Friday, January 31, 2020

Users Lament PAIR Changes During USPTO Forum; IP Watchdog, January 30, 2020

Eileen McDermott, IP Watchdog; Users Lament PAIR Changes During USPTO Forum

"Jamie Holcombe, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), seemed surprised to learn on Wednesday that both the Public and Private versions of the USPTO’s Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) System have serious issues that are making workflows untenable for users.

Holcombe was participating in a public Forum on the PAIR system, where USPTO staff listened to stakeholders’ experiences since the Office implemented major security changes to the system on November 15, 2019. “The USPTO disabled the ability to look up public cases outside of a customer number using Private PAIR,” explained Shawn Lillemo, Software Product Manager at Harrity LLP, who attended the Forum. “Most patent professionals prior to the change could retrieve all the PAIR information they needed from Private PAIR. That is no longer true.”"

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Pitt researcher’s work featured by U.S. Patent & Trademark Office; Trib Live, November 12, 2019

Patrick Varine, Trib Live; Pitt researcher’s work featured by U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

"Rory Cooper, who was recognized earlier this year by the office with a trading card created to honor U.S. inventors, holds more than two dozen patents related to mobility-improvement research. Cooper is the director at Pitt’s Human Energy Research Laboratories, a U.S. Army veteran and also serves as director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Research Foundation...

Cooper was recognized in the patent office’s SUCCESS report, an update on progress achieved through the 2018 Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act. The act aims to promote patent applications by women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and other underrepresented classes.

“Without diversity of thought, potentially life changing work for wheel chair users and others with disabilities might not be possible,” Cooper said. “We have a world-class team at our labs that is committed to helping people with disabilities and older adults live full lives and contribute to society as much as they can and they like.”"

Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, October 2019

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, October 2019; Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018.

"America’s long-standing economic prosperity and global technological leadership depend on a strong and vibrant innovation ecosystem. To maximize the nation’s potential, it is critically important that all Americans have the opportunity to innovate, seek patent protection for their inventions, start new companies, succeed in established companies, and achieve the American dream. 

The Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018 directed the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in consultation with the administrator of the Small Business Administration, to prepare a report that: 
  • Identifies publicly available data on the number of patents annually applied for and obtained by women, minorities, and veterans 
  • Identifies publicly available data on the benefits of increasing the number of patents applied for and obtained by women, minorities, and veterans and the small businesses owned by them
  • Provides legislative recommendations for how to promote the participation of women, minorities, and veterans in entrepreneurship activities and increase the number of women, minorities, and veterans who apply for and obtain patents. 

Final report to Congress

The USPTO's SUCCESS Act report was transmitted to Congress on October 31, 2019. Among its major findings:
  • A review of literature and data sources found that there is a limited amount of publicly available information regarding the participation rates of women, minorities, and veterans in the patent system.
  • The bulk of the existing literature focuses on women, with a very small number of studies focused on minorities, and only some qualitative historical information on U.S. veteran inventor-patentees.
  • One of the most comprehensive studies focused on women inventor-patentees is "Progress and Potential: a profile of women inventors on U.S. patents," a report published by the USPTO in February 2019. It found that women comprised 12% of all inventors named on U.S. patents granted in 2016, up from 5% in the mid-1980s.
  • Overall, there is a need for additional information to determine the participation rates of women, minorities, and veterans in the patent system.
  • The report concludes with a list of six new USPTO initiatives and five legislative recommendations for increasing the participation of women, minorities, and veterans as inventor-patentees and entrepreneurs."

Rumored executive order would change landscape of UC subscription partnerships; The Daily Californian, January 30, 2020

Alexandra Casey, The Daily Californian; Rumored executive order would change landscape of UC subscription partnerships

"Prominent Nobel laureate and chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs Rich Roberts has no online access to a paper he co-authored because his institution lacks a subscription to academic journal Nature Microbiology.

Roberts is one of 21 American Nobel laureates who submitted an open letter to President Donald Trump on Monday urging him to approve a rumored plan to make federally funded research free of cost and immediately accessible after publication. UC Berkeley’s Randy Schekman, who founded eLife — an open access scientific journal — led the Nobel laureates in their letter...

“This would effectively nationalize the valuable American intellectual property that we produce and force us to give it away to the rest of the world for free,” according to the letter from the publishers. “This risks reducing exports and negating many of the intellectual property protections the Administration has negotiated with our trading partners.”

