Court Confirms the Obvious: Aiding and Abetting Criminal Copyright Infringement Is a Crime — Devlin Hartline has a great analysis of the recent decision to not dismiss criminal charges against the owner and operator of alleged pirate site Kickass Torrents, Artem Vaulin. Among other things, Vaulin argued that the Copyright Act contains no criminal provisions for secondary liability. Hartline explains why the court rejected that argument.

Don’t be bound by Binded.com — Carolyn Wright has some important words of caution about a new service from Binded that promises a fast and easy way to register copyrights in images.

The Invisible Artists Behind Your Favorite Comics — Asher Elbein of the Atlantic takes a look at some of the “behind the scenes” artists involved in creating comic books: colorists and letterers. Elbein writes, “Colorists are the cinematographers of graphic narrative, laying hues over art to control mood and style; letterers are the sound designers, crafting fonts, effects, and speech balloons to bring noise to a silent medium.”

Discogs Curbing Sale Of Unofficial Releases — Besides operating an impressively thorough database of music albums and releases, Discogs also runs an online marketplace to buy and sell records. So it’s great to see it continue to focus efforts and resources on ensuring that marketplace is operated responsibly and doesn’t facilitate the trade of infringing and bootleg recordings.

Some content about content — “Soon, everybody began calling things content. Copywriters became known as ‘content specialists,’ news websites became known as ‘content providers,’ and libraries became known as ‘shrines to content.’ It was the greatest societal shift since Johannes Gutenberg invented the content machine in 1440.”

On August 18, 1787, James Madison proposed to the Constitutional Convention what would become Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, granting Congress the authority to make copyright (and patent) laws. To mark 230 years since that occasion, I’m posting the text of a brief talk I gave during the Center for Protection of Intellectual Property’s fourth annual fall conference October 2016 (video of the talk available here). The text is mildly edited for style, since I talk less grammatically correct than I write.


Lawyers rely on history a lot in practice. Common law itself is built on history—we rely on precedent—and when we are interpreting statutory and constitutional provisions, we’ll often turn to history to find insights and help us guide our interpretation.

But, of course, there’s always a danger with using history. Someone who’s trying to make a point may try to find evidence in the historical record to support that point, so there’s a danger of abuse. And perhaps there’s no period more prone to this type of myth and mischief then the Founding period, the period beginning after the end of the Revolutionary War, through the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and through the first Congress. Because this is when the Constitution was drafted, so a lot of people discussing hot-button topics will try to look at the historical record from the Founding era to find some support for the positions that they are advancing.

And that’s true for copyright law as well, because the constitution does authorize Congress to enact copyright legislation—as well as patent legislation in the same clause, but I’ll be focusing here on copyright (though there is some overlap).

One of the unfortunate trends that a few people have observed is that supporters of a more minimalist copyright, of drawing back the current scope of copyright protection and enforcement, have been trying to advance this narrative that the Founding Fathers would be appalled if they looked at copyright law today, that they intended something completely different from what we see in the statute and in practice.

For example, a few years ago the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote an article in response to some comments, saying, “Don’t be so sure you’ve got the Founders on your side.” They said, “We suspect that if anyone had described today’s copyright system to, say, Thomas Jefferson, he would have been shocked.”1Mitch Stoltz, EFF, “Looking Deeper into MPAA’s Copyright Agenda” (June 17, 2013).

Instead they advance this alternate narrative, which goes something like this: the Founders conceived copyright for a very narrow utilitarian purpose; authors’ interests aren’t at the central part of this equation; and they are only given protections begrudgingly through a narrow government privilege in order to advance this narrow utilitarian purpose.

The problem is when I look at the historical record that we have in front of us, I don’t see a lot of evidence for this view. Instead, I see evidence for something different about what the Founders intended.

Very briefly, I think it’s good to get some context of the timeline we’re looking at here before delving into the details. The Revolutionary War ends, and the Continental Congress is put together. Around the early 1780s, a number of authors started asking the states to pass copyright legislation. Chief among them was Noah Webster, whose dictionary bears his name, and he was lobbying a number of state legislatures to pass copyright legislation, along with others like John Ledyard, who petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly.2William Patry, Copyright Law and Practice (1994). In 1783, Connecticut was the first of the states to pass its own copyright legislation.3Copyright Office, Copyright Enactments, 1783-1973 (1973).

