August 1, 2014

Copyright and Fair Use

Of Bundles, Bindings, and the Next Great Copyright Law | Peer to Peer Review

Kevin L. Smith

Everyone who teaches copyright uses the same metaphor, I think. Copyright is a “bundle of sticks.” A property owner is said to have a bundle, where each “stick” represents an exclusive right. I had not really thought deeply about this metaphor until it was raised at a conference I attended whose theme was what a new copyright law might look like. There was a lot of talk about the problems with the current law. Until then it had not occurred to me that one of those problems was the bundle of rights itself.

Authors Guild Appeals Dismissal of Google Books Lawsuit

Google Books Logo

Last November Judge Denny Chin dealt a blow to the lawsuit filed by publishers and the Author’s Guild against tech giant Google and its Google Books Service (GBS). Chin, of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Appeals Court, dismissed the case, which challenged the legality of GBS providing searchable PDFs of copyrighted works when Judge Denny. On Friday, April 11, the Guild filed an appeal in the case, marking the latest flareup in a long-running suit with major implications for copyright law in the U.S.

Kevin Gorman: Berkeley’s Wikipedian-in-Residence

Gorman

Whether librarians and faculty like it or not, Wikipedia remains at the heart of the research process for many undergraduate students. Rather than trying to stem the tide, the University of California Berkeley is trying to make students there into more responsible and effective users of the online encyclopedia. To that end, the university’s American Cultures program has hired alumni Kevin Gorman as the first Wikipedian-In-Residence at a US university.

What Rights Come with That Movie? | Backtalk

Imagine that you bought a new jacket on Amazon.com and received an email a month later from the manufacturer telling you that you paid the wrong amount for the jacket and that you owe the company several hundred dollars more. This may seem implausible, but for academic libraries that buy DVDs through distributors like Amazon.­com, it is a recurring problem: after buying DVDs at retail prices, they get an official-looking email saying they owe more.

Digital Firsts

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The U.S Department of Commerce (DoC) has been collecting public comment on the topic of the first sale doctrine and digital files in recent weeks; the agency was scheduled to meet about the issue on December 12 in Washington, DC. First sale doctrine is a set of exemptions to U.S. copyright law that permit consumers to resell used books or DVDs and libraries to loan books without seeking permission from publishers. Yet for reasons examined in more detail below, first sale exemptions have not translated well for digital content. The DoC’s call for public comment could mark the beginning of a campaign to reassess what copyright and first sale mean in the modern digital era, notes one expert.

Judge Dismisses Authors’ Lawsuit Against Google Books

In what analysts are describing as a big win for scholars and libraries, federal circuit court judge Denny Chin today dismissed a lawsuit against Google brought by the Authors Guild claiming that the company had violated copyrights by digitizing millions of books and making short samples of the works available via its Google Books service. In the decision, Chin stated that Google Books provided “significant public benefits,” and that the digitized works were protected by the principle of fair use.

A Circuitous Journey with Black Elk and Ezra Pound | Peer to Peer Review

Black Elk Speaks has been published by three different publishers in the U.S. The rarity that this movement creates is the availability of different editions of the book from different publishers. That is, there is a semblance of competition in the publishing of Black Elk Speaks. This anomaly brings into relief the normal effects of the copyright monopoly. It offers an opportunity to reflect on what alternatives to the strict publishing monopoly might look like.

MIT, JSTOR Filings Delay Release of Swartz FOIA Documents

Aaron Swartz at SOPA rally

Citing concerns about the privacy of employees and the security of their networks, both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and nonprofit JSTOR have filed motions intervening in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks to obtain Secret Service documents regarding internet activist Aaron Swartz.

We Have a Treaty! Now What? | Peer to Peer Review

Having written a column a couple of weeks ago expressing skepticism, even cynicism, about the prospect of the international diplomatic conference sponsored in Marrakesh by the World Intellectual Property Organization actually producing a treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind and visually impaired, I was both pleased and surprised to hear that such a treaty was agreed to by the delegates in the wee hours of June 25.

Authors Guild Loses Class Action Status

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated Judge Denny Chin’s 2012 grant of class action status to the Authors Guild in its long-running suit against Google Books. The panel called the certification “premature.” It added that the court should first have decided on the merits of Google’s fair use defense, which, the court said, “will necessarily inform and perhaps moot our analysis of many class certification issues.”