Yet Another Music Copyright Lawsuit: Turn Off Those Staff Radios in the UK!

Kwik-Fit, a UK car repair company, has been sued by the Performing Rights Society over staff use of radios.

Here's an excerpt from "Kwik-Fit Sued over Staff Radios":

The PRS claimed that Kwik-Fit mechanics routinely use personal radios while working at service centres across the UK and that music, protected by copyright, could be heard by colleagues and customers.

It is maintained that amounts to the "playing" or "performance" of the music in public and renders the firm guilty of infringing copyright.

Source: "Kwik-Fit Sued over Staff Radios." BBC News, 5 October 2007.

The Amazon MP3 Music Service: No DRM; but Read the Terms of Use Agreement

MP3 files in the Amazon MP3 Music Service are free from DRM restrictions; however, the Amazon MP3 Music Service: Terms of Use agreement imposes legal restrictions that customers should be aware of and compare to their rights under the first sale doctrine with a CD purchase.

In section 2.1, it states:

Upon your payment of our fees for Digital Content, we grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use the Digital Content for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use, subject to and in accordance with the terms of this Agreement. You may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use.

In section 2.2, it states (excerpt; italics added):

Except as set forth in Section 2.1 above, you agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license or otherwise transfer or use the Digital Content. You are not granted any synchronization, public performance, promotional use, commercial sale, resale, reproduction or distribution rights for the Digital Content.

Source: Dudley, Brier. "Unlocked Music Isn't Unlimited." The Seattle Times, 8 October 2007.

More Reactions to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Verdict

Here are some more reactions to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict.

Reactions to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Verdict

Here are some reactions to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict.

RIAA Wins in Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas

The RIAA scored a victory in its first file sharing lawsuit to go before a jury. Defendent Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $220,000 ($9,250 each for 24 songs).

Here are the Ars Technica postings that deal with the case:

Further coverage about the verdict can be found in these CNET News.com articles:

RIAA Loses Money on File Sharing Lawsuits

Testifying in Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas (formerly known as Virgin v. Thomas), Jennifer Pariser of Sony BMG, admitted that the RIAA's lawsuits against file sharing result in a net loss for the organization.

Here's an excerpt from "RIAA Anti-P2P Campaign a Real Money Pit, According to Testimony":

One of the biggest bombshells from the cross-examination was Pariser's admission that the RIAA's legal campaign isn't making the labels any money, and that, furthermore, the industry has no idea of the actual damages it suffers due to file-sharing. . . .

The next line of questioning was how many suits the RIAA has filed so far. Pariser estimated the number at a "few thousand." "More like 20,000," suggested Toder. "That's probably an overstatement," Pariser replied. She then made perhaps the most startling comment of the day. Saying that the record labels have spent "millions" on the lawsuits, she then said that "we've lost money on this program."

Source: Bangeman, Eric. "RIAA Anti-P2P Campaign a Real Money Pit, According to Testimony." Ars Technica, 2 October 2007.

Free Version of the Copyright Cataloging Database Now Available

In response to the U.S. Copyright Office's reply to a letter from Carl Malamud and Peter Brantley (and other co-signers) about the $86,625 cost of the U.S. Copyright Cataloging database, public.resource.org has made the database freely available (Web access and FTP access).

Here's an excerpt from the bulk.resource.org website:

  • The "code" directory contains PERL code from 2000 which is used to convert MARC-format records into XML.
  • The "raw" directory contains the bulk database product as sold by the Library of Commerce as of the year 2000.
  • The "hids" directory contains all bulk data from 1978 to the present. . . .

In posting these data, we rely partly on voicemail from the Honorable Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Register of Copyrights received Fri Sep 21 16:17:02 PDT 2007 in response to the above-mentioned letter, in which Ms. Peters states that "I think our records should be available to the public. Certainly there's no copyright in any of the copyright records. Certainly they're public records and they should be openly available."

Source: Brantley, Peter. "Making a Brouhaha in the Blogosphere." O'Reilly Radar, 30 September 2007.

Copyright Office Replies to Malamud et al. about the Cost of the Copyright Catalog

In response to a letter by Carl Malamud and other notables questioning the $86,625 price tag on the copyright catalog, the U.S. Copyright Office has replied, and that reply has been posted on the Library of Congress Blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The U.S. Copyright Office neither sets the price nor receives any direct revenue from the sale of the Copyright Cataloging database. Rather, access to these records is a service offered through the Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) of the Library of Congress, which is mandated by Congress to provide this and other services to the public at a charge of production and distribution cost plus 10%. . . .