The letter added that the cost shift could place an “additional burden” on taxpayers and undermine both the marketplace and American innovation."

Libraries will champion an open future for scholarship; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 29, 2020

Keith Webster, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;

Libraries will champion an open future for scholarship

Open access deals help make knowledge and education accessible to the working class

"All of us who work in academic libraries here in Pittsburgh and around the world aspire to improve the quality of science and scholarship. It’s increasingly clear that this can best be done through the open exchange of ideas and data, which can accelerate the pace and reach of scientific discovery.

The desire of researchers and their funders to make their research freely available to all is evident. As a result, the acceptance of open access publishing and article sharing services has soared in recent years. Meanwhile, the rapidly escalating journal costs experienced by libraries over the past 25 years are agreed to be unsustainable. It is against this backdrop that Carnegie Mellon University is establishing open access agreements with top journal publishers, with a special focus on the the fields of science and computing."

Inaugural copyright lecture to probe evolving landscape; Law Society Gazette Ireland, January 30, 2020

Law Society Gazette Ireland; Inaugural copyright lecture to probe evolving landscape

"The inaugural joint Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) and Law Society annual copyright lecture takes place on 18 February. 

The theme is ‘European copyright law, from the printing press to the digital age –  a journey of constant change’.

This free lecture will be delivered by Dr Mark Hyland, the IMRO and Law Society adjunct professor of intellectual property law...

The lecture will be delivered at six pm on 18 February at the Education Centre, Law Society, Blackhall Place, Dublin 7."

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

YouTube reversed my bogus copyright strike after I threatened to write this; Mashable, January 28, 2020

Matt Binder, Mashable; YouTube reversed my bogus copyright strike after I threatened to write this

"“Your case is the most extreme I’ve heard about. Congratulations,” Electronic Frontier Foundation Manager of Policy and Activism, Katharine Trendacosta, said to me in a phone conversation on the issue. “This is the first time I've heard about this happening to something that didn't contain anything. And I have heard a lot of really intense stories about what's happening on YouTube.”...

“Your case is a really extreme example of a fairly common situation in which these major companies send DMCA takedown on a very broad basis,” she explained. “YouTube is far more afraid of being sued by Warner Bros. than being sued by you, so you end up with them being much more cautious and doing things like just allowing DMCA strikes on anything.”

So, what can be done? Apparently, not much."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2020 Intellectual Property Primer: Cases to Watch this Year; Lexology, Janaury 27, 2020

"2020 is likely to be a busy and influential year for intellectual property cases before the United States Supreme Court. The Court is expected to make a number of rulings and decisions that are likely to impact the future landscape of copyright, patent, and trademark law.

Copyright’s Fair Use Doctrine: In what is shaping up to be the main event of this year’s Supreme Court calendar—at least for intellectual property practitioners—the Court will hear oral argument in Google v. Oracle later this year. The case is the culmination of a decade’s worth of litigation involving two of world’s largest tech companies.

Oracle has accused Google of stealing copyrighted pieces of Java source code for use in Google’s Android smartphones. Google has argued that the Java software language Oracle accuses it of stealing is: (1) too functional to be protected by copyright law; and (2) is subject to copyright’s fair use doctrine.

The Supreme Court will consider both issues. The case is particularly noteworthy because the Court has never issued binding precedent related to the copyrightability of software and it has not issued a fair use decision in over twenty-five years."

U.S. Accuses Harvard Scientist of Concealing Chinese Funding; The New York Times, January 28, 2020

, The New York Times; U.S. Accuses Harvard Scientist of Concealing Chinese Funding

“Charles M. Lieber, the chair of Harvard’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, was charged on Tuesday with making false statements about money he had received from a Chinese government-run program, part of a broad-ranging F.B.I. effort to root out theft of biomedical research from American laboratories.
Dr. Lieber, a leader in the field of nanoscale electronics, was one of three Boston-area scientists accused on Tuesday of working on behalf of China. His case involves work with the Thousand Talents Program, a state-run program that seeks to draw talent educated in other countries.

American officials are investigating hundreds of cases of suspected theft of intellectual property by visiting scientists, nearly all of them Chinese nationals or of Chinese descent. Some are accused of obtaining patents in China based on work that is funded by the United States government, and others of setting up laboratories in China that secretly duplicated American research.”

