Corante

AUTHORS

Donna Wentworth
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile)

Ernest Miller
( Archive | Home )

Elizabeth Rader
( Archive | Home )

Jason Schultz
( Archive | Home )

Wendy Seltzer
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile )

Aaron Swartz
( Archive | Home )

Alan Wexelblat
( Archive | Home )

About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

COPYFIGHTERS
a Typical Joe
Academic Copyright
Jack Balkin
John Perry Barlow
Benlog
beSpacific
bIPlog
Blogaritaville
Blogbook IP
BoingBoing
David Bollier
James Boyle
Robert Boynton
Brad Ideas
Ren Bucholz
Cabalamat: Digital Rights
Cinema Minima
CoCo
Commons-blog
Consensus @ Lawyerpoint
Copyfighter's Musings
Copyfutures
Copyright Readings
Copyrighteous
CopyrightWatch Canada
Susan Crawford
Walt Crawford
Creative Commons
Cruelty to Analog
Culture Cat
Deep Links
Derivative Work
Detritus
Julian Dibbell
DigitalConsumer
Digital Copyright Canada
Displacement of Concepts
Downhill Battle
DTM:<|
Electrolite
Exploded Library
Bret Fausett
Edward Felten - Freedom to Tinker
Edward Felten - Dashlog
Frank Field
Seth Finkelstein
Brian Flemming
Frankston, Reed
Free Culture
Free Range Librarian
Michael Froomkin
Michael Geist
Michael Geist's BNA News
Dan Gillmor
Mike Godwin
Joe Gratz
GrepLaw
James Grimmelmann
GrokLaw
Groklaw News
Matt Haughey
Erik J. Heels
ICANNWatch.org
Illegal-art.org
Induce Act blog
Inter Alia
IP & Social Justice
IPac blog
IPTAblog
Joi Ito
Jon Johansen
JD Lasica
LawMeme.org
Legal Theory Blog
Lenz Blog
Larry Lessig
Jessica Litman
James Love
Alex Macgillivray
Madisonian Theory
Maison Bisson
Kevin Marks
Tim Marman
Matt Rolls a Hoover
miniLinks
Mary Minow
Declan McCullagh
Eben Moglen
Dan Moniz
Napsterization
Nerdlaw
NQB
Danny O'Brien
Open Access
Open Codex
John Palfrey
Chris Palmer
Promote the Progress
PK News
PVR Blog
Eric Raymond
Joseph Reagle
Recording Industry vs. the People
Lisa Rein
Thomas Roessler
Seth Schoen
Doc Searls
Seb's Open Research
Shifted Librarian
Doug Simpson
Slapnose
Slashdot.org
Stay Free! Daily
Sarah Stirland
Swarthmore Coalition
Tech Law Advisor
Technology Liberation Front
Teleread
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Vertical Hold
Kim Weatherall
Weblogg-ed
David Weinberger
Matthew Yglesias

LINKABLE + THINKABLE
AKMA
Timothy Armstrong
Bag and Baggage
Charles Bailey
Beltway Blogroll
Between Lawyers
Blawg Channel
bk
Chief Blogging Officer
Drew Clark
Chris Cohen
Crawlspace
Crooked Timber
Daily Whirl
Dead Parrots Society
Delaware Law Office
J. Bradford DeLong
Betsy Devine
Dispositive
Ben Edelman
EEJD
Ernie the Attorney
FedLawyerGuy
Foreword
How Appealing
Industry Standard
IP Democracy
IPnewsblog
IP Watch
Dennis Kennedy
Rick Klau
Wendy Koslow
Kuro5hin.org
Elizabeth L. Lawley
Jerry Lawson
Legal Reader
Likelihood of Confusion
Chris Locke
Derek Lowe
Misbehaving
MIT Tech Review
NewsGrist
OtherMag
Paper Chase
Frank Paynter
PHOSITA
Scott Rosenberg
Scrivener's Error
Jeneane Sessum
Silent Lucidity
Smart Mobs
Trademark Blog
Eugene Volokh
Kevin Werbach