Fortunately, recent cost savings realized within CDS are anticipated to result in a drop in the price of many services available from CDS, including the Copyright Cataloging database subscription service. Any new pricing structure will appear first at on the CDS Web site www.loc.gov/cds/ in late October or early November 2007, then in the 2008 CDS Catalog of Products in January 2008.

Source: Raymond, Matt. "The Price of the Copyright Catalog." Library of Congress Blog, 26 September 2007.

More Lawsuits and Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters from the RIAA

In a new round of litigation, the Recording Industry Association of America has sued 24 individuals who had not heeded pre-litigation settlement letters, and it has sent 403 new letters to individuals at 22 universities.

Source: Butler, Susan. "RIAA Sends Another Wave Of Settlement Letters." Billboard, 20 September 2007.

Creative Commons Sued

The Creative Commons, along with Vigin Mobile, has been sued by Susan Chang and Justin Ho-Wee Wong over the "unauthorized and exploitive use of Alison's Chang's image in an advertising campaign launched in June 2007 to promote free text messaging and other mobile services."

Here's an excerpt from Lawrence Lessig's posting:

Slashdot has an entry about a lawsuit filed this week by parents of a Texas minor whose photograph was used by Virgin Australia in an advertising campaign. The photograph was taken by an adult. He posted it to Flickr under a CC-Attribution license. The parents of the minor are complaining that Virgin violated their daughter's right to privacy (by using a photograph of her for commercial purposes without her or her parents permission). The photographer is also a plaintiff. He is complaining that Creative Commons failed "to adequately educate and warn him . . . of the meaning of commercial use and the ramifications and effects of entering into a license allowing such use." (Count V of the complaint).

The comments on the Slashdot thread are very balanced and largely accurate. (The story itself is a bit misleading, as the photographer also complains that Virgin did not give him attribution, thereby violating the CC license). As comment after comment rightly notes, CC licenses have not (yet) tried to deal with the complexity of any right of privacy. The failure of Virgin to get a release before commercially exploiting the photograph thus triggers the question of whether the minor's right to privacy has been violated.

Source: Lessig, Lawrence. "On the Texas Suit against Virgin and Creative Commons." Lessig 2.0, 22 September 2007.

MediaDefender Springs a Leak

About 700 MB of file-sharing foe MediaDefender's internal e-mails have been distributed on the Internet. These e-mails detail the tactics that MediaDefender used to disrupt peer-to-peer file-sharing, including decoying, interdiction, spoofing, and swarming. (You can read about these tactics in "Peer-to-Peer Poisoners: A Tour of MediaDefender.")

Here's a selection of news stories and postings about the leak:

Will ISP's Filter the Internet for Media Companies?

It appears that some major ISP's, such as AT&T, may filter the traffic that passes through their networks in order to eliminate illegal file-sharing.

Here's an excerpt from "MPAA Head Wants Deeper Relationship (Read: Content Filtering) with ISPs":

Rather amazingly, given the money and time that will be required to implement such a system, AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future. Other ISPs could well follow suit, as most of the major networks are owned by or affiliated with companies that also have a voracious need for content (just think of how both cable companies and telcos like AT&T and Verizon need access to channels for their various TV offerings, if you need an example). The companies want to keep on good terms with content owners, but there may also be some legitimate concern about the impact illicit traffic has on their networks. Cracking down on illegal file-sharing—should that prove to be technically possible—could help with both of these issues.

Source: Anderson, Nate. "MPAA Head Wants Deeper Relationship (Read: Content Filtering) with ISPs." Ars Technica, 19 September 2007.

The DMCA Gets a Thumbs Up from the Register of Copyrights

At the Future of Music Policy Summit, Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters said of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: "I'm a supporter; I think it did what it was supposed to do." Further, she asserted that: "I'm not ready to dump the anticircumvention."

In an analysis of Peters' comments, Cory Doctorow said:

The DMCA also makes it possible to censor the Internet by sending "takedown notices" to web-hosting companies alleging that some of their content infringes copyright. This system has been widely abused. . . .

The DMCA has also been vital to the music industry lawsuits against 20,000 US music fans, and resulted in the US threatening and jailing researchers and scholars who wrote about information security.

