Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hackers Claim Victory in Cracking Amazon Kindle DRM; PC World, 12/23/09

Jeremy Kirk, IDG News World, via PC World; Hackers Claim Victory in Cracking Amazon Kindle DRM:

"'s Kindle e-book reader is coming under assault by hackers, who say they've figured out ways to export protected content for use on other devices.

Amazon sells content for the Kindle in an ".azw" format, some of which is has DRM (digital rights management) technology, which prevents a file from being transferred to an unauthorized device.
But one hacker, who goes by the handle "I love cabbages," with a heart to designate "love," developed a program called "Unswindle" that can convert books stored in the Kindle for PC application into a different file format that can then be imported to another device. Unswindle must be used with MobiDeDRM, another hacker program that can convert protected Amazon content.
The blogger wrote that a new version of Kindle for PC doesn't appear to interfere with Unswindle.

"We'll see if Amazon throws out another new build in short order," I love cabbages wrote on Tuesday in an update to a Dec. 17 blog post.

According to comments on the blog, some people found Unswindle worked while others encountered errors.

"I've been aching for someone to un-DRM Kindle4PC," wrote a user who goes by the name Lance." "A few of my textbooks for this semester and next are only available on Kindle and dead tree. I have an e-ink reader already so don't want to buy a Kindle, but the $10 Kindle book is so much better than a $30 paper book, not to mention it's reflowable and I can more easily make it fit my eSlick's screen."

Along the same lines, an Israeli programmer claims to have also reached the same end although by different means."

E-Book Piracy: The Publishing Industry's Next Epic Saga?; PC World, 12/

Tom Spring, PC World; E-Book Piracy: The Publishing Industry's Next Epic Saga?:

With the rise of e-book readers like the Kindle, Sony Reader, and Nook comes the scourge of the digital world: pirates.

"Compared with music piracy, illicit e-books are not nearly as widespread or as easy to acquire. Pirates must be determined to track down specific e-book titles. Pirated e-book files (usually available as PDFs) can sometimes be poorly reproduced, and are sometimes made up of scanned page images--not text.

Publishers Stuck Between a Digital Rock and a Hard Place

Worries of piracy have kept many publishers and authors, most notably J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, from embracing the e-book format. They fear that e-book files protected by digital rights management (DRM) technology could be hacked anyway. However, refusing to take advantage of the e-book format can sometimes backfire and drive piracy, says consumer technology analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group.

For a relatively small amount of money, pirates can convert any hard-copy book into an unprotected text file, even if a legitimate electronic book is never created, Enderle says. "This fear of electronic piracy is actually fueling the piracy movement," he says.

That's what happened with Rowling's works. Even though Rowling's publisher, Scholastic Books, doesn't currently offer any Harry Potter titles in e-book format, hackers have scanned all of the books and turned them into PDF files that are viewable on any e-reader.

"If electronic books can't be had legitimately, others will step in and fill the need; and once a pirate industry is established, it probably won't go away easily," says Enderle. The best way for the publishing industry to combat piracy is to follow the music industry's lead and make more e-book titles available.

Publishers have been producing more digital editions for their books, and revenues are up."

The e-book, the e-reader, and the future of reading; Christian Science Monitor, 12/21/09

Matthew Shaer, Christian Science Monitor; The e-book, the e-reader, and the future of reading:

As stone tablets gave way the codex, the future of reading is digital – but will the e-reader and the e-book change the nature of how we read?

"Jeremy Manore, an 18-year-old from central New Jersey, subscribes to several magazines and reads books constantly – John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald are among his favorite writers. When he came home from his elite Massachusetts boarding school for Thanksgiving, Jeremy brought three books to read, his mother, Sandy Manore, says. But he wasn’t carting heavy volumes in a backpack.

Instead, he’d checked out a Kindle – a wireless reading device – from his school library, and downloaded the books he wanted to read. Jeremy’s school, Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., is the first in the US to digitize its entire collection. This fall, it began moving its 20,000-volume library aside to make room for a “learning center,” complete with laptop study stations and a fleet of new e-readers with access to millions of digitized books...

The furor over the digitization of Cushing – whose bruised administration refused to speak to the Monitor – is a taste of what’s to come as a new future of reading shapes up. The year 2010 is widely seen as a tipping point when the e-book, once an avant-garde oddity, begins to supplant the hidebound codex. As Mr. Tracy noted, this transition, sweeping in scale, recalls nothing less than the move from stone tablets and scrolls to the bound volume.

Already, the number of electronic texts is expanding exponentially, changing the very way we interact with the written word. Sony sells about 100,000 e-book titles through its online store; Barnes & Noble, a million; Amazon, 360,000. Book Search, an initiative headed by Google, has scanned more than 10 million texts since 2004. The Dostoevsky canon can now be searched the same way you search for the nearest Chinese restaurant."

"Star Trek" The Most - Pirated Film Of 2009; New York Times, 12/

Reuters, via New York Times; "Star Trek" The Most - Pirated Film Of 2009:

"Paramount's worst fears are confirmed: "Star Trek" was the most pirated film of 2009, according to a new report.

In October, the studio told the Federal Communications Commission that "Star Trek" had become a hot commodity in piracy circles. Illegal file-sharing had advanced from "geek to sleek," Frederick Huntsberry, the studio's chief operating officer, told officials.

Now, according to data from TorrentFreak, "Star Trek" was downloaded nearly 11 million times this past year, just edging "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (10.6 million). The films were among the biggest of the year at the box office.

At the other end of the box-office scale, "Sherlock Holmes" director Guy Ritchie's "RocknRolla" ranked No. 3. It grossed less than $26 million worldwide.

Interestingly, for all the fuss about the "Wolverine" leak, the film came in at No. 9 with 7.2 million. The FBI earlier this month charged a man with violation of federal copyright law, alleging he uploaded the film to the Web last spring.

The list was rounded out by "The Hangover" (No. 4), "Twilight" (No. 5), "District 9" (No. 6), "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (No. 7), "State of Play" (No. 8), and "Knowing" (No. 10)."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Le Guin accuses Authors Guild of 'deal with the devil'; Guardian, 12/25/09

Alison Flood, Guardian; Le Guin accuses Authors Guild of 'deal with the devil':

Ursula K Le Guin has resigned from the writers' organisation in protest at settlement with Google over digitisation

"Ursula K Le Guin has accused the Authors Guild of selling authors "down the river" in the Google settlement and has resigned from the US writers' body in protest after almost 40 years' membership.

In a strongly-worded letter of resignation the award-winning science fiction and fantasy author said the Guild's decision to support Google in its plans to digitise millions of books meant she could no longer countenance being a member."

You decided to deal with the devil, as it were, and have presented your arguments for doing so. I wish I could accept them. I can't," Le Guin wrote. "There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle.

"The Oregon-based writer has been a member of the Authors Guild since 1972. She said she was retaining membership in the National Writers Union and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, both of which opposed the Google books settlement. "They don't have your clout, but their judgment, I think, is sounder, and their courage greater," she wrote.

Best known for her children's fantasy series the Earthsea quartet, and for the science fiction title The Left Hand of Darkness, Le Guin is the author of 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, 12 books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and the recipient of literary awards including the Hugo, Nebula and National Book award. Her most recent publications include the poetry collection Incredible Good Fortune and the novel Lavinia, set in the world of Virgil's Aeneid and narrated by the wife-to-be of Aeneas.

The Authors Guild said in a statement that it regretted Le Guin's resignation and that "in many respects" it agreed with her position. "We hold the principles of copyright to be fundamental – they are bedrock principles for the Authors Guild and the economics of authorship. That's why we sued Google in the first place," it said. "It would therefore have been deeply satisfying, on many levels, to litigate our case to the end and win, enjoining Google from scanning books and forcing it to destroy the scans it had made. It also would have been irresponsible, once a path to a satisfactory settlement became available."

Offering to discuss the deal with Le Guin "at any time", the writers' body pointed out that if it had lost its case against Google, anyone, not just the search engine, could have digitised copyright-protected books and made them available online, prompting the "uncontrolled scanning of books" and "incalculable" damage to copyright protection. "The lessons of recent history are clear: when digital and online technologies meet traditional media, traditional media generally wind up gutted. Constructive engagement – in this case turning Google's infringement to our advantage - is sometimes the only realistic solution," it said.

