet, Joel Tenenbaum today admitted his liability in a federal courtroom, then told the court he told a "lie" in his earlier sworn responses. The labels have moved for a directed verdict of copyright infringement, and look likely to get it.

“Joel Fights Back,” proclaims the website for Joel Tenenbaum, the Boston University grad student standing trial for copyright infringement this week in a federal courtroom. But today, when he took the stand at his closely watched copyright trial, he didn’t.

Instead, over and over, Tenenbaum admitted under oath that he used KaZaA, LimeWire, and other peer-to-peer software to download and distribute music to others unknown.

“This is me. I’m here to answer,” said Tenenbaum. “I used the computer. I uploaded and downloaded music. This is how it is. I did it,” he testified before a packed courtroom, whose spectators included an all-star cast of Harvard Law School copyright scholars: Lawrence Lessig, John Palfrey, and Jonathan Zittrain.

“Are you admitting liability for all 30 sound recordings” on which the record labels brought suit, asked the plaintiffs’ attorney Tim Reynolds.

“Yes,” said Tenenbaum.

Tenenbaum then admitted that he “lied” in his written discovery responses, the ones in which he denied responsibility.

“Why did you lie at that point?” asked Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson. “It was kind of something I rushed through,” responded Tenenbaum. “It’s what seemed the best response to give.” At the time he gave the admittedly false discovery responses, Tenenbaum testified that he was being advised by his mother Judith, a family law attorney who works for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

CDT Releases Privacy Recommendations Report for Google Book Service; Center for Technology and Democracy, 7/27/09

Center for Technology and Democracy; CDT Releases Privacy Recommendations Report for Google Book Service:

"CDT today released a report analyzing the privacy risks associated with the proposed expansion of Google Book Search. The report urges Google to commit to a strong privacy regime for the new service in advance of the settlement fairness hearing this fall. The tentative settlement between Google and publishers, the result of a copyright infringement lawsuit, would dramatically alter the way the public obtains and interacts with books. The report asks the court to approve the settlement but to retain oversight in order to monitor implementation of a privacy plan."

Podcast: Helprin on Copyright; Econ Talk

Podcast [1 hr. 1 min. 52 sec.] Russ Roberts via Econ Talk:

"Novelist Mark Helprin talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about copyright and the ideas in his book, Digital Barbarism. Helprin argues for an extension rather than a reduction in the length of time that authors have control over their work. He also argues that technology is often not attuned to human needs and physical constraints, claiming that tranquility is elusive in modern times. He sees the movement against copyright and intellectual property generally as part of an educational and social trend toward collective rather than individual work."

Civil Rights Activists Champion Google Book Deal; PC World, 7/29/09

Grant Gross via PC World; Civil Rights Activists Champion Google Book Deal:

"A proposed settlement allowing Google to digitize millions of books will have huge benefits for minority populations and their access to valuable information, a group of civil rights leaders and educators said Wednesday.

The Google book settlement, scheduled to be reviewed in an Oct. 7 court hearing, would allow Google to scan and make available scores of books, including millions of out-of-print titles. The digitized books will give minorities and poor people new access to titles that were formerly only available at large university libraries, supporters of the deal said during a forum at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

"The idea that a student in Boston at a very exclusive private school can read the same books that a student somewhere in an underfunded, urban public school, that they can have the same access to the same materials is actually just amazing," said Professor Rhea Ballard-Thrower, law librarian at the Howard law school. "Books are the great equalizer.""

At NYPL, No “Smackdown” This Time As Panel Pushes For Google Book Search Settlement; Publishers Weekly, 7/29/09

Andrew Albanese via Publishers Weekly; At NYPL, No “Smackdown” This Time As Panel Pushes For Google Book Search Settlement:

"In what New York Public Library (NYPL) director David Ferriero called a return to the scene of the “Google smackdown,” the sold-out November 2005 event where the initial lawsuits over Google Book Search were first debated, panelists yesterday took questions from Ferriero and audience members and defended the pending Google Book Search Settlement.

The two-hour panel, "Expanding Access to Books: Implications of the Google Books Settlement Agreement,” featured David Drummond, senior v-p of corporate development & chief legal officer at Google; Richard Sarnoff, co-chairman, Bertelsmann, authors Jim Gleick and Peter Petre, and attorney and library legal advisor Jonathan Band, author of A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement. The panel kicks off a week of events in New York as the settlement enters a critical final month before a September 4 deadline for rightsholders to opt-out or object to the deal."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tenenbaum lawyer admits liability; damages now main issue; Ars Technica, 7/29/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; Tenenbaum lawyer admits liability; damages now main issue: The second-ever P2P file-sharing case to go to trial has been anything but conventional, and today was no exception: one of Joel Tenenbaum's attorneys admitted in court that his client was liable for infringement. The real issue now appears to be the amount of damages.:

Big Content: ludicrous to expect DRMed music to work forever; Ars Technica, 7/29/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; Big Content: ludicrous to expect DRMed music to work forever: Rightsholders can't understand why people who bought DRMed music only to have the authentication servers go dark might demand the right to crack the DRM. Big Content believes the idea that rightsholders "are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to copyrighted works" is laughable. Ha ha.:

"When Wal-Mart announced in 2008 that it was pulling down the DRM servers behind its (nearly unused) online music store, the Internet suffered a collective aneurysm of outrage, eventually forcing the retail giant to run the servers for another year. Buying DRMed content, then having that content neutered a few months later, seemed to most consumers not to be fair.

But that's not quite how Big Content sees things—just ask Steven Metalitz, the Washington DC lawyer who represents the MPAA, RIAA, and other rightsholders before the Copyright Office. Because the Copyright Office is in the thick of its triennial DMCA review process, in which it will decide to allow certain exemptions to the rules against cracking DRM, Metalitz has been doing plenty of representation of late.

He has now responded to a host of questions from the Copyright Office following up on live hearings held earlier this year, and in those comments, Metalitz (again) strongly opposes any exemption that would allow users to legally strip DRM from content if a store goes dark and takes down its authentication servers.

"We reject the view," he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, "that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so.""

Op-Ed: Google's Big Plan for Books; New York Times, 7/29/09

Op-Ed: Google's Big Plan for Books; New York Times:

A New Page; New Yorker, 8/3/09

Nicholson Baker via New Yorker; A New Page: Can the Kindle really improve on the book?:

With Software, The A.P. Takes on Digital Piracy of Articles; New York Times, 7/23/09

Richard Perez-Pena via New York Times; With Software, The A.P. Takes on Digital Piracy of Articles:

"Vowing to fight unauthorized reproduction of news reports online, The Associated Press said Thursday that it would add software to each article showing who created it and what limits apply to the rights to use it. The software will also notify the A.P. about how the article is used across the Web.