Despite all this, there is no evidence that the DMCA has curbed Internet infringement—indeed, all indications are that unauthorized music and movie downloading are on the increase and show no signs of slowing. Furthermore, the DMCA lawsuits against technology companies like MP3.com and Napster, and against tens of thousands of American music-fans, have not generated one cent of income for actual musicians. . . .

Of course, Peters (who doesn't own a computer!) is no copyright apologist—in May, 2005, she spoke out against the "Betamax" principle, a bedrock of American copyright law that allows technologies to be legally manufactured if they have a legal use. She also said that copyright infringement funds terrorism, and that the US should clobber foreign countries that sought to have local copyright policies that promoted cultural diversity and development. . .

Sources: Broache, Anne. "Copyright Office Chief: I'm a DMCA Supporter." CNET News.Com, 17 September 2007; Doctorow, Cory. "Head of US Copyright Says 'DMCA Does What It Is Supposed to Do." Boing Boing, 17 September 2007.

CCIA Study Says Copyright Limitations Generate More Than $4.5 Trillion per Year in US

The Computer and Communications Industry Association has released a study that estimates that copyright limitations, such as fair use, generate over $4.5 trillion per year in the US. The report will be available on the CCIA website.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

According to the study commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and conducted in accordance with a World Intellectual Property Organization methodology, companies benefiting from limitations on copyright-holders' exclusive rights, such as "fair use"—generate substantial revenue, employ millions of workers, and, in 2006, represented one-sixth of total U.S. GDP.

The exhaustive report, released today at a briefing on Capitol Hill, quantifies for the first time ever the critical contributions of fair use to the U.S. economy. The timing proves particularly important as the debates over copyright law in the digital age move increasingly to center stage on Capitol Hill. As the report summarizes, in the past twenty years as digital technology has increased, so too has the importance of fair use. With more than $4.5 trillion in revenue generated by fair use dependent industries in 2006, a 31% increase since 2002, fair use industries are directly responsible for more than 18% of U.S. economic growth and nearly 11 million American jobs. In fact, nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that benefits from current limitations on copyright.

Postscript: The report is now available.

Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture

The MIT Press has published Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture by Tarleton Gillespie.

Here's an excerpt from the author's description:

In Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture, Tarleton Gillespie examines this shift to "technical copy protection" and its profound political, economic, and cultural implications.

Gillespie reveals that the real story is not the technological controls themselves but the political, economic, and cultural arrangements being put in place to make them work. He shows that this approach to digital copyright depends on new kinds of alliances among content and technology industries, legislators, regulators, and the courts, and is changing the relationship between law and technology in the process. The film and music industries, he claims, are deploying copyright in order to funnel digital culture into increasingly commercial patterns that threaten to undermine the democratic potential of a network society.

Copyright and the First Amendment: Golan v. Gonzales

On September 4th, Christopher Sprigman announced that the 10th Circuit Court has decided in favor of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society's appeal in Golan v. Gonzales.

Here's an excerpt from Sprigman's posting that explains the case:

The Golan case challenges the constitutionality of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, by which, among other things, Congress removed thousands of books, films, songs, and other creative works from the public domain and “restored” them to copyright. The Golan plaintiffs, a group of conductors and film distributors who used these public domain works, challenged Congress’s depredation of the public domain. The primary ground for the challenge was that Congress, by removing works from the public domain, departed from the “traditional contours of copyright protection” in a way that limited free speech in violation of the First Amendment. Limited how? By making the use of the former public domain works subject to the approval of the owners of the “restored” copyrights. By, in short, imposing copyright burdens on free speech where none had existed before.

The Golan plaintiffs’ First Amendment theory was built on something the Supreme Court said in Eldred v. Ashcroft. . . . . Where Congress does not act in accordance with history, but instead alters copyright’s “traditional contours”, courts must conduct a more searching First Amendment review to ensure that whatever Congress has done to the copyright law—which is, of course, a regulation of speech—does not burden speech in ways that cannot be justified.

Since Sprigman's post, there has been further commentary in the blogosphere. Here's a selection of postings:

Hi Tech Companies Win House Patent Battle

In a big win for high technology companies, the House passed a bill that would limit patent litigation.

Here's an excerpt from "House Passes Bill to Curb Suits by Patent Owners":

The measure passed by the House would change the rules at the Patent and Trademark Office so patents would go to the first person to file an application, not necessarily the first inventor. . . . It would also allow third parties to introduce evidence against applications and would create a system, called post-grant opposition, to challenge new patents.

