January 23rd, 2014 Brian Herzog
Here's something a coworker relayed to me that I thought was interesting. We just got a copy of Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon into the library - she thought the cover looked familiar, but couldn't place it, so she searched Google for "rise of the sea dragon cover looks like."
Her logic, quite sensibly, was that someone else might have noticed a resemblance to an existing cover, and commented on the two looking alike.
But here's the interesting part: when she scrolled to the bottom of the first page of results, she noticed this message:
Here are those two links:
It doesn't really surprise me that a search for DVD cover art would bridge the gap between the casually legal and copyright-infringement, but I had never seen this before. And clicking into the complaint itself is the first time I've actually seen what the complaints look like (and that they apparently allow made up words, like "commulative").
From my reading, it looks like Well Go USA Entertainment owns the copyright for this item, and Remove Your Media LLC is submitting takedown notices to Google, presumably on their behalf. Or rather, "remove from search results" notice - I didn't actually visit any of the 521 "Allegedly infringing URLs" to see if they were still live. And I have no idea which of those 521 was the one site removed from these search results.
I thought this nicely dovetailed with the EFF's Copyright Week last week. Copyright isn't just some esoteric notion, it's really happening every day.
And I know there's a lot to it, but here's what bothers me most about DMCA and takedown notices: it seems to be built on the idea of "guilty until proven innocent."* It's not unlike my neighbor going to the police and saying, "hey, that's my bike," and without question they take it away from me - and in order to get my bike back, I have to prove that I own it. I don't like that the burden of proof is on the accuser in our justice system, but is the complete opposite online.
After a quick skim of those "allegedly infringing URLs," it wouldn't surprise me that if there is lots of copyright infringing going on. However, I hate the idea that the solution to rampant piracy is the rampart revocation of freedoms.
And: I got so caught up with the novelty of this notice that I completely forgot to ask my coworker if she figured out which cover this one reminder her of.
Update: Maybe this one.
*And don't even get me started on the TSA.
January 15th, 2014 Brian Herzog
In case you missed it, this week (Jan 13-18, 2014) is Copyright Week. The EFF and partners are using this time, the week leading up the two-year anniversary of the SOPA blackout protests, to talk about the current trends in copyright, and what's at stake.
Read more here, but the real meat is at https://www.eff.org/copyrightweek - each day focuses on a single issue within the world of copyright, and they post resources related to that issue. Here's the topics:
Copyright policy must be set through a participatory, democratic and transparent process. It should not be decided through back room deals or secret international agreements.
- Building and Defending a Robust Public Domain
The public domain is our cultural commons and a public trust. Copyright policy should seek to promote, and not diminish, this crucial resource.
- Open Access
The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- You Bought it, You Own It
Copyright policy should foster the freedom to truly own your stuff: to tinker with it, repair it, reuse it, recycle it, read or watch or launch it on any device, lend it, and then give it away (or re-sell it) when you're done.
- Fair Use Rights
For copyright to achieve its purpose of encouraging creativity and innovation, it must preserve and promote ample breathing space for unexpected and innovative uses.
- Getting Copyright Right
A free and open Internet is essential infrastructure, fostering speech, activism, new creativity and new business models for artists, authors, musicians and other creators. It must not be sacrificed in the name of copyright enforcement.
So definitely, check it out - at least with a cursory glance to see what the top issues are.
Also related to copyright, I highly recommend following Alan Wexelblat's Copyfight blog. Alan provides great summaries (and details) of emerging issues and how they actually affect people.
March 21st, 2013 Brian Herzog
In case you haven't heard, the Supreme Court issued their decision in Kirtsaeng v Wiley, and common sense has carried the day. Publisher's Weekly has a good write-up, and so does SCOTUSblog.
This of course doesn't mean libraries will never face another copyright-related threat, but it does prevent things from getting ludicriously horrible right now. If you're interested in following copyright and intellectual property news, I highly recommend the Copyfight blog, written by Alan Wexelblat.