ORGANIZATIONS
ARL
Berkman @ Harvard
CDT
Chilling Effects
CIS @ Stanford
CPSR
Copyright Reform
Creative Commons
DigitalConsumer.org
DFC
EFF
EPIC
FIPR
FCC
FEPP
FSF
Global Internet Proj.
ICANN
IETF
ILPF
Info Commons
IP Justice
ISP @ Yale
NY for Fair Use
Open Content
PFF
Public Knowledge
Shidler Center @ UW
Tech Center @ GMU
U. Maine Tech Law Center
US Copyright Office
US Dept. of Justice
US Patent Office
W3C


Copyfight

Monthly Archives

February 26, 2007

Was a Plagiarist Busted by iTunes?

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Joyce Hatto was a pianist of some note who retired from performing back in 1976, to fight cancer. She lived a good long time after that retirement and enjoyed a degree of notoriety in the last decade of her life due to the release of a wide variety of new recordings on her husband William Barrington-Coupe's tiny label Concert Artist. As the story in Gramophone puts it

To love Hatto recordings was to be in the know, a true piano aficionado who didn't need the hype of a major label's marketing spend to recognise a good, a great, thing when they heard it.

There were doubters all along, but the recent break in the story seems to have come from a listener who put a "Hatto" CD into his iTunes, which identified it not as Hatto but as a Liszt recording by a wholly different pianist. More such reports followed.

Gramophone followed up, first by asking a human classical expert to listen to the two. When that expert claimed no difference they sent the two discs to an audiologist, who found them identical. The story linked above has more details, including what appears to be a deliberate digital manipulation of at least one track to conceal its origins.

Wikipedia is keeping a "current event" section as people add information on recordings and possible sources. There appears to be evidence of what can only be classed as a massive fraud.

In some ways this is not a new story - people plagiarize and have for centuries. This caught my attention because of the involvement of iTunes and the role of digital "fingerprints" in the automatic identification of works.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse

February 16, 2007

Sadly, Not Everything is on the Web

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Because this means I can't really point you to the best pieces of writing on intellectual property to pass in front of my eyes this month. Both appear in the print edition of Harper's Magazine, February 2007 edition. If you can still buy this issue, do it.

Inside you'll find two articles I can't possibly do justice to in a blog posting. Both are brilliant examinations of intellectual property, use/reuse, and repurposing of creative content. Both come from perspectives we don't hear often enough - the creators and users of the material.

The first piece is called "On the Rights of Molotov Man: Appropriation and the art of context" by Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas. This item centers on a particular image - a Sandinista revolutionary preparing to throw a molotov cocktail. You can see a copy of the image on Harold Pinter's Web site.

In discussing the image Joy Garnett describes how she paints from photographs, and how her painting from this photograph went on to be used. The painting from the photo appeared in an exhibition, questions were raised about the appropriateness of use, letters from lawyers were sent, license fees were demanded, and the story hit the blogs. Garnett gives her perspective and raises questions on the issues of control around what was essentially a news or documentary photograph. Nobody "posed" for that picture - it captured a true event as real people went about overthrowing a dictator.

Then follows a response from Meiselas. She gives history and context for the photograph, shows how it became an emblem for the Sandinistas and was appropriated by them for political purposes, and finally introduces us to the actual person in the picture, whom she tracked down many years after the original photograph.

This pairing of creative views on use and appropriation is brief and poignant. I found myself sympathizing with both artists and with the notion that creative control means something as well as freedom to (re)interpret creatively.

Harper's then follows up with a stunning piece by author Jonathan Lethem called "The Ecstasy of Influence." The piece is subtitled "a plagiarism" in much the way that some things are subtitled "a novel" or similar self-descriptives. Lethem's essay is long and wide-ranging, covering many arguments that will be familiar to Copyfight readers. He touches on appropriation, literary theory, influence, and has no lack of harsh words for Disney and their attempts to create a one-way gated cultural community in which they take popular common stories and create perpetually locked content that cannot then be reused by anyone else.