The new program, approved Thursday by the A.P. board, follows through on a statement the company made in April that it would take on digital piracy not only for itself, but on behalf of embattled American newspapers, which own the A.P., a nonprofit corporation. But the announcement raises many unanswered questions, including who the intended targets are, what the legal limits are on using material online, and what redress it will seek.

At first, the program will apply only to the company’s own reporting – and eventually pictures and video – but the A.P. plans to invite its 1,400 member newspapers to join in next year. Newspaper executives have said that by taking the lead, the A.P. ensures a unified approach, saves publishers from having to design their own programs and circumvents possible charges of collusion against the papers.

Executives of many news organizations have long complained about the way blogs, news aggregators like The Drudge Report and The Huffington Post, and search engines like Google and Yahoo, use excerpts of their work, even when they also link back to the sources of the articles. Those sites contend that their practices fall under the legal principle of fair use, but the boundaries of that doctrine are largely untested in court.

Another complaint is that a link to an article sometimes leads to another second-hand user, not the original source, which can deprive the creator of some of the audience for its own site and the ads on it. There are also less- well-known sites that outright reprint articles, or large pieces of them, without permission, a clearer copyright violation, but there is little consensus about how big a problem that is for news organizations.

The A. P. has not said which sites it considers a major challenge, or how it would confront them, but its executives have made clear that the end goal is to get more compensation from the sites that use the material."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Organizations Urge Google To Ensure Privacy Protection in Book Search; Library Journal, 7/28/09

Norman Oder via Library Journal; Organizations Urge Google To Ensure Privacy Protection in Book Search:

"(For a set of links, go to

Public Index debuts

The Public Index, a web site aiming to study and discuss the Google Book Search Settlement, has finally debuted, the work of New York Law School (NYLS) professor James Grimmelmann and colleagues. The centerpiece of the site is an interactive version of the proposed settlement, which allows annotations...

Two defenses of Google

Meanwhile, in a blog post headlined The Earth is Not Flat: The Public Interest and the Google Book Search Settlement: A Reply to Grimmelman, David Balto, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress praises the settlement, writing, “What Google has achieved the in truly remarkable, and potentially transforms the availability of vast amounts of knowledge - much akin to the development of search"...

Similarly, in the San Jose Mercury-News, Jonathan Hillel, a policy fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, criticized the inquiries made by the Justice Department into antitrust implications...

The Google game

Meanwhile, Google has launched the 10 Days in Google Books game, inviting entrants to write a 50-word entry on the topic of books. Each day, the top three submissions will win Sony Readers, while the first 20,000 people to play the game will get Google Books laptop stickers."

An Open Workshop at Harvard Law School: 7/31/09; Alternative Approaches to Open Digital Libraries in the Shadow of the Google Book Search Settlement

An Open Workshop at Harvard Law School: 7/31/09; Alternative Approaches to Open Digital Libraries in the Shadow of the Google Book Search Settlement: Sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Harvard Law School Library, and Professors Charles Nesson, John Palfrey and Phil Malone:

"Scope and Goals

The proposed Google Book Search settlement creates the opportunity for unprecedented access by the public, scholars, libraries and others to a digital library containing millions of books assembled by major research libraries. But the settlement is controversial, in large part because this access is limited in major ways: instead of being truly open, this new digital library will be controlled by a single company, Google, and a newly created Book Rights Registry consisting of representatives of authors and publishers; it will include millions of so-called “orphan works” that cannot legally be included in any competing digitization and access effort, and it will be available to readers only in the United States. It need not have been this way.

This workshop seeks to bring a fresh, unique perspective to a complex and widely debated topic. It will focus not on the specific merits and demerits of the settlement itself, or the particular antitrust and privacy and other objections that have been raised. Instead, it will examine the idea of possible alternative universes and offer specific proposals for scenarios that may arise whether or not the settlement is approved. What can libraries, or universities, or non-profits, or Congress, do in the current landscape? And how might these possibilities help us to define a better world than the one that we have today and, more importantly, than the one that will exist if the Google settlement is approved in its current form? Regardless of what happens with respect to the Settlement, what alternative possibilities could lead to a richer, more open and better information ecosystem than the one we have today or might have tomorrow with the Settlement?

By exploring these alternatives, this workshop seeks, in the end, to help inform the debate over the Settlement and its terms and to illuminate some of the key policy considerations that are at stake. Its ultimate goal is to develop a series of options and proposals that could improve on the status quo in novel ways.

Proposed Topics

Here are some tentative topics for beginning discussion at the workshop. We welcome feedback on these suggestions and encourage you to contribute your own proposals. We'll choose several of the topics to be incorporated into our agenda...

What might truly open access to orphan works look like
What might a truly “open” digital collection created by major libraries look like
What might a truly “open” global library look like
What would a truly “open” digital library look like
What might truly open access to and use of an online digital library look like
What might online, digital publishing and access look like going forward
Are all of these the same? Within the open environment what is closed?
Intellectual Freedom = Unrestricted Access to Information + No Monitoring of Use (MarcEPIC)
Payment of processing (author) fees to publishers of journals and monographs
How could the proposed Google Books settlement change the landscape for alternative projects like the Internet Archive? How should such projects adapt so as to remain a viable alternative? "

Post-deadline Submissions

How can we ensure that digital libraries maintain the same privacy protections that non-digital libraries have worked hard to build and preserve?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Podcast: Google's Alexander Macgillivray on the Google Book Search Settlement; YouTube, 7/21/09

Podcast [1 hr. 11 min. 33 sec.]: Google's Alexander Macgillivray on the Google Book Search Settlement; 7/21/09 Lecture at Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University:

"The proposed Google Book Search settlement creates the opportunity for unprecedented access by the public, scholars, libraries and others to a digital library containing millions of books assembled by major research libraries. But the settlement is controversial, in large part because this access is limited in major ways: instead of being truly open, this new digital library will be controlled by a single company, Google, and a newly created Book Rights Registry consisting of representatives of authors and publishers; it will include millions of so-called orphan works that cannot legally be included in any competing digitization and access effort, and it will be available to readers only in the United States. Alexander Macgillivray, Deputy General Counsel for Products and Intellectual Property at Google (and soon to be General Counsel of Twitter) chats about the Google Book Search Settlement, its intricacies, pros, and cons, and responds to provocative questions and comments."

Judge rejects fair use defense as Tenenbaum P2P trial begins; Ars Technica, 7/27/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; Judge rejects fair use defense as Tenenbaum P2P trial begins: Hours before the second P2P file-sharing trial in the US gets underway, the judge finally rules that defendant Joel Tenenbaum cannot claim "fair use" in the case. The proposed defense would be "so broad it would swallow the copyright protections that Congress has created," she wrote:

"There will be no fair use defense for Joel Tenenbaum at trial this week...

