Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Google Books hasn't cost authors a dime, company says; ArsTechnica.com, 7/27/12

Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica.com; Google Books hasn't cost authors a dime, company says:

"On Friday, Google filed for summary judgment in the Google Books case against the Authors' Guild, renewing its argument that the entire project constitutes fair use. That company argues therefore that it does not need permission from authors in order to scan substantial portions of their work...

More substantially, Google argues that Google Books is a transformative work, and that the company "copied no more of the books than was necessary to create a searchable index, and displays no more of the works than is necessary to allow readers to determine whether the book might be of interest to them."

Disruptions: Innovations Snuffed Out by Craigslist; New York Times, 7/29/12

Nick Bilton, New York Times; Disruptions: Innovations Snuffed Out by Craigslist:

"“The listings are already out there. We’re finding them already on the Web and organizing them so other people don’t have to do the same thing twice,” said Greg Kidd, the chief executive of 3Taps. “And we’re not breaking any laws because we are pulling in the facts from the listing; everyone knows you can’t copyright facts.” Craigslist also named 3Taps in the lawsuit filed last week.

As intellectual property lawyers will tell you, Mr. Kidd is not off base: facts, like those in classified listings, cannot be copyrighted.

So why hasn’t anyone managed to unseat Craigslist, a site that has barely changed in close to two decades?

It has dug an effective moat by cultivating an exaggerated image of “doing good” that keeps its customers loyal, while behind the scenes, it bullies any rivals that come near and it stifles innovation."

How Fair Use Can Help Solve the Orphan Works Problem; 6/18/12

Jennifer Urban, Berkeley Technology Law Journal; How Fair Use Can Help Solve the Orphan Works Problem:

"This Article argues that legislation is not necessary to enable some uses of orphan works by nonprofit libraries and archives. Instead, the fair use doctrine in United States copyright law provides a partial solution. The Article addresses three basic questions: first, does fair use provide a viable basis on which libraries might digitize orphans? Second, does fair use provide a viable basis on which to make these orphans available to patrons or the public? Third, more generally, can or should fair use do any additional work in infringement analysis where the copyrighted work in question is an orphan?

The answer to each of these questions is yes."

The World's Nicest Cease-And-Desist Letter Ever Goes Viral, Sells Books; Forbes, 7/26/12

Avi Dan, Forbes; The World's Nicest Cease-And-Desist Letter Ever Goes Viral, Sells Books:

"Companies go to great lengths to protect their trademarks. The standard response for copyright infringement is to send a letter from a lawyer and threaten to sue. But the people at Jack Daniel’s, one of America’s most iconic brands, opted for true southern hospitality toward Patrick Wensink, an obscure Louisville-based author of a new satirical novel, Broken Piano For President."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Sweden, Taking File Sharing to Heart. And to Church; New York Times, 7/25/12

John Tagliabue, New York Times; In Sweden, Taking File Sharing to Heart. And to Church:

"People almost everywhere are file sharing these days, using computers to download music, films, books or other materials, often ignoring copyrights. In Sweden, however, it is a religion. Really.

Even as this Scandinavian country, like other nations across Europe, bows to pressure from big media concerns to stop file sharing, a Swedish government agency this year registered as a bona fide religion a church whose central dogma is that file sharing is sacred.

“For me it is a kind of believing in deeper values than worldly values,” said Isak Gerson, a philosophy student at Uppsala University who helped found the church in 2010 and bears the title chief missionary. “You have it in your backbone.”

Kopimism — the name comes from a Swedish spelling of the words “copy me” — claims more than 8,000 faithful who have signed up on the church’s Web site. It has applied for the right to perform marriages and to receive subsidies awarded to religious organizations by the state, and it has bid, thus far unsuccessfully, to buy a church building, even though most church activities are conducted online...

“I think we see it as a theological remix,” Mr. Gerson said. “Christianity took from Judaism and turned it into something new, and the Muslims did the same. We are part of a tradition.”"