In September, a group of almost 50 authors including Judy Blume, Elmore Leonard, Garrison Keillor, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Peter Straub all announced their public support of the Google books settlement."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is Amazon Working Backwards?; New York Times Bits Blog, 12/24/09

Nick Bilton; New York Times Bits Blog; Is Amazon Working Backwards?:

"Newsweek’s current issue features some impressive Q&As with people in business and politics “who impact the big stories of the day”.

In the technology portion, Newsweek interviews Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, in order to explore some of the thinking behind Amazon’s business strategy as it moved from online bookseller to selling cloud computing services and the Kindle electronic book reader.

Mr. Bezos always delivers an interesting interview as he’s forced to straddle a very careful line between print and digital: promoting their new technologies and customers, including Kindle readers, without disregarding a much larger customer base of print book buyers. In past interviews, Mr. Bezos has tried to convince people to buy his digital products by comparing print books to outmoded forms of transportation. He told participants at last year’s D:All Things Digital conference, “People loved their horses too,” noting that people no longer ride horses to work just because they once loved this form of travel...

A quick perusal of the comments show customers repeatedly griping about poor screen quality, unattractive device design and the constraints of digital rights management software on books and newspapers. Mr. Bezos may be right when he says an e-reader is better than a book, but the customer satisfaction suggests why so many companies are rushing in to compete with his Kindle."

China makes progress in Internet piracy crackdown; Xinhua, 12/19/09

Xinhua; China makes progress in Internet piracy crackdown:

"China has made notable progress in its crackdown on Internet piracy and copyright infringement following months-long campaigns.

A total of 541 Internet copyright infringement cases have been investigated and 362 illegal websites have ben closed, since the nationwide special campaign was jointly launched in August by the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC), the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the NCAC said in a statement."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

US says copyright piracy in China still 'high'; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/23/09

P. Parameswaran; Sydney Morning Herald; US says copyright piracy in China still 'high':

"Copyright piracy in China remains at "unacceptably high levels," causing "serious harm" to American businesses, the top US trade official said in an annual report to US Congress.

US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in the mandatory report on China's compliance with its World Trade Organization accession obligations that Beijing was not taking adequate steps to enforce intellectual property rights laws.

He said enforcement of China's copyright protection "remains a significant challenge."

The report cited other "priority" trade issues such as industrial policies, trading rights and distribution services, agriculture and services, but indicated piracy is a key issue where China has made little progress.

"Despite repeated anti-piracy campaigns in China and an increasing number of civil IPR (intellectual property rights) cases in Chinese courts, counterfeiting and piracy remain at unacceptably high levels and continue to cause serious harm to US businesses across many sectors of the economy," the 121-page report said.

The US copyright industries estimate that losses in 2008 due to piracy were about 3.5 billion US dollars for the music recording and software industries alone, it said.

"These figures indicate little or no overall improvement over the previous year."

China is among nations in the annual intellectual property rights blacklist of the US Trade Representative's office.

China acceded to the World Trade Organization eight years ago. The terms of its accession called for China to implement numerous specific commitments over time.

All of China's key commitments should have been phased in three years ago."

EFF Claims Google Book Search, Amazon Kindle Threaten Privacy;, 12/22/09

Chris Boulton, eWeek,com; EFF Claims Google Book Search, Amazon Kindle Threaten Privacy:

Privacy watchdogs at the Electronic Frontier Foundation claim that electronic reader technologies such as Google Book Search,'s Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook threaten consumer privacy. Noting that e-readers collect a lot of information about their users' reading habits and locations and convey it to the companies that build or sell these technologies, the EFF has created a Buyer's Guide to E-Book Privacy to shed some light on what information existing e-readers collect and share.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Panic! | Peer to Peer Review; Library Journal, 12/17/09

Barbara Fister, Library Journal; Don't Panic! Peer to Peer Review:

Barbara Fister takes a look at William Patry's new book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars

"William Patry has a few things to say about pirates in his new book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. The well-known blogger, senior copyright counsel for Google, and author of the seven-volume definitive work, Patry on Copyright, steps back from purely legal analysis to examine the super-heated rhetoric surrounding copyright battles...

This book examines the rhetorical framing devices used by corporate interests to expand copyright laws. The purpose of this framing is simple: "to get what you want by defining yourself positively and by defining your opponent negatively." Nothing works better than inducing a moral panic, the systematic distortion and exaggeration of a problem in order to make it more compelling, and in the process demonizing those defined as deviant, making them appear much more threatening than they are...

was demonized in the past in ways that seem absurd in hindsight. Jack Valenti (yes, the same Jack Valenti who for years predicted the complete collapse of the film industry if pirates aren't punished) testified before Congress in 1982 that Hollywood's future "depends on its protection from the savagery and the ravages of this machine." Which machine is that? "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone."

Balancing act
Patry's book unpacks the rhetorical devices used in copyright debates, but he does not oppose copyright. "For policy makers and the public, copyright is not a winner-takes-all proposition,” he writes. “Copyright is a system to advance public interests; those interests can be furthered by a copyright regime tailored to provide sufficient incentives to create new works. But at the same time we must recognize that the public interest is genuinely harmed by overprotection."

Though academic librarians are understandably caught up in the issues surrounding scholarly communication, a system in which much of the content is publicly funded and the authors are primarily rewarded by exposure, not protection, we still have a stake in popular culture and in the ways that copyright as it is defined today thwarts creative expression and hurts innovation. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars is an informative interdisciplinary excursion into the issues that draws on legal, economic, and sociological theories to examine a debate that affects us and our students on a daily basis."

Holy See declares unique copyright on Papal figure; Catholic News Agency, 12/19/09

Catholic News Agency; Holy See declares unique copyright on Papal figure:

"The Vatican made a declaration on the protection of the figure of the Pope on Saturday morning. The statement seeks to establish and safeguard the name, image and any symbols of the Pope as being expressly for official use of the Holy See unless otherwise authorized.

The statement cited a "great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father" in recent years as contributing to a desire to use the Pontiff's name for all manner of educational and cultural institutions, civic groups and foundations.

Due to this demand, the Vatican has felt it necessary to declare that "it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorized use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church."

The declaration alludes to attempts to use ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to "attribute credibility and authority to initiatives" as another reason to establish their “copyright” on the Holy Father's name, picture and coat of arms.

"Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff... and/or the use of the title 'Pontifical,' must receive previous and express authorization from the Holy See," concluded the message released to the press."

Should e-Books Be Copy Protected?; New York Times, Personal Tech Blog, 12/17/09

David Pogue, New York Times, Personal Tech Blog; Should e-Books Be Copy Protected?:

"The issues involved with copy protection haven't changed. They're the same on e-books as they are with everything else. Namely:

* Publishers are terrified of piracy, whether it involves music, movies, software programs or books. Everyone remembers how Napster made music easy to duplicate and freely share. Publishers argue that the music industry was badly hurt, and never really recovered.

* Their first reaction, therefore, was to install nasty copy protection of the type you describe, with limits on which brand of player would play a song and how many gadgets you could copy it to.

* In time, everyone realized the silliness of this exercise. It inconvenienced only the law-abiders; the software pirates had plenty of simple, convenient ways to duplicate the songs anyway. So eventually, the music publishers agreed to let Apple, Amazon and others sell non-protected versions of their songs. (That's a reversal that I still find mind-boggling, although of course I'm thrilled.)...

In other words, I'm torn right down the middle. On one hand, yes, copy protection hurts consumers.

On the other hand, yes, unprotected books at this stage would be easily and wildly pirated -- the barriers to staying ethical would be so low, people would pass around books like they forward e-mail jokes -- and it would cost the book industry dearly.

On the other other hand, music files are no longer copy protected, and the music companies haven't gone out of business.

Maybe, then, the publishers should try an experiment like mine. Maybe they should release a couple of Kindle or Nook books without copy protection and track the results. Maybe that way, we could bring this discussion out of the hypothetical and into the real world."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Google gets digital foothold in France; Sydney Morning Herald, 12/21/09

Roland Lloyd Parry, Sydney Morning Herald; Google gets digital foothold in France:

"Despite fierce resistance to Google's plans to digitise the world's books, observers say it is well placed to start scanning Europe's cultural treasures -- beginning in France, where the US giant got a digital foothold this week.

The Internet search giant on Monday began peeling open the pages of half a million books from the grand Municipal Library of Lyon and is contracted to scan them within 10 years, the library's director Patrick Bazin told AFP...

