Court’s docket shuns bankruptcy and IP cases — The US Supreme Court has started its new Term, but, as SCOTUSBlog reports, with 65% of its docket already filled, there is not a single IP case to look forward to.

Copyright Doesn’t Restrain Culture – Part II — Newhoff: “…because building upon what has come before is a well-established part of the creative process—because artists themselves throughout history admit to knowing how to steal—the argument is often made that modern copyright tips the scale too far toward a presumption of ‘originality,’ supposedly resulting in a kind of intellectual land grab whereby a minority of creators and corporations now own and charge rents for too much of the fertile ground necessary for creative endeavor. Nevertheless, by some miracle, literally millions of creators can simultaneously and independently produce new works while only very occasionally create conflicts of copyright.”

Rothman’s Roadmap to the Right of Publicity (via Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log) — An incredibly useful guide to laws protecting the right of publicity in each of the fifty states.

Does Piracy Cost Content Creators a Fistful of Dollars? — “Copious research has countered claims that piracy is de facto publicity that spurs sales for individual recording artists or that increases in merchandising opportunities offsets the lost revenue from pirated films. While the literature is still open to new contributions, current research and analysis is demonstrating more and more that piracy has a measurable, negative impact on content creation and profits, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”

The problem is the music-streaming companies — Paul Williams: “Bottom line: the problem is neither transparency nor what is being paid out to songwriters and other copyright holders by PROs… the real problem is how little is being paid into the system by streaming companies”

As Batman so sagely told Robin, “In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential.”

Ninth Circuit, holding that Batmobile is protected as a copyrighted character. 1DC Comics v. Towle, No. 13-55484 (9th Cir. 2015).

Kim Dotcom case is ’simple fraud’, court told — “Gordon said Megaupload, the now-defunct site at the heart of Dotcom’s online empire, was part of a scheme to steal copyright-protected material. ‘The respondents took part in a conspiracy,’ she said. ‘They deliberately introduced copyright-infringing material to their website, they deliberately preserved that material, they deliberately took steps to profit from that material and made vast sums of money.'” See also Let’s Get Real about Kim Dotcom: The Indictment Clearly Alleges Felony Copyright Infringement.

Behind the Authors Guild’s New Proactive Approach — “Since Mary Rasenberger took over as executive director of the Authors Guild last November, the writers’ group has undertaken two significant projects: its Fair Contract Initiative and the first survey of guild membership in six years. Both efforts, Rasenberger said, are designed to help the organization better represent the interests of its 9,000 members, not just with publishers, but with government officials and other groups that can affect the livelihood of all authors.”

Valuing Music in a Digital World — Cary Sherman: “Compounding the harm is that some major online music distributors are taking advantage of this flawed system. Record companies are presented with a Hobson’s choice: Accept below-market deals or play that game of whack-a-mole. The notice and takedown system—intended as a reasonable enforcement mechanism—has instead been subverted into a discount licensing system where copyright owners and artists are paid far less than their creativity is worth.”

This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of — Spoiler: It’s the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which predates Wikipedia by six years. Unlike Wikipedia, the Stanford Encyclopedia manages to be authoritative, comprehensive, and up-to-date, and does so by relying on a hierarchy of editors and expert authors rather than “the wisdom of the crowd.”

USTR Releases Detailed Summary of TPP Objectives — Included are the objectives of the free trade agreement’s copyright chapter.

GroupM And TAG Partner To Fight Piracy, The “Seed That Grows Into Ad Fraud” — “’The people who create pirate sites are the same ones who perpetrate clickbot fraud – they’re the ones who spread malware and create the armies of bots that generate most of the automated clicks in the business,’ said John Montgomery, chairman of GroupM Connect, North America , and co-chair of the Trustworthy Accountability Group’s (TAG) antipiracy working group.”

The Fake Traffic Schemes that are Rotting the Internet — “’I can think of nothing that has done more harm to the Internet than ad tech,’” says Bob Hoffman, a veteran ad executive, industry critic, and author of the blog the Ad Contrarian. ‘It interferes with everything we try to do on the Web. It has cheapened and debased advertising and spawned criminal empires.’ Most ridiculous of all, he adds, is that advertisers are further away than ever from solving the old which-part-of-my-budget-is-working problem. ‘Nobody knows the exact number,’ Hoffman says, ‘but probably about 50 percent of what you’re spending online is being stolen from you.'”

