Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

Ruling Sets Back Music Industry's Piracy Battle

In a big setback for the music and movie industries, a federal appeals court upheld an earlier decision that said operators of online swap networks aren't liable for their users' actions. In essence, the ruling says file-sharing software is legal. That sets the stage for a potential showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court and more lobbying for legislative solutions.
Read More.

Dear Plagiarists: You Get What You Pay For

College, as we all know, costs a frightening amount of money, the tuition, the new wardrobe, the shower flip-flops. Even cheating, that historically thrifty task of rifling an upperclassman's desk drawers, runs college kids a steep tab. These days, stressed-out perfectionists and lazy no-goods alike can Google their way to an astounding array of plagiarism Web sites. Many companies sell term papers, essays and book reports by the thousands, for as much as $250 a pop, all just a click and Mom's credit card away, and all in the privacy of an undergraduate's dorm room. Read More. [requires subscription]

File-Sharing Sites Found Not Liable for Infringement

Affirming a lower court decision, a federal appellate court ruled Thursday that the distributors of software used by millions of people to exchange music files over the Internet cannot be held liable for aiding copyright infringement. The decision gives distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software a significant victory in their long battle with the record and movie industries, legal experts said. The plaintiffs in the case, the music and movie industries, have argued that file-sharing networks are forums for mass copyright piracy. The software of both companies, which can be downloaded over the Internet, allows users to share music, video and other digital files that they store on their computers. Ninety percent of the files shared, according to music and movie industry executives, include copyrighted material. Read More.

Copyright Crusaders Hit Schools

Pete writes "The battle for the hearts and minds of America's information consumers just got a little more interesting as described in this report from Wired:

"For the third year in a row, software companies are supplying schools with materials that promote their antipiracy position on copyright law. But for the first time this year, the library association is presenting its own material, hoping to give kids a more balanced view of copyright law.

The American Library Association will distribute its materials through high-school librarians this winter or spring. In September, the ALA will hold focus groups with teenagers to better understand how they use the Internet, what they think about the technology and what language they use. That information will contribute to ALA-created comic books that address various copyright issues relevant to students.""

Congressional economists tackle copyright issues

Daniel writes "CNet news is reporting on a new, unsolicited Congressional Budget Office report on the economic effects of copyright laws. The report, available at, suggests "Revisions to copyright law should be made without regard to the vested interests of particular business and consumer groups," the congressional economists wrote. "Instead, they should be assessed with regard to their consequences for efficiency in markets for creative works and other products."

Given the relative power of industry groups and consumer advocates, this doesn't strike me as even-handed."

This Land and Fair Use

There is an article at about lawsuits arising from the JibJab animation called, "This Land." The estate of Woodie Guthrie threatened a lawsuit. JibJab preemtively filed their own suit. From Bibliofuture, I think this is going to be an open and shut case. Parodies have been looked at as protected speech in most cases and "This Land" falls right into that category.

A different life for Clinton's memoir

Alfred A. Knopf, publishers of Mr Clinton's best-selling My Life, say they have not yet sold the Chinese-language rights to China. So China's copyright thieves have struck again, concocting their own versions.

Read about the new Clinton biography (pirated) and other pirating problems in China at The Straits Times.

Recording Industry Sues Iowa Couple for Kids' Illegal Downloads

An Iowa couple has been sued by the RIAA because their teenaged son and daughter downloaded songs through an Internet file-sharing service. The fine could be as much as $4,000. The recording industry has sued more than 3,500 people since its campaign against individual computer users began last September. At least 600 of those cases were eventually settled, and none of the cases has yet gone to trial. Read all about it.

Newspaper asking Michael Moore for Damages, Apology

I've been posting bits and pieces of this story in my journal, but since it's officially a copyright issue, thought I'd share it with the larger LISNews crowd. The Bloomington Pantagraph is asking filmmaker Michael Moore for $1.00 in damages and an apology after a letter-to-the-editor they published was used in Fahrenheit 9/11.

In a letter drafted Thursday and sent to Moore and the movie's Santa Monica, Calif.-based distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, the newspaper admonished him for his "unauthorized ... misleading" use of The Pantagraph in the film. He also was cited for copyright infringement.

The misleading part is that a letter to the editor with the headline "Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election" was altered to look like a news story and shown briefly in the film along with similar headlines. The puzzling thing, to me anyway, is the sloppy work done by Moore's film crew. Not only was the letter reformatted and presented in a mock-up of the paper, but the date was different than the original.

I wish I knew more about documentary technique and copyright. Gut instinct tells me that this crosses the line.

Antipiracy bill gains new ally is reporting that the U.S. Register of Copyrights is planning on endorsing the Induce Act Thursday. Also, here's a previous LISNEWS story about the Induce Act.

The endorsement of the nonpartisan Copyright Office complicates what is shaping up to be yet another high-stakes tussle over copyright between hardware firms and e-commerce companies, which worry about legal liability if their products are used for copyright violations, and large copyright holders who fret about rampant copying on peer-to-peer networks. The Induce Act says "whoever intentionally induces any violation" of copyright law would be legally liable for those violations.