Google on Monday began working through 500,000 of the library's works at a location near Lyon -- where the library can easily check on the work -- hand-scanning each page of the delicate volumes individually, Bazin said.

The antique books include a 16th-century edition of predictions by Nostradamus, Isaac Newton's 17th-century scientific treatise "Principia" and a work by the French humourist Rabelais from the same period.

Under the contract, the Lyon library will use the digital images of its books for its own purposes but notably cedes to Google the right to exploit them commercially for 25 years. Google in return scans the books for free.

The US company has been less welcome elsewhere in France, where digitisation has become bound up with the sensitive issue of protecting French cultural and intellectual property."

The Buzzwords of 2009; New York Times, 12/19/09

Mark Liebovich and Grant Barrett, New York Times; The Buzzwords of 2009:

"Catchphrases and buzzwords can tell us much about a year past — what resonated, what stuck, what the year revealed about the sensibility of the nation, whether you’re a wise Latina woman, a mini-Madoff, a teabagger or Balloon Boy...

orphan books

Volumes still in copyright but out of print and unavailable for sale, and whose copyright holders cannot be found. Rose in 2007 but peaked this year with the fierce discussion over the proposed Google Books settlement."

More and more e-books being stored on the 'cloud'; San Jose Mercury News, 12/20/09

Mike Swift, San Jose Mercury News; More and more e-books being stored on the 'cloud':

"From his home office on a Los Gatos cul-de-sac, Mark Coker is part of a digital movement ruffling the pages of the publishing industry, helping to speed readers' transition from words in print to words on a screen.

The founder of Smashwords, an electronic book publishing platform for self-published authors and small publishers, Coker thinks the transition from print to electronic books, for many readers, is inevitable.

Less clear, he says, is where readers will store the e-books they buy. Will those virtual libraries live on a personal device, such as Amazon's Kindle? Or will people choose to store their e-books on the Internet "cloud," on networks accessible through any computer or smart-phone? And how portable will readers' digital libraries be? Will readers be able to share their e-books the way you pass a treasured paper book on to a good friend?

The publishing world is going through rapid change, which is clear this holiday season as large numbers of consumers embrace electronic books available for download to devices such as the Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook and Sony's Reader.

The change has been so tumultuous that several New York publishing houses have decided to delay releasing books in their electronic format for months, concerned that the availability of $9.99 e-books will slice into the sales of traditional hardcover editions that may sell for three times that price.

Already, many readers are using public libraries as a kind of e-book "cloud." The library e-book distributor OverDrive predicts downloads of e-books and other library content will hit 19 million in 2009 — roughly the volume for the years 2003-08 combined.

"We've really hit a tipping point," Coker says. "Once people try an e-book, it's a 'wow' experience."

Starting in 2010, however, anybody who wants to read an e-book will have to choose more than just which reader they buy. Increasingly, consumers will have an array of e-book access choices, such as buying perpetual access to a book stored on the Internet, downloading a book to a personal device or perhaps some other model...

By next holiday season, Google plans to offer an online retail service for e-books that will allow readers to buy access, in perpetuity, to any e-book stored on Google's network.

"Our vision is basically to provide a great consumer model for buying digital books, using the browser in a sort of device-agnostic way," said Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker. "It could be on a Web-enabled laptop, a desktop or a phone, a tablet — any of those things. Our vision of it is to provide an open platform for reading and accessing books."

The retail service, to be called Google Editions, will be only for newly published books and is separate from the Internet giant's highly controversial plan to scan existing out-of-print books, splitting the proceeds with any rights-holders it can locate. Google won't say how much a newly published e-book will cost on Editions, but it has tried to steer speculation away from talk of the service being an "Amazon-killer" that uses Google's dominant search engine to siphon book-buying traffic from the e-retailer...

There are pros and cons to storing a book or a song online rather than on a device. If you lose your iPod or Kindle, the content is gone, too, although Amazon allows readers to access their entire library of previously purchased Kindle books at no charge if something happens to the device. There would be no limit to how many books or songs could be stored on the cloud.

On the other hand, if you are on a trek in the Yosemite high country and suddenly decide you want to reread the copy of "Freakonomics" you bought last month from Google Editions, you'll be out of luck, because you can't access the cloud without an Internet connection. That said, you could have cached the book on your smartphone before you set off into the woods.

A bigger issue for e-book readers may be the different proprietary formats that govern the Kindle, the Reader and the Nook. That would prevent a reader who wants to switch, say, from using Amazon's Kindle to Sony's Reader from transporting her e-books to the other device.

The Kindle's format also does not support downloads of e-books in the format used by many public libraries, although Amazon counters that thousands of public-domain books are available in the Kindle store, including many free classics. Customers can use sites such as, Google and Internet Archive to access other e-books.

Coker predicts that consumers won't be pleased when they realize the differing formats and copy-protection code called Digital Rights Management (DRM) is like a fence around their e-book collections, one that publishers say is necessary to protect them from e-book piracy.

"Over the long haul," Coker predicts, "customers are not going to want to have their library in the cloud fractured across 20 different retailers."

Smashwords does not wrap its text with DRM coding, and it allows readers to use both a device model or a cloud model to access their e-books. With more than 5,000 e-books for sale at, the company has deals that allows readers to download to the Kindle, the Reader or the Nook. But the company also allows customers to buy permanent access to any e-book stored on Smashwords' network, allowing them to read it at any time from any smartphone or computer with a Web browser.

"It's your book — that's our approach to it," Coker said."

France court rules Google book search violates copyright laws; Jurist, 12/18/09

Jaclyn Belczyk, Jurist; France court rules Google book search violates copyright laws:

"A French court ruled Friday that Google [corporate website] violated French copyright law through its book-scanning initiative [Google Books website]. The Parisian court fined Google €300,000 euros (USD $430,000) for digitizing books and making excerpts available on the web. The challenge was brought in 2006 by French publishing group La Martiniere, along with the French publisher's union Syndicat National de l'Edition (SNE) and the writers' society Societe des Gens de Lettres (SDGL) [websites, in French]. The head of the SNE expressed satisfaction [BBC report] with the verdict. Also this week, a Chinese court agreed to hear [FT report] a challenge to Google's digital books project.

While Friday's ruling is the first time a court has condemned Google's book scanning initiative, the company has also faced legal challenges in the US. Last year, Google agreed to settle [JURIST report] two copyright infringement lawsuits."

Libraries ask for oversight of Google books product; Reuters, 12/17/09

Reuters; Libraries ask for oversight of Google books product:

"The American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries said that there was unlikely to be an effective competitor to Google's massive project in the near term.

It asked the government to urge the court to use its oversight authority to prevent abusive pricing of the online book project.

"The United States should carefully monitor implementation of the settlement, including the pricing of the institutional subscription," the library organizations said in their letter, which was dated December 15 but released on Thursday.

It was addressed to William Cavanaugh, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canada Also Getting Pushed By EU On Ridiculous Copyright Policies; TechDirt, 12/18/09

Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Canada Also Getting Pushed By EU On Ridiculous Copyright Policies:

"If you thought secrecy over ACTA was bad enough, apparently Canada and the EU are involved in equally secret negotiations on a separate treaty that has additional copyright implications that are just as bad, if not worse than what ACTA would require. As with ACTA, the details have just leaked, and they're pretty ridiculous. From Michael Geist's link above:

Copyright term extension. The current term of copyright law in Canada is life of the author plus 50 years. This is consistent with the term requirements under the Berne Convention. The EU is demanding that Canada add an additional 20 years by making the term life plus 70 years.

WIPO ratification. The EU is demanding that Canada respect the rights and obligations under the WIPO Internet treaties. The EU only formally ratified those treaties this week.

Anti-circumvention provisions. The EU is demanding that Canada implement anti-circumvention provisions that include a ban on the distribution of circumvention devices. There is no such requirement in the WIPO Internet treaties.

ISP Liability provisions. The EU is demanding statutory provisions on ISP liability where they act as mere conduits, cache content, or host content. ISPs would qualify for a statutory safe harbour in appropriate circumstances. There is no three-strikes and you're out language (which presumably originates with the U.S.).

Enforcement provisions. The EU is demanding that Canada establish a host of new enforcement provisions including measures to preserve evidence, ordering alleged infringers to disclose information on a wide range of issue, mandate disclosure of banking information in commercial infringement cases, allow for injunctive relief, and destruction of goods. There is also a full section on new border measures requirements.

