The Authors Guild Petitions Congress for Unworkable “Notice and Stay Down” Provision

12 July 2015

From The Digital Reader:

The Authors Guild has just shown us that while they may have grown more author savvy under the new administration they certainly haven’t become any more tech savvy than they were before.

On Friday The Authors Guild published an open letter . . . that calls upon Congress to amend the DMCA and replace the existing notice and take down setup with the notice and stay down setup that has been proposed by the “let’s break the internet” crowd.

Under current US copyright law, internet service providers are shielded from liability for the actions of their users so long as the ISPs respond to legal notices from copyright holders.  This is known colloquially as the DMCA safe harbor provision, and it’s the legal bulwark that protects everything from Youtube to online forums.

. . . .

This is what is called the “notice and stay down” system. or as The Authors Guild put it:

We are asking for a “Notice and Stay-Down” regime: once a webhost knows a work is being infringed, it should not continue to receive “safe harbor” immunity from claims of infringement unless it takes reasonable measures to remove all infringing copies of the same work.

There are a couple absolutely ginormous problems with their proposal.

. . . .

The first and most obvious is that the term “reasonable measures” cannot be discretely quantified; it is a matter of opinion. To ask Congress to legislate that idea into law is not a solution to current piracy issues so much as it is an invitation for lawyers to spend years in court running up millions of dollars in fees as they hash out the nuances.

But the larger issue with The Authors Guild’s proposal is that they based it on the mistaken assumption that one can readily identify pirated content.

. . . .

But more importantly, The Authors Guild believes that “Google and other ISPs clearly have the means to keep their sites free of most pirated content”, when in fact a cursory review of piracy prevention efforts makes it clear that it is damned difficult to separate pirated content from the chaff of legally used content.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG says this would also make the problem of improper take-down notices much greater.

Photographer accuses Taylor Swift of being a hypocrite over copyright in new open letter following her Apple victory

1 July 2015

From Metro:

Taylor Swift achieved a major victory today as her open letter to Apple persuaded the huge company to start paying artists for their streamed work during customers’ trial periods.

While many have congratulated her very swift win on the matter, prominent music photographer Jason Sheldon has since released an open letter of his own to the pop star, highlighting alleged double standards.

In it, he publishes a contract which Swift allegedly makes photographers sign which stipulates that they may only use the pictures they take once and that all rights belong to the artist.

His blog post on Junction 10 says: ‘How are you any different to Apple? If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great… make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support. But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?’

Link to the rest at Metro and thanks to Veronika for the tip.

E-book pirate party ends in UK as Australia mulls own site-blocking legislation

4 June 2015

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia’s Copyright Agency has welcomed a decision by the British High Court requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites hosting millions of pirated e-book titles.

The decision comes as a Senate Committee is due to submit its final report next week on site-blocking legislation in Australia, which would allow copyright holders to force Australian ISPs via the courts to block copyright infringing websites such as these.

The decision means Britain’s  five major ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – will be asked to block seven offshore-hosted websites within 10 working days.

The sites – AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre, Ebookee, Freebookspot, Freshwap and LibGen – are currently accessible in Australia and host download links to full copies of e-books, including from best-selling Australian authors such as Tim Winton and Fiona McIntosh.

If passed, the federal government’s Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, currently before the House of Representatives, would allow Australian publishers to apply through the courts to block “online locations” which facilitate piracy of content such as films, TV series, e-books and news articles.

. . . .

Other parties, such as consumer rights group CHOICE, have called site-blocking “demonstrably ineffective”, arguing that determined pirates can circumvent blocked sites with the aid of tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs). They also argue the costs of administering site-blocking will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

. . . .

The British High Court case marks the first time e-book publishers have sought an order forcing ISPs to block access to infringing sites.

The British Publishers Association said about 80 per cent of the 10 million or so titles hosted on the websites named in the case – and in some cases as much as 90 per cent – were found to be infringing copyright.

Publishers had already issued 1 million take-down notices relating to infringing material on the sites, the association said.

Link to the rest at Sydney Morning Herald

Publishers win landmark case against ebook pirates

27 May 2015

From The Financial Times:

British publishers have won their first ever blocking order against pirate ebook sites, as the battle over online copyright spreads beyond music and film.

