Saturday, April 30, 2016

Behold, a legal brief written in Klingon; Washington Post, 4/29/16

Brian Fung, Washington Post; Behold, a legal brief written in Klingon:
"A group of linguists is boldly going where no one has gone before.
In a legal brief peppered with idioms written in the original Klingon, the Language Creation Society — a California nonprofit devoted to supporting "constructed languages" — is trying to convince a court that the alien language from "Star Trek" is a real, "living" form of communication.
The made-up language is at the heart of a big copyright case involving CBS and Paramount, which own the rights to the "Star Trek" franchise, and a group of filmmakers who are trying to produce their own, original "Star Trek" film. If the studios win the fight, it would deal a major blow to the crowdfunded movie and to subsequent fan creations."

Thursday, April 28, 2016


"Fans eager to learn more about Fox's slate of X-Men films will be disappointed to learn that the studio will not be attending San Diego's Comic-Con International this year. The report comes from The Wrap, who says that a source close to the studio has said that Fox has pulled out of a Hall H presentation, which would include sneak peeks and information about upcoming Fox movies, over piracy concerns."

Celebrating American Ingenuity and Innovation on World Intellectual Property Day; The White House, 4/26/16

Danny Marti, The White House; Celebrating American Ingenuity and Innovation on World Intellectual Property Day:
"Today, on World Intellectual Property Day 2016, we join our partners around the world in celebrating the important role that the creative and innovative communities play in our cultural and economic lives.
As President Obama said in commemoration of World Intellectual Property Day, or World IP Day, today: “Whether through the music or movies that inspire us, the literature that moves us, or the technologies we rely on each day, ingenuity and innovation serve as the foundations upon which we will continue to grow our economies and bridge our cultural identities.”...
So take a moment today to join President Obama in celebrating the role of intellectual property in our world. And to all the makers out there, keep doing what you do. America’s greatest export truly is the creativity and innovation of the American people."

On IP Protection, USTR Finds Fault With China, India … And Switzerland?; Intellectual Property Watch, 4/27/16

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; On IP Protection, USTR Finds Fault With China, India … And Switzerland? :
"The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) does not hesitate to add even its closest friends to its annual list of concerns about possible inadequate protection of US intellectual property rights...
This year’s report is available here.
Other close partners on the list or facing further scrutiny include Canada, Chile, Colombia and Spain. And as an example of the breadth of the report, problems US rightsholders claim to have defending country-code internet domain names led USTR, in the report, to cite China, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The report also includes an extensive section on geographical indications, taking issue with the European Union system.
This year’s report also reflects the increasing inclusion of trade secrets in the context of intellectual property rights, despite significant differences in purpose. It singles out China and India for problems on trade secret protection."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Copyright Case Victor Returns to Supreme Court for Legal Fees; New York Times, 4/25/16

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Copyright Case Victor Returns to Supreme Court for Legal Fees:
"Three years ago, a Thai student who had helped finance his American education by selling imported textbooks won a major Supreme Court victory, persuading the justices that it is lawful to buy copyrighted books abroad and resell them in the United States. The ruling, which clarified an ambiguous phrase in the Copyright Act, applied to all manner of products, including books, records, art and software.
The student, Supap Kirtsaeng, returned to the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking more than $2 million in legal fees from John Wiley & Sons, the publisher that had sued him.
The usual rule in American civil litigation is that each side pays its own lawyers regardless of who wins. But the Copyright Act allows judges to “award a reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party.”
Federal appeals courts apply different standards in deciding when fee awards in copyright cases are warranted."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Post-Gazette loses court fight to block state agencies from deleting emails; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/26/16

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Post-Gazette loses court fight to block state agencies from deleting emails:
"The Post-Gazette and other media outlets said the practice violated the due process rights of the public seeking records under the state’s Right-to-Know law.
The Commonwealth Court rejected the argument, saying the Right-to-Know law doesn’t have a record-retention requirement, doesn’t outlaw destruction of records and governs only whether existing records should be made public.
The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court and denied the paper’s request for an oral argument."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ohio State Trademarks Name of Ex-Football Coach Woody Hayes; Associated Press via New York Times, 4/22/16

Associated Press via New York Times; Ohio State Trademarks Name of Ex-Football Coach Woody Hayes:
"After trademarking the name of current Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, the university has done the same with a predecessor, Woody Hayes.
The university filed for the trademark earlier this year from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, The Columbus Dispatch ( ) reported.
The director of trademark and licensing services at Ohio State, Rick Van Brimmer, said the school has used the late coach's name or face on T-shirts, hats and bobblehead figures over the years."

