US News Editors Find it Increasingly Difficult to Defend the First Amendment — While the internet has opened opportunities to reach new audiences, it has also hurt the ability of news organizations to sustain themselves. And that spells trouble for freedom of the press. “‘Newspaper-based (and especially TV-based) companies have tougher budgets and are less willing to spend on lawyers to challenge sunshine and public records violations,’ one editor acknowledged. Another editor declared, ‘The loss of journalist jobs and publishers’ declining profits means there’s less opportunity to pursue difficult stories and sue for access to information.’ The costs of litigation constrain organizations.”

Amazon Unintentionally Paying Scammers To Hand You 1000 Pages Of Crap You Don’t Read — Maybe the internet hasn’t made publishers obsolete. “Right now, the scammers are mostly an inconvenience to readers and authors alike. But the bigger they get, the fewer people are going to trust their work to Kindle Unlimited, and the less decent stuff there will be for subscribers to read.”

EU digital chief calls on YouTube to pay music artists more — “The EU’s digital chief waded into a growing fight between record labels and YouTube, calling on the Google-owned video site to hand over more revenue to rights holders. Andrus Ansip, who is overseeing an overhaul of the bloc’s copyright rules, said the YouTube’s comparatively small payments to artists gave it an unfair advantage over rivals such as Spotify, the Swedish streaming service.”

How the FCC’s ‘Set-Top Box’ Rule Hurts Consumers — The CEO of Roku weighs in against the FCC’s set-top box proposal. “The proposed regulation would—as we say in the industry—’decouple the user interface’ from the video and data itself. This would allow a company like Google to do to the TV what it did on the Web—build an interface without the ‘inconvenience’ of licensing content or entering into business agreements with content companies such as ABC, FOX, HBO, or video distributors like pay TV operators. The unintended consequences of circumventing these kinds of arrangements are likely to include increased costs for consumers, reduced choices and less innovation.”

Piracy is the biggest threat facing the film industry as we know it — but not in the way you think — Film producer Jason Blum notes that as piracy hits studio bottom lines, it isn’t the big blockbuster franchise or low budget genre film that disappears, it is the high-end art film like Moneyball, The Social Network, 12 Years a Slave, or The Revenant.

Intellectual Property Professors Call on Congress to Modernize the Copyright Office — WIth the confirmation hearing of Dr. Carla Hayden for Librarian of Congress scheduled for next week, it is a good opportunity to assess what can be done to allow the Copyright Office, which resides within the Library, to operate effectively in the 21st century. Here, a group of IP Professors share their recommendations.

The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property: A Natural Rights Perspective — Distinguished legal scholar Richard Epstein takes a look at Randy May and Seth Cooper’s recent book, The Constitutional Foundations of Intellectual Property: A Natural Rights Perspective. “It is perfectly permissible, even if ill-advised, for modern scholars to deride natural law principles,” writes Epstein. “But it is far riskier to deny that these theories had any traction at the time that the United States Constitution—which offers explicit protection to intellectual property—was drafted.”

Here’s why the music labels are furious at YouTube. Again. — A frank discussion with RIAA head Cary Sherman about the challenges the recording industry still face. Says Sherman, “When you compare what we get when we get to freely negotiate, with a company like Spotify, vs. what we get when we are under the burden of an expansively interpreted ‘safe harbor,’ when you’re negotiating with somebody like YouTube, you can see that you’re not getting the value across the platforms that you should.”

Google’s “safe browsing” initiative is more bark than bite — Vox Indie’s Ellen Seidler writes, “Despite headlines, it’s still business as usual for Google — Piracy sites full of malware and deceptive ads remain at top in Google search results.”

The FCC Should Drop Its Proposed Rules For Set-Top Boxes — “It is difficult to see who would benefit from the proposed rules. Certainly programmers would not benefit. Those who prefer no set-top box can already distribut[e] programming directly to consumers over the Internet. Few manufacturers of set-top boxes would benefit. With proprietary devices outlawed, only generic set-top boxes would be lawful. Manufacturers that can produce the devices more cheaply might do better. But manufacturers that specialize in customizable proprietary software and ever better security systems would have a diminished market. Cable and satellite distributors would not benefit because they no longer differentiate as strongly their product in terms of security and privacy from purely on-line services. Consumers would not be better off. The range of video options would be diminished, and the security and privacy currently afforded by set-top boxes would be lost.”

