Copycense Clippings (Dec. 11 to Dec. 17, 2007)
The final Clippings edition of this year features a novel approach to copyright reform; the Canadian citizenry stopping cold the march of restrictive copyright; and using P2P for marketing purposes.
Thank you for continuing to follow Copycense. We will resume Clippings coverage early next year.
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Article of the Week
Pamela Samuelson. Preliminary Thoughts on Copyright Reform. The UC-Berkeley law professor offers “preliminary thoughts about what a model copyright law might include and how one might go about getting rid of some of the clutter in the existing statute,” using the example provided by the American Law Institute’s model laws. Categories: Legislation & Regulation; Research.
Quotes of the Week
“It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of  copyrighted sound recordings on his computer. … Virtually all of the sound recordings … are in the ‘.mp3’ format. … Defendant admitted that he converted these sound recordings from their original format to the .mp3 format for his and his wife’s use. The .mp3 format is a ‘compressed format [that] allows for rapid transmission of digital audio files from one computer to another by electronic mail or any other file transfer protocol.’ Napster, 239 F.3d at 1011. Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by [plaintiff recording companies].” — Recording Industry Assn. of America brief in Atlantic v. Howell.
MacNN. RIAA Claims CD Rips Are Piracy in Lawsuit. Dec. 11, 2007. The MacNN headline is provocative, but not quite accurate. What the music industry lobby argues that ripping copyrighted music from CD (i.e. the “original format”) to another format (e.g. .mp3 files, for example) and posting to a shared folder on a peer-to-peer program (like Kazaa) means the music becomes de facto illegal, and therefore copyright infringement. While most coverage of this brief focuses on the alleged illegality of ripping music from compact disc to another format, to us the real story is about the recording industry’s attempts to extend into judge-made law the “making available” doctrine, which the industry argued strongly in the Jammie Thomas trial. Although the RIAA does, in fact, think that making personal copies of music is illegal, we’d like to think the likelihood of them trying to enforce that principle alone is far fetched. We’ve seen stranger things occur, however. Categories: Bundle of Rights; Cases & Litigation; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Music.
“We are willing to purchase media, and have thousands of music and movies; we are the entertainment industries best friend when it comes to spending money on entertainment. But as with all end of an era kind of things, everything we do is somehow proscribed, regulated, or locked. Those heady days of being 14 or 40 and copying something so it can come with us are over, and that is a shame.” — Techwag.
Techwag. The End of An Era Over Copyright. Dec. 12, 2007. We disagree that the days of copying something to come with you are over, but it is a shame that too many citizens feel proscribed from doing this very fundamental networked activity. Categories: Bundle of Rights.
Warren Lee. Canadian Copyright Bill Delayed. itbusiness.ca. Dec. 15, 2007. Canadian citizens not only forced a reconsideration of restrictive copyright legislation, they forced a reframing of the debate away from “piracy” and toward consumers. Categories: Framing & Rhetoric; International; Legislation & Regulation.
Last 100. TV Industry Using Piracy as a Measure of Success. Dec. 13, 2007. We’re not sure whether television executives have started doing this recently, or this was just divulged recently. No matter: the industry has been doing this sort of thing for years already. Categories: Broadcasting & Journalism; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Research.
Maura Corbett. ‘Tis the Season for Common Sense Copyright. News.com. Dec. 13, 2007. Last time we saw Qorvis’ Maura Corbett, she was defending the CCIA’s “Defend Fair Use” campaign. Now, like so many sequels, she is back, this time repping for the Digital Freedom Campaign (which counts ALA, Public Knowledge, and EFF among its partners), spouting the evils of the PRO IP bill that has caught the attention of many a media outlet. “Messaging” is as common a Washington activity as passing through metal detectors, but we continue to feel queasy about taking a public relations approach to legislative negotiations. Categories: Framing & Rhetoric; Legislation & Regulation.
