Archive for the 'Digital Culture' Category

Goliath Just Got Smaller: Free Software Foundation Establishes Expert Witness Defense Fund to Fight RIAA Lawsuits

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 20th, 2007

The Free Software Foundation has established an Expert Witness Defense Fund to "help provide computer expert witnesses to combat RIAA's ongoing lawsuits, and to defend against the RIAA's attempt to redefine copyright law." Ray Beckerman and a group of selected attorneys will advise the fund. You can make tax deductible contributions to the fund, which is a registered 501(c)3 organization.

In a Win for the MPAA and RIAA, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 Is Approved by the House Education and Labor Committee

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 15th, 2007

Despite the opposition of higher education officials, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 was approved by the House Education and Labor Committee with an illegal file sharing provision intact.

Read more about the provision and its approval at "Campus Copyright Mandates Threaten Financial Aid Funds and Campus Networks," "House Antipiracy Measure Passes through Committee," "House Committee on Education and Labor Puts out 'Supporters of Intellectual Property Theft' Propaganda," "Politicos Near Vote on Anti-P2P Rules for Universities," and "Swiftboating Higher Education on P2P."

Urgent EDUCAUSE Call to Action on Illegal File Sharing Provision

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 12th, 2007

EDUCAUSE has issued an urgent call to action regarding an illegal file sharing provision in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007.

Here's the text of the provision:

Section 494: Campus Based Digital Theft Prevention

(a) IN GENERAL—Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable—

(2) 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

For further information, see EDUCAUSE's P2P or File Sharing page, especially the talking points and the suggested templates for calls and letters. You can use Congress Merge to find contact information for your Congressional representatives.

Lessig on How Creativity Is Being Strangled By the Law

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 7th, 2007

Lawrence Lessig's TED presentation on "How Creativity Is Being Strangled By the Law" is now available. Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society.

Jefferson Airplane Member, RIAA Director of Communications, and Others Discuss P2P File Sharing at Ohio University Forum

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on November 1st, 2007

Ohio University has released a digital video of its October 30, 2007 P2P File Sharing: A 360° Perspective forum. Among others, the speakers included Jorma Kaukonen, member of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Jonathan Lamy, Director of Communications of the RIAA, and Vijay Raghavan, Director of Digital Freedom University and the Digital Freedom Campaign.

EFF and Public-Interest-Group Coalition Issue Fair Use Principles for User-Generated Video Content

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on October 31st, 2007

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a coalition of public-interest groups (the Center for Social Media, School of Communications, American University; Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, Washington College of Law, American University; Public Knowledge; Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California) have issued "Fair Use Principles for User-Generated Video Content."

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Fair uses have been mistakenly caught up in copyright enforcement dragnets in the past. For example, earlier this year blogger Michelle Malkin's video about rapper Akon was erroneously taken down from YouTube after Universal Music Group (UMG) claimed copyright infringement. In that case, two excerpts from Akon music videos were embedded in a longer commentary about the rap star. Although UMG ultimately admitted its mistake, automated content filtering raises the possibility that commentaries like this might be blocked preemptively in the future.

With cases like this one in mind, "Fair Use Principles for User-Generated Content" describes six steps that service providers and copyright owners should take to minimize damage to fair use during copyright enforcement efforts. One key principle is "three strikes before blocking" — verifying that the video matches the video of a copyrighted work, that the audio matches the audio of the same work, and that nearly all of the clip is comprised of that single work. In addition, if a video is blocked by a content filter, the creator should be given an opportunity to dispute the filter's determination.

Six Steps to Digital Copyright Sanity: Reforming a Pre-VCR Law for a YouTube World

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture on October 29th, 2007

Gigi B. Sohn, Public Knowledge President, has released the text of her speech to the New Media and the Marketplace of Ideas Conference Boston University College of Communication titled "Six Steps to Digital Copyright Sanity: Reforming a Pre-VCR Law for a YouTube World."

Canadian Public Domain Music Score Site Forced to Remove All Scores

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Public Domain on October 23rd, 2007

The International Music Score Library Project, which offered music scores that were in the public domain in Canada, has been forced to remove all scores because it can not afford to comply with the terms of a second cease and desist letter from Universal Edition. The publisher's letter indicated that some scores were still under copyright in Europe, where the term of protection is 20 years longer than in Canada, and that some unidentified works were still under Canadian copyright.

The IMSLP Website remains, but it now consists only of a lengthy open letter and discussion forums.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, commented in a posting on the case:

In this particular case, UE demanded that the site use IP addresses to filter out non-Canadian users, arguing that failing to do so infringes both European and Canadian copyright law. It is hard to see how this is true given that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that sites such as IMSLP are entitled to presume that they are being used in a lawful manner and therefore would not rise to the level of authorizing infringement. The site was operating lawfully in Canada and there is no positive obligation in the law to block out non-Canadians.

As for a European infringement, if UE is correct, then the public domain becomes an offline concept, since posting works online would immediately result in the longest single copyright term applying on a global basis. That can't possibly be right. Canada has chosen a copyright term that complies with its international obligations and attempts to import longer terms – as is the case here – should not only be rejected but treated as copyright misuse.

Read more about it in "European Copyright Law Used to Threaten Canadian Public Domain Site" and "Music Score Library Goes Off-Line after Cease and Desist Warning."

The RIAA Sues Usenet.Com

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 17th, 2007

The RIAA has sued Usenet.Com, a Usenet service provider. Usenet.Com offers SSH access with its Secure-Tunnel option from SecureTunnel.com, and indicates that it does not log user activity.

There are a wide variety of Usenet service providers, including universities and colleges.

