File-sharing has weakened copyright—and helped society

27 06 2010

Nate Anderson

Ars Technica

June, 2010

Has file-sharing helped society? Looked at from the narrow perspective of existing record labels, the question must seem absurd; profits have dropped sharply in the years since tools like Napster first appeared. But a pair of well-known academics argue peer-to-peer file sharing has weakened copyright in the US… and managed to benefit all of us at the same time.

“Consumer welfare increased substantially due to new technology,” write Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard and Koleman Strumpf of the University of Kansas. “Weaker copyright protection, it seems, has benefited society.”

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Shameless plug: Ars talks P2P lawsuits on NPR

26 06 2010

For the last several months, I’ve been covering the tens of thousands of “John Doe” lawsuits brought against accused peer-to-peer movie swappers by the law firm of Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver. With so many developments and so many different cases, it can sometimes be hard for newcomers to the story to get a high-level overview of what’s going on—and why it matters.

Fortunately, National Public Radio’s On the Media is on the case. In this week’s episode, On the Media aired an interview between myself and host Bob Garfield

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Google Defeats Viacom’s Copyright Case with DMCA Safe Harbor

25 06 2010

This week, the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment for Google in its one billion dollar case against Viacom, finding that YouTube, which is owned by Google, is protected under the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Viacom, along with other plaintiffs, sued YouTube for copyright infringement..

– Theresa Weisenberger

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“Walking On Eggshells: Borrowing Culture in the Remix Age.” (video)

24 06 2010

“Walking On Eggshells: Borrowing Culture in the Remix Age.” (video)

Elizabeth Stark: Several students in my Intellectual Property in the Digital Age at Yale recently made this kickass Creative Commons-licensed film on remix culture and appropriation. The film features interviews from DJ Earworm, Jonathan Lethem, DJ Ripley, Eclectic Method, Joy Garnett, Michael Cunningham, and others.

“Walking on Eggshells” is a 24-minute documentary about appropriation, creative influence, re-use and intellectual property in the remix age. It is a conversation among various musicians, visual artists, writers and lawyers, all sharing their views on why and how we use and create culture, and how intellectual property law, originally designed to provide people with incentives to create, sometimes hinders creative production far more than it enhances it.

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Citizen Media Law Project, EFF, and Public Citizen file amicus brief in “hot news misappropriation” case

22 06 2010

Berkman press release:

Cambridge, Mass. – The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Citizen, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, urging the court to apply First Amendment scrutiny to the recently resurgent “hot news misappropriation” doctrine in Barclays Capital, Inc. v. Theflyonthewall.com, Inc. The coalition worked with Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic on the brief.

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The brief can be found at http://www.citmedialaw.org/sites/citmedialaw.org/files/Fly Amicus Brief.pdf

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P2P lawyers tell judge: suing 5,000 “Does” at once is fine

22 06 2010

The US Copyright Group, a business name for the group of Virginia lawyers filing suits against tens of thousands of alleged US peer-to-peer movie downloaders, has been sharply criticized by the EFF and ACLU for suing up to 5,000 anonymous defendants at once. The suits were “improperly joined,” said the groups. At least one of the federal judges overseeing these cases wanted to hear more, telling lawyers from Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver to convince her that all of the anonymous defendants had participated in the same transaction.

Yesterday, lawyer Tom Dunlap tried his hand at the task, filing a 29-page document in the Washington, DC District Court. According to Dunlap, suing 5,000 anonymous users at once is proper because of how BitTorrent works.

Read the rest of this article...


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Music industry dogpiles on LimeWire with new lawsuit

17 06 2010

LimeWire continues to take a beating from the music industry, as eight members of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) have filed a new lawsuit against the company. The organization announced the lawsuit during its annual meeting in New York, saying that LimeWire facilitated “pervasive online infringement” and that it affected everyone in the music industry.

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Best Practices in Fair Use come to the research library community

11 06 2010

For the last several years, the Center for Social Media at American University (directed by Pat Aufderheide) and the Program for Information Justice at the University law school (with which I’m affiliated) have been worked with various groups of practitioners (documentary filmmakers, media literacy educations, on-line video makers, providers of open courseware, dance archives, and others) to devise so-called Statements or Codes of Best Practices in fair use for those communities.

Some information about that effort can be found at http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/resources/fair_use/. Now, thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Association of Research Libraries, we’ll be part of a team devising fair use standards for institutional collections of print and other media in support of teaching and scholarship.

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EFF Weighs in on Facebook v. Power Ventures — Facebook v. Power Ventures

8 06 2010

[Post by Venkat]

Facebook v. Power Ventures, Case No. 5:08-cv-05780 JW (N.D. Cal.) (Facebook Motion) (EFF Amicus Brief)

Facebook and Power Ventures have been locked in a dispute over whether Power Ventures can access Facebook’s website and network outside of Facebook’s authorized developer channels. The dispute yielded an interesting ruling on Power.com’s motion to dismiss. The parties are both seeking summary judgment on the issue of whether Power.com’s conduct violates California Penal Code section 502(c). EFF recently weighed in with an amicus brief which makes the already interesting dispute even more interesting.

The Dispute: Facebook brought Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims and copyright claims (along with a slew of other claims) against Power.com. Setting aside the peripheral trademark and CAN-SPAM claims, Facebook’s key allegations are that (1) Power.com accessed Facebook’s network “without authorization” in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (and section 502(c), the California computer crime statute); (2) Power.com accessed Facebook’s network in violation of the Facebook terms of use; and (3) Power.com copied the copyrighted portions of the Facebook website in the process of allowing Facebook users to access Facebook through Power.com’s interface. (There’s also an anti-circumvention claim tied to the unauthorized copying claim.) The court denied Power.com’s motion to dismiss. (See coverage of the court’s initial ruling on Power.com’s motion to dismiss from Tom O’Toole, Jeff Neuburger, and Cyberlaw Cases.)

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RIAA wants LimeWire shut down over “rampant illegal conduct”

7 06 2010

The RIAA has asked the federal judge overseeing the LimeWire case to slap a permanent injunction on LimeWire until it can clean up its copyright troubles to the labels’ satisfaction. . . .

LimeWire was found liable for massive copyright infringement a few weeks back. Judge Kimba Wood’s ruling cited internal LimeWire documents showing a knowledge of all the infringement taking place through LimeWire’s software—and little done to stop it.

“In the weeks since this Court’s Order, what has Lime Wire done to try to halt or limit the infringement it has induced?” ask the RIAA lawyers. “The answer, from all appearances, is nothing.”

The RIAA now proposes that the judge shut down the service and forbid LimeWire from distributing its software or running advertising.

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