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Ex-copyright czar Victoria Espinel becomes head of Software Alliance
August 30, 2013 | 9:27 pm

Remember “copyright czar” Victoria Espinel? We mentioned her a couple of times back in 2010—when she called for public comments on the state of IP law,, when the comments came in. and then when they were made public. Some interesting stuff on the state of intellectual property law there, and what the stakeholders thought was important—notably, they all complained about online piracy without a single word about counterfeit physical goods. Huh. Espinel popped up again in 2011 when she recommended that Congress make illegally streaming copyrighted content online a felony offense in some cases. Although our article on the...

Trader Joe’s vs. Pirate Joe’s
August 28, 2013 | 3:48 pm

Pirate Joe'sTechdirt is one of many who have been covering the curious tale of Pirate Joe—aka Michael Hallatt, a Vancouver entrepreneur who has set up a store in which he sells, at a markup, products he purchases at the Trader Joe's chain on the American side of the border. Hallatt claims he is doing nothing wrong—he buys his "merchandise" at full retail price and is permitted to sell them if he wishes to under the first-sale doctrine. Trader Joe's begs to differ and has filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Mike Masnick makes some useful points in his discussion of the case. Firstly, he...

Dutch Justice Ministry faces awkward questions on BREIN anti-piracy moves
August 27, 2013 | 11:41 am

Following the news reported earlier in TeleRead about moves by BREIN, the Dutch copyright-holders’ group, to organize retention of e-book buyer data for up to two years after purchase in order to help trace pirated e-books to their sources, Dutch parliamentarians have apparently taken up the issue themselves. According to an official notice posted on, "the central access point to all information about government organisations of the Netherlands," Dutch Labour Party parliamentarian Astrid Oosenbrug put a series of questions in the lower house of the Dutch parliement to the Ministry of Security and Justice on August 20th, asking, among other...

Textbook Piracy: Growing problem or reasonable solution?
August 23, 2013 | 6:59 pm

online learningCollege ended about 10 years ago for me. That wasn’t the dark ages of technology. We all had laptops and cell phones and constantly checked email. We all worried about the prices of textbooks too. Part of me wonders what it would be like if I went to college now. Colleges are starting their fall semesters right about now, and students are scrambling to find cheap versions of their textbooks for classes. These costs add up. College students find themselves spending hundreds of dollars just on books alone. I was lucky, and tended to read the books in the library or buy them...

Dutch courage needed as Netherlands copyright group BREIN seeks e-book buyer data
August 16, 2013 | 12:10 pm

NetherlandsAn ugly spat is brewing in the Netherlands, normally regarded as a staid and relatively free-thinking jurisdiction, over draconian moves by the local copyright enforcement body to gain access to e-book customer data to track piracy. According to a report in TorrentFreak based on original Dutch sources, local e-book vendors working with the eBoekhuis platform have agreed with BREIN, the Dutch copyright-holders' group, to digitally watermark e-book downloads and to link the watermarks with individual purchasers. The buyers' details will not only be logged for two years, but will also be compared against watermarks of any pirated copies found online, and...

German advocacy group sues for consumers’ right to resell Steam games
July 20, 2013 | 10:50 am

Here’s yet another attempt to retrofit first sale rights onto digital media. I’m not sure what the German term for “first sale” is, but Cinema Blend reports that the German organization VZBV has been working hard in the German courts to force Valve to support it for the computer games it sells via Steam, allowing resale or trading of previously purchased digital titles. The VZBV (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V., or Federation of German Consumer Organizations) is a non-governmental body that acts as an umbrella organization for 41 German consumer advocacy groups. It filed a cease-and-desist against Valve’s subscriber agreement last...

Study shows college textbook piracy rising, digital textbook adoption falling
July 18, 2013 | 5:32 am

On The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder has some details from a study suggesting that the adoption of digital textbooks is in trouble, and piracy is up considerably. Nate places the blame on the rising cost of textbooks in general. He includes a chart that shows textbook prices have been increasing at a considerably higher rate over the last 35 years than the consumer price index, the housing bubble, and even health care. He quotes a contact who notes that prices on core textbooks, the ones that most students have to get, are especially prone to price increases. It looks...

Open letter to the Big Six publishers: Have you learned anything?
July 13, 2013 | 1:37 am

The publishing industry is all screwed up, and whose fault is that? Perhaps at least partly the fault of all the publishing execs who are stepping down right around now, blogger Agent Orange suggests in a post on FutureBook entitled “The Elephant in the Graveyard.” While they did great things in their time, they were too inculcated in the culture of bricks and mortar to be able to adapt to the potential of an electronic world. When the paradigm shifted, which significantly predates the global recession - Amazon first turned a profit way back in 2002...

The Internet Archive’s Open Library is violating authors’ copyrights
July 10, 2013 | 8:53 pm

Open Library is a project of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive. We’ve written about Kahle, the Archive, and Open Library a few times, including some times I’d forgotten about. Kahle’s Internet Archive was first founded as a way to keep a historical record of the ever-changing Internet for the benefit of future sociological and cultural researchers; it later expanded into archiving other media as well. More recently, Kahle started collecting print books, and scanning them as well as archiving them; it was his intention to collect and save one of every print book ever published. These scanned books would also...

The problem with watermarking
July 9, 2013 | 10:38 pm

coyote-caughtRemember SiDiM, that supposedly novel idea for secretly watermarking a text by changing random words in order to be able to tell who leaked it? (“Novel” is right. Tom Clancy’s protagonist in The Hunt for Red October proposed something similar as a way to tell who leaked classified documents.) Cory Doctorow has his turn taking shots at it in his latest Publisher’s Weekly column. Apart from noting that it could be defeated just by comparing two or more different copies of the same text and randomizing the differences, he points out one of the biggest problems with the idea, and...

In Russia, most e-books are pirated
July 2, 2013 | 7:24 pm

Fullscreen capture 722013 62021 PM.bmpI believe that Yogi Berra once said that in New York City, everybody drives but nobody owns a car. Well, according to some recent Publishing Perspectives posts, in Russia almost everybody who still reads anymore reads e-books, but almost nobody buys them. The number of readers in Russia has been declining, and the Russian book market is declining too. The market contracts annually by 5 to 7%. 20% of Russia’s bookstores have closed since 2010. And paper book circulation has declined by 33% since the year 2000. This may be in part due to a switchover to e-books. ...

Joyland publisher not too worried about e-book piracy
June 23, 2013 | 9:53 am

joyland-186x300Charles Ardai, the publisher for Hard Case Crime, the publisher of Stephen King’s latest book Joyland which King elected not to release as an e-book yet, has been in touch with Mediabistro’s AppNewser about potential scan-and-post electronic piracy of the paper book. All in all, he doesn’t seem too bothered. The book would have been pirated no matter what, he said. They will, of course, try to stamp out piracy where they find it, but there are so many pirates and pirate sites that it’s an endless game of whack-a-mole that Ardai compares to the “war on drugs.” (Ardai is...