Copycense Clippings (Nov. 20 to Nov. 26, 2007)
Leftovers gone and plates cleared, Copycense Clippings weighs in a tad larger than expected, given last week’s holiday. Articles include the joy of watching DVDs of The Wire and The Sopranos in concentrated doses; the movie industry passing out spyware to colleges and universities; Maryland taxing computer services; and France’s ill-considered plan to terminate Internet access to consumers who are suspected of illegally downloading entertainment content.
This is Copycense.
Articles of the Week
Adam Liptak. Doling Out Other People’s Money. The New York Times. Nov. 26, 2007. Throw a million to an eating disorder program; $5 million to George Washington University’s law school for an antitrust settlement concerning settlement prices; and a random mill here and there for various and sundry causes, and all of a sudden you’re talking about real money. Meet cy pres, the flip side of the class action lawsuit. Categories: Cases & Litigation.
if:book. The Novelodeon. Nov. 26, 2007. A delightfully tasty article about the joys of waiting for cable series to be released on DVD, then watching the entire series sequentially in a concentrated dose. This is how we were introduced to The Wire, whose Season 4 gets released on DVD next Tuesday, and whose fifth and final season begins January 2008. Categories: Film & Video.
Security Fix (WashingtonPost.com). MPAA University ‘Toolkit’ Raises Privacy Concerns. Nov. 23, 2007. “Rootkit” redux: the content lobby surreptitiously spies on colleges and universities, exposing the schools’ network in the process. Columnist Krebs identifies two open-source monitoring tools — including Snort (a tool that captures detailed information about all traffic flowing across a network) and ntop (a that captures data feeds from tools like Snort and display the data in more user-friendly graphics and charts) — in the “toolkit” the movie industry offers schools identified as havens for illegal music downloading. We want to know why any institution would think of installing this software on its network, even without a known security risk? Categories: Education; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Open Source; Privacy & Security.
Quote of the Week
“We could not agree more that anyone who truly wants to be President needs to understand the age they are living in. Each candidate should be asked and expected to answer how they would change or influence the copyright policy and law in the coming decade – policies and laws that affect every single American.
“… Thanksgiving or not, here is where this rare agreement comes to an end. With an accurate appreciation of how important copyright law and policy is to Americans, perhaps candidates of every stripe for every office should focus a little less on Hollywood’s agenda and more on the consumer’s rights and concerns. — Digital Freedom.
Digital Freedom. How Much Should Copyright Issues Matter? A Lot. Nov. 21, 2007. Digital Freedom’s response to Copyright Alliance propagandist publicity campaign (see Clippings below). We believe the group has summed up this issue quite nicely. Categories: Politics & Government.
Steven Levy. The Future of Reading. Newsweek. Nov. 26, 2006. We can’t say if Amazon.com’s Kindle is the future of reading, or a better way to read. (Reviews are mixed.) But you can’t deny Bezos & Co. have one hell of a publicity rep. Categories: Books; Digitization.
WashingtonPost.com (via Associated Press). Software Piracy Fight Makes Enemies. Nov. 25, 2007. The Business Software Association’s poorly considered litigation campaign against small businesses is the software equivalent to the RIAA’s poorly considered (and poorly executed) litigation campaign against consumers. While the article reports a trend worth noting, the reporter’s readying willingness to accept the industry’s claims of software “piracy” without challenge is disturbing and unprofessional. (Example: “The BSA is well within its rights to wring expensive punishments aimed at stopping the willful, blatant software copying that undoubtedly happens in many businesses. And its leaders say they concentrate on small businesses because that’s where illegitimate use of software is rampant.”) Categories: Computers; Licensing & Permissions.