Resale rights. The EU is demanding that Canada implement a new resale right that would provide artists with a royalty based on any resales of their works (subsequent to the first sale).
Making available or distribution rights. The EU is demanding that Canada implement a distribution or making available right to copyright owners...

Allowing countries to set their own copyright laws and policies is important. Because we've never had an evidence based copyright, and because there's growing evidence that draconian copyright laws can harm creative output, it would seem like a better solution would be to let different countries experiment with different copyright laws (or none at all...) to see what happens and what works best. Forcing all countries to align under identical copyright laws, entirely at the behest of a single industry, with provisions to regularly ratchet things up with no real review of the evidence seems immensely problematic."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Google Loses in French Copyright Case; New York Times, 12/18/09

Matthew Saltmarsh, New York Times; Google Loses in French Copyright Case:

"A French court ruled on Friday that Google infringed copyrights by digitizing books and putting extracts online without authorization, dealing a setback to its embattled book project.

The court in Paris ruled against Google after a publishing group, La Martinière, backed by publishers and authors, argued that the industry was being exploited by Google’s Book Search program, which was started in 2005.

The court ordered Google to pay over 300,000 euros, or $430,000, in damages and interest and to stop digital reproduction of the material. The company was also ordered to pay 10,000 euros a day in fines until it removed extracts of some French books from its online database.

Google said it believed that it had complied with French copyright law and that it planned to appeal the decision.

“We believe that displaying a limited number of short extracts from books complies with copyright legislation both in France and the U.S. — and improves access to books,” said Philippe Colombet, who is responsible for Google’s books partnership in France.

Mr. Colombet said he did not know whether the company would immediately remove the excerpts or pay the fine; Google’s lawyers were still examining the ruling. He also said there would be no impact on Google’s settlement with publishers and authors in the United States, an agreement that would allow the company the right to digitize, catalog and sell millions of books online that are under copyright protection."

Google Book Search violates French copyright law; Ars Technica, 12/18/09

Nate Anderson, Ars Technica; Google Book Search violates French copyright law:

Google owes €300,000 to a French publishing group after a court found the search and advertising giant liable for scanning La Martinière's books for use in Google Book Search without permission.

"Google's preferred way of indexing information—doing it without permission, relying on fair use or fair dealing laws—has run into yet another spot of trouble in Western Europe. A French court has just ruled that the advertising giant must pay €300,000 in damages to a French publishing group for scanning, indexing, and displaying snippets of its work as part of Google Book Search."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chinese Writer Sues Google China; New York Times, 12/17/09

Edward Wong, New York Times; Chinese Writer Sues Google China:

"A Chinese writer has filed a lawsuit against Google China in Beijing, accusing the company of copyright infringement. The writer, Mian Mian, a novelist based in Shanghai, said Google China had scanned “Acid Lover,” a novel she had written, without notifying or paying her, according to China Daily, an official English-language newspaper. On Nov. 15, Google China deleted the book from its Web site, but passages from it still appear during keyword searches, Ms. Mian said. She is asking Google China to delete all passages and issue a public apology to her, and to pay her about $8,800 in compensation. She is the first individual writer in China to sue Google China."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Music Business Heads Into Virtual World; New York Times; 12/16/09

Brad Stone and Claire Cain Miller, New York Times; Music Business Heads Into Virtual World:

"It seems likely that the idea of music ownership will never go away, and that newer methods of accessing music will exist alongside old ones. Bobby Mohr, a 23-year-old music fan from Brooklyn who has accumulated 100 gigabytes of songs, keeps some of them on free Web-based storage services, so he can download tracks when he travels and burn them onto CDs to play in the car.

But Mr. Mohr is hesitant to abandon the idea of owning music altogether, citing the unreliability of wireless networks and the fact that his collection would be inaccessible at his job at a police oversight agency, where he is not allowed to use the Internet.

“I like having external hard drives that are troves of my music,” he said. “You just collect it, you have this library. You discover new genres every year and you go through it and look at what you have, and that’s nice.”

Bob Lefsetz, who writes an influential music industry newsletter, the Lefsetz Letter, acknowledged that some people bristle at the idea of not owning their music, but he compared them to people who once said they would never rent a videotape.

“If you ask anybody today, they’ll tell you, ‘I need to own it.’ But once you have these services, you get to the point of, ‘Why would I own it, because I have access to everything?’”"

‘X-Men’ Piracy Investigation Leads F.B.I. to Arrest Man From the Bronx; New York Times, 12/16/09

Brooks Barnes, New York Times; ‘X-Men’ Piracy Investigation Leads F.B.I. to Arrest Man From the Bronx:

"After a nine-month hunt, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested a Bronx man on Wednesday suspected of posting an unfinished version of the 20th Century Fox movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” on the Web before it was released in theaters.

But the investigation into the source of the piracy, to find out who actually took the copy of the movie from the studio, is continuing and more arrests are possible, according to Laura Eimiller, an F.B.I. spokeswoman.

Gilberto Sanchez, 47, was arrested at his home at about 6 a.m., according to Ms. Eimiller. Mr. Sanchez was indicted last Thursday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on charges of uploading the unfinished copy of the movie to a Web site,, last spring.

If convicted, Mr. Sanchez faces three years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater, according to the United States attorney’s office in Los Angeles. Lisa E. Feldman, an assistant attorney from that office’s Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes unit will prosecute the case. She said that Mr. Sanchez has been released on bail.

The unfinished version of “Wolverine” — missing many special effects and using temporary sound — was leaked to the Internet on March 31. Within hours, the $150 million movie, set to open on May 1, had been watched by thousands of people online, setting off a panic inside Fox about the potential box office impact.

Ultimately, Fox estimated that the file was downloaded 15 million times."

FBI arrests New York man for `Wolverine' piracy; Associated Press, 12/16/09

Associated Press; FBI arrests New York man for `Wolverine' piracy:

"The FBI has arrested a New York man indicted for illegally distributing pirated copies of the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says in a statement that Gilberto Sanchez was arrested at his Bronx home early Wednesday without incident. The 47-year-old Sanchez was indicted Dec. 10 by a Los Angeles federal grand jury for violation of federal copyright law.

He's expected to appear Wednesday before a U.S. magistrate judge in New York.

The indictment, unsealed after Wednesday's arrest, says Sanchez uploaded the copyrighted "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" to an Internet site last spring. He faces a possible three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater."

IT experts call for crackdown on copyright piracy; Daily Star (Lebanon), 12/16/09

Dana Halawi, Daily Star (Lebanon); IT experts call for crackdown on copyright piracy:

"Information Technology (IT) experts gathered on Tuesday at Ramada Hotel in Beirut to tackle challenges facing Lebanon’s IT industry due to lack of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection. “One of the main challenges facing this sector in Lebanon is the absence of effective entities tailored to the protection of IPR. This includes the challenge of issuing laws by the Lebanese government that are compatible with the international agreements signed by Lebanon for its accession to the World Trade Organization,” said Microsoft’s anti-piracy manager for North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Pakistan Aly Harakeh.

Respecting intellectual property rights is one of the basic conditions of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). Lebanon is a signatory to several international agreements relating to intellectual property rights and started the process for accession to the WTO in 1999, but could not join because of its failure to properly implement the basic required conditions. The country’s accession application is still ongoing, according to the WTO website...

Sectors dependant on intellectual innovations are crucial to the Lebanese economy. Lebanon is on the top of Arab countries when it comes to intellectual innovations and arts, and these sectors can contribute a lot more to our economy than the core industries such as agriculture and manufacturing.

According to a report issued by the Institute of Finance, the industries in Lebanon which copyright applies to contribute 4.74 percent to GDP and 4.54 percent to employment. However, the report said, the core industries contribute 2.53 percent to GDP and 2.11 percent to employment.

The study said that the industries which copyright laws apply to generated $555.52 million of value added, generated from nine sectors including press and literature, music, theatrical productions, opera, motion pictures and video, radio and television, photography, software and databases, visual and graphic arts, advertising and copyright collecting societies.

A report issued by the Business Software Alliance said that the piracy rates in Lebanon reached 74 percent in 2008, while losses incurred from piracy activities reached $49 million in the same year."

