Copycense Clippings (Jan. 15, 2008 to Jan. 21, 2008)
This week’s edition of Clippings is huge, with gadget news and copyright implications from the Consumer Electronics Show. This week we plumb why 24 hours is not enough time to watch an iTunes movie rental; more evidence that Canadians consider copyright a serious political issue; elevating copyright to human rights status; the Seinfelds being accused of infringement and defamation; and the chair of the House’s copyright committee leaving the building.
This is Copycense.
Article of the Week
The Patry Copyright Blog. Appeals to Human Rights: The Next Battlefield? Jan. 17, 2008. If there’s any single writer that can make copyright humorous, it is William Patry. When describing the push to equate copyright (a relatively minor issue in the broader scheme of world affairs) with human rights (an extraordinarily important issue), Patry comments with typical sarcasm: “I confess to being moved to tears by European human rights attorneys taking up the cause of very large U.S. broadcasting corporations: Donald Rumsfeld was so wrong.”
Seriously, though, the injection of copyright into international affairs has been steady and dangerous since the trend results only in more rights for multinational corporations. Talk about “authors” and “creators” has little to do with individuals who create original works fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Those words merely are code designed to make readers think Grandma needs more rights to protect her cross-stitch designs. In reality, “Grandma” is a global commercial behemoth with business presences on all continents that is hell bent on leveraging copyright and other intellectual property schemes to foster dollar-driven hegemony.
(Well, perhaps not the dollar these days. Substitute the Euro.)
In fact, one could argue reasonably that here in the U.S., the effort to move copyright past what Patry calls its “current Incredible Hulk level” is occurring at least as much on the international and local levels as it is in Congress. We have reported several of the entertainment and content industries’ lobbying efforts have resulted in a sort of “paracopyright” at the state level. (California’s passage of AB 307, which ties school funding to a copyright “education” program influenced by the RIAA, is one example.)
And, of course, we have chronicled at several junctures the Special 301 process under the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The Federal Register notice that effectively asks multinational corporations and their trade groups to tell the Trade Representative which countries have failed to draft (or enforce) copyright law at America’s “Incredible Hulk level” was published last week. It is due on Monday, February 11. The copyright choke hold is in full effect and running on all eight cylinders. Categories: Bundle of Rights; International; Politics & Government.
Quotes of the Week
“Clearly, content creators deserve to be sufficiently rewarded for their work to make their endeavour worthwhile. At the same time, consumers have the right to enjoy the full capabilities of the equipment they’ve purchased, free from restrictions on what they can record and the use they make of content once it has been legitimately obtained. A revised copyright law must strive to find a balance between the rights of creators and ‘fair use’ by consumers.” — Vancouver Sun editorial board.
Vancouver Sun. Reformed Copyright Laws Shouldn’t Suppress Creativity. Jan. 16, 2008. Since there is no byline on this story from a major Canadian newspaper, we presume this is an editorial. If so, the tone is remarkably (and refreshingly) strident for a mainstream news outlet. Categories: Broadcasting & Journalism; Bundle of Rights.
“Surveys reveal that both adults and children (aged 12-15) have very high levels of awareness and understanding of the basic principles of intellectual property. However, young people feel that copyright regimes are unfair and unjust and a big age gap is opening up. The implications for libraries and for the information industry of a collapse of respect for copyright is potentially very serious.” — University College London.
Information World Review. My Generation. Jan. 17, 2008. This passage on copyright is but a snippet of a report whose main focus is on information seeking behaviors. We find it interesting, however, and would like to see an independent American researcher conduct a rigorous, well designed social science study of high school and college children to gain their perspective on copyright. Categories: Libraries & Information Science; Web & Online.
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Christina Hernandez. Colleges to Copyright Electronic Material. Newsday. Jan. 20, 2008. The Newsday editors’ headline reflects a misunderstanding of the issues, and (if he was quoted correctly) AAP representative Adler engages in a rhetorical stretch when he claims all three schools established their guidelines “in conjunction with” AAP. Nevertheless, the publishers’ saber rattling over electronic reserves continues: this is an extension of the Cornell-AAP “agreement” we wrote about in October 2006. Categories: Education; Fair Use & Other Exceptions; Libraries & Information Centers.
Susan Butler. RIAA Names Western Region Anti-Piracy Director. Billboard. Jan. 18, 2008. The music industry’s lobby taps a former FBI veteran to lead “anti-piracy” efforts on the West Coast. Categories: Politics & Government; Privacy & Security.
Larry Barrett. Publishing Company Settles Software Suit With SIIA. Internetnews.com. Jan. 18, 2008. We find it interesting that while SIIA promotes that it will pay informants up to $1 million to snitch on others for alleged copyright infringement, the lobbying group (which counts among its membership Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Reed Elsevier, and Copyright Clearance Center) has paid out only $39,500, or an average of $2,821.43 per informant. This makes us wonder whether McNulty and Greggs pay Bubbles better for his information than the multinational database content industry pays for its information. Categories: Computers; Infringement; Licensing & Permissions.
