A campaign group is hoping to change Finland's stringent copyright legislation by taking advantage of a law that means any petition that reaches 50,000 signatures must be voted on in the country's parliament. The group is called 'Commonsense in Copyright'. UPDATE
*** UPDATE: The remix was reinstated on January 10th, following significant negative media attention directed towards Lionsgate as a result of the spread of Jonathan's story (posted 48 hours before).***
More than three years ago, American remixer extaordinaire, Jonathan McIntosh uploaded 'Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed' to his YouTube channel. The remix went on to be hugely successful, spreading virally to over 3 million views, featuring widely in online media and even winding up as part of academic curricula around the world. But perhaps its crowning achievement was being screened at the official DMCA exemptions hearings held by the US Copyright Office in summer 2012 and being noted as a clear-cut example of fair use (specifically, an example of 'transformative non-commercial video work') by experts in the field.
However, the legal eagles at Lionsgate have recently had the video removed from YouTube, because, they claim, it infringes on the copyrights Lionsgate holds that protect the Twilight movies (from which McIntosh sampled 1 minute and 48 seconds of footage). Having personally been through the YouTube counter-notice appeals process myself (dealing with copyright infringement notices from the BBC, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox for video remixes I made, albeit prior to the introduction of YouTube's monetisation strategy), I was relatively familiar with the process, but was fascinated to read Jonathan's in-depth blow-by-blow account of Lionsgate's absolute abuse of copyright law in relation to uploaded videos on YouTube.
In summary, McIntosh first received a notice in October on his YouTube channel claiming that some or all of his video "matched third party content". I teach web media and most of my students upload their work to YouTube channels - in recent months, I've noticed a worrying increase in the number of 'matched third party content' notices that have been applied to my students' channels. In most cases, it's because they have included a small sample of a song to enhance an animation or video they've been working on and for this they do not get penalised, but rather, like in Jonathan's case, YouTube places ads beside or overlaid on top of the videos and the revenues go to the copyright holders when people click them (presumably).
Naturally enough, Jonathan didn't want ads for 'Nordstrom's fall fashion' line appearing over his video (which critiques gender stereotypes in popular culture) and in addition, such a third party content match stops the video from playing on mobile devices, a huge loss of potential viewers (20% of YouTube views come from mobile devices). Jonathan filed a dispute claim on grounds that the remix video was an example of fair use (using YouTube's automatic counter-claim facility) but received a rejection of the dispute from Lionsgate within 24 hours. At this point, Jonathan sought legal advice and then submitted an appeal to the reinstatement of Lionsgate's claim of copyright infringement, again using YouTube's automated process (this second round of appeals did not exist when I went through the process in 2008), accompanied by a 1,000 word detailed legal argument outlining how and why Buffy vs Edward is an example of Fair Use.
A month later, YouTube sent a message on behalf of Lionsgate stating that they had withdrawn their copyright infringement claim. But later that day, they launched a fresh copyright claim on the video. According to YouTube, Lionsgate's first claim was for infringement of 'audiovisual content administered by Lionsgate' (the claim that was released), however the second claim was (confusingly) for infringement of 'visual content administered by Lionsgate'. Patiently, Jonathan went through the process again. He filed a fair use dispute counter-claim (which was again rejected by Lionsgate within 24 hours) and then filed an appeal against the reinstated claim using the same 1,000 word legal argument and waited for a response. Lionsgate obliged with an early Christmas present for McIntosh on 18th December, this time rejecting the appeal and having the video permanently deleted from YouTube. Well played Lionsgate! If at first, you don't succeed...
To make things worse, Jonathan was now locked out of his YouTube account, had a copyright infringement strike placed on his channel and was (rather hilariously) forced to attend YouTube's copyright school and take a pop-quiz on fair use before he could access his account again. You couldn't make it up. If there's anyone who knows more about fair use than Jonathan McIntosh, I haven't met him. Rightly worried and concerned, Jonathan had his lawyers contact the relevant people at Lionsgate who filed the copyright claims and discovered something deeply disturbing (which is why I felt compelled to write and share this as widely as possible). Lionsgate's representative on this, Matty Van Schoor from a company called 'MovieClips' (that manages Lionsgate's clips on YouTube), stated that if Jonathan had agreed to allow ads to appear with the video, they would have left it online, but because he disputed and appealed this, they were "left with no other option than to remove the content".
This is a very worrying development for anyone who makes use of the Fair Use provision in U.S. copyright law, especially remixers like Jonathan and others like him. In this case, instead of respecting a clear-cut example of Fair Use, Lionsgate and YouTube have effectively ignored the Fair Use provision, instead suggesting that copyright holders should have total control to 'allow' people to remix their content, as long as they can profit from it (and remove videos if they choose). The problem here is that in cases of fair use, permission does not have to be sought from copyright holders. Of course, fair use is not a right, it is merely a legally defensible position, and it is a difficult task to determine whether a specific example is fair use or not. However, in this case, this argument does not apply, as this particular video was quite clearly cited as an example of fair use by the U.S. Copyright office, no less!
Following further advice from his lawyers, Jonathan filed an official DMCA Counter-Notification against Lionsgate, which gives them 14 days to reinstate the video, or else sue Jonathan for copyright infringement. Let's hope they choose to reinstate it, but from what we have seen and heard so far, I'm not so sure they will. Thanks to Jonathan for sharing his story and now, for your viewing pleasure, may I present 'Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed'...(reuploaded elsewhere on YouTube by a fan!)
Or you can download an MP4 of the video from here: www.rebelliouspixels.com UPDATE
Join us at 8pm, October 22 2010 at the Ed Video Gallery, Ontario, Canada for an evening of remix madness! In association with Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ed Video Media Arts Centre and Total Recut.
A crazy night of absolute and total video, recut to suit the sensibilities of those in control of the signals. Lots of projections, sounds created with visuals, and millions of pixels.
October 22, 2010 -
8pm to Late -
Ed Video Gallery - 40 Baker St, Guelph
Google-owned YouTube won a major victory Wednesday when a federal judge ruled the video-sharing site was protected under U.S. copyright law.
Viacom, which vowed an appeal, was seeking $1 billion in damages in a case testing the depths of copyright-infringement protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
The ruling, if it survives, is a boon for internet freedom, especially as it applies to search engines, video-hosting companies, picture-hosting services like Flickr, social-networking sites like Facebook and micro-blogging services such as Twitter. But it will make it all the more difficult for rights holders to protect their works.
In short, Wednesday’s decision says internet companies, even if they know they are hosting infringing material, are immune from copyright liability if they promptly remove works at a rights-holder’s request — under what is known as a takedown notice.
“Today’s decision isn’t just about YouTube,” said Center for Democracy & Technology lawyer David Sohn. “Without this decision, user generated content would dry up and the internet would cease to be a participatory medium.”
U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton of New York disagreed with Viacom’s claims that YouTube had lost the so-called “safe harbor” protection under the DMCA. Viacom, parent of Paramount Pictures and MTV, maintained Google did not qualify, because internal records showed Google was well aware its video-hosting site was riddled with infringing material posted by its users.
Stanton ruled that YouTube’s “mere knowledge” of infringing activity “is not enough.”
“To let knowledge of a generalized practice of infringement in the industry, or of a proclivity of users to post infringing materials, impose responsibility on service providers to discover which of their users’ postings infringe a copyright would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA,” the judge wrote.
Stanton ruled that YouTube had no way of knowing whether a video was licensed by the owner, was a “fair use” of the material “or even whether its copyright owner or licensee objects to its posting.”
Stanton added, “Indeed, the present case shows that the DMCA notification regime works efficiently: When Viacom over a period of months accumulated some 100,000 videos and then sent one mass takedown notice on Feb. 2, 2007, by the next business day YouTube had removed virtually all of them.”
Jonathan Band, a copyright attorney who helped craft the DMCA, said “The argument Viacom was making would have neutered the DMCA. I think the judge understood that.”
The DMCA, which was heavily lobbied into existence by the Hollywood studios, has been a boon for internet freedom. But it has been a bust in other areas.
Among its provisions, it prohibits the circumvention of encryption technology. DVDs are encrypted with what is known as the Content Scramble System, and DVD players must secure a license to play discs. So a San Francisco federal judge ruled in March that RealNetworks breached the DMCA when it marketed a DVD-copying device, and precluded it from the market. Apple also claims the DMCA makes it unlawful to jailbreak iPhones.
The Motion Picture Association of America declined comment on Stanton’s decision.
What’s more, the DMCA’s “safe harbor” privilege comes with another price. The law demands intermediaries such as YouTube to take down content in response to a notice from rights holders, without evaluating the claim for reasonableness or accuracy, or considering the fair use rights of users. That has opened the door to many abuses of free expression, including Universal Music’s 2008 takedown notice to YouTube over a Pennsylvania woman’s 29-second video of her toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
The YouTube-Viacom decision came nearly a year after a Los Angeles federal judge ruled similarly in a case against little-known, video-sharing site Veoh, which has gone bankrupt. The difference between Wednesday’s ruling and the Veoh outcome, Band said, is that YouTube is mainstream, used by millions daily and is owned by one of the world’s most popular and richest internet brands: Google.
Google, which purchased YouTube for $1.8 billion in 2006, hailed the decision, saying it was “an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other.”
Viacom, which brought the case three years ago, said “We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”
Judge Stanton ruled the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision against Grokster did not apply. He said Grokster distributed software that allowed computer-to-computer exchanges of infringing material, “with the expressed intent of succeeding to the business of the notoriously infringing Napster.”
Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/dmca-protects-youtube/#ixzz0rm2hJqPaUPDATE
[via zeropaid.com by Jared Moya] This ruling paves the way for copyright holders to obtain court orders to force ISPs to block other sites they accuse of copyright infringement.
Denmark’s Supreme Court has ruled that ISP Telenor must continue to block customers’ access to Swedish BitTorrent tracker site The Pirate Bay.
In its ruling The Supreme Court emphasizes the importance of “the large-scale infringement of intellectual property rights” that takes place through The Pirate Bay website, and stresses that the right holders have a “substantial interest that is important to protect” in bringing this infringement to a halt.
“The court’s decision is commendably clear. It confirms that the ISP’s are part of the solution to the piracy problem,” says the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) lead attorney, Johan Schlüter. “The decision is an important step in the right holders’ efforts to create an efficient market for movies, music and literature on the Internet. It is crucial to the continued growth and success of the legal services that the illegal services are restricted as much as possible.”
The decision follows a years-long court battle that began with an initial lower court ruling back in February of 2008 where a judge found that Telenor, then Tele2, was assisting in the facilitation of copyright infringement by allowing its customers to access the site.
“The communication with the Pirate Bay is not in itself a violation of copyright,” countered Jens Ottosen-Stott, chairman of TI, the Danish telecom industry, and Danish Telia’s Legal Director at the time. “We make communication possible for our subscribers, then have others to take a position on whether it is illegal or not, and intervene. It is not our job.”
The decision means that perhaps other sites that the IFPI accuses of copyright infringement could find themselves suddenly blocked by the Denmark’s ISPs.
“The consequence may be that there will be a major push by the IFPI’s of the world to attempt to have similar websites blocked,” said Nicholai Kramer Pfeiffer, Telenor’s Regulatory Chief.
And he’s he right. Now that the IFPI has managed to block The Pirate Bay it will pretty much have free reign to have any other site blocked that it accuses of copyright infringement.
“Freedom of expression is at risk and at this rate will ultimately destroy the internet as we know it,” says Troels Møller, spokesperson for Piratgruppen, a non-partisan group supporting file-sharing,
free speech and privacy, in a press release.
Danish IT experts, though you don’t have to be an expert to know it only takes seconds to bypass any ISP-level site blocking system, have also criticized the ruling, and are concerned that the number of blocked sites will slowly grow over time.
“It’s a slippery slope,” said Mikkel Svendsen deMib. “And when the people maintaining these lists find out that it still doesn;t restrict their access to The Pirate Bay or some of the many other BitTorrent sites, they will go after additional measures.”
The IFPI realizes that people will still be able to access the site, and doesn’t seem to care. It thinks the real message of the ruling is that illegal downloading is harmful to society. It also won’t say what sites are next, but says that the ruling now gives it the power to go after any site it sees with “systematic copyright violation.”
