Monday, April 28, 2014

Open data: slow down Whitehall's approach has the subtlety of a smash-and-grab-raider and it must take its own advice on best practice; Guardian, 4/18/14

Editorial, Guardian; Open data: slow down Whitehall's approach has the subtlety of a smash-and-grab-raider and it must take its own advice on best practice:
"Open data is potentially of incalculable value. The capacity to merge and manipulate information from a range of public bodies is already delivering wider benefit that ranges from better policing to environmental protection. It will lead to sharper policy making, cheaper drugs and improved health strategies. More contentiously, it could also develop into a valuable revenue stream for government. Whitehall is understandably excited about the potential. But it is approaching the whole open data project with the subtlety of a smash-and-grab raider...
A year ago, the government's own review into open data was published. Its first call was for a National Data Strategy, open to audit, that would set out what data should be released and in what form. Other recommendations included a focus on security, releasing anonymised data only into "safe havens" and introducing tough penalties on end users that fail to safeguard it. This may be part of the best practice HMRC insists it is committed to observing, but external experts are sceptical. Whitehall needs to take its own advice. It needs a strategy, one that explains exactly what the criteria for release of data are, sets out security safeguards that withstand challenge and introduces tough penalties for any breach that demonstrate a genuine respect for privacy."

The Shadow of the Billion-Dollar Copyright Award; National Law Review, 4/28/14

John K. Burke and Vedder Price, National Law Review; The Shadow of the Billion-Dollar Copyright Award:
"On March 18, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision with significant impact for copyright owners in Alaska Stock v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub. Co., holding that a registration for a compilation covers any copyrightable component works that are also owned by the applicant, even if the registration application did not list the title and author of each component work.
This ruling affirms that a copyright owner can obtain a single copyright registration covering a large number of works. For example, a magazine might contain over 100 separately copyrighted images along with 10 individually copyrighted articles. If the copyrights for the compilation, the photographs and the articles are held by a single owner, all of these works may be covered using a single registration by applying for a copyright in the compilation of the magazine. Using this approach, the owner is saved from needing to submit 111 separate copyright applications, each requiring a separate application and fee.
Going forward, content distributors such as website operators that regularly publish large numbers of copyrighted works must take care to ensure they only use works with the permission of the copyright owner."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

With Aereo, Supreme Court digs into copyright nuances; CNet, 4/22/14

Joan E. Solsman, CNet; With Aereo, Supreme Court digs into copyright nuances:
"The Supreme Court, grilling lawyers for TV-streaming service Aereo and the broadcast TV companies seeking to shut it down, focused Tuesday on issues of private versus public performance, universal uncertainty about risks to cloud computing, and the difference between true innovation versus technological cleverness to avoid paying for content.
At stake in the copyright case is how people watch and pay for TV in the digital age, and how the companies that create content are compensated. The case could also call into question the legality of cloud-computing services unrelated to TV, something several justices brought up with both sides."

At Stake in the Aereo Case Is How We Watch TV; David Carr, 4/22/14

David Carr, New York Times; At Stake in the Aereo Case Is How We Watch TV:
"Again and again, Aereo has been tagged as a Rube Goldberg-like invention. Some justices appeared to agree with that view, suggesting that Aereo was exploiting a loophole, a clever end run around federal copyright law...
Aereo is a hybrid of old and new, built on a legion of miniature antennas that grab programming out of the airwaves, as has happened since the dawn of television, but then storing that content in the cloud to be called down in an instant or at a time of the subscriber’s choosing. As arguments proceeded, you could see the justices grappling with the implications attached to the start-up: was it a cable company, was it a cloud storage enterprise, and most important, was it distributing the broadcasters’ programming to the public and if so, should it pay the price for doing so?"