And speaking of copyright, this decision also reminded me that I never posted a link to this great Copyright Guide from Cornell. It's a handy little quick-reference to figure out if something is or is not covered by copyright. Thanks Jason, and I'm sorry for taking so long to post it.
And finally, one of my pet-peeves: remember world, the past-tense of copyright is "copyrighted," not "copywritten."
January 9th, 2013 Brian Herzog
This might not be new to anyone, but one of my Christmas gifts this year was a neat reproduction of a WPA poster:
I didn't know these posters were available, but apparently, since they are public domain, they are all over the place. The Library of Congress has the main archive (these are fun), and many people reuse the artwork to sell posters, bags, and just about anything else.
So, I get a fun poster out of the deal, but the real message is this: putting things into the public domain does not stifle commerce; absurdly-restrictive copyright does.
Oh yeah, I forgot to include this link: Vintage Ads for Libraries and Reading - more good stuff. Thanks again, Tommy.
November 7th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Even though the election is over*, I wanted to keep things within the world of Government by providing an update on the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley Supreme Court case.
Oral arguments were heard last week, and things actually sound promising based on SCOTUSblog's recap of the arguments. Justice Breyer focused on the "parade of horribles" that could be the unintended consequences of Wiley's position - which Wiley's lawyer attempted to dismiss as not part of this case - to which Justice Kennedy responded
You’re aware of the fact that if we write an opinion with the . . . rule that you propose, that we should, as a matter of common sense, ask about the consequences of that rule.
And this is the entire issue for me - the state of the first sale doctrine after this decision. LISNews had a good, but frightening, characterization:
Notably, [Wiley's lawyer] didn't back away from the more extreme consequences of his client's win at the 2nd Circuit. If Wiley wins, he said, institutions like museums and libraries might need to get licenses from copyright owners for their activities.
More reading on this:
A ruling on the case is expected by June.
And a slight tangent: while I was looking for information on this case online, I came across Citizens for Ownership Rights - interesting.
*The 2016 campaign season starts today!
October 10th, 2012 Brian Herzog
I like it when issues are so relevant to me that I couldn't miss them if I tried.
Early last week, I was coordinating with a speaker for the upcoming NELA conference, when he mentioned the Supreme Court Case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. It sounded vaguely familiar, but since I knew I could hear him talk about it next week, I didn't really pursue it.
A few days later, the same case showed up on BoingBoing, , nicely summarized:
Writing in MarketWatch, Jennifer Waters explains the implications of a Supreme Court case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, which turns on the question of whether you have the right to re-sell things you buy out of the country, or whether the copyrights embodied by your phones, clothes, gadgets, books, music, DVDs, and other possessions mean that you can't sell your stuff without permission from the original manufacturer.
Following Wiley's theory, you don't really own most of your possessions. You share ownership in your goods with the companies that made the goods you "bought" from them, and they get a veto over your disposal of them, and can also demand a cut of the proceeds.
It seems like something this ridiculous-sounding couldn't possibly come to pass, but remember this is also the Court that said corporations are people, sometimes.
And more significantly, a major publisher is involved. Here's where things started:
Wiley & Sons, a U.S. based textbook publisher with foreign affiliates, originally filed suit in the Southern District Court of New York against a Thai individual studying in the United States who obtained cheaper foreign-made editions of Wiley textbooks, printed by Wiley Asia, that he then resold on eBay in the U.S. for a profit. The District Court held that the first sale doctrine applies only to works manufactured in the United States.
We've already kissed the First Sale Doctrine goodbye with ebooks, and now it looks like applying it to physical items is threatened too. It seems like this would mean, at the very least, libraries would need to check all our books for "Printed in the USA" before we could resell them at a booksale, or else we risk breaking the law. But taken to the ridiculous extreme, it also sounds like individuals would have difficulty reselling almost anything made overseas - cell phones, cars, clothes, DVDs, etc.
The FBI will have to create a new task force, which could be dubbed "The Garage Sale Police," to enforce this if it becomes new copyright law. And in my opinion, anything that sounds like a reality show has got to be a bad idea.
But seriously, this is definitely something to pay attention to. Read more on MarketWatch and the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology Digest.