Could Google be next? UPDATE
The 2010 Open Video Conference (OVC) has posted a call for participation. The deadline is June 7th, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST:
"We are now accepting proposals for panels, presentations, workshop sessions, demo sessions, and other programming for the next Open Video Conference in New York City. Join us and over 1000 participants during our groundbreaking two-day conference and take part in the discussions that are driving the future of the online video medium."
They say that there are two things you should never see made: laws and sausages. As a tiny group of MPs debated the Digital Economy Act this week, the stomachs of an online audience turned.
This was an Act passed on the votes of hundreds of MPs who didn't even attend those debates and proposed by politicians whose correspondence showed a lack of understanding of even the most basic terms used in the debate.
This law should never have been passed. Regardless of your view on whether copyright infringing websites should be blocked or infringing users cut off from the internet, this was no way to pass such a controversial and sweeping piece of legislation.
It was subjected to the 'wash up' process, a pre-election rush-through designed to pass uncontroversial, uncontested Bills before Parliaments dissolve. It is not meant for a law like this one.
This is a law which will introduce powers that could see households or coffee shops disconnected from the web on accusations of file-sharing and internet service providers forced to block access to websites that are deemed likely to infringe copyright. Nobody knows how these powers will be used because the detail is unwritten.
It is a powerful law, one that rules on some fairly basic digital rights and has potentially massive implications for citizens and businesses alike.
Yet very few MPs turned up for the hurried debates. Far more turned up afterwards, just to vote it through.
The debates were watched live online and silently heckled by thousands of Twitter users, many of whom were witnessing the strange operation of the Parliamentary machine for the very first time. They named and shamed the MPs who did not show; they accused most speakers of failing to understand all things digital; they applauded the law's most informed critic, Labour's Tom Watson, who was tweeting from the backbenches; and they vented their frustration at being unable to stop the machine. Perhaps these feelings will be reflected in ballot boxes on 6 May.
MPs from all parties acknowledged that the Bill was faulty yet they pledged their support for its passage. Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt called it "a weak, dithering and incompetent attempt to breathe life into Britain's digital economy." But Hunt voted for it. He said that if the Conservatives come to power, his party will fix any problems with the Bill, "if it turns out that the legislation is flawed." That is not the way to make a law.
Whether you supported the Act's principles or not, they are undeniably significant. It deserved proper debate and proper scrutiny but it received neither. It should not have been passed.
An article in The New Republic by Lawrence Lessig...
In early 2002, the filmmaker Grace Guggenheim--the daughter of the late Charles Guggenheim, one of America’s greatest documentarians, and the sister of the filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who made An Inconvenient Truth-decided to do something that might strike most of us as common sense. Her father had directed or produced more than a hundred documentaries. Some of these were quite famous (Nine from Little Rock). Some were well-known even if not known to be by him (Monument to a Dream, the film that plays at the St. Louis arch). Some were forgotten but incredibly important for understanding American history in the twentieth century (A Time for Justice). And some were just remarkably beautiful (D-Day Remembered). So, as curator of his work, Grace Guggenheim decided to remaster the collection and make it all available on DVD, which was then the emerging platform for film.
Her project faced two challenges, one obvious, one not. The obvious challenge was technical: gathering fifty years of film and restoring it digitally. The non-obvious challenge was legal: clearing the rights to move this creative work onto this new platform for distribution. Most people might be puzzled about just why there would be any legal issue with a child restoring her father’s life’s work. After all, when we decide to repaint our grandfather’s old desk, or sell it to a neighbor, or use it as a workbench or a kitchen table, no one thinks to call a lawyer first. But the property that Grace Guggenheim curates is of a special kind. It is protected by copyright law.
Documentaries in particular are property of a special kind. The copyright and contract claims that burden these compilations of creativity are impossibly complex. The reason is not hard to see. A part of it is the ordinary complexity of copyright in any film. A film is made up of many different creative elements--music, plot, characters, images, and so on. Once the film is made, any effort at remaking it--moving it to DVD, for example--could require clearing permissions for each of these original elements. But documentaries add another layer of complexity to this already healthy thicket, as they typically also include quotations, in the sense of film clips. So just as a book about Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Jonathan Alter might have quotes from famous people talking about its subject, a film about civil rights produced in the 1960s would include quotations--clips from news stations--from famous people of the time talking about the issue of the day. Unlike a book, however, these quotations are in film--typically, news footage from CBS or NBC.
Whenever a documentarian wanted to include these clips in his film, he would ask CBS or NBC for permission. Most of the time, at least for a healthy fee, CBS and NBC and everyone else was happy to give permission so as to be included. Sometimes they wanted to see first just how the clip would be used. Sometimes they would veto a particular use in a particular context. But in the main there was a healthy market for securing permission to quote. The lawyers flocked to this market for permission. (That’s their nature.) They drafted agreements to define the rights that the quoter would get.
I suspect that most filmmakers never thought for a second about how odd this “permission to quote” was. After all, does an author need to get permission from The New York Times when she quotes an article in a book about the Depression? Indeed, does anyone need permission from anyone when quoting public statements, at least in a work talking about those statements? Ordinarily, one would think that this sort of “use” is “fair,” under the rules of copyright at least. But most documentarians--indeed, most filmmakers--did not care to work through the complexity and the uncertainty of a doctrine such as “fair use.” Instead they agreed to licenses that govern--exclusively, as they typically asserted--the rights to use the quotes that were in the film. So, for example, the license would insist that the only right to use the film came from the license itself (not fair use). And it would then specify the scope and term of the right--five years, North American distribution, for educational use.
What that agreement means is that if the filmmaker wanted to continue to distribute the film after five years, he would have to go back to the original rights holder and ask for permission again. That task may not sound so difficult if you think about one clip in one documentary. But what about twenty, thirty, or more? And even assuming that you can find the original holders of the rights, they now have you over a barrel--as the owners of the famous series Eyes on the Prize discovered. Jon Else, the producer and cinematographer for the series, described the problem in 2004 (extraordinary efforts have now resolved it):
[The series] is no longer available for purchase. It is virtually the only audiovisual purveyor of the history of the civil rights movement in America. What happened was the series was done cheaply and had a terrible fundraising problem. There was barely enough to purchase a minimum five-year rights on the archive-heavy footage. Each episode in the series is fifty percent archival. And most of the archive shots are derived from commercial sources. The five-year licenses expired and the company that made the film also expired. And now we have a situation where we have this series for which there are no rights licenses. Eyes on the Prize cannot be broadcast on any TV venue anywhere, nor can it be sold. Whatever threadbare copies are available in universities around the country are the only ones that will ever exist. It will cost five hundred thousand dollars to re-up all the rights for this film.
As American University’s Center for Social Media concluded, “rights clearance costs are high, and have escalated dramatically in the last two decades,” and “limit the public’s access” to documentary film. The consequence of this ecology of creativity is that the vast majority of documentaries from the twentieth century cannot legally be restored or redistributed. They sit on film library shelves, many of them dissolving, since they were produced on nitrate-based film, and most of them forgotten, since no content company or anyone else can do anything with them. In this sense, most of these works have been made orphans by a set of agreements concluded at their birth, which--like lead in gasoline--were introduced without any public recognition of their inevitable toxicity.
Except of course for those with a devoted heir, such as Grace Guggenheim. She was not willing to accept defeat. Instead she set herself the extraordinary task of clearing all of the rights necessary to permit her father’s films to be shown. Eight years later, she is largely done. About ten major works remain. Just last year, her father’s most famous documentary--Robert Kennedy Remembered, made in 1968 in the two months between Kennedy’s assassination and the Democratic National Convention, and broadcast only once--was cleared for DVD release through the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center.
READ FULL TEXTUPDATE
[from IDG News Service, via SFGate.com, San Francisco Chronicle]
New rules to be introduced by government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned.
On Thursday opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules -- which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply and prevent the replay of copyright material -- as a threat to freedom of expression.
"The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions," opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.
Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet "of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound," requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.
"Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea," said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita.
The decree was also condemned by Articolo 21, an organization dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech as enshrined in article 21 of the Italian constitution. The group said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.
The group launched an appeal Friday entitled "Hands Off the Net," saying the restrictive measures would mark "the end of freedom of expression on the Web." The restrictions would prevent the recounting of the life of the Italians in moving pictures on the Internet, it said.
The decree was also criticized by Nicola D'Angelo, a commissioner in the Communications Authority, which would be likely to play a role in policing copyright violations under the new rules. The decree ran contrary to the spirit of the EU directive by extending the rules of television to online video material, D'Angelo said in a radio interview.
He also expressed concern at the requirement for government authorization for the uploading of videos to Internet. "Italy will be the only Western country in which it is necessary to have prior government permission to operate this kind of service," he said. "This aspect reveals a democratic risk, regardless of who happens to be in power."
Other critics described the decree as an expression of the conflict of interests of Silvio Berlusconi, who exercises political control over the state broadcaster RAI in his role as prime minister and is also the owner of Italy's largest private broadcaster, Mediaset.
They said the new copyright regulations would prevent Internet users from sharing snippets of popular TV shows or goals from the Italian soccer league, currently viewed online by millions of people.
Mediaset has successfully sued YouTube to obtain the removal of its copyright material, in particular video from the reality show "Big Brother," from the online video-sharing platform. A judge in a Rome civil court ordered the removal of the material last month, and the new decree is seen as providing further protection for Mediaset's online commercial interests.
Alessandro Gilioli, who writes a blog on the Web site of the weekly magazine L'Espresso, said the decree was intended to squelch future competition for Mediaset, which was planning to move into IPTV and therefore had an interest in reducing the number of independent videos circulating on the Web.
"It's the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That's why anyone doing Web TV -- even from their attic at home -- must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations," Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.
Paolo Romani, the deputy minister responsible for drafting the decree, insisted the text simply adopted the recommendations of the EU directive but said the government was prepared to discuss modifications. The decree did not intend to restrict freedom of information "or the possibility of expressing one's ideas and opinions through blogs and social networks," Romani told the ANSA news agency.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/01/15/urnidgns852573C400693880002576AC005FDFB0.DTL#ixzz0cmnAfgd3 UPDATE
From November 28th until December 5th, the Leuven International Short Film Festival will be hosting a free expo called "Mashup the Tube," featuring remixes like Kutiman's Thru-You videos, various trailer mashes, and entries in the Total Recut remix challenge. UPDATE
A source close to the British Labour Government has just given me reliable information about the most radical copyright proposal I've ever seen.
Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson -- or his successor in the next government) the power to make "secondary legislation" (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).
What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright. Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:
1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a "three-strikes" plan that costs entire families their internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)
2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to "confer rights" for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)
3. The Secretary of State would get the power to "impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement" (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright "militias" can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)
Mandelson is also gunning for sites like YouSendIt and other services that allow you to easily transfer large files back and forth privately (I use YouSendIt to send podcasts back and forth to my sound-editor during production). Like Viacom, he's hoping to force them to turn off any feature that allows users to keep their uploads private, since privacy flags can be used to keep infringing files out of sight of copyright enforcers.
This is as bad as I've ever seen, folks. It's a declaration of war by the entertainment industry and their captured regulators against the principles of free speech, privacy, freedom of assembly, the presumption of innocence, and competition.
This proposal creates the office of Pirate-Finder General, with unlimited power to appoint militias who are above the law, who can pry into every corner of your life, who can disconnect you from your family, job, education and government, who can fine you or put you in jail.
More to follow, I'm sure, once Open Rights Group and other activist organizations get working on this. In the meantime, tell every Briton you know. If we can't stop this, it's beginning of the end for the net in Britain. UPDATE
"Here's a 20-minute, must-see lecture on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement -- the secret copyright treaty currently being negotiated, which stands to fatally wound all user-generated content sites from mailing lists to YouTube; which stands to criminalize kids for noncommercial file-sharing; which stands to put your internet connection in jeopardy if anyone in your house is accused of infringement, and much, much more." UPDATE
"The Advisory Board claimed it commissioned the research from a team of academics at University College London, who it transpires got the 7m figure from a paper published by Forrester Research.
The More or Less team hunted down the relevant Forrester paper, but could find no mention of the 7m figure, so they contacted the report's author Mark Mulligan.
Mulligan claimed the figure actually came from a report he wrote about music industry losses for Forrester subsidiary Jupiter Research. That report was privately commissioned by none other than the music trade body, the BPI...
The 7m figure had actually been rounded up from an actual figure of 6.7m. That 6.7m was gleaned from a 2008 survey of 1,176 net-connected households, 11.6% of which admitted to having used file-sharing software - in other words, only 136 people.