Kobe Bryant filed 'Mambacita' trademark for his daughter Gianna in December; CBS Sports, January 28, 2020

, CBS Sports; Kobe Bryant filed 'Mambacita' trademark for his daughter Gianna in December

"Kobe Bryant was proud to be a father and was even planning the future of his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, before their deaths. According to People Magazine, Bryant filed to trademark the nickname "Mambacita" for his daughter, and planned to use the nickname on athletic clothing.

The trademark was reportedly filed on Dec. 30, 2019 by Kobe Inc., which was a company that Bryant founded back in 2014. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Bryant's trademark is still pending.

Of course, "Mambacita" is derived from Bryant's nickname "Black Mamba," which was used as the Lakers legened's alter ego throughout the second half of his NBA career."

The Decade In Trademark Litigation; Above The Law, January 28, 2020

Gaston Kroub, Above The Law;

The Decade In Trademark Litigation

"Considering that we are starting a new decade while continuing to face such questions as “Are We Running Out of Trademarks?,” I thought it would be a good idea to first look at what existing trademark owners did with the trademarks they had last decade. If only because that is easier to quantify for a practitioner than existential challenges to the “assumption that there exists an inexhaustible supply of unclaimed trademarks that are at least as competitively effective as those already claimed.” The latter issue is in the capable hands of Professors Beebe (who I was lucky enough to take Trademarks with in law school) and Fromer, who along with their academic colleagues have contributed mightily to our understanding of where trademark law can and may be going in the near future. But my aims for this column are more prosaic, because I think there is still a lot we can learn from looking at the decade past at a macro level, especially in as fragmented a field as trademark litigation."

Our privacy doomsday could come sooner than we think; The Washington Post, January 23, 2020

Editorial Board, The Washington Post; Our privacy doomsday could come sooner than we think

"The case underscores with greater vigor than ever the need for restrictions on facial recognition technology. But putting limits on what the police or private businesses can do with a tool such as Clearview’s won’t stop bad actors from breaking them. There also need to be limits on whether a tool such as Clearview’s can exist in this country in the first place.

Top platforms’ policies generally prohibit the sort of data-scraping Clearview has engaged in, but it’s difficult for a company to protect information that’s on the open Web. Courts have also ruled against platforms when they have tried to go after scrapers under existing copyright or computer fraud law — and understandably, as too-onerous restrictions could hurt journalists and public-interest groups.

Privacy legislation is a more promising area for action, to prevent third parties including Clearview from assembling databases such as these in the first place, whether they’re filled with faces or location records or credit scores. That will take exactly the robust federal framework Congress has so far failed to provide, and a government that’s ready to enforce it."

Article 13: UK will not implement EU copyright law; BBC News, January 24, 2020

BBC News; Article 13: UK will not implement EU copyright law

"Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has said that the UK will not implement the EU Copyright Directive after the country leaves the EU.

Several companies have criticised the law, which would hold them accountable for not removing copyrighted content uploaded by users, if it is passed.

EU member states have until 7 June 2021 to implement the new reforms, but the UK will have left the EU by then.

The UK was among 19 nations that initially supported the law.

That was in its final European Council vote in April 2019."

Friday, January 24, 2020

America’s Innovators Need Clear Patent Laws; Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2020

Paul R. Michel and Matthew J. Dowd, Wall Street Journal;

America’s Innovators Need Clear Patent Laws

The Supreme Court has muddled the standards for intellectual property, so Congress may have to act.

"America is the world’s leader in technological innovation, and that’s unlikely to change. But in the global economy, information and investments flow instantaneously, and America’s most important asset--intellectual property--is easily copied and counterfeited.

Making matters worse, a string of court decisions have weakened U.S. intellectual property rights."

In serving big company interests, copyright is in crisis; BoingBoing, January 22, 2020

Cory Doctorow , BoingBoing; In serving big company interests, copyright is in crisis

"One of the biggest problems with copyright in the digital era is that we expect people who aren't in the entertainment industry to understand and abide by its rules: it's no more realistic to expect a casual reader to understand and abide by a long, technical copyright license in order to enjoy a novel than it is to expect a parent to understand securities law before they pay their kid's allowance."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Keeping digitised works in the public domain: how the copyright directive makes it a reality; Europeana Pro, January 21, 2020

Andrea Wallace, Ariadna Matas, Europeana Pro; Keeping digitised works in the public domain: how the copyright directive makes it a reality

"The principle that works in the public domain should remain in the public domain once digitised, which Europeana has defended for almost ten years, was recently incorporated into European law. In this post, we interview Andrea Wallace, Lecturer in Law at the University of Exeter, about the importance of this provision for the cultural heritage sector and her research on Article 14.

