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Fair Use

Appeals court rules HathiTrust book scanning is fair use
June 10, 2014 | 3:43 pm

Ars Technica reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on the HathiTrust case, the legal sibling to the Google Books lawsuit. HathiTrust is the organization of university libraries that provided books to Google for scanning purposes in return for receiving copies for themselves. A Federal judge ruled HathiTrust to be fair use in October, 2012, and now the appeals court has upheld that ruling (PDF). The court found that, in scanning the books but not making their full text available (save to handicapped users, who have a special exemption under copyright law), the libraries were...

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...

In Google Books appeal, Authors Guild decries Google’s impact on Amazon sales
April 12, 2014 | 6:12 am

The Authors Guild is appealing Google’s November fair use win in its Google Book scanning case. The Guild says that Google is “yanking readers out of online bookstores” and stifling online bookstore competition with its digitized books. "Google emptied the shelves of libraries and delivered truckloads of printed books to scanning centers, where the books were converted into digital format," the Guild's lawyers said. They wrote that the library project was designed to lure potential book purchasers away from online retailers like Amazon.com and drive them to Google. Wait, what? ...

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...

Getty Images offers free image embedding for noncommercial blogs
March 6, 2014 | 12:49 pm

istock-logoGetty Images, the world’s largest stock photo service, has just announced a program licensing noncommercial use of many of its images free to bloggers, provided they use code the site provides to embed the image in a frame with credit below it, linking back to the original picture on the site. This means that noncommercial bloggers have a way to use Getty pictures legitimately, with actual permission. The Verge reports: It's a real risk for the company, since it's easy to screenshot the new versions if you want to snag an unlicensed version. But according to...

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...

Story Surgeon: Copyright infringement or fair use?
January 23, 2014 | 2:34 pm

storysurgeonWriter Beware has an interesting post today linking to a Kickstarter for what WB’s Victoria Strauss calls “an app for copyright infringement.” The app is called “Story Surgeon,” is seeking $15,000, and the idea is that the app will let you create edits to an e-book, save the edits, and then share just the edits. Someone else can then take the same book and the same edits and “reconstitute” the edited book with that program. This is not exactly a new idea. We covered Chris Walters discussing the same basic idea slightly over two years ago: ...

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR
January 18, 2014 | 2:14 am

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because “time shifting,” recording a program off the air to watch it later, was fair use, and thus the VCR had substantial non-infringing purposes. Ars Technica has a feature article looking at the context of the decision in greater detail. This decision is crucial to...

Shel Silverstein biographer’s fair use dilemma: Censorship at the sidewalk’s end
January 11, 2014 | 3:35 pm

On Slate, Joseph Thomas writes that the time and effort he has spent writing a biography of Shel Silverstein will likely come to naught because he cannot get permission from the Silverstein estate to quote from any of Silverstein’s material (probably because the biography covers Silverstein’s lesser-known adult work alongside his better-known children’s work, and the estate would prefer to preserve his kid-friendly image). And so I came up against the hard truth of the literary biographer: It’s crucial to establish friendly relations with the estates of deceased (and more rarely, living) artists whose work is...

GoldieBlox ‘Girls’ controversy resurfaces as Beastie Boys file suit
December 11, 2013 | 12:16 pm

If you thought the Beastie Boys’ tiff with GoldieBlox over the “Girls” parody used in their toy commercial was over when GoldieBlox dropped the song from the commercial and said they would drop their lawsuit (though as TechDirt points out, they technically, um, never actually did), better think again. GigaOm reports that the Beastie Boys have now filed suit against GoldieBlox, demanding it hand over profits gained from using the song without permission. The Beastie Boys are more than a little emotionally involved, given that they say they are honoring the dying wish of deceased band member Adam Yauch...

Booklamp and discoverability: Nice try, but still has serious shortcomings
November 30, 2013 | 12:14 pm

A random comment on an IRC channel today recalled my attention to Booklamp, and the Book Genome Project, which we’ve mentioned a few times in years gone by. It’s been a couple of years since it was introduced, and I decided to take another look at the site and see what it looks like. Booklamp is a means of tackling the discoverability problem: how do you find a book you might want to read in the modern world, when you might not often visit a library or even bestir yourself away from your computer? I certainly can’t fault it...

Judge Chin dismisses suit over Google Books mass scanning as fair use, setting stage for appeal
November 14, 2013 | 8:26 pm

Juli already mentioned the big news of the day: Google has prevailed in the Authors Guild’s copyright case against it for scanning millions of books for its Google Books project. Judge Chin determined that Google Books constituted a fair use, granted Google’s motion for a summary judgment, and dismissed the case. But let’s look at the background a little. This ruling comes a few months after an appeals court ruled back at the beginning of July that Judge Chin needed to hold up on deciding whether the Authors Guild could claim class action status and look at the fair...