Archive for the 'Copyright' Category

Are Photographs Derivative Works?

Posted in Copyright on February 7th, 2008

Is a photograph of a vodka bottle a derivative work? How about a photograph of a toy? A sculpture? Noted copyright expert William Patry examines cases dealing with these questions in "Photographs and Derivative Works," finding that the court's interpretation isn't always correct.

Here's an excerpt:

Photographs of other objects are not derivative works of those objects. First, a photograph of an object is not "based on" that object: It is a mere depiction of it. Second, even if one were to find that a photograph of an object is based on that "preexisting work" within the meaning of the definition of "derivative work" in Section 101, such a photograph must still "recast, transform, or adapt" the authorship in the preexisting work to be considered a derivative work.

Danish Court Orders Nordic ISP to Block Access to Torrent Search Engine Pirate Bay

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on February 6th, 2008

Tele2, a major Nordic ISP, must block its customers access to torrent search engine The Pirate Bay due to a Danish court order. Recently, four persons associated with The Pirate Bay were charged with assisting copyright infringement.

Read more about it at "Danish ISP Shuts Access to File-Sharing Pirate Bay," "Pirate Bay Admins Charged with Assisting Copyright Infringement," "Pirate Bay: Big Revenue Claims Fabricated by Prosecutors," "The Pirate Bay Fights Danish ISP Block," and "Pirate Bay Future Uncertain after Operators Busted."

Library Copyright Alliance and 7 Other Organizations Argue against the PRO-IP Act in White Paper

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on February 6th, 2008

Eight organizations have submitted a white paper to the U.S. Copyright Office that critiques the PRO IP Act. The organizations are Library Copyright Alliance, Computer & Communications Industry Association, NetCoalition, Consumer Electronics Association, Public Knowledge, Center for Democracy & Technology, Association of Public Television Stations, and Printing Industries of America.

Here's an excerpt from the "Executive Summary":

Not only is there a complete lack of evidence for the need to modify existing law, the proposed change would cause significant collateral damage across the economy, including, for instance, technology and Internet companies, software developers, telecommunications companies, graphics and printed materials industries, libraries, and consumers. Allowing plaintiffs to disaggregate components of existing works would—

  • Incentivize “copyright trolls” by providing plaintiffs with the leverage to assert significantly larger damage claims and obtain unjustified “nuisance settlements” from innovators not able to tolerate the risk of a ruinous judgment.
  • Stifle innovation by discouraging technologists from using or deploying any new technology or service that could be used to engage in infringing activities by third parties.
  • Create unprecedented risk for licensees of technologies powered by software. Because licensees may be unable or unwilling to obtain meaningful indemnifications from every upstream contributor to a particular product, the proposed change will decrease companies’ willingness to outsource software solutions or use open source software.
  • Chill lawful uses, suppress the development of fair use case law, and exacerbate the orphan works problem.

Read more about it at "Groups Submit Paper Opposing Higher Copyright Damages" and "PRO-IP Act Is Dangerous and Unnecessary, Say Industry Groups."

Just Say No: Verizon Won't Filter the Internet

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Net Neutrality on February 4th, 2008

At the recent State of the Net conference, Tom Tauke, Verizon's Executive Vice President, told participants that Verizon did not intend to filter the Internet to enforce copyright compliance.

Here's an excerpt from "Verizon: No Thank You on Copyright Filtering":

He [Tauke] said that it would be 1) a bad business decision "to assume the role of being police on the Internet;" 2) a likely invasion of privacy; and 3) would open the door to requests from others to filter out other objectionable material, like indecency and online gambling.

Read more about it at "Verizon: We Don't Want to Play Copyright Cop on Our Network."

EU Court Says EU Countries Do Not Have to Reveal the Identity of Internet Users in Civil Copyright Cases

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on January 30th, 2008

The European Court of Justice has ruled that EU countries do not have to force ISPs to reveal the names of users associated with IP addresses in civil copyright cases. The court said: "Community law does not require the member states, in order to ensure the effective protection of copyright, to lay down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings."

Read more about it at "EU Court Says File Sharers Don't Have to be Named" and "Mixed Reaction to EU Court Ruling on Copyright."

How Big Should Statutory Damages Be for Copyright Violations?: Report on a Roundtable about Section 104 of the PRO IP Act

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars on January 29th, 2008

In "Roundtable on Copyright Damages: 'What Are We Doing Here?'," Sherwin Siy reports on an important roundtable discussion about Section 104 of the PRO IP Act.

Here's an excerpt:

My problem with the provision then was that no one present at the hearing was particularly keen on it—neither the Department of Justice nor the Chamber of Commerce were pushing it particularly hard. Nor was it really clear that this provision did much good to improve the state of copyright law. It has been fairly clear that this is something that the RIAA wants—it would allow them to recover a much larger sum in statutory damages. For instance, if a 10-song album were infringed, the statutory damages would not range from $750 to $150,000, as they do today, but could be as high as $7500 to $1.5 million.

