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 <a href=;http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/06/dont_shoot_the.php">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.”

Claims of Prior Art In Verizon/Vonage Patent Infringement Case

Vonage has been saying Verizon’s patent claims are overly broad for some time, but now people have dug up some prior art. One of the patents Verizon is complaining about is #6,104,711, what they call an “enhanced internet domain name server.” In short, it’s all about linking phone numbers to IP numbers, and Jeff Pulver […] » about 300 words

The High Cost Of Innovation: Vonage’s Patent Woes

Vonage will be in court again tomorrow defending itself against Verizon’s claims of patent infringement. The innovative VoIP company had lost the trial and was ordered to pay $58 Million in damages in early March, when a jury found them to have violated thee of seven related patents held by Verizon. Vonage appealed of course, […] » about 300 words

“I Hate DRM” And Other Projects To Preserve The Digital Artistic Commons

| People hate <a href="http://maisonbisson.com/blog/search/drm">DRM</a>. It prevents law abiding folks from <a href="http://maisonbisson.com/blog/post/10683/">enjoying the music and movies they've purchased</a>, and it does little to prevent crackers from <a href="http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en-us&q=copy+dvd+css&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8">making illegal copies</a>. In response, somebody's created <a href="http://www.ihatedrm.com/" title="I Hate DRM">I Hate DRM</a>, “a site dedicated to reclaiming consumer digital rights.” And on the content creator's side: <a href="http://www.crftp.com/propaganda.html" title="CRFTP.com - Propaganda">Creative Remixes For The People</a>. » about 200 words

Can Actors Sell Their Digital Clones?

| <a href="http://web.media.mit.edu/~wex/">Alan Wexelblat</a> in <a href="http://copyfight.corante.com/archives/2006/03/15/what_right_in_digital_actors.php">Copyfight poses a question</a> from a reader about the future of entertainment: <blockquote>what rights do you purchase/license/contract for in creating such a reproduction of a real person? Rights to the “likeness?” Performance rights? Do either of these cover things the actor never physically did or said? Is there an exclusivity clause? There are clearly some issues around the ownership of a character, if that character has appeared before (e.g. Connery's Bond) but usually the character rights reside with the studio. But if you want the Connery Bond instead of a generic James Bond you also have to incude Connery in the deal, as well as whatever studio or estate has the Bond character rights.</blockquote> » about 300 words

Libraries vs. DRM

Within minutes of each other, two friends from separate corners of the world sent me a tip about the following:

Slashdot pointed to this BBC News that talks about the ill effects of DRM on libraries.

What’s DRM? It’s that “digital rights management” component of some software and media that supposedly protects against illegal copying, but more often prevents legitimate users from enjoying the stuff they’ve bought legally. Now think about how this works (or doesn’t) in libraries…

Thanks to Zach and Roderick for the tip.

Queen Mashups Are All The Rage

Michael Sauers pointed out Q-Unit, a mashup of Queen and 50 Cent. They’re sure to have Disney (the rights owner for Queen’s catalog) on their back soon. At least, it didn’t take Disney long to shut down The Kleptones, whose “A Night At The Hip-Hopera” has a spot on my iPod.

And that’s where the story comes around, are we at the point where we can say Queen’s music has taken on the status of a modern fairy tale? And are these artists — The Kleptones and Q-Unit — the new Disneys, remaking old tales for new times?

Copyright and Academic Libraries

Back when I was looking things up for my Digital Preservation and Copyright story I found a bunch of info the University of Texas System had gathered on issues related to copyright, libraries, and education. In among the pages on copying copyrighted works, A/V reserves, and electronic reserves I found a document titled: Educational Fair Use Guidelines for Digital Images.

It’s some interesting stuff — if you get excited about copyright law. Beware, however, that they cite Texaco a bunch, and Laura Quilter has issues with that.

Laura Quilter Defends Google Print

With all the talk about Google scanning or not scanning copyrighted books, I was happy to see Laura Quilter talking about Google as a library.

The Internet Archive is certainly a library. […] Libraries may be private, semi-private, public; for- or not-for-profit; paper or digital. Why is Google not a library?

More interestingly, she casts a critical eye on the Texaco decision that everybody points to as the guiding law on fair use. This, and the rest of her blog are good reading.

DRM = Customer Lock-In

Donna Wentworth is now saying what I’ve been saying for over a year now. Digital Rights Management (DRM) isn’t about preventing copyright violations by ne’er-do-wells, it’s about eliminating legal me2me fair use and locking in customers. In Your PC == A Toaster, Wentworth quotes Don Marti saying: Isn’t it time to drop the polite fiction […] » about 300 words

Digital Preservation and Copyright

We’re struggling with the question of what to do with our collection of vinyl recordings. They’re deteriorating, and we’re finding it increasingly difficult to keep the playback equipment in working order — the record needles seem to disappear. We’re re-purchased much of our collection on CD, but some items — this one might be one […] » about 300 words

DRM: Bad For Customers, Bad For Publishers

The news came out last week that the biggest music consumers — the ones throwing down cash for music — are also the biggest music sharers. Alan Wexblat at Copyfight says simply: “those who share, care” (BBC link via TeleRead). Rather than taking legal action against downloaders, the music industry needs to entice them to […] » about 600 words

The Failures Of Permission Culture

Donna Wentworth, over at Copyfight pointed out a JD Lasica piece detailing the responses from seven studios to his requests to use short (10-30 seconds) clips of their films in a non-commercial project he was working on with his child. …four of the studios refused outright, two refused to respond, and the seventh wobbled. This […] » about 300 words

Copyfight Friday

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did another one of his monkey acts when he went ape about music and DRM. Most people still steal music…We can build the technology but there are still ways for people to steal music. The most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’. It could just be a picture […] » about 400 words