Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Comic books vs. Video Games

Great Western Dragon writes "In a stunning display of "we should have seen this coming," Marvel Comics sued the companies behind the extremely popular massively multiplayer online game, City of Heroes. Their beef? City of Heroes allows you to create your own superhero and this superhero can look like certain Marvel comics characters. Indeed you can have a blonde guy in red, white and blue tights with a star on his chest (Captain America) or a huge green muscular giant (Hulk).

Of course, many believe the case is lamer than Tiny Tim. Using the same logic, Marvel should next sue pencil and paper manufacturers for royalties since an artist could also use those mediums to infringe upon a trademark.

More over at Wired."

Kerry volunteer: Copyright only for music

David Rothman writes "Doubt the need for librarians and sympathizers to educate the citizenry about copyright? Well, consider the Kerry volunteer who called me and got the mandatory mini-lecture on the sellout of the Democratic Party to the MPAA and RIAA. And what was her response when I told her about the harm that Bono and similar laws had done to e-books and other forms of culture? "I thought copyright was only for music." OK. Don't laugh: it's not the lady's fault. That's what happens when the media are such wimps on copyright and keep the real story off page A-1.

What's neat is that the woman said her nephew liked to download music in a big way, and that therefore she was against the RIAA. I'm anti-piracy, but certainly in favor of alternatives to the present bullying and lies that some in Hollywood are circulating in a war against even legal downloading--a threat to the giants' business models.

Related: Hooray for Dublin, Ohio! MPAA anti-piracy sign comes down, via TeleRead."

Explaining audio/video copyright to users

Peter Murray writes "I was asked recently by a research center on campus if there were any special considerations about the digitization and streaming of some recorded lectures and other materials. As you can imaging, the discussion was very eye-opening to them. It took them a while to understand all of the nuances, though.

If the question had only come a month later, I would have been able to point them to a piece on NPR this morning about just that topic from a vantage point that everyone can appreciate: campaign speeches.

Political Speeches and the Public Domain

That might be a handy arrow in your quiver the next time you are asked to stream that Fox News clip from your website..."

Navigate the Web With Skepticism

Gerard Voland (dean of the School of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) asks readers in todays For Wayne Journal,

    "Looking for a Brain Transplant?"

Well if you are, there's a website that will match you up with the perfect pound or two of gray matter! If you follow Voland's advice, it will lead you to...well, the library.

Ancient library's fate has lessons for information age

From The Australian, an opinion piece (excerpted from a speech by Nobel prize-winner Peter Doherty) about the importance of maintaining and protecting our recorded history, using the fate of the Great Library of Alexandria as a cautionary tale.

The column includes different theories about the library's destruction (was Julius Caesar to blame?).For the curious, here's more conjecture on the library's "mysterious fate."

'Locking Libraries Out of the Digital Loop'

David Rothman writes "Jenny Levine has a must-read post about the DRM threat to libraries and fair use in Japan. Concludes Jenny: "I don't know how Japanese libraries work, so I'm curious to know how they are faring in this new no-right-of-first-sale, no-traditional-fair-use-rights digital world. Are libraries already out of the digital loop? Does anyone have a sense of how all of this is playing out over there?""

Homeland Security enforces trademark laws for expired trademark

Anonymous Patron writes "Seems Homeland Security has extended it's long arm to include enforcement of patent and trademark infringement laws.

But according to this AP story on Yahoo, there was no infringement.

Seems that Homeland Security is leaping in with both feet without thinking or even looking.

What's next? Perhaps library dragnets to catch anyone who takes notes or uses copiers?"

Daniel Adds: Since DHS is such a vast agency, it would be helpful to know which subunit visited the store. Too bad that AP via Yahoo doesn't seem concerned with this.

Beastie Boys on sampling and libraries

madcow writes "The Beastie Boys sound off in Wired about samples, file sharing and libraries.

Ch-ch-check it out!"

Gone With the Wind heirs threaten Project Gutenberg

David Rothman writes "Heirs of Margaret Mitchell have threatened the U.S.-based Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg of Australia--charging infringement of copyright. The Stephens Mitchell Trusts wants Australian Gutenberg volunteers either to remove Gone With the Wind from their servers or else take steps to prevent downloads in countries where copyright law bans unauthorized distribution of the 1936 classic. More at TeleRead."

Fight against bootlegging gets boost

Nashville's Music Row, which has recently dispatched armies of industry litigators in its furious battle with computerized music and CD pirates, is expecting long-awaited help from specialized federal prosecutors.

If the strategy is successful, it could mean that prison time is far more likely for those involved in large-scale violations of U.S. copyright and trademark laws than previously.

Complete article at The Tennessean.

Woman settles Internet lawsuit

A Brookings woman has settled a federal copyright infringement lawsuit by agreeing to pay $3,000 to record companies and stop sharing music over the Internet, according to court documents.

More at Rapid City Journal.