References   [ + ]

1. DC Comics v. Towle, No. 13-55484 (9th Cir. 2015).

Nearly four years ago, the US Justice Department indicted Kim Dotcom (née Kim Schmidt)—along with six other individuals and two corporations—on a number of charges related to the operation of Megaupload and alleged “massive worldwide online piracy.” 1Researchers found that “the shutdown of Megaupload and its associated sites caused digital revenues for three major motion picture studios to increase by 6.5-8.5%.”

Since then, Dotcom has consistently questioned the charges, claiming not innocence but a lack of legal basis for the charges themselves—that is, that his conduct in creating and operating Megaupload does not make him criminally liable for copyright infringement and related charges. His defense team even took the highly unusual step of publishing a “white paper” that explores its arguments against the criminal charges. 2I wrote previously about the arguments raised in the white paper here.

Despite this insistence of legality, Dotcom’s defense has repeatedly delayed an actual trial with procedural challenge after procedural challenge. This week, despite those efforts, his extradition hearing has begun and is expected to last four weeks.

But that still doesn’t mean Dotcom is confident his legal claims will hold up in court. In fact, his legal team has enlisted the aid of presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig to support their case. Lessig recently filed an expert opinion in the extradition hearing to support the argument “that the Superseding Indictment and Record of the Case filed by the DOJ do not meet the requirements necessary to support a prima facie case that would be recognized by United States federal law and subject to the US-NZ Extradition Treaty.”

There are a couple things worth highlighting about Lessig’s declaration.

Lessig, of course, has become a popular figure in the copyright world for his work in addressing how the law should work in a networked, digital world. However, his track record in accurately describing how the law actually works has been less than stellar.

This is not the first time he has appeared in litigation as an expert witness—he appeared in the godfather of online copyright cases, A&M Records v. Napster. In his expert declaration for Napster, Lessig argued in part that in evaluating whether the service enabled infringement, a court should look at whether it has “potential for substantial noninfringing purposes.” He concluded that Napster was capable of “vast” noninfringing uses, including “the sharing of non-copyrighted music, the sharing of copyrighted music that had been authorized for sharing (for example, for purposes of sampling), and the sharing of other non-copyrighted content on the net in a peer-to-peer manner.” Lessig added that, by passing the Audio Home Recording Act, Congress expressly left “private, noncommercial home recording unregulated by copyright law.”

None of these arguments were successful in the Ninth Circuit. 3A & M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001). The court did note it was bound by Sony‘s holding regarding substantial noninfringing purposes and would not “impute the requisite level of knowledge to Napster merely because peer-to-peer file sharing technology may be used to infringe plaintiffs’ copyrights” However, the court explained “Napster’s actual, specific knowledge of direct infringement renders Sony‘s holding of limited assistance to Napster. We are compelled to make a clear distinction between the architecture of the Napster system and Napster’s conduct in relation to the operational capacity of the system.”

The Ninth Circuit also rejected the argument that “that MP3 file exchange is the type of ‘noncommercial use’ protected from infringement actions by” the Audio Home Recording Act, holding that the plain language made the statute irrelevant to the issues at hand.

Lessig also spent a considerable amount of time and energy during the 2000s arguing that the Copyright Term Extension Act, as regarding the term extension of existing copyrights, violated the Copyright Clause of the Constitution. This litigation went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which rejected Lessig’s arguments unequivocally in Eldred v. Ashcroft. 4537 US 186 (2003). In doing so, the Court concluded its opinion by saying, “Beneath the facade of their inventive constitutional interpretation, petitioners forcefully urge that Congress pursued very bad policy in prescribing the CTEA’s long terms. The wisdom of Congress’ action, however, is not within our province to second-guess.”

Given this track record, it might be said that Dotcom is more interested in making a statement than beating the charges.

The second thing about Lessig’s declaration that jumps out is an apparent contradiction between Lessig and Dotcom’s defense team regarding the applicability of the DMCA safe harbors to Megaupload.