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pandora sued by record labels for copyright infringement; CNet, 4/17/14

Dara Kerr, CNet; Pandora sued by record labels for copyright infringement:
"Pandora has been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit by major record labels, according to The New York Times. The labels contend that the music streaming service must pay license fees for songs recorded before 1972.
The suit was filed in New York state court by Sony, Warner, and Universal, according to the Times. The labels argue that even though older songs, like James Brown's "I Got You" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude," aren't protected under federal copyright law -- they are covered by state laws.
The record labels claim they lose millions of dollars yearly from Pandora, other streaming music services, and satellite radio companies for playing older songs. Many of these songs are played on streaming stations like "Golden Oldies" and "50s Rock 'n' Roll," and the labels say they should get royalties for these pre-1972 songs."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Boy named after Wayne Rooney not allowed personalised Easter egg due to 'copyright law';, 4/14/14

Sarah Ann Harris,; Boy named after Wayne Rooney not allowed personalised Easter egg due to 'copyright law' :
"A LITTLE boy named after England striker Wayne Rooney was told he could not have his name written on an Easter egg because of "copyright issues".
Staff at a branch of Thorntons in Bury, Greater Manchester, refused to ice three-year-old Rooney's name on a chocolate egg in case it broke copyright laws, said the child's angry mother, Jo-anne Scholes.
She said instead, as a compromise, staff agreed to put her son's full name, Rooney Scholes, on the egg, bought by a family friend on Saturday...
There is no copyright or trademark protection for people's names under UK law."

Of Bundles, Bindings, and the Next Great Copyright Law; Library Journal, 4/17/14

Kevin L. Smith, Library Journal; Of Bundles, Bindings, and the Next Great Copyright Law:
"What will the next great copyright law look like? It depends to a large degree on what we think is great about the current copyright law. Many of the problems and proposals for reform that I listened to in Berkeley made me think that the pressure of digital technology is too much for the very notion of copyright, and that the legal regime built around that concept is collapsing under the weight. The question, I think, is whether we should try to keep strengthening the structure of the law to withstand that pressure, which is the approach we have taken so far, or whether perhaps we should reduce the pressure by returning to a more lightweight set of protections. As someone pointed out during the week, our first copyright law in the U.S. protected simply the right to copy, publish, and vend a work. Maybe we could return to that approach by just protecting the right to commercially exploit a work of authorship and stripping away many of the protections, and hence the required exceptions, that cause so many problems for museums, schools, universities, and individuals who simply want to engage in socially beneficial activities that do not threaten the core markets for those works."

Big data and open data: what's what and why does it matter?; Guardian, 4/15/14

Joel Gurin, Guardian; Big data and open data: what's what and why does it matter? :
"Big data and the new phenomenon open data are closely related but they're not the same. Open data brings a perspective that can make big data more useful, more democratic, and less threatening.
While big data is defined by size, open data is defined by its use. Big data is the term used to describe very large, complex, rapidly-changing datasets. But those judgments are subjective and dependent on technology: today's big data may not seem so big in a few years when data analysis and computing technology improve.
Open data is accessible public data that people, companies, and organisations can use to launch new ventures, analyse patterns and trends, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems. All definitions of open data include two basic features: the data must be publicly available for anyone to use, and it must be licensed in a way that allows for its reuse. Open data should also be relatively easy to use, although there are gradations of "openness". And there's general agreement that open data should be available free of charge or at minimal cost."

SOPA Defeat Haunts Efforts to Rein In Illegal Copying, British Official Says; New York Times, 4/17/14

Michael Cieply, New York Times; SOPA Defeat Haunts Efforts to Rein In Illegal Copying, British Official Says:
"Following the defeat in 2012 of the Stop Online Piracy Act, movie companies and other advocates for copyright owners both here and in Britain have been pointed toward voluntarism. That has meant, among other things, agreements under which Internet service providers send escalating warnings to those who are believed to be downloading copyrighted material illegally.
But at a news briefing in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Mr. Weatherly, a plainspoken type, also talked of escalating pressure — legal and otherwise — on those who advertise on sites where illegal downloading is taking place. “There are some laws in place, but we might need to beef up a couple of them a bit more,” suggested Mr. Weatherly, who spoke of an effort to “strangle the advertising revenue from the illegal sites.”"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ted Hughes Estate Cuts Off Access, Biographer Says; New York Times, 3/31/14

Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; Ted Hughes Estate Cuts Off Access, Biographer Says: "
The estate did not offer an explanation for its withdrawal of access, but rejected the suggestion there were any secrets it was “attempting to keep hidden,” according to The Guardian. The Hughes archive was purchased by the British Library in 2008, but copyright remains with the estate. Mr. Bate said his contract with Faber was canceled by mutual consent, and that he would rewrite the book for HarperCollins, consulting with lawyers about how much he could quote or paraphrase in keeping with fair use laws."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Trace the past with NY Public Library's Open Access Maps Project; CNet, 4/7/14