Source: Bloomberg News. "House Passes Bill to Curb Suits by Patent Owners." The New York Times, 8 September 2007, B4.

RIAA v. The People: Four Years Later

With is focus on entertainment, digital audio/video file-sharing would appear to have little to do with digital scholarship; however, file-sharing is the canary in the digital copyright coal mine. Since the financial stakes are high, the legal battle over file-sharing is fierce, and it is where a growing body of digital copyright case law is being written. These rulings are legal precedents that may affect a wider range of digital materials in the future. File-sharing is also where the fate of digital rights management (DRM) is being largely decided, and this could have a major impact on future digital scholarship as well. That’s why I cover file-sharing legal issues in DigitalKoans.

The EFF has issued a new report, RIAA v. The People: Four Years Later, that examines the track record of one of the major legal combatants in the file-sharing war, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Here's a brief excerpt from the report:

Are the lawsuits working? Has the arbitrary singling out of more than 20,000 random American families done any good in restoring public respect for copyright law? Have the lawsuits put the P2P genie back in the bottle or restored the record industry to its 1997 revenues?

After four years of threats and litigation, the answer is a resounding no.

CCIA Launches Defend Fair Use Site

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and others, has launched its Defend Fair Use website to promote its FTC complaint.

The Website is under CCIA's "Just Rights™ Statement."

The CCIA fair use complaint illustrates a key problem with ever-tightening copyright restrictions for corporations—they affect all potential users of copyrighted information, not just individual users. The growing desire of corporations to monitor, control, and profit from every possible use of their copyrighted material ultimately restricts those same corporations' ability to freely and fairly use the works held by others.

Next stop for CCIA, a "Stop DRM" Website?

Interviews with Copyright and Other "Open" Activists from KRUU

KRUU has a series of digital audio interviews with copyright and other activists in the "open" movement. Here's a sample:

Look Out LexisNexis: Malamud Wants Free Access to Court Decisions

In a move that could change the $5 billion legal publishing marketplace, Carl Malamud, who established public.resource.org earlier this year, plans on making more than ten million court decisions freely available on the Internet.

Here's an excerpt from "A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free":

Mr. Malamud has a significant track record in battling publishers over public information. In 1994 he began a crusade that ultimately persuaded the federal government to make records from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Patent and Trademark Office available online to the public at no cost.

He said the free availability of that digital information did not undercut the businesses that were making money from the information at the time. . . .

The Public Resource effort is one of several attempts to make the nation's laws more accessible. One project, AltLaw (altlaw.org) is a joint effort by Columbia Law School’s Program on Law and Technology and the Silicon Flatirons program at the University of Colorado Law School to permit free full-text searches of the last decade of federal appellate and Supreme Court opinions.

Source: Markoff, John. "A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free." The New York Times, 20 August 2007, B6.

SPARC Canadian Author Addendum

The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) have released the SPARC Canadian Author Addendum.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Traditional publishing agreements often require that authors grant exclusive rights to the publisher. The new SPARC Canadian Author Addendum enables authors to secure a more balanced agreement by retaining select rights, such as the rights to reproduce, reuse, and publicly present the articles they publish for non-commercial purposes. It will help Canadian researchers to comply with granting council public access policies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Policy on Access to Research Outputs. The Canadian Addendum reflects Canadian copyright law and is an adaptation of the original U.S. version of the SPARC Author Addendum. . . .

An explanatory brochure complements the Addendum. Both the brochure and addendum are available in French and English on the CARL and SPARC Web sites and will be widely distributed. SPARC, in conjunction with ARL and ACRL, has also introduced a free Web cast on Understanding Author Rights. See http://www.arl.org/sparc/author for details.

Welcome to the DRM Zone: Case in Point, the Google Video Store

If you have ever purchased or rented a video from the Google Video Store, it will cease to function on August 15, 2007. That's because the Google Video Store is being shut down and along with it Google 's associated DRM system.

Customers will get credits in Google Checkout for what they spent on Google Video Store products, but not cash refunds, meaning that they must buy merchandise available via that service to recoup their losses. Of course, this does not compensate purchasers for the inconvenience of having to replace their videos (assuming that they can).

This fiasco underlines a key problem with DRM: it doesn't just restrict access, it restricts access using proprietary technologies, and, with few exceptions, those technologies cannot be legally circumvented under U.S. law.

Source: Fisher, Ken. "Google Selleth Then Taketh Away, Proving the Need for DRM Circumvention." Ars Technica, 12 August 2007.