Copyright/Intellectual Property

Faith-Based Intellectual Property

7 April 2019

From IP Kat:

I have a running list of disciplines and the things they have ruined for me. Biology ruined zoos, law ruined logic, economics ruined hope etc.  Recently, I’ve been making a foray into sociology, which so far seems to be ruining things in social contexts. Which is basically everything.

The problem, or perhaps solution, with sociology is that it’s annoyingly right. “Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life.” It can explain what the forces are behind legal systems that are theoretically racially blind but in practice are biased. It asks questions as to whether ‘high culture’ really exists, or is it simply a self-re-enforcing class marker. It looks at the assumptions and social contexts behind it. And then does it to itself. As I said, very annoying.

Sociology is increasingly turning its sharp eye to law. Full disclosure, my dabbling in sociology can be seen in a new book, written together with two sociologists, on the how IP/IPR shape the creative sociological views of IP, and particularly those of patenting, are scarce. Existing research examines the myths surrounding IP and its strong symbolic role. Economic and legal approaches to IP tend to ignore this symbolic factor.

Sociology places the development of IP as part and parcel of the development of capitalism. Capitalism requires private owners; owners must own things. As we increasingly turn our attention to the idea of the ‘knowledge economy’, IP has become a key part of modern capitalism. As authors Mathew David and Deborah Halbert describe in their book, “Owning the World of Ideas” (highly recommended as an overview of sociological perspectives of IP), the increased regulation of IP has been accompanied by an increased deregulation of labour. The result is that IP has become ever more concentrated into the hands of capitalism’s high temple – the corporation. As the authors put it, “IPRS are social conventions that regulate access and use of the products of the human mind to promote/balance particular interests and must be studied as such.”

Capitalism also frames property rights as ‘natural’, when they are in fact defined socially. ‘You wouldn’t steal a car’ rings slightly better than ‘you wouldn’t infringe the socially-defined property rights of another.’ The ‘natural’ perpetual property rights in the physical world have become the benchmark against which ‘artificial’ rights like IP are judged.

. . . .

A recent paper by law professor Dan Burk may ruffle your patent feathers. In “The Sociology of Patenting,” Burk unpacks Mark Lemley’s 2015 controversial essay, “Faith-Based Intellectual Property.” Lemley argues, “Rather than following the evidence and questioning strong IP rights, more and more scholars have begun to retreat from evidence toward what I call faith-based IP, justifying IP as a moral end in itself rather than on the basis of how it interacts with the world.”

Link to the rest at IP Kat

The basis for IP law in the United States is Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, “Powers of Congress”. One of the enumerated powers is:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

The “Necessary and Proper” clause at the end of Section 8 may also come into play for the protection of intellectual property:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

While drafting this clause, the drafters of the Constitution were undoubtedly influenced by the British Statute of Anne, passed in 1710. Under this Statute, copyright term lasted 14 years plus an optional renewal of 14 additional years.

French copyright law originated as a “right to publish” rather than an author’s right and was originally a privilege granted by the monarch. The first privilege granted in France was given by Henri II in 1551 to Guillaume Morlay, his lute player.

PG suggests that this enumerated power and laws protecting intellectual property passed thereunder have been beneficial for both the progress of science and the arts (more and less useful) in the United States.

Mercedes Sues Artists over Eastern Market Murals

4 April 2019

From The Detroit News:

Mercedes-Benz USA has filed lawsuits against four artists, seeking a federal judge’s ruling that its use of their outdoor Detroit art in Instagram posts in 2018 did not infringe on their copyrights.

In January 2018, the company posted to Instagram photos of the Mercedes G 500. The photos were shot in Detroit, three of them in Eastern Market, which had been beautified in recent years with more than 100 murals as part of its Murals in the Market program.

The lawsuits, filed Friday, claim that a year after the Instagram post, artists Daniel Bombardier, James “Dabls” Lewis, and Jeff Soto and Maxx Gramajo threatened copyright infringement lawsuits against the company.