Chloe Albanesius. DOJ Blasts New ‘Copyright Czar’ Bill. PCMag.com. Dec. 13, 2007. In last week’s edition of Clippings, we focused on the proposal in the PRO IP bill that would create a Cabinet-level copyright czar. Apparently, so has the Department of Justice, the agency most likely to be affected by such a proposal, calling this idea “ill-advised.” The more the entertainment and content lobbies wish to get DoJ involved in copyright enforcement, the more the agency seems to resist. And after all, why would the White House need another position to promote these industries’ copyright agenda? The U.S. Trade Representative already does this quite nicely, courtesy of its annual Special 301 review. Categories: Legislation & Regulation; Politics & Government.
Bits (The New York Times). As Ask Erases Little, Google and Others Keep Writing About You. Dec. 12, 2007. On the same day a member of Congress wrote to Google asking about its search practices, Times reporter Saul Hansell talks about Google’s actual or prospective ability to mine its data to do behavioral marketing. Google’s proposed $3.1 billion deal with DoubleClick likely doesn’t hang on the answer it gives to Rep. Joe Barton, but we’ll bet Google will try to avoid giving Barton a response on that very issue until the DoubleClick deal is final. Categories: Privacy & Security.
Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection. Museums are Not the Enemy and the Red Herring of Copyright Law to Prohibit Photography. Dec. 11, 2007. Following Boing Boing’s June 2007 thread about museums banning photography for copyright reasons, Hawk says, essentially, pshaw!! Categories: Visual Arts; Museums.
Torrent Freak. Porn Company Vivid Sues Its Own Customer Over Copyright. Dec. 11, 2007. Vivid Entertainment Group, which now is to adult entertainment what Playboy used to be, sues an adult version of YouTube, even though PornoTube‘s owner (AEBN) already has a contractual relationship with Vivid to deliver pay-per-view porn. Either this is a colossal slip of due diligence, or Vivid had decided (like the movie and music industries) that lawsuits are the better business strategy. Categories: Cases & Litigation; Film & Video.
Plagiarism Today. MyFreeCopyright: Free Copyright Verification. Dec. 11, 2007. In light of the poor reviews the U.S. Copyright Office has received on its e-Copyright service, the marketplace offers some alternatives, one of which is reviewed here. Categories: Registration.
Threat Level (Wired). Recording Industry Tells Court (Again) That MP3s Are a Crime. Dec. 11, 2007. The blogosphere has been all over this story, and it seems based on the assertions of Ray Beckerman, whose work we respect. We have to say, though, we’re not seeing what the big deal is. What we read was this: “It is undisputed that Defendant possessed unauthorized copies of  copyrighted sound recordings on his computer. … Virtually all of the sound recordings … ‘.mp3’ format. … Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .mp3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by [plaintiff recording companies].” If this is the quote to which Beckerman is referring, we see that as RIAA arguing the as yet untested “making available” theory, not necessarily that converting CDs to .MP3 files is de facto infringement. Don’t get us wrong: RIAA thinks CD to MP3 transfers are illegal, even to iPods. It just wants to be mealy mouthed about it so as to preserve any remaining shred of public credibility it retains. Categories: Cases & Litigation; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Music.
Rewind: Stories We Missed
(Interesting stories we noticed after we sent previous editions to press.)
Seth Mnookin. Universal’s CEO Once Called iPod Users Thieves. Now He’s Giving Songs Away. Wired. Nov. 27, 2007. First Edgar Bronfman, now Doug Morris. At some point, all these executives get the message that Slim Charles conveyed to Bodie early in Season 4 of The Wire: “The thing about the old days is that they the old days.” Categories: Music; Networks.
dive into mark. The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts). Nov. 19, 2007. A great literary mashup that notes Newsweek’s breathless predictions that Amazon.com’s new e-book reader will change “the future of reading” is not due to the technology, but because the device’s license agreement and copy restriction technology will, in fact, impinge on “the future of reading.” Categories: Books; DRM & Copy Protection; Mobile Devices.
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