Around that same time, the great poet Joel Barlow petitioned the Continental Congress to—while they didn’t have the authority to pass copyright laws on their own—recommend to the remaining states to pass their own copyright laws.4Letter from Joel Barlow to the Continental Congress (1783), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org. The Continental Congress agreed, they passed this resolution, and eventually twelve out of the thirteen states did pass their own copyright laws.5Copyright Enactments. Delaware was the only state to fail to pass a copyright bill before the drafting of the federal constitution.

That brings us to the drafting of the Constitution. By August 6 during the Constitutional Convention, there was a first draft.6Madison Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention, August 6, Avalon Project. It did not mention copyright or patent law in it, but in the middle of August, James Madison proposed that Congress does have the power to pass copyright and patent legislation, and that was added without debate—or without controversy—and sent to the Committee on Style, which came up with the language that we see today in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.7Patry.

So why did they include copyright? Why did the Founding Fathers think copyright was important enough both at the state level and eventually to be given to the federal congress in order to enact? I think we could get some idea if we turn to the proponents who were pushing for copyright. When Noah Webster wrote a letter to one of the Connecticut representatives in favor of passing copyright legislation, he said, “America must be as independent in literature as in politics, and as famous for arts as for arms.”8Oren Bracha, Commentary on the Connecticut Copyright Statute 1783, in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), (2008). citing Noah Webster, Letters of Noah Webster ed. H.R. Warfel (New York: Literary Publishers, 1953), 1-4. In the same fashion, Joel Barlow, when he wrote to the delegates of the Confederate Congress, said, “America has convinced the world of her importance in a political and military line by the wisdom energy and ardor for liberty which distinguish the present era. A literary reputation is necessary in order to complete her national character. And she ought to encourage that variety and independence of genius in which she is not excelled by any nation in Europe.”9Letter from Joel Barlow.

So they thought this was important for the country as a whole, to complete its national character, and set it on equal stage among its international brethren. And how did they propose doing this? Here let’s look at Thomas Paine, who was very influential in the ideas of the American Revolution and the ensuing country. He wrote in 1782, around the same time, that “the state of literature in America must one day become a subject of legislative consideration, for hitherto it has been a disinterested volunteer in the service of the Revolution, and no man thought of profits. But when peace shall give time and opportunity for study, the country will deprive itself of the honor and service of letters in the improvement of science unless sufficient laws are made to prevent depradations of literary property.”10Paine, On the Affairs of North America: In Which the Mistakes in the Abbe’s Account of the Revolution of Amreica [sic] are Corrected and Cleared Up (1782).

So the idea was that we’ll give property rights to authors, we’ll create a market for these types of expressive and cultural works, and this will induce people to create these types of great works for the benefit of the public.

Property, of course, was central to the Founding Fathers in general. John Adams famously said, “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.”11Discourses on Davila : A Series of Papers on Political History first published in the Gazette of the United States (1790-1791). Property was really important, and they saw copyright as a type of property. By giving authors these exclusive rights, it enabled this marketplace for creative works. This is consistent with other things you hear. When the Continental Congress recommended to the states, the Committee that made that recommendation said they were “persuaded that nothing is more properly a man’s own than the fruit of his study and that the protection and security of literary property would greatly tend to encourage genius, to promote useful discoveries, and to the general extension of arts and commerce.” You’ll see this elsewhere, where they talked a lot about how this property regime would encourage the types of works that they thought would really benefit culture and the nation as a whole.

Which is curious, because if you do see proponents of weaker copyright protections or more minimal copyright protections, they’ll sometimes say they don’t see a lot of “property talk” in the Founding era12See, e.g., Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (2003).—which is just not evidenced by the historical record. Or they might recognize that, yes, they talked about property, but this was property in the sense of a statutory creation. It was a utilitarian instrument created in order to advance these goals, it wasn’t something that came from the natural rights of the authors.

But again, I don’t see a lot of evidence in the historical record for this. As noted in the passage above from the Continental Congress, the Founders explicitly mentioned natural rights.

And indeed, you’ll see a lot of other references to natural rights as the source of this property for authors. For example, the Massachusetts Copyright Act, which was passed before the Constitutional Convention, said that “the principal encouragement such persons can have to make great and beneficial exertions of this nature must exist in the legal security of the fruits of their study and industry to themselves and as such security is one of the natural rights of all men there being no property more peculiarly a man’s own than that which is produced by the labor of his mind.”13Copyright Enactments. Over half of the states that passed copyright legislation included such an explicit reference to natural rights as the source of these property rights.14Those states were Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New York, and Rhode Island.

