The copying and reproduction of just 11 words of a news article can be copyright infringement, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled. Europe’s highest court has said that a clippings service’s copying could be unlawful.
Danish clippings service Infopaq was taken to court by Danish newspaper industry body Danske Dagblades Forening (DDF) over its reproduction of 11-word snippets of news for sale to clients.
Archive for the 'copyright' Category
What happened? The story, via Viacom officials, is that pro baseball officials contacted them this week and told them to take down the Obama footage, which it owns.
The argument, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m told, is that the MLB was fine with Stewart (and every other TV show in the country) using the clip under Ã¢â‚¬Å“fair useÃ¢â‚¬Â termsÃ¢â‚¬â€œthe footage itself was a news story, and Stewart was adding value via his commentary, etc. But it balked at the notion of the footage remaining in ViacomÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s archives, and circulating on the Web, forever.
None of that makes any sense, of course: ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no reason that StewartÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s use of the clip should be okay, but only for a limited time. And if Viacom wanted to spend time fighting MLB on this, it certainly could have.
Appeals court judge suggests barring “linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent”
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.
Earlier this week, I reported that the National Organization for Marriage would fight back against Perez Hilton’s copyright demands that the organization stop using a clip from his vlog — one in which he calls Miss California a “dumb bitch.”
Well now their fight got even more complicated. The Miss Universe Pageant has filed a takedown request of its own:
The Miss Universe Organization just told us they’ve fired off a cease and desist letter to the National Organization for Marriage — after NOM used footage from the Miss USA 2009 pageant in an anti-gay marriage commercial.
The commercial — which is currently still playing on NOM’s website — uses Carrie Prejean’s pageant response to the gay marriage question as a selling point for the ad.
This doesn’t mean the MUO is taking sides on the issue — just saying NOM can’t use the copyrighted material to promote their agenda.
I finally got around to reading my boingboing rss feed and came across a bunch of media related links so thought I’d include them all in one post.
1. Cory gives us a behind-the-scenes look at DRM and how big technology and media companies get pro-DRM rules signed into law.
2. Wired has a cool article about how Jamaican music artists basically invented mash-ups and remix albums because of relaxed copyright law in that country.
3. A researcher figured out that an artist only really profits off his copyrighted work for about 14 years before the copyright is virtually useless.
4. A website that specializes in allowing teens to display webcam video is owned by a porn company. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that they’re not very good at dealing with parent complaints about inappropriate webcam video popping up on their site.
5. A Sampling of new words and senses from the new 2007 update of Merriam-Webster’s CollegiateÃ‚Â® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition: “Just two years after a majority of visitors to Merriam-Webster OnLine declared it to be their “Favorite Word (Not in the Dictionary),” the adjective “ginormous” (now officially defined as “extremely large: humongous”), has won a legitimate place in the 2007 copyright update of Merriam-Webster’s CollegiateÃ‚Â® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.”
6. A blogger from China could be thrown in jail simply for posting a link to a site with nude pictures.
Nobody could have predicted the breadth of the outrage.
At the bottom of a lengthy platform rant, Howard V. Hendrix, the current vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, wrote:
I’m also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they’re just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they’re undercutting those of us who aren’t giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.
Later in the essay, he labeled these webscabs as “Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch[s],” a name that would later come to haunt him.
The response was immediate. Within days, hundreds of websites, blogs and message boards had linked to the rant, and very few came to Hendrix’s defense. In an age when many writers publish their works in online magazines which are freely accessible, comparing such a person to a union worker scab allowed little room for mercy.
“What a bunch of bull,” one message board poster wrote. “[S]orry to say, but juxtaposed with his bio about driving a $50k car, living in old growth forest, having enough time to cut firewood all day for a toasty bath…and getting to snowshoe in the Sierra Nevadas whenever the whim strikes; I don’t have much sympathy.”
Neither did the rest of the writing community.
In the midst of all these outcries, Jo Walton, a 42-year-old speculative fiction writer from Canada decided to act.
“In honour of Dr Hendrix, I am declaring Monday 23rd April International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day,” she posted on her blog. “On this day, everyone who wants to should give away professional quality work online. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, a story or a poem, it doesn’t matter if it’s already been published or if it hasn’t, the point is it should be disseminated online to celebrate our technopeasanthood.”
Like the original webscab rant, the proposal was spread all over the web, fueled in large part when Cory Doctorow of Boingboing linked to it. Doctorow is considered by many to be the poster child champion of releasing your works for free, what with several novels and a collection released under a Creative Commons license.
After Technopeasant Day was all said and done, I asked Walton whether she had realized at the time of declaring it that it would become such a widely-adopted phenomenon.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like this level of response,” she said. “I thought some of my friends would go for it. I wasn’t expecting a mass movement.”
The date of the holiday — April 23 — wasn’t without significance. Walton originally planned to give her readers one day’s notice, but was eventually convinced by one of her friends to hold off. “So I looked at the calendar and saw that Monday 23rd was St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s Birthday, which seemed perfect,” she said. “The writer Laurence Schimmel lives in Catalonia and he had mentioned last year that St. George’s Day is called St. Jordi’s day there and is celebrated by people giving each other a book and a rose. That just seemed really appropriate.”
Though it’s hard to say for certain how many people participated in International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, one site was able to track at least 71 writers who did. Authors posted everything from short stories to poems to audio recordings to full-length novels.
Jay Lake, a prolific short story writer and novelist, was one such participant. He has published dozens of short stories in free online magazines over the years, but his official Technopeasant contribution was titled “Glass: A Love Story.”