Chief Justice Calls U.S. Patent Challenge Process Bizarre; Reuters via New York Times, 4/2/5/16

Reuters via New York Times; Chief Justice Calls U.S. Patent Challenge Process Bizarre:
"U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday described as bizarre the legal process used by companies to challenge competitors' patents as the Supreme Court heard a case involving a vehicle speedometer that alerts drivers if they are driving too quickly.
The eight justices heard an appeal filed by Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC, whose speedometer patent was invalidated in a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review board procedure after being challenged by GPS device maker Garmin Ltd in 2012.
The issue before the justices during a one-hour argument in the case was whether the U.S. government has made it too easy for companies to pursue challenges to the patents of other companies...
Roberts was the most outspoken critic among the eight justices of the current system in which companies can adopt a dual-track strategy by challenging patents simultaneously in federal court and through the agency review board."

Cassandra Clare Created a Fantasy Realm and Aims to Maintain Her Rule; New York Times, 4/23/16

Penelope Green, New York Times; Cassandra Clare Created a Fantasy Realm and Aims to Maintain Her Rule:
"These high stakes may be why so many young-adult and fantasy authors find themselves ensnared by lawsuits.
In February, Ms. Clare was sued for copyright infringement, among other charges, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, an American young-adult author who writes an urban fantasy series about demon killers named Dark-Hunters. Ms. Clare’s lawyer, John R. Cahill, said he expected the suit to be dismissed and issued a statement that read, in part, “The lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie.”
But the dispute puts Ms. Clare in good company: Ms. Meyer; Rick Riordan, another successful author who drew from Greek mythology when he created his young-adult series; and Ms. Rowling have all been sued for plagiarism, often more than once."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prince;, 4/24/16

Rob Rogers,; Prince
"Prince's impact will continue to be felt..."

Canadian journal breaks new ground in open access science; Globe and Mail, 4/12/16

Ivan Semeniuk, Globe and Mail; Canadian journal breaks new ground in open access science:
"On Tuesday, Canadian Science Publishing – an organization born out of the downsizing of the National Research Council – officially launches FACETS, an online multidisciplinary journal that is Canada’s most ambitious effort yet to carve a niche in the burgeoning world of open access science.
FACETS will charge a fee of $1,350 for each paper it publishes, a few hundred dollars less than the cost of publishing in PLOS ONE, the world’s leading open access journal, which uses a similar model.
But while PLOS ONE requires only that a scientific paper be technically sound for publication, FACETS will also require that each paper it publishes contributes new knowledge, Dr. Blais said.
FACETS will also publish opinion pieces and articles on science policy, he added, providing a forum that could lead to a more public airing of issues related to science in Canada and its interaction with government and politics."

Is Open Access To Research Biden's Answer To Curing Cancer?; Forbes, 4/22/16

Lindsey Tepe, Forbes; Is Open Access To Research Biden's Answer To Curing Cancer? :
"Vice President Joe Biden sees hope beyond the horizon for cancer research. As the man tapped by President Obama to tackle the disease with a new “cancer moonshot,” Biden addressed the nation’s leading cancer experts at their annual research meeting this week by invoking an example from outer space—the Hubble Telescope—and laying out an exciting vision for open research in the process.
The Hubble Space Telescope mission promised to bring into focus faraway objects, celestial bodies beyond the view of astronomers. But when it was first launched in 1990, a faulty mirror blurred the telescope’s vision—it wasn’t until three years later that the NASA team was able, using tiny mirrors, to improve its sight and take its first, sharp photographs of the universe. With the addition of improved spectrograph technology a few short years later, the team was able to improve its search for supermassive black holes...
Openness isn’t just an argument for the public interest, though perhaps that’s where it starts. Taxpayers in the United States currently fund almost $5 billion in cancer research annually, with an additional $800 million in the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2017 to support cancer research. Right now, the results of that research are overwhelmingly published in closed journals that can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to access. When even Harvard can’t keep pace with the rising cost of journal subscriptions, just imagine what that means for everyone else.
Quoting an op-ed published on Monday in Wired by Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley, Biden asked the researchers assembled to imagine if, instead, we broke down these barriers to cancer research and made the findings of our public investment openly available to all. Establishing a system of open access—free, immediate access to research articles online, coupled with legal permissions to reuse it—holds the potential to address distorted priorities built into this closed system for publication."

