"Oliver Wendell Holmes is right—judges aren’t necessarily going to be experts on, or very thoughtful about, aesthetic issues. Courts have to consider aesthetics in copyright law, but the result is often going to be messy and painful and often even unjust. There isn’t any way out of that. However, there is a change that could ameliorate the situation to some extent. Gone With the Wind was published in 1936. That means that it’s 78 years old. The first American copyright act of 1790 allowed for a copyright term of 14 years, which could be renewed for another 14-year term if the author was alive. If that original law was still in effect, Gone With the Wind would have gone out of copyright almost 50 years ago. For that matter, Star Wars, Star Trek, Spider-Man, Faulkner’s oeuvre, and Stephen King’s early books would all be out of copyright. If you wanted to do a parody or sequel to any of those, no court would have to rule on the aesthetic value of anything. It wouldn’t matter if a court believed Stephen King’s work was canonical, or if they thought Faulkner’s racial views deserved to be undermined and questioned. When a work is out of copyright, it’s aesthetic value, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. Whether it’s great or whether it’s awful, the work is fair game for parodists, remixers, piraters of cheap editions, and anyone else."
Issues and developments related to Intellectual Property (e.g. Copyright, Fair Use, Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets) and Open Movements (e.g. Open Access, Open Data, Open Educational Resources (OER)), examined in the "Intellectual Property and Open Movements" and "Ethics of Data, Information, and Emerging Technologies" graduate courses I teach at the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing and Information. -- Kip Currier, PhD, JD
Monday, September 29, 2014
How Copyright Law Protects Art From Criticism; Pacific Standard, 9/29/14
Noah Berlatsky, Pacific Standard; How Copyright Law Protects Art From Criticism:
Ridiculous Ruling Says University Can't Release Course Syllabi Because That Would Violate Professors' Copyright; Forbes, 9/29/14
George Leef, Forbes; Ridiculous Ruling Says University Can't Release Course Syllabi Because That Would Violate Professors' Copyright:
"On August 26, a Missouri appeals court held that course syllabi are protected by federal copyright law. That trumps the state’s Sunshine Law, so the court ruled that the university is correct in refusing to allow NCTQ or anyone else to have copies. NCTQ will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Missouri... On legal grounds, the University of Missouri’s refusal to release the syllabi looks very shaky. Do professors really hold copyright over their syllabi? One expert in copyright law, Chapman University law professor Tom Bell, thinks not. In an email to me, he wrote, “While debate continues over whether scholarship prepared in the course of employment with a university falls within the work-for-hire doctrine, there can be little doubt that syllabi do, meaning that the copyrights in them vest in the university rather than the professor.” Another reason for believing that the court’s ruling is incorrect is the “fair use” exception to copyright. Under “fair use,” people are permitted to make reasonable use of copyrighted material. Among the factors that are to be considered are whether the use is for a non-profit educational purpose and how the use would affect the market value of the work. Here, the analysis to be done on the syllabi is for a non-profit educational purpose (assessing the quality of the education school courses), and it has no impact at all on the market value of the syllabi, which is zero."
Parody copyright laws set to come into effect; BBC News, 9/29/14
BBC News; Parody copyright laws set to come into effect:
"Changes to UK legislation are to come into force later this week allowing the parody of copyright works. Under current rules, there has been a risk of being sued for breach of copyright if clips of films, TV shows or songs were used without consent. But the new European Copyright Directive will allow the use of the material so long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version. The new law will come into effect on 1 October. Owners of the copyrighted works will only be able to sue if the parody conveys a discriminatory message. It would then be down to a judge to decide if the parody is funny. "The only, and essential, characteristics of parody are, on the one hand, to evoke an existing work while being noticeably different from it and, on the other, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery," the EU rules state. "If a parody conveys a discriminatory message (for example, by replacing the original characters with people wearing veils and people of colour), the holders of the rights to the work parodied have, in principle, a legitimate interest in ensuring that their work is not associated with such a message.""