I think one of the things that underlies this alternative historical narrative used by supporters of weaker copyright is this fallacy that the interests of authors—and authors rights—is somehow distinct from the interests of the public; that we stick one on each end of a scale, and if authors’ rights are too strong then the public’s interest suffers. But I don’t think this is the case. It seems more accurate to say that authors interests and the public’s interests are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. And I think you could see, looking back at the Founding generation, that this is consistent with how they saw property.

This is an idea that was most famously put by Adam Smith, who a lot of the Founders were familiar with.15See, e.g., Robert L. Hetzel, The Relevance of Adam Smith. He famously said that “it’s not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we can expect our dinner but from their regards to their own interests… By directing that industry in such a manner that produces of greatest value he intends only his own gain and he is in this as in many other cases led by an invisible hand to promote an end that was no part of his intention.”16Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations. So, in other words, the promotion of the public interest is inherent to the pursuit of self-interest and not something that is external to it.

If we look then to the Founding generation, there is one single reference to the copyright and patent clause in the Federalist Papers, Federalist 43, which was written by James Madison. It’s very brief, but one of the few things that James Madison mentioned about the copyright and patent power is that “the public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals”. He’s basically echoing Adam Smith’s sentiment here that private interest is what drives the public interest.

This is not an obsolete idea. We saw this recently in Eldred v Ashcroft, a Supreme Court case decided in 2003.17537 US 186. Justice Breyer had made in his dissent this balance argument consistent with what other copyright minimalists might make, and the majority responded to Justice Breyer in a footnote saying, “Justice Breyer’s assertion that copyright statutes must serve public and not private ends misses the mark … the two ends are not mutually exclusive… copyright law serves public ends by providing individuals with incentives to pursue private ends.”

Or, to put it bluntly, society benefits when creators get paid. The private right that copyright secures is what advances the public’s interest in new expressive works.

I think looking back at this historical record—and I don’t want to draw too strong conclusions, especially in such a brief essay—but I think we could say that maybe the Founding Fathers wouldn’t be so shocked if they looked at the copyright law today. They would see that it is rather consistent with the ideas that they had in mind when they were creating the copyright and patent power. I think especially if they looked at the success of US creative industries and copyright industries today—Hollywood, the record industry, the publishing industry—all these creative contributions to our economy and culture,18In 2015, the core copyright industries contributed $1.2 trillion to U.S. G.D.P. and employed over 5.5 million U.S. workers. Stephen Siwek, IIPA, Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy: The 2016 Report (2016). I think they would feel validated that their approach has led to what they intended it to lead to.

References   [ + ]

1. Mitch Stoltz, EFF, “Looking Deeper into MPAA’s Copyright Agenda” (June 17, 2013).
2. William Patry, Copyright Law and Practice (1994).
3. Copyright Office, Copyright Enactments, 1783-1973 (1973).
4. Letter from Joel Barlow to the Continental Congress (1783), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org.
5. Copyright Enactments. Delaware was the only state to fail to pass a copyright bill before the drafting of the federal constitution.
6. Madison Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention, August 6, Avalon Project.
7. Patry.
8. Oren Bracha, Commentary on the Connecticut Copyright Statute 1783, in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), (2008). citing Noah Webster, Letters of Noah Webster ed. H.R. Warfel (New York: Literary Publishers, 1953), 1-4.
9. Letter from Joel Barlow.
10. Paine, On the Affairs of North America: In Which the Mistakes in the Abbe’s Account of the Revolution of Amreica [sic] are Corrected and Cleared Up (1782).
11. Discourses on Davila : A Series of Papers on Political History first published in the Gazette of the United States (1790-1791).
12. See, e.g., Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (2003).
13. Copyright Enactments.
14. Those states were Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New York, and Rhode Island.
15. See, e.g., Robert L. Hetzel, The Relevance of Adam Smith.
16. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations.
17. 537 US 186.
18. In 2015, the core copyright industries contributed $1.2 trillion to U.S. G.D.P. and employed over 5.5 million U.S. workers. Stephen Siwek, IIPA, Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy: The 2016 Report (2016).

Cheerleader Uniform IP Case Ends With Unusual Settlement — Following its defeat in the Supreme Court over the question of whether the visual designs on cheerleader uniforms it was accused of copying were protected by copyright, Star Athletica wanted to push forward with the litigation on alternate grounds. Its insurance company, however, had different ideas, and this week agreed to a settlement with Varsity Brands. Law360′s Bill Donahue has the full story.