Europe Talks Tough On Piracy and Copyright; eWeek Europe, 12/15/09

Andrew Donoghue, eWeek Europe; Europe Talks Tough On Piracy and Copyright:

"European authorities have outlined plans to combat piracy and counterfeiting which includes plans to protect intellectual property across the region and the ratification of an international law on copyright in development since 1996.

The European Commission and member states met in Stockhom this week to discuss plans around the European Observatory for Counterfeiting and Piracy - an agency established last April. According to European authorities, the Observatory was created to help develp a "databank" of intelligence on how best to combat the threats posed to innovation in the region by piracy and counterfeiting.

"The EU is a world pacesetter for innovation, culture and creativity. It is time to put a stop to organised criminals freeloading on the ingenuity and hard work of the most resourceful businesses in the world. Counterfeiting and piracy is an affliction that is bringing criminality ever closer to our doors," said EC Internal Market and Services commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

McCreevy added that piracy threatens public safety and jobs in Europe."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Push in Law Schools to Reform Copyright; New York Times, 12/1/09

Nazanin Lankarani, New York Times; A Push in Law Schools to Reform Copyright:

"Since 2007, U.S. university students have been a prime target of a litigation campaign by the Recording Industry Association of America, or R.I.A.A., the music industry trade group that has found university campuses to be hives of file-sharing activity.

“The music industry is acting like a digital police force,” Charles Nesson, a Harvard law professor who defended Mr. Tenenbaum at trial with the assistance of law students, said in a phone interview from Boston. “Academia must get involved, to bring fairness to the process.”...

A report in June by the analysis firm Forrester Research said that 27 percent of peer-to-peer, or P2P, network music sharers in the United States last year were in the 18 to 24 age group and 43 percent in the 25 to 34 age group. File sharing, a largely clandestine activity, is hard to measure, but Forrester said that, based on admitted cases, it estimated the number of file-sharers, as a percentage of all Internet users, to be two to three times greater in Europe than in the United States.

“Downloading is so easy, and there is so much free content on the Internet, it is hard to distinguish between illegal downloading, streaming free content and copying from a friend’s laptop,” said Rana Nader, a recent law graduate of Université Panthéon-Assas, in Paris, who also has a law master’s degree in multimedia and information technology from Kings College in London.

“When the product is digital, it does not feel like stealing,” said Ms. Nader.

In the past decade, peer-to-peer technology companies have mutated endlessly and rapidly in cyberspace, becoming increasingly difficult to police.

In the 10 years since Napster first offered its P2P service, the ability to create, access and swap music in user-friendly MP3 format has revolutionized the music industry for a generation of musicians, producers and consumers.

But along with ease of access has come legal uncertainty and risk.

“Internet has helped develop new forms of amateur entertainment,” said Mr. Nesson. “You no longer need a ‘label’ to put out a good song. Soon, we will not be able to tell what is copyrighted and what isn’t. That is why defining the limits of copyright and public right is fundamental to the development of cyberspace.”

Law school teachers are active participants, in classrooms, in the courts and before legislative assemblies, in the debate on how to reform laws often dating from the age of vinyl.

“File sharing is the way music is accessed today,” said Daniel Gervais, professor of international intellectual property law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Our students ask, ‘Why can’t we continue to do it, but pay for it?”’

Last August, Mr. Gervais, who is also affiliated with the University of Ottawa in Canada, received funding from the Ontario Province government to propose changes to Canadian copyright law to meet the needs of users of copyrighted material. Fifteen students are helping him to complete the project.

“We are making ourselves heard by the legislature and the courts,” Mr. Gervais said.

For law students, digital copyright has become a hot topic. “Since 2008, our annual seminar on music and digital copyright has been more than full,” Mr. Gervais said. “Students all file-share; they are all on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright is connected to their own reality.”

One idea under study is to assess a global license fee, to be collected and paid by the Internet service provider, permitting unlimited media usage. This approach “has wide support here,” he said.

The fee would be levied by the service providers as a voluntary flat tax, payable by customers who accessed music online via file-sharing networks, and would be earmarked for artists or other rights holders, replacing royalties. Effectively, that would turn the service providers into the online equivalent of royalty-collection societies like Broadcast Music Inc., a U.S. music performing rights organization, or its British, Dutch, French and German counterparts, which for years have collected fees for artists from radio stations, bars, clubs and other performance venues.

“If you add all the monthly fees collected in all major music markets, you could get a total above $20 billion a year, which added to other revenues from ticket, merchandise and other sales would match or surpass the music industry’s best years,” Mr. Gervais said.

Yet, if some academics and lawmakers are looking at ways to legalize the sharing of copyrighted digital material for noncommercial use, others prefer the opposite tack of more draconian punishment for “music piracy.”

French lawmakers have opted in particular to criminalize music file-sharing.

“To impose a global fee is problematic,” Frédéric Pollaud-Dulian, a professor at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and a specialist in media law, said in a telephone interview. “Not all Internet users download copyrighted material. Also, to allow open access to copyrighted material deprives the copyright holders of control over their own work.”

The prevailing view in France, Professor Pollaud-Dulian said, remains that existing law should not be overhauled simply because new customs and practices, however widespread, do not fit. So, copyright laws should not be adjusted simply because people are using new technology to access music.

“We teach our students that illegally downloading music is a threat to creativity,” Professor Pollaud-Dulian said. “The work of an artist has monetary value. Being a musician is not a hobby.”

In October, the French Constitutional Council cleared the way for a controversial bill, known as Hadopi II, that empowers French courts to temporarily cut off the Internet access of copyright infringers or of individuals who fail to protect their broadband access line against illegal downloading.

“When you violate driving laws, your car is taken away,” said Mr. Pollaud-Dulian. “If you do not abide by hunting rules, your rifle is taken away. To say that depriving a user of Internet access infringes on a fundamental right is pure fantasy.”

Others view the loss of Internet access rights as an excessively punitive measure that violates a basic right, and a trademark of repressive regimes.

“In a democratic society, you need Internet access to participate in the sociopolitical process,” said Mr. Gervais. “Without it, you have less active and less informed citizens.”

According to Andrew Murray, a reader in law who specializes in cyberregulation and information technology law at the London School of Economics law department, the British government is consulting with law professors on a different version of the “three-strikes law.”

“We are looking at a measure where Internet access would be filtered or the user’s bandwidth cluttered to prevent downloading of copyrighted material,” said Mr. Murray, who also acts as an advisor to Creative Commons, a licensing organization created by Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law School professor, that allows copyright holders to extend licenses to users.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nesson and his team of law students are preparing to appeal the judgment against Mr. Tenenbaum. — up to the Supreme Court if need be.

“If you are selling water in the desert and it starts to rain, what do you do? Go to the government and get them to ban rain, or do you sell something else?” Mr. Nesson said."

Top Author Shifts E-Book Rights to; New York Times, 12/15/09

Brad Stone and Motoko Rich, New York Times; Top Author Shifts E-Book Rights to

"Ever since electronic books emerged as a major growth market, New York’s largest publishing houses have worried that big-name authors might sign deals directly with e-book retailers or other new ventures, bypassing traditional publishers entirely.

Now, one well-known author is doing just that.

Stephen R. Covey, one of the most successful business authors of the last two decades, has moved e-book rights for two of his best-selling books from his print publisher, Simon & Schuster, a division of the CBS Corporation, to a digital publisher that will sell the e-books to for one year.

Amazon, maker of the popular Kindle e-reader and one of the biggest book retailers in the country, will have the exclusive rights to sell electronic editions of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and a later work, “Principle-Centered Leadership.” Mr. Covey also plans to gradually make other e-books available exclusively to Amazon, which will promote them on its Web site.

The move promises to raise the already high anxiety level among publishers about the economics of digital publishing and could offer authors a way to earn more profits from their works than they do under the traditional system.

Mr. Covey is making his books available to Amazon through RosettaBooks, an electronic book publisher that primarily traffics in the older works of authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Virginia Woolf.

Arthur Klebanoff, chief executive of RosettaBooks, said that Mr. Covey would receive more than half of the net proceeds that RosettaBooks took in from Amazon on these e-book sales. In contrast, the standard digital royalty from mainstream publishers is 25 percent of net proceeds...

His move comes as publishers ratchet up their efforts to secure the digital rights to so-called backlist titles — books published many years, if not decades, ago. These books can be vitally important to publishing houses because they are reprinted year after year and provide a stream of guaranteed revenue without much extra marketing effort.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” originally published in hardcover in 1989, is a steady seller for Simon & Schuster. This year alone, it has sold 136,000 copies in paperback, according to Nielsen BookScan, which generally tracks about 70 percent of sales.