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The Unrepentant Bootlegger; New York Times, 9/27/14
Jenna Wortham, New York Times; The Unrepentant Bootlegger:
"To the government, Ms. Beshara was a thief, plain and simple. The Motion Picture Association of America alerted the federal government to NinjaVideo and nine other movie-streaming sites, and they all went dark at the same time. The raids were carried out by several federal agencies working to combat counterfeiting and piracy, and the scale of the operation was meant to send a warning that the government wasn’t ignoring the freewheeling world of illegal online streaming and downloading. Ms. Beshara, however, still can’t accept that what she was doing deserved the heavy hammer of the law. She served 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement, but she still talks about NinjaVideo as something grand. It was a portal that spirited her away from the doldrums of her regular life as a receptionist living with her parents to an online community that regarded her as its queen. Sure, she showed movies that were still playing in theaters, but it seemed like harmless, small-stakes fun. “In hindsight — I know it’s naïve — but I never imagined it going criminal,” she said. “It didn’t seem like it was something to be bothered with. Even if it is wrong.” She is not the only one who feels that way. It has proved very difficult to reverse a pervasive cultural nonchalance about what constitutes intellectual property theft on the web. Despite the government crackdown in 2010 and subsequent efforts to unplug websites that host or link to illegal content, new sites have emerged that filled the void that NinjaVideo left behind. Online piracy is thriving. File-sharing, most of it illegal, still amounts to nearly a quarter of all consumer Internet traffic, according to Cisco Systems’ Visual Networking Index. And a recent report from Tru Optik, a media analytics firm, said that nearly 10 billion movies, television shows and other files, including games and pornography, were downloaded globally in the second quarter of 2014. Tru Optik estimates that about 6 percent of those downloads were legal. In July, a high-quality version of “The Expendables 3,” the Sylvester Stallone action comedy film, surfaced online and was downloaded millions of times, well before its release in theaters."
A Stolen Video of My Daughter Went Viral. Here’s What I Learned; New York Times, 9/26/14
Carrie Goldman, New York Times; A Stolen Video of My Daughter Went Viral. Here’s What I Learned:
"In early September, someone downloaded my video of Cleo, stripped it of all identifying information, changed the title from “Cleo on Equality” to “Wisdom of a 4-Year-Old”, and re-uploaded it to YouTube, passing it off as his or her own video. A woman in Amsterdam posted an embedded version of the stolen video to her Facebook page, from which it went viral. Within a matter of days, the stripped-down version of the video had been shared over 80,000 times. I only learned about it when the pirated video began appearing in the news feed of people who recognized Cleo and noticed that it was not linked to any of my accounts. I felt sick on multiple levels. I have always known, of course, that the mere act of uploading a video to any digital site means potentially losing control over that content. But now it had happened, and even though the shares appeared to be harmless — approving, even — it was still terrifying. What if someone decided to do something creepy with it? There was also a part of me that saw all the comments lauding Cleo’s grasp of acceptance, and I wanted those people to be linked back to my anti-bullying work. I missed the opportunity to share what I do for a living with a wide audience. I was sad and confused. Was I upset because the video was out there being viewed by tons of strangers, or was I upset because it was out there and I wasn’t getting credit? Both, probably... I knew I had rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Since I speak to students and teachers all the time about good digital citizenship, I knew what steps to take next: • Do not retaliate against someone online • Take a screen shot and record the evidence • Use this online form to report the violation to Facebook. • Use this online form to report a copyright infringement on YouTube."
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer; Ars Technica, 9/24/14
Alex Wild, Ars Technica; Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer:
"Here is a true story about how copyright infringement costs my small photography business thousands of dollars every year. Or, maybe it isn’t. It could also be a true story of how copyright infringement earns me thousands of dollars every year. I can’t be sure. Either way, this is definitely the story of how copyright infringement takes up more of my time than I wish to devote to it. Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year. And it's why, in part, I am leaving professional photography for an academic position less prone to the frustrations of a floundering copyright system."