Bonnie Burton, CNet; Trace the past with NY Public Library's Open Access Maps Project:
"For over 15 years, the Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division at the New York Public Library has been scanning maps from all over the world including those of the Mid-Atlantic United States from 16th to 19th centuries and even topographic maps of Austro-Hungarian empire ranging from 1877 and 1914.
Most notably, the NYPL has scanned more than 10,300 maps from property, zoning, and topographic atlases of New York City dating from 1852 to 1922.
There's also a "diverse collection of more than 1,000 maps of New York City, its boroughs and neighborhoods, dating from 1660 to 1922, which detail transportation, vice, real estate development, urban renewal, industrial development and pollution, political geography among many, many other things," NYPL posted in late March on its blog.
These and many more of the 20,000 cartographic works scanned are now available as high-resolution downloads for anyone who wants to visit their site.
"We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions," NYPL posted. "To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.""

Academic Publishing Waiver Raises Concern; Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times, 4/6/14

Megan O'Neil, Chronicle of Higher Education via New York Times; Academic Publishing Waiver Raises Concern:
"Faculty authors who contract to write for the publisher of Nature, Scientific American and many other journals could be signing away more than just the economic rights to their work, according to the director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University.
Kevin Smith, the Duke official, said he stumbled across a clause in the Nature Publishing Group’s license agreement last month stating that authors waive or agree not to assert “any and all moral rights they may now or in the future hold” related to their work. In the context of scholarly publishing, “moral rights” include the right of the author always to have his or her name associated with the work and the right to have the integrity of the work protected so that it is not changed in a way that could result in reputational harm.
“In many countries, you can’t waive them as an author,” Mr. Smith said. “But in the Nature publishing agreement you are required to waive them, and if you are in a country where a waiver is not allowed, you have to assert in the contract you won’t insist on those rights.”
Grace Baynes, a spokeswoman for the Nature Publishing Group, declined to say how long the language on moral rights had been included in its license agreement."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Studios hit Megaupload with copyright-infringement lawsuit; Los Angeles Times, 4/7/14

Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times; Studios hit Megaupload with copyright-infringement lawsuit:
"Hollywood studios are turning the screws on Kim Dotcom, founder of the once infamous piracy website Megaupload.
Several major U.S. studios on Monday filed a lawsuit against Kim Dotcom (a.k.a. Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor) and others associated with Megaupload, alleging that they encouraged and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows before they were indicted on federal criminal charges and Megaupload was shut down."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Government open data proves a treasure trove for savvy businesses; ComputerWorld, 3/24/14

Cindy Waxer, ComputerWorld; Government open data proves a treasure trove for savvy businesses:
""We're at a tipping point," says Joel Gurin, senior adviser at New York University's Governance Lab (GovLab) and author of Open Data Now: The Secret to Hot Startups, Smart Investing, Savvy Marketing, and Fast Innovation. "This is the year open data goes from being a specialized expertise to becoming part of a CIO's tool kit. It's a very exciting time."
But unlocking open data's value remains a challenge. For one thing, much of today's open data flows from a whopping 10,000 federal information systems, many of which are based on outdated technologies. And because open data can be messy and riddled with inaccuracies, IT professionals struggle to achieve the data quality and accuracy levels required for making important business decisions. Then there are the data integration headaches and lack of in-house expertise that can easily hinder the transformation of open data into actionable business intelligence.
Yet for those IT leaders who manage to convert decades-old county records, public housing specs and precipitation patterns into a viable business plan, "the sky's the limit," says Gurin."

Are MOOCs - massive open online courses - the future of education?; The Australian, 4/5/14

Julie Hare, The Australian; Are MOOCs - massive open online courses - the future of education? :
"TODAY you can study with a Nobel Laureate - at home, for free. Is this the end of traditional university education?
Last August, Diccon Close went back to university, enrolling in an esoteric-sounding course called “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” from Pennsylvania State University in the US. It was the first proper study Close, 49, had done since he passed his economics degree in the 1980s and he was pleased with himself when he gained a distinction. To do the five-week course, Close didn’t have to fly to the States or turn up to a campus. He completed it on his laptop in moments etched out from his frantic schedule while living and working in Sydney. His cohort consisted of 48,000 people from 150 countries and they were all connected through chat rooms and social media. For all he knows, he might have had a classmate living around the corner. Best of all, it didn’t cost him a cent."

