Archive for the 'Copyright' Category

ACRL, ALA, ARL, and Others Send U.S. Trade Representative Letter about ACTA

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on March 25th, 2010

ACRL, ALA, ARL, and other organizations have sent a letter about the secret ACTA negotiations to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.

Here's an excerpt:

This recent leak of a full [ACTA] text heightens our concern that this negotiation is not primarily about counterfeiting or piracy; nor is at all about trade law. The public rationale that the treaty would not impinge on domestic law has been placed in doubt—particularly when one considers whose domestic law would be endangered. As Google executives have recently experienced, it is not only U.S. domestic law that has consequences for U.S. technologists and service providers. Similarly, domestic interests in other participating countries should consider themselves at risk from provisions that are novel or antithetical to their national law.

The leaked text reveals detailed substantive attention to core principles of any nation’s intellectual property law:

  • Whether copyright plaintiffs may or shall have the option of receiving pre-established damage awards that have little or no relation to any harm that has been suffered.
  • The extent to which principles of inducement, newly introduced by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Grokster case, are to be accepted as supporting a separate basis for copyright liability or are a gloss on existing principles of contributory and vicarious infringement. This is not yet clear even in the United States.
  • The export of secondary liability principles to ACTA countries without simultaneously including the limitations and exceptions contained both in U.S. statutory law (e.g., fair use) and in the significant court decisions limiting secondary liability (e.g., Sony).
  • How technological measure anti-circumvention provisions are to be interpreted and applied, whether they will apply to access to works, whether they are to be limited to circumventions for infringing purposes, and whether account will be taken of the variations in national law, practice, and context, such as U.S. adherence to fair use and the imposition of levies under other national law.
  • The extent to which a "three strikes" approach and express or implied "filtering" mandates are to be imposed on ISPs.

U.S. negotiators have assured the Congress and the public that they cannot and will not agree to any provision that is contrary to domestic law. Other national negotiators have likely given similar assurances at home, publicly or privately. Hence the annotated documents appear rife with linguistic tugs and footnotes. To the extent compromise is achieved through ambiguity, no national of any participant nation will have assurance that domestic law will not be affected.

The time for public discussion as to exactly what this document will and won’t do is now.

ACRL, ALA, ARL, and Others Respond to U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's Request

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on March 25th, 2010

ACRL, ALA, ARL, and other organizations have responded to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's "Coordination and Strategic Planning of the Federal Effort against Intellectual Property Infringement: Request of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for Public Comments Regarding the Joint Strategic Plan."

Here's an excerpt from the ALA, ACRL, and ARL letter:

ARL, ALA, and ACRL believe it is very important that the IPEC has asked that assertions about the costs of intellectual property infringement clearly identify the methodology used and any critical assumptions relied upon to calculate those costs, as well as a copy or citation to the source of any data. As the comments of CCIA and the NetCoalition make clear, industry-commissioned studies rarely, if ever, rise to a level of rigor that justifies emergency intervention along the lines that content industries routinely demand. Rather, they are shot through with fallacies and sleights of hand that have done more to confuse and confound this discussion than to contribute to it. We refer you to the comments of CCIA and the NetCoalition for a detailed discussion of the problems with these studies and the arguments that are made in connection with them.

The fundamental flaw of these studies is that they beg the question of whether a particular private business interest is entitled to government protection for perpetual, stable profits regardless of changing business conditions. The mere fact of declining profits in one business model does not constitute a cognizable harm that government must step in to remedy. Government intervention in any area has costs for taxpayers, and in this area there are added costs to the public when IP policy becomes further slanted in favor of rightsholders and against public access and use.

Here's an excerpt from the American Association of Law Libraries, EFF, Medical Library Association, Public Knowledge, Special Libraries Association, and U.S. PRIG letter:

Thus, when determining enforcement priorities, the government should be guided by three principles. First, it should only seek to prevent private economic harms when the costs of enforcement do not exceed the harm caused. Second, it should pursue harms that meet the standards for criminal conduct. When society marks certain conduct as criminal, it authorizes public enforcement, recognizes that deterrent (as opposed to merely remedial) actions are more appropriate, and allows that in an individual case the cost of punishing the violation may outweigh the economic harm of the violation itself because of the moral wrong committed. Third, publicly funded enforcement resources should be reserved for clear violations of the law, rather than in "gray areas" characterized by uncertain and evolving legal or marketplace norms. The government should spend public funds on enforcement only when all three of these principles are met.

Read more about it at "ALA Calls for Openness in Copyright Negotiations and Enforcement Efforts," "Groups Ask Targeted Enforcement for Intellectual Property," and "Public Interest Groups Call on IP Czar to Get the Priorities Straight."

Consolidated ACTA Draft Leaked

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on March 24th, 2010

A consolidated draft of ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has been leaked.

Here's an excerpt from "The Consolidated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Leaks":

Although this is not the most updated version, when combined with the earlier leaked table on the Internet and civil enforcement chapters (which include changes from the January Mexico meeting), the complete current ACTA text is now publicly available.