In the white paper, Dotcom’s defense team says

Even if the U.S. government’s wishful expansion of the criminal copyright law into the realm of secondary infringement were tenable (which it is not), Megaupload is shielded from criminal liability by specific “safe harbor” provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), included in the law to protect companies like Megaupload that make efforts to remove infringing material in response to “take-down” notices issued by copyright holders

But in his declaration, Lessig asserts “The DMCA is only a defense in the civil context”. The reversal is notable.

I do think Lessig is correct here. As I wrote in 2012 following the indictment,

Though [the DMCA] references only “infringement of copyright” — which could include both criminal and civil infringement — it merely shields service providers from “liab[ility] for monetary relief, or [in some circumstances] injunctive or other equitable relief.” This is civil lawsuit language — criminal defendants are punished with fines, not liable for monetary relief.

In addition, criminal liability would seem to preclude safe harbor protection solely as a matter of common sense. Criminal copyright infringement requires willful infringement. The DMCA safe harbor only protects service providers from liability for passive infringement. If the evidence shows that a defendant was willfully infringing copyrighted works beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn’t seem possible that that same defendant could ever meet the requirements for safe harbor protection under the statute.

Nevertheless, for Lessig to contradict a point the defense has been asserting for three years cannot be welcome news for Dotcom.

References   [ + ]

1. Researchers found that “the shutdown of Megaupload and its associated sites caused digital revenues for three major motion picture studios to increase by 6.5-8.5%.”
2. I wrote previously about the arguments raised in the white paper here.
3. A & M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc., 239 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001).
4. 537 US 186 (2003).

The Flux Capacitor and the Copyright Office — “American businesses and consumers deserve a Copyright Office that is suited to the modern era and the future.  Last weeks’ outage is yet more evidence that the Copyright Office needs authority over its own systems to make that happen.  And we hope Congress gives this the attention it deserves.”

Ninth Circuit Gets Fair Use Wrong to the Detriment of Creators — To reach its conclusion that fair use is a right, the Ninth Circuit selectively quotes an Eleventh Circuit decision to make it sound like there is support for that position, when in fact, the Eleventh Circuit is saying the opposite. Stunning.

Priest on Market-Pressure Based Enforcement of Global Copyright — A new article from Univ. of Oregon Law School professor Eric Priest “proposes a framework for evaluating and improving market-pressure strategies aimed at redressing copyright infringement in markets where enforcement is lacking.”

Full of Schmidt — “…it turns out the demagogues of Silicon Valley are themselves inveterate elitists who slyly and consistently employ populist rhetoric for their own profit-hungry purposes. They elevate the quantitative formulations of Big Data into unalloyed truth, conveniently overlooking the helplessness of quantity alone to identify quality (nowhere in the history of humanity have we ever seen sheer numbers equate with human value), and also conveniently overlooking the subjectivity that will always embed itself into algorithmic selection, because (hey, how about that!) algorithms are at some point in the process created and overseen by human beings and will ever more reflect subjectivity even when posing as immutably objective.”

MPA Reveals 500+ Instances of Pirate Site Blocking in Europe — That’s a lot of broken internets.

“We Own You” – Confessions of an Anonymous Free to Play Producer — “Every time you play a free to play game, you just build this giant online database of who you are, who your friends are and what you like and don’t like. This data is sold, bought and traded between large companies I have worked for. You want to put a stop to this? Stop playing free games. Buy a game for 4.99 or 9.99. We don’t want to be making games like this, and we don’t want another meeting about retention, cohorts or churn.”

Three Quasi-Fallacies in the Conventional Understanding of Intellectual Property — In this forthcoming article, Jonathan Barnett argues that, contrary to the prevailing IP skepticism in academia, “reducing IP rights can increase costs for users while raising entry barriers for firms that adopt weakly integrated and other unbundled business models for implementing the innovation and commercialization process. The result is perverse: weaker IP rights raise entry costs, increase concentration and ultimately raise prices, limit output or otherwise distort innovation investments.”