That won't happen, because Judge Gertner this morning granted the record labels' request for summary judgment on the issue of fair use. Noting that defendants only have the right to a jury trial when there are material facts in dispute, Gertner went on to point out that Tenenbaum has admitted to the activity in question and that she may therefore rule on the issue of fair use as a matter of law...

Gertner has been no fan of the labels' litigation campaign, telling industry lawyers in the past that they were "basically bankrupting people, and it's terribly critical that you stop it."

But that hasn't stopped her from taking on Team Tenenbaum's attempt to eviscerate copyright. As Nesson wrote in his pretrial outline of the case, "the idea of imposing law on the global ocean of free bits that has flooded into cyberspace is a gross and harmful over-extension of the power of the state and authority of the law." Gertner, whatever her own feelings on these kinds of cases, sees clearly that such claims amount to abolition of copyright in the digital age and are at odds with the law as currently written."

Amazon Faces a Fight Over Its E-Books; New York Times, 7/27/09

Brad Stone via New York Times; Amazon Faces a Fight Over Its E-Books:

"A growing number of civil libertarians and customer advocates wants Amazon to fundamentally alter its method for selling Kindle books, lest it be forced to one day change or recall books, perhaps by a judge ruling in a defamation case — or by a government deciding a particular work is politically damaging or embarrassing.

“As long as Amazon maintains control of the device it will have this ability to remove books and that means they will be tempted to use it or they will be forced to it,” said Holmes Wilson, campaigns manager of the Free Software Foundation.

The foundation, based in Boston, is soliciting signatures from librarians, publishers and major authors and public intellectuals. This week it plans to present a petition to Amazon asking it to give up control over the books people load on their Kindles, and to reconsider its use of the software called digital rights management, or D.R.M. The software allows the company to maintain strict control over the copies of electronic books on its reader and also prevents other companies from selling material for the device.

Two years after Amazon first introduced the Kindle and lighted a fire under the e-books market, there is increasing awareness of how traditional libraries of paper and ink differ from those made of bits and bytes. The D.R.M. in Amazon’s Kindle books, backed up by license agreements with copyright holders, prevents customers from copying or reselling Kindle books — the legal right of “first sale” that is guaranteed to owners of regular books.

D.R.M. has created a new dynamic between consumers and the vendors of digital media like books and movies. People do not so much own, but rent this media. And the rental agreement can be breached by the manufacturer at any time, sometime with little or no notice.
People are also worried that the very architecture of network-connected devices like the Kindle, TiVo or iPod give tech companies unprecedented control over digital media and by extension, the free exchange of ideas.

Once upon a time, retailers sold customers a product and then walked away after the transaction. Today’s specialized devices often keep an umbilical cord to their vendor, loading updates and offering convenient ways to make purchases. These devices also limit the extent to which people can load independent software and customize their experiences.

Such tethered systems provide significant advantages to the consumer. Companies can keep their own records of what people buy and restore the content if it is inadvertently lost. Device software can be kept up to date, and vendors can track what people buy and make personalized recommendations for new material they might like.

Randal C. Picker, a law professor at the University of Chicago, says he thinks Amazon was right to delete the improperly sold versions of “1984” and argues such systems can also allow companies to better enforce copyright laws. He notes that the harm to the Orwell book buyers was minimal, since their money was refunded after copies were deleted from their Kindles.

“Because copyright infringement was poor and lax in the offline world, it should also be that way in the online world? I don’t understand that logic,” Mr. Picker said. “The whole point of moving online is that it creates new opportunities.”

But critics say that any device capable of interfering with how its owner uses media is potentially dangerous. “I worry that systems like these tethered appliances are gifts to regulators,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and author of the book, “The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It.” Mr. Zittrain predicts that governments in some parts of the world will want to use it “like a line item veto for content,” removing objectionable sentences or chapters in some books.

“It could happen first in jurisdictions like the United Kingdom, where there isn’t as rich a First Amendment tradition and where libel suits happen much more frequently,” he said.

Whether or not people are bothered by these possibilities may in part be a function of their age, as a new generation grows up with an implicit understanding of the rules around these networked devices and learns to live with them.

“I’d like to live in a perfect world where I own this content and can do whatever I want with it,” said Justin Gawronski, a high school student whose copy of “1984” was erased by Amazon, but who recently declined when a lawyer asked him to join a class-action lawsuit over the incident. Mr. Gawronski said, “This is probably going to happen again and we just have to learn to live with it.”"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Google Books causes concern; Boston Globe, 7/24/09

D.C. Denison via Boston Globe; Google Books causes concern: Digital library’s growth has some worried it may be building a monopoly:

"Dan Clancy makes librarians nervous.

When the Google Books engineering director participated in a panel discussion at the Boston Public Library this week, his opening remarks focused on the search engine’s efforts to enable access for “every kid in Arkansas’’ to Harvard-size digital libraries. But soon afterward, he was hearing from librarians on the panel that they felt “queasy’’ about Google Books...

Google is creating a mega bookstore the likes of which we have never seen,’’ said the panel organizer Maura Marx, executive director of Open Knowledge Commons, a Boston nonprofit organization. “People are very uncomfortable with the idea that one corporation has so much power over such a large collection of knowledge.’’

A growing concern, which was raised during the library panel, is that Google will end up with monopolistic control of access to millions of scanned digital books. This concern was heightened when Google negotiated a settlement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, groups that represent authors and publishers, after they sued Google to stop the search company from digitizing books."

Cracking Down, Antitrust Chief Hits Resistance; New York Times, 7/25/09

Stephen Labaton via New York Timesl; Cracking Down, Antitrust Chief Hits Resistance:

"President Obama’s top antitrust official and some senior Democratic lawmakers are preparing to rein in a host of major industries, including airline and railroad giants, moving so aggressively that they are finding some resistance from officials within the administration.

The official, Christine A. Varney, the antitrust chief at the Justice Department, has begun examining complaints by the phone companies Verizon and AT&T that their rivals — major cable operators like Cablevision and Cox Communications — improperly prevent them from buying sports shows and other programs that the cable companies produce, industry lawyers said...

Ms. Varney has also challenged agreements that the Federal Trade Commission and consumer groups say discourage pharmaceutical companies from marketing more generic drugs. And she is examining a settlement between Google and book publishers and authors to make more books available online."

Author Appeals Injunction Against Salinger Sequel; New York Times Arts Beat Blog, 7/24/09

Dave Itzkoff via New York Times Arts Beat Blog; Author Appeals Injunction Against Salinger Sequel:

"Judge Deborah A. Batts of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled that the book was not a protected parody or commentary, and that it infringed on Mr. Salinger’s copyrights.

In court papers filed Thursday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, lawyers for Mr. Colting wrote that “60 Years Later” is “a complex and undeniably transformative comment on one of our nation’s most famous authors,” adding: “Had this commentary and criticism been published as an essay, a dissertation or an academic article, there is no doubt that it never would have been enjoined.”

