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Category: copyright/fair use (Page 3 of 15)

International Digital Rights

Another interesting conflict in the world of copyright and digital media.

The National Portrait Gallery [Great Britain] is threatening legal action after 3,300 images from its website were uploaded to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

A contributor to the popular site, Derrick Coetzee, breached English copyright laws by posting images from the gallery’s collection, the NPG said.

But photographs of works of art are not protected by copyright in the US, where Mr Coetzee and Wikipedia are based.

Of course these issues go beyond a simple my-rights, your-rights squabble.

The situation illustrates once again that the web freely crosses national borders (at least most of them) while intellectual property laws don’t.

So, should a publicly-funded museum in the UK have the right to prevent a US-based non-profit web site (fast becoming an international public utility) from using images of works that are already posted on the museum’s web site and carry no copyright restrictions outside of the country?

I doubt a definitive answer will be crafted anytime soon.

Now Playing Right Around the Corner

This is the current message board in front of a school I pass nearly every day, providing another example of how schools (and their associated organizations) flirt with violations of copyright law.

movesign Of course I’m assuming this particular showing will use someone’s personal copy of the DVD and will be shown using a projector and speakers provided by the school.

This despite the fact that the itty bitty print on the packaging specifically prohibits the “public exhibition” of the movie (which, incidentally, includes those recreational showings that occur in some classrooms right around the winter holidays).

However, I suppose I could be mistaken and the PTA has paid for a public performance license to show the movie, in which case I certainly owe them an apology for this overly preachy post.

And, if that’s not the case, I’m also assuming no lawyers from Disney have driven down the road past this notice.

You Only Think You Own It

Following up on my recent rant about the DMCA hearings held this past week by the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office, Public Knowledge has more information about the testimony.

From what PK’s reporter is observing, it’s pretty clear that all sorts of special groups have their representatives at the table, but no one seems to be speaking for the rest of us.

I attended the last two days of the D.C. hearings and came away not only with a renewed understanding of how the DMCA is killing consumer rights especially fair use but also how much content owners are afraid of fair use. The hearing also reaffirmed something we have said always: the DMCA is used more to lock out competition than to protect copyrighted works.

What is more, the copyright owners fear that allowing documentarians and vidders to make clips would lead to a slippery slope. One day, every one would be able to circumvent TPMs and make clips for fair uses and that was not Congresses intent in enacting the DMCA!

This line, repeated often throughout the proceedings brought home the point that major copyright holders are out to stop not only “piracy” but any uncontrolled use, including fair use.

If the big content companies had their way (they have plenty of money and lawyers to make it happen), they would distribute everything on a pay-per-view basis.

Since they can’t do that right now, they’ll have to settle for pay-per-reuse.

In other words, if you own a DVD and want to watch it on your iPod, that will be an additional charge.

If you want to make a backup of that DVD for the kids to watch in the car, the MPAA’s solution is for you buy another copy.

And if you’re a teacher who wants to exercise your fair use rights by extracting a 90 second excerpt from a 90 minute documentary for your students to watch as part of the lesson, tough luck.

However, the DMCA is just one part of the totally screwed up intellectual property system in this country.

And the producers of DVD content are only one of the groups working to drastically restrict the rights of copyright users, which was as much the point of the original concept as protecting copyright owners.

For an excellent overview of the issues involved, read Cory Doctorow’s Why I Copyfight.

What’s Fair?

Here’s yet another discussion-with-lawyers about fair use as it applies to blogging and other forms of web publishing.

Some traditional media companies (the AP, for example) are not happy with sites using even small pieces of their content, probably because the link back doesn’t produce much if any profits.

And the fact they generally have a bigger legal team than the rest of us means that, even if they’re wrong, they have the muscle to intimidate a settlement in their favor.

Probably the biggest problem with trying to determine what’s “fair use”, especially for those of us in education, is that the concept is very vaguely defined in American law.

At the risk of making someone at the Times legal department upset, here’s a clip from their article that hits right at what needs to be done.

Courts have not provided much of an answer. In the United States, the copyright law provides a four-point definition of fair use, which takes into consideration the purpose (commercial vs. educational) and the substantiality of the excerpt.

But editors in search of a legal word limit are sorely disappointed. Even before the Internet, lawyers lamented that the fair use factors “didn’t map well onto real life,” said Mr. Ardia, whose Citizen Media Law Project is part of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. “New modes of creation, reuse, mixing and mash-ups made possible by digital technologies and the Internet have made it even more clear that Congress’s attempt to define fair use is woefully inadequate.”

Almost the entire intellectual property system in the US needs a major overhaul.

However, one of the first topics Congress needs to address is writing a fair, balanced, and specific definition of fair use into law.

Cory Doctorow explains much better than I can why all of this is important, not just to avoid being sued, but for sustaining a vibrant and growing culture.

An Alternative to Org Charts

For those of you not into geek culture, you may not be aware that the trial of the century is now going on in Sweden.

The big content companies are trying to shut down a site called The Pirate Bay (that link is not likely to work at school), which is basically nothing more than a big database that directs users to bit torrent files all over the world.

The court, however, is having a hard time comprehending the people running the site and it’s no wonder with this kind of business process.

The prosecution’s mind is blown by the chaotic, free-wheeling way TPB is run as they try to divine who’s really in charge : “Someone must ultimately decide whether to put up a certain text or graphic.” TPB’s Fredrik Neij replies, “Why? If someone believes a new text is needed, he just inputs it. Or if a graphic is ugly, someone makes a better one. The one who wants to do something just does it.”

Pretty much the opposite of bureaucracy.

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