If You Don’t Click on This Story, I Don’t Get Paid — A thought-provoking look at freelance writing in 2015. “’The people who make money off the internet are Facebook, Google, and Twitter and their billionaire executives,’ David Samuels, a contributing editor at Harper’s and frequent contributor to the New Yorker, said. ‘They are fantastically rich because they ate this whole world. Everybody in this world of internet publications is essentially providing content for them one way or another for free. If that’s your job, you’re very very nervous every day about the one little misstep that’s completely meaningless to Facebook, Google, or Twitter but might be the difference between life and death for you and for your publication.'”

How Unethical Hosts Fake DMCA Compliance — Jonathan Bailey has a practical guide for dealing with sites using tactics to make it seem like they are complying with DMCA notices without actually removing infringing material.

Recorded Music is the MOST Valuable — David Newhoff has a fascinating piece on the importance of recorded music and how the public loses out if artists are told to stick to live performances because the market for recorded music has eroded. “When recorded works themselves cease to be a commodity (i.e. they’re made for the purpose of selling something else), they cease to be the basis for investment, and this can limit the range of creators’ options to collaborate and produce a richer universe of sounds.”

On Sunday, September 6, US Copyright Office systems, including its electronic registration system, came back online. The systems had been down for over a week, having failed to come back online after being shut down for routine maintenance by the Library of Congress.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday, six days into the nine day outage, that the outage “cost[] the office an estimated $650,000 in lost fees and caus[ed] headaches for approximately 12,000 customers.” The final numbers are higher.

Unfortunately for the Copyright Office and its constituents, this outage was beyond its control. “The Copyright Office does not have its own Information Technology (IT) infrastructure,” said Keith Kupferschmid during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the functions and resources of the Office earlier this year. “[I]t uses the network, servers, telecommunications, security and all other IT operations controlled and managed by the Library of Congress.” 1The Copyright Office: Its Functions and Resources Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. (2015) (statement of Keith Kupferschmid, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property Software & Information Industry Association). This outage underscores the critical need to give the US Copyright Office the tools and resources it needs in order to function efficiently and effectively in the twenty-first century.

The first step in that process is giving the Office greater autonomy over its own functions and resources. Maintaining Library authority over the US Copyright Office creates a number of structural barriers to modernization, with little concomitant benefit. Indeed, there is very little logic regarding the housing of the Copyright Office within the Library in the first place. This wasn’t the result of any deliberative process at all, but rather through the ambition of Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Spofford, who served in that position 1864-1897.

Building a Library

This story begins with legal deposit—that is, a legal requirement to submit a copy of a published work to a specified institution. As a 1960 Copyright Office study explains:

The deposit of copies of copyrighted works serves two purposes: to identify the copyrighted work in connection with copyright registration, and to provide copies for the use of the Library of Congress. The deposit of copies for the first purpose has been an integral part of the U.S. copyright system since its beginning in 1790. Deposit for the Library of Congress was inaugurated in 1846. Before 1870. the deposit for each purpose was made separately. Since the administration of the registry system was placed in the Library of Congress in 1870, a single deposit has served both purposes. 2Elizabeth K. Dunne, Deposit of Copyrighted Works, Copyright Law Revision Study No. 20 (1960).

It was this centralization in 1870 which would eventually lead to the creation of the US Copyright Office. Spofford was a huge proponent of deposit as a mechanism for Library acquisitions. To that end, he sought throughout his tenure as Librarian to increase the effectiveness of deposit by, for example, introducing legal penalties for failure to deposit works. But, as historian John Y. Cole has explained, this was still insufficient to Spofford.

He found that even with the “utmost diligence” it was impossible to obtain all the copyrighted publications, since he was forced to pursue delinquent publishers and authors through the 44 U.S. district courts where the original copyright registrations were still being made.

The entire system needed changing, and Spofford proposed to eliminate the district courts and the Patent Office from the copyright system altogether by centralizing all registration and deposit activities at the Library of Congress. According to his plan, both deposit copies-the copy for legal record and the copy for library use-would be sent directly to the Library of Congress. The Librarian would be responsible for registration and for keeping the copies deposited as legal evidence separate from the general collection. 3John Y. Cole, Of Copyright, Men & a National Library, Library of Congress (1995) (originally published in 28 Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, 1971.