E.U. urged to free all scientific papers by 2020; Science, 4/14/16

Martin Enserink, Science; E.U. urged to free all scientific papers by 2020:
"One of the perks of holding the rotating presidency of the European Union is that it gives a member state a 6-month megaphone to promote its favorite policy ideas. For the Netherlands, which took over the presidency on 1 January, one surprising priority is open access (OA) to the scientific literature. Last week, the Dutch government held a 2-day meeting here in which European policymakers, research funders, librarians, and publishers discussed how to advance OA. The meeting produced an Amsterdam Call to Action that included the ambition to make all new papers published in the European Union freely available by 2020.
Given the slow pace with which OA has gained ground the past 10 years, few believe that’s actually possible, but the document is rallying support."

Pennsylvania Announces Open Data Portal; Government Technology, 4/18/16

Colin Wood, Government Technology; Pennsylvania Announces Open Data Portal:
"Pennsylvania is renewing its commitment to transparency.
On April 18, Gov. Tom Wolf, who assumed office in January, signed an executive order to create an open data portal. The new portal is mandated to contain downloadable, machine-readable data, a feature not offered by the state’s existing transparency site called PennWATCH. The state Office of Administration is also mandated to help agencies find their most valuable data sets...
The commonwealth’s data portal efforts are to be led by Julie Snyder, director of the Office of Data and Digital Technology at the Office of Administration. By working closely with the state’s agencies, civic hacker community, universities and cities, she will identify which data sets are most useful to be unlocked first, said Sharon Minnich, secretary of the Office of Administration. To develop its plan, Minnich said, Pennsylvania not only looked around the nation to spot best practices, but also assessed plans closer to home, asking Pittsburgh for advice.
“There’s a lot of open data out there that doesn’t necessarily get downloaded, so we want to make sure we put out the most valuable information,” she said. “In speaking to the universities, there really were a broad spectrum of interests. It’s going to depend on what the use cases would be for those data sets we would publish.”"

Gov. Wolf signs open data executive order;, 4/18/16

Juliana Reyes,; Gov. Wolf signs open data executive order:
"Four years after Mayor Michael Nutter signed an open data executive order for the City of Philadelphia, Gov. Tom Wolf is signing one for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Our goal,” Wolf said in a statement, “is to make data available in order to engage citizens, create economic opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, and develop innovative policy solutions that improve program delivery and streamline operations.”
As part of the order, the state will form an advisory committee and launch an open data portal. The state aims to launch the portal in August, where it says it will post data in a machine-readable format. The first datasets slated for release will be focused on Wolf’s goals, said Office of Administration Secretary Sharon Minnich.
The order will be carried out by Julie Snyder, director of the Office of Data and Digital Technology. Snyder, the former chief information officer of the Department of Environmental Protection, reports to Minnich."

USPTO appeals to Supreme Court for ruling on racially tinged trademarks; Ars Technica, 4/22/16

Joe Mullin, Ars Technica; USPTO appeals to Supreme Court for ruling on racially tinged trademarks:
"In December, a court case brought by Portland-based Asian American rock band "The Slants" led to what could be a major change in US trademark law. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overruled the US Patent and Trademark Office, which had refused to give the band a trademark, citing a law barring "disparaging" marks.
The battle isn't quite over, though. Patent Office lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court, asking them to consider the case. If the Supreme Court takes up the case and reverses the Federal Circuit—something the high court has not hesitated to do in recent patent cases—the USPTO will retain its ability to quash disparaging trademarks.
Either way, the results of the case will have repercussions for other owners of controversial trademarks—most notably, the Washington Redskins. The football team was stripped of its trademark rights after years of litigation but is continuing its fight at the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit."