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much?; International Herald Tribune, 7/25/12

Didi Kirsten Tatlow, International Herald Tribune; Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much? :

"As news spread in Austria and around the world that a copy of the medieval town’s market square, a church and other important buildings had been erected in Boluo, Guangdong province (part of a bigger development designed to attract wealthy buyers to expensive villas built by Minmetals Land), a debate began in media and in private conversations: Was it OK for the Chinese to do this? And why do they copy so much, anyway?

As I report in my latest Page Two column, the Chinese didn’t ask permission: five Chinese architects walked around incognito, photographing the town, then returned to Boluo where the town square was copied at high speed.

And it’s not just a question of architecture and iPads.

In China, academic journals are riddled with plagiarism."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If Three Constitutes Company, Add Lawyers to Make It a Crowd; New York Times, 7/17/12

Patrick Healy, New York Times; If Three Constitutes Company, Add Lawyers to Make It a Crowd:

"Most playwrights have jitters on opening night, but David Adjmi was in a panic amid the festivities last month for “3C,” his darkly comic deconstruction of the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company.” That same day he learned that the copyright owner of “Three’s Company” had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the play’s producers charging that Mr. Adjmi had infringed on the copyright by borrowing so many elements from the TV series, including its premise about a man who pretends to be gay to live with two female roommates.

The show went on — but the copyright fight remains far from resolved.

At issue is whether “3C” is enough of a parody of “Three’s Company” to be protected under First Amendment exceptions to copyright law — specifically, under the legal doctrine of fair use, which allows artists to use copyrighted work to lampoon or critique the material, as the international hit “Forbidden Broadway” has done for years with its sendups of famous musicals."

Survey Shows Growing Strength of E-Books; New York Times, 7/18/12

Julie Bosman, New York Times; Survey Shows Growing Strength of E-Books:

"E-books continued their surge in 2011, surpassing hardcover books and paperbacks to become the dominant format for adult fiction last year, according to a new survey of publishers released Wednesday...

Over all, digital books kept up their explosive growth in 2011, the survey confirmed. Publishers’ net revenue from sales of e-books more than doubled last year, reaching $2.07 billion, up from $869 million in 2010. E-books accounted for 15.5 percent of publishers’ revenues."

Yes, video of Obama belting out "I'm so in love with you" is fair use; ArsTechnica.com, 7/17/12

Timothy B. Lee, ArsTechnica.com; Yes, video of Obama belting out "I'm so in love with you" is fair use:

"The music publisher BMG Rights Management appears to have used the DMCA takedown process to remove another video of the commander-in-chief belting out "I'm so in love with you." The video, one of many uploaded in the wake of an event at the Apollo Theater earlier this year, was made by YouTube user sNewsCast...

Unfortunately, the law doesn't give YouTube much latitude to stand up for fair use if it wants to hold onto the protection of the DMCA safe harbor. The notice-and-takedown procedure requires YouTube to leave an allegedly infringing work offline for at least 10 days, even if the uploader files a counter-notice stating that the work is not infringing."

Music publisher uses DMCA to take down Romney ad of Obama crooning; ArsTechnica, 7/16/12

Timothy B. Lee, ArsTechnica; Music publisher uses DMCA to take down Romney ad of Obama crooning:

"But YouTube chief counsel Zahavah Levine fired back with a letter pointing out that trying to assess fair use on a case-by-case basis at YouTube's scale would be extremely difficult. In many cases, YouTube doesn't even have the information it would need to assess whether a particular clip is fair use. Given that declining to take down a clip could expose the site to liability, YouTube has decided to play it safe and comply with the DMCA's takedown procedure. No exceptions, even for presidential candidates.

In 2008, YouTube expressed the hope that whichever candidate won the White House would help to reform the DMCA's takedown process to avoid this kind of problem. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Instead, Congress nearly passed the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have given incumbent copyright holders even broader powers to take down content they didn't like."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Universities Reshaping Education on the Web; New York Times, 7/17/12

Tamar Lewin, New York Times; Universities Reshaping Education on the Web:

"As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally...

This is the tsunami,” said Richard A. DeMillo, the director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech. “It’s all so new that everyone’s feeling their way around, but the potential upside for this experiment is so big that it’s hard for me to imagine any large research university that wouldn’t want to be involved.”"