Many authors and agents say that because the contracts for older books do not explicitly spell out electronic rights, they reside with the author. Big publishing houses argue that clauses like “in book form” or phrases that prohibit “competitive editions” preclude authors from publishing e-books through other parties.

Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for Simon & Schuster, declined to comment directly on Mr. Covey’s moves, but said, “Our position is that electronic editions of our backlist titles belong in the Simon & Schuster catalog, and we intend to protect our interests in those publications.”

Other publishers have moved to stake their claim on e-book rights for older titles. On Friday, Random House sent a letter to dozens of literary agents stating that on all backlist books, it retained “the exclusive right to publish in electronic book publishing formats.”...

The skirmish over e-books is part of a larger multidimensional chess match being played among publishers, authors, agents and book retailers. The big publishing houses hate the uniform e-book price of $9.99 that Amazon and others have set for newer titles. Although the retailers are subsidizing that price, executives say they believe that such pricing harms the market for more expensive hardcovers, and some publishers have reacted by announcing they will delay the publication of certain e-books by several months after they are made available in hardcover.

Last week, Simon & Schuster said it would delay by four months the e-book versions of 35 titles being published in hardcover from January to April. Both the Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide have also indicated they will delay e-book editions.

Reacting to that move, Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, directly criticized Simon & Schuster and its chief executive, Carolyn Reidy.

“Simon & Schuster is backward-leaning,” Mr. Herdener said. “Carolyn wants to corral readers, force them to buy what they wouldn’t buy if they had a choice. It won’t work. The better approach is to embrace the evolution of the book and give customers what they want. Forward-leaning publishers are going to clean up.”

Mr. Rothberg, the Simon & Schuster spokesman, said that his company wasn’t trying to upset anyone. “The notion that we have done anything other than wholeheartedly embrace the digital revolution, whether it be for e-books, new formats, reaching out to our readers wherever they may be, and every other opportunity provided in the new digital era, is patently absurd,” he said.

He added, however, “We understand that there’s a lot at stake and we look forward to further discussions with Amazon about how to grow this business without making our discussions of a personal nature.”

Mike Shatzkin, the chief executive of Idea Logical, which advises publishers on digital strategy, said that publishers were trying to minimize Amazon’s outsize influence in the book business and preserve their own. “Publishers are trying to herd Amazon back into their corner and keep it there,” he said. “But I think that this is going to be a very difficult situation for the big publishers to control.”"

Stephen Covey's digital rights deal with Amazon startle New York publishers; Guardian, 12/15/09

Ed Pilkington, Guardian; Stephen Covey's digital rights deal with Amazon startle New York publishers:

"The scramble for survival in the New York publishing world provoked by the rise of the ebook has become so ruthless it makes the Wild West look like a Swiss finishing school. Authors and publishers are squabbling over rights, internet retailers are slugging it out with bookshops, and tech companies are climbing over each other to produce an ebook reader that can challenge Amazon's hit, the Kindle.

The latest blast of gunfire has come from one of America's leading authors in the highly lucrative market of business self-help books.

Stephen Covey has announced he is selling exclusive digital rights to two of his bestsellers – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Principle-Centered Leadership – to Amazon, bypassing the traditional publisher, Simon & Schuster, that has up to now handled all his output.

The move has put a chill over New York publishing houses already struggling to keep up with the ebook revolution. One of their big fears is that of becoming separated from their backlists, the titles that act as the cash cows of the industry, bringing in a steady and increasingly crucial income in the insecure digital world.

As jitters spread, some big publishers have moved to defend what they claim is theirs – the digital rights to the backlist.

Random House startled many in the book world this week by sending a letter to agents informing them that, in its view, the publishing house holds the exclusive rights to digital editions of the "vast majority" of its backlist titles. That made authors and their agents see red. They pointed to a ruling by the New York courts as far back as 2002 in which Random House itself failed in an attempt to block on ebook firm from publishing works by the late William Styron, author of Sophie's Choice, and Kurt Vonnegut. The ruling, upheld on appeal, found that copyright for books that were written before digital publishing existed, remained with the author.

Arthur Klebanoff, head of RosettaBooks, the ebook company that beat off Random House in 2002, secured Covey's exclusive deal this week with Amazon. He said: "We are very clear about this, the author controls the rights unless it is specified otherwise, and that was settled by the courts years ago...

The spat in the US stands in contrast to Britain, where publishers broadly accept that they do not have the rights to the ebook editions of older titles, and authors accept that they should avoid offering ebooks to other publishers.

"There is a kind of gentleman's agreement," said Anthony Goff, an agent with David Higham, who heads the trade association for literary agents in the UK...

As these behemoths fight it out in an increasingly ungainly display of muscle, the big question is what happens to authors and their readers, which is after all what the fuss is about.

Bestselling names such as Covey are likely to prosper, as will their fans who will benefit from knockdown prices. Amazon is selling some titles for as little as $7.99, massively below their paper price.

Less well-known authors have yet to reap any rewards."

US government looks to expand scientific open access policy; Ars Technica, 12/14/09

John Timmer, Ars Technica; US government looks to expand scientific open access policy:

The US government's Office of Science and Technology Policy is hosting a forum for debating an expansion of an open access policy, used by the National Institute of Health, that guarantees all publications derived from the agency's funding are available to the public within one year.

"Last Thursday, the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy launched a public forum to allow the public to provide feedback into a potential expansion of the US government's open access policy for scientific research. Right now, the National Institutes of Health is the only agency that requires recipients of its funding to make any scientific papers available to the public within a year of the publication date. For the next month, the OSTP will be soliciting feedback on whether and how the policy should be extended to other federal agencies...

One problem with the documents at the website is that they don't make a clear distinction between the publications that are based on research funded by federal agencies and the data behind the research itself. A more informative description of the different materials can be found in the Federal Register, which published the official request for input...

So, for the moment at least, the OSTP is focusing strictly on publications, and not on providing access to the raw data produced during the course of these studies (although that may be subject to separate disclosure policies, depending on the agency and material). It's a rather significant distinction to make, given the recent controversy over the availability of climate data that was used to produce several peer-reviewed studies.

In any case, the actual format of the material may ultimately be just as important as which agencies are included. The ability to ingest data from these publications and make it accessible to text mining and meta-analysis that crosses disciplines has the potential to open new avenues for research and provide a higher scientific return on the public's investment."

Victoria Espinel Confirmed as U.S. Copyright Czar; Media Week, 12/4/09

Georg Szalai, Media Week, Victoria Espinel Confirmed as U.S. Copyright Czar:

"Industry representatives on Friday hailed a Thursday evening Senate vote that confirmed Victoria Espinel as the nation's first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

But they also called on Washington to help ensure her success in fighting intellectual property theft as President Obama's copyright czar.

"Intellectual property industries are an essential economic engine to the U.S. economy, and it is critical that the new IP Enforcement Coordinator now be given adequate resources to carry out her new responsibilities," said MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman.

He lauded Espinel as "a capable and experienced advocate for the artists and creators." She is a former assistant U.S. trade representative for intellectual property and innovation who also previously worked with the chief U.S. trade negotiator on IP issues before the World Trade Organization.

In a U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog post Friday, Rick Cotton, executive vp and general counsel at NBC Universal, also expressed hopes that the new top government post will have a big impact.

"Let's hope that today represents the high-water mark of IP theft," he said. Espinel's confirmation as the first IPEC "should help to see the tide begin to recede under the pressure of the Obama administration's commitment to protecting IP, producing new jobs and new industries that will benefit the nation for decades to come.""

Supplemental Notification of Authors and Publishers About Google Book Search Settlement Begins Today; PR Newswire, 12/14/09

PR Newswire, Supplemental Notification of Authors and Publishers About Google Book Search Settlement Begins Today:

"Distribution of the Supplemental Notice in the Google Book Search Settlement is now taking place. The Supplemental Notice summarizes the principal changes from the Original Settlement to the Amended Settlement. The Court overseeing the case preliminarily approved the Amended Settlement, and approved the Supplemental Notice, on November 19, 2009.

Please visit for detailed information, including the Supplemental Notice and revised key dates. The website is available in 36 languages.

The Court will hold a hearing on whether to grant final approval of the Amended Settlement on February 18, 2010.