Friday, September 26, 2014
Marvel & Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute; ComicBookResources.com, 9/26/14
ComicBookResources.com; Marvel & Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute:
"Deadline reports that Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have settled their legal battle in advance of the Supreme Court taking the case into conference. A joint statement has been released and reads as follows: "Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.""
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Behind the Groundbreaking Design of Aphex Twin’s Record Covers; New York Times, 9/22/14
Andy Beta, New York Times; Behind the Groundbreaking Design of Aphex Twin’s Record Covers:
"Tomorrow sees the release of “Syro,” a double album on the pioneering electronic label Warp Records that finds the reclusive genius — now a father of two living in rural Scotland — at his mischievous, beat-twisting best. (It can be streamed here in its entirety; a Spotify account is required.) The record also shares a lineage with the eye-catching, face-distorting cover art of releases like 1997’s “Come to Daddy” and 1999’s “Windowlicker,” again finding James collaborating with the groundbreaking firm The Designers Republic (TDR) on the visuals. Here, the collective’s founder and creative director, Ian Anderson, chats with T about the thought process behind some of Aphex Twin’s most iconic cover art... “Come to Daddy Remixed” (1997) “For us the key elements in the ‘Come to Daddy’ art were the typographic deconstructions of the photographic imagery and of the TV ad for Orange Mobile, which had used one of the Aphex Twin remix tracks. For copyright reasons we weren’t allowed to show an image of the art, so we reduced the ad to a short descriptive text in reversed white out of orange.”
SiriusXM Copyright Battle: What Does the Latest Ruling Mean for Digital Music?; Billboard, 9/23/14
Ed Christman, Billboard; SiriusXM Copyright Battle: What Does the Latest Ruling Mean for Digital Music? :
"The U.S. Federal Court decision that SiriusXM violated the Turtles' pre-1972 master copyrights by playing their music without licensing it or paying performance royalties is a big win for the music industry, but does it have meaning beyond California where the legal battle took place? Like all lawsuit decisions, the ruling may have legal implications for other ongoing court cases, but the ruling has just decided a battle, not the war. That war centers on whether SiriusXM and other digital music services like Pandora, have the right to play pre-1972 recorded music without licensing nor paying royalties to record labels and the artists because -- those services argue -- the master recording copyright didn't exist until 1972 in federal law. Digital service, as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, must pay master recordings rights-holders and music publishers for broadcast, unlike terrestrial radio, which only has to pay royalties to publishers. But Sirius only pays for recordings created after 1972 when federal law recognized the master recording copyright."
Monday, September 22, 2014
‘Let’s Take a #Selfie,’ Said the Monkey: A Case of Questionable Copyrights; Wired, 9/18/14
Anderson J. Duff, Wired; ‘Let’s Take a #Selfie,’ Said the Monkey: A Case of Questionable Copyrights:
"The United States Copyright Office chimed in with its two cents in the recently published third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices – the first revision in over two decades. While prior publications were largely internal, the third edition is a push to make the practices and standards of the Copyright Office more timely and transparent while providing guidance on some fundamental principles of copyright law. Its verdict? Monkey selfies can’t be copyrighted. In the age of hyperconnected, always-on, muploads, likes and hashtags, how does intellectual property fit into the equation? How do we define “ownership” when pieces of content — especially images — are continuously created and uploaded into the public domain in a matter of seconds? As preteens, celebrities, President Obama, the Pope — and now, yes, even monkeys — jump on the selfie train, we may not think twice before uploading photos to Instagram or Facebook. But one filter we rarely consider is looking at the world through copyrights."