In an opinion article for the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, Les Vadasz, who retired last year as an Intel executive vice president, denounced the Induce Act as having a wealth of undesirable side effects. "The chilling effect that a law like this would have on innovation cannot be underestimated," Vadasz said.

Copyright bill could hinder innovation

Pete writes "The Seattle Times has This update on the copyright battles currently before Congress.

"The copyright wars continue. For a change, I have some modestly good news from the front lines. One horrible piece of legislation before Congress is under attack, albeit belatedly. And one excellent bill is gaining strength, albeit slowly.""

The bills in question are The Inducing Infringement of Copyright Act and HR 107, the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, both worth reading.

Against intellectual property: chapter 3 of ebook

Anonymous Patron though "we might like to read this chapter of the ebook "Information Liberation" titled "Against Intellectual Property."

EFF: The Patent Busting Project

Daniel writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation has declared war on what they view as abusive patents which are harming freedom of expression on the Internet.

The project's home page at

Explains why these 10 patents:

One-click online shopping (U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411.)
Online shopping carts (U.S. Patent No. 5,715,314.)
The hyperlink (U.S. Patent No. 4,873,662.)
Video streaming (U.S. Patent No. 5,132,992.)
Internationalizing domain names (U.S. Patent No. 6,182,148.)
Pop-up windows (U.S. Patent No. 6,389,458.)
Targeted banner ads (U.S. Patent No. 6,026,368.)
Paying with a credit card online (U.S. Patent No. 6,289,319.)
Framed browsing; (U.S. Patent Nos. 5,933,841 & 6,442,574.) and
Affiliate linking (U.S. Patent No. 6,029,141.)

are in their view illegitimate and should be revoked."

Counseling Copyright Infringers May Be A Crime

Pete writes "The good folks over at Techdirt have this article about how some of our elected representatives would all but do away with the concept of fair use of digital media. "While it's not yet confirmed, the EFF is reporting that [Sen. Orrin] Hatch is set to introduce a new bill that would make it a crime to "induce" copyright infringement.""

Permissions on Digital Media Drive Scholars to Lawbooks

Anonymous Patron sends us this article from the New York Times (free registration required); saying, "Experts will meet at a conference sponsored by the Annenberg School to debate how digital media fits into the concept of "fair use" - a murky safe harbor in copyright law that allows scholars and researchers limited use of protected materials for educational or commentary purposes.

Many scholars, librarians and legal experts see rich promise for the use of multimedia materials in research and education. But the possibility of litigation over file-sharing and confusion over digital copyright protections have scholars feeling threatened about venturing beyond the more familiar world of printed texts"

The Information Commons: A Public Policy Report

The Information Commons: A Public Policy Report, By Nancy Kranich.
In the face of dramatic consolidation in the media industry and new laws that increase its control over intellectual products, the emerging concept of the information commons offers new ways for producing and sharing information, creative works, and democratic discussion.

The fifth in FEPP's series of detailed policy reports, The Information Commons is the first comprehensive, easy-to-read summary of a new movement that offers exciting alternatives to today's increasing restrictions on access to information, scholarly research, and other resources so necessary for democracy.

In the virtual stacks, pirated books find readers

Anonymous Patron writes "In the virtual stacks, pirated books find readers While the music industry's effort to quash the trading of pirated songs over the Internet has attracted far more headlines, the unauthorized sharing of digitized books is proliferating in newsgroups, over peer-to-peer networks and in chat rooms.

The activity is all the more striking because making a book available online is as cumbersome as ripping a CD is effortless. Each page must be scanned, run through optical character-recognition software and proofread before the complete work is uploaded to a network or transferred directly to a recipient."

Sheet Music minus the Sheets

kmhess writes "From the NY Times At the Ready, Sheet Music Minus the Sheets - an interesting article about electronic sheet music.

The main device is MusicPad Pro Plus, a five-pound tablet computer made by a company called Freehand Systems. Its compared to a sheetmusic IPod. Through an online store,, MusicPad users can download 35,000 digitized scores.

Regarding piracy, "The Xerox machine has always been the arch enemy of the printed music world, and copying is impossible to police," he said.

(Isn't that what they said about mp3s?)"

The shocking history of copyrights

Pete writes "Eliot Van Buskirk's article on ZDNet looks at the long history of familiar issues we grapple with today. 'Technological advances have dogged content owners ever since a caveman first got conked on the head for ripping off the other guy's yawp. We think these issues are new to our generation, but that's just not the case. Now is a good time to take a trip down memory lane to keep things in perspective.'"

ALA and Open Access Journals

Jason Griffey writes "Got a little press today from BoingBoing for my master's paper, and think it's a natural for LISNews. Check it out...

"For all the talk that the American Library Association does in regards to Open Access and freely available information, here’s the truth of the matter.""


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