Facebook takes on its freebooting problem with Rights Manager — When Facebook unveiled its new video platform, it quickly became a magnet for “freebooting”, where users uploaded YouTube videos without authorization to the service. Freebooting is a particularly acute problem for the emerging group of YouTube-native creators, who have taken advantage of the platform to build audiences for their work, only to see those efforts siphoned off by piracy. So it is welcome news that Facebook has announced the implementation of a tool that will allow creators to help prevent copyright infringement.

Hacking Democracy: Google/YouTube Proxy Group “Fight For The Future” Crashes US Copyright Office Website During Crucial Comment Period — Last week was the US Copyright Office’s deadline for submitting public comments on Section 512 (the DMCA safe harbor and notice-and-takedown process). On the last day, dark money group Fight for the Future ran a campaign that resulted in over 90,000 form comments being submitted, showing how easy it is for anti-democratic groups to dress up in populist clothing and disrupt legitimate policy processes. 90,000 copies of a form comment submitted by individuals identifying themselves as “aaaaaa” or “fsdafsadfsdafsad” add nothing of substance to the study and strain the (already limited) resources and expert staff at the Office, who are dedicated to ensuring public and accountable processes.

Astroturf Organizations Typically Hysterical on DMCA — Turning from process to substance, David Newhoff examines the claims found in the Fight for the Future form comment, finding them lacking.

Talking Copyright and the Digital Single Market at the Fordham IP Conference — Last week, the Fordham IP Institute held its annual conference. Here, Stan McCoy shares his remarks from the conference on the European Commission’s push for a “Digital Single Market” in the EU. Says McCoy, “At Fordham, I argued that caution is warranted before the EU institutions tinker with the DNA of copyright. The data supports that approach: research paid for by the European Commission confirms that over 90% of people are finding what they want online, and fewer that 4% try to access services from another member state. It bears repeating that 7 million jobs in Europe’s core creative industries depend on copyright. Little modifications to copyright, one after another, have the potential to weaken the foundations that allow those people to earn a living and support their families in these industries. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights requires that intellectual property be protected – another reason for caution.”

Instagram and the Cult of the Attention Web: How the Free Internet is Eating Itself — “We want our web and we want it for free. However, the inconvenient truth is that there is a cost to doing business and at some point companies have to make money. And so we sacrifice the magic. We devalue content and products by refusing to pay for the work it takes to create and maintain them. We are satisfied wading through poorly designed, ad-based experiences. And we allow our most precious resource, our time, to become a commodity to be traded, sold and manipulated. Our data is mined, our privacy discarded and our actions tracked all in the name of more targeted advertising.”

Googling Hollywood’s Next Epic Disaster — “The FCC calls it the ‘unlock the box’ proposal. Critics call the FCC’s pending action to deregulate the market for cable TV set top boxes a disaster for Hollywood, niche cable channels, producers and distributors of indie movies and TV, and many others.”

Ursula K. Le Guin on the Sacredness of Public Libraries — Some brief remarks from noted author Le Guin. “Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.”

Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera sign letter calling for changes to copyright law — “Hundreds of artists, songwriters, managers, and other players in the music industry are calling on the U.S. Copyright Office to make what they consider to be long overdue changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law they say is not only out-of-date, but detrimental to artists and the future of the industry.”

Guadamuz on the Monkey Selfie — Andrés Guadamuz (University of Sussex) looks at the copyright issues of the (in)famous monkey selfie from a UK and European perspective, concluding that, “Under current originality rules, David Slater has a good copyright claim for ownership of the picture.”