Beastie Boys settle copyright dispute with toy company GoldieBlox; Guardian, 3/18/14

Guardian; Beastie Boys settle copyright dispute with toy company GoldieBlox:
"The Californian toy company GoldieBlox has reached a settlement with the Beastie Boys over its parody of their song Girls, which was used in an advert that went viral.
On 21 November 2013, a San Francisco-based law firm representing GoldieBlox filed a pre-emptive lawsuit asking the court to rule that, because it was a parody, the company’s version of the Beastie Boys song constituted fair use. An agreement to dismiss the claim has now been reached, and was filed in a US district court on 17 March, the Oakland Tribune reported.
The video, which gained more than 8m views in a week, encouraged young women to code apps, build spaceships and become engineers."

Lady Antebellum, Hanson Schmooze Lawmakers, Stump for Copyright Laws; U.S. News, 4/3/14

Tierney Sneed, U.S. News; Lady Antebellum, Hanson Schmooze Lawmakers, Stump for Copyright Laws:
"Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of the Recording Academy announced a new legislative initiative he and other reps from the music industries will be campaigning for during their advocacy day at the Capitol Thursday. Portnow proposed “a music omnibus bill” or a “MusicBus,” as he coined it during the event’s keynote speech. The bill he hopes to craft with lawmakers would strengthen the copyright laws across the music industry – unifying the interests of labels, publishers, performing rights organizations and others – in addition to piecemeal proposals that have been met by pushback from the National Association of Broadcasters."

Somerville resident works to open government data in Mass., other states; Boston Business Journal, 4/4/14

David Harris, Boston Business Journal; Somerville resident works to open government data in Mass., other states:
"Adam Friedman, a 32-year-old Somerville resident who works in the growing field of civic technology, is using his knowledge of programming to try to make state and local governments more accessible to the public.
His latest project. a searchable database of Massachusetts historic election information, gives voters a chance to peek into data that's traditionally been in the hands of the elections division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office...
"i [sic] see this as one piece in the larger infrastructure of democracy," he said. "Having this is giving people basic information about how power is transferred. Given that we're paying for the infrastructure to administer and collect votes, the citizens should have access to this anytime. It's a fundamental right."...
Next for Friedman? He's currently in the process of founding a company called Civica, devoted to public interest software — mostly targeted to government at all levels across the country."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

UK copyright tweak in June will finally allow ripping of CDs; Guardian, 3/31/14

Charles Arthur, Guardian; UK copyright tweak in June will finally allow ripping of CDs:
"Under the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, it is not in fact legal to transform a piece of copyrighted content from one storage form to another - so turning a CD, which is encoded in one method, into a file formatted as MP3 or Windows Media Audio or AAC and storing it on a computer hard drive or digital music player is, strictly, against the law.
Record labels have known about this for years - but have turned a blind eye, because prosecuting everyone who bought a music player or transferred files to their phone would be both ruinously expensive and terrible publicity.
But, the IPO guidance points out, "it will still be illegal to make copies for friends or family, or to make a copy of something you do not own or have acquired illegally, without the copyright owner's permission. So you will not be able to make copies of CDs for your friends, to copy CDs borrowed from friends, or to copy videos illegally downloaded from file-sharing websites.""

Jack Kirby’s heirs take Marvel copyright fight to Supreme Court;, 4/3/14

Kevin Melrose,; Jack Kirby’s heirs take Marvel copyright fight to Supreme Court:
"Claiming an appeals court “unconstitutionally appropriated” Jack Kirby’s copyrights and gave them to Marvel, the late artist’s heirs have taken their fight with the comics publisher to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a petition filed March 21, and first reported by Law 360, Kirby’s children argue “it is beyond dispute” that the artist’s Marvel work between 1959 and 1963 was not produced as “work for hire” and, therefore, is subject to a clause in the U.S. Copyright Act that permits authors and their heirs to reclaim copyrights transferred before 1978.
The appeal follows an August decision by the Second Circuit upholding a 2011 ruling that Kirby’s Marvel works were indeed made at the “instance and expense” — that term plays a significant role in the heirs’ petition — with the publisher assigning and approving projects and paying a page rate; in short, they were “work for hire.” As such, the courts found, the 45 copyright-termination notices the artist’s heirs filed in 2009 for such characters as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Hulk were invalid."