Monday, September 30, 2013

Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy; NPR's All Tech Considered, 9/27/13

Laura Sydell, NPR's All Tech Considered; Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy: "Liberation Music eventually backed down. But Lessig decided to invoke another part of the copyright law, "which basically polices bad-faith lawsuits," he says — threats made fraudulently or without proper basis. Lessig is suing Liberation Music because he wants labels to stop relying on automated systems to send out takedown notices, he says."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Silents Gold Mine From Down Under; New York Times, 9/20/13

Dave Kehr, New York Times; A Silents Gold Mine From Down Under: "These films, along with many more (176 in all) that are still in the cataloging and preservation pipeline, were quietly residing in the New Zealand Film Archive when Brian Meacham, an archivist for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, dropped by its Wellington headquarters during a vacation. He was confronted with a trove of nitrate prints of non-New Zealand titles that the young institution had yet to preserve (understandably, the New Zealanders were focused on their own national cinema)...Responsibility for repatriating the American films was assumed by the National Film Preservation Foundation, the nonprofit, charitable affiliate of the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board. (I am a member of the board, and have served on grant panels for the foundation, though none related to this project.) With support from several public and private institutions, including the Hollywood studios that retained copyright to some of the titles, the films are being preserved by the foundation’s five archival partners: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; George Eastman House; the Library of Congress; the Museum of Modern Art; and the University of California, Los Angeles, Film & Television Archive."

Copyright law and This Charming Charlie; Los Angeles Times, 9/26/13

Los Angeles Times; Copyright law and This Charming Charlie: "Tumblr, the blog's publisher, responded by removing three of the mash-ups last week, prompting LoPrete to announce the blog's demise. Then she changed her mind. As her attorney, Dan Booth of Cambridge, Mass., noted in a letter to Tumblr, LoPrete's parodic re-purposing of The Smiths' lyrics perfectly fits the definition of a fair use: She posts only snippets of the lyrics, puts them in a wholly new context and doesn't make any money off them or damage the market for the songs. In fact, the blog draws new attention to the long-defunct band. Universal says that it's no longer pursuing the matter, so LoPrete's story has a happy ending...It's been 15 years since Congress set up rules for the use of copyrighted material online; it's past time for lawmakers to overhaul them so that they work better for both copyright holders and those who make fair use of their works."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Intellectual Property Watch; Meeting Highlights Use Of Open Data In Science, Health And Sustainable Development, 9/18/13

Alessandro Marongiu, Intellectual Property Watch; Meeting Highlights Use Of Open Data In Science, Health And Sustainable Development: "At the end of a two-day conference in Switzerland, open knowledge experts emphasised the role of open data in strengthening science findings’ credibility, fostering medical research and enhancing sustainable development. The 2013 Open Knowledge Conference, an annual event organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation, aimed at understanding existing trends with a specific focus on open data use in new areas and sectors. The event was held in Geneva on 17-18 September... However, opening up scientific data may raise some concerns, particularly under the perspective of intellectual property rights. “As you access code and data, the role of copyright is not something to be ignored,” Victoria Stodden said. “US law says that original expressions of ideas fall under copyright by default. This is a barrier for me. To use a code I have to ask permission, it is actually not legal to just grab a code even if you put it on the web,” she added. She called on scientists to give up their IP rights for the sake of reproducibility and ask just for attribution when others use their data."

Yes, It's Fair Use To Mashup Charlie Brown And The Smiths;, 9/24/13

Mike Masnick,; Yes, It's Fair Use To Mashup Charlie Brown And The Smiths: "We had mentioned in our post about Universal Music sending bogus DMCA takedowns over Lauren LoPrete's This Charming Charlie tumblr mashup, that LoPrete had been contacted by various copyright and internet free speech lawyers offering to represent her. It appears that among the lawyers reaching out to her were the good folks at Booth Sweet -- whom we've covered many times for their efforts to fight copyright trolls and other bogus threats -- have taken on her case. Lawyer Dan Booth has sent a short and simple counternotice to Tumblr, arguing that the strips that were taken down were covered by fair use."

