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

a Typical Joe
Academic Copyright
Jack Balkin
John Perry Barlow
Blogbook IP
David Bollier
James Boyle
Robert Boynton
Brad Ideas
Ren Bucholz
Cabalamat: Digital Rights
Cinema Minima
Consensus @ Lawyerpoint
Copyfighter's Musings
Copyright Readings
CopyrightWatch Canada
Susan Crawford
Walt Crawford
Creative Commons
Cruelty to Analog
Culture Cat
Deep Links
Derivative Work
Julian Dibbell
Digital Copyright Canada
Displacement of Concepts
Downhill Battle
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
James Grimmelmann
Groklaw News
Matt Haughey
Erik J. Heels
Induce Act blog
Inter Alia
IP & Social Justice
IPac blog
Joi Ito
Jon Johansen
JD Lasica
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
Mary Minow
Declan McCullagh
Eben Moglen
Dan Moniz
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
Stay Free! Daily
Sarah Stirland
Swarthmore Coalition
Tech Law Advisor
Technology Liberation Front
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Vertical Hold
Kim Weatherall
David Weinberger
Matthew Yglesias

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

Berkman @ Harvard
Chilling Effects
CIS @ Stanford
Copyright Reform
Creative Commons
Global Internet Proj.
Info Commons
IP Justice
ISP @ Yale
NY for Fair Use
Open Content
Public Knowledge
Shidler Center @ UW
Tech Center @ GMU
U. Maine Tech Law Center
US Copyright Office
US Dept. of Justice
US Patent Office


Monthly Archives

January 31, 2011

Artists Should Earn Money

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Boingboing and Kottke both pointed to a piece on by Francis Ford Coppola. As you'd expect of someone with that long a career he has a lot to say, but for Copyfight purposes let's focus on his discussion of copying, which comes off his response to the question about developing one's own style.

He notes Balzac's happy response to learning that someone had copied Balzac's writing and talks about how people start by stealing (or copying, in the art world) from the masters. Balzac, and Coppola, clearly care more about their legacy than the money they make right now. Coppola finances all his films himself and makes his actual money in the wine business. From this he branches off to talk about how modern our system of directly compensating artists is, and says "who says artists have to make money?"

Now on the one hand I agree with him - our current models are a recent blip on the historical radar. And it's true that creative people can keep their day jobs to pay for doing art that they love. Coppola also points to the patron model but as I mentioned when discussing Interfictions I don't think the model scales very well.

The other problem I have with Coppola's idea of disconnecting cinema - or other arts - from the idea of making money is that the ability to make a living doing one's art has enormous advantages. For one thing, it lures people. We all benefit from there being more art and though there are plenty of creators who will continue to create even when they have no hope of making a living at it there will be excellent creative people of all sorts who will be disappointed, hindered, or actively discouraged from pursuing their art by an inability to make a living at it.

Even if they are not completely turned off, there is a great deal of art that cannot be made part time, after hours, outside a work schedule, or under constant interruption. Much great art comes from the ability of a creator to lock herself away for an extended period of time and really focus on the creative work. Creative work is hard work, too. One of the greatest legacies of President Kennedy was his recognition that arts are worthy of support in the national sphere and the creation of the National Endowment. We live richer lives as a result, though I can't point to hard statistics to back that assertion up.

And likewise, my gut feeling tells me that we cannot simply dismiss the idea of artists making money from their art, no matter how much I respect Coppola and what he has done/is doing.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts

January 28, 2011

Thierry Guetta, Shepard Fairey, and Copyright Lawsuits

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Earlier this week Sean Bonner posted a piece on Boingboing covering this ground. The blog entry is a bit long but well worth reading.

I had been meaning to note that, earlier this month, Fairey had settled his 'hopeless' case with the Associated Press. Hopeless referring here not just to the iconic "Hope" picture that caused the problem, but also in that I thought Fairey had rendered his own case hopeless when he admitted that he had destroyed evidence and his defense lawyers quit. But apparently they worked it out.