Video Creators Are Frustrated With Facebook’s Antipirating Efforts — Facebook has seen staggering growth in the amount of users watching videos on its platform, but its antipiracy efforts have not kept pace. This is especially frustrating for individual YouTube creators, who see their own videos “freebooted” onto Facebook, hurting their ability to earn revenue.

Web TV Company Not Entitled to License to Stream Content — A federal district court in Illinois held that FilmOn X does not qualify for the cable compulsory license in the Copyright Act, making it the third court to say as much, and making the sole court to hold otherwise even more of an outlier.

The Costs and Benefits of Copyright: Getting the Facts Straight — Hugh Stephens takes a look at the flaws in a number of studies purporting to show losses due to stronger copyright provisions in trade agreements.

How to Send a Takedown Notice to Google in 46 (or more) Easy Steps! — Unfortunately, not an April Fools joke!

Protecting copyright without stifling innovation — Paul Doda writes, “[C]ertain hosting platforms that did not exist in 1998 have structured their businesses to exploit the DMCA cloak from liability. They do so by taking material down while at the same time rendering the notices meaningless by encouraging the reappearance of the same infringing works from a sea of ready replacements. These structural infringers cannot be counted on to voluntarily adopt anti-piracy measures, such as the reasonable filtering techniques currently being deployed by other platforms, because that would cripple their free-riding business model, which depends on their users’ posted infringements to sell subscriptions and generate advertising revenue.”

Did pirates kill ‘Hannibal’? — Only so many names can fit onto a marquee, film poster, TV show’s credits or in a movie’s trailer. Maybe the millions of people who illegally download movies and TV shows are thinking only of the top-billed stars, excusing their actions with the notion that one viewing will not do much harm to a superstar. But on a set, every last crew member and creative — right down to the person who designed that poster or edited that trailer — is affected if the fruits of their labor are stolen.”

Creative Strategies for Beefing up Copyright Enforcement — Michael Carroll reviews a paper by professor Eric Priest, Acupressure: The Emerging Role of Market Ordering in Global Copyright Enforcement. In his paper, Priest examines two case studies which use market pressure, one through voluntary initiatives and the other through state unfair competition laws, to minimize copyright infringement. He then abstracts the key elements that make these types of strategies for copyright enforcement work.

Govt has ‘bungled’ copyright costs — When the Trans-Pacific Partnership was being finalized, the New Zealand government concluded that the changes it would need to make to its copyright law to comply with the agreement would cost the country $55 million. Now, economist Dr. George Barker is telling the government that estimate is incorrect. “Dr. Barker said that estimate was based on erroneous research in 2009 by an Australian economist. Officials were unable to provide access to the data behind the estimate, and Dr. Barker said one possibility was a decimal point could have been put in the wrong place.”

Apple Music, Dubset Partner to Stream Previously Unlicensed Remixes and DJ Mixes: Exclusive — A new service is using technology to automatically identify and clear the dozens of separate sound recordings that may make up previously unlicensed remixes and DJ mixes to enable them to be legally distributed through platforms like Apple Music.

“Dancing Baby” Appeals Court Decision Stands Minus the “Fair Use” Algorithms — This week, the Ninth Circuit refused EFF’s petition to overrule existing precedent and impose an unworkable objective standard on misrepresentation claims under Section 512(f). Or, to put it simply, you don’t need a lawyer to stop your work from being pirated online. Hollywood Reporter has more details on the latest in Lenz v. Universal Music, which also includes an amended opinion.

An Awareness Crusade Against the Online Piracy of Books — Author Rhonda Rees was shocked when she discovered pirated copies of her books available online, but soon learned that this was a problem that plagued all authors and the publishing industry. So, Rees says here, “I made it my mission to figure out all that I could about this issue of online book piracy, to become more knowledgeable and aware, and to open up a dialogue between authors, law enforcement, policy makers and the public.”

Dead Kennedys frontman goes after the modern music industry — “As a self-described DIY band, and the only U.S. band that can boast of having a gold record distributed on an independent label, [Dead Kennedys] sits at the crux of technology, distribution, and rights issues that are bringing vehement change to today’s music industry. A change that is, according to [East Bay] Ray, not for the better. Listing the monopolies as Google (with YouTube), Spotify, Apple, Pandora, and Amazon, Ray discusses the way their business models are systemically aborting creativity and diversity from the collective musical commons.”

