The music industry dropped DRM years ago. So why does it persist on e-books?

3 02 2013
So maybe you were lucky enough to get an e-reader for the holidays. In fact, maybe you’re reading this article on one right now! Maybe you’re cozying up to your fire and you’re considering what e-book you want to download to get through these dark winter days.But you’re an Ars reader, and you actually know (and care!) what DRM stands for. After all, we’ve been covering digital rights management for years, ever since it was a contentious issue in the music industry. You may recall that Amazon itself led the charge against Cupertino, challenging iTunes with cheaper downloads and a lack of DRM. But Amazon’s lead in the fight against music DRM was a business decision rather than an ideological stance. You may remember our story from late October 2012, detailing how to strip DRM off of Amazon Kindle purchases as a means of backing up your titles and preventing Amazon from deleting your entire library on a whim.

And that leaves this question: where’s the DRM outrage over e-books? Or put another way, why doesn’t Amazon care about eliminating DRM for books, when it did for music?

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Will 2013 be the year copyright reformers hit back?

3 02 2013
It’s a post-SOPA world. But the question is, what does that mean for the future?Content companies used to getting their way on Capitol Hill got humbled last January when an unprecedented wave of public protest shut down the SOPA and PIPA proposals that would have regulated online copyright. Now that the public has been awakened to the issue, those interested in a more balanced copyright system are thinking over their strategy. 

“Everything is on the table, including copyright terms,” said Gigi Sohn, the president of Public Knowledge, speaking at a panel at CES 2013. “Let’s put it to those who want greater, longer, stronger CR enforcement … why shouldn’t we have some balance? Let’s turn the clock back and think about the original need for copyright.”

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“Buffy vs Edward” remix unfairly removed by Lionsgate

3 02 2013
Jonathan McIntosh

It has been three and a half years since I first uploaded my remix video “Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed” to YouTube. The work is an example of fair use, transformative storytelling which serves as a visual critique of gender roles and representations in modern pop culture vampire media.

Since I published the remix in 2009 it has been viewed over 3 million times on YouTube and fans have translated the subtitles into 30 different languages. It has been featured and written about by the LA Times, Boston Globe, Salon, Slate, Wired, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly and discussed on NPR radio. It was nominated for a 2010 Webby Award in the best remix/mashup category. The video is used in law school programs, media studies courses, and gender studies curricula across the country. The remix also ignited countless online debates over the troubling ways stalking-type behavior is often framed as deeply romantic in movie and television narratives.

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Six-year-old “Dancing baby” lawsuit set for jury trial

28 01 2013

The YouTube “dancing baby” takedown case, made Internet-famous by lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation back in 2007, looks like it will actually go to a jury about six years after it was filed.

US District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled today [PDF] that neither Universal Music Group, which asked for this video of a dancing toddler to be taken off YouTube, nor EFF, which represented the child’s mother, will win their case on summary judgment. Today’s order, which responds to issues raised at an October hearing, means the case will have to proceed to a jury trial if there’s no settlement.

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17 USC 512(f) Is Dead–Lenz v. Universal Music

28 01 2013

By Eric Goldman

Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 5:07-cv-03783-JF (N.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2013).

This is the long-running case involving a YouTube video of a baby dancing to a Prince song. Universal Music overzealously took the video down for 6 weeks in 2007 via a 512(c)(3) notice. The video now has 1.2M+ views, so it’s since become a cultural icon. The video has spawned 6 years of litigation over Universal’s wrongful takedown notice–litigation that is going nowhere fast and unfortunately will yield nothing useful when it’s done.

Judge Fogel rejected the summary judgment motions of both parties, sending this case to trial on Universal’s scienter when sending the takedown notice. Judge Fogel summarizes the permissible arguments each party can make:

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Unlocking new cell phones to become illegal on Saturday

28 01 2013

An edict from the Library of Congress is about to make phone unlocking illegal for the first time in 6 years. The decision, issued in October, is part of a triennial process whereby the Librarian of Congress hands out exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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Is a Website “Published” for Copyright Law Purposes?–Rogers v. BBB of Houston

28 01 2013

[Post by Jake McGowan, with comments from Eric]

Rogers v. Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston, H-10-3741 (Aug. 15, 2012)

In the realm of copyright law, evolving technological perceptions have led to doctrinal questions that have the potential to determine the outcome of a case. One of these questions is whether posting content to a website amounts to “publishing” the material within the meaning of the Copyright Act.

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Judge decries “excessive” copyright and software patent protections

28 01 2013

Richard Posner, the federal judge who threw out the entire Apple v. Motorola patent battle in June, has penned a new blog post complaining about the proliferation of patents. “I am concerned that both patent and copyright protection, though particularly the former, may be excessive,” Posner wrote on Sunday.

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Publishers abandon fight against Google book scanning

28 01 2013

Five large publishers have made a separate peace with Google over the inclusion of their books in Google Books, announcing a settlement that resolves the seven-year-old litigation with the search giant.

. . . .

“It’s been obvious for several years that the authors are going forward [with the lawsuit] and the publishers are uninterested,” said James Grimmelmann, a copyright scholar at New York Law School. He said that after the class-action settlement was rejected, the publishers were ready to cut a private deal. It just took a few months to hammer out the specifics.

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“Notes and Questions” About the UMG v. Shelter Capital Case (Excerpt from my Internet Law Reader)

28 01 2013

By Eric Goldman

As I previously mentioned, I have posted my Internet Law reader as a $7.50 download. In connection with adding the UMG v. Shelter Capital case, I completely redid the “Notes and Questions” section following the edited case. I’m teaching the materials now in my Internet Law class, and I thought you might be interested in seeing an excerpt of the reader’s discussion about the case and 17 USC 512 generally:
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NOTES AND QUESTIONS

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