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Copyright

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...

House first sale doctrine hearing: My points of view
June 4, 2014 | 2:49 pm

Well, that was quite a few articles. I hope you at least read my summaries, and they didn’t put you to sleep. I was impressed by the breadth of viewpoints represented in that sample of testimony. We heard from a major publisher, a company and an interest group lobbying for digital resale, a graphic artist, a media executive, a major library, and more. They all had their own unique viewpoints, and reading all of them really gave me a new appreciation for how complicated first sale is—not just the proposed digital type, but the ordinary physical media type we all...

Department of Justice to review ASCAP, BMI consent decrees
June 4, 2014 | 11:21 am

The Tennessean reports that the Department of Justice is opening a review of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two largest performance rights organizations. The decrees haven’t been updated in well over a decade, and the organizations are concerned they haven’t kept pace with changing times and technology. ASCAP wants three changes: first to replace the federal rate court review procedure with arbitration, which they believe will be faster and less expensive (and, perhaps, more favorable to them in negotiations than the rate court has been). Second, ASCAP wants to be able to allow its members...

New author advocacy group Authors Alliance seeks to counterbalance Authors Guild on fair use issues
May 14, 2014 | 11:28 am

Origin 5142014 112418 AM.bmpA group of writers and copyright experts concerned over Authors Guild overreach has formed its own new author advocacy group, the Authors Alliance, to advocate in favor of fair use of works. Publishers Weekly has a fairly long interview with one of its directors, law professor Pamela Samuelson of the UC Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. (Samuelson’s name has popped up a few times on TeleRead as one of the critics of the proposed Google Books settlement and the Authors Guild’s role in it, and an organizer of the Berkeley Digital Library Copyright Project.) The Authors...

Morning roundup: Of copyright and treaties, OSX Redesign, authors and agents, and a discounted Nook Glowlight
May 2, 2014 | 2:07 am

New Paper Says It's Time To Reasonably Decrease Copyright Term And Rethink Putting Copyright In Treaties (Techdirt) The full paper is well worth reading, detailing just how distorted copyright has become from its original purpose. -- Apple Will Reportedly Unveil 'End-to-End' OSX Redesign at WWDC (GigaOM) Apple will focus on Mac OS X at its upcoming developer’s conference on June 2, according to a new report. -- Authors’ Views on the Value of an Agent (Digital Book World) Are agents worth their fifteen percent? The 2014 Digital Book World and...