Here's a brief description of ACTA from Public Knowledge:

ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated by the US, the EU, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. The stated goal of the agreement is the international enforcement of strong intellectual property rights through increased cooperation and coordination among international governmental agencies.

Read more about it at "Complete ACTA Text Finally Leaked" and "Full ACTA Draft Leaked. . . EU Wants Injunctions against the Possibility You Might Infringe."

"Copyright Provisions in Law Journal Publication Agreements"

Posted in Author Rights, Copyright, Scholarly Journals on March 24th, 2010

Benjamin J. Keele has self-archived "Copyright Provisions in Law Journal Publication Agreements" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

This study examined copyright provisions of law journal publication agreements and found that a minority of journals ask authors to transfer copyright. Most journals also permit authors to self-archive articles. It recommends journals make their agreements publicly available and use licenses instead of copyright transfers.

Berkman Center and eIFL.net Launch "Copyright for Librarians"

Posted in Copyright on March 24th, 2010

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society and eIFL.net have launched "Copyright for Librarians."

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"Copyright for Librarians" aims to inform librarians about copyright law in general, as well as the aspects of copyright law that most affect libraries, especially those in developing and transition countries.

"Copyright law directly affects library services providing access to learning resources, scientific and research information," said Rima Kupryte, Director eIFL.net. "Everyday librarians are managing information and responding to requests from students, academics, and members of the public. They are well placed to provide practical advice on topical copyright-related issues. This curriculum, which includes modules on the scope of copyright law, exceptions and limitations and managing rights, provides librarians from around the world with an opportunity to understand this important area of law."

"Librarians and their professional organisations play key roles in shaping national and international copyright policy and in protecting and promoting access to knowledge," said William Fisher, faculty director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, "eIFL.net has created a crucial network of librarians in developing and transition countries. It is essential that the members of that network have the fullest possible understanding, not just of the current copyright laws, but also of the ways in which those laws could and should be interpreted and modified in the future. We hope that this curriculum will help to advance that understanding." . . .

The course materials of "Copyright for Librarians"—nine modules organised into five different levels—can be used as the basis for a self-taught course, a traditional classroom-based course, or as a distance-learning course.

"An Introduction to Competition Concerns in the Google Books Settlement"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on March 22nd, 2010

Rudolph J. R. Peritz and Marc Miller have self archived "An Introduction to Competition Concerns in the Google Books Settlement" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

Google started its Google Books project in 2004 with the intent to create a digital library of the world’s books. There has not been such a grand plan since students of Aristotle began to gather the world’s knowledge in the Library of Alexandria some 24 centuries ago. The world’s knowledge has changed. And so has its political economy. Twenty-first century public policy questions have been interjected to delay and reshape Google’s project, questions that did not concern the royal sponsors of the ancient Library. This review takes up questions of competition policy raised in the United States, the corporate site for Google’s virtual Library of Alexandria.

After presenting the factual background to the Google Books project and the procedural history of the current class-action lawsuit, we examine two clusters of competition issues concerning the Google Books project: First, whether a class action settlement in litigation between private parties is an appropriate vehicle for making public policy. Second, whether Google’s actions are on balance anticompetitive under U.S. antitrust laws. Antitrust concerns will be given the lion’s share of attention.

"GBS March Madness: Paths Forward for the Google Books Settlement"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on March 5th, 2010

The American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries have released "GBS March Madness: Paths Forward for the Google Books Settlement."

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

This diagram, developed by Jonathan Band, explores the many possible routes and outcomes of the Google Books Settlement, including avenues into the litigation and appeals process.

Now that the fairness hearing on the Google Books Settlement has occurred, it is up to Judge Chin to decide whether the amended settlement agreement (ASA), submitted to the Court by Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers, is "fair, reasonable, and adequate." As the diagram shows, however, Judge Chin’s decision is only the next step in a very complex legal proceeding that could take a dozen more turns before reaching resolution. Despite the complexity of the diagram, it does not reflect every possible twist in the case, nor does it address the substantive reasons why a certain outcome may occur or the impact of Congressional intervention through legislation. As Band states, "the precise way forward is more difficult to predict than the NCAA tournament. And although the next step in the GBS saga may occur this March, many more NCAA tournaments will come and go before the buzzer sounds on this dispute."

Unintended Consequences: 12 Years Under the DMCA

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on March 4th, 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released Unintended Consequences: 12 Years Under the DMCA.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

EFF today released Unintended Consequences: 12 Years Under the DMCA. This is the sixth update to the report, which aims to catalog all the reported instances where the DMCA's ban on tampering with DRM have been abused to stymie fair use, free speech, and competition, rather than to attack "piracy."

