Legal Issues

Congress must end mass NSA surveillance with next Patriot Act vote |Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian

In less than 60 days, Congress - whether they like it or not - will be forced to decide if the NSA’s most notorious mass surveillance program lives or dies. And today, over 30 civil liberties organizations launched a nationwide call-in campaign urging them to kill it.

From Congress must end mass NSA surveillance with next Patriot Act vote |Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Fair Use Is Not An Exception to Copyright, It's Essential to Copyright

Unfortunately, there is tremendous pressure in DC right now to rewrite the law and undermine that balance. Fair use has been under assault for decades, thanks to laws like Section 1201 of the DMCA, which makes it illegal to bypass a technical protection measure under most circumstances even if your conduct is an otherwise lawful fair use. Now, more than ever, we must insist that fair use is indispensable to copyright. That’s how we take copyright back.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/01/fair-use-not-exception-copyright-its-essential-copyright

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Infighting in Libraryland

From The Annoyed Librarian in LJ:

A librarian named Joe Murphy is suing two female librarians for $1.25 million for claiming he sexually harasses women at library conferences. As sex scandals go, that’s pretty mild, but the standards for scandal are lower in libraryland.

You can go give them a donation or sign a petition asking Murphy to drop the lawsuit if those are your kinds of thing.

I haven’t seen a corresponding Support Joe Murphy’s Lawsuit website or petition, but if there is one someone can post it in the comments.

He’s also suing them in Canadian court, even though as far as I can tell both he and one of the defendants are Americans. Canadian libel laws are more friendly to plaintiffs, it seems, whereas American libel laws tend to favor something librarians are supposed to favor, free speech. So he’s a cunning little fella, you have to give him that.

I’m seeing the story pop up in more and more places, so it looks like Murphy has a growing reputation among librarians.

Just How "Legal" Are Seed Libraries?

http://www.postcarbon.org/article/2339769-just-how-legal-are-seed-libraries
After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a community seed library, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law. According to PA regulators, in order to give out member-donated seeds, the Simpson Seed Library in Cumberland County would have to put around 400 seeds of each variety through prohibitively impractical seed testing procedures in order to determine quality, rate of germinability, and so on. The result of the PA crackdown is that the library can no longer give out seeds other than those which are commercially packaged.

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The right to resell ebooks — major case looms in the Netherlands

Infringing company is pointing to a 2012 ruling by Europe’s top court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. That case was about reselling licenses for downloadable software, and the court ruled that – even when the software license explicitly forbids resale – the buyer should have the right to resell that licence, just as they would be allowed to resell a boxed software copy.

Full article

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Justice Scalia -- "like a library card"

Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says

Aereo, the company that lets subscribers watch TV stations' video that it routes onto the Internet, violates U.S. copyright law, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's 6-3 decision reverses a lower court on what has been a hotly contested issue.

'Unlike video-on-demand services, Aereo does not provide a prearranged assortment of movies and television shows," Scalia wrote. "Rather, it assigns each subscriber an antenna that — like a library card — can be used to obtain whatever broadcasts are freely available."

Full story here.

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Appeals Court Rules Digital Library Doesn't Violate Copyright Law

A U.S. appeals court says a digital library of more than 10 million scanned and searchable texts amounts to "fair use," ruling against a group of authors who claimed copyright infringement.

More info here

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What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014?

The books On the Road, Atlas Shrugged, and The Cat in the Hat, the films The Bridge on the River Kwai, Funny Face, and The Prince and the Showgirl, the play Endgame (“Fin de Partie”), and more. . .
Congress Shrugged

Current US law extends copyright for 70 years after the date of the author’s death, and corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years after publication. But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years – an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years. Under those laws, works published in 1957 would enter the public domain on January 1, 2014, where they would be “free as the air to common use.” (Mouse over any of the links below to see gorgeous cover art from 1957.) Under current copyright law, we’ll have to wait until 2053.1 And no published works will enter our public domain until 2019. The laws in Canada and the EU are different – thousands of works are entering their public domains on January 1.

http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2014/pre-1976

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Free to Forget

Europe's highest court recently ruled that EU citizens have the right to be forgotten—by Google's search engines. Bob talks with Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, about the impact of this decision on freedom of information and internet privacy.



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