Google is strip-mining the world’s culture — Author Amanda Foreman cautions that high principles are at stake in the Authors Guild v Google litigation, currently awaiting Supreme Court review of a cert petition. “I know it’s difficult,” she says here, “to imagine the toxic damage caused by Google’s strip-mining of the world’s creative content — especially since right now it offers such a pleasurable “all-you-can-eat” free buffet. But there it is: the world makes, Google takes. And takes.”

An Interview with Mickey Osterreicher, General Counsel of the NPPA — PetaPixel interviews Osterreicher, who handles all legal affairs and policy for the National Press Photographers Association. “Most visual journalists view our profession as a calling. No one really expects to become wealthy in this line of work, but most do expect to earn a fair living, support themselves and their family, and contribute to society. Copyright infringement reduces that economic incentive dramatically. This in turn may abridge press freedoms by discouraging participation in this field. It also devalues photography as both a news medium and art form, thereby eroding the quality of life and freedom of expression that are part of the foundation of this great nation.”

SoundExchange Launches Public Search Website with Access to Industry’s Best ISRC Data — “A free service that provides 24/7 access to data, SoundExchange’s ISRC Search Site will help all parties through improved tracking and reporting of sound recording usage. The database includes nearly 20 million ISRCs reported to SoundExchange. The initiative will also help ensure fast, accurate identification of sound recordings, which will help music creators receive prompt, accurate and fair compensation from the digital services that use their music.”

Software Piracy Hurts Linux Adoption, Research Finds — The theory is that if the commercial product is easily available for free, people will choose that over lower cost or even free open-source alternatives. Thus, weak copyright protections and enforcement hurt open-source developers and independent creators.

YouTube Trial: Juror Says YouTuber’s Incorporation of Unlicensed Clips Is Not Fair Use — The case settled, making the jury verdict, still under seal, moot. But it should give other YouTuber’s pause to know that not everyone considers all user-generated content a fair use free-for-all.

NPPA and other visual arts associations release copyright small claims white paper — “These organizations have identified the creation of a small claims option to be their most urgent legislative priority before Congress. They assert that the cost and burden of maintaining a lawsuit in the only existing venue for hearing copyright infringement claims—federal district courts—is prohibitive and all too often leaves visual artists no way to vindicate their rights. They see a small claims process within the Copyright Office as providing a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.”

Hijacking the Special 301 Process: We will all suffer the consequences — As part of the Special 301 Process US trade negotiators identify foreign countries that are not living up to the IP obligations they’ve agreed to with the US. Unfortunately, recently some groups have been pushing to use it as a vehicle to weaken and dilute IP protections. Hugh Stephens explains more here.

That’swhatshesaid Didn’t Ask Permission Because They Didn’t Have To, Says Attorney — That’swhatshesaid is a show that criticizes the underrepresentation of women in American theater by performing only the female parts from a number of current plays. Attorneys for the performer and playwright responded to a cease and desist from the publishers of some of the plays used in the show by claiming fair use. Based on the facts as discussed here and in other news stories, my guess is that this indeed is a classic example of fair use.

Future of TV Coalition: FCC Set-Top Item Is Google Gift — “Glist said that the set-top proposal was essentially a battle between Google and apps. ‘Google would like to have all information assimilated and searchable through their browser so they can find data and sell ads against their content,’ he said, ‘and they are unhappy with the choice of consumers to consume more and more content, including MVPD and over-the-top video content, through apps, in which they have very little visibility.'”

George Washington key to intellectual property rights — May and Cooper write, “George Washington regarded protection of property rights a matter of justice. He also considered protections for copyrights and patent rights necessary for sustaining the new nation’s economic independence. Washington’s consistent support for IP even precedes the Constitution’s adoption. In the early 1780s, he became an acquaintance of author Noah Webster. Washington’s letters of introduction helped Webster successfully lobby the Virginia legislators for a state copyright law in 1785.”

