Piracy problems? US copyright industries show terrific health

30 05 2012

Pity the poor people who work in the US “copyright industries.” Battered by a decade of digital piracy and facing even more of it thanks to cheap computers, fast Internet, P2P file-sharing, and online file lockers, the US creative industries teeter on the verge of collapse. You can tell because the industry:

  • Pays better than most American jobs
  • Has outperformed the US economy through a horrific recession
  • Sells record-setting amounts of product overseas, earning more foreign revenue than the entire US food sector or US pharmaceutical companies

Things are going so “badly” that a major new report commissioned by copyright holders says that these “consistently positive trends solidify the status of the copyright industries as a key engine of growth for the US economy as a whole.”

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Warner Bros: we issued takedowns for files we never saw, didn’t own copyright to

30 05 2012

In a Monday court filing, Warner Brothers admitted that it has issued takedown notices for files without looking at them first. The studio also acknowledged that it issued takedown notices for a number of URLs that its adversary, the locker site Hotfile, says were obviously not Warner Brothers’ content.

Hotfile has been locked in a legal battle with Hollywood studios since February; the studios accuse the site of facilitating copyright infringement on a massive scale. Hotfile counters that it is immune from liability for the infringements of its users because it complies with the notice-and-takedown procedures established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But Hotfile has also tried to turn the tables by arguing that one of the studios, Warner Brothers, has itself violated the DMCA by issuing bogus takedown requests.

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It’s official: America a land of young, casual pirates

30 05 2012

A major new survey of American attitudes to online copyright infringement has found that 70 percent of all 18 to 29-year-olds have pirated music, TV shows, or movies. But almost no Americans are hardcore grog-swillers, and two-thirds of those who do acquire copyrighted material without permission also acquire content legally.

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Patient sues dentist over gag order, gets Medical Justice to backtrack

30 05 2012

A patient has filed a class-action lawsuit against his New York dentist over her attempts to use copyright law to gag the patient’s online reviews of her services. Robert Lee, who recently moved to Maryland, has asked a New York federal court to declare that his comments are protected under copyright’s fair use doctrine, that the dentist’s attempts to gag him breach dental ethics, and that the “privacy agreement” the patient was forced to sign is invalid and illegal under New York law.

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The Center for Democracy and Technology also filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission “arguing that Medical Justice was itself engaging in “deceptive and unfair business practices” through the sale of these contracts.”

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The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/11/patient-sues-dentist-over-gag-order-causing-medical-justice-to-drop-it/ and http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/11/complaint-medical-copyright-over-your-comments-contracts-are-illegal-1/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Spiritual Group’s Attempt to Unmask Online Critics Goes South–Art of Living Foundation v. Does

29 05 2012

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Art of Living Foundation v. Does, 10-cv-05022-LHK (N.D. Ca.; Nov. 9, 2011)

Art of Living Foundation is an organization based in India that is dedicated to teaching the spiritual lessons of “His Holiness Ravi Shankar.” Defendants are disgruntled former “student-teachers and students” of plaintiff who want to bring to light their view that AOLF is a “manipulative and abusive cult.” Defendants posted blogs under the pseudonyms “Skywalker” and “Klim.”

AOLF sued, alleging various claims including defamation, misappropriation of trade secrets, copyright infringement and trade libel. AOLF also alleged that defendants published AOLF’s copyrighted “Breathe Sound Water Manual.” AOLF sought leave to conduct expedited discovery. This request was approved and AOLF issued subpoenas to Google and Automattic. Before Google and Auttomatic complied with the subpoenas, defendants appeared through counsel and moved to dismiss AOLF’s defamation claim, strike its trade secrets claim, and also moved to quash the discovery. Skywalker acknowledged that he published the manual, but said that he posted this solely as part of his larger campaign to bring awareness to his views about AOLF.

Other coverage:
Public Citizen: Federal Judge Protects Anonymity of Blogger Despite the Allegedly Infringing Posting of a Copyrighted Teaching Manual
Techdirt: Courts Can’t Ignore Free Speech Concerns Just Because Someone Claims Copyright Infringement
Wendy Davis: Court Rejects Bid To Unmask “Art of Living” Critic
RCFP: Federal judge preserves blogger’s anonymity

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The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2011/12/spiritual_group.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Appeals Court reaffirms DMCA protection for user-generated content

28 05 2012

Universal Music Group was dealt a heavy loss today in its long-running copyright lawsuit against Veoh, a now-defunct video hosting site, with a federal judge upholding a previous ruling that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision protected Veoh from liability when users uploaded videos that infringed on UMG’s intellectual property.

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The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/12/appeals-court-reaffirms-dmca-protection-for-user-generated-content/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Supreme Court rules Congress can re-copyright public domain works

28 05 2012

Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

In a 6-2 ruling, the court ruled that just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” (PDF)

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The content in this post was found at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/01/supreme-court-rules-congress-can-re-copyright-public-domain-works/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



SOPA Who? FBI Charges Seven with Online Piracy

28 05 2012

The start of the Megaupload case [ed.]

The WSJ’s Devlin Barrett reports on a timely online piracy case filed today in Virginia.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation moved against a group of suspected online pirates Thursday, targeting the popular file-sharing website megaupload.com a day after Washington lawmakers were besieged by complaints about legislation designed to crack down on the online sharing of pirated copies of music, movies and other material, people familiar with the matter said.

Mega Indictment

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The content in this post was found at http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/01/19/sopa-who-fbi-charges-seven-with-online-piracy/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wsj%2Flaw%2Ffeed+%28WSJ.com%3A+Law+Blog%29 and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Internet wins: SOPA and PIPA both shelved

27 05 2012

Just hours after Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he was delaying a vote on the PROTECT IP Act, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, followed suit and announced he would be delaying consideration of the companion legislation.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”

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Photobucket Qualifies for the 512(c) Safe Harbor (Again)–Wolk v. Kodak

27 05 2012

By Eric Goldman

Wolk v. Kodak Imaging Network, Inc., 2012 WL 11270 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2012). Prior blog post on this case.

Wolk is an artist. Users uploaded images of Wolk’s work to Photobucket (a UGC photo-sharing site). Photobucket, in turn, had a revenue-sharing agreement with Kodak Imaging that allowed users to print the images via Kodak (i.e., Kodak did “photofinishing”).

Photofinishing Liability

The court says that Kodak Imaging wasn’t directly liable for printing the images (Wolk didn’t allege secondary infringement). The court observes that “reproduction, display or transmission of the Plaintiff’s images by or through the KODAK Gallery website is an automated process with no human intervention by any employee of the Kodak Defendants.” Thus, because its entire system was automated, Kodak didn’t act volitionally and thus avoids the strict liability standards of direct copyright infringement.

This ruling is unexpected because it’s been conventional wisdom for many years that photofinishers were in fact directly liable for their print jobs. Perhaps that’s because humans were always involved in the photofinishing process during that time, as opposed to now where the process from photo upload to mailing of items can be completely automated. Whatever the case, this ruling has to be encouraging for other automated photofinishers (whether they print photos or other items), such as CafePress or Zazzle. Then again, perhaps the copyright plaintiffs will pursue them under secondary infringement doctrines, which Wolk didn’t do.

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The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2012/01/wolk_v_kodak.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.