By , May 13, 2011.

Content and Technology is not an Either/or Choice — The Copyright Alliance disputes the framing of efforts to better protect IP rights as a choice betweencopyright and innovation. “The copyright community and the technology sector drive and sustain each other.  They each contribute disproportionately to the wealth of this nation, and both sectors depend on a vibrant, legal marketplace of digital content.”

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, and What the First Amendment Means to the MPAA — The Motion Picture Association of America’s new chairman Chris Dodd reflects on the role of the organization in defending free speech rights for filmmakers, a theme I discussed on this site recently. “Many people don’t realize that the MPAA itself was born as an answer to government censorship.  Before the establishment of the MPAA’s Classifications and Rating Administration, early filmmakers battled a mishmash of local, state and federal boards that mandated strict ‘moral standards’ that often destroyed the artistic integrity of films or kept them from being shown at all.”

Limewire Case Settles, Mid-Trial, For $105 Million — Thursday evening brought news that the file-sharing service reached a settlement agreement with the record labels that had brought suit against it before the close of the first week of the jury trial to determine damages. Q: How much of the settlement is going to the artists? A: More than they got from Limewire.

MPAA v. Zediva is Shaping up to be Quite the Legal Showdown — Remember Zediva, the video-on-demand startup that streams movies online from actual DVDs in remote DVD players to avoid licensing fees? They were, of course, sued by film studios. PaidContent reports that both sides seem to be placing a high priority on this lawsuit, considering the high-power lawyers being called on for litigation.

YouTube boosts movie rentals with over 3,000 Hollywood titles — The video-sharing site joins online movie providers like iTunes and Amazon, allowing users to watch films for a couple of bucks. The titles include classics like Goodfellas and newer releases like Inception.

Library of Congress and Sony create the National Jukebox — The record label has made thousands of previously unavailable historical recordings available to the general public through a joint effort with the Library of Congress. According to the LA Times, “The collaboration between Sony and the Library of Congress is intended to keep any cost to taxpayers to a minimum and to make the streaming files available quickly. In return, Sony will receive data on which recordings are streamed most frequently to help determine which may have commercial potential.” Win-win-win.

Interview: The Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian — Boing Boing contributor Rob Beschizza interviews the organizer and exhibition curator of the Smithsonian’s upcoming Art of Video Games exhibition. “We want to show people that video games are more than they might appear on the surface, that they can have incredible depth, beauty, and emotion.”

4 Predictions for Copyright Reform Attempt 4 — With the recent Canadian elections completed, it is likely that the new government will resume the efforts to reform the nation’s copyright law. Attorney James Gannon offers his predictions on what changes to expect this time around in light of recent developments in copyright law and digital technologies.

The E-Book Gold Rush — Author Lee Goldberg injects some reality into the recent success stories of self-publishing authors in the digital world. Yes, authors can find new opportunities with e-books and shouldn’t ignore their potential. But the fact remains that a new system that makes it easier for an author to spread her work makes it easier for every author to spread her work — bringing us back to square one in the amount of time and effort needed to build an audience.

Google Books and the Rule of Law— Howard Knopf pens this op-ed about the broader rule of law and international law implications of the Google Books project. “The Google Books project has frequently been likened to a reincarnation of the Library of Alexandria in a digital, fireproof format—because it could include virtually all the world’s important books in an instantly accessible database. However, what has been shown to be technically achievable and widely praised is far from clearly legally viable. There is considerable concern from those who care about core values in copyright and international law, and indeed the rule of law itself. Nobody is above the law—not even Google. Class actions were never intended to usurp legislation and treaties.”

GAO Still Stonewalling on Sources for “Stealing is Good” Report — Chris Castle documents his efforts requesting information from the Government Accountability Office regarding the unnamed experts who advanced the idea of positive effects of piracy in last year’s report on “Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods.”

Cheezburger Networks of sites suck — A very short blog post from photographer Terry Border at Bent Objects, but a great excuse for me to point people to his work. Border uses everyday objects to create whimsical scenes — circus peanuts performing in a circus, for example. Here, he complains about the popular image aggregator sites which misappropriate photos from the web, routinely without regard to attributing the original authors. Says Border, “I’ve heard a couple of comments that blame the submitters to their sites, and not Cheezburger themselves. Well, who put together the way their sites work? They can try to wash their hands of wrong-doing, but it’s their system, and they know the end result will be lots of anonymous images thrown into the furnace of their giant money making machine.” Hm, sounds familiar.

Finally, from the academic world, I recommend the following:

Copyright, Complexity and Cultural Diversity (via Legal Theory Blog) — In this forthcoming Chapter, available at SSRN, Michal Shur-Ofry-

“challenges the prevailing view pertaining to the connection between broad copyright protection and lack of cultural diversity. Prominent scholarship in the field of copyright links the lack of diversity in cultural consumption to the broad copyright protection afforded to cultural works. Copyright, so goes the argument, constitutes a major basis for the activities of mass media corporations, which flood our cultural sphere with formulaic cultural products, whose sole purpose is to appeal to the taste of the masses. The limitation of copyright, so the argument proceeds, would diminish the cultural domination of mass media products, and promote audience exposure to ‘other’, more diverse works.

“The Chapter questions the importance attributed to copyright law in this context. Based on complexity and network theory dealing with the evolution of popularity and the self organization of complex systems, it illuminates the fact that the inclination towards popular cultural works is an intrinsic phenomenon of social networks, and does not depend upon copyright protection. It continues to analyze recent ‘long tail’ data, which indicates that positive changes in the degree of cultural diversity occur even under a broad copyright regime. In light of these observations, the Chapter attempts to offer a broader perspective on diverse cultural consumption, relying on socio-cultural research. This literature indicates that cultural diversity is a complex and multi-faceted issue. The non-linear nature also implies that the level of diversity cannot be easily calibrated by changing the scope of copyright protection. Rather, the attempt to promote diverse cultural consumption must address a series of difficult questions which are outside the scope of copyright law.”


  1. I believe it to be a fair summation of the GAO report that it cover a lot of ground, but in the final analysis distills to but a single sentence. Specifically, “We have looked at a bunch of stuff and talked with a bunch of people, but at the end of the day the most we can say is that we were unable to arrive at any form and definite conclusions. The best we can state is a firm and definite ‘maybe’ and ‘maybe not’.”

    Frankly, this seems to be consistent with all of the economic studies relied upon so heavily by those who dismiss ‘piracy’ as an issue in the calculus of ‘file sharing” (what I consistently refer to as ‘file copying’ and ‘file distribution’, to bring the term ‘file sharing’ into line with the terminology actually used in the copyright statute). All of those studies arrive at firm and definite ‘maybe’, ‘could’, ‘perhaps’, ‘might’. etc. All of them admit that ‘causation’ can not be demonstrated.

    The GAO being an arm of Congress, it is obviously not an ‘agency’ as to which FOIA pertains. Nevertheless, there is nothing preventing anyone from presenting the list of questions, and perhaps others, to a member of Congress for submittal to the GAO. After all, this is the modus operandi of organizations such as the KEI, using persons such as Senator Wyden to intercede on their behalf.