It gets worse. That 11.6% of respondents who admitted to file sharing was adjusted upwards to 16.3% "to reflect the assumption that fewer people admit to file sharing than actually do it." The report's author told the BBC that the adjustment "wasn't just pulled out of thin air" but based on unspecified evidence." UPDATE
"People accused of breaking copyright over the internet will have their internet connections cut off under tough new laws to be proposed by the UK government today. The decision is noteworthy since it was ruled out by the government's own Digital Britain report in June as going too far. The Open Rights Group believes the government is breaking its own consultation guidelines by bring in the proposals in the way they have and asks people to write to their MPs."
"Yet again, we see knee-jerk reactions and policy swerves, this time in direct contravention of the government's own consultation guidelines. Those guidelines are there for a reason: to make sure government policy is balanced and considered. We will be making a formal complaint.
The result of these proposals is likely to be protest, challenges and public arguments in the run-up to the General election. Popular movements in France, Sweden and elsewhere have kick-started over similar measures.
That will do nobody any good, neither politicians nor rights-holding industries, as copyright's reputation suffers further damage.
Copyright is under threat: from heavy handed business lobbying and simplistic enforcement proposals." -[The Open Rights Group] UPDATE
From PiratePartyUK - "Now the party can really start. It's time for us to tell the world that we exist, to recruit members, raise funds and gear up to fight the General Election. The officers and web team have built the framework that the party needs to get going, now it's time for YOU to make things happen. Join the party, tell the media about the party,tell your friends about the party, take part in policy and news debates on the forum, join our Facebook group, donate or set up a regular payment to provide financial support, set up a branch in your constituency, school or workplace, join the specialist workings groups for members with key skills like lawyers and journalists and volunteer to take part in canvassing and campaigning in your constituency at the general election..." UPDATE
On July 20, 2009, Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore launched the first Canadian public consultation on copyright policy since 2001. The consultation, which runs until September 13, 2009, provides Canadians with an exceptional opportunity to have their voice heard on the future of copyright law in Canada. I launched SpeakOutOnCopyright.ca as a platform to give people information and tools to participate in the consultation. The site includes my short response to the consultation, dozens of posts and videos on Canadian copyright law, and a Take Action page that "highlights the ways individual Canadians can speak out on copyright.
Citing copyright concerns, YouTube has deleted the audio from a hosted video that depicts the Internet meme "Keyboard Cat" showing up in a vintage TV after-school special and then embedded in the foreground of the '80s-era music video for the song "You Make My Dreams" by pop duo Daryl Hall and John Oates. It was an extremely awesome match, because the musical feline fit into the minimalist Hall & Oates video a little too well.
The audio appears to have been deleted on behalf of music label Warner Music Group. "This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG," a message adjacent to the video read. "The audio has been disabled."
The Keyboard Cat-Hall & Oates video was getting popular, with over 375,000 views on YouTube in fewer than two months and press from blogs like the AOL-owned Urlesque, so it's not quite clear whether WMG was alerted to the video directly or if the sound was pulled because an audio fingerprinting technology trawled through it.[by Caroline McCarthy, CNET News]
Image search on Google has just become a bit easier and a little less scary: Google officially launched the ability to filter search results using Creative Commons licenses inside their Image Search tool. Searches are also capable of returning content under other licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation License, or images that are in the public domain. [boingboing.net] UPDATE
After scoring a surprise electoral win in Sweden and getting high-profile support in Germany, The Pirate Party's next port of call may be Canada, where a so-far small band of buccaneers are hoping to send copyright restrictions to Davy Jones's locker.
Right now, they're a handful of loosely-organized individuals spread across the country. But they want to become an official federal political party within the next few years and get enough support to persuade Parliament to relax proposed copyright laws they say are heavy-handed and a violation of personal privacy.
"I think one of the roles a party like The Pirate Party can play is to more or less stiffen up the spines of people who might be in the NDP or the Liberals who want to get this stuff done," said Rob Sutherland, a freelance computer programmer in Regina who is one of the organizers of the Canadian group.
The Pirate Party was little-known anywhere in the world until earlier this year, when the four founders of The Pirate Bay, a Swedish torrent tracker site that helped people find and download movies, music and software, were fined millions of dollars and sentenced to jail.
The verdict created a public backlash and, almost overnight, membership in the Swedish Pirate Party more than doubled. In June's European Parliament elections, the party took 7.1 per cent of the vote in Sweden - enough for its first seat.
There has been a similar surge of support in Germany, where lawmaker Joerg Tauss recently quit the Social Democrats, one of the country's governing parties, and offered to join the fledgling Pirate Party of Germany.
The party's goals are fairly simple. It says people should have the right to share and copy music, movies and virtually any material, as long as it is for personal use, not for profit. (Canadian Press) UPDATE
Bob Blankenheim has only posted a single remix to the internet, but man…
Over 9 million youtube views so far. What was it about this remix that excited so many viewers? There were lots of other trailer mashes hitting the internet thanks to Robert Ryang’s Shining. But most trailer mashes focus on modifying the moods and premises of Hollywood advertisements--- Blankenheim’s remixed Titanic trailer goes way beyond this.
Probably you’ve already seen this remix. If you haven’t, go watch it now. Anyway I’ll try not to spoil it.
The remix trailer has more than a premise; it has a plot in which nearly every Hollywood trope converges against the protagonist. It’s a brilliantly insightful and hilarious parody of not only Titanic, but the whole supercharged drama business of Hollywood production and promotion (it uses clips from 23 different films).
Blakenheim has put a “director’s commentary” version of the video on his website– click here to go watch it if you feel like being blown away a 2nd time. You’ll get details on the CG and editing tricks he used in the remix. They’re seamless and lots of them are quite elaborate, but the creativity with which Blankenheim applies the simpler effects is equally impressive. I’m thinking in particular of two different effects he applies to a single closeup – one of them is during the “warm liquid goo phase….”
It’s been a few years since the Titanic sequel, but Bob Blankenheim’s involvement in the Open Video Conference tells us that he hasn’t lost interest in remixing. If/When he releases another video, I expect you’ll be hearing about it.
Tasman Richardson has been working with appropriated footage since the 90s and the “Jawa” style he developed has been adopted and imitated by a significant number of VJs and video artists. He works with potent sounds and images from commercial culture, which he cuts into small fragments and rhythmically reassembles.
Richardson’s remix methods are rigorous and quite specific – designed to evoke a distinct emotional reaction from viewers. Jawa videos follow set standards regarding the number of frames that can be used in different cuts. There's also rules on how clips of particular durations should be combined. The clips are arranged rhythmically, but the visual and musical impact of the work are always operating simultaneously – neither ever takes priority over the other. In a Jawa video, the images you see are always accompanied by their original audio sources.
Click here if you'd like to read Richardson's
Jawa manifesto, which outlines his remixing influences and principles.
As you watch a Jawa video it becomes impossible to mentally organize all of its rapid stimulus. Powerfully familiar images from mass culture replace each other so quickly that your brain gives up trying to sort them into any kind of narrative logic. The unrelenting rhythms and flashes of audiovisual stimulus create an overwhelming and numbing effect that is very hard to describe. Maybe it’s like watching your house burn down with fireworks going off in the background.
Aside from being made completely of appropriated footage, Pogo's movies fit very nicely into the "music video" tradition. They function to highlight and accompany his amazing musical tracks, which he composes out of samples usually taken from popular children's movies -- Harry Potter, The Secret Garden, Mary Poppins... In several tracks, Pogo will take small acapella bits from the films and rearrange them into entirely new melodies. The fragments of words and instruments build and ebb into engaging and haunting songs, with both the polished flow and dynamics of an accomplished DJ and a sense of that strange magic some of us might have felt when we were little children, sitting at the TV on our livingroom carpets and soaking in all the hypnotizing stimulus of our first disney films.
Pogo mixes his movie sources with varying amounts of other samples and beats, but he also makes songs like "Mary's Magic," which is 100% composed of sounds from the movie "The Secret Garden." The track for Pogo's popular "Alice" video is 90% composed of the sounds from "Alice in Wonderland." Pogo typically chooses a single movie as the source material for his respective tracks and music videos.
Once Pogo shifts to filmmaker mode, he rigorously arranges his visuals to draw in the viewer: he hits us with short clips of the images that correspond with his audio sources, he adjusts the speed of other scenes to fit the beat, he plays with jump cuts, repetition, he builds little variations by rotating or resizing the frame. Pogo uses an exhaustive range of video editing techniques to build a hypnotizing effect that seems well-suited for someone with such a solid musical background. And it obviously doesn't hurt that he often chooses such richly colorful movies as sources for his remixes.
Given that this trio of editors has chosen to give themselves the name "Wreck & Salvage," it's not surprising to find their body of work repeatedly raising the question of how we get value out of all the video footage that floods our lives. The sources W&S draw from are as varied as the internet: corporate news and commercials, internet memes, ephemeral daytime television, propaganda, archive footage, and plenty of amateur video, be it from youtube kids or soldiers serving in Iraq. Their artistic priorities are just as diverse: their Eadweard Muybridge tribute celebrates and explores the awkward magic of moving images; their "Saturday Morning" mix drives home the stifling forcefulness of ultra-bright, fast cutting, relentlessly mercenary children's programming; and the group doesn't mind putting together a quick detournement now and then to take the piss out of some of the more absurd excesses of right-wing propaganda (see "NOM: Gathering Gay Storm; SUPPENDAPO" for a recent example). W&S edits all this footage to look for ways to make it useful, either politically, socially, artistically, or all of the above.
All three members of W&S are comfortable with nearly any digital editing technique you could think of. But perhaps their most important contribution to online remixing is what they've accomplished with "farming" for footage. Some of their most powerful remixes are made up of extensively researched footage collections organized around various themes or subject matter: Club Iraq combines a large number of amateur video clips from soldiers in the Iraq war to give us a powerful and disturbing picture of the culture of military occupation; their Mt. Rushmore remix collects amateur video of the monument and traces the diverse motivations for getting your own personal recording of an image you could find on a million postcards; "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" builds a montage of soloists, amateur and professional, who appear in sequence and together sing the whole song. These exploratory remixes take the impulses of obsessive video-bin hunters and combine them with a movie editor's insight to sculpt raw footage into rich, rewarding videos. These guys advertise themselves as Wreckers and Salvagers, and they make good on that promise.
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party and the international politicized pirate movement, talks about the rise and success of pirates, and why pirates are necessary in today's politics. He'll also outline the next steps in the pirates' strategy to change global copyright laws.
The fight against copyright aggression tends to focus on economic aspects of the shift to a networked economy. Rick explains how this conflict is much more important than that: the fight against the copyright regime is about the right to fundamental civil liberties - down to the postal secret, whistleblower protection, freedom of the press, etc. UPDATE
The Pirate Party has won a huge victory in the Swedish elections and is marching on to Brussels. After months of campaigning against well established parties, the Pirate Party has gathered enough votes to be guaranteed a seat in the European Parliament.
When the Swedish Pirate Party was founded in early 2006, the majority of the mainstream press were skeptical, with some simply laughing it away. But they were wrong to dismiss this political movement out of hand. Today, the Pirate Party accomplished what some believed to be the impossible, by securing a seat in the European Parliament.
With 99.9% of the districts counted the Pirates have 7.1 percent of the votes, beating several established parties. This means that the Pirate Party will get at least one, but most likely two of the 18 (+2) available seats Sweden has at the European Parliament.
When we asked Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge about the outcome, he told TorrentFreak: “We’ve felt the wind blow in our sails. We’ve seen the polls prior to the election. But to stand here, today, and see the figures coming up on that screen… What do you want me to say? I’ll say anything”
“Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it,” Falkvinge said. “This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance,” he added. UPDATE
The ill-advised Design Piracy Prohibition act will potentially stifle creativity among independent designers in the American fashion industries. If a young designer is coming up with some new designs, if it is decided that these designs are too similar to other fashion designs produced by large corporatations, the young designer will find themselves litigated out of business. The trade-off in this scenario is too great. It's the same old story - large corporations get greater control and protection over existing designs, but designers find themselves restricted by a legal noose around their neck which results in less innovation and risk-taking for fear of being sued. The knock on effect for the general public / consumers is that there will be less innovative designs on the market.
