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Copyright

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...

Comic book creator Randy Queen attempts to stifle criticism with DMCA, provokes Streisand Effect
August 5, 2014 | 7:26 am

If you don’t think you’re getting enough attention on the Internet, there’s a way to fix that. Though you probably won’t like the results. Every so often, you run across one of those “Streisand Effect” cases where someone decides to try to stifle criticism of themselves and it backfires in a big way. I thought I’d seen the most amusing possible example of that yesterday with this Ars Technica story about a hotel whose web site promised a $500 fine for negative Yelp reviews (they swore they were “just kidding,” but not before a major backlash brought them...

Evil Hat’s Atomic Robo copyright notice smooths the way for gamers making copies
July 7, 2014 | 6:53 pm

robonoticeHere’s an amusing case of a publisher getting copyright right. Evil Hat, who’s been mentioned here a few times before for its FUDGE-based Spirit of the Century role-playing game and Kickstarter projects, has a great copyright notice on its Atomic Robo RPG. Right after the bit about not storing the publication in a retrieval system without permission, it continues: That said, if you’re doing it for personal use, knock yourself out. That’s not only allowed, we encourage you to do it. For those working at a copy shop and not at all...

Patent absurdity: Trying to protect its rule set lands small role-playing game publisher in hot water
June 20, 2014 | 4:54 am

patent_trollLadies and gentlemen, I give you the tabletop role-playing game community’s current tempestuous teapot. Recently, a small role-playing game publisher held an IRC interview about the new multi-genre tabletop role-playing game it had just published. The game and the company both seem to share the name Universal Horizons. Inspired by the publisher/writers’ disgust at the change from D&D 3rd edition to 4th edition, this game includes multiple campaign worlds, or “genres”—an urban fantasy world, a science-fiction fighting-off-bug-like-aliens world, and so on. These “genres” use the same character statistics but may have different skill bonuses from genre to genre. ...

Might digital media resale be legal in Europe?
June 12, 2014 | 3:52 am

After the recent Congressional hearing on first sale, it seems unlikely Congress is convinced that allowing resale of “used” digital media would be a good idea. But as British lawyer Tony Ballard writes in FutureBook, they might see things differently in Europe. Ballard brings up the example of a European Court of Justice decision holding that sales of second-hand computer programs did not infringe copyright, even if copies of the program were made in the process of transferring it. A quirk in the relevant Directive permits the buyer of a computer program (unlike other...

Did you know you can trademark a series title?
June 11, 2014 | 2:26 pm

trademark a series titleI knew you couldn't copyright or trademark a book title, but until recently, I never realized you could trademark a series title. Then I saw a discussion on KBoards that mentioned it. (Sorry, can't find the thread again.) I contacted my local trademark attorney, and we filed the paperwork. It's dead simple. You need to have at least two books in the series published (to establish it as a series), and you need to show the mark in use. I sent him a link to one of my Amazon book pages, which was sufficient. As you can see, it's not on the...

European newspaper publishers argue web browsing is copyright infringement
June 5, 2014 | 3:46 pm

One of the points often made by supporters of the Google Books fair use ruling is that if copying material to build a search index is not legal, then so is the entire underpinning of the web, which relies on being able to make digital copies and index them. Lest you believe nobody would try to make that claim, Ars Technica reports on a European Union Court of Justice ruling which saw an organization of newspapers try to claim that browsing the web amounted to copyright infringement due to the digital copies of material made on people’s computers while...