Judge Rules KickassTorrents Founder Properly Charged With Criminal Copyright Conspiracy — The federal judge denied Artem Vaulin’s motion to dismiss his criminal indictment as Vaulin faces extradition in Poland. The criminal case has many similarities to the one involving Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, which began in 2012 (Dotcom has also not yet been extradited). Be sure to also check out David Newhoff’s take on the decision.

Unsplash is (Still) Bad for Photography — Professional photographer Allen Murabayashi casts a critical eye on the site, which solicits photographers to upload and share their images for free. Says Murabayashi, “Free isn’t the answer. It’s not sustainable. If you value any craft, then you need to pay for it. There are costs associated with any craft, and even a hobbyist needs to figure out how to justify a series of on-going expenses.”

Rep. Darrell Issa: It’s Time to Bring Pre-1972 Copyrights Out of the Dark Ages (Guest Column) — The Congressman this week penned an op-ed in support of his recently introduced (along with Rep. Nadler) CLASSICS Act. The bill would bring sound recordings made before February 15, 1972—currently unprotected by federal copyright law—within the scope of the statutory license for digital transmissions, meaning the owners of those recordings would collect royalties when they are streamed online.

For the sake of jobs and culture, copyright law must be protected — John Singleton, who started his career in 1991 as the writer and director of Boyz n the Hood and is now behind the new FX series Snowfall, was on Capitol Hill last week talking about the importance of copyright. He writes, “I’m deeply concerned the creative voices of the next generation won’t have the same opportunities I had. So, what has changed? There’s certainly no shortage of young talent. On the opportunity end of the equation, however, you can draw a straight line from the widespread digital theft of creative works to the barriers filmmakers face when breaking into the industry.”

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Publishers, Authors Win KinderGuides Copyright Case — A judge denied the defendant’s fair use defense, siding with the plaintiffs that the books—children’s versions of classic novels—were unauthorized derivative works. Of special note to copyright fans, one of the defendants here is Fredrik Colting, of Salinger v Colting fame. A memorandum opinion of the ruling is forthcoming.

Richard Prince and the Increasingly Permissive Treatment of Infringement — Kevin Madigan takes a look at the recent decision denying Richard Prince’s fair use defense as a matter of law. Madigan writes, “when someone sets out to build upon the work of another, the fair use doctrine requires a showing of meaningful transformation, especially when the whole of the original work is appropriated for a commercial purpose. Another win for Prince would betray the spirit of legitimate appropriation, giving further momentum to an amorphous transformative fair use theory and the unfortunate trend of copyright infringement tolerance.”

Senate Confirms Vishal Amin as IP Enforcement Czar — Finally, on the eve of August recess, the Senate unanimously confirmed former House Judiciary Committee counsel Amin as the new IPEC.

BMI & ASCAP Announce Creation of New Musical Works Database — “A cross-functional team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago, in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares. The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work.”

Canada’s lax copyright reputation puts artists’ livelihoods at risk — The Globe and Mail‘s Kate Taylor weighs in on the recent Canadian court decision in litigation between Access Canada, the agency that collects educational copying royalties for writers and publishers, and York University, which implemented a policy five years ago allowing far more copying under Canada’s fair dealing provisions. Writes Taylor, “The educational loophole has left Canada with the reputation of being lax on copyright; publishers as venerable as Oxford University Press have simply stopped publishing Canadian schoolbooks because they view this market as too risky.”

State Attorneys General Appear in Anti-Piracy PSA Campaign — On the heels of a new study finding that one-third of all piracy sites expose users to malware, a group of fifteen State Attorneys General have launced a PSA campaign to inform consumers of those risks.

Photographer’s Copyright Suit Against Richard Prince’s ‘Instagram Art’ To Go AheadPetaPixel reports on the recent decision by a district court judge in the Southern District of New York to deny a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement claim against the infamous appropriation artist Prince, alleged here to have copied a photographer’s image off of Instagram for his most recent exhibition. Prince raised a fair use defense, relying heavily on his successful 2nd Circuit Cariou v Prince opinion, but the judge here held that the issue of fair use was not one that could be decided as a matter of law.