A ruling by the High Court in London means that internet service providers, such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky, have 10 days to block access to the sites, which are hosted in Russia and the US.

The book industry has been less affected by piracy than music labels, thanks partly to the early development of a legal market in ebooks by Amazon. But piracy has nonetheless become a “huge issue” that is “particularly problematic in some genres, such as student textbooks”, researchers at Enders Analysis wrote last year.

. . . .

“Between them the sites purport to hold around 10,000,000 ebook titles and have been making substantial sums of money, primarily through referral fees and advertising,” said the Publishers Association, which represents publishers including Penguin Random House, part-owned by Pearson, parent company of the Financial Times. “None of this money has been going back to either the publisher or the author(s) of the works.”


Link to the rest at The Financial Times and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

FT is behind a paywall, but if the link doesn’t work you might try copying the title of this post (which is the title of the FT article) and pasting it into a Google search. That may give you a working link to the article.

Medium adds Creative Commons licensing for writers

7 May 2015

From The Verge:

Writing platform Medium is following the lead of services like Flickr and Vimeo and introducing Creative Commons copyright options for its authors. As of today, writers will be able to select between a variety of licenses that go beyond the standard “all rights reserved,” letting readers republish, translate, or otherwise remix their work. It’s partly a concrete attempt to expand the reach of Creative Commons, and partly an attempt to educate people about the range of options between traditional copyright and the public domain.

“Copyright is everywhere. It’s on everything, from the minute you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard,” says Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley. “That means that we’re all copyright holders, whether we want to be or not.” But “even simple sharing under permissive terms is not easy,” he says. By default, copyright can cover a wide (and sometimes confusing) range of potential uses, some of which creators might not actually want to restrict — like a fan translating a blog post into another language.

There are six Creative Commons licenses, which range from only asking for attribution to barring commercial use and derivative works; users can also choose to release their work from copyright altogether. Existing Medium articles, meanwhile, will default to standard copyright protection. “We explicitly put in a description of what the licenses mean,” says Jamie Talbot of Medium. “Part of this is about educating the public that ‘all rights reserved’ is not the only option, and that there are these specific ways that you can give some freedoms to other people.”

. . . .

Individual authors could say that they’re using any of these licenses with or without Medium’s help. But creating a built-in option on other services has helped turn them into Creative Commons hubs. Flickr’s straightforward licensing options, for example, have made it a source of free, high-quality stock photos. Fiction platform Wattpad includes Creative Commons licensing as an option for its writers. Several other sites, like Wikipedia, have also incorporated the Creative Commons framework. “Ideas are most useful when they’re built upon and combined with others, and stories live through being reinterpreted, retold, modified, embellished,” says Talbot. “I think the Commons is a little-understood, but very valuable part of our culture, and we want to enable and be a part of that as much as we can.”

Link to the rest at The Verge and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Amazon Prime Video at 35,000 Feet

5 May 2015

From the Amazon Media Room:

Amazon and JetBlue today announced that they will bring unlimited, on-demand entertainment to airline travel later this year through JetBlue’s free high-speed Fly-Fi broadband internet, the industry’s fastest complimentary inflight internet service, to create an unmatched entertainment experience in the sky.

The collaboration will enable Fly-Fi for Amazon Prime members to instantly access tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including exclusive Amazon Original Series such as Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Bosch, at no additional cost to their membership. In addition, all JetBlue customers will be able to rent or purchase hundreds of thousands of titles in the Amazon Instant Video store, including new-release movies and day-after TV programming, over the free broadband internet.

“We want to provide the best digital video experience to our customers and we’re excited that, with JetBlue, we will raise the bar in airline entertainment,” said Michael Paull, Vice President of Digital Video at Amazon. “We’re thrilled that Fly-Fi technology will give Prime members and customers unlimited, on-demand access to the full catalog of titles from Amazon’s digital video library while they’re in the sky—without the need to rush to download one more episode or movie before taking off, we’re helping make airline travel more enjoyable.”