SOURCE Google Book Search Settlement Administrator"

Nicolas Sarkozy fights Google over classic books; Telegraph, 12/14/09

Henry Samuel, Telegraph; Nicolas Sarkozy fights Google over classic books:

Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to keep Google's hands off France's classic books and national treasures by spending £680 million making them available on the internet.

"The French president made the announcement amid a row between the internet giant and publishers, who claim Google has breached their copyright by scanning books for its online library Google Books.

Mr Sarkozy said the sum would go towards the "digitisation of the content of our museums, our libraries and our cinematographic heritage".

He added: "There is no question of letting this heritage go."

The package was part of his government's "grand loan" – a £31 billion spending spree he detailed on Monday aimed at boosting France's economic growth and competitiveness.

The pledge followed Mr Sarkozy's warning last week that he would not allow Google to carry out a massive literary land grab on French and other European literature.

"We are not going to be stripped of our heritage for the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is," he said.

"We are not going to be deprived of what generations and generations have produced in the French language just because we weren't capable of funding our own digitisation project."

Jean-Noël Jeanneney, a former chief of the national library recently warned recently that the French Revolution risked being given an "Anglo-Saxon" slant if Google prevailed – one in which "valiant British aristocrats triumphed over bloodthirsty Jacobins and the guillotine blotted out the rights of man."

Google, based in California, recently unveiled plans recently to scan books and make them digitally searchable online. It argues almost all the books digitised are in the public domain and that it will pay copyright on any still in private hands.

The Paris publishing group, La Martinière, took Google to court after it discovered the firm had scanned and archived books on which La Martinière holds the copyright. A ruling is expected on Friday. Seuil has also sued Google for copyright breach.

Marissa Maya, Google's number three last week last week denied stealing French heritage. "I think our service is very poorly understood," she said.

"The advantage of this work is precisely to conserve literature and allow people to access it. Right now we're simply the most advanced company in this area." In his speech at the Elysée yesterday, Mr Sarkozy said that public groups like Google could be part of the venture but the state would be very much in charge.

The money is expected to go to boosting Gallica, France's own book-scanning project, which is linked to Europeana, the EU's digital library."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stanford Dissertations Moving from ProQuest to Google - An interview with Mimi Calter; Stanford University Libraries, 11/20/09

Mary Minow [Executive Editor of the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Website], via Stanford University Libraries; Stanford Dissertations Moving from ProQuest to Google - An interview with Mimi Calter [Assistant University Librarian & Chief of Staff for Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources]:

"Minow: Stanford is partnering with Google to make student dissertations available worldwide. What does Google bring to the table that simply using the Stanford Digital Repository on its own does not?

Calter: Google provides broad distribution. We'll be using the Stanford Digital Repository for preservation, and we'll be making the dissertations available through our online catalog, but working with Google dramatically increases the visibility of the materials. We think that visibility is an advantage for our students.

In the long run, we hope that other schools will join us in contributing their dissertations to Google, and that "Google Dissertations" will become the go-to resource for dissertations, theses and similar materials.

Minow: What is Stanford's policy on copyright and student dissertations? Are students required to give permission to the University to copy and distribute their dissertations?

Calter: Per Section 5.2 of the Research Policy Handbook (, Stanford's students retain copyright in works they create as part of their coursework, including dissertations. Therefore, Stanford does need the students' permission to preserve and distribute those dissertations. As part of the standard submission process, students grant Stanford a license to do so. It is a license only, and students retain full copyright in their work.

The submission process also allows students to apply a Creative Commons license to their work. We hope that this addition will raise awareness of the Creative Commons option, and further increase the accessibility of these materials.

Minow: I understand that this move away from ProQuest means that Stanford student work will no longer be included in Dissertation Abstracts unless the student makes an affirmative effort to submit to ProQuest. What are the implications for the broader research world of such a step?

Calter: It is a concern, but our sense is that the wide availability and visibility of the dissertations through the Stanford catalog and Google will more than compensate for the lack of a listing in Dissertation Abstracts.

Minow: Google has been harvesting electronic dissertations for several years. How does Stanford's submission of the dissertations differ from Google's past practices?

Calter: The submission process that Stanford is using is similar to the one that publishers are using for Google Book Search. So we'll be submitting metadata along with the dissertation files, and expect to have more descriptive listings than just titles."

Public Knowledge Announces First Annual World's Fair Use Day (WFUD); Public Knowledge, 12/9/09

Mehan Jayasuriya, Public Knowledge; Public Knowledge Announces First Annual World's Fair Use Day (WFUD):

"We at Public Knowledge are thrilled to announce the first annual World's Fair Use Day (WFUD), a day-long celebration of creativity, innovation and remix culture to be held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on January 12th, 2010. Fair use is the legal right that allows creators to make limited uses of copyrighted materials for purposes like comment, criticism and education. At World's Fair Use Day, we'll demonstrate how fair uses of existing works, ranging from recontextualized audio mashups to documentary films, enrich our culture and contribute to the ongoing dialog on copyright. Speakers at the event will include Ben Huh (CEO of the Cheezburger Network, the publishing company behind ICanHasCheezburger and FailBlog), Dan Walsh (creator of the web comic "Garfield Minus Garfield"), Pennsylvania Congressman and mashup fan Mike Doyle, TechDirt founder Mike Masnick, mashup artist DJ Earworm and many more. The night before the main event, we'll kick things off with a "Movie Night," hosted by Mark Hosler of the pioneering audio collage band Negativland and featuring Brett Gaylor, director of RIP: A Remix Manifesto and Kembrew McLeod, director of Copyright Criminals. To view the full list of speakers and schedule and to RSVP, visit"

[OpEd] Twitter Tapping; New York Times, 12/13/09

[OpEd] New York Times; Twitter Tapping:

"The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters. A public interest group has filed a lawsuit to learn more about this monitoring, in the hope of starting a national discussion and modifying privacy laws as necessary for the online era.

Law enforcement is not saying a lot about its social surveillance, but examples keep coming to light. The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that state revenue agents have been searching for tax scofflaws by mining information on MySpace and Facebook. In October, the F.B.I. searched the New York home of a man suspected of helping coordinate protests at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh by sending out messages over Twitter.

In some cases, the government appears to be engaged in deception. The Boston Globe recently quoted a Massachusetts district attorney as saying that some police officers were going undercover on Facebook as part of their investigations.

Wired magazine reported last month that In-Q-Tel, an investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, has put money into Visible Technologies, a software company that crawls across blogs, online forums, and open networks like Twitter and YouTube to monitor what is being said.

This month the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law sued the Department of Defense, the C.I.A. and other federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about their use of social networking sites.

The suit seeks to uncover what guidelines these agencies have about this activity, including information about whether agents are permitted to use fake identities or to engage in subterfuge, such as tricking people into accepting Facebook friend requests.

Privacy law was largely created in the pre-Internet age, and new rules are needed to keep up with the ways people communicate today. Much of what occurs online, like blog posting, is intended to be an open declaration to the world, and law enforcement is within its rights to read and act on what is written. Other kinds of communication, particularly in a closed network, may come with an expectation of privacy. If government agents are joining social networks under false pretenses to spy without a court order, for example, that might be crossing a line.

A national conversation about social networking and other forms of online privacy is long overdue. The first step toward having it is for the public to know more about what is currently being done. Making the federal government answer these reasonable Freedom of Information Act requests would be a good start."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spying begins on UK web users; Short Sharp Science Blog, 12/9/09

Paul Marks, Short Sharp Science Blog; Spying begins on UK web users:

"We reported last week on plans to enforce copyright law by forcing internet service providers to spy on consumers to detect and report every piece of copied music, movies, e-books, games and software.

Now one UK ISP, Virgin Media, is trialling some of the technology needed to do that on about 1.6 million of its customers.

Provided by Detica, a subsidiary of defence firm BAE Systems, the system is being used to try and gauge the size of the alleged piracy problem.

CView, as the system is known, will take a snapshot of the scale of peer-to-peer music transfers over a few months.

It will do so by copying every packet of data that passes by, and looking for the digital signatures of data transferred using the popular bittorrent, gnutella, and edonkey file sharing protocols.

Whenever it finds a data packet that matches, it will extract the code these protocols use to identify the contents of the packet.

CView will then compare that code with a database of "musical fingerprints" to identify any music being shared, allowing it to work out if the data packet infringes copyright.

