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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Interesting Copyright News

I'm forever fascinated with copyright law. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution empowers Congress "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Note the words useful, exclusive and especially, limited. I'm not going to go into a dissertation about how the changes in copyright law in the United States I believe is contrary to the original intent.

I can't find it presently, but there was a recent story about a guy who played on the original sessions for the Beatles' album Revolver (1966) and that his payments would end soon because British copyright law's term will have ended. It was suggested that Britain might seek a copyright law similar to that currently employed by the United States. To which I only have five words to say: NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

Other interesting recent stories from New Media Law & E-Commerce News, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 5, 2009, ISSN 1489-954X, which can be found in detail here include:

Music Industry Set to Abandon Mass Piracy Lawsuits - RIAA stops pursuing legal action against ISPs

Harry Potter Lexicon Decision Analyzed - by the ARL and the ALAs. The article, by Jonathan Band, is entitled How Fair Use Prevailed in the Harry Potter Case (PDF).

Judge Rules Facts Are Not Copyright-Protected - this re: two movies about the 1970 plane crash that killed the Marshall University football team.

Hasbro Drops Lawsuit Against Makers of Scrabulous - R.J. Softwares won't use the term "Scrabulous" and made changes to the game after the lawsuit had been filed.

Canadian Copyright Board Increases Tax on Blank Compact Disks- from 21 cents to 29 cents.

In each of these cases, I feel that common sense has won out.

Then there was this situation: $900 Million Copyright Suit Filed Over Illegal Use of Subscription Web Site
I don't want to say it's a frivolous lawsuit, since clearly harm was done to the copyright holder, about $5000 in fees. But to get from $5K to nearly a billion dollars is a circuitous argument that practically begs for tort reform, something I generally think an overstated argument.



Roger Owen Green said...

Copyright Reformer Lands Key Legislative Post by Wendy Davis, Friday, January 9, 2009, 8:36 AM Media Post News Online Media Daily

A shorter URL for the above link:

Some digital rights advocates cheered the appointment of longtime copyright-reform champion Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
As a longtime proponent of consumers' rights to lawfully copy films, books and other material, Boucher is considered a likely opponent of any entertainment industry efforts to restrict the Web. Among other measures, he is likely to oppose attempts to require Internet service providers to filter networks for pirated material.
Boucher also has tried to revamp the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to make it more consumer-friendly. Two years ago, Boucher and another lawmaker, John Doolittle (R-Calif.), introduced the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 1201), which would have softened the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.

Arthur Schenck said...

Well, it could be worse: You could have the dog's breakfast that is New Zealand's copyright law…