COPYCENSE

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Copyright’s Preemptive Effects

QuestionCopyright.org. Musicians Censoring Themselves. Jan. 21, 2008. We have to agree: when people interested in the performing arts discontinue sharing their craft because of copyright concerns — legitimate or not — it is time for a change. It’s easy to say “people need to be educated.” To some degree, this is true. If your profession involves working with copyrighted information, you need to know basic copyright law. (For example, we already have addressed our concerns that the library profession cannot continue to be effective when so many librarians fail to have a firm grasp of basic copyright.) As an enthusiast or hobbyist, though, we think it’s an entirely different ball game. This post includes a link to a bulletin board forum thread that illustrates the chilling effect that the overprotective copyright rhetoric has had on people who just want to enjoy art and culture.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/31/2008 at 08:59

Posted in Uncategorized

Why the Wireless Spectrum Auction Matters

Paul Davidson. Google Could Cause a Stir in FCC’s Airwaves Auction. USAToday.com. Jan. 24, 2008. This story, and the coverage at InfoWorld, provide good introductions to the wireless spectrum auction and how it may affect everyday people. The airwaves that the Federal Communication Commission is auctioning are the leftover spectrum that will be made available once television becomes a digital-only proposition in 2009. (In other words, this year is the final year you will be able to use “rabbit ears” to watch television.

Starting in 2009, it’s either digital television or a subscription option, such as cable.) Google has won a petition to ensure “C” block spectrum airwaves are available to any wireless provider a subscriber wants to use. This allows Google to act as a service or application provider even if it does not win the auction. The spectrum auction began Thursday, Jan. 24 with more than 200 bidders — including Google, Verizon, and AT&T — submitting sealed bids. Winning bids could be revealed any time between late February and late March.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/31/2008 at 08:58

Posted in Uncategorized

The Shrinking DVD Reissue Market

Gordon Cairns. Boxed Sets Exhaust Back Catalogue. Sunday Herald (Scotland). Jan. 28, 2008. The Herald is a new addition to Clippings, and its coverage of the UK DVD market suggests the film industry is beginning to feel the decay from which the music industry has suffered. The details are not encouraging: the number of DVD releases (through 3Q, 2007)dropped 15%. What’s more pressing, though, is that the candidate pool of older television shows that could be re-released is shrinking rapidly. Here at the Cense, we are big fans of American TV shows compiled on DVD box sets, but with each passing year, the offerings seem to become increasingly tepid. “Gilligan’s Island” is OK for an occasional trip down memory lane, but coughing up $30 to see Ginger prance around in the sand for more than 15 hours? We’re really not feeling it like that.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/31/2008 at 08:57

ICANN Seeks Separation From U.S. Government

BBC News. Net Body Issues Plea for Liberty. Jan. 24, 2008. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) likely is the most important quasi-government agency about which most Web users know nothing. It is, however, a critically important organization whose core mission — coordinating the Internet’s domain name system — essentially runs the Web. ICANN operates as a private-public partnership with the U.S. government. (ICANN receives oversight from the U.S. Department of Commerce.)

Over the last few years, this arrangement has become more problematic to foreign countries, which claim that an like ICANN should not be so intimately tied to the government of any single country because that gives such a country an unusual amount of influence over what is an international network. As a result, ICANN’s request (.pdf) to separate itself from such close contact with the American government is a significant development.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/31/2008 at 08:56

Posted in Web & Online

Revamping the Copyright Registration System

Dan Heller’s Photography Business Blog. Proposal for Privatizing the Copyright Registration Process. Jan. 21, 2008. Citing other instances of government outsourcing — including U.S. Postal Service allowing Mail Boxes Etc. and other commercial mail receiving agencies to manage mail delivery and pickup — Heller suggests that the U.S. Copyright Office accredit private sector business to handle copyright registrations. (Although Heller does not mention this specific example, America already is quite familiar with this model, since domain name registrations are outsourced to hundreds of registrars that are accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).)