Having said that, the benefits of such a law and the reasons being bandied around are that it is being brought in to prevent counterfeit knock-offs (often produced in China) that tend to hit US stores before the original designs and for a fraction of the price. Fashion designs are protected by copyright in many European countries, and the counter-argument goes that creativity has not been stifled in these countries but counterfeiting has been relatively deterred. Certainly room for debate...
"Under this legislation, however, designers will need to consult with a lawyer throughout the design process to ensure that every new design created could not subjectively be found at a later date to be "closely and substantially similar" to one protected in the Copyright registry...
Further, young, up-and-coming designers would be susceptible to legal intimidation from designing anything new at all, as they would likely not have the resources to fight a legal challenge in court...
While the bill purports to keep all fashion designs that have existed in the past free and open for all to use, the legislation would allow the ability to copyright non-original design elements in the public domain if arranged in an original way.
Moreover, since there is no test for originality, the registry will begin to be populated with designs that from the public domain. Thus, a designer who draws upon inspiration from the public domain, can easily find himself/herself stuck in costly litigation. UPDATE
EFF Launches 'Teaching Copyright' to Correct Entertainment Industry Misinformation
New Curriculum Gives Students the Facts About Their Digital Rights and Responsibilities
San Francisco - As the entertainment industry promotes its new anti-copying educational program to the nation's teachers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched its own "Teaching Copyright" curriculum and website to help educators give students the real story about their digital rights and responsibilities on the Internet and beyond.
The Copyright Alliance -- backed by the recording, broadcast, and software industries -- has given its curriculum the ominous title "Think First, Copy Later." This is just the latest example of copyright-focused educational materials portraying the use of new technology as a high-risk behavior. For example, industry materials have routinely compared downloading music to stealing a bicycle, even though many downloads are lawful, and making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal even though many such videos are also lawful. EFF created Teaching Copyright as a balanced curriculum encouraging students to make full and fair use of technology that is revolutionizing learning and the exchange of information.
"Today's tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "They need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world."
The Teaching Copyright curriculum is a detailed, customizable plan that connects students to contemporary issues related to the Internet and technology. Teaching Copyright invites discussion about how creativity is enabled by new technologies, what digital rights and responsibilities exist or should exist, and what roles students play as users of technology. The website at www.teachingcopyright.org includes guides to copyright law, including fair use and the public domain.
"Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior."
The Teaching Copyright curriculum was developed with the input of educators from across the U.S. and has been designed to satisfy components of standards from the International Society for Technology in Education and the California State Board of Education.
Learn more about Teaching Copyright:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Free Software Pact is a citizen initiative to coordinate a European scale campaign in favour of Free Software. We will provide material and software to any volunteer who want to contribute to the initiative.
What are the objectives of the Free Software Pact?
The Free Software Pact is a simple document with which candidates can inform the voting public that they favor the development and use of Free Software, and will protect it from possible threatening EU legislation. The Free Software Pact is also a tool for citizens who value Free Software to educate candidates about the importance of Free Software and why they should, if elected, protect the European Free Software community.
Who made this possible?
Since 2007, French association April has sensitized candidates to political elections about Free Software related issues through the Candidats.fr initiative. The Candidats.fr initiative was part of the presidential and legislative campaigns in 2007, and continued during the 2008 campaign for city and department elections. Today 72 signatories are members of the French National Assembly.
Associazione per il software libero started the campaign "caro candidato" in 2006. The campaign was first updated in occasion of the 2008 political elections and further in 2009 in occasion of the Sardinia regional elections. Joining forces was a natural step for the 2 free software associations that offer their technological platform to allow the spreading of the campaign in other european nations. UPDATE
Pater Jaszi, professor of Law at the American University in Washington is one of the founders of the Digital Future coalition, an important organisation that has been attempting to reach a balance between content owners and user interests since the DMCA was first proposed and subsequently enacted.
The Digital Future Coalition (DFC) is committed to striking an appropriate balance in law and public policy between protecting intellectual property and affording public access to it. The DFC is the result of a unique collaboration of many of the nation's leading non-profit educational, scholarly, library, and consumer groups, together with major commercial trade associations representing leaders in the consumer electronics, telecommunications, computer, and network access industries. (Click here for a list of our members.) Since its inception, the DFC has played a major role -- domestically and internationally -- in the ongoing debate regarding the appropriate application of intellectual property law to the emerging digital network environment.
The DFC was forged in 1995 in response to the release of the Clinton administration's White Paper on Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure. The White Paper recommended significantly altering existing copyright law to increase the security of ownership rights for creators of motion pictures, publishers and others in the proprietary community. Members of the DFC recognized that if the policy proposals delineated in the White Paper were implemented, educators, businesses, libraries, consumers and others would be severely restricted in their efforts to take advantage of the benefits of digital networks.
In 1995-96, Congress debated legislation (NII Copyright Protection Act) to implement the changes listed in the White Paper. This legislation ultimately stalled as the 104th Congress closed in the fall of 1996, in part because the DFC and other concerned parties helped to demonstrate that the bill did not provide for adequate balance between ownership and access rights, and a domestic consensus did not yet exist on how to update copyright law.
In addition to its domestic legislative and policy efforts, representatives of the DFC and its members attended a December 1996 conference of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that was called to revise the primary international copyright treaty -- the Berne Convention -- for the digital age. The DFC worked to ensure that any agreements reached during the conference did not limit existing rights provided for under U.S. copyright law, and did not affect the ability of the United States to establish new rights to benefit the public interest. The DFC successfully participated in the creation and adoption of agreements that explicitly recognized the need to protect copyright owners, encourage information distributors, and assure public access to information.LINKUPDATE
The Center for Social Media at the American University of Washington have put together this little video explaining the previously released Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, which we have mentioned on the blog before. Hoping to see many more of these in the future.
Here's the press release from the AU:
American University’s Center for Social Media and AU Washington College of Law's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, in collaboration with Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project, are launching a new video explaining how online video creators can make remixes, mashups, and other common online video genres with the knowledge that they are staying within copyright law.
The video, titled Remix Culture: Fair Use Is Your Friend, explains the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, a first of its kind document—coordinated by AU professors Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi—outlining what constitutes fair use in online video. The code was released July 2008.
“This video lets people know about the code, an essential creative tool, in the natural language of online video. The code protects this emerging zone from censorship and self-censorship,” said Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media and a professor in AU's School of Communication. “Creators, online video providers, and copyright holders will be able to know when copying is stealing and when it’s legal.”
Like the code, the video identifies six kinds of unlicensed uses of copyrighted material that may be considered fair, under certain limitations. They are:
• Commenting or critiquing of copyrighted material
• Use for illustration or example
• Incidental or accidental capture of copyrighted material
• Memorializing or rescuing of an experience or event
• Use to launch a discussion
• Recombining to make a new work, such as a mashup or a remix, whose elements depend on relationships between existing works
For instance, a blogger’s critique of mainstream news is commentary. The fat cat sitting on the couch watching television is an example of incidental capture of copyrighted material. Many variations on the popular online video “Dramatic Chipmunk” may be considered fair use because they recombine existing work to create new meaning. “The fair use doctrine is every bit as relevant in the digital domain as it has been for almost two centuries in the print environment,” said Jaszi, founder of the Program for Information Justice and Intellectual Property and a professor of law in AU's Washington College of Law. “Here we see again the strong connection between the fair use principle in copyright and the guarantee of freedom of speech in the Constitution.”
Remix Culture: Fair Use Is Your Friend is a collaborative project of the Center for Social Media—a center of AU's School of Communication—and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property—a program of AU's Washington College of Law—along with Stanford Law School's Fair Use Project. It was funded by Google.
Dark Night of the Soul — a project headed up by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch that features contributions from the Shins’ James Mercer, Black Francis, the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, the Flaming Lips and Iggy Pop, as well as a 100+ book of Lynch’s photographs — is on sale now at DNotS.com. However, in a weird twist, instead of getting music with the set, buyers instead will receive a blank CD-R.
“All copies will be clearly labeled: ‘For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will,’ ” a spokesperson for Danger Mouse said. “Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI, Danger Mouse is unable to release the recorded music for Dark Night Of The Soul without fear of being sued by EMI.”
The disagreement between Danger Mouse and EMI likely roots back to the Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up The Grey Album he made in 2004. The brilliant combination of The White Album with The Black Album catapulted DM (real name Brian Burton) from bedroom producer to international star, but it came with a price: it infuriated the massive label group, which controls the rights to the Beatles’ recordings.
Sparklehorse are under contract with EMI, and Danger Mouse produced albums like Gorillaz’s Demon Days and the Good, the Bad and the Queen’s self-titled debut for labels under the EMI umbrella, so it’s unclear why the lawsuit would trouble the release now. “Danger Mouse remains hugely proud of Dark Night Of The Soul and hopes that people lucky enough to hear the music, by whatever means, are as excited by it as he is,” the spokesperson said. The album has actually leaked, and there’s a legal stream at NPR’s site. [from RollingStone.com] UPDATE
The European Parliament has agreed to extend musical copyrights from 50 to 70 years, just in time to safeguard The Beatles' music for another two decades. Parliament also suggested that a similar extension might be good for the movie business, too.
The European Parliament late last week agreed to extend musical copyrights from their current 50-year term to 70 years. So all that early rock 'n roll about to pass into the public domain? Don't count on using it in your documentary for another two decades—and there's nothing to say that the term won't be extended again.
While the vote is a big victory for the music labels who can continue to market major artists like The Beatles (let's face it, the obscure stuff from the 1950s isn't selling in measurable quantities anymore, and it's not playing on the radio), the movie industry looks set to cash in soon, too. In passing the term extension, Parliament also asked the European Commission "to launch an impact assessment of the situation in the European audiovisual sector by January 2010, with a view to deciding whether a similar copyright extension would benefit the audiovisual world."
The current musical term extension push began in February 2008, when European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy of Ireland announced his support for a near doubling of the term of protection from 50 to 95 years. The move was opposed by countries like the UK, which would only go along with a maximum term of 70 years, so the European Parliament eventually agreed to go with the lower number.
While dropping 25 years from the proposal has a whiff of "compromise" about it, it's never been clear why any sort of term extension should be passed. The whole issue was looked at quite carefully by the UK's Andrew Gowers during his hugely publicized report on intellectual property. Gowers concluded in 2006 that no such term extension was needed—at which point the labels simply shifted their focus away from national governments to the EU.
But Gowers was operating in a UK context; groups of continental academics have come to similar conclusions when looking at the data. One group, headed by Prof. P. Bernt Hugenholtz of the University of Amsterdam, found that a copyright term extension would be a bad idea with costs for consumers, competitors, and society as a whole. Despite being commissioned, paid for, and published by the European Commission, Hugenholtz's work wasn't even mentioned when McCreevy made his proposal (though music industry work was considered).
This led Hugenholtz to blast off an angry letter about a process which "seems to reveal an intention to mislead the council and the Parliament, as well as the citizens of the European Union. In doing so the Commission reinforces the suspicion, already widely held by the public at large, that its policies are less the product of a rational decision-making process than of lobbying by stakeholders."
Another group of academics fired off an open letter to the Times of London in which they complained that the new plan would only pad the pockets of "record companies, aging rock stars or, increasingly, artists' estates. It does nothing for innovation and creativity."
But forget Gowers and European academics—what claim do those pushing the idea of term extension make? The official legislative dossier tells us: "Once their performance fixed in a phonogram is no longer protected, around 7,000 performers in any of the big Member States and a correspondingly smaller number in the smaller Member States will lose all of their income that derives from contractual royalties and statutory remuneration claims from broadcasting and public communication of their performances in bars and discotheques."
A tremendous loss to the German public domain is therefore enacted in order to help, for example, just 7,000 performers in all of Germany. And how much will these musicians make? According to Commissioner McCreevy, an average of just €2,000 a year.
But, according to the UK-based Open Rights Group, this isn't about session musicians anyway. Writing in the Telegraph recently, the group's executive director said, "That argument is hard to swallow. Firstly, two-thirds of the money that a recording generates is made in the first six years after publication. We might conclude that if artists want to survive in their later years, record companies should ensure they invest in a pension, not depend of the vague hope of earnings from ancient recordings.
"Secondly, an analysis of the figures shows where the money really ends up. About 80 percent will go to recording companies. Of the rest, nearly all would go to big stars, and a very small percentage to the small artists the Directive claims to be all about."
Another UK academic at the University of Bournemouth says that a slightly lower 70 percent of all new revenues will go to the record labels, not the performers; in any event, most of the money goes to labels that have already had five decades to profit from the songs in question. Under the new law, artists could regain their rights to songs that are no longer offered for sale to the public, but in the era of digital distribution, why wouldn't a label just throw its whole back catalog up on iTunes?
