Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Copyright Office and USPTO Announce NFT Study and Roundtables; U.S. Copyright Office, November 22, 2022

U.S. Copyright Office, NewsNet 988; Copyright Office and USPTO Announce NFT Study and Roundtables

"The U.S. Copyright Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are publishing a Federal Register notice announcing a U.S. Copyright Office and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) joint study to examine various matters related to intellectual property that arise from the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

In a letter dated June 9, 2022, Senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis requested that the Copyright Office and the USPTO conduct a joint study and address issues related to NFTs and intellectual property rights in consultation with the private sector, drawing from the technological, creative, and academic sectors.

To assist in preparing a report for Congress, the notice seeks written responses from the public to several questions. It also announces that the Copyright Office and USPTO intend to hold virtual public roundtables in January 2023.

For additional information, including instructions for submitting comments and asking to participate in the roundtables, please visit the Copyright Office website. Comments must be received no later than January 9, 2023."

Sunday, November 20, 2022

 JAMES VINCENT, The Verge; The scary truth about AI copyright is nobody knows what will happen next

"...is any of this actually legal?

The question arises because of the way generative AI systems are trained. Like most machine learning software, they work by identifying and replicating patterns in data. But because these programs are used to generate code, text, music, and art, that data is itself created by humans, scraped from the web and copyright protected in one way or another.

For AI researchers in the far-flung misty past (aka the 2010s), this wasn’t much of an issue. At the time, state-of-the-art models were only capable of generating blurry, fingernail-sized black-and-white images of faces. This wasn’t an obvious threat to humans. But in the year 2022, when a lone amateur can use software like Stable Diffusion to copy an artist’s style in a matter of hours or when companies are selling AI-generated prints and social media filters that are explicit knock-offs of living designers, questions of legality and ethics have become much more pressing."

Jury orders Steve King's campaign to pay $750 for using copyrighted meme; Des Moines Register, November 18, 2022

 William MorrisDes Moines Register; 

Jury orders Steve King's campaign to pay $750 for using copyrighted meme

"King's campaign used Sam's photo, superimposed over a background of the U.S. Capitol, in a Facebook post in January 2020 urging supporters to "Fund our memes!!!" Laney Griner, who copyrighted the photo in 2012, sent a cease-and-desist letter soon after, and, in December 2020, sued King and his campaign for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy against Sam, now a teen...

The jury agreed that King's campaign violated the copyright and awarded $750 in damages, the minimum allowed by statute. But it did not find that King, who denied knowledge of the meme before it was posted, had personally violated the copyright. Jurors also found neither campaign nor candidate had invaded Sam Griner's privacy with the Facebook post...

Although used freely as a meme online, the photo also has commercial value. The Griners have licensed its use in ad campaigns and objected to King's unauthorized use of it for fundraising purposes, according to the complaint."

Twitter’s Broken Its Copyright Strike System, Users Are Uploading Full Movies; Forbes, November 20, 2022

Paul Tassi, Forbes; Twitter’s Broken Its Copyright Strike System, Users Are Uploading Full Movies

"It should be fairly obvious to anyone what kind of liability it opens Twitter up to if their copyright system is non-functional, and its newly limited pool of workers are going to need to manually hunt down infringers. Once media companies get wind of this, we could see Twitter hit with all sort of DMCA claims and potential legal issues if they can’t get a handle on this quickly. I’m picturing Disney content starting to be uploaded here and them going nuclear."

Friday, November 18, 2022

‘Wild West’ of Generative AI Poses Novel Copyright Questions; Bloomberg Law, November 18, 2022

Riddhi Setty and Isaiah Poritz , Bloomberg Law; ‘Wild West’ of Generative AI Poses Novel Copyright Questions 

"Artist Kris Kashtanova became the first person to register a copyright for an artificial intelligence-assisted work in September, for an 18-page comic book called “Zarya of the Dawn” that was created with the AI art program Midjourney.

In recent weeks, however, Kashtanova said the Copyright Office wants to revoke the registration because it had overlooked the use of AI in the creation of the comic.

The rapid rise of artificial intelligence applications has left the burgeoning industry reckoning with how the powerful new technology interacts with copyright laws that govern everything from source code to art prints. The legal landscape is far from clear, with both the creators of AI tools and the artists who use them confronting copyright questions that haven’t yet been answered.

“It’s like the wild west right now,” said Ryan Abbott, an attorney at Brown Neri Smith & Khan LLP.

In what appears to be the first copyright infringement suit against the creator of an AI program, research company OpenAI Inc.—which has created a number of AI programs including generative art program DALL-E—was hit with a class action earlier this month by two software developers who said another OpenAI program called Copilot unlawfully duplicates their code without the proper license or attribution."