Spofford was, according to Cole, “a skillful politician”, and he shepherded his plan from idea to legislative reality in little over a year. 4Id. But his success was double-edged. Cole writes that centralization “created serious problems. Spofford was overwhelmed by the unceasing flow of deposits into his cramped Library. He cried to Congress for help almost immediately.” But the new arrangement only drew more and more works to the Library. “In 1875 Spofford warned Congress that its Librarian would soon be presiding over the ‘greatest chaos in America,’ and by 1877 more than 70,000 books were ‘piled on the floor in all directions.'” Too many books might seem a nice problem for a library to have. But Cole notes several problems that weighed down the benefits. “The most serious problem was the chaotic condition of the deposits themselves. Virtually inaccessible without the aid of Librarian Spofford’s remarkable memory, the accumulated wealth of the collections was not fully appreciated until they were transferred into the new building and cleaned, sorted, examined, and counted.” Consequently, many deposits were also damaged or lost before becoming available to the public. (Or stolen from Spofford’s office.)

Spofford made his case to Congress for a separate building to house the Library. Congress concurred, and on November 1, 1897, the Thomas Jefferson building opened its doors to the public. That same year, Congress also established a separate Copyright Department within the Library of Congress, headed by a Register of Copyrights, to administer registration and deposits. The first Register, Thorvald Solberg, was ambitious, and almost immediately transformed the office from a ministerial department to an expert agency. Under his leadership, the office “served as substantive experts within the U.S. government, provided policy advice to Congress, and represented the United States at international meetings,” a role the Office continues to this day. 5Maria Pallante, The Next Great Copyright Act, 36 Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts 315, 316 (2013).

Distinct Missions

So from its beginning, the Copyright Office has had a distinct mission from the Library of Congress. Aside from legal deposit (which doesn’t necessitate having the Copyright Office under the authority of the Library of Congress), there is little benefit to either institution from the historic arrangement, a point the recent outage demonstrates well, and one supported by two recent GAO reports on the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office.

By law, the Office must perform a number of functions. Among these, it must be able to “receive and examine copyright registration applications, collect and maintain deposited copies of copyrighted works as necessary to support the production of ‘facsimile reproductions’ and retention of works up to 120 years, produce certificates of registration and certified copies of applications, and maintain records of the transfer of copyright ownership.” 6GAO Copyright Office Report at 7. These functions rely heavily (if not entirely) on technology. The Library of Congress, in contrast, deploys information technology for a different set of purposes, such as “bibliographic cataloging and electronic archiving of important historical works.” 7The Copyright Office: Its Functions and Resources Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. (2015) (statement of Robert Brauneis, Professor, George Washington University Law School).

The Library and the Copyright Office also have different administrative needs. Unlike Library actions, actions taken by the Register to implement the Copyright Act are subject to the Administrative Procedure Act. 8GAO Copyright Office Report at 8. This means, among other things, that copyright records are governed by the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. 9Id. The result, as the GAO concluded, is that legal requirements “requirements necessitate actions by the Copyright Office that differ from otherwise-standard Library processes.” 10GAO Copyright Office Report at 8-9. Add to this the different data retention and security requirements of a library and a registration system.

It doesn’t appear that either department realizes any synergies from this arrangement. Indeed, it seems as though it may be that having the two systems integrated is worse than having the two separate. In its report, the GAO noted a number of “duplicative or overlapping efforts” between the two systems, “for example, the Copyright Office provides Internet management and desktop support services, which overlap similar services by ITS.” 11GAO Copyright Office Report at 22.

In addition, the GAO’s audit of the Library of Congress’s own IT found significant weaknesses in strategic planning, governance and investment management,  information security and privacy, service management, and leadership. Addressing these will take considerable time and attention. Under the current structure, that could mean continued delays in modernizing Copyright Office systes.

The conclusion to be drawn from this discussion seems unavoidable, and best stated by Register Pallante in testimony to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year. “The mission of the Copyright Office is fundamentally different from the mission of the Library, and I believe that the Copyright Office must have its own CIO, technology staff, and management autonomy, including the ability to implement IT investment and planning practices that focus not on agency-wide goals but on its own specific mission.”

This recent outage demonstrates that at the very minimum, Congress should address the acute technological and administrative challenges facing the Office by giving it the autonomy and resources it needs, without further delay.

