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Copyright

Happy birthday J.R.R. Tolkien – but doesn’t ring in any public domain riches
January 5, 2015 | 12:25 pm

Tolkien bustJohn Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3rd, 1892, and his long and richly productive life ended on September 2nd, 1973. That longevity, however, also means that enthusiasts are having to wait a very long time indeed for any of his great body of work to find its way into the public domain. As Everybody's Libraries noted back on Public Domain Day 2013, if the U.S.  had not passed its latest copyright extension act in 1988, "we would be seeing works published in 1937, such as the first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, now entering the public domain. ...

The great European music copyright reboot
December 22, 2014 | 8:25 pm

bookstoreAs revisited in the New York Times, the music industry is going through one of its periodic reboots in order to refresh copyright on some legacy properties - like early recordings of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. All this thanks to the 2011 decision by the Council of the European Union to unilaterally raise EU music copyright from 50 to 70 years. This was not exactly an uncontroversial decision at the time, although at least we weren't lumbered with the legislators' (or media industry stooges/proxies') original target of 95 years. Even the EU's own inndependent experts objected to it. Professor P. Bernt...

Copyright Office posts DMCA exemption petitions
November 25, 2014 | 6:17 pm

A few weeks ago I discussed the need for a DMCA exemption for e-books, in light of the US Copyright Office requesting petitions for such exemptions. The Copyright Office has now posted all 44 petitions it received as PDFs. There are a number of interesting petitions there—not least of them my own. Now that I read my petition again, I see a few typos and other tweaks I wish I could go back and fix (and they miscategorized it under “Audiovisual Works – Multimedia E-Books,” rather than “Literature Distributed Electronically”), but on the whole I’m satisfied with it....

Why we need an e-book DRM DMCA exemption
October 30, 2014 | 8:54 pm

It’s that time again. Ars Technica reports that the Copyright Office is accepting petitions on activities to exempt from the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, making it legal to crack DRM for certain restricted purposes. We’ve reported on this procedure a few times over the last few years. The way it goes is that various people or organizations make proposals and the copyright office considers whether to grant them for the next three years. The exemptions then have to be requested again at the next session if they are to continue. Public Knowledge will be submitting requests to legalize...

ALA welcomes Court of Appeals reinforcement of fair use in Georgia State University case
October 23, 2014 | 12:25 pm

gsu-logo.jpgThe American Library Association (ALA) has issued a positive response to the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed in Cambridge University Press et al. v. Carl V. Patton et al., a case previously covered by Chris Meadows here. This is the latest round of proceedings following the suit bought by the Cambridge and Oxford University Presses, and SAGE Publishers against Georgia State University for copyright infringement in 2008. Courtney Young, president of the ALA, said: “The appellate court’s decision emphasizes what ALA and other library associations have always supported—thoughtful analysis of fair use and a rejection...

When DRM infects the non-digital world
October 6, 2014 | 12:25 pm

drmHere's an update on a quirky story I reported on earlier this year. An Ontario coffee roaster is suing Keurig Green Mountain for $600 million for engaging in anti-competition practices by embedding "DRM" into their latest model of single-serving coffee machine. As CBC reports the issue is that the patent on Keurig's 'k-cup' coffee pods has now expired, which has opened the door to other manufacturers such as Club Coffee (the complainant in this case) to make their own 'pods' for use in these machines. This is cutting into Keurig's profit, obviously---when they were the exclusive source for the pods, they...

Photographer explains why piracy is driving him out of business
September 24, 2014 | 10:37 pm

We hear about Internet piracy and its deleterious effect on creators dozens or hundreds of times every year. In most cases, it’s about music, movies, games, or books that are circulating on peer-to-peer. The arguments rage on and on about whether this piracy is a good thing or a bad thing, whether it provides much-needed exposure to the artist and whether any, many, most, or all of the people who pirate the work would actually have paid for it under other circumstances. Odds are, most regular readers of TeleRead or any other media blog can recite most of the arguments...

A strange little copyright story
September 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

copyrightTechdirt has a great write-up about one of the strangest little copyright stories I've read this week. The story involves an anti-litter campaign launched in my own fair city recently, which cleverly used the letters on brand-name packages to spell out messages. From the article: "The campaign slogan was, “Littering says a lot about you.” The ads featured discarded candy boxes, plastic bottles and other packaging arranged to spell the unflattering message that littering conveys. The combinations included a bag of Lay’s potato chips and a Krazy Glue package arranged to spell “Lazy”; Reese’s Pieces and a bottle of Gatorade put together...

Cause for concern for copyright holders over EU DG Market Commission roles?
September 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

bookstoreSome alarmed articles have been put about about the transfer of the European Commission copyright portfolio to Commissioner-designate for the Digital Agenda, German Guenther Oettinger, who inherits this from the Internal Market & Services Directorate General (DG Market) arm, where it was siloed in units D1 and D3, according to a report in The Guardian. Oettinger will now oversee an office known hitherto as DG Connect, to be renamed DG Digital Economy and Society. Since Oettinger's predecessor Neelie Kroes was widely criticized by publishing and creative industries figures as too friendly to technology groups at the expense of rights-holders, it's hard to...

The Celebrity Picture Story, Part Deux: Who Holds Copyright?
September 5, 2014 | 10:24 am

copyrightSo, the thorny issue of photo copyrights is making headlines in the celebrity world again, and no, I don't mean Bradley Cooper's famous Oscar shot, or the monkey selfie this time. I'm sure many of you have seem the iCloud hacking story, where a data security breach led to the hacking of, among other things, personal photographs of several female celebrities. The interesting little wrinkle on this is that at least one site is claiming that a celebrity tried---unsuccessfully---to get the photographs removed using the excuse of copyright infringement. Jennifer Lawrence, as TMZ reports, got a reply to her takedown request which...

The great monkey copyright war of 2014
August 8, 2014 | 2:25 pm

copyrightHere's a fun little story which highlights the absurdity of our current intellectual property laws. Yahoo News had a write-up about a photographer who is embroiled in a legal dispute with Wikipedia over a photograph of his which became viral and ended up on Wikipedia website. As the article explains: "In 2011, Slater spotted a crested black macaque in Indonesia and set up his camera to click a photo. Suddenly, the monkey snatched the camera and started to take selfies..." The issue is that current intellectual property law favours the one who snapped the picture, regardless of how they came to do...

Randy Queen backs down from DMCA threats against Escher Girls
August 6, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Here’s a quick update to yesterday’s story about Randy Queen using the DMCA to stifle Escher Girls’ criticism of his art. The Mary Sue reports that Queen has apologized and stood down his threats. He posted a public statement to his Facebook page in which he indicated a period of high stress in his personal life led him to lash out without thinking. Tumblr has restored the posts in question but the images are still absent. Hopefully they can get put back soon, too, given that their use was well within the bounds of criticism and commentary that have...