For several years, Europeana – through its policies, standards, and communications – has advocated against the practice of institutions using Creative Commons licences on digital copies or surrogates of a work, when the original is out of copyright and they are neither the creators nor rightsholders. Our Public Domain Charter establishes that in order to achieve a healthy and thriving public domain, digitising a public domain work should not take it back to being protected and non-reusable. There is a danger of undermining the public domain, a central principle in copyright law.

After working to raise awareness on the issue, Europeana celebrates the adoption of Article 14 of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. This provision establishes that works of visual arts in the public domain shall remain in the public domain once digitised, unless the digitisation is original enough that it can attract copyright protection. All 28 member states will have to adopt it and make it national law (by June 2021). Andrea Wallace, together with Ellen Euler, has been researching the Article and its implications.

What issue is Article 14 trying to address?

Article 14 confronts the long-standing practice of claiming a copyright in non-original reproductions of public domain works. To attract protection, a work has to be sufficiently 'original' under copyright law. For a while now, there has been a lack of binding legal authority on whether reproductions of public domain works, like photographs of public domain paintings, are original enough to attract their own copyright. 

Because of this, cultural heritage institutions, picture library agencies, and other owners have been able to build business models around claiming copyright in public domain reproductions and charging the public a fee to use the images. But this has the effect of excluding the public from accessing out-of-copyright artworks, and it contradicts the rationale underlying the expiration of copyright and a work passing into the public domain. The public domain should be available for everyone to use for whatever purpose: to make new cultural goods, generate new knowledge, and so on."

Sharing the love: OSU librarian works to increase educational resources for students and faculty; O'Colly, January 16, 2020

, O'Colly; Sharing the love: OSU librarian works to increase educational resources for students and faculty

"As the cost of textbooks rises, students are forced to either comply with textbook companies and buy their product or turn to their classmates and share resources...

Christian Maldonado is also a junior, but he hasn’t had a class with an OER. He said that while he thinks they would help him in college, he can see why some classes still don’t use them.

“I can see points on both sides,” Maldonado said. “The author who wrote [the textbook] is selling a product, so they are entitled to set the price.”"

Provost’s office accepting OER grant applications; The Pitt News, January 16, 2020

Jon Moss and Benjamin Nigrosh, The Pitt News; Provost’s office accepting OER grant applications

"The University is accepting proposals from faculty until Feb. 19 for projects to adapt, adopt or create open education resources for current course offerings.

The third iteration of the funding program is part of a series of initiatives run by Provost Ann Cudd’s office to encourage the use of OERs. OERs are course materials like textbooks, lab notebooks and videos that are free for Pitt students and allow for legal adaptation and open use with attribution to the original author. They are typically free or less expensive than traditional textbooks.

Faculty can apply for smaller grants, ranging from $500 to $2,000, to adopt or adapt an open textbook or OER course component such as online homework, lab manuals or support materials. Larger grants, between $2,000 and $5,000, are available to support individual or team-based development of open textbooks, or combining an open textbook with course-specific development."

Buying textbooks: 'A sense of desperation'; The Exponent (Purdue University), January 23, 2020

Joseph Ching, The Exponent (Purdue University); Buying textbooks: 'A sense of desperation'

"[Justin] Race [director of the Purdue University Press] said a major misconception is that people who purchase a physical book are buying the actual book itself. By this logic, online content would be inherently free.

“It’s much better to think of it as, ‘I am buying the intellectual property,’” Race said. “The distilled expertise by a scholar, the copy editing, proofreading, the design, the cover design — and not so much for the paper and binding.”

Purdue Libraries is in the early stages of its Open Bytes project, a partnership with the College of Engineering to create educational resources accessible to the world. These resources include textbooks, lecture notes and case studies available beginning mid-2020, according to a University press release."

State Fair Corny Dog Icon Fletcher’s Wins Messy Family Trademark Battle; Eater Dallas, January 21, 2020

Eater Dallas; State Fair Corny Dog Icon Fletcher’s Wins Messy Family Trademark Battle

"Perhaps most damningly, the judge ruled that Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs was able to produce evidence that it was actually losing business because of the confusion caused over Fletch’s name. “Fletcher’s submitted evidence showing that it has lost potential business at several venues because Fletch was selected when the venue thought it had hired Fletcher’s,” the order reads. “Based on all of this evidence, Fletcher’s has met its burden of demonstrating irreparable harm.""