Technology & Marketing Law Blog. Who Owns “CyberLaw”(TM)? Eric Menhart, a DC IP Attorney, Thinks He Does. Jan. 18, 2008. An attorney claiming to specialize in intellectual property law files a trademark application for the term “cyberlaw” even though it has been in used for nearly 15 years. Eric Goldman chronicles the gory details and provides a nice roundup of other attempts to corral for private exclusive use terms that are common to everyday technology lingo. Interestingly, Goldman did not include “Web. 2.0,” a term for which Tim O’Reilly has registered a controversial trademark application. Categories: Registration; Trademark.
Wired Science. Google to Host Terabytes of Open Source Science Data. Jan. 18, 2008. Not content with its Book Search project, the world’s search leader joinsPLoS as a major open repository of scientific knowledge. Categories: Open Access; Science & Medical.
Michael Geist. My Fair Copyright for Canada Principles. Jan. 17, 2008. After architecting an online political movement that now totals nearly 40,000 Canadians, Geist suggests seven ways to modernize and balance Canadian copyright. Categories: International; Politics & Government.
Gadget Lab (Wired.) Is the 24-Hour Limit a Non-starter For iTunes Movie Rentals? Jan. 16, 2008. This (or the 27-hour alternative the Times‘ David Pogue proffered as an alternative) is one of the many reasons why we will remain partial to Netflix. Categories: File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Film & Video.
SeattlePI.com (via The Associated Press). Scrabulous Accused of Copyright Breach. Jan. 16, 2008. Is it a coincidence that Facebook hears from Hasbro not long after Leslie Stahl gushed all over Mark Zuckerberg on 60 Minutes? And can a Scrabulous licensing deal be far behind? Categories: Infringement; Licensing & Permissions; Web & Online.
Ellen Nakashima. In a Child Porn Case, A Digital Dilemma. WashingtonPost.com. Jan. 16, 2008. A district court judge in Vermont rules a man who crossed the Canadian border into Vermont cannot be made to unlock his computer via password on the grounds that doing so would violate his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. The 30-year-old man has been charged criminally with violating federal child pornography statutes. Categories: Cases & Litigation; Privacy & Security.
Matt Richtel and Brad Stone. Second Leg of Apple’s Plans Includes Jumping Back Into Movie Rentals. The New York Times. Jan. 16, 2008. Even though Netflix’s shares dropped 2.5% percent on Apple’s announcement, don’t underestimate Netflix’s resilience. Already, it has weathered a challenge from Wal-Mart (which closed its video download operation on Dec. 21) and should be considered a player in digital video from here on out. Elsewhere, Forbes notes that Apple’s inconsistent relationship with content owners seems to be smooth again, given that all Hollywood studios are participating in the iTunes rental plan. Categories: File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Film & Video; Mobile Devices.
Joshua Chaffin. Rolling Stones Move New Album from EMI. FT.com. Jan. 16 2008. Already reeling from losing Paul McCartney and Radiohead, EMI is threatened with the loss of the new album and the Stones’ lucrative three-decade catalog. Categories: Licensing & Permissions; Music.
Gawker. Church of Scientology Claims Copyright Infringement. Jan. 16, 2008. The Church of Scientology long has used the threat of copyright infringement litigation as a club to fend off any press it does not like. Now the Church has threatened the Gawker Web site for posting comment on a YouTube video it framed within a separate blog posting. What’s notable about this news item is Gawker’s willingness to post the full letter from the Scientologist’s lawyers, and Gawker’s response. Stay tuned. Categories: Film & Video; Infringement.
Tim Wu. Has AT&T Lost Its Mind? Slate. Jan. 16, 2008. Columbia law professor Wu rhetorically poses the obvious question in response to news that AT&T is considering proposals to filter content, ostensibly to halt alleged copyright infringement. Wu delves more deeply into the “safe harbor” provisions of Section 512 than we did when we first reported this story in last week’s Clippings, and offers some interesting thoughts about why AT&T would even consider such an effort. Categories: DMCA; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Privacy & Security.
Steven Stanek. Can Egypt Copyright the Pyramids? National Geographic News. Jan. 15, 2008. We are sympathetic to Egypt’s attempt to preserve some of its greatest artifacts, especially since so many of them have left the country (in many cases under questionable circumstances). Still, the thought of this proposal brings chills to our collective spines. Categories: Bundle of Rights; International.
Julie Hilden. Seinfeld Sued: Will “Sneaky Chef” Author Missy Chase Lapine Succeed In Her Suit Against Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld? FindLaw. Jan. 15, 2008. We reported on Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook back in October. Now the inevitable lawsuit (.pdf) has been filed, alleging copyright infringement and defamation, among other things. As William Patry noted in a comment about an infringement case involving the Baltimore Ravens’ logo, substantial similarity should not be enough to win an infringement lawsuit. The evidence also should show the defendant had access to the allegedly infringed work. Stay tuned. Categories: Books; Cases & Litigation; Infringement.
Brooks Boliek. Berman to Exit Çopyright Role. The Hollywood Reporter. Jan. 15, 2008. California Rep. Howard Berman‘s likely departure to chair the House Committee on Foreign Affairs would leave an opening atop the House committee that is responsible for considering intellectual property legislation. The void would be notable under any set of circumstances, but the timing is important because it is a presidential election year and the final year of Term 110. History has shown the content and entertainment industries often try to slip in protectionist legislation during this period while others are paying attention to other, broader issues. Categories: Legislation & Regulation; Politics & Government.
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