Thursday, November 17, 2022

'Weird Al' Yankovic wants to 'bring sexy back' to the accordion; Fresh Air, NPR, November 16, 2022

Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR; 'Weird Al' Yankovic wants to 'bring sexy back' to the accordion

"GROSS: What kind of permissions do you legally need now to do a song parody, the kind that you do where often it's, like, musically note for note from the original recording but, you know, the lyrics are different? So, you know, you're satirizing the lyric, but the music isn't really - the instrumentation isn't really a satire. It's the thing. It's the - sounds like the original thing.

YANKOVIC: It's a gray area in terms of legally what I need to do especially in cases like "Smells Like Nirvana" because, again, that's satire. And that's considered free speech and fair use. And if push came to shove, if it went to the courts, generally, that's - you know, the courts rule in favor of the parody artist. But I - you know, I don't go by just what's legal. I go for what I think is right. And what's right to me is always getting permission from the original songwriters and get their blessing. Because if an artist doesn't want me to do their song, I will back off. I mean, no matter what, you know, the courts or the law says, it's like, I just want to, you know, do good by them because I respect artists. And I don't ever want them to feel like I'm, you know, stepping on their toes."

Two Russian Nationals Charged with Running Massive E-Book Piracy Website; Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York, November 16, 2022

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of New York

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

"Two Russian Nationals Charged with Running Massive E-Book Piracy Website

Defendants Operated Z-Library, Which Offered Free Download of Copyrighted Works

Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, an indictment and a complaint were unsealed charging Russian nationals Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for operating Z-Library, an online e-book piracy website.  The pair was arrested on November 3, 2022 in Cordoba, Argentina at the request of the United States.  At the same time, Z-Library’s network of online domains was also taken offline and seized by the U.S. government, pursuant to a court order that was also unsealed today.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrests and charges.

“As alleged, the defendants profited illegally off work they stole, often uploading works within mere hours of publication, and in the process victimized authors, publishers and booksellers,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office is committed to protecting the intellectual property rights that enable creative and artistic expression, and holding individuals accountable for threatening those rights.”

“The defendants are alleged to have operated a website for over a decade whose central purpose was providing stolen intellectual property, in violation of copyright laws.  Intellectual property theft crimes deprive their victims of both ingenuity and hard-earned revenue. The FBI is determined to ensure those willing to steal and profit from the creativity of others are stopped and made to face the consequences in the criminal justice system,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

As alleged in the indictment and court filings, Z-Library bills itself as “the world’s largest library” and claims to offer more than 11 million e-books for download.  Z-Library, which has been active since approximately 2009, offers e-book files in a variety of file formats, stripped of their copyright protections, and encourages users to upload and download titles.  Many of the e-books offered by Z-Library are protected intellectual property for which authors hold copyrights and publishers hold exclusive distribution rights, and which Z-Library has no right or license to distribute, and which are available elsewhere only with anti-circumvention measures applied. As such, a central purpose of Z-Library is to allow users to download copyrighted books for free in violation of U.S. law.   In addition to its homepage, Z-Library operates as a complex network of approximately 249 interrelated web domains.  As part of this action, those domains were taken offline and seized by the U.S. government.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  

The government’s case was initiated by the Office’s Cyber Crime Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Chand Edwards-Balfour, Alexander Mindlin, Antoinette N. Rangel and Kaitlin Farrell are prosecuting the case.  Brian Morris of the Office’s Asset Recovery Section is handling forfeiture matters.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the FBI’s Legal Attach├ęs abroad and foreign authorities in multiple countries provided critical assistance in this case.  In particular, the Office extends its appreciation to the Argentine authorities for their assistance in the capture of Napolsky and Ermakova.

Multiple organizations representing the victim authors and publishers also provided critical assistance in this case.  The Office extends its particular appreciation to The Authors Guild in New York and The Publishers Association in London for their assistance.  The Office also extends its appreciation to the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance for its assistance in the domain takedown.     

The Defendants:

ANTON NAPOLSKY
Age:  33
St. Petersburg, Russia

VALERIIA ERMAKOVA
Age:  27
St. Petersburg, Russia

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 22-CR-525 (NM)

Attachment(s): 

U.S. Copyright Office; Dancing with Copyright: A Conversation with Janet Eilber and Jamar Roberts; U.S. Copyright Office, November 17, 2022

U.S. Copyright Office; Dancing with Copyright: A Conversation with Janet Eilber and Jamar Roberts

"The Copyright Office hosted a conversation on copyright, dance, and choreography with Janet Eilber, artistic director for the Martha Graham Dance Company, and Jamar Roberts, a critically acclaimed choreographer and resident choreographer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This conversation was recorded in February 2022."