Jeff Gluck, attorney for the four artists, said Monday in a statement that “if courts were to adopt Mercedes’ argument, it could destroy artists’ rights for thousands of important and beautiful public works of art,” because companies “would be free to use and exploit murals to sell their products, without needing to compensate the artists or even ask their permission.”

Mercedes deleted the post from Instagram, the suit says, “as a courtesy.”

“Nonetheless,” the lawsuit against Lewis reads, “Defendant’s attorney continued making threats against (Mercedes), claiming that (he) desires to ‘expose'” the company, and would use the discovery process to unearth information other people could use to sue Mercedes, and “tell a jury that (Mercedes) made $80 million selling the G series truck, in an effort to wipe out (its) revenue from sales of the G series.”

. . . .

Eastern Market was one of four sites where Mercedes got still photography and B-roll permits to shoot action shots of its vehicle; the others were Belle Isle, the Motown Museum and the Russell Industrial Center, according to the lawsuit.

. . . .

Gluck went on to say that “Mercedes’ actions could intimidate artists into not wanting to make any artwork outdoors for fear that companies will use their work without permission, and we must not let that happen.”

And officials with Murals in the Market say the copyright to the murals is owned “100%” by their creators.

“We stand firm that the copyright of the artwork always belongs to the artist, unless the artist decides otherwise,” Roula David, executive festival director for the Murals in the Market program, said in a statement.

Link to the rest at The Detroit News, which includes a copy of one of the photos taken by Mercedes.

PG is of two minds about public art and the ownership of copyrights on art created on the exterior of buildings.

On the one hand, he believes creators should be compensated for the reproduction of their copyright-protected work.

On the other hand, when the art is visible to the general public, as in a public sidewalk and/or public street, he thinks third parties should be able to take photos or make videos of the street that include the art as part of the urban scene. (Full disclosure – PG is an amateur photographer. Perhaps “very amateur” would be a better description.)

By way of illustration, here is a photo of a barn on the Gifford Homestead, now part of Capitol Reef National Park near Fruita, Utah. (click on the photo for a larger version via Wikimedia Commons).

Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey

As you can see, the barn and road and red rocks make for an attractive image. The barn, built in about 1908, is inside the boundaries of the national park, so no modifications of the structure are likely to be permitted by the National Park Service.

However, as a hypothetical, let’s assume the barn is on private land with the boundary of the national park just beyond the curve in the road.

Let us further assume that, with the consent of the owner of the barn, a street artist of great fame paints a work of art and is the owner of the art.

By painting the barn, is it reasonable for the artist to claim that any photo of this scene violates the artist’s copyright? If Mercedes takes a photo of this scene with one of its vehicles on the highway, should the company be obligated to compensate the artist for her/his work? How about if PG takes a vacation photo of this location?


Who Owns the News? a History of Copyright

3 April 2019

From The IP Kat

Who Owns the News? A History of Copyright is the work of a historian, lawyer and novelist combined. With this book, Will Slauter takes us back to eighteenth-century Britain and America to retrace the development of censorship, regulation and copyright in news publishing. Whether you are a keen copyright historian or merely interested in contemporary debates about journalism, this book is for you.

. . . .

“Who Owns the News ?” delivers an account of the complex ways in which copyright emerged as a tool to control and claim agency over the news by authors, publishers and politicians. In doing so, the author stresses that copyright has only been one of many influences over the way by which ‘ownership’ has been claimed in news publishing.

Slauter describes how copyright was preceded and often superseded by a myriad of other regulations, conventions and practices specific to the trade of printing the news. The book also stresses that the relationship between the press and early copyright regulations was deeply context-sensitive. Consequently, the impact of copyright on the news industry played out very differently in Britain and the United States.

. . . .

Another central theme of the book is the changing attitudes within the news British and American news industries regarding “copying” content and protecting “exclusivity”. Speaking of news publication in Britain, Slauter describes how reprinting was, at first, a means to maintain anonymity and disguise authorship. The author writes

 some planted stories or mislabelled sources in an attempt to advance political financial goals, while others cherish the ability to assume a depersonalised voice in debates about culture, society, and government 

In short, “copying not only enabled the news to spread – it also facilitated commentary and analysis” .