We already have some businesses that purport to handle copyright registrations, but many of these firms seem suspect at best. A rigorous accreditation process (similar to the one ICANN uses), overseen by the U.S. Copyright Office, likely would weed out the fly-by-night firms. (Look at the questions you have to answer in order to get ICANN registrar accreditation. Then there is a $2,500 application fee, which is just steep enough to make pretenders think twice.)

Further, the U.S. Copyright Office already has received poor marks for its online registration system after a lengthy development period, so there remains a legitimate question as to whether the agency can implement a solid solution. And online registration clearly is the way to go, since (a) USPS mail to federal government agencies still gets delayed because of anthrax screening; and (b) it’s 2007 and our federal government should have online services like this down pat by now.

Further, broadening the registration process may encourage more people to register their works. Currently, copyright is the only one of the Big Three forms of intellectual property where neither registration nor public review is required prior to the government granting monopoly status. This leads to several problems, not the least of which is a huge orphan works nightmare, and a suppressed, downstream licensing market that suffers because no one can find the correct copyright owner.

We don’t reflexively get on the “business can do better than government” bandwagon, and the current domain name registration model has its own unique problems, but this is a marvelous idea in so many ways.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings, where it was an Article of the Week selection.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/30/2008 at 08:59

African-Americans & Intellectual Property

One way to look at plaintiff’s difficulties here is as further evidence of the disproportionate difficulties African-Americans have had in getting the benefits of IP protection.” — Rebecca Tushnet.

43(B)log. Strikeout: Baseball Player’s Claim Against Cards Fails. Jan. 5, 2008. Georgetown law professor Tushnet (no, the junior Tushnet) ends her analysis of a lawsuit against the Topps trading card company with this interesting comment. The lawsuit (which was based on right of publicity, trademark and related claims) was brought by the daughter of legendary Negro Leaguer James “Cool Papa” Bell, alleging that the trading card company did not have permission to print Bell’s likeness on a trading cards released earlier this decade. Tushnet’s summary says Bell granted to the Baseball Hall of Fame permission to use his name and likeness on various products. (Bell was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.) Tushnet’s comment raises interesting issues about IP protection and race.

Stories are legion about the extent to which creative, technical, or scientific achievements by African-Americans have been appropriated without initial or residual compensation. And strains of complaint often make it into the lyrics of contemporary music. (Even Jay-Z once said in “H.O.V.A.” “I’m overcharging labels for what they did to the Cold Crush.”) We would be very interested in seeing any articles, reports, books, or scholarly work that addresses this phenomenon and estimates the lost value therefrom.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings, where it was a Quote of the Week selection.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/30/2008 at 08:58

Posted in Trademark

African-Americans & Intellectual Property

One way to look at plaintiff’s difficulties here is as further evidence of the disproportionate difficulties African-Americans have had in getting the benefits of IP protection.” — Rebecca Tushnet.

43(B)log. Strikeout: Baseball Player’s Claim Against Cards Fails. Jan. 5, 2008. Georgetown law professor Tushnet (no, the junior Tushnet) ends her analysis of a lawsuit against the Topps trading card company with this interesting comment. The lawsuit (which was based on right of publicity, trademark and related claims) was brought by the daughter of legendary Negro Leaguer James “Cool Papa” Bell, alleging that the trading card company did not have permission to print Bell’s likeness on a trading cards released earlier this decade. Tushnet’s summary says Bell granted to the Baseball Hall of Fame permission to use his name and likeness on various products. (Bell was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.) Tushnet’s comment raises interesting issues about IP protection and race.

Stories are legion about the extent to which creative, technical, or scientific achievements by African-Americans have been appropriated without initial or residual compensation. And strains of complaint often make it into the lyrics of contemporary music. (Even Jay-Z once said in “H.O.V.A.” “I’m overcharging labels for what they did to the Cold Crush.”) We would be very interested in seeing any articles, reports, books, or scholarly work that addresses this phenomenon and estimates the lost value therefrom.

(Editor’s Note: Copycense editors originally commented on this article in the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of Copycense Clippings, where it was a Quote of the Week selection.)

Copycense™: Incisive IP.

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Written by sesomedia

01/30/2008 at 08:58

Posted in Trademark

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