The appeals filing can be read in its entirety below:

Salinger Case Defendants 2ndCir Brief 7-23-09

Friday, July 24, 2009

AP setting up tracking system for Web content; Associated Press, 7/23/09

Michael Liedtke via Associated Press; AP setting up tracking system for Web content:

"The Associated Press is moving ahead with plans for a system to detect unlicensed use of its content and potentially create new ways for the 163-year-old news cooperative and other media to make more money on the Internet.

As part of a strategy approved Thursday by the AP's board, the cooperative will start by bundling its text stories in an "informational wrapper" that will include a built-in beacon to monitor where stories go on the Internet.

The beacon is meant to be a policing device aimed at deterring Web sites from posting AP content without paying licensing fees. The AP and its member newspapers contend unlicensed use of their material is costing them tens of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue...

Although the AP's new system is set up to guard copyrights, it could also raise privacy concerns."

ALA Conference 2009: From the Harry Potter Case to the Right to Write Fund; Library Journal, 7/22/09

Norman Oder via Library Journal; ALA Conference 2009: From the Harry Potter Case to the Right to Write Fund: Copyright ruling spawns revamped book, new support for derivative works:

"“RDR publisher Roger Rapoport, speaking at a Washington Office update at the American Library Association annual conference on July 11, described the Right to Write Fund, which he heads, as working closely with ALA. The organization “has been created so no one else has to go through what my company went through,” he said suggesting that the Copyright Act passed in 1976 spawned a new industry of lawyers that challenge reference books.

The fund aims to answer questions from writers and librarians, providing advice an assistance. Stanford Law School, along with Harvard Law School, have trained pro bono lawyers; Stanford has found an insurance company that will write a policy—say, for a documentary film—as long as a lawyer associated with the fund has reviewed the project. The fund also will provide litigation support.

Most people think we lost the case,” Rapoport said, pointing to the larger meaning of the ruling, as expressed in an article for ALA and the Association of Research Libraries by attorney Jonathan Band, titled “How Fair Use Prevailed in the Harry Potter Case."

While author J.K. Rowling prevailed, the decision was based on specific facts unique to the case, such as lengthy verbatim copies of descriptions in the novels, and the addition of two short companion books Rowling wrote.

So federal Judge Robert Patterson’s decision left “ample room for the creation of reference guides to literary works,” Band wrote, suggesting that “The decision also provides a clear roadmap for how to avoid infringement claims.”

That, said Rapoport, is what Vander Ark and RDR did. “The author added 600 original commentaries,” Rapoport said, adding, “We benefited enormously from the fact that a lot of people in the library community and media realized that there was something wrong about trying to stop a reference book.”"

The Restless Giant (Lawsuit); James Grimmelmann's Laboratorium Blog, 7/23/09

James Grimmelmann's Laboratorium Blog; The Restless Giant (Lawsuit):

"The Google Book Search case appears to be gradually waking from its long summers’ nap. Objections and comments, which had slowed to a crawl in June and July, have started to pick up again...

There’s also been a sudden spike of activity on the policy front. Three essays of note have crossed my radar.

First, the EFF launched today a privacy campaign targeted at Google, asking it to commit to reader privacy protections as part of implementing the settlement. They’ve sent a letter to Google’s Eric Schmidt laying out their concern...

Second, Bernard Lang, a French computer scientist with an interest in digital copyright, has written a paper on the settlement from an international perspective, with special emphasis on orphan works. He assesses the settlement against the “three-step test” for assessing whether national exceptions and limitations on copyright are permissible under international copyright treaties...

Third, David Balto, a fellow at the Center for America Progress and a prominent antitrust attorney, has a long post at the American Constitution Society’s blog responding to my Issue Brief on the settlement. He critiques my analysis of the antitrust risks and praises the settlement".

Expanding Access to Books: Implications of the Google Books Settlement Agreement; MIT PressLog, 7/23/09

MIT PressLog; Expanding Access to Books: Implications of the Google Books Settlement Agreement:

"On Wednesday, the Boston Public Library hosted a lively panel on the Google Book Search settlement, the approval for which is currently in the hands of the court. Authors, librarians, publishers, scholars, and other stakeholders packed the Rabb Lecture Hall to hear firsthand about the particulars of the settlement and how it would impact them."

The Google Books settlement and privacy: frequently asked questions; Inside Google Books Blog, 7/23/09

Inside Google Books Blog; The Google Books settlement and privacy: frequently asked questions:

"The following are some questions we've heard about privacy and Google's proposed settlement agreement with authors and publishers, which is still subject to approval by the court. We've addressed many of them here, and may update this document as our product plans evolve. For more on privacy and the agreement, take a look at our blog post. "

Legal advocates push for Google Books privacy; CNet News, 7/23/09

Elinor Mills via CNet News; Legal advocates push for Google Books privacy:

"Google should promise to protect the privacy of consumers with its Book Search service, the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Samuelson Law Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley Law said in a letter to the search giant on Thursday.

"Under its current design, Google Book Search keeps track of what books readers search for and browse, what books they read, and even what they 'write' down in the margins," the groups wrote in a letter (PDF) to Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt.

"Given the long and troubling history of government and third-party efforts to compel libraries and booksellers to turn over records about readers, it is essential that Google Books incorporate strong privacy protections in both the architecture and policies of Google Book Search," the letter said. "Without these, Google Books could become a one-stop shop for government and civil-litigant fishing expeditions into the private lives of Americans.""

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amazon Chief Says Erasing Orwell Books Was ‘Stupid’; New York Times Bits Blog, 7/23/09

Vindu Goel via New York Times Bits Blog; Amazon Chief Says Erasing Orwell Books Was ‘Stupid’:

"On Thursday, Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, posted a statement on a customer forum, publicly apologizing for his company’s handling of the situation:

“This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of ‘1984′ and other novels on Kindle. Our ’solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.”

10 sites to help you navigate the new world of music;, 7/23/09

John D. Sutter via; 10 sites to help you navigate the new world of music:

"Online music is confusing these days.

Web sites are giving people new ways to find and enjoy music.

It's hard to tell what's legal when once-defunct sites like KaZaA and Napster --former bastions of illegal downloads -- crawl out of the grave with legit subscription plans.

And digital music offerings are expanding.

Instead of buying CDs or downloading songs, younger consumers appear to be shifting toward streaming music online and on mobile devices.

That's partly because music streaming services like Pandora are largely free, and also because younger people aren't as tied to the idea that music must be owned to be enjoyed, said Russ Crupnick, a senior industry analyst at NPD Entertainment, which conducts market research.

In a survey released earlier this year, NPD Group found the number of teens streaming music online jumped from 34 percent in 2007 to 52 percent in 2008. CD sales and music downloads dropped over the same period.