. . . .

Moving to late eighteenth century America, Slauter depicts how the social and professional status of news editors evolved, and the extent to which their status reflected the fact that copying was an integral part of news publishing. As the printed press developed, news editors began to be seen and known as “scissors Editors”, as they would recycle publications by cutting, re-arranging and pasting content for republication by literally using scissors.

. . . .

In early America, the practice of copy/paste in news publishing went hand in hand with the exchange of copies between newspapers, whereby newspapers would share and exchange copies with each other to enable their republication in other journals. This practice saved newspapers the time and costs of re-typing and re-editing content (p. 89-91), enabling the news to be spread across the country more easily. A downside of these practices of “scissor editing” and copy exchange is that it sometimes muddled the source of the information.

Link to the rest at The IP Kat

‘Morally, Harvard Has No Grounds’: Inside the Explosive Lawsuit That Accuses the University of Profiting from Images of Slavery

29 March 2019

From ArtNet News:

A thorny lawsuit making its way through the courts pits Harvard University against a woman who claims she is the direct descendant of slaves depicted in several 19th-century daguerreotypes owned by the school’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

In a case filed on March 20 in a Massachusetts court, Tamara Lanier is asking for Harvard to hand over the daguerreotypes, which were first rediscovered in a box at the Peabody Museum in 1976, and to pay damages and “other legal and equitable redress” to be determined by a jury. According to the lawsuit, Harvard has been behind a “decades-long campaign to sanitize the history of the images and exploit them for prestige and profit.” No monetary amount or estimation of the school’s profit is cited.

The case has already sparked intense debate and raises complicated legal and ethical questions about the ownership of cultural property, particularly against the backdrop of the United States’s long and shameful history of slavery.

The pictures have a sordid history. They were made at the behest of Louis Agassiz, a Swiss researcher and one of Harvard’s leading scientists, as part of his quest to “prove” black people’s “inherent biological inferiority and thereby justify their subjugation, exploitation, and segregation,” according to Lanier’s suit.

The subjects of the 1850 daguerrotypes are a man known as Renty and his daughter, Delia, both of whom were enslaved in South Carolina. At Agassiz’s orders, Renty and Delia were “stripped naked and forced to pose… without consent, dignity, or compensation,” according to the lawsuit. Lanier says Harvard is squarely to blame for the situation, since it elevated Agassiz to the highest echelons of academia and steadfastly supported him as he sought to legitimize the myth of white superiority.

“Seeing those images over and over again out in the world is damaging,” says Jessie Morgan-Owens, a professor at Bard Early College in New Orleans. “These images inculcate racism—that’s what they are for.”

. . . .

The lawsuit is a legal and ethical minefield. Should Harvard hand over the daguerreotypes, as Lanier had been requesting for years prior to filing the suit? Do the pictures serve as a reminder of a heinous history and thus require institutional context? Or do they simply reify the abhorrent policies they were created to justify in the first place?

artnet News asked a bevy of lawyers and art historians to weigh in on this complicated case. There’s one thing they all agreed on: that this unprecedented lawsuit raises far more questions than it answers.

“Legally, what seems to me to be the most compelling issue is, which law will the courts apply?” asked art lawyer Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. “Will they apply the laws of 1850, or will they apply current law?” 

Further complicating matters is the fact that typically, enslaved people were unable to legally own property or images of themselves unless their owners allowed it, says Brenda Stevenson, Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in History at UCLA.

“Even then, an enslaved person’s ‘property’ could be contested by one of their owner’s legal heirs, unless a slave’s right to own this property was very particularly protected by legal documentation that could hold up in court,” she says.

. . . .

“My initial reaction is that I’m sorry this case is in a court, which is an adversarial proceeding in which one party must win and one party must lose,” Stephen K. Urice, a professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law, told artnet News. “The ethical issues are profound and really need frank discussion. I would have been much happier to see if the plaintiffs and her attorneys could have opened Harvard to a broader dialogue, though it seems Harvard wasn’t open to that.”