Google Takes the Global Delisting Debate to a U.S. Court — Equustek has, for several years, been involved in efforts to halt a rival from selling products that infringed on its own products and were made using confidential information. The rival has proven difficult to shut down, dodging court orders and moving from jurisdiction to jurisdiction to avoid liability and continue operating. In 2012, Equustek sought a court order requiring search engine Google, as a third party, to de-list the rival’s sites from its search engine not just in Canada, but worldwide. Several weeks ago, a Canadian appellate court upheld the worldwide injunction. Google is now challenging the order in a U.S. court, arguing that it violates the First Amendment, the CDA, and the principle of comity. Andrew Keane Woods of Lawfare analyzes Google’s legal arguments.

Understanding the CLASSICS Act — Yesterday, Representatives Issa and Nadler dropped a bill that would partially federalize pre-1972 sound recordings, allowing the owners of many popular oldies to get royalties under statutory licenses when they are played online. Jonathan Bailey looks at what caused the problem and how this bill will address the issue.

The Access Copyright v York University Decision: Restoring Some Balance to Copyright in Canada — Hugh Stephens takes a look at last week’s decision from the Federal Court of Canada that held a Canadian university’s decision to rely on fair dealing for copying educational materials rather than licensing was not supported by the law. A welcome win for the educational publishing community.

Former Copyright Office Head Pallante Gets IP Champion Award — On Wednesday, the DC Bar awarded former Register Maria Pallante, now head of the Association of American Publishers, noting that her “work in the private sector and public sector has made a lasting mark in the intellectual property field.” Well-deserved.

An Oral History of The Simpsons’ Classic Planet of the Apes Musical — A very fun read for fans of the Simpsons and one of its all-time top episodes. But don’t worry, there’s also a copyright angle, as Chris Ledesma, the music editor for the show, remarks how the show approaches rights issues when creating parodies.

Mass “Address Unknown” NOI Loophole Continue Apace With Growing International Implications — Chris Castle examines a little-known problem that’s causing a lot of consternation for songwriters and music publishers. Castle says, “If a music user like Amazon wants to use the song compulsory license but can’t find the song owner in the public records of the Copyright Office (often the case for ex-US songwriters), a loophole from 1976 allows the user to file the required notification (often called an ‘NOI’) with the Copyright Office instead of with the song copyright owner. Assuming the filing was made correctly, the user can then allege that the user is entitled to all of the benefits of the compulsory license without the obligation to pay royalties until the song owner catches them.”

No, The Canadian Supreme Court Did Not Ruin the Internet — “Global takedown orders with no limiting principle are indeed scary.  But Canada’s order has a limiting principle.  As long as there is room for Google to say to Canada (or France), ‘Your order will put us in direct and significant violation of U.S. law,’ the order is not a limitless assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction.  In the instance that a service provider identifies a conflict of laws, the state should listen. Under longstanding conflicts of laws principles, a court would need to weigh the conflicting and legitimate governments’ interests at stake.  The Canadian court was eager to undertake that comity analysis, but it couldn’t do so because the necessary ingredient was missing: there was no conflict of laws.”

CC files amicus brief explaining NC licenses in Great Minds v FedEx Office litigation — The Creative Commons organization steps into a legal dispute involving their noncommercial (NC) license. CC explains, “This is not to say that commercial copy shops can copy NC content without restrictions, but instead to clarify that when acting solely at the direction and request of an organization that is itself only using the work for non commercial purposes, as Great Minds has conceded the school district is, a third party like FedEx Office is sheltered by the non commercial user’s license.”

Copyright Office Announces Open Application Period for Ringer Fellowships — For recent law school grads interested in copyright law and policy, this is probably one of the best opportunities in the US.

Sometimes, Information Wants to Be ExpensiveJotwell reviews a recent paper by Jonathan Barnett, Three Quasi-Fallacies in the Conventional Understanding of Intellectual Property, which takes on the view that society would be better off with much-diminished IP rights. In it, Barnett “dispels what he considers three key assumptions – so-called quasi-fallacies – underlying the wisdom of IP minimalism. Instead of simply resorting to a conclusory ‘property-rights-are-valuable’ mode of critique, Barnett develops his compelling, economically grounded arguments using a variety of original case studies, data, and theoretical insights. Instead of attacking hypothetical strawmen, Barnett directly confronts the empirical claims of the minimalist camp.”

Supreme Court of Canada Orders Google to Block Pirate Website Worldwide — Stephen Carlisle looks at the decision from Canada’s top court this week in Google v Equustek Solutions, which upheld an order requiring Google to remove defendant’s websites (which were being used to sell counterfeit versions of plaintiff’s products) from its search index. What’s more, the order applies globally, not just within Canada.