Monday, September 23, 2013

U.S. judge boosts Google 'fair use' defense of digital books; Reuters, 9/23/13

Reuters; U.S. judge boosts Google 'fair use' defense of digital books: "Google, based in Mountain View, California, has scanned more than 20 million books since its 2004 agreement with libraries worldwide to digitize books. The Authors Guild and groups representing photographers and graphic artists say the project amounts to massive copyright infringement. Google argues the practice constitutes fair use, an exception under U.S. copyright law, because it only provides portions of the works online. At a hearing in U.S. district court in New York on Monday, Judge Denny Chin said the question of fair use relies in part on whether the project "is a benefit to society." Chin then rattled off several examples of how Google's project has helped people find information, including his own law clerks. "Aren't these transformative uses, and don't they benefit society?" asked Chin."fair use,

Giant rubber duck causes big flap with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/22/13

Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Giant rubber duck causes big flap with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust: "On Friday, a 40-foot-tall rubber duck will float into Pittsburgh waterways, marking the beginning of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Pittsburgh Festival of Firsts. The Cultural Trust, which has paid to bring artist Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck Project to Pittsburgh, would like to control merchandise sold in conjunction with the event. "As a responsible arts presenter, we are committed to maintaining the integrity of the artist's work and all images affiliated with this public art installation," the Trust posted on its Facebook page. That stance isn't sitting well with ToonSeum founder and executive director Joe Wos, who received a cease-and-desist letter from the Cultural Trust after he created a T-shirt to be sold in celebration of the duck and of a pop-up rubber duck exhibit at the ToonSeum. Mr. Wos and a friend took about an hour to create a shirt, featuring a cartoon duck swimming above the phrase "Quack N'At," a nod to the popular Pittsburgh abbreviation for "and that.""

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Conan Doyle estate seeks to preserve US copyright of Sherlock Holmes's 'complex personality'; Guardian, 9/19/13

Liz Bury, Guardian; Conan Doyle estate seeks to preserve US copyright of Sherlock Holmes's 'complex personality' : "...whether use of the characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson is covered by copright law until the entire Holmes canon is out of copyright in the United States. At present, 10 stories from the final collection, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, remain in copyright, with the stories due to enter the public domain in different years up to 2022. Sherlockian editor and Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Leslie Klinger filed a suit in February with the aim of establishing that the characters of Holmes and Watson are already in the public domain in the US, after he was asked to pay for a licence to use them in his planned book In The Company of Sherlock Holmes... In its defence, filed this week in Illinois district court, the Doyle estate argues that the characters remain protected until the copyrights in the final stories expire, because the subtleties and quirks of character that define the super-intelligent detective, his trusty right-hand man, and the duo's relationship, were developed throughout the entire body of works."

How the Marrakesh Treaty Opens Vistas for Print-Disabled Readers; American Libraries, September/October 2013

Jonathan Band, American Libraries; How the Marrakesh Treaty Opens Vistas for Print-Disabled Readers: "This summer, a diplomatic conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which was held in Marrakesh, Morocco, adopted the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.” The treaty is designed to achieve the objective spelled out in its title by obligating the countries (known as contracting parties) that sign it to make exceptions in their copyright laws for the creation and distribution of accessible-format copies both domestically and across borders. As the first treaty devoted to copyright exceptions, the June 28, 2013, agreement represents a significant development in international copyright law... Since US law currently complies with the treaty’s requirements, lawmakers here do not need to pass any amendments in order to ratify the treaty. The treaty should nonetheless benefit print-disabled readers in the US by facilitating the import of more accesible-format copies from other contracting parties...Likewise, an authorized entity in Spain could export an accessible-format Spanish novel to a print-disabled person in California."

Nicki Minaj sued by mystery man for copyright infringement; Guardian, 9/12/13

Sean Michaels, Guardian; Nicki Minaj sued by mystery man for copyright infringement: "One of electronic music's most mysterious figures is suing Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement. Clive Tanaka – an artist who has never revealed his real name nor his home town – accused Minaj of copying his music on her worldwide hit Starships."

Court Gives a Victory to Pandora Over Licensing Streaming Music; New York Times, 9/18/13

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Court Gives a Victory to Pandora Over Licensing Streaming Music: "Pandora Media won a battle in its continuing war with the music industry over royalties when a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which represents thousands of members, cannot prevent Pandora from licensing all the songs in its catalog. The ruling, by Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, is a blow to music publishers, who have tried to get the best royalty rates for digital music by limiting the extent that performing rights societies like Ascap and Broadcast Music Incorporated represent their songs."

California’s Community Colleges Shift to Creative Commons Licenses; Wired Campus, 9/16/13

Hannah Winston, Wired Campus; California’s Community Colleges Shift to Creative Commons Licenses: "The board that governs California’s 112 community colleges has started requiring that courses, research, and other work paid for by the system chancellor’s office be made available free to all users under Creative Commons “attribution” licenses. While the system will retain the copyright on the materials, other users will be able to take advantage of them as long as the originators are properly credited."