The extension still needs approval by the European Council (made up of the EU member states), but the only real sticking point there appears to have been the 95-year period. With the term reduced to 70 years, that measure looks set to pass into law.
When the UK government balked last month at the 95-year term, British music trade group BPI called on the government "to match its supportive rhetoric with concrete action, by moving heaven and earth to reach an agreement under this EU Presidency that will deliver an improved term of copyright for performers and music companies."
Heaven and earth appeared to have been moved, all in the name of "harmonization" of copyright terms. Only a day before the vote last week, international music trade group IFPI made the harmonization point clearly:
"Europe has always prided itself on being a champion of culture, yet the EU is lagging behind many other parts of the world when it comes to protecting its recordings," it said. "European artists, performers and producers are provided with a 50 year period of protection for their work to enable them to benefit from the recordings they have made. This is a much lower level of protection than many other countries around the world which provide for between 60 and 95 years' protection."
Even within the EU, terms are grossly unequal in duration (authors get life plus 70 years, for instance, for their books). While this might sounds like an argument for "harmonizing" terms downward, it never is; harmonization moves only in the upward direction. It's a transparent strategy that Big Content has been pushing for years—encourage countries to extend copyright terms, then browbeat others into following suit by going on about "competitive disadvantage."
As for the public domain, there's no point even arguing about it—such groups simply take it for granted that copyright is a natural state and that "falling out of copyright" is an obvious evil.
As IFPI put it last week, "More treasures of Europe's recorded music heritage are falling out of copyright every year. These are the recordings which have contributed so much to Europe's reputation for creativity and cultural diversity. With today's longer life spans, artists and performers are beginning to see their recordings falling into the public domain in their lifetime. Every year, an increasing number of artists are being deprived of part of their income."
But deprivation goes both ways. Every time that a term extension is passed, the public is deprived of the chance to remix, mashup, sample, share, and otherwise build upon the cultural work of a half century before.
[by Nate Anderson, ArsTechnica.com] UPDATE
You may have heard about the French Assembly passing Sarkozy's mad "three-strikes" bill, which will allow big media companies to force ISPs to disconnect you by accusing you of copyright infringement (without even having to produce proof). Jeremie Zimmermann, a leading French activist opposed to the bill, has a good analysis of the problems it will face, even having passed:
* HADOPI is legally dead because it opposes to fundamental principles of French and European law, including the respect of a fair trial, principle of proportionality and separation of powers. European Parliament has also for the 4th time recalled its opposition to the French text by voting again amendment 138/464, thus voiding the French HADOPI. The law is also not respecting requirements of French constitution regarding a due process, equality in front of the law, and legality of the law, which the Constitutional Court will now have to judge.
* HADOPI is technically dead because it entirely relies on identifying users through their IP address that can be altered or high-jacked in many ways 5. As a consequence, innocents will inevitably be sanctioned. Circumvention techniques are also already largely available.
* HADOPI is dead in the media because government's propaganda didn't stand for long under close scrutiny from citizens over the net6 and to the aware consideration of a few critical elected representatives.7. A fantastic movement opposing the text allowed public debate to interfere in every possible part of the French web about the real stakes of the funding of creation in the digital age. Today, 60% of the French reject this text according to an IFOP poll8 (33% only agree to the scheme) and a wide opposition includes independent movie theaters, hundreds of independent labels, science-fiction authors and performing artists.
* Finally, HADOPI is dead politically, right in the middle of an "Hadopigate " revealing unhealthy collusion between Minister of culture and big media close to the president Sarkozy, everybody within the majority already understood that this text is a ball and chain they will have to drag along for a long time. [from boingboing.net] UPDATE
A group of Canadian copyfighters produced this mini-documentary, "C-61," about the proposed new Canadian copyright law, which the US government is pressuring Canada to pass (that's why the USA added Canada to a nonsensical list of pirate nations). Previous attempts to pass this bill have been a disgrace -- famously, former Industry Minister Jim Prentice refused to discuss the bill with Canadian record labels, artists, tech firms, or telcos, but did meet with American and multinational entertainment and software giants to allow them to give their input. In the bill's earlier incarnation as C-60, its sponsor, Sam Bulte, was caught taking campaign contributions from the same US and multinational entertainment companies, and went berserk at a town hall meeting when questioned about it, decrying "user-rights zealots and EFF members." [from BoingBoing.net] UPDATE
The verdict in the case of The Pirate Bay Four has been announced. All four defendants were accused of ‘assisting in making copyright content available’. Peter Sunde: Guilty. Fredrik Neij: Guilty. Gottfrid Svartholm: Guilty. Carl Lundström: Guilty. The four receive 1 year in jail each and fines totaling $3,620,000.
While only a few weeks ago, it seems like an eternity since the trial of The Pirate Bay Four ended and the court retired to consider its verdict. The prosecution claimed that the four defendants were ‘assisting in making copyright content available’ and demanded millions of dollars in damages. The defense did not agree, and all pleaded not guilty - backed up by the inimitable King Kong defense.
Today, Friday April 17, the court issued its decision: article continuously updated
“The court has found that by using Pirate Bay’s services there has been file-sharing of music, films and computer games to the extent the prosecutor has stated in his case,” said the district court. “This file-sharing constitutes an unlawful transfer to the public of copyrighted performances.”
Peter Sunde (born September 13, 1978) alias ‘brokep’:
Verdict: Guilty - 1 year in prison, damages to pay: $905,000
Peter Althin, brokep’s lawyer said, “I spoke to Peter and he wasn’t very surprised. A journalist he’d spoken to knew an hour before it was public that all four would be convicted. The verdict was leaked from the court. I have to think about what effects that can have on the sentence. It is unacceptable that the court is leaking.”
Fredrik Neij (born April 27, 1978) alias ‘TiAMO’:
Verdict: Guilty - 1 year in prison, damages to pay: $905,000
Gottfrid Svartholm (October 17, 1984) alias ‘Anakata’:
Verdict: Guilty - 1 year in prison, damages to pay: $905,000
Anakata’s lawyer Ola Salomonsson said, “We’re appealing. It’s very surprising that the court has chosen to treat the accused as a team.”
Carl Lundström (born April 13, 1960)
Verdict: Guilty - 1 year in prison, damages to pay: $905,000
The court said that the four defendants worked as a team, were aware that copyrighted material was being shared using The Pirate Bay and that they made it easy and assisted the infringements. It categorized the infringements as ’severe’. The judge said that the users of The Pirate Bay committed the first offense by sharing files and the four assisted this.
It appears that the court chose to not take any of the technical details into account and only judged based on intent. They find it clear that the intention of the defendants is to facilitate sharing of copyrighted works and based their verdict on this.
While the court did not agree with the plaintiff’s exaggerated estimates of losses, it still set the damages at 30 million SEK ($3,620,000). This a hugely significant amount and the court has ordered that the four should pay this amount between them.
The judge also stated that the usage of BitTorrent at The Pirate Bay is illegal. Rest assured, other torrent sites hosted in Sweden will be keeping a close eye on developments.
The defense put it to the judge that he had folded under intense political pressure. The judge denied this stating that the court made its decision based on the case presented.
At one point the judge was asked if he was concerned for his personal safety after handing down this decision. The judge said he hadn’t received any harassment and was quite surprised at the question.
While the judge won’t be getting any flowers for this verdict, Roger Wallis who spoke in favor of The Pirate Bay at their trial and received a mountain of floral tributes in return, noted, “This will cause a flood of court cases. Against all the ISPs. Because if these guys assisted in copyright infringements, then the ISPs also did. This will have huge consequences. The entire development of broadband may be stalled.”
Peter Sunde characterized the verdict as ‘unreal’ and said that he didn’t expect the jail sentence. He briefly spoke with Fredrik and Gottfrid and all were surprised with this outcome. In response to the fines Peter said: “We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay if we could. If I would have money I would rather burn everything I owned.”
Sunde has already explained that this decision does not mean the end of the line in this case. There will be an appeal which means we are still far away from the ultimate decision - possibly years away. Any appeal from either side must be submitted to Sweden’s higher Court by 9th May 2009.
Rasmus Fleischer, one of the founders of Piratbyrån commented, “The sentence has no formal consequence and no juridical value. We chose to treat the trial as a theater play and as such it’s been far better than we ever could have believed.”
As for the fate of the site, Peter has already promised that The Pirate Bay will continue. The site itself was never on trial, only the four individuals listed above.
[from torrentfreak.com ] UPDATE
Hugh Atkin's hit Barack Roll video has been muted by Sony's copyright bots. As a response to the mindless assault on fair use, Atkin has remixed a new video which features Rick Astley's own support for the Barack Roll: UPDATE
Came across this excellent video by Corey Vidal singing a Star Wars themed *ORIGINAL* a capella. Warner Music issued a take down notice in January and it was taken down. Ridiculously. Naturally enough, the media jumped on the story and the video was eventually put back up. Here it is for your viewing pleasure...(and below, a typical reaction to Warner Music's takedown campaign)
Hugh from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "EFF's Fred Von Lohmann asks whether President Obama broke any laws when he gave an iPod loaded with music and video to the Queen."
First, let's imagine that the President (or his staff) bought the 40 show tunes from the iTunes music store. Do you "own" the music that you buy from iTunes? The nearly 9,000 words of legalese to which you agree before buying don't answer that question (an oversight? I doubt it). Copyright owners have consistently argued in court that many digital products (even physical "promo" CDs!) are "licensed," not "owned," and therefore you're not entitled to resell them or give them away. (And the Amazon MP3 Store terms of service are even worse for consumers than iTunes -- those terms specifically purport to strip you of "ownership" and forbid any "redistribution.") UPDATE
First they came for the teenagers. Could toddlers be far behind? Nope. Thanks to the good folks at YouTomb, we’ve learned that Warner Music’s automated takedown net has now caught two videos of little kids being little kids.
Of course we can’t show you the videos since they’re, well, censored, but the YouTomb snapshots tell most of the story. One showed a 4 year old lip-syncing to the old Foreigner hit, “Juke Box Hero.” The other apparently showed a baby smacking its lips to the tune of “I Love My Lips”—a song originally sung by a cucumber in an episode of “Veggie Tales.” Both videos are obvious fair uses (these are transformative, noncommercial videos that are not substitutes for the original songs, and there is no plausible market for "licensing" parents before they video their own children singing) and perfectly legal—just like the video of a baby dancing to a Prince song that Universal Music Group took down in 2007.
These are just a few of the thousands of videos Warner has instructed YouTube to block in the past few months. According to statistics kept by YouTomb, there were twice as many videos removed from YouTube in January 2009 as in the entire previous year combined. The numbers are all more appalling because, thanks to Warner's reliance on YouTube’s automated, censorship-friendly Content I.D. tool, there is no reason to think that Warner even bothered to watch these videos to decide whether it actually objects them before blocking them.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it until the folks at Warner come to their senses: it’s time to stop the censorship. The Content ID system should be set to flag possible infringing works and then Warner should have a human review those works before they are taken down.
And if Warner won’t reverse course altogether, it should at least promise that no one will be sued for simply disputing a Content I.D. removal. Warner loses nothing by this: even after a user files Content I.D. dispute, Warner still has the option of using a DMCA takedown notice to target videos to which it really objects. By publicly committing to using the DMCA process, Warner will reassure fair users that they can raise the red flag without fear of finding themselves in the middle of an expensive and unexpected lawsuit. [by Corynne McSherry, EFF) UPDATE
From boingboing.net: "Fredrik Neij, one of the PirateBay admins currently on trial in Stockholm, admitted that he was hupping his servers from the courtroom while the lawyers were making closing arguments:
- A server was down and I restarted it, Neij tells expressen.se. He is one of the four founders of The Pirate Bay that stand accused of “complicity to making copyrighted material accessible” (yes, that’s the charge). That didn’t stop him from taking care of a server mishap in the middle of the trial’s closing argument.
Thepiratebay.org was down during the best part of Monday, which had a good deal of file-sharing folks worried that the website might be down for good this time. Thankfully for them, he had his trusty laptop at hand and could restart the server remotely, so that eager fileswappers could get back inside.
-We have Internet access [in the court room] so it was no problem, Neij told Expressen today (Tuesday);
-Besides, I’m keeping up with the coverage of the trial.
