And we’re back.

Posting has been sparse in the past couple of weeks as I focused on preparing for the bar exam, but with that behind me, I can now turn my attention back to the blog. Today will be a super-sized collection of links as I continue to catch up with many of the recent developments in copyright law. Enjoy!

Tinseltown, Ghost Town — A sobering op-ed from the NY Times on how the economic downturn has hit the film industry. “Her eviction follows that of our mutual neighbors, actors on a well-known soap opera forced out of their house in a foreclosure in a driving rainstorm four days before Christmas. Their dark, vacant houses, emblazoned with the public notices taped in the windows like shameful scarlet A’s, are holes in the hidden, fraying social fabric of Hollywood, where a vast majority belong not to the 1 percent but to the 99.”

Patience and piracy: Why helping yourself hurts good TV — Todd VanDerWerff, writing at the Onion AV Club, delves into the recent Oatmeal comic on piracy. Highly recommended. Says VanDerWerff, “I came into this piece with the idea that there was an easy answer here: Be more patient. The Internet has created a largely immature desire to have everything you’ve ever wanted now, and if it’s not available now, well, who cares about the companies who funded that entertainment in the first place? For the most part, I find this sort of behavior—and the self-righteous chest-thumping that too often goes along with it—distasteful.”

Comments, Questions, Concerns:  RIAA CEO Reflects On Responses To His New York Times Op-Ed — The RIAA’s Cary Sherman provides a thoughtful response to those who volunteered their thoughts on his article in the NY Times earlier this month. “Skepticism is a healthy and useful thing.  It is good to question.  But that posture should apply universally to all sources of information.  The technology companies that turned their platforms into engines of advocacy did so because it was in their business interests.  I don’t have a problem with them looking out for their economic interests, but technology companies have an obligation to make sure that readers and users get straight facts and understand that this is about business, not idealistic values.”

Piracy is not competition — When brick-and-mortar bookstores complain about the threat they face from Amazon.com, they are complaining that customers will leave them for a superior alternative; when Hollywood complains about piracy, they are complaining that customers have left them for an illegal alternative. They have stopped paying for Hollywood products yet are still consuming them. These are not even remotely similar situations — morally, legally, or economically.”

Hadopi Becomes un Ballon de Football Politique — Bill Rosenblatt takes a look at some of the recent statistics concerning France’s graduated response program and offers some comments on the politics of copyright debates. “Like it or not,” he notes, “the Hadopi system seems to be working so far.” “Let Hadopi-haters do their own serious quantitative studies, and let’s compare the results.  Let’s make the judgments on facts, and for God’s sake let’s not let political posturing pollute the atmosphere.”

Keeping the Pirate Bays at Bay — Barry Sookman offers his usual stellar insights into a current UK High Court case where record labels are seeking ISP blocking orders against the notorious Pirate Bay. “Based on previous jurisprudence in the UK and elsewhere in the EU,” says Sookman, “it seems very likely that the UK High Court will make an order blocking or impeding access to The Pirate Bay.”

Copyright, piracy and when fans need to stop circulating the tapes — The Whine Seller’s Hillary DePiano ponders the challenges created by the ease of piracy and difficulty of creating legitimate online outlets. Obviously, content creators want to make it as easy and convenient for consumers to access their works, yet pirates have a clear advantage when they don’t have to worry about pesky details like licensing or the costs of producing content.

The end of two free culture myths — John Degen highlights recent comments by Canadian attorney James Gannon in front of the Bill C-11 Committee of Parliament. The myths? Number 1: “Only old, incumbent players advocate for strong copyright protection. The new generation doesn’t bother with copyright.” And number 2: “Those advocating strong copyright protection just don’t understand new technology.”

The Relationship Between the ISP Safe Harbors and the Ordinary Rules of Copyright Liability[PDF] — An informative academic introduction to how ordinary principles of direct and secondary copyright liability have interacted with the DMCA safe harbors since their introduction, by IP lawyer and professor R. Anthony Reese. “The safe harbors may be more valuable than they initially appear for OSPs facing secondary liability claims, and less valuable than they initially appear for OSPs facing direct infringement claims.”

