US Supreme Court to revisit “first-sale” copyright doctrine

21 05 2012

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide the global reach of US copyright law, in a case testing whether an overseas purchaser of a copyrighted work may resell it in the United States without the copyright holder’s permission.

The justices will hear the case, which considers the “first-sale” doctrine, in its next term and is expected to set a nationwide standard. Federal circuit courts of appeal are split on the issue.

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Music labels force pioneering MP3tunes into bankruptcy

19 05 2012

Gabe Lawrence

MP3tunes, a music locker service that has spent years locked in litigation with major record labels, announced last week that it was closing up shop. The startup scored a partial victory in court last year, helping to establish the legality of cloud music services in the process. But founder Michael Robertson says that “four and a half years of legal torment” forced his company to file for bankruptcy on April 27.

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Fair use (mostly) triumphant: Judge exonerates campus “e-reserves”

19 05 2012

If your collegiate experience was anything like mine, it probably involved frequent trips to the library in order to check out photocopied book chapters on Hegel and Wittgenstein from the “reserves desk” (and involved frequent curses directed to those other readers who, like me, were attempting to cram a chapter an hour before class and had checked out all available copies.) Today, of course, you can just get “e-reserves” through a browser, but the very ease of copying and distribution found in the new systems has publishers worried…

Some publishers think so. Although hesitant to go after educational users over small excerpts, publishers like Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications came to believe that many professors were stepping over even the broad lines around “fair use” and depriving the publishers of licensing revenue in the process. In 2008, they launched a major test case, suing Georgia State University in federal court.

In a massive 350-page ruling (PDF) . . . the judge concluded, “There is no reason to believe that allowing unpaid, nonprofit academic use of small excerpts in controlled circumstances would diminish creation of academic works.”

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Admitted file-swapper begs Supreme Court for help

19 05 2012
“Joel Tenenbaum is a fine and courageous young man who has just received his doctorate in statistical physics,” begins Tenenbaum’s recent plea to the Supreme Court (PDF). He is also an admitted file-swapper. At trial, a jury of his peers decided that he should pay the record labels $675,000 in statutory damages.

Tenenbaum’s lawyer, well-known Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, wants the Supremes to understand that the industry’s “litigation assault” on people like Tenenbaum is “procedurally unfair and profoundly unethical.” Such damage awards, Nesson continues, seek to:

punish [Tenenbaum] beyond any rational measure of the damage he conceivably caused, not for the purpose of recovering compensation for actual damage caused by him, nor for the primary purpose of deterring him from further copyright infringement, but for the ulterior purpose of creating an urban legend so frightening to children using the Internet, and so frightening for parents and teachers of students using the Internet, that they will somehow reverse the tide of the digital future.

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ACTA deathwatch: profs call process unconstitutional, Europe revolts

19 05 2012

 

 

Just when you thought that everyone was content to let debates about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) simmer down, a group of American legal scholars has now submitted an open letter to the United States Senate, challenging the lack of a Congressional approval process for ACTA.

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Rakoff Dismisses Copyright Claims against Westlaw, Lexis

19 05 2012

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan threw out copyright infringement claims brought by lawyers who say LexisNexis and Westlaw are stealing the works of lawyers.


The content in this post was found at http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/05/17/rakoff-dismisses-copyright-claims-against-westlaw-lexis/?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.



Exporting copyright: Inside the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership

19 05 2012
The scene last week at the Intercontinental Dallas Hotel looked like any generic corporate event held in any generic hotel ballroom—until the protesters crashed the party.

Trade officials from countries scattered around the Pacific Rim mingled in business attire. Ron Kirk, current US Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas, welcomed everyone to the the latest round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The crowd applauded, and Kirk stepped down, ready to continue with the festivities, when a man strode confidently to the podium and introduced himself as “Git Haversall,” president of the “Texas Corporate Power Partnership.”

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Oracle v. Google: the road ahead

19 05 2012

Oracle v. Google

 

The month-old Oracle v. Google trial hasn’t had a lot of clarity. Dozens of motions have been filed over issues both great and small, with the only clear development so far being a split copyright verdict. But key events in the past 24 hours have shown what the possibilities are going forward.

First, Judge William Alsup has said he will make a ruling about whether or not programming APIs are copyrightable as early as next week. Next, Oracle has agreed to drop its longshot case for copyright damages it was talking about pursuing last week. Those developments, along with the patent trial verdict that a San Francisco jury should soon deliver, will soon make clear the road ahead.

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Feds considering allowing DVD-encryption cracking

19 05 2012

LOS ANGELES—Federal regulators considered testimony Wednesday here at UCLA Law School on whether to allow citizens and filmmakers to legally crack DVD encryption meant to protect the discs from being copied.

Filmmakers, video mixers and others have petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for the ability to continue to use DVD decryption tools to copy short clips of DVDs from motion pictures to put into their own films. The issue isn’t whether they have a fair-use right to the material, but whether they can utilize decrypting tools to make the best reproduction for film-making purposes.

Another proposal for the first time calls for the public at large to be authorized to make copies of their own DVDs without breaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which makes it unlawful to circumvent encryption technologies in items that you buy.

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Under voter pressure, members of Congress backpedal (hard) on SOPA

16 01 2012

By

Ars Technica.com

The public outcry over the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act seems to have gotten so loud that even members of Congress can hear it. On Thursday we covered the news that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was expressing second thoughts about SOPA’s DNS provisions. He said he changed his mind after he “heard from a number of Vermonters” on the issue.

On Friday, several Republicans started backpedaling as well.

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