Congress enacted the DMCA's ban on bypassing DRM at the urging of entertainment industry lobbyists who argued that DRM backed by law would quell digital copyright infringement. Of course, 12 years later, that exactly hasn't worked out. Nor is it likely to ever work out. But lots of industries have recognized that these provisions of the DMCA are good for other things—like impeding scientific research and legitimate competition. The Unintended Consequences report collects these stories, including oldies like Lexmark's effort to block toner cartridge refilling and new cases like the lawsuit against RealDVD.

Other new additions to the report include Apple's use of the DMCA to lock iPhone owners to Apple's own App Store for software, Apple's DMCA threats against Bluwiki for hosting discussions about iPod interoperability, and Texas Instruments' use of the DMCA to threaten calculator hobbyists trying to write their own operating systems.

"The Amended Google Books Settlement is Still Exclusive"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on March 3rd, 2010

James Grimmelmann has self-archived "The Amended Google Books Settlement is Still Exclusive" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

This brief essay argues that the proposed settlement in the Google Books case, although formally non-exclusive, would have the practical effect of giving Google an exclusive license to a large number of books. The settlement itself does not create mechanisms for Google's competitors to obtain licenses to orphan books and competitors are unlikely to be able to obtain similar settlements of their own. Recent amendments to the settlement do not change this conclusion.

"Filtering, Piracy Surveillance, and Disobedience"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on February 28th, 2010

Sonia Katyal, Professor of Law at the Fordham University School of Law, has self-archived "Filtering, Piracy Surveillance, and Disobedience" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

There has always been a cyclical relationship between the prevention of piracy and the protection of civil liberties. While civil liberties advocates previously warned about the aggressive nature of copyright protection initiatives, more recently, a number of major players in the music industry have eventually ceded to less direct forms of control over consumer behavior. As more aggressive forms of consumer control, like litigation, have receded, we have also seen a rise in more passive forms of consumer surveillance. Moreover, even as technology has developed more perfect means for filtering and surveillance over online piracy, a number of major players have opted in favor of “tolerated use,” a term coined by Professor Tim Wu to denote the allowance of uses that may be otherwise infringing, but that are allowed to exist for public use and enjoyment. Thus, while the eventual specter of copyright enforcement and monitoring remains a pervasive digital reality, the market may fuel a broad degree of consumer freedom through the toleration or taxation of certain kinds of activities.

This Article is meant largely to address and to evaluate these shifts by drawing attention to the unique confluence of these two important moments: the growth of tolerated uses, coupled with an increasing trend towards more passive forms of piracy surveillance in light of the balance between copyright enforcement and civil liberties. The content industries may draw upon a broad definition of disobedience in their campaigns to educate the public about copyright law, but the market’s allowance of DRM-free content suggests an altogether different definition. The divide in turn between copyright enforcement and civil liberties results in a perfect storm of uncertainty, suggesting the development of an even further division between the role of the law and the role of the marketplace in copyright enforcement and innovation, respectively.

Google Book Search Settlement Hearing Transcript

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on February 22nd, 2010

A transcript of the 2/18/10 Google Book Search Settlement hearing is now available.

Read more about the hearing at "GBS: Fairness Hearing Report"; "GBS: Fairness Hearing Report Part II"; "Google Settlement Fairness Hearing, Part Two: DOJ Expresses Opposition; Parties Mount Vigorous Defense"; and "Objectors Outnumber Supporters in First Half of Google Settlement Fairness Hearing."

Also see: "Google Book Search Settlement: Updating the Numbers, Part 1."

"Academic Author Objections to the Google Book Search Settlement"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, E-Books, Google and Other Search Engines, Mass Digitizaton, Publishing on February 21st, 2010

Pamela Samuelson has self-archived "Academic Author Objections to the Google Book Search Settlement" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

This Article explains the genesis of the Google Book Search (GBS) project and the copyright infringement lawsuit challenging it that the litigants now wish to settle with a comprehensive restructuring of the market for digital books. At first blush, the settlement seems to be a win-win-win, as it will make millions of books more available to the public, result in new streams of revenues for authors and publishers, and give Google a chance to recoup its investment in scanning millions of books. Notwithstanding these benefits, a closer examination of the fine details of the proposed GBS settlement should give academic authors some pause. The interests of academic authors were not adequately represented during the negotiations that yielded the proposed settlement. Especially troublesome are provisions in the proposed settlement are the lack of meaningful constraints on the pricing of institutional subscriptions and the plan for disposing of revenues derived from the commercialization of "orphan" and other unclaimed books. The Article also raises concerns about whether the parties' professed aspirations for GBS to be a universal digital library are being undermined by their own withdrawals of books from the regime the settlement would establish. Finally, the Article suggests changes that should be made to the proposed settlement to make it fair, reasonable, and adequate to the academic authors whose works make up a substantial proportion of the GBS corpus. Even with these modifications, however, there are serious questions about whether the class defined in the PASA can be certified consistent with Rule 23, whether the settlement is otherwise compliant with Rule 23, whether the settlement is consistent with the antitrust laws, and whether approval of this settlement is an appropriate exercise of judicial power.


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