It's unclear which online music models will survive, said John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange, the nonprofit that collects royalties for recording companies and artists.
But some music industry experts say the shifting landscape of digital music could help save struggling musicians and record companies.

Rich Bengloff, president of the American Association of Independent Music, said power is in the hands of consumers.

"To survive, music labels must get revenue from multiple sources, with the consumers deciding which of these sources they want to use to access music," he said in an e-mail. "These sources need to include streaming services like Pandora, SomaFM, Yahoo, etc. and subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody.

"These services are good for the industry as long as artists who create the music and the music labels that invest in that music creation receive fair compensation."

To help you sort through the many options, compiled a list of 10 sites that are rethinking how people access music on the Internet."

Why did Big Brother remove paid-for content from Amazon's Kindles?; Guardian, 7/22/09

Bobbie Johnson via Guardian; Why did Big Brother remove paid-for content from Amazon's Kindles?: Kindle users were left seething when Amazon removed paid-for content from their devices, while the Popfly and GeoCities services are to close. How did we lose control of the digital products we use?:

""Amazon offered a product, which I legally purchased, and had in my possession until their electronic burglar stole it from me," said another affected user. "Amazon has no right to go into my Kindle's memory and delete something without my knowledge or permission."

Why were people so offended? Customers weren't really angry about the gadget, or the legality of the booksin question – they were furious with the sleight of hand Amazon performed by secretly removing them from their machines. They were aggrieved because they thought they had bought the books when in fact, it turned out, they were merely renting them.

"We have long been concerned that digital rights management is essentially tricking people," says Cindy Cohn, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the campaign group based in San Francisco. "It's creating a situation where people think they've purchased something – in the way you might purchase a pair of shoes, for example. But from the perspective of the seller, and often from the perspective of the law, it's quite a lot less."

Digital wrongs

No wonder Amazon customers were so annoyed: it's as if they walked into a bookshop to pick up a new best-seller, only to discover later that the shop was actually a library and they had to give it back.

In the past, arguments over these sorts of issues have focused heavily on the use of digital rights management (DRM), the copy protection software that makes it difficult to rip DVDs to your computer, for example, even for personal use.

But the Kindle debacle is more than just book-banning or copyright infringement. There is something even more pernicious going on: not only do these systems restrict your ability to do what you want with your media – they also change the basic DNA of the thing you're purchasing.

So what exactly are we buying into these days?

"If you think of a book as a piece of data, the idea that you own it but then it can be zapped or taken away at any time – I think that's extremely counter-intuitive," says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of internet law at Harvard Law School, who has been watching the situation closely. "Yet it's the way the architecture can work, unless we build in protections."

In his 2008 book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, Zittrain warned that devices to store data and code are increasingly becoming information appliances that are controlled by the manufacturer, not the user – precisely the situation the Kindle has presented...

Ed Felten, professor of computer science at Princeton University, says the problem is a "lack of transparency".

"If customers had known this sort of thing were possible, they would have spoken up against it," he wrote on his blog, Freedom to Tinker."

Seizing mobile phones in cinemas will not win the war on piracy; Guardian, 7/22/09

Cory Doctorow via Guardian; Seizing mobile phones in cinemas will not win the war on piracy: Studios are concerned at critics pirating movies, but the data on the phones they are asked to surrender is far more sensitive:

"If you go to a preview screening in Leicester Square – a privilege given to press, entertainment industry VIPs and punters who win phone-in prizes – you'll be asked to leave your mobile phone in a bag behind a counter at the front of the cinema.

The film industry says this is a necessary precaution against the hypothetical losses that would result should someone use a mobile phone to "camcord" (record from the audience) a pre-release movie and leak it online. The film Wolverine (panned by 63% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes, which also reports a $177,288,905 box office gross to date) is often cited as an example of how a film can be harmed by pre-release leaks. Also cited is Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) research claiming the majority of pirate movies on the internet and sold on the street start as camcordered movies.

Which brings us to the other theoretical risk of leaving hundreds of phones in the safekeeping of a cinema, out of your sight for two or three hours. From sim cloning (copying the sim so other phones can listen to your voicemail and make calls billed to you) to data theft, the risks are enormous. Think of the data storage on your phone - that potential 64GB on a postage-stamp-sized SD card. That's enough to carry around libraries' worth of information. Add contact information - personal phone numbers for all the people in the lives of everyone at the movie, including ministers of state and other VIPs who are routinely invited to previews. Then consider confidential diaries, photos, voice memos, your search history ..."

German beer-hall yodel goes to court in Munich; Guardian, 7/23/09

Kate Connolly via Guardian; German beer-hall yodel goes to court in Munich:

"To the uninitiated it sounds rather like a cry for help from an Alpine goatherd who has trapped his hand in a barn door.

In the world of German folk music, however, it amounts to one of the most popular and lucrative refrains in the yodelling repertoire.

The money-spinning power of "horlla-rü-di-ri, di-ri, di-ri", the famous chorus of the Kufsteinlied, which is capable of making even the hardiest of lederhosen-clad Germans go weak at the knees, has been keenly felt this week in a Munich courtroom battle over who owns the copyright.

The heirs of Karl Ganzer, the Austrian composer of the 63-year-old beer-hall hit which is said to be Europe's most-played folk song, were yesterday successful in their attempts to sue the music publisher Egon Frauenberger, who claimed he had written the song's refrain and therefore had a right to a twelfth of the royalties.

The song is a staple of beer festival gatherings such as Munich's Oktoberfest as well as folk music shows which, because of their enduring popularity, are a mainstay of primetime television across the German-speaking world.

Royalties must be paid each time the song is performed in public."

Opinion: Justice Department's fear of Google book publishing is misplaced; San Jose Mercury News, 7/22/09

Jonathan Hillel via San Jose Mercury News; Opinion: Justice Department's fear of Google book publishing is misplaced:

"Many of the public comments decrying the settlement come from Google's largest competitors. The Internet Archive, which has scanned 1.5 million books to date, claims that Google will monopolize the market for orphaned texts. But the comments by the Archive and others ignore a crucial fact.

The fact that orphan works are out of print implies that these books have little if any market value, and publishers do not consider them profitable to sell. Therefore, they are only available at the few libraries that stock them. In this state, orphan works are unlikely to ever be rediscovered by the market or gain popularity.

Digitizing orphan works will make them available, but there is no guarantee they would acquire market value or earn a profit. Google is paying a high upfront cost for this gambit in both infrastructure investment and settlement payments.

Given all that investment, antitrust penalties on Google would allow its competitors to free-ride on its investment. Internet Archive President Peter Brantley has advocated requiring open access to the orphan works. In practice, that would mean that after Google pays to scan all orphan works, its competitors will be able to pick and choose which ones to offer...

