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Today's copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright--and its violation--a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and Google is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries--and their history is essential to understanding today's battles. The Copyright Wars--the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today--tells this important story. -- Read More
In a follow up to an earlier story, the Conan Doyle estate may appeal the ruling against it's copyright claim according to this Publishers Weekly story.
"Is Sherlock Holmes truly a free man? Not so fast say attorneys for the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In a December 23 decision, an Illinois federal court held that Holmes and other characters and story elements in more than 50 Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain. But attorneys for the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this week insisted that the complete characters of Holmes and Watson won’t be freed until the final 10 stories published after 1922 enter the public domain, in 2022."
This New York Times story has the details.
"A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works Arthur Conan Doyle published before January 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law, and can be freely used by new creators without paying any licensing fee to the Conan Doyle estate."
This one has been a long time coming, but this morning, Judge Denny Chin (who actually has a long history of siding with copyright holders) found that Google's book scanning project is fair use. This is a huge victory in a variety of ways. TechDirt has the story.
A decade or so ago, ISI's EndNote bought out most of the competition, practically obtaining a monopoly on the reference manager business. In the early Library 2.0 boom, web-based products like Zotero and CSA's RefWorks became the norm. Thomson Reuters played catch up by introducing EndNote Web, and NoodleBib and other adware/freemium clones cropped up in what is now again a crowded marketplace.
Mendeley, recently purchased by Elsevier, has gained fame by offering social media integration and and sharing cababilities. It notably works on the old Questia model of selling itself directly to individual users, not institutions. ProQuest is also putting the finishing touches on RefWorks Flow, which features similar collaboration tools.
The way these newer products allow users to share articles with peers raises interesting questions about them potentially being used as a new "Napster for subscription journals," especially since they are now both owned by major publishers. See my comment for some more philosophical questions....
An excellent new study at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2290181 looks at a random sample of new books for sale on Amazon.com shows three times more books initially published in the 1850’s are for sale than new books from the 1950’s. Why? The paper presents new data on how copyright seems to make works disappear. First, a random sample of 2300 new books for sale on Amazon.com is analyzed along with a random sample of 2000 songs available on new DVD’s. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. On page 15, a newly updated version of a now well-known chart tells this story most vividly. Second, the availability on YouTube of songs that reached number one on the U.S., French, and Brazilian pop charts from 1930-60 is analyzed in terms of the identity of the uploader, type of upload, number of views, date of upload, and monetization status. An analysis of the data demonstrates that the DMCA safe harbor system as applied to YouTube helps maintain some level of access to old songs by allowing those possessing copies (primarily infringers) to communicate relatively costlessly with copyright owners to satisfy the market of potential listeners.
Theft claims more victims and causes greater economic injury than any other criminal offense. Yet theft law is enigmatic, and fundamental questions about what should count as stealing remain unresolved—especially misappropriations of intellectual property, information, ideas, identities, and virtual property.
More about book here.
NYT article discussing the Supap Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc case.
Excerpt from article:
More profoundly, the decision might even hasten the near-demise of print — spurring publishers into a digital world where they can license their books rather than sell them, adding some bells and whistles while gaining some protection from the first-sale clause.
Radio program - On the Media - A special hour on our changing understanding of ownership and how it is affected by the law. An author and professor who encourages creative writing through plagiarism, 3D printing, fan fiction & fair use, and the strange tale of who owns "The Happy Birthday Song"
Download full program here.
See a list of the individual segments of the show here.