News.com (via Reuters). France Set to Cut Web Access for Music, Film Pirates. Nov. 23, 2007. Entertainment content owners have convinced the French government to suspend or shutter consumer’s Internet service accounts if those consumers illegally download content suspected to be a music or movie file. (Before Americans get all sniffy about the French being backwards, please recall Comcast recently has been accused of doing the exact same thing.) The story reports “[an] independent authority will be set up and put in charge of deciding when to issue Internet users with ‘electronic warning messages.’ The authority will be supervised by a judge.” We can’t figure out how — or why — government officials continue to fall for the entertainment industry’s baseless, one sided, and utterly misleading claim that “piracy” is destroying its business. Further, we know nothing about French copyright law, but if it works anything like American copyright, then how is the “authority” supposed to determine allowable, excepted uses from infringing uses without privacy violations? At least this process — unlike America’s DMCA subpoena process — requires judicial supervision. Categories: Fair Use & Other Exceptions; International; Legislation & Regulation; Privacy & Security.
David Spratley. Copyright Law Offers Poor Protection for Aboriginal Cultural Property. The Lawyers Weekly. Nov. 23, 2007. The author plumbs an interesting (and little investigated) area involving copyright law: the attempt (by entities or individuals other than the creators) to copyright cultural property under the guise of “protecting it from [external] harm or misuse.” While this story talks about totem poles in Vancouver, we could point to the exact same issue concerning blues in the United States. Categories: Bundle of Rights; International; Visual Art.
Dan Morrell. Transformers … Now in Streaming Video! The Latest Trend In Online Movie Piracy. Slate. Nov. 21, 2007. Instead of downloads, now we have streaming as the new face of entertainment infringement. This makes much more sense for movie content, which is considerably larger (and therefore considerably more time consuming to download) than music. Never underestimate the underground market’s ability to adapt. Categories: Film & Video; Infringement; Web & Online.
WashingtonPost.com (via Associated Press). T-Mobile Offers iPhone Without Contract. Nov. 21, 2007. But for more than twice the price. Categories: Antitrust; International; Mobile Devices.
Susan Butler. The Romantics Sue Activision Over ‘Guitar Hero’. Billboard. Nov. 21, 2007. Copyright and control gone awry: the Romantics sue “Guitar Hero” owner Activision Publishing over a licensed cover that sounds too much like the original. Meanwhile, William Patry notes this issue may be moot because of Section 114(b). Categories: Cases & Litigation; Licensing & Permissions; Music.
News Blog. (News.com). RIAA, MPAA Urge Pro-Copyright Vows From Presidential Candidates. Nov. 20, 2007. The Copyright Alliance, a shelter organization for the content lobby, asks questions of presidential candidates such as “How would you promote the progress of science and creativity, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, by upholding and strengthening copyright law and preventing its diminishment?” William Patry rightly crushes the Alliance for its propagandist, non-democratic view of copyright law, and its insistence on calling itself an “educational” organization. Categories: Politics & Government. (Editor’s note: See our “Quote of the Week” for a response.)
Ann Knef. Metropolis Radio Station Sued for Copyright Infringement. The Record (Madison, IL). Nov. 20, 2007. How does a radio station in 2007 think it’s OK to broadcast without an ASCAP license? Categories: Broadcasting & Journalism; Cases & Litigation; Music.
Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson. Anti-Piracy Moves ‘Hurt Sales.’ FT.com. Nov. 20, 2007. British retailers are urging music labels to drop copy restriction technology because DRM is “stifling growth and working against the consumer interest.” Categories: DRM & Copy Restriction; International; Music.
Rewind: Stories We Missed
(Interesting stories we noticed after we sent previous editions to press.)
Michael Geist. All I Want for Christmas Is a Legal TiVo. TheStar.com. Nov. 19, 2007. Geist writes about Canada’s failure to address home recording through case law or legislation. Categories: Film & Video; International; Mobile Devices.
K.C. Jones. Maryland To Tax Computer Support Services. InformationWeek. Nov. 19, 2007. The home of the terrapin adds a six percent sales tax to computer consulting, programming, hardware maintenance and software installation services, all of which were previously exempt from the sales tax. Categories: Business & Commerce; Computers.
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