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Copyright

A case study in the difficulties of the permission culture
April 11, 2014 | 6:25 pm

permission cultureI wrote on Thursday about a great term Techdirt has been using to describe the new normal 'permission culture' in which we find our every media move governed by a rights-holder who can, or cannot grant permission for the use we desire. Whether it's 'this movie is not available for streaming on your country' or 'you bought the book but Amazon can tell you which device you can read it on,' users are being told they can't do something which may seem common sense to them. GigaOM has a great little case study which raises some interesting questions on this. Actress...

Nature Publishing Group attempts immoral moral rights land grab
April 3, 2014 | 12:25 pm

The struggle between scientific publishers and the academic community over open access policies has taken a new and striking turn. Not only is the Nature Publishing Group, publisher of Nature, Scientific American, and other august and popular journals, attempting to induce authors who sign with it to obtain waivers on the open access policies of their schools and institutions, it is also slipping waivers on authors' moral rights into its contracts. And just to clarify, moral rights "include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, and the right to the integrity of the...

Dropbox uses file hashes to comply with DMCA requests. So what?
April 2, 2014 | 2:50 am

Surprise! Dropbox has anti-piracy measures in place. You’ve probably seen the stories by now. When you right-click that file on your drive and ask for a public link that you can share so your friend can download it, Dropbox runs a hash on the file—it basically takes the file’s fingerprint by assigning a specific character to particular bits. If it finds that hash matches a list of hashes that have been declared verboten by DMCA request, it tells you that you can’t share it. (Likewise, it hashes files so that it can save space by only storing one copy of...

UK police advertise illegal websites
April 1, 2014 | 1:55 pm

Flag of Edward EnglandWell alright, that's not exactly what's going on. But it could have that effect. For the UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), siloed in the City of London Police, has announced with some fanfare the launch of its "Infringing Website List (IWL) ... [which] sets out to disrupt the advertising revenues on illegal websites globally." The principle of this initiative is to introduce "an online portal providing the digital advertising sector with an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites, identified by the creative industries and evidenced and verified by the City of London Police unit, so that advertisers, agencies and...

Heald study shows books lag behind music in out-of-print digitization
March 20, 2014 | 12:35 pm

Professor Paul J. Heald of the University of Illinois College of Law has just released a new study that puts Chris Meadows's recent problems with out-of-print stories from Astounding Stories into perspective. Remember that it was Heald whose previous research found that extension of copyright terms actually reduced the availability of books. And his new report, "The Demand for Out-of-Print Works and Their (Un)Availability in Alternative Markets," has found that, while demand for out-of-print books as ebooks or in other forms remains high, supply remains atrocious in comparison to older musical works. Heald compares the availability of popular songs and music...

How do you solve a problem like Astounding?
March 18, 2014 | 7:18 pm

20140318_190042_HDRA few days ago, I recalled a short story, called Early Bird, by Theodore R. Cogswell and Theodore L. Thomas. I wanted to share that story with a couple of friends and co-writers on a shared Internet fiction setting that uses a number of the same tropes. So I went to see where I might find it. And the answer was…nowhere. Well, not completely nowhere. It was published in one single place: a 1973 anthology honoring the late John W. Campbell. I couldn’t find it online anywhere else—not for sale via Smashwords, not published in a magazine I could...

SFWA to participate in Copyright Office orphan works roundtables
March 9, 2014 | 5:42 pm

The SFWA actually can do some useful things when it’s not getting embroiled in scandals. A press release on its web site notes that former SFWA President Michael Capobianco will be attending some US Copyright Office roundtables on the problem of orphan works on March 10th and 11th. The problem posed by orphan works is becoming more obvious the longer copyright lasts. However, the SFWA suggests that the problems may not be as severe as some copyright reform advocates claim. The SFWA’s full position on the orphan works matter is laid out in a white paper (PDF) that it...

Fan artist complains of Anita Sarkeesian’s unauthorized use of Dragon’s Lair fan art
March 9, 2014 | 4:27 am

tropesvswomenHere’s an interesting conundrum concerning fair use of Internet artwork. It all started when an artist going by the moniker Cowkitty created some fan art of Princess Daphne, a character from Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game. Some time later, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian crowdfunded a series of YouTube videos called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. And promotional material used for the $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, which collected a number of female characters from video games, made use of Cowkitty’s fan art without asking permission. (The video series allegedly made use of footage from various YouTube “Let’s...

What you should know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership
February 21, 2014 | 1:27 pm

freetradepanelWe’ve mentioned the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in passing, but in case you’re wanting to find out more about these treaties and why they might not be such a good thing in general, you might want to take a closer look at this. I’ve run across a great explanation in the form of a 27-page online comic book that explains exactly what trade agreements in general are supposed to do, what they actually end up doing, and what we know about the TPP. The biggest problem with these treaties is that they basically override nations’ laws—but unlike those...

James Joyce and the public domain situation
February 3, 2014 | 2:25 pm

The anniversary of James Joyce's birthday in 1882, February 2nd, fell on a Sunday this year, so this article comes a day late. And as his life and works have already been covered plenty on TeleRead, and are best tackled on Bloomsday, June 16th, I'll confine this article to the question of Joyce's works and the public domain, since for some jurisdictions, these towering classics of modernist literature are available online for free - and for some, they're not. Just to spare anyone who is more interested in the works themselves than the wrinkles of this debate, all of James Joyce's...

Tarantino suit of Gawker over link to leaked script may be capitalizing on Streisand Effect
February 3, 2014 | 12:40 pm

tarantinoQuentin Tarantino got so upset that someone leaked a copy of the script for his next movie, The Hateful Eight, online that he announced he would not be making that movie after all. He got further upset when he found out that celebrity/tech news site Gawker’s “Defamer” blog actually linked to file locker sites where the script could be downloaded. So, he is now suing Gawker. Tarantino’s suit claims that Gawker itself posted the leaked script to those sites, which Gawker editor John Cook insists is false. In the end, the suit comes down to “contributory copyright infringement”—the same...

ReDigi awarded patent on digital resale ‘without making a copy’
January 29, 2014 | 7:00 am

Yesterday I received a press release from ReDigi, the company trying to allow (and monetize) the resale of “used” digital goods such as music or e-books, with an embargo time of, well, right now. The release claims the award of a patent on the technology ReDigi wants to use to enable the resale of digital media. It says the patent covers the transfer of digital media files without making a copy. ReDigi has been in the news a great deal in the last couple of years. The RIAA complained, and record label EMI sued, over ReDigi’s plan to allow...