Google is creating a market for orphan works and is making them available for widespread access. Antitrust interference will only distort market incentives and hinder the growth of this nascent sector."

Japanese e-library project could lose out to Google Book Search without government flex; Mainichi Daily News, 7/24/09

Op-Ed: Mainichi Daily News; Japanese e-library project could lose out to Google Book Search without government flex:

"Imagine being able to read and search all the books in the world on the Internet. Such convenience has taken a step closer to reality, thanks to U.S. search engine giant Google's new Book Search service. However, it may be too early to rejoice over the feat without reservation.

Under the U.S. copyright law's fair use provision, literary and other works can be used without right-holders' permission for public purposes, and Google's electronic library project is based on this provision. And, while it may serve the public good to allow people to use literary documents amassed at conventional libraries, U.S. publishers have opposed the publication of books on the Internet without their permission and brought the case into the court.

The lawsuit ended up in a settlement and, if the U.S. court approves the settlement, Google will be entitled to launch an e-library project for a fee for books the company deems out of print or unavailable in exchange for a royalty. The settlement, however, applies outside the U.S. as well, under international copyright protection conventions.

The case has wreaked havoc on book publishers worldwide since right-holders will be automatically incorporated into the settlement unless they specifically opt out.

In the meantime, Japan's National Diet Library (NDL) is also accelerating the digitization of its book collection. The move follows a recent revision to Japan's Copyright Law, allowing the NDL to digitize books without right-holders' permission, as well as a large budget increase for digitization of books under the supplementary budget.

However, one needs to obtain permission from individual right-holders before publicizing digitized books online in Japan. If things are left as is, Google is certain to become dominant in the e-library project.

There's also a concern from a cultural perspective. Since Google Book Search mainly deals with book collections at libraries in the U.S., search results would inevitably tend to show more books published in the U.S. It would not only help expand the influence of the English language but could also prompt further prevalence of American ways of thinking and interpretation around the world.

Digitization of books and their distribution on the Web is an issue that relates to the concept of soft power, with which countries aspire to gain a greater voice in the international community through attaining support for their unique culture and values.

Online distribution for a fee has already become common in the music industry. It is hoped that the Japanese government will flexibly proceed with legal revisions so as to facilitate online distribution of books' content in Japan, including the e-library project."

Copyright Office Proposes Rule Change Exempting Works Only Available Online from Mandatory Deposit; Law Librarian Blog, 7/22/09

Law Librarian Blog; Copyright Office Proposes Rule Change Exempting Works Only Available Online from Mandatory Deposit:

"The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress is proposing to amend its regulations governing mandatory deposit of electronic works published in the United States and available only online. The amendments would establish that such works are exempt from mandatory deposit until a demand for deposit of copies of such works is issued by the Copyright Office. From the notice of proposed rulemaking, 74 Fed. Reg. 34286 (July 15, 2009):

This notice proposes that the current section 202.19(c)(5) exemption be amended so that all electronic works published in the United States and available only online enjoy a qualified exemption from mandatory deposit, which would mean that any work in this class is exempt until the Copyright Office issues a demand for its deposit. This revised exemption would apply to all published electronic works available only online. It would apply to serials, monographs, sound recordings, automated databases, and all other categories of electronic works. Furthermore, because the revised exemption would apply exclusively to published online-only works, there will be no need to retain the current list of machine-readable works in physical formats to which the exemption does not apply. It is important to emphasize, however, that the revised exemption would not apply to those works published in both physical and online formats. These works, because they are not published ``only''online, were never exempted from mandatory deposit."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'U' teams with Amazon to make 400,000 rare books available; Michigan Daily, 7/21/09

AP via Michigan Daily; 'U' teams with Amazon to make 400,000 rare books available:

"The University of Michigan said Tuesday it is teaming up with Inc. to offer reprints of 400,000 rare, out-of-print and out-of-copyright books from its library. Seattle-based Amazon's BookSurge unit will print the books on demand in soft cover editions at prices from $10 to $45...

The books in the Michigan-Amazon deal do not have copyright protection and are in the public domain, so no royalty payments go to the author or original publisher...

"Public and university libraries are seeing the benefits of print-on-demand as an economic and environmentally conscious way to support their missions of preserving and making rare or out-of-copyright material broadly available to the public," [BookSurge spokeswoman Amanda] Wilson said.

University of Michigan libraries Dean Paul Courant said the arrangement means "books unavailable for a century or more will be able to go back into print, one copy at a time.""

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Writer's Tale; Wall Street Journal, 7/20/09

L. Gordon Crovitz via Wall Street Journal; A Writer's Tale: Mark Helprin doesn't think his words ought to be free:

"Novelist Mark Helprin couldn't have made up what happened after an op-ed article he wrote for the New York Times in 2007 urging stronger protection for copyright. He thought this was a topic of interest only to publishing houses, authors and copyright lawyers. Instead, within a week there were 750,000 comments online criticizing him for wanting to extend authors' rights beyond the current 70 years, many of them opposing any copyright protection at all.

As Mr. Helprin read through many of the blog posts and other comments, he was taken aback to see that so many people opposed the centuries-old and constitutionally protected right of authors to the proceeds of their work. His newest book, "Digital Barbarism," is a sharp polemic on how the Internet makes information accessible but also creates a view among some of the digerati that what is easily accessed has little value and deserves little protection."

Jackson Browne, Republicans Settle Copyright Case; Billboard, 7/21/09

Gary Graff via Billboard; Jackson Browne, Republicans Settle Copyright Case:

"Jackson Browne is hopeful that the protection of music copyrights will be bolstered by the settlement of his lawsuit against U.S. Sen. John McCain and the Republican Party over unauthorized use of one of his songs in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.

Last August Browne sued McCain, the Ohio Republican Party and the Republican National Committee for copyright infringement, false endorsement and violating his right of publicity after his 1977 hit "Running On Empty" was used without permission in a McCain campaign ad that aired on TV and the Internet."

Barnes & Noble Plans an Extensive E-Bookstore; New York Times, 7/21/09

Motoko Rich via New York Times; Barnes & Noble Plans an Extensive E-Bookstore:

"In an announcement on Monday, Barnes & Noble said that it would offer more than 700,000 books that could be read on a wide range of devices, including Apple’s iPhone, the BlackBerry and various laptop or desktop computers. When Barnes & Noble acquired Fictionwise in March, that online retailer had about 60,000 books in its catalog.

More than 500,000 of the books now offered electronically on can be downloaded free, through an agreement with Google to provide electronic versions of public domain books that Google has scanned from university libraries. Sony announced a similar deal in March to offer the public domain books on its Reader device.