But other institutions have already been making headway in involving the descendants of slaves in their missions. James Madison’s Montpelier, the plantation home of the fourth US president, has a volunteer archaeology program in which descendants can help recover artifacts, says Jennifer Van Horn, professor of art history and history at the University of Delaware. “I think that we can take a cue from plantation museums like James Madison’s Montpelier.”

Still, the question remains: what will Harvard do?

“Morally, Harvard has no grounds to withhold the return of these images to a family member,” Stevenson says. “France has decided to return art stolen from Africa during its colonial domination of parts of that continent. Other European countries have done so—to a limited extent—in the past. Why shouldn’t African Americans be able to claim images of their ancestors when these images were taken under force of punishment? These reparations need to be made.”

Link to the rest at ArtNet News

PG notes that the wrong done in this matter happened well over 150 years ago, in 1850 when the photos were commissioned, and the victims have been dead for at least 100 years. Renty and Delia cannot be compensated for the wrongs that were done to them. Any monetary compensation under the present claim will be paid to individuals who have never been slaves.

Would it be more equitable to utilize any monetary penalties imposed on Harvard to compensate those in Africa and the Middle East who are presently enslaved or have themselves been slaves? If we are demonstrating our disgust that slavery has ever existed, why not fight the slavery we can do something about?

PG notes another problem with this claim – If the photos themselves are terribly offensive and embody the great harm slavery did to Renty and Delia, should they simply be destroyed? If the plaintiff in this case and others have experienced material emotional damage from seeing these photographs, would not others similarly situated be spared such damage if the photos were simply destroyed so they can do no more harm. Are these photos to be regarded as equivalent to toxic waste, for which the solution is a clean-up?

If the photos should be preserved as a record to teach important lessons about the horrors of slavery to generations yet unborn, how can they best be preserved and displayed with appropriate explanations of the history of slavery to those unborn generations?

PG is no expert on the preservation of old photographs but does know photographs can be harmed by light, humidity, mold, improper temperatures and the surfaces upon which they lie during storage (photos should never be stored vertically). With no disrespect intended toward the plaintiff in this matter, PG suggests that Harvard, which has already successfully preserved these photos and other historic artifacts for a very long time and possesses an enormous endowment that will enable it to do so in the future, is much more likely to be able to protect the photos than any individual can.

While PG understands the plaintiff in this case relies upon stories passed down orally about a slave ancestor named Renty, he understands Renty was not an unusual name in the United States during this time period.

PG performed a quick search on, a free online genealogical database, and discovered over one million records for individuals named Renty born in the United States between 1810 to 1850, a date range that would probably have included records for the Renty in the photos.

(PG cites the results of his research in the preceding paragraph only to show there were a large number of persons named Renty who would have been alive when the photos in question were made. PG notes that most slaves did not have their births recorded in government records in the Southern states, but after the Civil War, marriage and death records for former slaves would have been kept. Additionally, The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands AKA the Freedmen’s Bureau was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865. The Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen who were formerly slaves, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. As a byproduct of its activities, The Freedmen’s Bureau created, collected and preserved extensive records identifying former slaves.)

In addition to the probability that the Plaintiff in the lawsuit is not descended from the Renty in the photos, but rather from one of the many other Renty’s from that period, there is also an additional problem.

Is the plaintiff in the lawsuit against Harvard the only living descendant of Renty and/or Delia?

The answer is almost certainly no.

Assuming that Renty and/or Delia and his/her descendants had children and their children had children, etc., there are likely hundreds of descendants other than the Plaintiff. Are the other descendants properly represented? If the Plaintiff receives any money from Harvard, will the other descendants receive their portion? Will Harvard face additional suits based on the photographs from other descendants of Renty and Delia?