More Copyright Treaties Sprouting At WIPO; Intellectual Property Watch, 7/16/12

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; More Copyright Treaties Sprouting At WIPO:

"Flush with the success of last month’s agreement on a new treaty on audiovisual performances, World Intellectual Property Organization members this week are propagating other possible legal instruments on aspects of copyright. Mainly under consideration this week are exceptions to copyright, along with broadcasters’ rights, and on the first day of the meeting, new proposals emerged on exceptions for educational and research institutions."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Reforming Copyright Is Possible; Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/9/12

Pamela Samuelson, Chronicle of Higher Education; Reforming Copyright Is Possible:

"The failure of the Google Book settlement, however, has not killed the dream of a comprehensive digital library accessible to the public. Indeed, it has inspired an alternative that would avoid the risks of monopoly control. A coalition of nonprofit libraries, archives, and universities has formed to create a Digital Public Library of America, which is scheduled to launch its services in April 2013. The San Francisco Public Library recently sponsored a second major planning session for the DPLA, which drew 400 participants. Major foundations, as well as private donors, are providing financial support. The DPLA aims to be a portal through which the public can access vast stores of knowledge online. Free, forever."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Even at a Comics Event, You Can’t Defy Gravitas; New York Times, 7/13/12

Michael Cieply, New York Times; Even at a Comics Event, You Can’t Defy Gravitas:

"Topics for panels at this year’s conference at the San Diego Convention Center include comics and the plight of indigenous peoples, feminist writers and censorship, progressive politics in comics and of course the many financial and copyright issues created by the explosion in Hollywood’s interest.

As a certain archvillain might ask: Why so serious?

“It’s frightening,” said Lisa Vizcarra, a science teacher at Carquinez Middle School in Crockett, Calif. Ms. Vizcarra, who seemed to set the day’s tone, was speaking to a Comic-Con audience about a looming pedagogical crisis: Students, distracted by video, are no longer responding to comics as an educational tool, even as schools increasingly use them in their curriculums...

On the opposite end of the sprawling convention hall, at a seminar called “The Comic Book Law School,” Michael L. Lovitz, a copyright lawyer, was hammering away on another serious matter: the ins and outs of work for hire, the employment term that has become a critical legal issue in multimillion-dollar battles over the ownership of characters like Superman and the Fantastic Four."

Extradition Suspect Calculated the Savings From Piracy; New York Times, 7/13/12

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Extradition Suspect Calculated the Savings From Piracy:

"Helpfully for the authorities, Mr. O’Dwyer also did the math for his users, spelling out, according to the Justice Department, exactly how much money its users were saving. It reminded users that they could have spent up to $10 on a movie ticket, $10 on “a typical US nacho-Coke or popcorn-Coke combo,” and another $5 on “typical US parking.”

Part of the Justice Department’s case against Mr. O’Dwyer seems to be show that he sought to make it as simple as possible to watch movies and shows available on other sites, including copyrighted material...

Meanwhile, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikimedia, who has stepped up to defend Mr. O’Dwyer from extradition, was quoted by The Hill, a Washington-based news site, as offering the entertainment industry some unsolicited advice: Make it easier for consumers to buy content online."

Gay Couple Eyes Lawsuit After Finding Pic on 'Hate Group' Mailer; Good Morning America via Yahoo News, 7/12/12

Susan Donaldson James, Good Morning America via Yahoo News; Gay Couple Eyes Lawsuit After Finding Pic on 'Hate Group' Mailer:

"[Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer Christine Sun] said Public Advocate has 10 days to respond to her letter and then SPLC will make legal copyright claims for Hill and state law privacy claims and infliction of emotion distress on behalf of Edwards and Tom Privitere.

"Beyond a lawsuit ... we decided to get involved because these actions are truly reprehensible -- to take a personal photo of the happiest day in a couple's life and use it in a homophobic attack ad," said Sun. "It's demonizing, unfair and unjustifiable."

The couple learned the photo had been taken without authorization from a friend who saw it in a mailer from Sen. White and called them in June."