As a result, Virgin will find out how much file-sharing traffic is infringing copyright, and what the most-pirated tracks and albums are, the Register reports.

CView won't be able to finger individual users, because the IP addresses that identify each computer's connection will be stripped from every packet. But some Virgin customers are worried about the potential for it to be used for snooping at a later date.

CView's technology could conceivably be used to identify people accessing certain data, for example.

Or it could block certain content, in much the same way as China's "great firewall".

The anonymisation of the data in Virgin's assessment phase, and the fact that no humans see it, should mean the technology does not count as illegal interception, says Richard Clayton at the University of Cambridge's security lab.But he says on the security group's blog that "it may take some case law before anyone can say for sure"."

‘Missed Opportunity’ In File Sharing Case? Don’t Believe It; Wired, 12/8/09

David Kravets, Wired; ‘Missed Opportunity’ In File Sharing Case? Don’t Believe It:

"With the $675,000 judgment against Joel Tenenbaum now final, the inevitable finger pointing has begun.

Tenenbaum was only the second person in the nation to be sued by the RIAA for file sharing and to take the case all the way to jury trial, making it a closely watched case. It’s not surprising he lost, given that he admitted to sharing 30 songs on Kazaa and Limewire. But a few commentators have decided that Tenenbaum’s lawyer, Harvard’s Charles Nesson, is to blame for failing to offer the nuanced “fair use” defense invited by the judge...

What’s gone ignored, though, is that the defense invited by commentators and Judge Gertner wouldn’t have helped Nesson’s client in the least. Virtually none of the scenarios laid out in the ruling applied to 25-year-old Joel Tenenbaum, a classic copyright scofflaw who was neither space-shifting nor downloading music otherwise unavailable online.

“For the most part, he was downloading them and sharing them like the rest of the kids — and not particularly for sampling,” Nesson said in a telephone interview. “That is the bottom line.”...

Nesson’s performance wasn’t as stellar as it was in 1971, when he successfully defended Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case. Judge Gertner took the time to upbraid Nesson for his behavior.

“Defense counsel repeatedly missed deadlines, ignored rules, engaged in litigation over conduct that was plainly illegal (namely, the right to tape counsel and the Court without consent), and even went so far as to post the illegal recordings on the web,” Gertner wrote, adding that Nesson and his defense team of Harvard students mounted a “chaotic” defense.

But if he’d lied about the facts — making Ars Technica and the L.A. Times happy — his client would be no better off.

The other defendant to go against the RIAA before a jury is Jammie Thomas-Rasset. A Minnesota jury dinged her $1.92 million for 24 songs this summer after jurors concluded she lied on the stand, testifying that perhaps others, including her children, were the actual copyright scofflaws.

Copyright reform advocates are perennially frustrated that their perfectly reasonable ideas of what qualifies as “fair use” online don’t get a chance to be heard in court. That’s no coincidence — the RIAA isn’t going to take a case to trial if it might produce a pro-consumer ruling. But the armchair barristers blaming Nesson for failing to carry their reform message to the Tenenbaum court are misguided.

Regardless of whether the Copyright Act is flawed, or Nesson was out to lunch, the simple fact is the RIAA had Tenenbaum dead to rights."

Copyright Owners Fight Plan to Release E-Books for the Blind; Wired, 12/11/09

David Kravets, Wired; Copyright Owners Fight Plan to Release E-Books for the Blind:

"A broad swath of American enterprise ranging from major software makers to motion picture and music companies are joining forces to oppose a new international treaty that would make books more accessible to the blind.

On Monday, dozens of nations will meet in Geneva to consider adopting the WIPO Treaty for Sharing Accessible Formats of Copyrighted Works for Persons Who are Blind or Have other Reading Disabilities. The proposal (.pdf) before a subcommittee of the roughly 180 World Intellectual Property Organization members would sanction the cross-border sharing of DRM-protected digitized books that tens of thousands of blind and visually disabled people read with devices and tools like the Pac Mate, Book Port and Victor Reader.

“This treaty would be the first one that is not done for the copyright owner, but for the user of the works — for the blind to make a copyrighted work accessible,” says Manon Ress, a policy analyst at Knowledge Ecology International, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights lobby that helped spearhead the proposal.

But that prospect doesn’t sit well with American business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest lobby representing 3 million businesses, argues that the plan being proposed by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, “raises a number of serious concerns,” (.pdf) chief among them the specter that the treaty would spawn a rash of internet book piracy.

The treaty also creates a bad precedent by loosening copyright restrictions, instead of tightening them as every previous copyright treaty has done, said Brad Huther, a chamber director. Huther concluded in a Dec. 2 letter to the U.S. Copyright office that the international community “should not engage in pursuing a copyright-exemption based paradigm.”

Echoing that concern, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry of America told the Copyright Office last month that such a treaty would “begin to dismantle the existing global treaty structure of copyright law, through the adoption of an international instrument at odds with existing, longstanding and well-settled norms.”

The proposal before the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights could free up thousands of book titles to millions of blind people in WIPO-member nations — without payment to the publisher.

Many WIPO nations, most in the industrialized world including England, the United States and Canada, have copyright exemptions that usually allow non-profit companies to market copyrighted works without permission. They scan and digitize books into the so-called universal Daisy format, which includes features like narration and digitized Braille.

The Daisy Corp. Consortium, a Swiss-based international agency, controls formatting worldwide and has some 100 companies under its direction across the globe. The largest catalog rests in the United States, in which three non-profits, including the Library of Congress, host some half million digital titles produced by federal grants and donations.

As it now stands, none of the nations may allow persons outside their borders to access these works, which are usually doled out for little or no charge. The treaty seeks to free up the cross-border sharing of the books for the blind.

“People who oppose copyright exemptions oppose exemptions on principle that there should be no exemptions of copyright law,” says George Kerscher, Daisy’s general secretary. “They should have sole right and discretion to do what they want with their intellectual property. To a great extent, the opposition to the treaty is based on that principle.”

To receive any reading materials, the blind and disabled must prove their condition, he said. In the United States, Knowledge Ecology International estimates about 5 percent of published books have been transformed to the Daisy format.

Google is the only major U.S. corporation to side with the blind in the international tussle. In filings with the Copyright Office, the company called for American copyright holders to see past their doctrinal opposition to weakening copyright protections.

“We are concerned that some of the comments are simply stating opposition to a larger agenda of limitations and exceptions,” (.pdf) Google’s chief copyright officer, William Paltry, wrote this month. “We believe this is an unproductive approach to solving what is a discrete, long-standing problem that affects a group that needs and deserves the protections of the international community.”

Not surprisingly, U.S. book publishers are the harshest critics of the proposal. The Association of American Publishers, which represents about 300 publishers large and small, argue the treaty is not necessary. The publishers suggest the blind and disabled should pay for their materials –- the only way the market for such products could flourish.

“Under the proposed draft treaty, where it appears that privileged copies could be made even where accessible versions were commercially available, copyright owners would have understandable doubts about the wisdom of investing in the production of accessible versions for the market,” the association’s vice president, Allan Adler, wrote the Copyright Office on Dec. 4.

“Under these circumstances, publishers not unreasonably hesitate and wonder whether they can expect such a market to flourish when potential customers would still have the option of relying upon a statutory exception to get an accessible version of a work without having to pay for it,” (.pdf) Adler added.

Dan Burke, a 52-year-old blind man from Montana and a self-described “book worm,” does not agree with the publishers.

Burke, a victim of a retinal disease that blinded him decades ago, often acquires books and poems at Bookshare, an online nonprofit offering about 60,000 titles in exchange for $50 in annual dues and other volunteer work. Burke says none of the rank-and-file commercially available e-readers, including the Kindle, are adequately equipped for the blind.

“You have to be able to see to use these, to turn the machine on and navigate menus,” says Burke.

Amazon, however, said this week that it would soon produce a blind-accessible Kindle, one with an audible menu and large font for the visually impaired.

But Amazon, the Kindle’s maker, gives book authors the option of disabling the read-aloud function, notes Burke, a board member for the National Federation of the Blind, which supports the treaty. The Authors Guild, an advocacy group for writers, argued earlier this year that reading a book aloud counts as an unauthorized public performance.

“Information is what we want. Information is the power to become economically viable members of society,” Burke said. “This is a world in which if you don’t have money you usually don’t have access.”"