The Reality of Touring Revenue From Someone Who Has Done It For 32 Years — David Lowery sheds light on the financial aspects of touring for musicians and why it is very rarely a substitute for declining recorded music revenues.

Video: Understanding the Problem Behind #WTFU — Earlier this week, a popular YouTube creator posted a video criticizing YouTube’s approach to protecting copyright, saying, among other things, that it didn’t adequately preserve fair uses of copyrighted material. Here, Jonathan Bailey responds, noting that, while sympathetic to the concerns expressed in the video, the problem is that the amount of material uploaded to YouTube requires the use of automated systems to deal with infringement, and those automated systems are not 100% perfect.

SAG-AFTRA Applauds WIPO Beijing Treaty On Performers’ Rights — This week, the White House transmitted the WIPO Beijing Treaty on Performers’ Rights to the Senate for advice and consent. The treaty, concluded four years ago, sets minimum standards for the protection of audiovisual performers. The White House also transmitted a second WIPO treaty, The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.

How they shot GREASE LIVE — A fantastic interview of Carrie Havel, associate director of Fox’s recent production of Grease Live, that takes a behind the scenes look at the work that went into pulling off the show.

Universal and Disney’s Arrangement on Marvel IP in Theme Parks — Although Universal and Disney are competitors, Universal’s Island of Adventure theme park includes a Marvel Comics attraction, Marvel Super Hero Island. The attraction was licensed prior to Marvel’s acquisition by Disney, and Universal has committed to maintaining that arrangement. This article looks at this interesting arrangement in more detail.

Kacey Musgraves Puts Hammer Down on Stolen Work: ‘Think Before You Buy’ — “Theft is not a compliment,” says the young country music star about unlicensed uses of her song lyrics.

What Exactly Does the EFF Want? — David Newhoff asks, “What in blazes does the EFF want? They don’t like law-enforcement remedies for online piracy, and they apparently don’t want to see voluntary cooperation between OSPs and rights holders either. At a certain point, it seems we have to conclude that what they want most of all is to maintain their relevance by constantly finding a problem for every solution.”

Copyright Works: Professional Authors Tell It as It Is — Read the personal experiences of authors from South Africa, Sudan, Panama, Canada, Australia, Malawi, and India in this booklet from the International Authors Forum.

Sorry slacktivists: The Man is shredding your robo responses — Orlowski: “The EU this week binned thousands of responses to a copyright consultation generated by a Canadian lobbying group OpenMedia, a groupuscule funded by Canada’s technology industry. In December, OpenMedia declared that the European Commission was going to “copyright the hyperlink” and urged people to submit a roboform to “Save The Link”. Scared out of their wits, 75,000 people did just that. The problem was that the scare was entirely bogus. Even academics hostile to copyright declared that the EU wasn’t proposing anything of the sort. The protections safeguarding publishers large and small would remain intact.”

FilmOn X Not Entitled To Cable License, Broadcasters Tell Appellate Court — Last week, broadcasters filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit arguing that the Copyright Act’s compulsory cable license does not apply to internet retransmissions. On Wednesday, they were joined in support by a number of amici, including the Copyright Alliance, the International Center for Law & Economics and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the Washington Legal Foundation.

Bestselling Authors and Rights Organizations Support Authors Guild in Asking Supreme Court to Review Authors Guild v. Google Ruling — Amicus briefs supporting the Authors Guild cert petition also rolled in this week. The Authors Guild collects seven of them from a broad group of individuals and organizations.

Authors Guild v Google: The Fair Use Transformed — Speaking of the Authors Guild petition, be sure to check out my article at the Copyright Alliance site explaining why the Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief supporting Supreme Court review.

Attacking the Notice-and-Takedown Strawman — Devlin Hartline makes a sharp observation regarding criticisms of certain proposals to improve the DMCA notice and takedown process, “supporters of notice-and-staydown today are actually advocating for what the EFF recognized to be reasonable over eight years ago.”