After Hendrix’s statements, there were murmurs within the writing community that his views were echoed largely within the New York publishing world, especially in light of the recent lawsuits against Google and its book scanning program, but Lake didn’t agree.
“Obviously I don’t speak for anyone in New York. I live almost as far from New York City as one can and still be in the continental United States,” he said. “However, given that Tor has done very well backing Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross and John Scalzi, among others, with aggressive stances on e-publishing and alternative licensing and distribution schema, I have trouble imagining them aligning with the substance of Dr. Hendrix’s remarks.”
Lake, who’s an active member of the SFWA, believes that Hendrix falls within an “old boy’s club” in the organization, one that causes a sharp divide in every writerly argument ranging from the merits of posting your work online for free to whether selling short stories to small press magazines helps your career.
Sarah Monette, another novelist who played along on Technopeasant Day, seemed to agree with this notion.
“Not being a member of SFWA, I can’t presume to speculate on what they think about this matter,” she offered. “I do think it’s probable that younger writers are more likely to think about ways of promoting their work online simply because we’ve been exposed to the internet more at an earlier age.”
After it became apparent that his fellow writers were rebelling against his statements, Hendrix performed a minimal amount of backpedaling, but for the most part remained firm in his original assessments. In a lengthy letter he submitted to the publishing blog Galley Cat, he said that he “may well be wrong” for labeling people “webscabs,” but that ultimately “I don’t feel that free online posting of whole novels for promotional purposes will in the end empower authors as a class.”
Two days after Technopeasant Day, I contacted Hendrix to see if he would answer a few questions to give more insight to the controversy. He immediately requested that I repost his original response (you can read it here).
In our back-and-forth conversation, he claimed that he hadn’t read the mass internet response, that most of it had been summarized to him in “email correspondence.”
“The term “webscabs” was a bit too broad, and definitely too incendiary,” he admitted. “We at SFWA have long been concerned about authors’ rights. If my comments got people thinking about authors’ responsibilities, especially to other authors, then I am content and more than willing to deal with the consequences.”
When I asked him about whether he suffered from the “old school” labeling that so many authors had given him, he denied such a thing. “As I have said elsewhere, I’m not opposed to blogs, wikis, chatrooms etc. per se. I have at one time or another been involved with all of them to some degree,” he said. “… My concern was with the implications of the fact that volunteer officers of a volunteer organization (SFWA) were increasingly expected to not only spend time on the SFWA listserves, but also on numerous “topics” on SFF.net, as well as an ever-proliferating number of member blogs. It was a recipe for burning out our volunteers, and I felt compelled to say something about it.”
Hendrix explained that his opposition to posting free works online is “rooted in a concern that, as more authors make use of this promotional technique, harms of aggregation will ensue.” To him, this isn’t a question of an author’s rights, but his responsibilities. He described Technopeasants as subscribing to a libertarian’s messianic-faith-in-capitalism idea, a naieve one as he sees it. He asserted that the SFWA has been competent in keeping up with the shifting media landscape, and the elected officials aren’t adverse to the internet and the new avenues it opens.
“As for being “progressive” and “adapting,” I think it’s appropriate to recall that Charles Darwin long ago taught us Change is not necessarily the same thing as Progress — and that applies to technological evolution, too,” he said. “‘Adapting’ should not mean serving as a doormat waiting to be trampled.”
Despite his claim that he didn’t read the blogosphere’s response to his statements, Hendrix admitted that it might have severely affected his place in SFWA. “I would love to continue serving the organization, but I’m afraid that my comment on LiveJournal has probably ‘burned that bridge before I came to it.’”
But most the writers I spoke to didn’t hold his statements against him as a person.
“I have never met Dr. Hendrix, or encountered him online, and I don’t have anything against him personally, I just strongly disagree with his right to tell other people what they can do with their own work,” Walton told me. “And the word ‘webscab’ didn’t go down very well. I come from the South Wales coal mining valleys, where ‘scab’ is very strong language. I’m very glad he took that word back, and understand it might not have quite the same level of meaning where he comes from.”
Lake also seemed to think the entire ordeal would blow over.
“I think Howard should have just smiled and waved and gotten on with his life,” he said. “He stuck his foot in it hard, without really meaning to in my opinion, and reached a point where there wasn’t really a graceful exit available to him. Sometimes you just have to eat a little mud.”
Since I wrote a detailed article on releasing your book for free online, I thought it would be appropriate to link to this Guardian article, opining at length about the differences between American and British copyright, and the merits of Google Book Search:
There are people who foresee a disaster for publishers and writers. Personally, I think that books are going to be OK, for one main reason: books are not only, or not primarily, the information they contain. A book is also an object, and a piece of technology; in fact, a book is an extraordinarily effective piece of technology, portable, durable, expensive to pirate but easy to use, not prone to losing all its data in crashes, and capable of taking an amazing variety of beautiful forms. Google Book Search is going to be a superb tool for accessing the information in books; but how much of Middlemarch or White Teeth or Tintin in Tibet is information? You can see in the Bodleian’s rich holdings of manuscripts and old books just how much of the cultural history of books, and their cultural importance, lies in their bookness. This will, I think, dilute the impact of digitisation for writers and publishers: even if you could rip an MP3 of Moby-Dick, who on earth would prefer it to a bound copy?
Related posts: Stephen King to publish new Richard Bachman book, GoogleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s employees transported to work in their own buses, Dark Horse Comics canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t keep up with the success of the film version of 300, The Music Copyright Void