Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property

The Perils of Strong Copyright

The Perils of Strong Copyright is Jason Griffey's work that takes a look at ALA publications and the Creative Commons licenses (Summary Chart)
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. A chart showing how a few ALA publications compare to Creative Commons licenses. For a full explanation, read the paper. Chapters 4 and 5 and the Conclusion have the real evidence in them. HTML version forthcoming.

Thanks to Bob Cox for the link.

Library digitization projects - Lawsuit to free "orphan archives" from copyright restrictions -

minow passed along this release: "Today, two archives that post public domain books, films, audio, and other creative works on the Internet asked a federal court to declare that copyright restrictions on orphaned works -- works whose copyright has not expired but which are no longer available -- violates the constitution. The complaint asks the U.S. district court for the Northern District of California to find that a law that extended copyright terms unconditionally -- the Berne Convention Implementation Act (BCIA) -- is unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, and that the BCIA and Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) together create an "effectively perpetual" term with respect to works first published after January 1, 1964 and before January 1, 1978, in violation of the Constitution's Progress Clause.

Congress’s appetite for the public domain

nbruce writes "At Lawrence Lessig’s blog: “As some of you may remember, in addition to Eldred v. Aschcroft, there are a number of other cases that we’re pushing to set judicial limits on Congress’s appetite for the public domain. Golan v. Ashcroft is one. Golan challenges Congress’s “restoration� of copyrights to work that had passed into the public domain. The government moved to dismiss Golan on the basis of Eldred. Today [Mar. 16] the District Court (opinion) rejected the government’s motion, and, while striking an Eldred-related claim, refused to dismiss the other 3 counts of the complaint.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for great news re the Public Domain Enhancement Act (and see if you can find a couple more signatures to push the total over 20,000)".

Center for Internet and Society Press release for Golan v. Ashcroft"

Alternative database-protection bill

The American Library Association recently posted a brief press release about a new, revised database-protection bill proposed by Representative Cliff Stearns. The bill, H.R. 3872, is called the Consumer Access to Information Act and would prohibit private parties from suing over database misusage. ALA does not say whether they support the bill, but they opposed its predecessor, H.R. 3261, the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act.

SCO Target: AutoZone

For those of you following the SCO Saga, CNET Is Reporting filed a lawsuit against auto parts retailer AutoZone, claiming the company has violated SCO's copyrights by using Linux.

SCO alleges that AutoZone "violated SCO's Unix copyrights by running versions of the Linux operating system that contain code, structure, sequence and/or organization from SCO's proprietary Unix System V code in violation of SCO's copyrights," according to a statement from the company.

What copy rights?

What copy rights? is an editorial from The Mercury News that says a record of 0-3 in the courts is not heartening; for copyright reformers, it's a signal to turn up the heat in Washington. If the courts won't uphold consumers' rights, then Congress, which created the problem by passing a bad copyright law, must.

Last year, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose introduced a bill that would explicitly allow purchasers of digital works to use them in the same ways that courts have said they could use videotapes and records. The latest court decision should prod Congress to get off the dime and pass it.

CED Report Urges Balanced Approach Digital Intellectual Property Issues to Promote Economic Growth

The entertainment industry's pursuit of tough new laws to protect copyrighted materials from online piracy is bad for business and for the economy, according to a report being released today by the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington policy group that has its roots in the business world.

NYTimes Piece summarizes things nicely, or read the Committee for Economic Development: Press Release, Summary, Full Report.

"We are sympathetic to the problems confronting the content distribution industry," said the report, "Promoting Innovation and Economic Growth: The Special Problem of Digital Intellectual Property." "But these problems - perfect copies of high-value digital works being transmitted instantly around the world at almost no cost - require clear, concentrated thinking, rather than quick legislative or regulatory action."

Nemo finds way to French court

Franck Le Calvez is suing Disney and animation studios Pixar for copyright infringement and breach of trademark. The French children's book author has told a Paris court that the main fish character in the Disney film Finding Nemo, which has so far grossed $850 million, was a direct copy of a character he created: a cheerful orange-and-white clown fish named Pierrot.

Joyce grandson threatens to ban readings at festival

Dublin as planned a three-month festival of celebrations costing about £700,000.

Unfortunately, the only living direct descendant of Joyce has promised to disrupt the festival by banning any public readings of his work.

Stephen Joyce, the writer’s grandson, has informed the Irish government he will sue for breach of copyright if any recitations take place. The septuagenarian who lives in Paris, has made millions of pounds from the proceeds of copyright of Joyce’s work and from suing for its infringement.

Full Story

Yogis Battle Over Yoga Poses in Copyright Dispute

Pete writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports here that 'Bikram Choudhury, the Beverly Hills yoga master, copyrighted, trademarked and franchised his poses, breathing techniques and dialogue, creating the first chain of its kind.

He also hired lawyers who set loose a flurry of cease-and-desist letters warning yoga teachers... not to teach his yoga or anything "derivative" if they haven't graduated from his $5,000-per-person training program....' If someone busts you for using the moves, Choudhury will demand that you pony up $150k per move.

Watch how you breathe out there, folks."

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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