Posted by Kip Currier, PhD, JD at 9:39 AM No comments:
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Apple and Amazon Take Baby Steps Toward Digital Sharing; New York Times, 9/18/14
Molly Wood, New York Times; Apple and Amazon Take Baby Steps Toward Digital Sharing:
"In the physical world, you can share a book or DVD or CD that you bought with as many friends and family as you like. You can even sell those items if you want, thanks to the first sale doctrine. But digital media has been excluded from that doctrine, because, essentially, when you buy a digital song or movie or book, you’re being granted a license to use that media, but you don’t actually own it. As a result, there are far more restrictions on what you can do with an MP3 than on what you can do with a CD... So, while Family Sharing and Family Library seem like a victory at first, “to me, this is really a failure of our copyright law,” said Corynne McSherry, who heads intellectual property policy research at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It presupposes that the content owners should be able to have that kind of control over what they buy,” she said. “Copyright law isn’t changing with our times, because what doesn’t change is that people want to be able to give someone a copy of a book or song that they legally bought.” “The fact is,” Ms. McSherry said, “that we need Amazon or Apple to have elaborate license agreements in order to make it possible for their customers to be able to do what they should be able to do anyway.”"
Online Renegade, Wanted in U.S., Shakes Up New Zealand Election; New York Times, 9/18/14
Jonathan Hutchison, New York Times; Online Renegade, Wanted in U.S., Shakes Up New Zealand Election:
"It was not an ordinary political rally, but it has been anything but an ordinary election. The hundreds of people who packed Auckland Town Hall on a recent evening were regaled by speeches by Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder; and Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, the last two appearing by Internet video link. Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Snowden said the New Zealand government had carried out, or at least participated in, mass domestic surveillance. But at the center of the show was the event’s organizer, Kim Dotcom, an Internet entrepreneur accused of mass copyright theft whose fledgling Internet Party stands a chance at winning seats in Parliament in the national elections on Saturday. “We are going to work really, really hard to stop this country from participating in mass surveillance,” Mr. Dotcom told the crowd. “And we’ll close one of the Five Eyes,” he added, referring to the intelligence alliance that consists of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. The crowd erupted in cheers."
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Murdoch renews hostilities with Google over 'contempt' for copyright; Telegraph, 9/18/14
Christopher Williams, Telegraph; Murdoch renews hostilities with Google over 'contempt' for copyright:
" Rupert Murdoch has intervened in a European row over the power of Google, with News Corp accusing the search engine of being "contemptuous of intellectual property" and having "cynical management" that provides "a platform for piracy and the spread of malicious networks". In a letter to Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner at the head of a long-running investigation of allegations that Google abuses its dominance of the web search market to crush competition and exploit publishers, Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp launched a scathing attack."
Posted by Kip Currier, PhD, JD at 1:06 PM No comments:
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
How Open Data Is Transforming City Life; Forbes, 9/12/14
Joel Gurin, Forbes; How Open Data Is Transforming City Life:
"Start a business. Manage your power use. Find cheap rents, or avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods. Cities and their citizens worldwide are discovering the power of “open data”—public data and information available from government and other sources that can help solve civic problems and create new business opportunities. By opening up data about transportation, education, health care, and more, municipal governments are helping app developers, civil society organizations, and others to find innovative ways to tackle urban problems. For any city that wants to promote entrepreneurship and economic development, open data can be a valuable new resource. The urban open data movement has been growing for several years, with American cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington in the forefront. Now an increasing number of government officials, entrepreneurs, and civic hackers are recognizing the potential of open data. The results have included applications that can be used across many cities as well as those tailored to an individual city’s needs."
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Top 10 political copyright infringements.Stuff.co.nz, 9/17/14
Liam Hyslop, Stuff.co.nz; Top 10 political copyright infringements:
" Many candidates use tracks without permission in the hopes the artist will not notice and then, when they are inevitably caught out, issue an apology. It seems to have become increasingly common in recent years, with 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain having no fewer than six artists asking him to not use their music. In light of all of that, here is our top 10 list of political copyright infringements."
Friday, September 12, 2014
Pitt sets deadline for transfer of intellectual property rights; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/12/14
Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pitt sets deadline for transfer of intellectual property rights:
"Asked if researchers must transfer intellectual property rights to campuses in return for federal funding, the National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research provided a three-paragraph statement that said signed agreements verifying compliance with Bayh-Dole are required. The language did not appear to specifically address transferring intellectual property rights to universities. The faculty assembly Tuesday passed a resolution drafted by the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee asking Ms. Beeson and Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher to slow down the process to allow faculty and administrators to jointly address the ramifications. Barry Gold, pharmacy faculty member and co-chairman of the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee, said he has heard from a couple of investigators who are refusing to sign and others with concerns. Pitt administrators and Michael Spring, president of the faculty assembly, have said the agreements would be subject to the existing campus policies and therefore no additional rights would seem to be ceded, but some have asked what happens if the policies change, Mr. Gold said. “Does that mean we would get to re-sign those agreements?” Asked his reaction to Monday’s memo, Mr. Gold replied: “I don’t know what to say other than this is just another effort to steamroll faculty into signing.”"