Study: Lawsuits Down, But Non-Practicing Entities Buying Patents At 'Steady Rate'; Forbes, 4/21/16

Michael Carroll, Forbes; Study: Lawsuits Down, But Non-Practicing Entities Buying Patents At 'Steady Rate' :
"The amount of patent-infringement litigation took a noticeable dip in the first quarter of this year compared to the same time period in previous years, but whether the numbers reflect a true downturn rather than a temporary hiccup remains to be seen – especially considering prospective plaintiffs are still amassing patents at their normal rate.
That’s the conclusion of an analysis of patent litigation volume reported by RPX Corp., a patent aggregator that helps clients manage and mitigate risks associated with patent-infringement lawsuits.
The company tracks litigation by non-practicing entities, or NPEs – those who hold patents and launch patent-infringement lawsuits against people or companies for allegedly using or profiting from an element of the patents the NPE holds. As a rule, NPEs obtain patents for products but don’t develop or market them.
Some refer to NPEs as “patent trolls.” RPX has spent more than $2 billion to acquire more than 15,000 patents in order to help companies avoid litigation. They both purchase patents before they can be obtained by non-practicing entities that will target their clients with lawsuits and obtain patents from NPEs after a lawsuit has been filed."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Google Case Ends, but Copyright Fight Goes On; Publishers Weekly, 4/22/16

Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly; Google Case Ends, but Copyright Fight Goes On:
"In a statement, Authors Guild officials called the Supreme Court’s denial a “colossal loss” for authors and bemoaned the “expansion of fair use” in the digital age. Executive director Mary Rasenberger suggested that the courts in the Google case were “blinded” by the “public-benefit arguments.” And Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson added that the Supreme Court’s denial was “further proof that we’re witnessing a vast redistribution of wealth from the creative sector to the tech sector.”
Others, however, including public advocacy group Public KnowIedge hailed the end of the litigation. “The Supreme Court’s decision to let the Second Circuit’s ruling stand reflects what we have long said, that fair use is a powerful and flexible doctrine that enables not only new works, but also innovative uses of existing works," said Raza Panjwani, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge. "This denial will hopefully lead to new efforts to expand our access to culture and knowledge through digital formats.”
Jonathan Band, an attorney for the library community agrees. "I don't know if anyone else will create another search database for books," he told PW, "but others will create search databases for other sorts of materials, to the benefit of public and the copyright owners."
But that theme—that the courts are enabling the tech sector to unfairly build its value off the backs of creators—has become an animating principle in a copyright policy fight that is slowly beginning to take shape. And while the Google case may have ended in the courts, the copyright fight in the policy arena is likely just getting started...
“I think it hurts them,” [Grimmelmann] said. “The way they lost this case, by litigating this through to four resounding fair-use decisions, the last of which was written by Pierre Leval [considered the nation’s foremost jurist on fair use], it’s hard to imagine any way to lay down stronger bricks for fair use than that.”"

Friday, April 22, 2016

Librarian of Congress Nominee Carla Hayden Confirmation Hearing; C-SPAN, 4/20/16

C-SPAN; Librarian of Congress Nominee Carla Hayden Confirmation Hearing:
"Librarian of Congress Nominee Carla Hayden Confirmation Hearing: Carla Hayden, President Obama’s nominee to be the next librarian of Congress, testified at her confirmation hearing. Many questions Ms. Hayden answered concerned the Library of Congress’s functions, including its copyright office, and what challenges she sees ahead for the institution. Maryland Senators Barb Mikulski and Ben Cardin and former Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes testified in support of her nomination."