Motion Picture Association Study Finds Search Engines Complicit In Piracy; Intellectual Property Watch, 9/18/13

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; Motion Picture Association Study Finds Search Engines Complicit In Piracy: "A new study released today by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the company of members of the United States Congress found that internet search engines play a key role in user access to copyright infringing content online."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lessig dispute shows value of ‘fair use’ of copyrighted songs; Boston Globe, 9/16/13

Editorial, Boston Globe; Lessig dispute shows value of ‘fair use’ of copyrighted songs: "...Liberation Music, spotting the “Lisztomania” samples in Lessig’s lecture, told YouTube to take down the video in late June. The company later caved in. Lessig, aided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, still plans to fight the takedown in US District Court in Boston, where Liberation Music had filed a complaint. He and the foundation plan to sue for damages incurred by the video going offline. It’s doubtful there’s much money involved, but Lessig’s tough stance puts copyright holders on notice that they have to consider fair use before trying to force material off the Internet. These questions will only get more complicated, as amateur users express their enthusiasm for songs by posting unauthorized remixes and videos on the Internet — and as the spontaneous sharing of materials through YouTube and social media becomes the primary way in which musicians and others find new audiences. What’s needed is a system that recognizes a copyright holder’s general ability to control material it owns — without chilling legitimate forms of expression."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sarah Palin's Super PAC Sued For Copyright Infringement Over Use Of 9/11 Photo; AP via, 9/13/13

AP via; Sarah Palin's Super PAC Sued For Copyright Infringement Over Use Of 9/11 Photo: "A New Jersey-based newspaper publisher is suing Sarah Palin and her political action committee for copyright infringement over the use of an iconic Sept. 11 photograph. A lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court by North Jersey Media Group Inc. says Palin's SarahPAC posted a copy of the photo on its website and Facebook page without permission."

Paper Finds Little Success In ‘Three-Strikes’ IP Enforcement Programmes; Intellectual Property Watch, 9/10/13

Intellectual Property Watch; Paper Finds Little Success In ‘Three-Strikes’ IP Enforcement Programmes: "“Evaluating Graduated Response,” authored by Rebecca Giblin of the Monash University Faculty of Law, is available here. The abstract of the paper reads: “It has been more than three years since the first countries began implementing ‘graduated responses’, requiring ISPs [internet service providers] to take a range of measures to police their users’ copyright infringements. Graduated responses now exist in a range of forms in seven jurisdictions. Right-holders describe them as ‘successful’ and ‘effective’ and are agitating for their further international roll-out. But what is the evidence in support of these claims?” The paper looks at schemes in France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States and evaluates “the extent to which they are actually achieving the copyright law’s aims,” it says."

Toward a Go-To Gershwin Edition; New York Times, 9/13/13

Larry Rohter, New York Times; Toward a Go-To Gershwin Edition: "Is it to-may-to or to-mah-to? That question may be unanswerable, but an agreement between the estates of George and Ira Gershwin and the University of Michigan, to be announced on Sunday, aims to create the first definitive edition of the Gershwins’ entire joint body of work, including such landmark pieces as “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Porgy and Bess” and “An American in Paris.” The project, which is expected to require several decades of note-by-note and word-by-word analysis, will allow University of Michigan scholars unrestricted access to Gershwin scores, letters and compositional drafts, which are at the Library of Congress and will remain there. From that material, at least 35 volumes are to emerge, in both book and electronic form, with the goal of cementing the Gershwins’ reputation as uniquely American geniuses and providing a reliable road map for future performances... Marc Gershwin, a nephew of George Gershwin who administers his copyrights, said the need for an authoritative critical edition had become increasingly obvious to the heirs in recent years."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Clear Channel-Warner Music Deal Rewrites the Rules on Royalties; New York Times, 9/12/13

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Clear Channel-Warner Music Deal Rewrites the Rules on Royalties: "On Thursday, the company announced a deal with the Warner Music Group that would for the first time allow the label and its acts to collect royalties when their songs were played on Clear Channel’s 850 broadcast stations. In exchange, Clear Channel will receive a favorable rate in the growing but expensive world of online streaming...In an arrangement that has long irked record companies and led to many lobbying standoffs in Washington, terrestrial broadcasters are not required to pay royalties to labels and performing artists for the records they play on the air. On the other side, Internet radio services like Pandora, as well as broadcasters like Clear Channel through its station Web sites and iHeartRadio app, pay these royalties, but they have complained that the statutory rates for licensing music are too high. (Both terrestrial and online radio also pay music publishers, which control songwriting rights.)"

