“It has been a generally accepted theory, but a false one, that infringement of copyright only takes place when copies are made for public sale or performance, and not when they are intended merely for personal use.” Musical News, vol. 8, pg. 314 (April 6, 1895).
SOPA and Censorship Spillovers — Law professor Randal C. Picker takes on two of the arguments against rogue sites legislation: that the Internet should remain free from the rule of law and the claim that “the United States will forfeit its moral authority to oppose the censorship of free speech around the world if the United States uses a similar capability in the name of preventing IP infringement.” Picker finds both claims unfounded. “Consider prisons. The United States puts people in prison who commit serious crimes such as armed robbery, burglary, and murder. China may put political dissidents in prison. No one would contend, I assume, that the United States should stop putting serious criminals in prison even though the Chinese are jailing political dissidents.”
How Much Does File Sharing Resemble Stealing—and Does it Matter? — Great article from the Atlantic’s Megan McArdle. Critics of intellectual property often throw around words like “scarcity” and “non-rivalrous” to argue against protecting these forms of property, but as McArdle points out, “I’m not sure how we settled on ‘it’s non-rivalrous’ as the reason that file sharing is a) not stealing and b) okay.”
The Haves and the Want to Haves – For Free — “To achieve a rateless, perpetual, and irrevocable license for content owned by others Google must attack the very laws that stand in their way through lobbyist in Washington D.C. So now we are debating the historical “contract” between the U.S. government and intellectual rights holders that have been around since the founding of our Constitution. What will be the outcome? Who will win? In the future will innovators have to bow to the mere whims of website owners and corporate titans who feel they have the right to monetize copyrighted, trademarked and patented materials? Will innovators be forced to allow website owners and Silicon Valley corporations to monetize their innovation with no recourse?”
Piracy and Malware: Two Parts of a Single Problem — The ITIF’s Richard Bennett shows that malware and piracy often coincide online and wonders why there’s such strong opposition to using the same techniques used to combat malware against piracy. Bennett notes that this compartmentalization “is a policy judgment, not a technical one.”
Real cultural damage, and the phantom kind — Another excellent post from John Degen: “the folks most concerned about copyright terms and getting as many works outside of copyright as soon as possible are not the everyday consumers and culturally-minded Canadians Geist purports to speak for. No, those most looking forward to E.J. Pratt et al losing their copyright protection are the giant, multinational content aggregators like Google who want to suck up as much digitized content as possible without the hassle and bother of dealing with copyright licensing or permissions, so that they can continue to make gazillions of dollars selling advertising on top of other people’s ‘free’ content.”
What Will Anti-SOPA Blackout And Hearing Accomplish? — TPM doesn’t have a good answer to that question. And that was before provisions relating to DNS were stripped from both the House and Senate bills.
Whither Freedom of the Press? — Though not related to copyright, this recent law review article from Randall Bezanson should interest readers who have enjoyed my recent posts on the freedom of the press. It is also one of the most entertainingly snarky academic works I’ve read in recent history.
Amazon’s Plagiarism Problem — “Self-publishing has become the latest vehicle for spammers and content farms, with the sheer volume of self-published books making it difficult, if not impossible, for e-stores like Amazon to vet works before they go on sale … Writing a book is hard. All those torturous hours an author has to spend creating, crafting, culling until nonsensical words are transformed into engaging prose. It’s a whole lot easier to copy and paste someone else’s work, slap your name on top, and wait for the money to roll in. This creates a strong economic incentive, with fake authors–Sharazade thinks it’s possible they are organized gangs based in Asia–earning 70% royalty rates on every sale, earning far more than a spammer could with click fraud.”
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar: We Now Have 1.5M Paid Subscribers — The streaming service showed impressive growth in 2011, tripling its number of paid subscribers and increasing revenues by 60%. Kilar says the company is looking to continue growing in 2012, with plans to invest “half a billion” in licensing new TV shows and films.
Cyberlockers, social media sites and copyright liability — While 2011 was a big year for legal developments involving cyberlockers and social media sites, 2012 is likely to be even bigger. Barry Sookman takes a look at several cases dealing with these issues already in the new year.
How Google profits from illegal advertising — and keeps the money even after getting caught — Ben Sheffner highlights recent reports that Google making money from illegal activities is fairly common. “This is all just a reminder that many of the opponents of SOPA and PROTECT IP, while they like to portray themselves as brave Internet freedom-fighters, are in reality doing little more than protecting their own business interests. They profit from illegal activities, and they will vigorously resist legislation that seeks to put this practice to an end.”
Google caught pilfering Kenyan business directory in sting operation — It hasn’t been a good week for the tech giant, as Ars reports on news of allegedly fraudulent activity by Google employees in Africa.
Heritage Foundation Misses the Market on Rogue Sites — Chris Castle provides a point-by-point rebuttal to the conservative think tank’s opposition to SOPA. “No one in the creative community expects a market with zero piracy. We have always had piracy and we always will have piracy. What is new about piracy on the Internet is the scale and the participation of publicly held companies that use their vast resources raised in the public financial markets to fight compliance with the law in order to free ride on the work of others that they seek to commoditize.”