Barnes & Noble is promoting its e-bookstore as the world’s largest, an implicit stab at, which offers about 330,000 for its Kindle device. Currently, Google’s public domain books cannot be read on a Kindle."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tenenbaum circus enters big top next week; what to expect; Ars Technica, 7/20/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; Tenenbaum circus enters big top next week; what to expect: The second US trial of a file swapping defendant begins next Monday in Boston. Ars previews the arguments to be used by graduate student Joel Tenenbaum and by the recording industry:

"The second full trial of a US peer-to-peer file swapper begins next week. Sublimeguy14@KaZaA (aka Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston College grad student) will make his way through the marble corridors of Boston's federal courthouse next Monday to face a set of RIAA lawyers who are fresh from a $1.92 million victory in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case and eager to go 2-0 in such prosecutions.

But Tenenbaum has a secret weapon—Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who will argue that the 816 songs in Tenenbaum's KaZaA share folder back in 2004 were simply a "fair use" of the recording industry's protected work."

Wikipedia May Be a Font of Facts, but It’s a Desert for Photos; New York Times, 7/20/09

Noam Cohen via New York Times; Wikipedia May Be a Font of Facts, but It’s a Desert for Photos:

"At a time when celebrities typically employ a team of professionals to control their images, Wikipedia is a place where chaos rules. Few high-quality photographs, particularly of celebrities, make it onto this site. This is because the site runs only pictures with the most permissive Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to use an image, for commercial purposes or not, as long as the photographer is credited...

Last winter the German Federal Archives released 100,000 low-resolution digital copies under a license so they could appear on Wikipedia. Recently a Wikipedia user, Derrick Coetzee, downloaded more than 3,000 high-resolution photographs from the British National Portrait Gallery — to serve, in essence, as the head shots for important historical figures like Charlotte Brontë or Charles Darwin.

The gallery threatened legal action against Mr. Coetzee, saying that while the painted portraits may be old and thus beyond copyright protection, the photographs are new and therefore copyrighted work. The gallery is demanding a response by Monday from Mr. Coetzee, who is being represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In an e-mail message on Friday a gallery spokeswoman, Eleanor Macnair, wrote that “contact has now been made” with the Wikimedia Foundation and “we remain hopeful that a dialogue will be possible.”

But none of this has made much of an improvement in Wikipedia’s photography. Any gallery of hideous Wikipedia photographs would include the former N.B.A. star George Gervin, who is standing stiffly in a suit in a shot that is cropped longer and thinner than would be typical even for a basketball player. The unrestricted photograph came from the office of Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has been cut out of it.

As in Mr. Gervin’s case, the government is a prime source for public domain photographs...

“To me the problem is the Wikipedia rule of public use,” Mr. Avenaim said. “If they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow photographers to maintain the copyright.”"

Canada set to try again on new copyright law; Washington Post, 7/

Randall Palmer via Washington Post; Canada set to try again on new copyright law:

"The U.S. Trade Representative fingered Canada in April, putting it on its priority watch list because of growing concerns about what it sees as weak protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

There is always a struggle between pleasing copyright holders and users, a balance that tries to recognize the modern reality of an increasingly tech-savvy population while not eliminating ownership rights protection for companies and artists."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Net pirates face three-strikes rule; Sydney Morning Herald, 7/16/09

Ashe Moses via Sydney Morning Herald; Net pirates face three-strikes rule:

"People who are caught repeatedly downloading movies, music and TV shows illegally would have their internet disconnected under legislative changes being considered by the [Australian]Federal Government.

The movie and music industries have been pushing ISPs to implement this "three-strikes" scheme voluntarily for years but talks have stalled...

The three-strikes scheme has been proposed in both France and New Zealand, but both countries dropped the proposal after a public backlash.

This week both France and New Zealand reintroduced new, modified three-strikes proposals with enhanced judicial oversight.

Britain is also reportedly considering three-strikes legislation, and the British Government outlined a goal of reducing unlawful file sharing by 70-80 per cent by 2011 in its Digital Britain report, released last month."

That pesky checklist; Scholarly Communications @ Duke Blog, 7/19/09

Kevin Smith via Scholarly Communications @ Duke Blog; That pesky checklist:

"The recent flurry of activity in the copyright infringement lawsuit brought by publishers against Georgia State University has focused attention – mine, at least – on the “Fair Use Checklist” that has been adopted for use in quite a number of college and university copyright policies."

Future of Newspapers: Profitless? Go Wireless; Wired's Duel Perspectives Blog, 7/14/09

Douglas Wolk via Wired's Duel Perspectives Blog; Future of Newspapers: Profitless? Go Wireless:

"The Wall Street Journal's publisher Les Hinton has called Google a "digital vampire," but even his paper, one of the last holdouts of subscription-based online content, has made its articles' full text accessible via Google searches. Using free content as bait for paying customers doesn't work for newspapers. And the revenue from internet advertising is less a stream than a dribble — nowhere near enough to support a robust paper (or paperless paper) on its own.

Still, there's a crucial distinction that might yet save news organizations. Users are pretty clearly uninterested in paying for content on the open internet, but what they are, in practice, willing to pay for is mobile content...

One possible future of news as a commodity is hyperlocal information — the sort of thing that's already becoming popularized by services like Yelp, whose incarnation as an iPhone app offers directions to nearby restaurants and services, complete with with user reviews."

Music Industry Lures ‘Casual’ Pirates to Legal Sites; New York Times, 7/19/09

Eric Pfanner via New York Times; Music Industry Lures ‘Casual’ Pirates to Legal Sites:

"Record company executives say there are three kinds of music fans. There are those who buy music, and those who get a kick out of never paying for it. And then there are those whom Rob Wells at Universal Music Group calls “dinner party pirates”: the vast majority of listeners, those who copy music illegally because it is more convenient than buying it.

If those low-level copyright cheats could be converted to using legal music services, the digital music business would get much-needed help. Yet even industry executives acknowledge that until recently, they were not giving those listeners many ways to do what they wanted: to sample new music and to play it back anytime, at little or no cost."

Were we smarter 100 years ago..?; James Boyle's Public Domain Blog, 7/17/09

James Boyle's Public Domain Blog; Were we smarter 100 years ago..?:

"I have been rereading the legislative history of the 1909 Copyright Act. I have come to the conclusion that 100 years ago we were smarter about copyright, about disruptive technologies, about intellectual property, monopolies and network effects than we are today. At least, the legislative hearings were much smarter. The hearings I am looking at took place in 1906 — thanks to the wonder of Google books you can read them yourself, if you are really nerdy."

Stamps, Sculpture and Free Expression; Stanford Center for Internet and Society, 7/15/09

Anthony Falzone via Stanford Center for Internet and Society; Stamps, Sculpture and Free Expression:

"We filed an amicus brief today in Gaylord v. U.S., a potentially important but little-noticed fair use case on appeal in the Federal Circuit. We filed it on behalf of the Andy Warhol Foundation, and several other amici, including the Warhol Museum, contemporary artists Barbara Kruger, Thomas Lawson, Jonathan Monk, and Allen Ruppersberg, and a variety of law professors who care about the extent to which copyright promotes and protects free expression.