Lethem's thesis is that every act of creation is actually an act of appropriation - it's just that some appropriations are more explicit than others. Even in the non-explicit cases, Lethem argues, nobody creates in a vacuum. We create out of cultural traditions and within genres that bring strong influences, whether it's science fiction novels or country music. Attempts to draw bright lines and say that one side of the line is "original creation" and the other side is "impermissible copying" are doomed and wrong from the outset. Lethem argues that modern copyright law is distorting the purpose under which the Constitution sets out the rights. In particular, copyright is supposed to exist in the US to promote useful progress. The Constitution says nothing about guaranteeing income or compensation for effort. Copyright, for a limited term, to promote progress - a general social good. Nothing to do with individual welfare, providing for authors' children unto the Nth generation, or any of that.

Lethem takes particular delight in cases where appropriation transcends traditional boundaries - he gives the example of receiving a copy of his own novel Gun, with Occasional Music that had been cut into the shape of an actual gun by a modern artist. Lethem is erudite and wide-thinking and persuasive, if somewhat scattered and not extremely coherent.

Or is he? Remember that bit about "a plagiarism?" After you've finished reading the essay, Lethem lifts the curtain and lets you see the gearing underneath. Almost all of the essay is plagiarized - copied from other sources. Lethem dissects his own collage for us, giving precise boundaries and explicit sourcing for each piece of the pastiche.

Finally, he goes meta and gives a quick overview of the notion of a collage text, of which this essay is an example. It's brilliant (can I say that enough times?) and eye-opening. In a way it's a radical view, to reject entirely the notion of original creation. In another way, it's a well-explored literary theory that has been known in academic circles for decades but that has not penetrated the Copyfight discussion in any significant way.

Go get the magazine. Really. Dead trees or not.

(EDIT: Readers have kindly given me a couple links to share. First, a pointer to the Lethem plagiarism, at Harper's itself. Second, a pointer to the NYU conference from which these pieces were drawn.)

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts

February 15, 2007

New Improved Cartel Jihad! Now More Efficient Than Ever!

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

In case you were fooled lately into thinking that the RIAA and the rest of the Content Cartel were going to pursue a policy other than "Sue All the World, Sue All the Children" please permit the blog "Recording Industry vs The People", maintained by NYC lawyers Ty Rogers and Ray Beckerman, to adjust your reality.

The blog has posted a letter appearntly leaked from the RIAA. In this letter the Cartel enforcement arm attempts to cajole ISPs into maintaining subscriber ISP records for 180 days. To make its lawsuits go more smoothly, of course. In exchange for shutting the hell up and turning over data promptly the ISP's customers get a promise of a $1000 discount for payment prior to lawsuit being filed. It's not at all clear to me why any sane ISP would sign on to this deal since it means more work and more risk for them, not to mention the exposure of being counter-sued by irate customers for turning over records.

You can read a brief summary on the lawyer's blog, and extensive commentary on the various links below the entry. The gist is still the same - the RIAA wants more suits, faster suits, more settlements, and fewer embarrassing publicity gaffes. I can't exactly blame them for wanting these things, but I'd rather they realized that they haven't made any difference in the past 7+ years of suing their customers and they're not going to make a difference if they spend another 77 years suing their customers.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse

BBC Signs on to MSFT DRM

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

That enough initials for you? The reasoning behind the decision is long and complicated, and no one is completely happy with the situation. If you want all the details, go listen to the BBC's Backstage podcast explaining the situation. What it seems to boil down to is nobody wanting to, or being able to, drain the swamp of ambiguous rights, partials ownerships, and uncertain licensings that surround the BBC's massive content and performance archives.

In an attempt to build an umbrella over the whole mess that would permit some kind of content exposure without massive groundwork, the BBC put out a new "iPlayer" software that requires the person to have Microsoft DRM. They make the argument that they evaluated a number of open standards and found nothing that met their needs. So given a choice between stasis and a limited solution they picked this limited one.

If there's a bright spot in this story, it's that the BBC Trust, which oversees the various Beeb operations, has only permitted this as a temporary solution and "...will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe." Let's hope that open alternatives can meet the eventual challenge.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use

February 7, 2007

"DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy"

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I'm not sure one ought to pluralize DRM in that fashion, but who am I to naysay Steve Jobs?