One of the characteristics of civil suits by the heirs of a deceased person is that courts are very interested in locating all of the heirs. There are a variety of reasons for this, including those mentioned above. Additionally, if one heir wants to sue for an obligation allegedly owned to the decedent and the other five other heirs don’t because they believe there is no obligation or for some other reason, can the single heir take the suit forward in the face of such opposition? Is the single heir entitled to ask the court to award him/her the entire obligation or just 1/6th of the obligation?

Back to the living heirs of Renty and Delia.

According to a New York Times article in 2010, when Yitta Schwartz, a faithful Satmar Hasidic Jew who survived four years in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II, died at the age of 93, the number of her descendants attending the funeral was impressive.

Mrs. Schwartz “left behind 15 children, more than 200 grandchildren and so many great- and great-great-grandchildren that, by her family’s count, she could claim perhaps 2,000 living descendants. . . . Her descendants range in age from a 75-year-old daughter named Shaindel to a great-great-granddaughter born Feb. 10 named Yitta in honor of Mrs. Schwartz and a great-great-grandson born Feb. 15 who was named Moshe at his circumcision on Monday. Their numbers include rabbis, teachers, merchants, plumbers and truck drivers.”

If Mrs. Schwartz, who was born in 1916, ended with 2,000 descendants in less than 100 years, one might conclude that Renty and Delia also have a great many heirs who are not involved in the lawsuit.

Another account of the lawsuit reported that the Plaintiff was seeking a judgment awarding her the copyright to the photos. A couple of points:

  1. When a photographer creates a photo of a model, the photographer owns the copyright, not the model. Absent some sort of written contract between the photographer and the model granting the model rights in the photograph, the model has no claim to ownership. If a news reporter takes a photo or makes a video of a group of 50 protesters on the street, the protesters are not the owners of any rights to the photos or video and the reporter can transfer rights to the images to a newspaper or other publisher free of any obligation to compensate, credit or otherwise deliver anything of value to the protesters.
  2. PG is not an expert on the provisions of US copyright laws in the mid-19th century, but, to the best of his knowledge, copyrights have always been of limited duration. Article I. Section 8, Clause 8, the “Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution” states: [The Congress shall have power] “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” (Emphasis added). After the expiration of the term of copyright, the previously-protected material goes into the public domain free of any claims the creator might once have held on an exclusive basis. Any rights Renty and Delia may have once held to the photos (along with the rights of the photographer who made the photos) disappeared as a matter of law many, many years ago.

According to Wikipedia, “Lawfare is a form of war consisting of the use of the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them, tying up their time or winning a public relations victory.”

PG is pretty certain, the claims being made to the photos of Renty and Delia by an heir, real or pretend, fall under the classification of racial lawfare.


Baby Shark Copyright Attack

25 March 2019

From American University Intellectual Property Brief:

If you have been around any children or active on social media, you may be familiar with “Baby Shark.” Pinkfong, a South Korean company, released an English version of Baby Shark two years ago, which after going viral recently, has garnered about 2.2 billion views.

Baby Shark was so popular that the conservative Liberty Korea party used the song during their campaigns for local elections. SmartStudy, the start-up behind the Pinkfong brand, threatened to sue the Liberty Korea party for copyright infringement. The Liberty Korea party then brandished an email from Johnny Only, a musician that had his own version of Baby Shark. Only said the song is public domain and anyone could use it.

“The wheels in my head start turning,” said Only. “If Pinkfong’s song is so close to mine that they can’t even tell the difference, and Pinkfong tries to claim copyright infringement against their version when the political party is using my version, doesn’t that mean that my version also has copyright protection?”

Soon after, Only filed for damages against SmartStudy, claiming that the Pinkfong version is too similar to his 2011 song. Only said that the Pinkfong version of Baby Shark had the same key, same tempo, same melody, and same rhythm.

On the face of it, Baby Shark seems to be a reproduction of Only’s version with slight changes. However, Only said that Baby Shark was a traditional song that has been passed down orally in summer camps for generations. “Baby shark is as old as fairy tales. It is as old as the spoken tradition,” said Only. The song uses folk music techniques to allow the singer to improvise and adapt its lyrics to excite and engage children.

