Legal Issues

U.S. Hearing on Intellectual Property Due Soon

Thanks to Cryptome:

The Federal Trade Commission announces public hearings beginning in January 2002 on ``Competition and Intellectual Property Law and Policy in the Knowledge-Based Economy.\'\' The hearings will focus primarily on the implications of
antitrust and patent law and policy for innovation and other aspects of consumer welfare. Copyright and trademark issues as they arise in particular high-tech contexts also may be considered . . .

The knowledge-based economy has grown in economic significance over the past few decades. It is increasingly important that competition and intellectual property law and policy work in tandem to support and encourage ongoing innovation underlying that economy. Policies for both
competition and intellectual property raise legal and economic questions that are substantially interlinked . . .

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Library to Pay Portion of Legal Settlement Over Meeting Room Policy

The city of Portage, WI has been sued over the local library\'s refusal to let a group use their meeting room. The library was forced to pay for a portion of the settlement. Those who filed the suit weren\'t after monetary damages, but rather, a change to the library\'s meeting room policy. Since the suit was filed, libraries across the state of Wisconsin have begun updating their policies. The library in Portage will no longer refuse to allow meetings to be held in the meeting room based solely on content.More

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Conference on the Public Domain: Papers Online

/. pointed me to The Conference on the Public Domain papers online. There are some excellent resources here.

A Very Large PDF is available, or This Page has some short summaries. Interesting titles include, \"the cultural public domain: fair use and appropriation\", and \"the history and theory of the public domain\".

\"This conference, the first major meeting to focus squarely on the topic of the public domain, will try to answer some of these questions in areas ranging from the human genome to appropriationist art, from the production of scientific data to the architecture of our communications networks.\"

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Pay To Sing

Washington Law Quarterly has A Sad Story on federal copyright law.
They say, if current copyright law is enforced to its narrowest confines, it is likely that nonprofit service or camping organizations may be subject to copyright infringement suits for just signing a song.

They cover the history of copyright, and many other details.
Also note, this is 4 years old, things has gotten much worse since then.

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Canadian Court Rules in Favor of Freelance Authors

From Information Today:

For anyone interested in copyright, electronic databases, and freelance writers, there’s a new Canadian decision you should know about that promises to be a landmark case: Robertson v. Thomson Corp. [2001 O.J. No. 3868]. The case has not yet been reported in printed Canadian law reports, but a summary of the decision is available.

Robertson v. Thomson Corp. is a major Canadian copyright decision in a CDN $100 million class-action suit between Heather Robertson, on behalf of freelance authors, and Thomson Corp.; its electronic publishing affiliate, Information Access Co.; and The Globe and Mail newspaper (recently sold and now owned by Bell GlobeMedia). This is the first Canadian case to examine the ownership of—and the subsequent right to be compensated for the use of—articles by freelance writers in online databases . . .

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Public Comments on Canadian DMCA Available

The Canadian government is making select public comments on proposed modifications to the Copyright Act available - and the response appears to be overwhelmingly critical. A sample:

I am a student of Computer Science . . . a programmer, designer and user. I have been following the legal developments in our neighbour countries with respect to technological measures for preventing copyright infringement and I am dismayed to see our liberal country considering the adoption of such extreme concepts of copyright \"protection\" reinforcement.

I protest the planned legal reinforcement of such technological measures. As noted in the \'Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues\', technological measures have failed in the past and are often a serious hindrance for legitimate users. Reinforcing technological measures with the law encourages corporations to ineffectively attempt to stall infringement at the expense of legitimate users. These users become forced to endure odious constraints and limitations on the private use of media they have legally purchased and copyrighted information they have licensed.

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First Amendment Advocates Lament halting of Internet access to criminal filings

This story from AP reports on the recent court decision about online
access to some government docs. Federal criminal filings are no longer
available online.
\"Though court records remain publicly available on paper at
courthouses, they were deemed too public when it came to the Internet.
\"

Full
Story

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ACLU Condemns Revised Anti-Terrorism Legislation

Existing surveillance measures are sufficient, the American Civil Liberties Union contends. Here is an excerpt from their statement that relates to patron confidentiality:

Under current law, a law enforcement agent can get a pen register or trap and trace order requiring the telephone company to reveal the numbers dialed to and from a particular phone. It must simply certify that the information to be obtained is \"relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.\" This is a very low level of proof, far less than probable cause. The judge must grant the order upon receiving the certification. The new bill would extend this low threshold of proof to Internet communications that are far more revealing than numbers dialed on a phone. For example, it would apparently apply to law enforcement efforts to determine what websites a person had visited. This is like giving law enforcement the power - based only on its own certification -- to require the librarian to report on the books you had perused while visiting the public library. This is extending a low standard of proof -- far less than probable cause -- to \"content\" information (emphasis added.)

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Association of American Publishers: Turn in Sklyarovs for $$

The Association of American Publishers is offering a reward for \"information leading to a criminal arrest, criminal conviction, civil fine, or other penalty in association with piracy of American books, journals, and other AAP member products.\"

More information is available here. To be fair, it remains to be seen how this will relate to electronic publishing and the DMCA, though AAP\'s statements to date do not bode well. Hats off as usual to Politech.

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ALA Post 9/11 Patron Confidentiality Q&A Available

ALA\'s \"Q&A on the confidentiality and privacy of library records\" is available:

What guidance does the American Library Association give libraries regarding privacy and confidentiality?

The American Library Association encourages all librarians, particularly those in public libraries, to work with their local legal counsel to ensure they understand state confidentiality laws so they may respond quickly to any requests from law enforcement. Forty-eight of 50 states have such laws on the books, but the language varies from state to state. The ALA recommends that each library adopt a policy that specifically recognizes the confidentiality of information sought or received, and materials consulted borrowed or acquired by a library user. These materials may include database search records, circulation records, interlibrary loan records and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, programs or services, such as reference interviews. Libraries are advised to rely on existing laws to control behavior that involves public safety or criminal behavior.

Libraries should have in place procedures for working with law enforcement officers when a subpoena or other legal order for records is made. Libraries will cooperate expeditiously with law enforcement within the framework of state law.

Links to other relevant ALA documents, including the \"Policy Concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about Library Users\" are included.

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