The quote appears in a posting titled "Thoughts on Music" dated Feb 6, 2007 and authored by Jobs. In the essay he briefly covers the history of DRM-encumbered online music sales and urges people to stop pestering Apple to open up iTunes. Instead we should pressure the Cartel to sell its music online DRM-free.

Jobs asserts that if the Cartel would just do this, Apple would love to jump on the bandwagon. He further seems to be awfully naive about the Cartel's efforts to pull in all non-DRMed forms of music. Yes, they sell CDs but they're desperately trying to force people away from them. Jobs apparently has never heard of the "analog hole" and Cartel efforts to cover THAT with DRM. Jobs further seems not to understand why lockouts and permissioning are such a fundamental part of Vista, even while Apple is busy making fun of it. (MOV link)

The Economist has some commentary on the essay, accusing Jobs of being self-serving, but also asserting that his basic argument is correct.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interesting People

February 6, 2007

TiVo's in Ur House, Sellin' Ur Data

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

David Lazarus posted a column to SFGate this weekend that contains what I thought was old news and he treats as new news:

TiVo revealed the other day that it's offering TV networks and ad agencies a chance to receive second-by- second data about which programs the company's 4.5 million subscribers are watching and, more importantly, which commercials people are skipping.

I don't think I'm particularly prescient but this surprises me not at all. I thought they were already doing it, but I can't find earlier news references. Perhaps I just read speculation and took it as given that yes, if the equipment lets them do that they're going to do it. Color me cynical, but I figure if you give a corporation a way to exploit you then they'll take it as soon as it's profitable to do so.

Oh, wait, TiVo's still swearing (on a metaphorical Bible no less) that it's not actually watching you, the individual identified viewer. They're just doing "random, anonymous" sampling of 20,000 boxes per night. And they promise to strip off all the identifying info. Which they wouldn't have to promise if they weren't downloading it in the first place, right?

I don't believe for a moment that TiVo cares about viewers' archaic notions of privacy. They've just not figured out a sufficiently profitable way to turn over your second-by-second viewing data to a massive data warehouse from which it can be picked at leisure. Being served with an ongoing stream of subpoenas by (over)eager law enforcement officials might in itself be a sufficiently expensive deterrent. But it's not something I'd like to base my privacy on.

My offer to pay someone to build me a MythTV still stands.

(for reference on the subject line, BoingBoing suggests this entry from encyclopaedia dramatica)

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Markets and Monopolies

February 5, 2007

Apple Settles with Apple, Keeps Apple Name

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Once again Apple-the-computer-OK-maybe-we're-a-music-company-too has settled with Apple-we-own-the-Beatles'-legacy-company. The US entity gets legal ownership of certain names in exchange for undisclosed payments and licensing the names back to the UK entity. Still no Beatles music on iTunes, though everyone thinks a deal on that is in the works, now that legal obstacles have been removed.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use

Pilotless Drone Drone Drone Drone

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The story starts with the hip SF Chronicle online attempting to respond to readers' phoned-in comments. Of course, the volume of comments in any major newspaper is too large to permit individual responses and the Chron comes up with the bright idea to make a podcast out of the recorded commentary so at least readers can hear what each other have to say. So far so good.

Then someone decided to take umbrage at a particular subhead in a Chron news story that used the phrase "pilotless drone." Despite its popularity (about 36,000 hits on Google as of this AM) the phrase really is redundant since "drone" means "unmanned vehicle" in this context. So one could say "pilotless aircraft" or just "drone."

Another meaning of "drone" is to repeat something mnotonously. Which is pretty much what this caller did. As the NPR commentator put it, it wasn't long until someone noticed the rhythmic quality of this particular sound snippet. Bloggers such as Engaget linked to the audio file and asked people to remix it.

Never one to leave a gauntlet lie, people took up this challenge and.according to this update in the Chronicle, not only can you get this snippet as a ringtone, but there's an entire group on YouTube now dedicated to remixes and music videos.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Humor | IP Abuse