Cord Cutting Can Wait: Subscription TV Added 343,000 Subs in Q4 — Reports PaidContent, “The nation’s top cable, satellite and telco TV service providers grew their customer base sharply in the last quarter of 2011, reversing several years of steep decline. … So what’s happening here? Did the cord-cutting movement stall out? Hardly—it was the bad economy all along.”

Celebrating Independent Film at the DC IFF Hill Summit — The Copyright Alliance reports on a recent panel discussion at the DC Independent Film Festival Summit on the Hill. Congressman Brad Sherman gave a keynote on the importance of copyright protection for independent filmmakers, followed by the panel discussion on online video sharing and piracy.

Business Matters: When is it Safe to Say Google Music Has Failed? — Glenn Peoples at Billboard says: “Google’s giant footprint was to give Google Music unparalleled access to music lovers. But according to a report by CNET’s Greg Sandoval, Google Music has disappointed industry executives in its 3 short months of existence.”

Author discovers that Amazon can reprice his indie Kindle books however they want and cut his royalties, at will — Meet the new boss. “Hines points out that when his traditional publisher and its bookseller partners decide to offer his work at sale prices, he still gets paid royalties based on the cover price, and discusses the difficulties he faces in lacking the clout of an agent or a major publisher in negotiating with Amazon over this practice.”

The Fallacy Of Music Like Water — A thoughtful guest post from Portland songwriter and producer Gavin Castleton. Castleton points out that “proponents of the Music Like Water concept have put far more thought into making everything free to the consumer than they have into making sure people can find what they want, and in order for artists and consumers to have a better experience with music, distribution and filtering have to be lockstep.”

Scroogle: Dear Google, we’re not bots, we’re HUMAN — Why is Google so intent on creating artificial scarcity for its search results?

Upcoming Supreme Court Case May Be Key To Holding Spy Tech Companies Responsible For Human Rights Violations — The EFF argues that the US should hold technology companies liable for what their users do with their products.

4 Comments

  1. Hopefully you did good on the bar exam. Big scary exams like that can take a lot of energy out of you.

  2. Good set of links. Here are some comments.

    “Tinseltown, Ghost Town”

    The first one is kind of depressing. The article isn’t really about piracy but rather the decline of an industry. Video killed the radio star, and the Internet killed the video star. Even if you managed to eliminate piracy entirely (haha), you’d still have to contend with the fact that people spend more and more of their free time in front of social media services (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, even your blog is a social media service!) and less in front of the good ol’ TV.

    “The Internet has created a largely immature desire to have everything you’ve ever wanted now,”

    BINGO! It sure has. And if you don’t give people what they want, you won’t do well. It’s like a basic tenet of customer service, am I right?

    You can’t choose the world you live in. And this is new world we live in, one where artificial scarcity on content isn’t respected anymore. The whole rant has a bit of a “get off my lawn” twist to it, which is understandable.

    “Comments, Questions, Concerns: RIAA CEO Reflects On Responses To His New York Times Op-Ed”

    There is a great deal of idealism behind the anti-copyright movement. It’s not all just business, I hope the RIAA CEO understands this. Instead of dismissing this idealism he should find the music industry could leverage it, just like the tech industry has.

  3. “Why is Google so intent on creating artificial scarcity for its search results?”

    Haha, this is quite clever actually. The difference is that Google managed to short circuit post-scarcity with their search engine. Firstly, even if you could “pirate” Google you couldn’t run it without some crazy ass datacenters.

    Secondly, running a search engine is not something that concerns the individual. This is how Microsoft make a ton of their money: B2B and OEM sales. The worst possible situation you can be in is trying to enforce artificial scarcity in ways that involve ordinary people’s private dealings. This is the music and movie industry’s unique position.

    I said before that tech companies don’t rely on “copyright”, well that’s probably not true. I should have said tech companies don’t rely as much on “strong copyright enforcement”. That is a different thing entirely. You don’t need “strong copyright enforcement” to tell HP to buy a license for Windows, but you need it enforce copyright enmasse on the populace. Which is what the content industry wants, because it’s the only way they can see copyright working for them in this day and age. The difference is HP as a big public company is open to be audited, but to the private individual that is a privacy violation. Hence the great pushback against copyright enforcement.

  4. How interesting that the EFF has become such a fan if secondary liability.