References   [ + ]

1. The Copyright Office: Its Functions and Resources Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. (2015) (statement of Keith Kupferschmid, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property Software & Information Industry Association).
2. Elizabeth K. Dunne, Deposit of Copyrighted Works, Copyright Law Revision Study No. 20 (1960).
3. John Y. Cole, Of Copyright, Men & a National Library, Library of Congress (1995) (originally published in 28 Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, 1971.
4. Id.
5. Maria Pallante, The Next Great Copyright Act, 36 Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts 315, 316 (2013).
6. GAO Copyright Office Report at 7.
7. The Copyright Office: Its Functions and Resources Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. (2015) (statement of Robert Brauneis, Professor, George Washington University Law School).
8. GAO Copyright Office Report at 8.
9. Id.
10. GAO Copyright Office Report at 8-9.
11. GAO Copyright Office Report at 22.

Copyright Office’s online registration hasn’t worked for almost a week — The Copyright Office was created as a department of the Library of Congress in 1897. This latest technical malfunction demonstrates why that arrangement doesn’t best serve the needs of the public.

You can’t make “Game of Thrones” on a YouTube budget: Why “it’s the best of times and the worst of times” for prestige TV — Scott Timberg interviews Rob Levine on the current television renaissance. “All of this sounds abstract, but the ability of networks to fund ambitious shows – most of them with very high production costs – has to do not just with a creative revolution, but an economic one. People pay for television in a way they rarely do for other forms of culture, and when they stop, so will the flow of great programming.”

Rain is sizzling bacon, cars are lions roaring: the art of sound in movies — A fantastic profile of Skip Lievsay, a master at the craft of sound design for films. “Lievsay is not a household name, but he is famous among people who are. His expertise, fittingly, is what can’t be seen – sound, yes, but also everything else that sound is to the human mind: the way we orient ourselves in relation to spaces, to time, to each other; the way we communicate when language fails; the way our ears know, precognitively, when the dark room has someone lurking in it or when a stranger will be kind. He orchestrates the levels of human perception that most people either fail to examine or lack the ability to notice at all. His job is to make you feel things without ever knowing he was there.”

‘Sample amnesty’ will let artists keep royalties if they declare material lifted from other musicians — “Rather than chase down and sue musicians who have taken its music without permission, EMI is offering an amnesty. From Tuesday, anyone who has sampled the catalogue without getting the sample cleared will be able to come forward, declare it, and agree a legitimate release for the recording. The ‘sample amnesty’, believed to be the first of its kind, will run for 6 months, has been approved by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which owns EMI Music Publishing and is itself co-owned by the Michael Jackson Estate.”

The MovieTube Litigation Part I: Who Needs SOPA? — Devlin Hartline takes a look at Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2) and its application to third party service providers who aid and abet online piracy.

Many new top-level domains have become Internet’s “bad neighborhoods” — “There were many who warned that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) decision to allow a host of new commercial generic top-level Internet domains was going to create a huge opportunity for Internet scammers and hackers. The approval of top-level domains (TLDs) beyond those assigned to countries and generic ones such as .com, .org, and .net created an opportunity, some in the security industry warned, for criminals to set up “look-alike” domains in the new namespace that aped legitimate sites already registered in .com or elsewhere. Well, the warnings were spot-on.”

The digital environment has created something approaching a monopoly for digital entrepreneurs and technology corporations, at the expense of those who create works. The distribution of intellectual and creative content puts billions into hands of digital entrepreneurs while most artists and creators can no longer benefit economically from their work. This is not fair, and it is not what copyright, which is recognized as a human right under Article 27 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was intended to achieve.

Krisellen Maloney & Janice T. Pilch, Comments of Rutgers University Libraries in Response to Notice of Inquiry Concerning Copyright Protection for Certain Visual Works, July 23, 2015. 1All comments available here.

Is Amazon Creating a Cultural Monopoly? — A group of authors has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the online retailer, arguing that its practices “squeeze publishers, which makes them more risk-averse in deciding which books to publish. As a result, they claim, publishers have been ‘dropping some midlist authors and not publishing certain riskier books, effectively silencing many voices.’ And this is bad not only for the non-famous writers who go unpublished, but for their would-be readers, who are denied the ability to hear those voices.”