The farcical battle between a sadly incompetent prosecution vs. knowledgeable and sometimes loud-mouthed defendants is almost at an end, and the fact that Neij manages thepiratebay.org’s servers remotely during the trial is just one of several examples that point out the huge gap in technical know-how that the sides have exhibited." UPDATE
The Open Video Alliance needs your videos and proposals for their upcoming conference. The conference is being put together by Yale Law School Information Society Project, the Participatory Culture Foundation, Kaltura, and iCommons. Their goal is to make online video as decentralized, accessible and resistant to censorship as other “staples of the web” like email and blogs.
They’re accepting proposals for workshops, panels, and other programming. They’re also accepting “submissions of video art to showcase the creative potential of artists in the open video space.” The deadline is March 19th 2009.
Jonathan McIntosh just finished overhauling his political remix video blog. The site has a wealth of remix links and resources and the new layout is excellent. Best of all, Jonathan has teamed up with talented politcal remixer Elisa Kreisinger, who will now be posting to the blog (see below for one of her videos).
Larry Lessig was on Colbert last night and it was a copyright smackdown. Stephen started the interview off demanding what Lessig means by “hybrid economy” in the title of his new book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.
The phrase refers to an economy like Flickr: “a free-sharing economy and Flickr makes money on top of that,” Larry said. In other words, it’s like Colbert’s Green Screen Challenges, Stephen noted: “They do all the work and I get all the ad revenue.”
SC: What I don’t like about it is you say our copyright laws are turning our kids into criminals because they’re keeping kids from doing all the “remixing” they want. Isn’t that like saying arson laws are turning our kids into pyromaniacs? They’re breaking the law! You can’t just throw the law out the window.
LL: Totally failed war. Is that familiar to you? Totally failed war. Totally failed war.
SC: You’re saying we need a surge. A copyright surge.
LL: We tried the surge. For 10 years, we’ve fought this war. Artists have gotten no more money, businesses have not gotten more profit and our kids have been turned into criminals. 70 percent of our kids are sharing files on peer-to-peer networks. 70 percent.
Now the real ridiculousness of this is that the one institution that should be dealing with this cannot recognize – not one of them can recognize – the insanity …
SC: We’ve got real problems here. You want Congress to be thinking about Danger Mouse making the Gray Album.
LL: They have passed 24 laws to deal with this so-called problem.
SC: Have they worked?
LL: No, of course not!
SC: Then why are you worried? You got what you want and they got the illusion of action!
LL: I want a Congress that focuses on real issues, not these idiot issues that are not really causing any problems at all.
SC: Let’s get to the nut of this. What’s the difference between “remixing” and theft? If I walk out of Brooks Brothers with a handful of ties, I can’t just say I was remixing the patterns!
LL: The difference is when you’re remixing you’re creating something new.
SC: OK, so I could take this book right here and just change “Remix” to “MeMix” and change it to “Stephen Colbert”, and add some value and — I do a pretty good Snoopy. OK, my book, my book. You cool with that?
LL: OK, put this on Amazon you think you’ll get more or less?
SC: Much more.
SC: Well, I’m benefitting from it so that’s OK. But nobody should take my work and do anything with it that is not approved. [To camera] Never, ever, ever, ever take anything of mine and remix it. For instance, I’ll be very angry and possibly litigious if anyone out there takes this interview right here and remix it with some great dance beat and then it starts showing up in clubs across America.
LL: Actually, we’re joint copyright owners. I’m totally OK with that.
SC: I do not give permission.
LL: I totally give permission.
SC: Too bad, too bad! You got a lawsuit on your hands, buddy.
LL: Copyright is joint. We’re in this together, Stephen.
SC: I want a divorce. I’m remixing this relationship. This is socialism. This is artistic socialism!
SC: Have I exhausted you? You look tired.
LL: I am tired because this has nothing to do with copyright. You don’t get that, do you?
SC: I get it. I just don’t care.
LL: But that’s just the point. It’s the insanity of a system produced by our Congress where this is the regulation. And you ought to be concerned about that system, changing that system.
SC: Well, the system works for me. So welcome to the Mouth of Madness.
"In RiP: A remix manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.
A participatory media experiment, from day one, Brett shares his raw footage at opensourcecinema.org, for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A remix manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle.
Which side of the ideas war are you on?" MOREUPDATE
Lawrence Lessig has just released a new book entitled: Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. I'm currently in the midst of reading it and so far I can't put it down. Compelling reading indeed. An important book.
From the book's website: "For more than a decade, we’ve been waging a war on our kids in the name of the 20th Century’s model of “copyright law.” In this, the last of his books about copyright, Lawrence Lessig maps both a way back to the 19th century, and to the promise of the 21st. Our past teaches us about the value in “remix.” We need to relearn the lesson. The present teaches us about the potential in a new “hybrid economy” — one where commercial entities leverage value from sharing economies. That future will benefit both commerce and community. If the lawyers could get out of the way, it could be a future we could celebrate." LINKVIDEOUPDATE
The LA Times's Joseph Menn has a great, well-researched feature article on the history of the copyright for the image of Mickey Mouse as portrayed in the earliest Disney cartoons -- and the theory that Disney made mistakes early on with its copyright registration, placing images of that specific Mickey (not the Mickey we know today) in the public domain. Prominent legal scholars like Peter Jaszi agree, but who will shell out the millions in legal fees to prove it? After all, the company's already threatened legal action against law-students who publish papers investigating the question!
Brown went searching for flawed formalities -- and found one. It was on the title card at the beginning of a "Steamboat Willie" cartoon that had just been rereleased on a 1993 LaserDisc honoring Mickey's 65th birthday. It said in full:
A Mickey Mouse
A Walt Disney Comic
By Ub Iwerks
Recorded by Cinephone Powers System
The authoritative legal treatise "Nimmer on Copyright" says that a copyright is void if multiple names create uncertainty, and courts have agreed. In 1961, a federal judge in Massachusetts cited the "accompanied by" rule in throwing out a copyright claim by newspaper cartoonist Art Moger. Moger's name was included in the title above his panels, but the name of another artist ran inside the boxes. [by Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net]
"Whenever I hear suggestions that fair use should be “fixed,” I am reminded that there are two very different usages of that term. When you get your car fixed, it is returned to the state where it performs as it was meant to do. When you get your dog “fixed,” however, that is not the result. So I approach all suggestions for fixing fair use from the perspective that we do not want to render that important exception to copyright sterile and, thereby, unusable. We may want to fix fair use like you fix a car, but we must be careful not to fix it like you fix a dog." [by Kevin Smith, Scholarly Communications @ Duke] MOREUPDATE
BEIJING -- At the Olympic Games here, you drink Coca-Cola beverages, eat McDonald's food, ride in Volkswagen sedans and watch events on giant Panasonic video screens.
You also take elevators, are protected by fire alarms, cool down thanks to air conditioners, and wash your hands under faucets.
To ensure that only the companies that pay millions of dollars to be official Olympic sponsors enjoy the benefits of exposure in Olympic venues, organizers have covered the trademarks of nonsponsors with thousands of little swatches of tape.
In media centers, dormitories and arena bathrooms, pieces of tape cover logos of fire extinguishers, light switches, thermostats, bedroom night tables, soap dispensers and urinals. The Taiden Industrial translation headsets in a large conference room have had their logos covered, as have the American Standard faucets in the bathrooms nearby, and the ThyssenKrupp escalators down the hall.
Even the sign atop the InterContinental Beijing Beichen hotel, attached to the Main Press Center, has been obscured by an Olympic cloth wrap. InterContinental Hotels Group isn't an Olympic sponsor. Gary Rosen, a spokesman for Intercontinental, says the company doesn't mind complying with the brand restrictions because it had planned all along to formally open the hotel following completion of the Games.
The International Olympic Committee says that such "brand protection" is essential for the Games to raise the corporate money that keeps them going and growing. The Games get 40% of their revenue from sponsors, with the rest coming from broadcast rights, ticketing and licensing. Sponsors of China's Games, believed to be the most lucrative ever, have contributed some $1.5 billion in cash, goods and services, estimates sports-marketing group Octagon.
The IOC says the brand-protection practices here in Beijing are consistent with procedures at past Olympics. Actual enforcement of IOC sponsorship-protection rules falls mostly to whichever city is hosting the Games, however, and by some indications no host has taken that role more seriously than China. In many cases, even products that don't compete with anything made by official sponsors are having their logos covered.
"It's surprising they'd go to that extent," says Toshihiko Shibuya, a spokesman for Matsushita Electric Industrial, which makes Panasonic products. "We're happy that they've taken the effort to hide the names of products in our category," he says.
But he finds it "very bizarre" that even toilet fixtures would have brand names covered up. [by Jason Dean,
Wall Street Journal] UPDATE
From MediaRights' Kathyrn Robertson: 'As the Internet and file-sharing have mushroomed rapidly over the past few years, copyright law has been questioned by a myriad of organizations and individuals, including file-sharers and the student-based Free Culture movement. Within the filmmaking community there have been a range of standpoints in the debate over intellectual property rights as well. Some choose to throw their work immediately into the public domain, while traditionalists favor full copyright laws to protect their work from being pilfered. Then there are the in-betweens who put only partial restrictions on their work.' MORE...UPDATE
The 10 finalists of the Total Recut Video Remix Contest have been selected by public vote and will now be judged by our esteemed judging panel, including Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Kembrew McLeod, JD Lasica, Matt Mason, Pat Aufderheide, Mark Hosler and Luminosity. And without further ado, here are the 10 finalists:
I participated in a roundtable discussion last week conducted by Mark Glaser of PBS Mediashift. The topic under discussion was the recently published Code of Best Pratices in Fair Use for Online Video. The first part of the discussion was published here.UPDATE
The ambitious Open Source Cinema project, or Basement Tapes as it has come to be known, the brainchild of Canadian film-maker Brett Gaylor, is nearing its conclusion. We await the results with baited breath...You can help to complete the ending of the movie as it is a collaborative piece. Here are some comments from Brett himself:
The voyage of Open Source Cinema / Basement Tapes (or Pirate Movie?) is nearing the end of its first stage - the movie is almost done! We've incorporated remixes, original videoblogs, music and photos drawn from this site (and the culture that surrounds us). But there is a final step we need open source cinema to take - the end of the movie!
The future of copyright and culture is changing as we speak - so why fix it in stone? The end of the movie needs to be in constant flux, and needs to be built from more than one perspective. So that's why we're asking for your help.
The following clips are a starting point, a suggestion, of material we plan to use for the ending. But this section needs to be open, flexible and diverse, so if you have anything you want to edit in, or submit for consideration, do so. LINKUPDATE
"When the Pittsburgh-based musician who calls himself Girl Talk announced that his new collection of songs, “Feed the Animals,” would be released on a pay-what-you-want download basis, it didn’t get quite the same level of attention that Radiohead got when that band did the same thing last October. That makes sense: Aside from being first, Radiohead also happened to be a chart-topping critics’ darling that had sold millions of records over the course of a years-long major-label career. Girl Talk (real name Gregg Gillis) has also won critical praise but is not likely to land a big-time contract, commercial radio play, a spot in an iPod ad or even distribution on iTunes. This is because “Feed the Animals” is composed almost entirely of more than 200 samples of other artists’ music, ranging from Lil Wayne to Kenny Loggins — none of which Gillis has obtained permission to use." from the New York Times, by Rob Walker.
A new open source software group has added its voice to the opposition against the Conservative government’s impending copyright reform bill. Lulu CEO Bob Young likens the legislation to banning screwdrivers because they could be used by burglars.
“The copyright philosophy behind the U.S. DMCA is that it’s illegal to do what software engineers do every day of the week and what they’ll have to continue to do in order to build better technology for all companies,” Bob Young, spokesperson for the Canadian Software Innovation Alliance (CSIA) and a former founder and CEO at Red Hat Inc., said. “The biggest concern is we’re going to have law substitute for good technology. We’re crafting these laws without having anyone from the technology industry engaged in the process.”