Link to the rest at Intellectual Property Brief

PG feels he should issue some sort of trigger warning, but is not certain whether it should be for excessive mawkishness or earworm potential.

“A Loaf of Bread”, the Walrus Said, “Is What We Chiefly Need”, but Did He Remember Ip?

23 March 2019
Comments Off on “A Loaf of Bread”, the Walrus Said, “Is What We Chiefly Need”, but Did He Remember Ip?

From IPKat:

Given its ubiquity, “bread” is remarkably ill-defined. Simply put, bread is a baked food made of flour. According to Merriam-Webster, bread is “a usually baked and leavened food made of a mixture whose basic constituent is flour or meal” [Kat Question: What is the difference between bread and pastry?]. Bread may or may not contain yeast, may be risen or flat, and may be baked, steamed (e.g. bao), fried (e.g. injera, mchadi) or boiled (e.g. Knedlíky) . Bread can even come in a tin (Boston bread).

The chemical processes involved in bread making are complex. Particularly, bread making methods are highly dependent on the choice of flour (e.g. wheat, rye, spelt, teff etc.) and leavening agent (e.g. sourdough culture or dried yeast). Typically, the process of making bread involves growing a yeast starter culture, adding the culture to a mixture of flour and water to make a dough, fermenting the dough for 4-12 hours, shaping the dough into a loaf, allowing the dough to rise and baking the loaf.

The typical loaf of bread can take half a day to 3 days to produce, longer if you count fermentation of the yeast starter culture. Bread baking can also involve considerable manual labour, for example, in the kneading of the dough. Bread is also a staple source of carbohydrate in many cultures. Considerable bread-tech innovation has therefore been directed to reducing the time and effort required to bake bread.

. . . .

Where to begin if not with one of the most famous inventions of all time. In 1932, the USPTO granted the first patent directed to a bread slicing machine in the name of Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa. The patent (US 1,867,377) was directed to a bread slicing machine having a frame and a series of continuous cutting bands mounted thereon. In contrast to the prior art (e.g. knives), the machine facilitated the slicing of “an entire loaf of baked bread in a single operation”. The invention of the bread slicing machine apparently led to such an increase in bread consumption that there was a brief ban on sliced bread during the second world war, in order to conserve the steel used to make the slicing machines.

. . . .

Bread making often requires the step of “kneading” the dough. Kneading is defined as “to work and press into a mass with the hands”. Kneading stretches or activates the gluten in the dough. As any aspiring bread baker will tell you, kneading dough can be hard work. The process of bread baking is considerably sped up by the use of an electric kneading machine. The most well-known of these machines is the KitchenAid, for which KitchenAid were granted a US patent in 1935 (US 1988244). These machines, however, have their own problems. As the aspiring bread maker will also tell you, it is common for your bread dough to get twisted around the central kneading tool, or stuck on the sides of the bowl. If this happens, the dough may not be worked uniformally. Additionally, if your bread dough is too stiff, the kneading machine motor can overheat.

Recently granted EP3187050 relates to a machine for “domestic use for the preparation of dough for bread”. The movement of the kneading arm is purported to ensure a maximum mixing and blending action of the entire mass of dough. Pending application EP3420821 claims a kneading machine that prevents the dough winding around the central tool.

The labour of bread baking may still be too much for some. EP1670316 seeks to take all the effort out of home-baked bread. The claims (recently maintained in opposition) are directed to a disposable food packaging that can withstand temperatures of up to 300ºC, and includes the necessary ingredients for making the bread. As outlined in the description, use of the packaging has the great advantage that “baking does not include greasing of the baking-tin, dishwashing and cleaning of the table etc. after baking”.

. . . .