Fly-Fi uses satellite technology to give customers internet speeds that feel like what they have at home or work. Amazon and JetBlue worked together to ensure that the inflight entertainment system met the premium experience expected by customers when streaming movies and TV episodes from Amazon. Access to Amazon’s entertainment library will be built into the JetBlue Fly-Fi Hub, giving customers instant access to watch titles from Amazon on their laptops, Fire devices, iPhones, iPads and Android phones and tablets—no pre-flight download needed. JetBlue’s free Fly-Fi broadband internet will be available on all of JetBlue’s Airbus A321 and A320 aircraft this year, and on JetBlue’s Embraer E190 aircraft in 2016.

“Just like at home, customers will be able to access movies and TV shows from Amazon from 35,000 feet in the sky over our super-fast and free Fly-Fi,” said Jamie Perry, Vice President, Brand and Product Development, JetBlue.

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

It occurred to PG that some of the companies and individuals that own rights to movies and television shows didn’t realize that granting the right to display video over the internet included showing it at 35,000 feet in an airplane.

Major music association calls Grooveshark’s death an ‘important victory’ for artists

2 May 2015

From Business Insider:

Grooveshark was one of the first online services that let you play almost any song you wanted, on demand, with no restrictions.

It closed down Thursday and it won’t be coming back, according to a statement on the web site.

The site shut down as part of a legal settlement with copyright holders — the artist, publishers, and music labels who owned the rights to a lot of the music on the service.

. . . .

In its early days, a lot of the music on Grooveshark was not licensed. Users were uploading the songs, not the company itself, but that argument has been tested on other services, like Napster, and so far it’s never held legal water.

Link to the rest at Business Insider and thanks to Dennis for the tip.

Green party plan to limit copyright attacked by writers and artists

23 April 2015

From The Guardian:

The Green party may be forced to backtrack on its proposals to limit UK copyright terms to 14 years after a howl of protest from prominent writers and artists including Linda Grant, Al Murray and Philip Pullman.

The Greens’ manifesto said the party aims to “make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible” with the party’s policy website saying it would “introduce generally shorter copyright terms, with a usual maximum of 14 years”. Representatives of the party said on Thursday that length could be revised after a consultation.

Kate Pool, deputy chief executive of the Society of Authors, said it would be an “appalling injustice” and that artists and writers would be first to lose out under the proposal, with more money being made by manufacturers or distributors.

“It could lead to all sorts of unfairness, and I can’t see how it’s in any way ‘green’,” Pool said. “Writers are human beings, and they deserve to be able to earn a living. After 14 years, the only person making money would be those producing the physical copy of the work, not the person who created it.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Simon for the tip.

Goebbels estate sues Random House Germany

20 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

The estate of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister for propaganda during the Second World War, is suing publisher Random House Germany for using an extract from his diaries.

The biography Goebbels, published in Germany in 2010 under the Siedler imprint, is by Peter Longerich, professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway University. Random House did not pay a fee to the Goebbel’s estate, run by Cordula Schacht, for using the diary extracts.

. . . .

Rainer Dresen, general counsel of Random House Germany, told the Guardian the publisher does not want to pay, saying: “We are convinced that no money should go to a war criminal.” When first contacted by Schacht, he “did not want to believe that anyone can claim royalties for Goebbels’ words”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Author Suing Joss Whedon, Claims Cabin In The Woods Is Based On His Book

16 April 2015

From io9:

The Cabin in the Woods was one of the most original takes on the “kids encounter scary things in the woods” story that we’ve seen in ages, but one man is claiming that it’s not original at all. Author Peter Gallagher is suing the filmmakers, claiming that the film is infringing on his 2006 novel The Little White Trip: A Night In the Pines.

. . . .

It’s hard to say how profound these similarities are without reading the book (it’s available for free as an ebook through Scribd), but Gallagher’s complaint lists two dozen side-by-side, including similarities between some of the names. In The Little White Trip, for example, the female characters (one blonde, one brunette) are named Jules and Dura and they visit a cabin called “Brinkley house.” In The Cabin in the Woods, the female characters (one blonde, one brunette) are named Julie and Dana and they visit a cabin called “Buckner house.” In both books, the five protagonists receive a dire warning before arriving at the cabin, rummage through the cabin’s storage area, drink and flirt, and are subsequently terrorized by murderous forces.

Link to the rest at io9 and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

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