Taking Back 'Funkytown': Songwriters Prepare For A Custody Battle; NPR's All Things Considered, 9/12/13

Joel Rose; NPR's All Things Considered Taking Back 'Funkytown': Songwriters Prepare For A Custody Battle: "When Congress revised U.S. copyright law in the 1970s, it granted "termination rights" to musicians and other creators, which allow them to regain control of their works after 35 years. (The law only applies to sound recordings released in 1978 or after.) Abdo says reclaiming ownership of "Funkytown" would allow his client to earn more in licensing fees and other revenues — exactly as Congress intended. "If you have a big hit or several big hits, then all of a sudden the deal that you made early in your career doesn't seem quite fair because it was very lopsided," Abdo says. "It gives the author a chance to get a second bite at the apple."... [O]ne big hurdle artists face is the question of whether a sound recording is a "work for hire." Since the 1970s, many labels have insisted on contract language that seems to define artists as employees of the label, Slotnick says."

Record Labels Sue Sirius XM Over the Use of Older Music; New York Times, 9/11/13

Ben Sisario, New York Times; Record Labels Sue Sirius XM Over the Use of Older Music: "Another, Feb. 15, 1972 — when federal copyright protection began to apply to recordings — has less recognition. But a recent string of lawsuits argue that licensing issues tied to that date may be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to singers and record labels. If the suits are successful, they could also bring a headache of liability to satellite and Internet radio services. On Wednesday, the three largest record companies — Sony, Universal and Warner, along with ABKCO, an independent that controls many of the Rolling Stones’ early music rights — sued Sirius XM Radio in a California court, saying that the satellite service used recordings from before 1972 without permission. Even though federal copyright protection does not apply to these recordings, the suits say that they are still covered by state law."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later; New York Times, 9/10/13

Larry Rohter, New York Times; A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later: "In the lucrative world of music copyright, it may be something of a watershed moment: on Friday, after six years of legal wrangling and decades after he wrote the lyrics to the hit song “YMCA,” Victor Willis will gain control of his share of the copyright to that song and others he wrote when he was the lead singer of the 1970s disco group the Village People. Mr. Willis, who dressed as a policeman during the group’s heyday, was able to recapture those songs, thanks to a little-known provision of copyright legislation that went into effect in 1978. That law granted musicians and songwriters what are known as “termination rights,” allowing them to recover control of their creations after 35 years, even if they had originally signed away their rights."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Judge slaps down Stan Lee Media’s bid for Marvel characters;, 9/6/13

Kevin Melrose,; Judge slaps down Stan Lee Media’s bid for Marvel characters: "A federal judge on Thursday dismissed Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Disney, potentially ending its long and confusing legal battle to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. The failed dot-com has had no connection to its co-founder and namesake in more than a decade; in fact, the two have sued each other on a few occasions. As Deadline reports, in granting Disney’s motion to dismiss the 2012 copyright-infringement complaint, U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez didn’t attempt to hide his annoyance with the litigious Stan Lee Media, whose tangled web of lawsuits began it at least 2007, just months after the company emerged from federal bankruptcy protection."

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author settles copyright theft case; New York Daily News, 9/6/13

Dareh Gregorian, New York Daily News; ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author settles copyright theft case: "The author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" has made peace with the literary agent who allegedly ripped her off. Harper Lee, 87, is dropping her big bucks lawsuit against her former agent Samuel Pinkus and others she'd charged had conned her out of the copyright to her novel, widely considered one of the greatest in American history."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants; New York Times, 8/31/13

Larry Rohter, New York Times; For a Classic Motown Song About Money, Credit Is What He Wants: "Unbeknown to Mr. Strong, who also helped write many other Motown hits, his name was removed from the copyright registration for “Money” three years after the song was written, restored in 1987 when the copyright was renewed, then removed again the next year — his name literally crossed out. Documents at the copyright office show that all of these moves came at the direction of Motown executives, who dispute Mr. Strong’s claim of authorship. Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder, declined requests for an interview, but his lawyers contend that the original registration resulted from a clerical error, and that Mr. Strong passed up numerous opportunities to assert his claim. Mr. Strong said he learned of the alterations only late in 2010 and has been struggling ever since to have his authorship officially reinstated. At stake: his ability to share in the lucrative royalties from the song’s use. But his efforts have been blocked by a provision of copyright law that says he relinquished his rights by failing to act in a timely fashion to contest Motown’s action. Mr. Strong’s predicament illustrates a little-known oddity in the American copyright system, one that record and music publishing companies have not hesitated to exploit. The United States Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, does not notify authors of changes in registrations, and until recently the only way to check on any alterations was to go to Washington and visit the archives personally."