Are Creators Really Thriving in the Digital Age? Doesn’t Look Like It — There were a number of pieces responding to a New York Times Magazine article claiming that a “creative apocalypse” had been predicted following Napster, but that, in fact, things were never better for creators. Here’s Rob Levine’s take.

A visual journey through the most loved and hated TV series finales — Or, more precisely, how much did the IMDB rating of a series finale differ from the average IMDB rating of all its episodes? Still, an interesting chart.

Creative Destruction and Disruptive Creation — “Content creators have always leveraged technology to tell better stories. Indeed, the history of Hollywood is perhaps best described as ‘disruptive creation.'”

The Most Popular YouTube Videos of All Time — Look at all that user-generated content.

References   [ + ]

How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election — Say the authors, “Our new research leaves little doubt about whether Google has the ability to control voters. In laboratory and online experiments conducted in the United States, we were able to boost the proportion of people who favored any candidate by between 37 and 63 percent after just one search session. The impact of viewing biased rankings repeatedly over a period of weeks or months would undoubtedly be larger.”

The Bizarre History of ‘All Rights Reserved’ — Ever wonder where it comes from? And if you’re a creator, do you need it? Jonathan Bailey looks at the origins of the phrase.

Google found its own Java libraries “half-ass at best”, needed “another half of an ass”, took Oracle’s APIs — Florian Mueller highlights a humorous bit of evidence in the long running litigation between Oracle and Google.

20th Century Props reopens amid production rebound in L.A. — “20th Century Props stunned the industry in 2009 when it closed its North Hollywood business amid mounting losses that it blamed on the flight of production from L.A. Several L.A. prop houses have closed or laid off employees in recent years as more business left the state. But owner Harvey Schwartz has decided to reopen at a new location in Van Nuys, citing an upswing in production in Southern California that has renewed demand for props used on film and TV shows. Newly expanded film tax credits have enticed four out-of-state TV shows to L.A. The California Film Commission on Tuesday announced that eight studio films also had been selected for tax breaks. ‘Business seems to be coming to town, so it’s looking good in Los Angeles these days,’ Schwartz said.”

The Next Great Copyright Office — Josh Simmons (Kirkland & Ellis) looks at the current copyright review process, how it compares to the 1976 revision process, and pays particular attention to the issue of Copyright Office modernization.

Creators, Innovators, and Appropriation Mechanisms — “O’Connor explains that tech innovators can ‘freely advocate for copyright reform that would weaken copyright enforcement for content owners without much risk that any changes would hurt their own appropriation mechanisms.’ Even if their efforts successfully weaken some of their own IP rights, such as copyright protections for their source codes, they have a panoply of other appropriation mechanisms that they can rely on instead, such as patents, trade secrets, contracts, and the like. Importantly, the same does not hold true for the many content creators that have only their copyrights to protect them.”

Police anti-piracy operation cuts advertising on illegal sites by 70% — A measure of success in the UK: “The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said there has been a 73% decrease in advertising from the UK’s top spending companies appearing on illegal websites since it launched a crackdown in 2013. For the last two years, the PIPCU has been running Operation Creative, with the backing of the ad industry and trade bodies representing the film, music, TV and publishing industry, to try to stop the flow of ad funds which are one of the main generators of profits for illegal sites.”

ICANN Should Curb Anonymous Domain Name Abuses — Daniel Castro: “One requirement for registering any website domain name is that the domain owner must provide its contact information. This information is placed into WHOIS, a public, online database. Some website owners choose to use a privacy and proxy service, which submits contact information for the service provider and is then responsible for relaying any inquiries to the actual registrant. Unfortunately, not all privacy and proxy services fulfill their duties, creating a serious problem for law enforcement agencies. For example, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill has noted ‘…even ICANN recognizes that the system is flawed, often allowing bad actors to hide behind incomplete, inaccurate, or proxy information.'”

If Your Instagram #Selfies Aren’t Private, This Site Might Sell Them To Total Strangers — With no pretense of any “transformative purpose.” The article quotes an Instagram rep firmly taking no position, saying, “you can draw your own conclusions about whether this violates our policies.”