Everyone invited: `Great Gatsby’ copyright to end in 2021; Associated Press, January 22, 2020

Hillel Italie, Associated Press; Everyone invited: `Great Gatsby’ copyright to end in 2021

 "The novel’s copyright is set to expire at the end of 2020, meaning that anyone will be allowed to publish the book, adapt it to a movie, make it into an opera or stage a Broadway musical. No longer will you need to permission to write a sequel, a prequel, a Jay Gatsby detective novel or a Gatsby narrative populated with Zombies."

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

It’s Copyright Week 2020: Stand Up for Copyright Laws That Actually Serve Us All; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), January 20, 2020

Katharine Trendacosta, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); It’s Copyright Week 2020: Stand Up for Copyright Laws That Actually Serve Us All

"We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of copyright law and policy, addressing what's at stake and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation...

We continue to fight for a version of copyright that does what it is supposed to. And so, every year, EFF and a number of diverse organizations participate in Copyright Week. Each year, we pick five copyright issues to highlight and advocate a set of principles of copyright law. This year’s issues are:
  • Monday: Fair Use and Creativity
    Copyright policy should encourage creativity, not hamper it. Fair use makes it possible for us to comment, criticize, and rework our common culture.
  • Tuesday: Copyright and Competition
    Copyright should not be used to control knowledge, creativity, or the ability to tinker with or repair your own devices. Copyright should encourage more people to share, make, or repair things, rather than concentrate that power in only a few players.
  • Wednesday: Remedies
    Copyright claims should not raise the specter of huge, unpredictable judgments that discourage important uses of creative work. Copyright should have balanced remedies that also provide a real path for deterring bad-faith claims.
  • Thursday: The Public Domain
    The public domain is our cultural commons and a crucial resource for innovation and access to knowledge. Copyright should strive to promote, and not diminish, a robust, accessible public domain.
  • Friday: Copyright and Democracy
    Copyright must be set through a participatory, democratic, and transparent process. It should not be decided through back-room deals, secret international agreements, unaccountable bureaucracies, or unilateral attempts to apply national laws extraterritorially.
Every day this week, we’ll be sharing links to blog posts and actions on these topics at and at #CopyrightWeek on Twitter.

As we said last year, and the year before that, if you too stand behind these principles, please join us by supporting them, sharing them, and telling your lawmakers you want to see copyright law reflect them."

Listening Session on Appointment of Next Register of Copyrights; The Library of Congress, January 2020

The Library of Congress 

"Listening Session on Appointment of Next Register of Copyrights

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Mumford Room (LM-649), Washington, D.C. 20540.

On January 5, Maria Strong’s tenure as Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office began a few weeks after her appointment by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. This event will be the first of two listening sessions hosted by the Library of Congress this week to explore the appointment of the next Register of Copyrights to take over the position full-time after Karyn Temple stepped away from the Copyright Office in December. The session will feature a briefing from Librarian Hayden and Copyright Office staff on the selection process and will include time for comments and questions from attendees."

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How Music Copyright Lawsuits Are Scaring Away New Hits; The Rolling Stone, January 9, 2020

Amy X. Wang, The Rolling Stone;

How Music Copyright Lawsuits Are Scaring Away New Hits

 "Artists, songwriters, producers, and labels are now awaiting the next Zeppelin verdict, with many hoping that a judgment in Page and Plant’s favor could unwind some of the headache-inducing ambiguity introduced by the “Blurred Lines” ruling. Others see the case, which has a chance of going all the way up to the Supreme Court, as a reopening of Pandora’s box. Will the latest ruling clarify the scope of music copyright — or muddy it even further? “At what point is an element of creative expression protectable?” says media intellectual-property attorney Wesley Lewis. “Litigators are all hoping for more clarity.”"

A Tool That Removes Copyrighted Works Is Not a Substitute for Fair Use; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), January 20, 2020

Katharine Trendacosta, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF);

A Tool That Removes Copyrighted Works Is Not a Substitute for Fair Use

"By making eliminating material flagged by Content ID so easy—just click here!—and making challenging matches so perilous, YouTube has put its thumb on the scale against fair use and in favor of copyright abuse. That thumb gets especially heavy given how few real alternatives to YouTube exist.