Why U Can’t Find Prince’s Music Online; Slate, 4/21/16

Dan Kois, Slate; Why U Can’t Find Prince’s Music Online:
"The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/genius had a famously fraught relationship with distributive technology: He embraced it in disseminating his music, as long as he maintained control over his own work. But he battled for decades with his record company, subverted traditional channels of distribution, and even last year removed his catalog from nearly every streaming service. And he was fervent in defending his copyright against exploitation, to a degree that seemed, at times, excessive, including issuing takedown notices to Vine users, threatening fan-site operators for running his photo, and filing a DMCA complaint against a mom who posted a video of her kids dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy.” (That case made it to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September.)
The practical result of all this is that, through Prince’s own efforts and expressed wishes, the standard methods of mourning a great artist are a little bit cockeyed this afternoon. Sure, everyone is digging up whatever remarkable videos they can—we’re on it—but nearly all his fantastic live performances, his surprising covers, his leaked material are nowhere to be found on my Twitter feed and Facebook news feed. And while I’d love nothing more than to stream Prince on Spotify right now, he’s not there."

The Prince of Copyright Enforcement; Wall Street Journal, 4/21/16

Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal; The Prince of Copyright Enforcement:
"The pop music world suffered a huge loss on Thursday with the sudden death of Prince, who will be long remembered as one of the industry’s most innovative and influential stars.
But in the legal arena, “the artist formerly known as Prince” was known as perhaps the recording industry’s most tenacious defender of copyright protections.
The artist and music companies representing him pushed the boundaries of copyright law with disputes that set legal precedents and polarized fans.
It was just last year when a federal appeals court in California ruled in the famous “dancing baby” case that centered on a 29-second home video of a baby dancing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy.” The court ruled against Universal Music Corp., which enforced Prince’s copyrights, concluding that the company failed to consider whether the content in the video qualifies as fair use before trying to scrub the Internet of it."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Challenge to Google Books Is Declined by Supreme Court; New York Times, 4/18/16

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Challenge to Google Books Is Declined by Supreme Court:
"The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a challenge to Google’s digital library of millions of books, turning down an appeal from authors who said the project amounted to copyright infringement on a mass scale.
The Supreme Court’s brief order left in place an appeals court decision that the project was a “fair use” of the authors’ work, ending a legal saga that had lasted more than a decade...
As is their custom, the justices gave no reasons for declining to hear the case, Authors Guild v. Google Inc., No. 15-849.
Last year, a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that Google’s project was lawful and beneficial.
“The purpose of the copying is highly transformative, the public display of text is limited and the revelations do not provide a significant market substitute for the protected aspects of the originals,” Judge Pierre N. Leval, an authority on copyright law, wrote for the panel."

Obama’s Secrecy Problem; Slate, 4/15/16

Fred Kaplan, Slate; Obama’s Secrecy Problem:
"Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told me Thursday, “This is a time of particularly promising ferment over secrecy policy. There is a recognition, even within the national-security apparatus, that the classification system has overreached and needs to be pruned back.” Yet by all measures, the bureaucracies persist in resisting this pruning, Congress won’t allocate the money for the shears, and the president hasn’t mustered the full attention and commitment that the task requires. Information may want to be free, but Washington has it wrapped in a tangle."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Artist Says Brazilian Protesters Copied His Giant Rubber Duck; New York Times, 4/1/16

Christopher Merle, New York Times; Artist Says Brazilian Protesters Copied His Giant Rubber Duck:
"The duck used in the demonstrations has X’s in place of its eyes and a Portuguese slogan across its chest that says: “We won’t pay for what is not our fault anymore.” But representatives for the Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman, who is known for his outsize creations depicting animals, say they saw too many similarities between his rubber duck and the one used in Brazil — and they are not amused...
A spokeswoman for Mr. Hofman, Kim Engbers, said in an email: “Of course we want to emphasize that it is a shame that this parody is used for propaganda. Our project is meant to be nonpolitical.”
She added: “It is a positive work and has healing functions.”
Ms. Engbers, however, stopped short of calling the Brazilians’ use of the rubber duck a copyright infringement."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lifting the Patent Barrier to New Drugs and Energy Sources; New York Times, 4/12/16

Eduardo Porter, New York Times; Lifting the Patent Barrier to New Drugs and Energy Sources:
"Malaria has preyed on humans for centuries. Hundreds of thousands of children die each year from the disease. Considering the market’s size, why haven’t pharmaceutical companies rushed to develop a vaccine against the deadly parasite that causes it?
The answer is easy: There is no money to be made from a vaccine for poor children who could not possibly pay for inoculation.
Last year, GlaxoSmithKline finally introduced the world’s first malaria vaccine for large pilot tests among African children. The move, however, is not an endorsement of the profit motive as a spur for innovation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation picked up much of the tab. And Glaxo does not expect to make money on its investment.
The lack of interest of the pharmaceutical industry, which generates huge profits protected by a web of patents enforced around the world, raises an important question.
Do we need a different way to spur innovation and disseminate new technologies quickly around the world? Are patents, which reward inventors by providing them with a government-guaranteed monopoly over their inventions for many years, the best way to encourage new inventions?"