"Prof. Robert Brauneis of GW Law School has done a mind-boggling amount of research into the origins and copyright history of 'Happy Birthday to You,' a song that still makes $2m per year for its copyright owner. Not only does Prof. Brauneis debunk many old myths about the song, he also concludes that the song is almost certainly in the public domain, although it's probably too expensive for anyone to actually prove that in court. But Prof. Brauneis is posting more than 200 documents unearthed in his research, so you all now have a head start." [from BoingBoing.net] UPDATE
New Zealand passed its digital copyright law this week, drawing the ire of the technology community and the blogosphere. While the bill isn't great, many of the provisions are far better than what Industry Minister Jim Prentice may have in mind for Canada including format and time shifting provisions as well as anti-circumvention provisions that are more flexible than those found in the DMCA. In fact, the anti-circumvention provisions are arguably the best of any country, since they are compliant with WIPO, limited in scope, and seek to preserve fair dealing rights.
While this bill is far from perfect, it is light years ahead of what Canadians were likely to get last December. Moreover, the combination of the recent Israel law (fair use) and the New Zealand law (flexible anti-circumvention), re-affirms that there is considerable copyright reform flexibility and that major countries around the world are taking advantage of that flexibility notwithstanding U.S. pressure. If those countries can do it, why can't Canada? [by Michael GeistUPDATE
Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann informs us: "In a brief filed in federal court yesterday, Universal Music Group (UMG) states that, when it comes to the millions of promotional CDs ('promo CDs') that it has sent out to music reviewers, radio stations, DJs, and other music industry insiders, throwing them away is 'an unauthorized distribution' that violates copyright law. Yes, you read that right -- if you've ever received a promo CD from UMG, and you don't still have it, UMG thinks you're a pirate.
UMG seems to think that the "promotional use only" label somehow gives it "eternal ownership" over the CD. While this might make sense to a goblin living in Harry Potter's world, it's not the law under the Copyright Act. According to the first sale doctrine, once a copyright owner has parted with ownership of a CD, book, or DVD, whether by sale, gift, or other disposition, they may not control further dispositions of that particular copy (including throwing it away). It's thanks to the first sale doctrine that libraries can lend books, video rental stores can rent DVDs, and you can give a CD to a friend for their birthday. It's also the reason you can throw away any CD that you own.
For EFF's view of the reality of "promo CDs," and why it's absurd for UMG to claim to still own them, years after they mailed them out and deleted all records of who they were sent to, read our summary judgment brief on behalf of Augusto, also filed yesterday." [from EFF]
Professor Michael Moulton of the University of Florida is suing a company called Einstein's Notes, that repackages and sells notes taken by students in lecture theatres. Professor Moulton believes that if a student takes notes while he is giving a lecture, that he, and not the student, owns the copyright of whatever the student composes on their page. He believes that the notes are derivatives of his original notes and that his students should not be allowed to sell them. He is seeking damages in the amount of all profits made by Einstein's Notes 'Moulton Study Guides.' UPDATE
"World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Everquest allow millions of users to simultaneously interact in virtual spaces. Second Skin introduces us to couples who have fallen in love without meeting, disabled players who have found new purpose, addicts, Chinese gold-farming sweatshop workers, wealthy online entrepreneurs and legendary guild leaders - all living in a world that doesn't quite exist."
Siegfried Woldhek knows faces -- he's drawn more than 1,100 of them. Using sophisticated image analysis and his own skills as an artist, he's come up with a fascinating discovery about Leonardo Da Vinci.
Leonardo Da Vinci's life and work is well known -- but his own face is not. Woldhek used some thoughtful image-analysis techniques to find what he believes is the true face of Leonardo. Here, he walks viewers through exactly how he did it. [via BoingBoing.net]
Copycamp.ca is taking registration info for the 2nd CopyCamp, "An unconference for artists about the Internet and the challenge to copyright." It’s run according to a model where events are scheduled by participants via a wiki or through spontaneous coordination during the unconference itself.
I don’t know who’s going this time but spots are limited so if you wanna be one of the contributors I suggest you hurry to the registration page which is at the following address:
While Google has made headlines over the last two years for scanning thousands of copyrighted works for its Book Search project, the Internet Archive is quietly digitizing around 1,000 public domain titles every day.
For those picturing an efficient, automated process involving robotic arms and high-tech scanners, the scanning at the University of California's Northern Regional Library Facility is relatively primitive. With monastic diligence, workers sit in book-scanning stations and manually turn pages all day long.
The process is labor-intensive, but surprisingly efficient: The text collection on archive.org is the world's largest online collection of free books, with nearly 350,000 titles and growing.
And though there are high-end auto book scanners on the market, even a giant like Google is reportedly using a similar manual process due to size variance and the delicacy of old books.
It's still unclear whether the courts will allow copyrighted books scanned by Google to stay online, but the titles scanned at the Internet Archive will always be free and available. You can even order copies to be printed on demand and shipped to your home, paying only for production costs. Take the Wired.com tour of this grass-roots effort to liberate books from the confines of scarcity. [by Dave Bullock - Wired Magazine]
The latest bane of office productivity is Scrabulous, a virtual knockoff of the Scrabble board game, with over 700,000 players a day and nearly three million registered users.
The extremely popular game Scrabulous is played primarily on the Facebook social-networking site.
Fans of the game are obsessive. They play against friends, co-workers, family members and strangers, and many have several games going at once.
Everyone seems to love the online game — everyone, that is, except the companies that own the rights to Scrabble: Hasbro, which sells it in North America, and Mattel, which markets it everywhere else.
In January, they denounced Scrabulous as piracy and threatened legal action against its creators, two brothers in Calcutta named Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla who run a software development company. Both Hasbro and Mattel said they were hoping for a solution that would not force them to shut down the game. [by Heather Timmons, New York Times]
From Larry, talking about his new website: lessig08.org - This site hosts this video to explain the launch of two exploratory projects — first, a Change Congress movement, and second, my own decision whether to run as a Democrat for Congress in the California 12th.
I have decided I want to give as much energy as I can to the Change Congress movement. I will decide in the next week or so whether it makes sense to advance that movement by running for Congress.
Many friends have weighed in on that decision — both strongly in favor and strongly opposed. Many more have joined draftlessig.org and a Facebook group asking me to consider it.
Watch or listen and you will understand some of my reasoning. Feel free to send your thoughts or advice to email@example.com (though please excuse any slowness in my response).
— Larry Lessig, February 19, 2008
More often than not companies in similar positions have similar views. But when Hollywood asked the two big phone companies to help with its fight against piracy, they responded in opposite ways. AT&T, as we wrote, is talking about developing a system that would identify and block illicitly copied material being sent over its broadband network.
Verizon, however, opposes the concept. Tom Tauke, Verizon’s executive vice president for public affairs, said the company’s view combines a concern for the privacy of its customers with self interest. It may be costly for it to get into the business of policing the traffic on its network. Indeed, phone companies have largely spent a century trying not to be liable for what people say over their lines.
“We generally are reluctant to get into the business of examining content that flows across our networks and taking some action as a result of that content,” he said. [by Saul Hansell, New York Times]
Whenever you rent a movie, the multinational media industry forces you to watch their propaganda. They claim that [downloading movies is the same as snatching bags, stealing cars or shoplifting]. That’s simply not true – making a copy is fundamentally different from stealing.
The media industry has failed to offer viable legal alternatives and they will fail to convince consumers that sharing equals stealing. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in another area – lobbying to adapt laws to criminalize sharing, turning consumers into criminals. They argue that their laws are necessary to [support artists], but in reality all they’re protecting is their own profits. [from iwouldntsteal.net]
Michael Geist has come up with a manifesto for the Fair Copyright for Canadians group, which has gone from a standing start to more than 38,000 members in less than two months. His "Principles for Fair Copyright for Canadians" contains seven simple, commonsense statements about what a good Canadian (or any nation's) copyright law should look like. Here's the first three:
Anti-circumvention provisions should be directly linked to copyright infringement. The anti-circumvention provisions have been by far the most controversial element of the proposed reforms. The experience in the United States, where anti-circumvention provisions effectively trump fair use rights, provides the paradigm example of what not do to. It should only be a violation of the law to circumvent a technological protection measure (TPM) if the underlying purpose is to infringe copyright. Circumvention should be permitted to access a work for fair dealing or private copying purposes. This approach - which is similar (though not identical) to the failed Bill C-60 - would allow Canada to implement the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties and avoid some of the negative "unintended consequences" that have arisen under the U.S. law.
No ban on devices that can be used to circumvent a TPM. Canada should not ban devices that can be used to circumvent a TPM. The reason is obvious - if Canadians cannot access the tools necessary to exercise their user rights under the Copyright Act, those rights are effectively extinguished in the digital world. If organizations are permitted to use TPMs to lock down content in a manner that threatens fair dealing, Canadians should have the right to access and use technologies that restores the copyright balance.
Expand the fair dealing provision by establishing "flexible fair dealing." Led by the United States, several countries around the world have established fair use provisions within their copyright laws (Israel being the most recent). The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that Canada's fair dealing provision must be interpreted in a broad and liberal manner. Yet the law currently includes a limited number of categories (research, private study, criticism, news reporting) that renders everyday activities such as recording television programs acts of infringement. The ideal remedy is to address other categories such as parody, time shifting, and format shifting by making the current list of fair dealing categories illustrative rather than exhaustive.
[by Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net]
When college kids make mashups of Hollywood movies, are they violating the law? Not necessarily, according to the latest study on copyright and creativity from the Center and American University’s Washington College of Law.
The study, Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video, by Center director Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, co-director of the law school’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, shows that many uses of copyrighted material in today’s online videos are eligible for fair use consideration. The study points to a wide variety of practices—satire, parody, negative and positive commentary, discussion-triggers, illustration, diaries, archiving and of course, pastiche or collage (remixes and mashups)—all of which could be legal in some circumstances.
Fair use is the part of copyright law that permits new makers, in some situations, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying the owners. The courts tell us that fair uses should “transformative,” – adding value to what they take and using it for a purpose different from that of original work. So when makers mash up several works—say, The Ten Commandments , Ben-Hur and 10 Things I Hate about You , making Ten Things I Hate about Commandments —they aren’t necessarily stealing. They are quoting in order to make a new commentary on popular culture, and creating a new piece of popular culture.
[ by Patricia Aufderheide at the Center for Social Media at the American University ] UPDATE
'How is that even remotely possible? The medium certainly looks alive, well and, if anything, overpopulated. There are hordes of photographers out there, working with back-to-basics pinhole cameras and pixeled images measured in gigabytes, with street photography taken by cell phones and massive photo "shoots" whose crews, complexity and expense resemble those of movie sets. Step into almost any serious art gallery in Chelsea, Santa Monica or Mayfair and you're likely to be greeted with breathtaking large-format color photographs, such as Andreas Gefeller's overhead views of parking lots digitally montaged from thousands of individual shots or Didier Massard's completely "fabricated photographs" of phantasmagoric landscapes. And the establishment's seal of approval for photography has been renewed in two current museum exhibitions. In "Depth of Field"— the first installation in the new contemporary-photography galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on display through March 23—the fare includes Thomas Struth's hyperdetailed chromogenic print of the interior of San Zaccaria in Venice and Adam Fuss's exposure of a piece of photo paper floating in water to a simultaneous splash and strobe.' [by Peter Plagens, Newsweek]
Professor Lawrence Lessig gave a talk at the Creative Commons 5th Birthday at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco recently stating that the non-profit organisation has managed to raise over $500,000 this year in its fund raising campaign. The Creative Commons is an infinitely important mediator in the tumultuous digital times we live in. May it continue to go from strength to strength... UPDATE
The only thing stranger than making a video trailer for a magazine article is the subject of that article… Killer Parasites. Ransom Riggs at mental_floss created this trailer completely out of public domain footage he found. UPDATE
This video is an educational piece designed to raise awareness of the issues surrounding copyright infringement and freedom of expression that are so prevailant in our online societies today. You Tube have recently been removing a lot more so called 'infringing' material from their website at the behest of large media companies such as the BBC, Paramount Pictures and MGM and deleting accounts left, right and centre. This is a terrible shame as a lot of the highly creative work being produced today is video remix work and many people may never see these entertaining pieces if they are 'erased from existence' by big corporations. For anyone else who has experienced this, make sure to send a counter-notice when a video that is clearly fair use is removed from your account by YouTube. Otherwise, the bullies will win. What kind of society are we living in when we are not free to play with our own media? When will this madness and oppression end?! Is cutting a photo out of a magazine and pasting it in a scrap book copyright infringement? Viva la Revolution du Liberte! UPDATE
UK Superband Radiohead's gamble to allow users to download their latest album 'In Rainbow's' for whatever price they felt it was worth has paid off. The exposure alone was worth the risk but the band have made what Comscore estimates in the region of 1-2 million dollars from voluntary paid downloads alone so far and the album will be released for sale properly on the 1st January 2008. Radiohead have opened the road for future bands to follow... UPDATE
"How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law." As usual, Professor Lessig so eloquently puts forward the fundamental argument of the digital generation. Extremism is rampant and Lessig, as we do, looks for a balance... UPDATE
BBC Worldwide have insisted that a 3 minute political parody featuring video clips of Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern remixed with clips from the BBC's Dragons Den TV Show be removed from YouTube under grounds of copyright infringement. The clip is clearly a fair use, being a political satire and also the clip was created as part of a University of Ulster Masters project earlier this year. This news comes only 2 weeks after one of Ireland's Prime Time Saturday night Talk Show's, Tubridy Tonight, planned to broadcast the clip during an interview with the Dragons Den's own Peter Jones. BBC looked promising last year with their Creative Archive project, but now it appears that they have gone the opposite direction again and are trying to stamp out freedom of expression... UPDATE
Internet inventor, Tim Berners-Lee recently orated his vision for social networking in the next five years. He sees a situation where users allow their data to connect to applications from other application sites rather than hoarding it all in one place. From his blog:
"Letting your data connect to other people’s data is a bit about letting go in that sense. It is still not about giving to people data which they don’t have a right to. It is about letting it be connected to data from peer sites. It is about letting it be joined to data from other applications.