Rostrum defends Mac Miller; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/13/12

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Rostrum defends Mac Miller:

"Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller's record label Rostrum Records said Friday Miller did not unlawfully sample and distribute New York rapper Lord Finesse's beat, "Hip 2 Da Game," in Miller's tune "Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza.""

Lord Finesse hits Mac Miller with $10 million copyright lawsuit; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/12/12

Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Lord Finesse hits Mac Miller with $10 million copyright lawsuit:

"Mac Miller is facing a $10 million lawsuit over "Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza," a track he recorded on his way to fame two years when he was 18.

Lord Finesse, a 42-year-old rapper and producer from New York who has worked with the Notorious B.I.G., alleges that the Pittsburgh rapper unlawfully used his 1995 "Hip 2 Da Game" beat for a song that appeared on Miller's mixtape "K.I.D.S."

The complaint, filed Monday in the United States District Court Southern District of New York, claims that Miller, whose legal name is Malcolm McCormick, his label Rostrum Records and mixtape website DatPiff.com "willfully infringed [Finesse's] exclusive copyrights." It further alleges unfair competition, unjust enrichment, interference and deceptive trade practices."

Why we are breaking the Pirate Bay ban; Guardian, 7/11/12

Loz Kaye, Guardian; Why we are breaking the Pirate Bay ban:

"If the government is unwilling to act, it falls to the rest of us. Since April the Pirate party has provided a proxy – pirateparty.org.uk – allowing people to connect to Pirate Bay. Initially this was in support of our sister party in the Netherlands where there is a similar crackdown. However, it has become a political protest to highlight the futility of the UK injunction and impotency of the coalition.

This proxy continues to be a legitimate route for those affected by the court orders. Not surprisingly to anyone who knows how the internet (or human nature) works, we have also experienced a huge Streisand effect. The Pirate party's website is now in the top 500 websites in the UK – above any other political party. If the aim was to change people's behaviour, the most noticeable change we have seen is an upsurge in interest in our kind of politics. I doubt this was the BPI's intention.

We must not hand courts and governments censorship powers without public debate. The Lib Dems and Conservatives need to decide where policy is headed, not just make noises about digital rights. Until that point it is left to the Pirate party to defend them."

Kim Dotcom: I'll extradite myself to US if they give my money back; Guardian, 7/11/12

Toby Manhire, Guardian; Kim Dotcom: I'll extradite myself to US if they give my money back:

"The German-born New Zealand resident's remarks, in an email interview with the Guardian, follow Tuesday's announcement that his extradition hearing, scheduled to begin in less than a month, has been put back until April next year.

On Wednesday morning Dotcom laid down the gauntlet to the US department of justice, offering to travel to the US under his own steam and faces charges – with conditions. "Hey DOJ," Dotcom said on his Twitter account, "we will go to the US. No need for extradition. We want bail, funds unfrozen for lawyers and living expenses.""

U.S. Pursuing a Middleman in Web Piracy; New York Times, 7/12/12

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; U.S. Pursuing a Middleman in Web Piracy:

"Richard O’Dwyer, an enterprising 24-year-old college student from northern England, has found himself in the middle of a fierce battle between two of America’s great exports: Hollywood and the Internet.

At issue is a Web site he started that helped visitors find American movies and television shows online. Although the site did not serve up pirated content, American authorities say it provided links to sites that did. The Obama administration is seeking to extradite Mr. O’Dwyer from Britain on criminal charges of copyright infringement. The possible punishment: 10 years in a United States prison.

The case is the government’s most far-reaching effort so far to crack down on foreigners suspected of breaking American laws. It is unusual because it goes after a middleman, who the authorities say made a fair amount of money by pointing people to pirated content. Mr. O’Dwyer’s backers say the prosecution goes too far, squelching his free-speech right to publish links to other Web sites."

Home secretary upholds decision to extradite Richard O'Dwyer; Guardian, 7/9/12

James Ball and Alan Travis, Guardian; Home secretary upholds decision to extradite Richard O'Dwyer:

"The home secretary, Theresa May, has told the House of Commons that she will not revisit plans to extradite Sheffield Hallam student Richard O'Dwyer to the US on copyright charges, saying the decision had "already been taken".

