Intellectual Property

Update: Boy Swaps MikeRoweSoft for Xbox

Pete writes "Here is a follow-up from the BBC to last week's story on the Canadian high school student who whose website,, annoyed Bill Gates' lawyers. The teen gave up the domain in exchange for Microsoft goodies, including an Xbox console. It makes one wonder what the RIAA would have done."

The Tyranny of Copyright?

InfoWhale and Gary Deane both shared this link to a NYT Magazine story about a group of students from Swarthmore College who ran afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act while attempting to engage in some serious whistleblowing.

According to the story, the students came across "some 15,000 e-mail messages and memos -- presumably leaked or stolen -- from Diebold Election Systems, the largest maker of electronic voting machines in the country." In the memos, Diebold employees talked about serious flaws in the company's electronic voting software. In light of the 2000 election voting debacle, the students considered it their civic duty to make the memos public and posted them on the web, only to be faced with a copyright challenge from Diebold. The memos have been restored, but questions about copyright remain.

Microsoft Goes After HS Kid For Copyright Infringement

Pete writes "Only in America...From the Mac Observer we learn that Mike Rowe, a 17-year-old high school senior and Web designer from Victoria, has angered the software giant by registering an Internet site with the address"

DMCA Exemptions

Seth Finkelstein writes "The Copyright Office recently
announced the current three years
Digital Millennium Copyright
Act exemptions

for "classes of works subject subject to the exemption from the
prohibit on against circumvention of technological measures that
control access to copyrighted works".

Very roughly, the exemptions are:
1) censorware
2) Obsolete computer programs restricted by broken "dongles"
3) Computer programs and video games from obsolete hardware
4) E-books where all versions can't be used by the blind

Full details are in
Recommendation of the Register of Copyrights

As a note of personal credit, "The Register's recommendation in favor
of this [censorware] exemption is based primarily on the evidence
introduced in the comments and
by one person,
Seth Finkelstein,
a non-lawyer participating on his own behalf.""

Trouble For The Book Search at Amazon?

The Volokh Conspiracy seems to be a blog run by Eugene and Sasha Volokh and various other legal minds, devoted to discussion of legal issues of many kinds. On Saturday, Eugene posted "Trouble for Amazon's Book Search?" in which he reprinted an e-mail from The Author's Guild about Amazon's new full-text search, adding his own comments on the legal ramifications.
In his words, "I don't know whether their claims about the authors' contracts are accurate, but if they are, this could pose problems for Amazon. (Amazon would still have a decent fair use claim even if they can't claim a contractual right, but it won't be open and shut, for some of the reasons the e-mail below describes.) I leave it to readers to decide whether this shows that the copyright system imposes too many transaction costs on worthy endeavors, that publishers and other businesses violate authors' rights, both, or neither..."

Featured Commoner: PLoS Biology

madtom writes "Staff members of the Creative Commons, an organization seeking alternatives to copyright in the face of increasingly restrictive default rules, recently interviewed Michael Eisen, biologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UC Berkeley and co-founder of the Public Library of Science, about the launch of PLoS Biology, its publication under a Creative Commons license, and its promise to transform open access models, the scientific community, and the world. This week, PLoS moved closer to realizing this dream with the release of its first open access publication: PLoS Biology, a world-class, peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Creative Commons Featured Commoner, October 2003."

Copyright distorts the market

Copyright distorts the market is an interesting coulmn from The Age.
The main focus in on The RIAA and file swapping, but they do a good job at looking at the larger issues involved with copyright. The author, Graeme Philipson, says then that copyright, and the very idea of intellectual property are comparatively recent phenomena in human history. There is nothing sacrosanct about them, and the ease with which music, or text, or software can now be copied indicates that their days may be numbered.

Librarians to P2P critics: Shhh!

The Globe And Mail is running a CNET Story on the five major U.S. library associations filing a legal brief Friday siding with Streamcast Networks and Grokster in the California suit, brought by the major record labels and Hollywood studios. The development could complicate the Recording Industry Association of America's efforts to portray file-swapping services as rife with spam and illegal pornography.

Students Deaf to Copyright Conversation

Gary Deane shares a NY Times Story that says when it comes to downloading music or movies off the Internet, students at Penn State compare it with under-age drinking: illegal, but not immoral. Like alcohol and parties, the Internet is easily accessible. Why not download, or drink, when "everyone" does it?

This set of commandments has helped make people between the ages of 18 and 29, and college students in particular, the biggest downloaders of Internet music.

Hitler at Home on the Internet

The NYTimes reports that a 1938 article from Homes & Gardens which describes Hitler's home in the Bavarian Alps is now being replicated on the Internet. The article was originally scanned in by Simon Waldman, a director of digital publishing, for his personal website. The editor of Homes & Gardens asked him to remove it - he did, but not before others had downloaded it to be shared.

The episode is an object lesson in the topsy-turvy world of copyright and "fair use" — an area made far murkier by the distributive power of the Internet and the subsequent crisscrossing of international legal codes. In the United States, the posting would most likely be considered fair use, said Wendy Seltzer, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. "Reprinting the article now, 65 years after its original publication, strikes me as more like reporting or commenting on a news story, or fair use, than photocopying a current scientific article to save the cost of buying more magazines," she said.

Britain's Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988 considers use of "reasonable portions" of some copyrighted material to be "fair dealing," provided they are used in private study, criticism and review, or news reporting. Simply posting an article on the Web might not qualify.

Indeed, the Internet has ensured that copyright can never be just about one nation's laws. "All copyright issues are international copyright issues," said Edwin Komen, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington. On the Web, he added, "you become vulnerable to just about any jurisdiction in the world."


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