It is about getting excited about connections, rather than nervous."
In a move that will comfort many online users, the RCMP have announced they will not target people who download copyrighted material for their personal use.
This follows release of an Industry Canada study showing peer-to-peer music downloading may boost CD buying. This contradicts the standard position held by record labels for the better part of a decade that online music sharing has had a devastating impact on the industry. [ By DAVID CANTON ] UPDATE
Total Recut has been shortlisted for the final of the 2007 Golden Spiders Awards to be held in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin on 22nd November. We have been shortlisted under the User Generated Content category alongside such websites as ifoods, menupages, anotherfriend and the Scissor Sisters. Wish us luck! UPDATE
Internet Activist, Journalist & Sci-Fi Author, Cory Doctorow has composed a very eloquent and vocal piece for Information Week, entitled: 'How Big Media's Copyright Campaigns Threaten Internet Free Expression.' He raises some excellent points regarding the balance that needs to be struck between protection of copyright owner's interests and protecting artists' rights to freedom of expression... UPDATE
English Apple fanatic, Nick Haley decided to create his own iPod Touch commercial
using clips from Apple's website and standard home video editing software. He uploaded it to YouTube and rather than sending him a cease and desist letter, Apple decided to buy the video from him. And so they flew him out to L.A. to re-shoot the ad in High Definition, and broadcast it at the World Series. That's more like it! UPDATE
Facebook recently struck a deal with Microsoft to allow Gates' empire a measly 1.6 percent stake in the runaway start-up for $240 million. Facebook is 3 and a half years old and takes in less than $200 million annually at present. Two years ago, Rupert Murdock paid $580 million for outright ownership of MySpace, which still reigns supreme in the world of online social networking. Facebook, however is catching up quickly, and Microsoft's partnership would seem to make 23 year old founder, Mark Zuckerberg's decision to turn down Yahoo's previous offer of $1 billion for outright ownership, a wise move. Zuckerberg started facebook in his Harvard dorm room and now employs 300 staff and has over 50 million members worldwide. With the Microsoft deal secured, Zuckerberg intends to more than double the Facebook staff to 700 and they expect to increase online membership to over 300 million in the next couple of years. Online social networking is proving to be one of the most sustaining activities on the web; only time will tell if it will eventually surpass 'surfing for porn'... UPDATE
BloodSpell is a 2006 fantasy film produced by Strange Company. BloodSpell employs filming techniques known as machinima, and is the first feature-length production to use BioWare's Aurora Engine, developed for the computer role-playing game Neverwinter Nights, to generate the video portion of the film. The film was completed in December 8, 2006, after being released serially, in short episodes, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License, which allows for redistribution, modification, and creation of fan fiction.. Strange Company have asserted somewhat controversially that, as of 2006, BloodSpell, was the largest machinima production.
The series features numerous cameos, including several voice appearances from science fiction author Charles Stross.
In August 2006, a controversy sprung up around BloodSpell when the Leipzig Games Conference pronounced it too violent to be shown as part of their Machinima showcase. After a protest, the Games Conference changed their position (taking a considerable risk in light of the German press's attitudes to game violence) and allowed the film to be shown.
[Thanks to Wikipedia] UPDATE
Following Radiohead's radical announcement to sell their latest album directly to fans and at a price of their choosing, Nine Inch Nails have decided to sell their work directly to their fans. Record companies days are numbered unless they can reinvent themselves into a new form more suited to the new business models of the 21st century music industry...
Here is a statement from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor: 'I have been under recording contracts for 18 years and have watched the business radically mutate to something inherently very different and it gives me great pleasure to be able to finally have a direct relationship with the audience as i see fit and appropriate.' UPDATE
An unsuspecting University student who created a video remix for his college project, has been issued with a copyright infringement notice by 20th Century Fox, administered by YouTube. The video in question takes short samples from the movie, Napoleon Dynamite and mixes it with an audio track from a Public Domain PSA dealing with Drug Abuse. The entire video is less than a couple of minutes long. How can 20th Century Fox justify this? The video clip is obviously fair use and has no commercial value whatsoever. UPDATE
Copyfighting U.S. attorney, Tim Wu has launched a new site called keepyourcopyrights.org to encourage creators to hold on to their copyrights rather than signing them away to record companies or other such similar indusrty middlemen. Most of the problems we face today come from copyrights ending up in huge stock piles owned by large media companies like the RIAA or Hollywood studios, for example. The site provides general information on U.S. copyright law and shows actual contracts people have signed that take away their copyrights. Interesting stuff... UPDATE
Supergroup, Radiohead have decided to take a fresh take on the sales of their new album, In Rainbows. They are not releasing it through any record label, instead opting to make it available only through their website. The real kicker is that they are allowing potential purchasers to choose their own price. i.e. you pay what you think is a fair price for the album. Genius and possibly the way forward for online music...[thanks to Boing Boing] UPDATE
A story goes that back in the day, when patent examiners actually did their job and only granted patents to genuinely innovative and useful inventions, Donald Duck may have unwittingly pevented a patent from being granted...
"There is a famous story (among patent attorneys, at least) about a Donald Duck story being used as prior art against a patent on a method of raising a sunken ship. A 1949 Donald Duck story used the same technique.
How do you quickly raise a sunken ship full of sheep? The Danish inventor Karl Krøyer came up with a very creative solution: pump buoyant bodies into the ship to achieve sufficient upward lift to bring the ship back to the surface. The solution was so creative he got a patent on it. In a 1949 Donald Duck story, titled The Sunken Yacht a ship is raised by stuffing it full of ping-pong balls. That kind of prior art could kill the patent. But whether the story was actually used by a patent office to refuse the patent (application) remains unclear."
[Thanks to Boing Boing]
Halo 3 has been released! And with it come two new features that should be quite encouraging to the remix community. The third installment of the popular alien space romp includes the ability to save gameplay movies with game data to share with other Halo players through a filesharing network developed by Bungie, the creators of Halo. Exciting stuff. Basically means that they are encouraging users to create their own mash-ups and remixes and share them with each other online. Good move. Can't wait to play it! UPDATE
The Pirate Bay has taken a good look through the leaked emails from 'Media Defender' the film and music industries front line defence against p2p file sharing, and they have discovered evidence of illegal sabotage.
So they're suing all the big movie and record companies in Sweden:
* Twentieth Century Fox, Sweden AB
* Emi Music Sweden AB
* Universal Music Group Sweden AB
* Universal Pictures Nordic AB
* Paramount Home Entertainment (Sweden) AB
* Atari Nordic AB
* Activision Nordic Filial Till Activision (Uk) Ltd
* Ubisoft Sweden AB
* Sony Bmg Music Entertainment (Sweden) AB
* Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic AB
[Thanks to Boing Boing] UPDATE
A company known as Premier International Associates has filed suit against a host of technology companies claiming that it owns the exclusive patent rights for what is commonly known as a 'Playlist.' Essentially, a playlist is a list of digital media (usually songs) that can be arranged in whatever order the user prefers for later playback. The idea that something like this can be patented is crazy, but apparently, Apple have settled with Premier International out of court and they are obviously hoping that Microsoft, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Viacom, Real, Napster, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Nokia, and Sandisk will do the same. Intellectual Property abuse. UPDATE
Minneapolis based Tay Zonday has created an online phenomenon in the form of his catchy tune, Chocolate Rain, which he has made available under a Creative Commons licence. Remeniscent of the theme tune to a Commodore 64 computer game, the song has been covered and parodied dozens of times on YouTube by people as diverse as John Mayer and Darth Vader. Check out Kuato from Total Recall doing his version elsewhere on this site... UPDATE
Prince has decided to turn his attentions to a ridiculously pointless assault on video sharing and file trading networks, such as YouTube, the Pirate Bay and even EBay.
Obviously annoyed and confused by the sea change in the music industry over the last few years, Prince is determined to try to exert control over his copyright online, a truly impossible challenge.
Over 2,000 of his videos have been removed from YouTube, but no sooner has one video been taken down, than a dozen people reupload it. Prince is part of a dying breed of musicians who are clinging to the old model of record industry control. This is surprising considering he publishes his own music and gave away his last album for free on a Sunday newspaper recently.
Musicians and film-makers need to adopt a new attitude to the music and film industries online, as the rules have changed and both industries are thriving as never before. More music is being created than ever was when record industries exerted monopoly control over the distribution of music. Prince and those like him, stuck in their nostalgia for an era gone by, will eventually realise the error of their ways and embrace the new, better model for sharing and creating music online. UPDATE
You may remember several posts ago, we reported on one Christopher Knight of Rockingham county who was charged by Viacom with copyright infringement for uploading his own video to YouTube, albeit with some commentary from a Viacom owned company. Well, Knight filed a DMCA counter-notification claim and Viacom had to yield. YouTube have put his clip back up and stated that his account would not be punished. A minor victory in the ongoing war against big media company bullying. UPDATE
Jacob Loshin, a law student at Yale, drafted a paper exploring how stage magicians protect the secrets behind their tricks, and continue to come up with great new ideas, without getting caught up in the insanity of intellectual property law. Basically, magicians police themselves based on a set of norms for treating secrets, presentation styles, and techniques of making magic. Violate the norms by, say, stealing a trick or not giving credit where it's due and you'll be shamed and shunned by your fellow magicians. [Thanks to Boing Boing.] UPDATE
With YouTube's impending court case with Viacom over hosting copyright infringing material, the San Jose Mercury News has written a very interesting article about the differences between legal and fair. Carolina based Christopher Knight made a fan video drawing inspiration from the Star Wars universe. Viacom thought the video was funny and took it, added some satirical commentary and reposted it. Knight was flattered and took the updated video with commentary and reposted it again. Viacom said he had to remove this video from YouTube because they owned the copyright ot it. YouTube complied. It is obvious that copyright law in its current form is inadequate to cater for either copyright owners or those who wish to exercise fair use and sample small segments of copyrighted work for non-commercial use. Things need to change. It will be very interesting to see how this case plays out...[Thanks to Darknet.com for the link.] UPDATE
A grieving British couple requested to be allowed to use an image of Winnie the Pooh on their child's gravestone. Disney rejected their request saying that using the image would amount to a breach of copyright.
The stone mason, Aaron Clarke, threatened to go to the press with the story and Disney reluctantly relented to allow the parents to use the image.
This is madness. Disney goes too far. UPDATE
An extremely interesting and up to date documentary by Danish filmmakers Andreas Johnen, Ralf Chrstensen and Henrik Moltke. An excellent entry point for anyone interested in the digital Intellectual Property debate. UPDATE
Australian copyright authorities report Friday that the recently released "The Simpson Movie," which a 21-year-old Australian allegedly filmed with a mobile phone last month while in a Sydney suburb movie house, has been widely distributed on the Internet without Twentieth Century Fox's permission. (courtesy of Wired) UPDATE
A mother posts a video clip of her toddler son with a clip of Prince playing in the background to YouTube. Universal demands that the clip be removed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing Universal asking a federal court to protect the fair use and free speech rights of this mother. Need to see more of this. Too often, the big guys pick on the little guys. Nice to see someone fighting back. UPDATE