‘We Shall Overcome’ Copyright May Be Overcome One Day; New York Times, 4/12/16

Ben Sisario, New York Times; ‘We Shall Overcome’ Copyright May Be Overcome One Day:
"Last year, a federal judge ruled that the long-claimed copyright to the song “Happy Birthday to You” was invalid. Now the same could happen for another iconic tune: “We Shall Overcome.”
On Tuesday, the We Shall Overcome Foundation, a nonprofit group that works with orphans and the poor, sued the music publishers who control “We Shall Overcome,” seeking a declaratory judgment that the song is not under copyright and is in the public domain.
The case, which was filed at Federal District Court in Manhattan and seeks class-action status, also asks for the return of an unspecified amount of licensing fees that the publishers, the Richmond Organization and Ludlow Music, have collected from the use of the song.
Like the “Happy Birthday” case, the “We Shall Overcome” suit tracks a famous piece of music through a murky early history and a complex paper trail of copyright registrations."

Making the Most of Clinical Trial Data; New York Times, 4/12/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Making the Most of Clinical Trial Data:
"Some researchers may oppose sharing data they have worked hard to gather, or worry that others will analyze it incorrectly. Creating opportunities for collaboration on subsequent analysis may help alleviate these concerns.
Of course, any data sharing must take patients’ privacy into account; patients must be informed before joining a clinical trial that their data may be shared and researchers must ensure that the data cannot be used to identify individuals.
By making data available and supporting analysis, foundations, research institutions and drug companies can increase the benefit of clinical trials and pave the way for new findings that could help patients."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Led Zeppelin members face trial in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright infringement lawsuit; Washington Post, 4/12/16

Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post; Led Zeppelin members face trial in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright infringement lawsuit:
"Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has faced a lot of accusations in the 45 years since it was released. It’s overplayed, some say, particularly at high volumes by dudes trying to impress other dudes at guitar shops. It’s overlong, say others. And, for years, people have said “Stairway” sounds a lot like “Taurus” — a song by a much less famous band called Spirit who performed it allegedly while sharing bills with Zeppelin in the late 1960s. (You can listen for yourself here.)
But after decades of gossip, members of Led Zeppelin — specifically, singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page, the writers of “Stairway” — will face a jury trial on May 10. The question: Did they copy at least some parts of their most famous song?"

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Obama claimed to want transparency. His actions suggest the opposite; Guardian, 3/9/16

Trevor Timm, Guardian; Obama claimed to want transparency. His actions suggest the opposite:
"The Obama administration has taken a lot of well-deserved criticism over the years for claiming to be the most transparent presidency ever while actually being remarkably opaque, but they’ve now reached a new low: newly released documents show they aggressively lobbied Congress to kill bipartisan transparency reform that was based on the administration’s own policy.
In a move open government advocates are calling “ludicrous”, the administration “strongly opposed” the passage of bipartisan Freedom of Information Act (Foia) reform behind closed doors in 2014. The bill was a modest and uncontroversial piece of legislation which attempted to modernize the law for the internet age and codify President Obama’s 2009 memo directing federal agencies to adopt a “presumption of openness”.
Through a Foia lawsuit, the Freedom of the Press Foundation (the organization I work for) obtained a six-page talking points memo that the Justice Department distributed to House members protesting virtually every aspect of the proposed legislation in incredibly harsh language – despite the fact that some of the provisions were based almost word-for-word on the Justice Department’s own supposed policy (you can see a side-by-side comparison here).
Worse, Vice’s Jason Leopold is also reporting that the administration is conducting similar lobbying efforts around this year’s attempt to reform Foia in time for the law’s 50th anniversary this summer.
This is a shameful move by an administration that is constantly touting its open government and transparency bona fides despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary."