One of the important questions the case presents is whether this stamp makes fair use of the statue that appears in it. The image you see is a photograph of a sculpture taken at dawn in a snowstorm. The sculpture itself is called The Column, and is part of the Korean War Veterans' Memorial in Washington DC. It features nineteen larger-than-life soldiers arranged in two columns, representing a platoon of soldiers on patrol in the Korean War. The Postal Service got permission to use the photograph that appears on the stamp, but not the column depicted in it, so the sculptor sued the Postal Service for infringing his copyrights in the sculpture.

One of the important questions this case presents is whether and to what extent an artists has the right to use existing imagery to create new artistic expression. We think fair use does and should protect this right, which is crucial to huge amounts of expression, including vast amounts of modern art. We submitted an amicus brief because we thought the Federal Circuit should hear the views of those who create, promote and defend that art."

Amazon Kindle users surprised by 'Big Brother' move; Guardian, 7/17/09

Bobbie Johnson via Guardian; Amazon Kindle users surprised by 'Big Brother' move:

"It is not the first time that Amazon has removed titles that were produced in breach of copyright and sold illegally through its store. Examples include pirated copies of Twilight books by Stephanie Meyer, Harry Potter books and the works of novelist Ayn Rand.

Although the work of Orwell - who died in 1950 - has entered the public domain in some countries, it is not yet free of copyright restrictions in the United States or Europe.

Although Amazon is believed to be in negotiations with a number of European mobile manufacturers to support the Kindle, the device has only gone in sale in the US. This means that any copy produced for it would need to have been officially licensed by the Orwell Estate - which has been careful to protect its rights in the past."

How not to defend newspapers; Guardian, 7/15/09

Dan Kennedy via Guardian; How not to defend newspapers:

"How badly did the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Ted Diadiun screw up in his now-infamous video in which he disparaged bloggers as "pipsqueaks", wrongly claimed that blogs steal content and hailed newspapers as the only legitimate source of journalism?...

Diadiun is the Plain Dealer's "reader representative", a position roughly analogous to those held by New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt and Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander. That is, he is the paper's in-house critic, fielding complaints and comments from readers...

Diadiun's downfall began with a colleague's bad idea. On 5 July, he wrote approvingly of a column by Connie Schultz in which she promoted a proposal to change the copyright law. The proposal – similar to one advanced by federal appeals-court judge Richard Posner – would ban bloggers and aggregators from linking to copyrighted content without permission for 24 hours after publication...

He did stick to his guns on the need for news organisations to get paid for their content. On that many of us would agree – though the copyright revision of which he and Schultz are so enamoured is stunningly awful, and possibly a violation of the first amendment."

Indonesian Artists Refuse Copyright As Being Against Their Religious Beliefs; Tech Dirt, 7/17/09

Mike Masnick via Tech Dirt; Indonesian Artists Refuse Copyright As Being Against Their Religious Beliefs:

"Boing Boing points us to a story about how some batik-makers in Java, Indonesia are resisting attempts by the gov't to have them copyright their designs. The local government is warning the designers that without copyrighting, the designs others could copy them and claim them as their own, but the designers have a religious objection to the idea:

"They believe that each time they create something, it is not they who worked, but it is God who worked through their human body and soul," Gunawan said. "Being grateful [to God] is sufficient for them."

What's funny, then, is to see the politicians fret about this, worrying how people in Malaysia might copyright the design first and "there is little that we can do." Except... if the designers don't care, what needs to be done? If someone else profits from it, so what? How does that harm the original designer?"

‘Drop Internet Issues From ACTA, Add Public Interest’; Intellectual Property Watch, 7/17/09

Intellectual Property Watch; ‘Drop Internet Issues From ACTA, Add Public Interest’:

"Nine organisations representing the technology industry, libraries, digital rights and privacy interests have sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging that issues related to the internet be dropped from negotiations for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). They also demanded that in the secretive ACTA negotiation, negotiating documents be made available to those representing the public interest, and that advisory committees be created to include civil society and internet-related industry interests.

The demands are based on information that rights holders alone have had access to the negotiating texts, and the fact that leaked versions of the draft treaty text showed ACTA “could harm a significant portion of the economy as well as consumer interests.” USTR officials, who have claimed the talks are transparent, are at an undisclosed location in Morocco on 16-17 July for the latest round of closed-door negotiations of the plurilateral treaty.

The 14 July letter is available here [pdf]."

Why Amazon went Big Brother on some Kindle e-books; Ars Technica, 7/17/09

Ken Fisher via Ars Technica; Why Amazon went Big Brother on some Kindle e-books:

"As it turns out, the books in question were being sold by Amazon despite being unauthorized copies. The works weren't legit. It was all copywrong. In other words, Amazon was selling bad books. Hot letters. Pilfered paragraphs.

MobileReference, the publisher in question, formats and sells public domain books on Amazon. The only problem is that George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 are not yet in the public domain, at least not in the US. According to Amazon's statement to Ars Technica, "These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books." When the publisher informed Amazon of this, Amazon moved to rectify the situation. The two books are no longer listed on MobleReference's website, either.

But does Amazon's Terms of Service even allow for this kind of “rectification”? Peter Kafka examined the ToS and believes that there is no backing for this move. The ToS makes it sound as if all sales are final:

Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

One possible loophole would be in the licensing: Amazon cannot license to you something for which it has no rights to license. Also, we suspect that some indemnification clauses in the third party contracts also put the publisher, not Amazon, on the hook for possible infringement problems."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle; New York Times, 7/17/09

Brad Stone via New York Times; Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle:

"Amazon’s published terms of service agreement for the Kindle does not appear to give the company the right to delete purchases after they have been made. It says Amazon grants customers the right to keep a “permanent copy of the applicable digital content.”

Retailers of physical goods cannot, of course, force their way into a customer’s home to take back a purchase, no matter how bootlegged it turns out to be. Yet Amazon appears to maintain a unique tether to the digital content it sells for the Kindle.

“It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. “As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow.”

Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said.

On the Internet, of course, there is no such thing as a memory hole. While the copyright on “1984” will not expire until 2044 in the United States, it has already expired in other countries, including Canada, Australia and Russia. Web sites in those countries offer digital copies of the book free to all comers."

Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others; New York Times, 7/17/09

Pogue's Posts via New York Times; Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others:

"This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.

This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is “rare,” but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.

As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.

You want to know the best part? The juicy, plump, dripping irony?

The author who was the victim of this Big Brotherish plot was none other than George Orwell. And the books were “1984” and “Animal Farm.