Unlike “bread”, “French bread” is a well (and legally) defined substance. Decree No. 93-1074 defines traditional French bread as having the characteristics of being 1) composed exclusively of wheat, water and salt, 2) fermented with baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and sourdough, and containing no or only very small amounts of bean, soy or wheat malt flour. The Board of Appeal found in T 1393/10 that tinkering with the ingredients of French bread can be non-obvious. The case concerned the inventiveness of a patent directed to a process for making French sourdough bread with improved flavour. Claim 1 was directed to a method for making bread dough comprising the addition of a specified range of dry leaven (e.g. yeast) to the dough. The selected range was found to be obvious in view of the prior art. However, an auxiliary request including the step of adding bran to the bread (contrary to the legal requirements for French bread) was found non-obvious. The Board reasoned that a skilled person would be afraid to add the high amounts of bran specified in the claim to French-style bread, as they would worry that the bran would compromise the taste.

Link to the rest at IPKat


Anti-Piracy Service Blasty Is Back Online After a Week’s Downtime

23 March 2019

From The Digital Reader:

Since 2015 Blasty has been offering an anti-piracy service where they automatically scanned the web for pirated copies of an author’s work and gave authors the option of automatically sending DMCA notices with a single click.

That all changed last week when the service inexplicably went silent.  The site went down, and no one was answering emails.

. . . .

Now that the website has been restored, they will have the option of canceling their service. Since we currently have no word as to whether Blasty is still scanning for pirated content, they might be wise to do so.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG has used Blasty for some time to track down illegal copies of Ms. PG’s ebooks and automatically send takedown notices.

After checking on results for the first few weeks, learning there are a billion piracy sites and viewing Blasty’s reports of responses to its takedown notices, other than noting Blasty’s periodic reports of its activity, PG dropped Blasty into his “check on it every few weeks” mental container.

As Nate indicates in the OP, Blasty seems to be back in operation, but Nate’s report brought to mind the many, many services and software-as-a-service operations that take a small nip at his business credit card every month.

Since he’s a big-picture guy, in some cases, it has taken PG some time to realize that he’s paying for things he’s no longer using via a business credit card. In some cases, the service he’s paying for has a different name than the billing provider for that service.

He’s wondered whether cancelling his current business credit card and beginning to use a different business card, adding the services he is really using might be one way of cleaning things out. He is certain all of the various service providers will promptly contact him within the following thirty days.

Group Registration for Unpublished Works

22 March 2019

From The Copyright Alliance:

Last week, the U.S. Copyright Office launched a new group registration option for unpublished works. Many creators previously used the “unpublished collection” option to register these unpublished works. If you are one of those creators, pay close attention because this new group registration option has replaced the unpublished collection registration option.

. . . .

On March 15, the U.S. Copyright Office introduced the new group registration, allowing a copyright owner to register up to 10 unpublished works in one application, for a single fee. In the case of sound recordings, the Office will allow up to 10 sound recordings to be registered along with the 10 underlying works—i.e., musical compositions, literary works, or dramatic works—for a total of twenty works in one application. So for example, if you’re a singer/songwriter who wants to register 10 of your songs, you can register all 10 of the sound recordings along with the 10 underlying musical compositions (lyrics, arrangement, etc.). If you’re a literary author, you can register your 10 novels along with the 10 audio book recordings of those novels. This assumes, of course, that all of these works are unpublished at the time the group registration application is submitted.

. . . .

To be eligible to use this new group registration option, there are a few requirements that must be met:

1. All the works registered using this group registration must have the same creator (or creators).

2. The creator(s) must also be named as the copyright “claimant.”

3. All the works registered must be the same type of work (literary works, visual works, sound recordings, performing arts works, or audiovisual works). Note that there’s a special exception (discussed above) that allows sound recordings to be registered along with literary works, musical works, or dramatic works, so long as those works are embodied in the accompanying sound recordings.

4. All of the works must be “unpublished.” Whether a work is considered “published” or “unpublished” can be a tricky. Click here for more information about how to determine whether your works are “unpublished” and qualify for this group registration.

. . . .

It’s a good idea to register your works with the Copyright Office as early as possible—i.e., before they are ever published or made available to others—in order to maximize the benefits of registration. For example, if you wait too long and your unpublished work is infringed before you’ve registered it, that work becomes ineligible for statutory damages or attorney’s fees in court.

Link to the rest at The Copyright Alliance

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