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Questions raised about intellectual property rights at Pitt; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/11/14
Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Questions raised about intellectual property rights at Pitt:
"The University of Pittsburgh is telling all faculty and nonclerical staff they must sign agreements stating they “irrevocably assign and transfer to the university my rights, title and interest to all intellectual property” they develop while employed there. The administration says the agreements simply reflect existing campus intellectual property policies and that the signatures have become necessary to obtain federal research funding because of a 2011 Supreme Court case that Pitt says requires schools not only to have policies but also confirmation that employees will abide by them. But an official with the American Association of University Professors, which has seen a number of agreements drafted by schools since the Stanford vs. Roche decision, said Wednesday such signatures are not a requirement to secure grant funding. Forcing faculty to sign them is a violation of academic freedom, said Cary Nelson, AAUP’s immediate past president."
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
How copyright became the best defense against revenge porn; Washington Post, 9/8/14
Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post; How copyright became the best defense against revenge porn:
"Reddit had, in effect, just learned a lesson that revenge-porn activists, attorneys and victims have known for years: Despite the obvious privacy violations, the apparent harassment, and — in many cases, including this one — the overwhelming evidence of computer crimes, the quickest, easiest way to get compromising images off the Internet is frequently copyright law. “It’s the path of least resistance,” explains Amanda Levendowski, a recent graduate of NYU Law who has written extensively on revenge porn and copyright. “I wouldn’t say it’s the best solution, and it’s not a perfect fit, but it does do what victims want.” “Doing what victims want” — a.k.a., getting their misappropriated images off the Internet — turns out to be a messy, labyrinthine legal goal. For one thing, Levendowski says, every revenge porn case is different: some photos are selfies and some aren’t; some were hacked and some were uploaded by exes; some victims are under 18, and some are well over it. Different laws and legal concepts apply in each of those cases, which makes any kind of comprehensive approach impossible."
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up; New York Times, 9/8/14
Mike Isaac, New York Times; Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up:
"Reddit said its moderators were unable to keep up with a torrent of requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to remove the images, made by those who own rights to the photos. After a moderator removed a post in response to a D.M.C.A. request, another post would pop up in its place. Taking down the entire forums, Reddit said, was the only way to avoid playing a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole.” The moves came amid an continuing debate over the role websites play in hosting objectionable content online, and how much user-generated content platforms should or should not interfere with what their users post. Twitter, for instance, has faced increasing pressure to protect users from abuse and hate speech on its service, while YouTube has been used at times for distribution of horrifying videos. Despite its content removal, Reddit continues to maintain its hard-line stance on issues of free speech, even as it decided to take down the forums in question. The company said it had always dealt with D.M.C.A. removal requests by redirecting rights holders to the companies that host the photos on their servers. It has also held a zero-tolerance policy toward some content, such as child pornography. “We uphold the ideal of free speech on Reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to,” said Yishan Wong, Reddit’s chief executive, but because the company believes that the user “has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil,” and that it is the user’s responsibility to do so. His company blog post was titled “Every Man Is Responsible for His Own Soul.”"
