Copyfight

The Reward For Re-Discovering Archive Collections

Documentarians spend most of their time digging up materials that few people know exist. They frequent basements and dark storage rooms, endure conversations with crazy collectors, and typically develop vitamin-d deficiency and light sensitivity in search of what they need.

Their reward for finding the material? A bill from the original creators (the ones who lost and forgot about the work in the first place) for the privilege of using it.

Ars Technica reports a story about filmmaker David Hoffman who had to pay $320,000 for materials used in a film about Sputnik hysteria that swept the US in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the best The History Channel would pay for the entire film is $200,000.

Scott Smitelli On Hacking YouTube’s Content ID DRM System

Scott Smitelli uploaded a total of 82 test videos and received 35 Content ID emails in the name of science: testing YouTube’s Content ID system. He reversed the audio, shifted the pitch, altered the time (without changing pitch), resampled (pitch and time), added noise, messed with the volume, chunked it up into pieces, and fiddled with the stereo fields. In the end, he found both amusing and frustrating results.

He did his tests about a year ago. Google appears to have caught on and disabled his YouTube account, who knows if they’ve addressed some of the holes in the system he found.

YouTomb Tracks Takedowns On YouTube

YouTomb continually monitors the most popular videos on YouTube for copyright-related takedowns. Any information available in the metadata is retained, including who issued the complaint and how long the video was up before takedown. The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm.

Stupid Trademark Law

Story: Timbuk2 develops a new line of messenger bags that features fabric made of recycled material (engineered by RootPhi). Some of the fabric contains a symbol that Target lawyers say is their logo. Target lawyers cease and desist Timbuk2.

Thing is, the trademarked Target logo is a roundel, commonly used around the world (easily recognized in British aircraft of WWII). The particular design Target has chosen appears to be a copy of Peru’s official insignia.

Trademark law isn’t my thing, but I wonder if the roundel is trademarkable. “Most jurisdictions totally exclude certain types of terms and symbols from registration as trademarks, including the emblems, insignia and flags of nations….”

Four Years Of Music Industry Lawsuits & Madness

Marketplace reminds us the storm of RIAA lawsuits began in September 2003. In that time they’ve sued a thousands of people, and most lawyers apparently advise those caught in the madness to simply roll over and take it. But Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother didn’t. After years of litigation (and mounting […] » about 200 words

A Fair(y) Use Tale

From The Chronicle:

Copyright law, a constant thorn in the sides of scholars and researchers, is generating a lot of public discussion this week, thanks in part to a new 10-minute video that parodies the law. “A Fair(y) Use Tale” has been downloaded from YouTube about 145,000 times since it was posted online Friday. The video uses 400 cuts from 27 different Disney films to mock copyright law as overly protective of the interests of copyright owners — Disney among them.

Eric Faden, an assistant professor of English and film studies at Bucknell University, who produced the video with help from seven of his students, said it took eight months to make. “The most important thing is that it’s getting people to talk about these issues” of copyright and fair use, Mr. Faden said today. Worried that Disney may sue him for copyright infringement, Mr. Faden has retained Stanford University law professors.

Rather read a tale of copyright tyranny than watch one? Try “The People Who Owned the Bible.”