Judgment Against Sci-Hub is a Win for Authors and Publishers — Kevin Madigan looks at the recent court decision awarding Elsevier significant damages in its case against Sci-Hub, which operated a site providing infringing journal articles.

‘Suing the Government Is Very Punk Rock:’ SONA Hosts Third Songwriters Summit as It Strategizes DOJ Lawsuit — Billboard reports, “Punk AF or not, SONA sued the DOJ last year following what it sees as the government’s unjust, inequitable and unconstitutional ruling in prohibiting fractional licensing which the group says will result in dramatically lower compensation for songwriters. The DOJ is currently attempting to have the suit dismissed while SONA is awaiting a judge’s decision on whether or not the dismissal hearing will proceed with oral arguments.”

Austin Composers Use Old Synthesizers for New Stranger Things Music — Is it October 31 yet?

Not So Fast: Piracy and the Summer Blockbuster Myth — Ruth Vitale from CreativeFuture pens an open letter to summer movie fans.

Copyright Office Releases Report on Section 1201 — Almost twenty years ago, Congress created Section 1201 of Title 17, prohibiting the circumvention of technological protection measures. This week, the Copyright Office released a 195 page report, following a year and a half of study and public consultation, to measure its effectiveness and see if any changes are warranted. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Now the Censors Are Going for Will Shakespeare — The Authors Guild responds to the controversy surrounding the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar. It notes, “Our founders understood just how important it is for a society to have speech that is independent from patrons (who can control its content), so they provided for copyright law, which allows authors to independently support their work by earning money in the free market. Corporate support for the arts is important and commendable—as long as it’s not used to control speech. A strong and effective copyright regime is indispensable to the independence of the arts.”

The Association of American Publishers Welcomes Major Judgment Against “Sci-Hub” Pirate Site — “For years, Sci-Hub illegally accessed the secure computer networks of a large number of major universities by, among other methods, hijacking “proxy” credentials, and compromising some 51 million protected works. Yesterday’s decision confirms Elsevier’s right to seek just restitution for the infringements it has suffered, and gives hope to the many smaller publishers, scientific societies, and authors who navigate bad actors on a daily basis.”

Electronic Music Pioneer & CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre: ‘We’re Living In A Medieval Dark Digital Age’ — Says Jarre, “We must solve the problem of the sustainable economy for culture. The fact that you get $1,000 dollars after 10 million clicks on YouTube. When YouTube is making billions of dollars on the back of cultural content. That’s not more money going to everybody. It’s more money for these companies and just a tiny, tiny percentage for everybody else.”

 

Patent Office Director Michelle Lee resigns — Unexpected news this week, as Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office Michelle Lee tendered her resignation effective immediately. No reason has been given for the decision. In her place, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has named PTO Associate Solicitor Joseph Matal as Acting Director.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good on Copyright Office reform — Kristian Stout explains, “In any event, it seems perfectly sensible to address the Register selection process before tackling the other issues, which may require more detailed discussions of policy and cost. And with the Copyright Office currently lacking a permanent Register and discussions underway about finding a new one, addressing any changes Congress deems necessary in the selection process seems like the most pressing issue, if they are to be resolved prior to the next pick being made.”

Disney, VidAngel Weigh Family-Friendly Filtering Against Copyright Protection in the 9th Circuit — On Thursday, a Ninth Circuit panel heard oral arguments in Disney v VidAngel, a case involving an unlicensed on-demand streaming service’s defenses. This past December, a District Court rejected those defenses and granted the plaintiff film studios’ motion for a preliminary injunction.

Copyright Office Launches Online Database of Review Board Decisions — After the Copyright Office rejects an application to register a copyright, the claimant has an opportunity to appeal the decision. Now, the Office has made the written decisions of those reviews publicly available on its web site for the first time.

Afghanistan considers copyright treaty after Mason legal clinic advocates for filmmaker — “When Stephanie Semler volunteered to work for the Arts and Entertainment Advocacy Clinic at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, she had no way of knowing that she would be attempting to encourage a country to join a major international treaty. Semler prepared the groundwork for an effort to encourage the government of Afghanistan to join the Berne Convention, a global copyright agreement created in 1887. Thanks to her legal research and the determined diligence of the client, Virginia-based filmmaker Shabnam Humphrey, it could happen.”

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