Posted by Kip Currier, PhD, JD at 9:04 AM No comments:
Mickey Mouse Takes Deadmau5 to Court; Daily Beast, 9/3/14
Jay Michaelson, Daily Beast; Mickey Mouse Takes Deadmau5 to Court:
"As Mouse-watchers know, none of these questions really matter to Disney, which has gained a reputation as the world’s largest copyright enforcer (some would say copyright troll). Ranked #66 on the Fortune 500, Disney has plenty of lawyers to keep busy. They’ve sued Etsy stores, Stan Lee, Megaupload.com, YouTube, and hundreds of unauthorized merchandisers, dealers, and artists. And in addition to passing the Mickey Mouse Protection Act just before the Mouse himself was to enter the public domain, Disney lobbied hard for SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have authorized court orders barring search engines and advertisers from even linking to infringing websites. And Disney doesn’t just sue—it gets nasty. In 2008, Disney sued a family that bought unauthorized Tigger and Eeyore costumes on Ebay for $1 million plus legal costs. Really? A million bucks for a Halloween costume? And now, Deadmau5. There are three reasons why this case may be different, though."
Posted by Kip Currier, PhD, JD at 8:45 AM No comments:
Saturday, September 6, 2014
AAAS Chooses Not To Advance Open Access; Science 2.0, 9/4/14
The Conversation, Science 2.0; AAAS Chooses Not To Advance Open Access:
"Some universities and funding organizations, including those administered by governments, now mandate open access, recognising its potential to increase the impact of research paid for by public money. The United Nations is considering the importance of open access to ensure the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications”. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which is the largest scholarly society in the world, has recently launched a new open-access journal. But its approach is at odds with that of other major open-access publishers and could impair the goals of the movement. The journal Science Advances, to be launched in February by the AAAS, plans to publish articles under a license that would prevent commercial reuses by default. This includes publication on some educational blogs and incorporation into educational material, as well as reuse by small-medium enterprises. By definition, this is not open access. AAAS will give authors the option to publish their work under a fully open license, but will levy a US $1,000 surcharge on top of the US$3,000 base publication fee. A reason for this surcharge was not given. Science Advances is going to be an online-only journal, but AAAS will also charge authors US$1,500 more to publish articles that are more than ten pages long. They believe editorial services are enough justification for this charge, but there is no calculation to support this claim."
4chan website introduces copyright mechanism after celebrity hacking; Guardian, 9/4/14
Alex Hern, Guardian; 4chan website introduces copyright mechanism after celebrity hacking:
"Internet image board 4chan has introduced a policy for complying with the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for the first time. The site was the place where hundreds of naked selfies stolen from celebrities including actors Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were posted. The policy sets out for the first time a procedure by which copyright holders can send a DMCA takedown notice to the site’s administrators. These inform a website hosting user-generated content that one of their users has uploaded copyrighted material illegally, telling them to take down the relevant content or face legal action. A DMCA policy is important in helping a site gain “safe harbour” protection from lawsuits, deflecting responsibility for user-generated content that it has not explicitly approved. 4chan has named a DMCA agent for the first time and offers a postal address in Delaware – apparently a box at a professional services firm. Up until now, 4chan has been relatively well shielded from the consequences of the DMCA because of the ephemerality of the site. Although almost every post on 4chan involves an image, most of which are not licensed for use, most posts are deleted within a few hours of creation because the site trims any board bigger than ten pages."
The Heir’s Not Apparent: A Legal Battle Over Vivian Maier’s Work; New York Times, 9/5/14
Randy Kennedy, New York Times; The Heir’s Not Apparent: A Legal Battle Over Vivian Maier’s Work:
"The state public administrator’s office for Cook County, in Chicago, which is charged with overseeing estates until relatives or others are approved by the courts to do so, created an estate for Maier on July 1 and has sent letters to Mr. Maloof and others who sell her work — prints can cost more than $2,000 apiece — warning them of possible lawsuits over Maier’s assets. The Stephen Bulger Gallery, in Toronto, which lists dozens of Maier prints on its website, received a letter on Aug. 19 from a Chicago law firm, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, representing the estate, asking it to preserve all documents related to her work and its sale. “We are investigating the potential misuse and infringement of copyrighted works whose rights are held by the estate,” the letter said, adding that the firm anticipated “filing litigation against the responsible parties upon completion of our investigation.” An exhibition of her work is on view at the Toronto gallery."