Copyright Shenanigans Not Over in Congress - Piracy Education Act Dangerous

Pete writes " has a nice, if frightening, summary of pending copyright changes,
"Public Knowledge reports on a bill that includes a number of different copyright provisions thrown together, HR 4077: the "Piracy Deterrence in Education" bill. It combine several different significant changes to copyright law that haven't gotten nearly the attention they should, thanks to the INDUCE Act. Could it be that INDUCE was merely meant to be a distraction? [Stop being conspiratorial]. Oh, yeah, and it designates the Oak as the national tree:

The tree genus Quercus, commonly known as the oak tree, is the national tree.

Public Knowledge has put together talking points on the bill. Scary stuff considering the significant and little debated changes to copyright law this will create.""

Creative Commons; Copyright Alternatives

Here's a mainstream piece on Creative Commons and the search for more sane, less restrictive alternatives to existing copyright law.

The (Creative) Commons encourages sharing and makes explicit that creativity depends on easy access to raw materials," said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a New York University professor critical of current copyright laws. "Right now, you have to assume you're going to get in trouble if you quote from somebody extensively or build upon a previous expression."

More from this AP story via Forbes

And here's a quickie interview with Larry Lessig, pappy of the Creative Commons movement, from the BBC and a lengthier article from MSNBC/Newsweek.

DOJ promises to treat IP Theft as Terror

The AP has a brief item informing us of a new Department of Justice crusade against copyright infringers. Attorney General Ashcroft told prosecutors that the Justice Department response to intellectual property theft ``must be as forceful and aggressive and successful as our response to terrorism and violent crime and drugs and corruption has been.''

Isn't it a Sept 10th frame of mind to equate the economic losses of companies well able to defend themselves with massive losses of human life? Shouldn't finite federal resources be used to protect the greatest number?

Update: 10/08 14:16 EST by B:I fixed the link, it's an AP story on a Speech not yet available I guess.

CBC News: Globe and Mail loses copyright case

An Anonymous Patron writes "Interesting Case Out Of Canada where The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that the Globe and Mail violated copyright law when it republished articles by a freelancer in its electronic databases.

In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the newspaper infringed the copyright of Heather Robertson, a freelancer whose print work also appeared in three databases, including Info Globe Online."

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Article: "The Law of Unintended Consequences" from

...a classic example of the law of unintended consequences, an object lesson to be mindful of one's actions.

...We see similar examples in the info-pro world.

...Take the electronic delivery of periodicals as another example. Struggling to find the space in a small corporate library for the ever-expanding collection of serials, I was delighted to buy a site license and have full-text-searchable issues available at the desktops of every employee. Everything was fine until publishers increased subscription prices for electronic subscription packages, and I was forced to cut back. Since the back issues were housed on the publisher's server, I lost access to the archived issues when I didn't renew my subscription. Had I maintained a print subscription, I would have retained those back issues; my switch to all-electronic copies meant that I lost ownership of the material I had paid for.

A distressing example of this involves the decision of the federal government to publish many of its reports only in electronic format...

U.S. Exports DMCA Down Under

Pete writes " Wired brings us this story ; "Australia appears ready to adopt U.S-style copyright laws, courtesy of a Free Trade Agreement deal negotiated between the two countries.

But the agreement has some Australian civil liberties advocates and lawyers crying foul. They say it's nothing more than a money-grab by the powerful U.S. copyright owners lobby, and claim the Australian government has sold consumers' rights to media conglomerates in the United States for dubious trade concessions in other industries.

"The United States is the biggest exporter of intellectual property in the world. They want other countries to amend their laws to make sure the U.S. has a captive market for these products," said Dale Clapperton, a board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia or EFA, an online civil liberties group that is leading the charge against the new laws.""

Rocking in the Key of Nintendo

kmhess writes "This afternoon, I listened to Rocking in the Key of Nintendo on NPR's All Things Considered, about a Phoenix Band, called the Minibosses, who cover background music from Nintendo games.

The band admits on-air they are basically stealing the music, becuase they don't own or have permission from the copyright owners from the music they play. They don't pay royalties, because Nintendo doesn't care - they won't even return their calls!

Who want's to bet this garage band gets a cease-and-desist letter tomorrow?"

Feds Bust File-Sharing Sites

Law enforcement agents have raided five homes and one ISP in what the Department of Justice calls the first federal enforcement action against piracy on peer-to-peer networks.
Agents seized computers, software, and computer equipment in the searches, which took place Wednesday in Texas, New York, and Wisconsin. The action targets illegal distribution of copyright-protected movies, software, games, and music on five P-to-P networks operated by a group known as The Underground Network, the DOJ says in a statement. No charges have been filed. Read all about it.

Trying to Cut Costs for Expensive Textbooks

Interesting and alarming article from the Brownsville (TX) Herald about how Texas students are purchasing books from their college bookstores, transporting them across the border into Mexico, and photocopying the books there to save money. The books are then returned to the bookstore for full credit.

The article estimates that the cost of the "copied" book is about $13.00, as opposed to up to $100 for the real thing. At least one honest student though comments that she was headed to the library to borrow the book instead.


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