Hosting creative content should mean a robust commitment to fair use. Fair use enriches our culture and our understanding of it. It is what ensures that copyright doesn’t strangle free expression and creativity. Subtle reinforcement of anti-fair use ideas enacted by private companies, done by the largest players in the ecosystem, does real damage."

Here’s How The Supreme Court Can Stop Google From Stealing People’s Ideas; The Federalist, January 17, 2020

, The Federalist;

Here’s How The Supreme Court Can Stop Google From Stealing People’s Ideas

The Supreme Court will rule this year on Google v. Oracle, and when it does, it can rein in both Google and the legal doctrine of 'transformative use,' an abuse of the 'fair use' exceptions to copyright laws.

"Google has long abused intellectual property protections and thus far managed to skirt any severe negative repercussions for it. But the tech giant may soon be held responsible for its borderline illegal behavior.

The Supreme Court will rule this year on Google v. Oracle, a case some say is the copyright case of the century. When it does, it will have the opportunity to rein in both Google and the legal doctrine of “transformative use,” an abuse of the “fair use” exceptions to copyright laws."

EFF Asks Supreme Court To Reverse Dangerous Rulings About API Copyrightability and Fair Use; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), January 13, 2020

Press Release, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF);

EFF Asks Supreme Court To Reverse Dangerous Rulings About API Copyrightability and Fair Use

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that functional aspects of Oracle’s Java programming language are not copyrightable, and even if they were, employing them to create new computer code falls under fair use protections.

The court is reviewing a long-running lawsuit Oracle filed against Google, which claimed that Google’s use of certain Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in its Android operating system violated Oracle’s copyrights. The case has far-reaching implications for innovation in software development, competition, and interoperability.

In a brief filed today, EFF argues that the Federal Circuit, in ruling APIs were copyrightable, ignored clear and specific language in the copyright statute that excludes copyright protection for procedures, processes, and methods of operation."

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The National Archives was wrong to alter history. Fortunately, it reversed course.; The Washington Post, January 18, 2020

Editorial Board, The Washington Post; The National Archives was wrong to alter history. Fortunately, it reversed course.

"This editorial has been updated.

IN AN era of “fake news,” “alternative facts” and other assaults on the very idea of truth, you would expect the National Archives — devoted to the preservation of the nation’s history — to be at the forefront of those pushing back. “The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper,” the government agency proudly announces on its website. How utterly depressing it was, then, to discover on Friday that the Archives had gone into the business of altering history.

And how reassuring to read the Archives’ forthright — and, for Washington, extraordinary — statement on Saturday: “We made a mistake. . . . We have removed the current display. . . . We apologize.”

The Post’s Joe Heim reported Friday that the Archives made numerous alterations to a photograph included in an exhibit dedicated to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. The photo shows the massively attended Women’s March held in January 2017 to protest President Trump’s inauguration. But Archives curators altered signs being carried by the women to delete references to Mr. Trump — and thereby they seriously distorted the meaning of the event. “A placard that proclaims ‘God Hates Trump’ has ‘Trump’ blotted out so that it reads ‘God Hates,’ ” The Post reported. But “God Hates” was not the message of the protester carrying that sign. Another sign that reads “Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women” has the word ‘Trump” blurred out.

In their initial weak defense, Archives officials noted that they had not altered articles they preserve for safekeeping, only a photograph for a temporary exhibit. We did not find that reassuring, as we said in the first published version of this editorial. Photo alteration long has been the preserve of authoritarian governments, most famously Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who erased comrades from historical photographs one by one as he had them executed.

The United States government should never play the same game, even on a small scale. The goal in this case may have been not to irritate the snowflake in chief residing up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Archives. After all, the Women’s March harks back to one of the foundational lies of the Trump presidency, when he falsely insisted, and insisted that his officials likewise falsely insist, that his inauguration crowd was the largest of all time. Mr. Trump’s refusal to back down then set the pattern for his presidency: Lies are acceptable, and evidence can be ignored.

Rather than remind anyone of such unpleasantness, the Archives chose to falsify history and pretend that the Women’s March had nothing to do with Mr. Trump. That, as we wrote, offered a terrible lesson to young visitors to the exhibit about how democracies deal with news, with history — with truth.

Now the Archives has presented a far more uplifting lesson. Admitting and correcting a mistake are usually a lot harder for any of us than erring in the first place. But in their statement, officials did not flinch. The Archives will replace the altered image “as soon as possible with one that uses the unaltered image. We apologize, and will immediately start a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.”

Good for them."