Conan Doyle Estate Told to Pay Legal Fees; New York Times, 8/5/14
Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times; Conan Doyle Estate Told to Pay Legal Fees:
"A federal court has ordered the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to pay $30,679.93 in legal fees to the plaintiff in a successful copyright challenge, calling its practice of demanding licensing fees for use of the character Sherlock Holmes “a form of extortion” with “no legal basis.”... The reimbursement of legal fees, the ruling noted, was necessary to level the playing field between creators and copyright holders, who capitalize on people’s willingness to pay use fees rather than take the costly risk of litigation. It cited the example of the song “Happy Birthday to You,” for which a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, in the words of a 2009 decision, “receives approximately $2 million per year” in royalties, “despite the fact that the song is most likely in the public domain.” Last year a documentary film company filed a suit arguing that the song is no longer under copyright and requesting that the millions of dollars in use fees collected over the years be returned."
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Open data's Achilles heel: re-identification; ZDNet, 9/3/14
Rob O'Neill, ZDNet; Open data's Achilles heel: re-identification:
'Governments around the globe are embracing the mantra of open data and talking up its productivity benefits, but none have so far made the re-identification of this mass of anonymised data illegal... The possibility of outlawing re-identification is now being discussed in New Zealand, with both the Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, and a May report (pdf) from the New Zealand Data futures Forum suggesting legal protections against re-identification may be necessary. Edwards told ZDNet he is trying to look towards the future and ensure that the value in government data can be safely extracted in ways that maintain public confidence. “One of the methods might be a prohibition on re-identification. If we did that we would be world leaders," he said. Similarly, the Data Futures Forum report said it is necessary to develop a "robust data-use ecosystem" and to get the rules around open data right. This should include a data council to act as guardians and advisers, and a broad review of legislation."
Hard Cases Make Bad Law; Library Journal, 9/4/14
Kevin L. Smith, Library Journal; Hard Cases Make Bad Law:
"From both of these cases we can learn some basic truths; basic, but not universally recognized, which means that we need to remind ourselves and others about them. Copyright is a human institution that protects human creative effort within specific limits. One of those limits is the public domain, which has always been a part of copyright and which itself protects the ability of future authors to exercise their own creativity. Copyright is a set of economic rights held by authors, but it is not a form of mind control; simply knowing something, or remembering it, is not—and cannot ever be—a copyright problem. All laws need limits, lest they become an excuse for tyranny. These are some of the limits that are built into copyright, and they protect us from the unique types of tyranny that such a law might be prone to, including the illusion that every piece of culture must be owned by someone and that every use, even in one’s own mind, must be paid for."
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Tap millions of copyright-free book images via Flickr; CNet, 9/2/14
Michelle Starr, CNet; Tap millions of copyright-free book images via Flickr:
"The Internet is a magnificent resource -- and, Internet Archive believes, it has a lot of potential as a free library for researchers, historians, scholars and those who are just plain curious about the world. And, with a new project, that library is getting bigger. In collaboration with the Internet Archive, Georgetown University academic Kalev Leetaru is in the process of uploading more than 14 million images from more than 2 million public domain e-books (more than 600 million pages) to Flickr. The books, which are from the Internet Archive's library, span a period of 500 years and are automatically tagged thanks to a tool that scrapes the text before and after each image, making for a fully searchable database... Leetaru and the Internet Archive plan to share the code with library partners, allowing them to add to the already extensive archive. Meanwhile, the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr page is available online for anyone to use."
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Here’s How Celebs Can Get Their Nude Selfies Taken Down; Time, 9/2/14
Alex Fitzpatrick, Time; Here’s How Celebs Can Get Their Nude Selfies Taken Down:
"Some of the celebrities, like Lawrence, have pledged to go after whoever’s responsible for the privacy violation. While the hacker remains unidentified, the victims have at least one weapon to try and stop the images from spreading any further: Copyright law. Here’s how that could work: In the United States, copyrights on photos are granted to whomever took the image. Since so many of the stolen images are reportedly selfies, that means the women in the images took the photos themselves — and, therefore, they get the copyright on them."
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