(Legal) Moonshiner and University Battle Over Rights to ‘Kentucky’; New York Times, 4/9/16

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times; (Legal) Moonshiner and University Battle Over Rights to ‘Kentucky’ :
"Mr. Fultz also tried to trademark his business name: Kentucky Mist Moonshine. And that, sports lovers, is how a moonshine maker wound up suing the University of Kentucky — the basketball behemoth exalted by its “Big Blue Nation” of fans — in federal court over a fundamental question: Who owns the rights to the name of the state?
The university says it does; it wants to block Mr. Fultz from trademarking “Kentucky Mist Moonshine” for T-shirts, hats and other apparel (though not his moonshine) sold in his distillery gift shop. It registered the word “Kentucky” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for clothing in 1997, 19 years ago...
University athletic departments around the nation have grown increasingly aggressive about defending what they see as their intellectual property; in 2006, the University of Alabama sued an artist who painted football scenes, asking a federal judge to bar him from using the school’s “famous crimson and white color scheme.”
And while a number of public universities, in places like Georgia, Michigan and Ohio, also own rights to their state names, several experts in patent and trademark law predict Mr. Fultz — who is already selling T-shirts in the gift shop — will get his trademark in the end."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Digital Rights Groups: DMCA Reform Should Target Takedown Abuse, Errors; Intellectual Property Watch, 4/3/16

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; Digital Rights Groups: DMCA Reform Should Target Takedown Abuse, Errors:
"EFF’s written comments were filed as part of a series of studies on the effectiveness of the DMCA, begun by the Copyright Office this year. This round of public comments focuses on Section 512, which provides a notice-and-takedown process for addressing online copyright infringement, as well as “safe harbors” for Internet services that comply.
“One of the central questions of the study is whether the safe harbors are working as intended, and the answer is largely yes,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “The safe harbors were supposed to give rightsholders streamlined tools to police infringement, and give service providers clear rules so they could avoid liability for the potentially infringing acts of their users. Without those safe harbors, the Internet as we know it simply wouldn’t exist, and our ability to create, innovate, and share ideas would suffer.”
As EFF also notes in its comments, however, the notice-and-takedown process is often abused. A recent report found that the notice-and-takedown system is riddled with errors, misuse, and overreach, leaving much legal and legitimate content offline. EFF’s comments describe numerous examples of bad takedowns, including many that seemed based on automated content filters employed by the major online content sharing services."

The most important Obama nominee no one’s talking about; Washington Post, 3/25/16

Robert Gebelhoff, Washington Post; The most important Obama nominee no one’s talking about:
"Meanwhile, the Copyright Office — which plays a major role in the digital economy by administering copyright law and protecting intellectual property — has been designing a plan to leave the nest and become an independent agency.
Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has openly advocated for the move, citing “operational tensions.” She argues that the library performs a legislative role as the research branch of Congress (through the Congressional Research Service), which she sees as at odds with the executive mission of the Copyright Office. Others have suggested that the Copyright Office be relocated to the Commerce Department as a sister agency to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For some commentators, such proposals translate to the Copyright Office focusing more on the interests of the “Big Content” industry — including publishers, the recording industry and movie producers — than delivering copyright law itself."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wikimedia’s art database violates copyright law, rules Sweden’s highest court; Ars, 4/5/16

Glyn Moody, Ars Technica; Wikimedia’s art database violates copyright law, rules Sweden’s highest court:
"The Wikimedia Foundation said the judgment eroded "the freedom of panorama that is a fundamental part of freedom of expression, freedom of information, and artistic expression."
As Ars has reported, EU copyright is currently being updated, and one of the proposals of the European Parliament is for freedom of panorama to be enshrined in EU law. Referring to the Swedish court's ruling against Wikimedia Sverige, the author of the European Parliament's report on the proposed copyright reform, Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, tweeted on Monday: "This is why we need EU-wide #FreedomofPanorama!""