Three Strikes and You're Out: A Kinder, Gentler Internet Disconnection Policy Emerges in France

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 29th, 2008

Last November, it was reported that France intended to cut off Internet access to illegal downloaders after one warning from their ISP and a second offense. Now, it appears that violators will receive two warnings from the government, with a service cut-off after the third offense. Action on the bill is expected this summer.

Read more about it at "France as Big Music Copyright Cop," "France's Plan to Turn ISPs into Copyright Cops on Track," and "French Plan E-Mail Warnings for Illegal Downloads."

Copyright Troubles for SeeqPod and The Pirate Bay Search Engines

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 28th, 2008

It is anticipated that the Swedish government will soon charge The Pirate Bay, a torrent search engine, with copyright violations. The Pirate Bay has received over 4,000 pages of evidence related to possible violations from the government. It has been reported that The Pirate Bay serves as many as 10 million peer computers, providing access to about one million torrents.

This news comes hard on the heels of Warner Music Group's suit against SeeqPod, a digital music search engine. The SeeqPod case will likely be determined by the court's interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's "safe harbor" provision, with SeeqPod claiming immunity and Warner claiming that it does not apply.

Read more about it at "Do Search Engines Promote Piracy?," "Latest Test for DMCA Safe Harbors: Warner Sues SeeqPod," "The Pirate Bay Now Tracks 1 Million Torrents, 10 Million Peers," "Swedish Prosecutors Close in on The Pirate Bay," "Swedish Prosecutors Dump 4,000 Legal Docs on The Pirate Bay," "Sweden to Charge Pirate Bay in Copyright Case," "Warner Sues Music Search Engine SeeqPod," and "Warner Sues 'Playable Search Engine,' Tests DMCA Safe Harbor."

Against Intellectual Monopoly Freely Available

Posted in Copyright, Patents on January 25th, 2008

The forthcoming book Against Intellectual Monopoly, which will be published by Cambridge University Press, is now freely available in digital form.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

Our reasoning proceeds along the following lines. Everyone wants a monopoly. No one wants to compete against his own customers, or against imitators. Currently patents and copyrights grant producers of certain ideas a monopoly. Certainly few people do something in exchange for nothing. Creators of new goods are not different from producers of old ones: they want to be compensated for their effort. However, it is a long and dangerous jump from the assertion that innovators deserve compensation for their efforts to the conclusion that patents and copyrights, that is monopoly, are the best or the only way of providing that reward. Statements such as "A patent is the way of rewarding somebody for coming up with a worthy commercial idea" abound in the business, legal and economic press. As we shall see there are many other ways in which innovators are rewarded, even substantially, and most of them are better for society than the monopoly power patents and copyright currently bestow. Since innovators may be rewarded even without patents and copyright, we should ask: is it true that intellectual property achieves the intended purpose of creating incentives for innovation and creation that offset their considerable harm?

This book examines both the evidence and the theory. Our conclusion is that creators’ property rights can be well protected in the absence of intellectual property, and that the latter does not increase either innovation or creation. They are an unnecessary evil.

MPAA Now Says That College Students Account for 15%, Not 44%, of Illegal Movie Downloads

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on January 24th, 2008

The Motion Picture Association of America has said that a 2005 study that claimed that college students accounted for 44% of illegal downloads of movies is incorrect: the correct number is 15%. The MPAA had used the higher figure to argue for measures that would address higher education downloading abuse.

Meanwhile, the EFF Deeplinks blog is reminding its readers ("Troubling 'Digital Theft Prevention' Requirements Remain in Higher Education Bill) that the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which the House may take up in February, still contains this wording asking institutions to "develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity."

Read more about it at: "Downloading by Students Overstated," "MPAA Admits Mistake on Downloading Study," "Oops: MPAA Admits College Piracy Numbers Grossly Inflated," and "Why the MPAA and RIAA Can't Stand College Students."

Cultural Industries in Europe Committee Votes Down Copyright Filtering and Term Extension Amendments

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Net Neutrality on January 23rd, 2008

The European Parliament's Cultural Industries in Europe Committee has voted against amendments to the Cultural industries in the Context of the Lisbon Strategy report that would have filtered the Internet, removed or blocked infringing content, terminated the connectivity of infringers, and extended the term of copyright protection. The report will next be voted on in a European Parliament plenary meeting.

Read more about it at "Filtering and Copyright Extension Fail to Find a Home in EU" and "Proposed EU ISP Filtering and Copyright Extension Shot Down."

University of Minnesota Libraries Tutorial on Author Rights

Posted in Author Rights, Copyright, Publishing, Self-Archiving on January 23rd, 2008

The University of Minnesota Libraries have released a brief (about six minutes) Adobe Presenter overview of author rights issues aimed at faculty and other researchers.

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