Legal Issues

Legal Issues

'Fair Use in the US Economy' (2010)

PDF of a report from 2010:

This report employs the latest data available to answer a very important
question: what contribution is made to our economy by industries that
depend on the limitations to copyright protection when engaged in
commerce? As this report shows, such industries make a huge contribution.
In an era of highly competitive markets for information goods and
services, changes to the boundaries of copyright protection will alter
the economic landscape. Broader regulation of economic activity by
copyright might encourage additional creativity, but it will deter certain
types of technology innovation, and may undermine competition and
free expression. Our information policy must therefore balance the
incentives that IP regulation creates against the disincentives that
result. For 300 years, copyright law has recognized this fragile balance.

From Wired.com PDF [PDF]

Release of the Full TPP Text After Five Years of Secrecy Confirms Threats to Users’ Rights

Now that we finally have the final text of this agreement, we'll be digging deeper into the implications of this sprawling agreement in the days and weeks to come. However, if there's one thing we can take away from this, it's that the TPP's secretive, lobbyist-controlled policymaking process has led to a deal that upholds corporate rights and interests at the direct expense of all of our digital rights. We’re going to do all we can to ensure this agreement never gets ratified by the United States Congress or any other country that is a party to this deal. To do so, government officials need to hear from us loud and clear that we won’t stand by and let them trade away our rights to powerful multinational corporations.

From Release of the Full TPP Text After Five Years of Secrecy Confirms Threats to Users’ Rights | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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The Samuelson Clinic releases "Is it in the Public Domain?" handbook - Berkeley Law

The Samuelson Clinic is excited to provide a
handbook, “Is it in the Public Domain?,” and accompanying
visuals. These educational tools help users to evaluate the
copyright status of a work created in the United States between
January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1977—those works that were
created before today’s 1976 Copyright Act. Many important
works—from archival materials to family photos and movies—were created during this time, and it can be
difficult to tell whether they are still under copyright.

The handbook walks readers though a series of
questions—illustrated by accompanying charts—to help readers
explore whether a copyrighted work from that time is in the
public domain, and therefore free to be used without
permission from a copyright owner.  Knowing whether a work
is in the public domain or protected by copyright is an
important first step in any decision regarding whether or
how to make use of a work.

From The Samuelson Clinic releases "Is it in the Public Domain?" handbook - Berkeley Law

Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses

The new rules for exemptions to copyright's DRM-circumvention laws were issued today, and the Librarian of Congress has granted much of what EFF asked for over the course of months of extensive briefs and hearings. The exemptions we requested—ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars—have each been accepted, subject to some important caveats.

From Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Google book-scanning project legal, says U.S. appeals court

A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that Google's massive effort to scan millions of books for an online library does not violate copyright law, rejecting claims from a group of authors that the project illegally deprives them of revenue.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected infringement claims from the Authors Guild and several individual writers, and found that the project provides a public service without violating intellectual property law.

From Google book-scanning project legal, says U.S. appeals court | Reuters

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Illegal to film in the library?

Illegal to film in the library? This video raises that question.



Library policies: https://multcolib.org/policies-manuals/behavior-rules-governing-use-multnomah-county-library
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N.H. Public Library Resumes Support Of 'Tor' Internet Anonymizer

The Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon had decided to use its spare bandwidth to serve as a relay for the network. New Hampshire Public Radio reports the library had turned off the relay node after police and Homeland Security warned the library that, among other bad things, the network could allow criminals to move child pornography anonymously.

From N.H. Public Library Resumes Support Of 'Tor' Internet Anonymizer : The Two-Way : NPR

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Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use

In an opinion (PDF) published this morning, the three-judge panel found that Universal Music Group's view of fair use is flawed. The record label must face a trial over whether it wrongfully sent a copyright takedown notice over a 2007 YouTube video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song. That toddler's mother, Stephanie Lenz, acquired pro bono counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF in turn sued Universal in 2007, saying that its takedown practices violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

From Appeals court strikes a blow for fair use in long-awaited copyright ruling | Ars Technica

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Users to USTR: Don't Sign Away Our Ability to Fix the Orphan Works Problem

The United States' excessive copyright terms have led to an orphan works crisis in this country. Tens of thousands of books, films, music recordings, and other cultural works across decades have been made completely inaccessible by copyright's strict monopoly, which can last more than 140 years. That casts a shroud of legal uncertainty over orphan works—works where the author or rightsholder cannot be identified or located—which makes using, preserving, or sharing them risky and essentially renders them culturally invisible and forbidden.

From Users to USTR: Don't Sign Away Our Ability to Fix the Orphan Works Problem | Electronic Frontier Foundation

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NH library at center of internet privacy debate in shutting off its Tor server

A public library in Lebanon finds itself at the center of a complicated debate over internet privacy and safety, after questions from the Department of Homeland Security led the library to think twice about participating in the global anonymous web-surfing network known as Tor.

“I was surprised at the reaction,” said Sean Fleming, director of the Lebanon Public Libraries, who turned off a Tor server last month until the library’s board of trustees can decided whether to proceed with the project.

From Lebanon library at center of internet privacy debate in shutting off its Tor server | Concord Monitor

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First Library to Support Tor Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS Email

A library in a small New Hampshire town started to help Internet users around the world surf anonymously using Tor. Until the Department of Homeland Security raised a red flag.

From First Library to Support Tor Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS Email - ProPublica

EFF Asks Court on Behalf of Libraries and Booksellers to Recognize Readers’ Right to Be Free of NSA’s Online Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation

It should be no surprise that libraries and bookstores—the places where you can go pick up a copy of 1984 or Darkness at Noon—are privacy hipsters. They’ve been fighting overbroad government surveillance since before it was cool. That’s why we’re proud to have filed an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of associations of libraries and booksellers in Wikimedia v. NSA, a case challenging the government’s warrantless surveillance of the Internet backbone.

From EFF Asks Court on Behalf of Libraries and Booksellers to Recognize Readers’ Right to Be Free of NSA’s Online Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story

The AP sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI last year seeking documents related to the 2014 sting. It also seeks to know how many times the FBI has used such a ruse since 2000. The FBI responded to the AP saying it could take two years or more to gather the information requested. Unsatisfied with the response, the Associated Press has taken the matter to court.

From Associated Press sues FBI over fake news story | Ars Technica

ALA Questions Bid for Independent Copyright Office

Via Publishers Weekly:

The American Library Association is joining a chorus of Internet and tech businesses in questioning a proposal to remove the U.S. Copyright Office from the purview of the Library of Congress, and to establish it as its own independent agency.

EU Launches Antitrust Probe Of Amazon's E-Book Business

European regulators have launched a formal investigation into Amazon's practices in the e-book market.

In a statement released Thursday, the European Commission announced that its antitrust investigation will focus on Amazon's contracts with publishers — and whether the Internet retailer is abusing its dominant position as the largest e-book distributor in Europe.

The commission, the 28-member executive arm of the European Union, is especially concerned with a few key parts of those contracts.

In particular, NPR's Lynn Neary reports, "The commission is concerned about specific clauses that require publishers to inform Amazon about more favorable or alternative terms offered by its competitors."

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/11/413676630/eu-launches-antitrust-probe-of-a...

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NSA phone surveillance not authorized: U.S. appeals court

(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Thursday revived a challenge to a controversial National Security Agency program that collected the records of millions of Americans' phone calls, saying the program was not authorized by Congress.

From NSA phone surveillance not authorized: U.S. appeals court | Reuters

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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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