O'Dwyer faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in a US jail for alleged copyright offences, for which the UK declined to press charges. The charges relate to a website, tvshack.net, which O'Dwyer when he was 19 and which linked to places to watch TV and films online."

Acta didn't stand a chance in the age of the social internet; Guardian, 7/5/12

Charles Arthur, Guardian; Acta didn't stand a chance in the age of the social internet:

"The dismissal of Acta, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, by the European parliament has left the treaty's opponents delighted, and its supporters – who principally work in the industries that rely on copyright and trademarks, whether virtual or physical, for their living – downhearted.

Acta's creators had the poor luck – or lack of foresight – to create their baby in what feels like the Jurassic age of the social internet. They also made the bad decision to negotiate it in secret – the sort of thing that drives conspiracy theorists wild, but which is also sure to get anyone's antennae a bit twitchy. After all, if an agreement is for everyone's good, then why do its terms have to be kept secret?"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Europe Moves to Aid Digital Music Industry; New York Times, 7/10/12

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; Europe Moves to Aid Digital Music Industry:

"The European Commission plans to introduce legislation on Wednesday to bolster the digital music market in Europe by streamlining the methods of agencies that collect royalties on behalf of copyright holders.

Michel Barnier, the internal market commissioner, is expected to propose a bill aimed at resolving problems at the 250 collecting societies that operate in the European Union, some of which are holding back growth in digital music."

Digital Notes: Grooveshark Wins a Battle, But Can It Win the War?; New York Times, 7/11/12

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Digital Notes: Grooveshark Wins a Battle, But Can It Win the War? :

"Grooveshark, an online service that streams millions of songs free, is fighting for its life in multiple lawsuits filed against it by the major powers of the business...

This week, Grooveshark’s parent company, Escape Media Group, won a glimmer of hope with a court decision that undercut one of the Universal Music Group’s two copyright infringement cases against it, and also opened the door for it to countersue the label for what could be millions of dollars in damages."

Judge Says Aereo, a TV Streaming Service, May Continue; New York Times, 7/11/12

Brian Stelter, New York Times; Judge Says Aereo, a TV Streaming Service, May Continue:

"One set of broadcasters, representing Fox, Tribune, Univision and PBS stations, said in a statement that the ruling asserted “that it is O.K. to misappropriate copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation.” The stations said they would “continue to fight to protect our copyrights and expect to prevail on appeal.”"

Tech and Media Elite Are Likely to Debate Piracy; New York Times, 7/9/12

Amy Chozick, New York Times; Tech and Media Elite Are Likely to Debate Piracy:

"In the aftermath, Hollywood has increased its efforts to get online payment companies, cloud services and Internet service providers to voluntarily help curtail pirated movies, TV and music, particularly from foreign Web sites.

Months before the debates erupted in January, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, PayPal and Visa agreed on a set of best practices to reduce the sale of counterfeited pirated goods. In 2010, Yahoo, PayPal, GoDaddy, Google and others formed a nonprofit intended to combat the sale of illegal pharmaceuticals online, one issue SOPA and PIPA were initially meant to address.

The Sun Valley conference could provide a tranquil backdrop for the continued construction of a fence between media and technology.

“We thought about what’s in the long-term interest of the Internet ecosystem. And that’s a set of best practices that people feel comfortable with,” said Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America."

Friday, July 6, 2012

European Parliament Rejects Anti-Piracy Treaty; New York Times, 7/4/12

Eric Pfanner, New York Times; European Parliament Rejects Anti-Piracy Treaty:

"European legislators on Wednesday rejected an international treaty to crack down on digital piracy, a vote that Internet freedom groups hailed as a victory for democracy but that media companies lamented as a setback for the creative industries.

Foes of the treaty said the vote, by an overwhelming margin in the European Parliament at Strasbourg, would probably end the prospects of European involvement in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, which has been signed by the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and a number of individual E.U. members."

Megaupload Founder Goes From Arrest to Cult Hero; New York Times, 7/3/12

Jonathan Hutchison, New York Times; Megaupload Founder Goes From Arrest to Cult Hero:

"The Justice Department said the individuals and two companies — Megaupload and Vestor — had been charged with “engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.”"