Beyoncé sues Texas company over clothing with 'Feyoncé' label; Guardian, 4/5/16

Ciara McCarthy and Agencies, Guardian; Beyoncé sues Texas company over clothing with 'Feyoncé' label:
"Beyoncé is suing a Texas company to stop it from selling clothing and other items bearing the word “Feyoncé”, which she says is too close to her own trademarked name.
In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Beyoncé accused Feyoncé Inc and three individuals, all from San Antonio, of “brazenly” selling infringing “Feyoncé” merchandise on their website.
The site sells shirts, sweatshirts and coffee mugs bearing the word. The singer said the Feyoncé knockoffs confuse consumers and cause her irreparable harm, and that the defendants have ignored her requests to stop. The singer previously threatened legal action against Etsy over a line of coffee mugs also bearing the word “Feyoncé”."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

GSK Eases IP Rights For Poorest Countries, Considers Patent Pooling For Cancer; Intellectual Property Watch, 3/31/16

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; GSK Eases IP Rights For Poorest Countries, Considers Patent Pooling For Cancer:
"The global medicines manufacturer said it wishes to widen access to its innovative new medicines around the world. The company, which already set tiered pricing, data-sharing, and “innovative partnerships,” said it recognises that improved access “requires a flexible and multi-faceted approach to intellectual property (IP) protection,” according to a press release.
GSK is evolving its graduated approach to filing and enforcing patents so that IP protection reflects a country’s economic maturity, said the release.
“For Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Low Income Countries (LICs), GSK will not file patents for its medicines, so as to give clarity and confidence to generic companies seeking to manufacture and supply generic versions of GSK medicines in those countries.”
“For Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs) generally, GSK will file for patents but will seek to offer and agree licences to allow supplies of generic versions of its medicines for 10 years.” A small royalty on sales is envisaged for those countries, said the release.
For the rest of the countries, GSK “will continue to seek full patent protection...”"
“Other companies, such as Roche, Novartis, Bayer, Astellas, and BMS, with important oncology drugs should begin to engage on expanding access to their patented medicines, beyond just HIV and HCV drugs,” KEI urged."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Sheila Corrall and Kip Currier win LIBER Innovation Award; 45th Annual Conference of LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries)

LIBER 2016; Sheila Corrall and Kip Currier win LIBER Innovation Award:
The Program Committee for the 45th Annual Conference of LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) has selected a paper by Sheila Corrall and James D. “Kip” Currier for a LIBER Innovation Award. The paper on "Legal, Ethical, and Policy Issues of “Big Data 2.0” Collaborative Ventures and Roles for Information Professionals in Research Libraries" will be presented at the conference in Helsinki, Finland, on June 29-July 1, 2016.
The awards are sponsored by OCLC and awarded to the 3 most innovative and relevant papers submitted to the LIBER Conference. Award recipients receive a grant of 1000 euros towards travel and conference registration. The award ceremony takes place at the conference plenary on July 1.
Conference Theme: Libraries Opening Paths to Knowledge

Friday, April 1, 2016

Speed beats trademarks on social media; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/29/16

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Speed beats trademarks on social media:
"Many companies assume that owning a registered trademark means they have a right to any usernames on social media that may be associated with their trademarks. But in the world of social media, the first person to register an account name often has the upper hand, regardless of trademark ownership.
In fact, many companies don’t own user names associated with their well-recognized brands. For example, the Twitter handle @Chipotle is not owned by the Mexican food franchise but by a food blogger named Chip. Likewise, a programmer owns @Velveeta and an actor uses @Advil.
Unless someone is purposely impersonating a company or selling similar products, companies can do little to stop people who registered a username related to their trademarks. Instead, companies must generate alternate usernames. For instance, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s username is @ChipotleTweets, the Kraft Heinz Co. tweets from @EatLiquidGold and Pfizer uses @AdvilRelief...
While trademarks are a powerful tool to protect intellectual property, they are no substitute for speedy registration on social media. Before unveiling a new name or product, companies should register relevant usernames on social media sites."

Worlds collide in ‘Avengers vs. Justice League’ fan trailer;, 4/1/16

Kevin Melrose,; Worlds collide in ‘Avengers vs. Justice League’ fan trailer:
"Using dialogue from X-Men: Age of Apocalypse and The Flash, and footage from a variety of sources, including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman, Shawn Nider lays out an apocalyptic vision for a showdown between heroes of both companies that plenty of destruction in its wake."