Here's an excerpt from Usenet.Com's Mp3 Newsgroups Page:

Today’s hottest way of sharing MP3 files over the Internet is Usenet; forget about all the peer-to-peer software applications, which quickly become outdated. . . . MP3 Newsgroups are the ultimate way of sharing as they are well organized and allow the users to find what they are looking for quickly and effortlessly.

Read more about the suit at "RIAA Sues Usenet, Decries It as Napster, Kazaa" and "RIAA Tries to Pull Plug on Usenet. Seriously."

The Jammie Thomas Appeal and More Follow-up

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 16th, 2007

Jammie Thomas has filed a notice of appeal to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict based on the premise that the statutory damages awarded were excessively large and constitute punitive damages. Thomas would like to have a new trial or to have the damages to be adjusted to $151.20 from $222,000.

Here's an excerpt from the motion reported in "Appeal in RIAA Case to Focus on 'Unconstitutionally Excessive' Punishment":

"In the instant matter, defendant Thomas urges the Court to consider the statutory damages to be tantamount to an award of punitive damages, since it is based not upon plaintiffs' losses, but rather defendant's conduct," concludes the motion. "Whether the Court recognizes actual damages of zero dollars, $20 or whatever figure plaintiffs suggest is a fair measure of their actual damages for the 24 subject recordings, the ratio of actual damages to the award is not only astronomical, it is offensive to our Constitution and offensive generally."

Further coverage of the motion is available in "RIAA Says Thomas Shirking $222,000 Payoff" and "RIAA's $222,000 Defendant Asks for a New Trial."

Here's further commentary on the verdict:

A Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Juror Speaks Out and More Verdict Reactions

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 11th, 2007

Michael Hegg, a steelworker who served on the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas jury, has revealed what went on in the deliberations in "RIAA Juror: 'We Wanted to Send a Message'."

Here are more verdict reactions and follow-ups:

P2P Users Who Don't Use Blocklists Can Be Tracked by Media Companies

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 11th, 2007

A study by Anirban Banerjee, Michalis Faloutsos and Laxmi N. Bhuyan ("P2P:Is Big Brother Watching You?") has shown that peer-to-peer file sharing users who do not employ blocklists can be tracked by media companies or their agents.

Here's an excerpt from the paper:

A naive user is practically guaranteed to be tracked: we observe that 100% of our peers run into blocklisted users. In fact, 12% to 17% of all distinct IPs contacted by a peer are blocklisted ranges. Interestingly, a little caution can have significant effect: the top five most prevalent blocklisted IPs contribute to nearly 94% of all blocklisted IPs we ran into. Using this information users can reduce their chances of being tracked to just about 1%.

Source: Anderson, Nate. "P2P Researchers: Use a Blocklist or You Will Be Tracked. . . 100% of the Time." Ars Technica, 10 October 2007.

The Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Appeal and Further Reactions to the Verdict

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 9th, 2007

Jammie Thomas will appeal the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas verdict. More on this and further reactions to the case in the articles and posts below:

EDUCAUSE Urgent Call to Action on McKeon-Keller Bill's File Sharing Provisions

Posted in Coding, Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 8th, 2007

You might recall that back in July, EDUCAUSE issued an urgent call to action about a file sharing amendment that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intended to make to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act.

It's déjà vu all over again. Virtually the same proposal has been incorporated into Rep. Howard P. McKeon and Rep. Ric Keller's College Access and Opportunity Act of 2007, and EDUCAUSE has again issued an urgent call to action. Get the details at EDUCAUSE's P2P or File Sharing page.

Also read "A Controversial Antipiracy Measure Re-emerges." Here's an excerpt:

Like Mr. Reid’s amendment, the House proposal calls on the U.S. secretary of education to identify the 25 institutions that received the most notices identifying cases of copyright infringement of both music and movies. The colleges appearing on those lists would then be required to devise “a plan for implementing a technology-based deterrent” to illegal file swapping.

Source: Read, Brock. "A Controversial Antipiracy Measure Re-emerges." The Wired Campus, 8 October 2007.

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

Posted in Copyright, Digital Culture on October 8th, 2007

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

Posted in Copyright, Digital Culture, License Agreements/Contracts on October 8th, 2007

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

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 7th, 2007

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

Reactions to the Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas Verdict

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 6th, 2007

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

RIAA Wins in Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 5th, 2007

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

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on October 4th, 2007

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.

Japanese Authors Write Novels on Cell Phones

Posted in Digital Culture, E-Books on September 28th, 2007

Texting has been raised to a new level as young Japanese authors have taken to writing novels on their cell phones.

Here's an excerpt from "Ring! Ring! Ring! In Japan, Novelists Find a New Medium":

When Satomi Nakamura uses her cellphone, she has to be extra careful to take frequent breaks. That's because she isn't just chatting. The 22-year-old homemaker has recently finished writing a 200-page novel titled "To Love You Again" entirely on her tiny cellphone screen, using her right thumb to tap the keys and her pinkie to hold the phone steady. . . .

Most of these novels, with their simple language and skimpy scene-setting, are rather unpolished. . . . But they are hugely popular, and publishers are delighted with them. . . . Several cellphone novels have been turned into real books, selling millions of copies and topping the best-seller lists.

Source: Kane, Yukari Iwatani. "Ring! Ring! Ring! In Japan, Novelists Find a New Medium." The Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2007, A1, A18.

More Lawsuits and Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters from the RIAA

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on September 23rd, 2007

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

Posted in Copyright, Creative Commons/Open Licenses, Digital Culture, Privacy on September 23rd, 2007

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

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, P2P File Sharing on September 20th, 2007

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?

Posted in Copyright, Digital Copyright Wars, Digital Culture, Net Neutrality, P2P File Sharing on September 19th, 2007

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.


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