Whether or not Guetta will also be able to work something out remains in doubt. As Bonner describes, the Guetta case differs from the Fairey one in some significant areas, not least of which is the fact that Fairey's poster made the photo he used iconic where Guetta has taken an already iconic photo (of the rap group Run DMC) and used it without any credit back to the original. The shooter of that original, Glen E. Friedman, happens to have worked with Fairey in the past but that's about all the connection there is.

Bonner also points out that Fairey made such substantial change to the original photo that even the AP photographer who took it didn't recognize his own work for months; Guetta's changes are much less significant, and they're being made to a photograph that has been used and sold on its own for years prior to its appropriation. It's a whole other ballgame from the Fair Use perspective, which is probably how it should be.

(Image: Sean Bonner from a Times of India video still.)

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

January 26, 2011

RIAA Continues DoJ Takeover

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The RIAA's legal wrecking crew continue to assimilate the US Department of Justice. In their latest move, Donald Verrilli Jr. has been nominated by Obama as the nation’s Solicitor General.

The SG is the person appointed to argue the government's side in cases before the US Supreme Court, as well as the usual level of supervision and direction of cases you'd see in a high-level appointment. The SG rarely sets policy but by virtue of how cases are argued and in which cases amicus briefs are filed, the SG can be a powerful voice for shaping policy.

If you know Verilli's name before now it's probably because of his involvement first in MGM v Grokster and most recently in the ludicrous battle by Viacom against YouTube. I'm not even going to mention his tangential involvement in the Jammie Thomas fiasco series.

While I'm sure Verilli will have plenty of matters to argue during his term in office besides intellectual property, I find myself incredulously wondering why Obama seems unable to find any worthy prosecutors outside the RIAA's dogpen to appoint. Surely the US legal community contains scholars and experienced attorneys willing and qualified to take on the top jobs in the DoJ. Far be it from me to suggest that these appointments could be influenced by such trivial matters as who is giving the most money to whom in which political campaigns.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

January 13, 2011

Canadian RIA Pays Up

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

I thought I had blogged about this case years ago when I first heard about the Canadian recording artists who had grown frustrated with trying to get their version of the Cartel to pay up on owed royalties. But I can't find it, nor can Google, so there you are.

Most of what you need to know is in the headline: Michael Geist blogs that "the Canadian Recording Industry Association [...] have agreed to pay $45 million to settle one of the largest copyright class action lawsuits in Canadian history." That's huge, not necessarily in dollar terms, but in precedent. The Cartel have agreed that their practice of user songs on a list that was nominally "pending" payment (when payment was never sent) in fact amounted to theft.

This being a pre-trial settlement, of course, the Cartel haven't admitted to anything in the legal sense. It may be argued that they decided paying out CAD 45 million was cheaper than continuing to fight and stall. It was almost certainly cheaper than getting a guilty verdict in a court situation that might have exposed them to punitive damages.

Geist also notes that the settlement involves setting up a new system that will, one hopes, get the artists paid more promptly. And, one also hopes, without the need for a multi-year class-action lawsuit threat in the future.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use

January 7, 2011

Copyrights in a List

Email This Entry

Posted by Alan Wexelblat

A list that is a mere compilation is generally not copyrightable. However, various specialized lists can be copyrighted either by virtue of their arrangement (e.g. lists of court cases) or by virtue of their unusual content.

A few days ago Eugene Volokh pointed to a (dare I use the word) unique list - Schindler's List - and a copyright dispute surrounding it. Volokh quotes extensively from the court's decision in the case, known as Rosenberg v. Zimet which concerns questions of who holds copyright in that famous list.

I had thought that the only copy of the List was at the Holocaust Museum in Israel. It turns out that another List had been found and the question at hand is whether the person in possession of that List may publish or sell it, or whether it rightfully belongs to Schindler's heir, as one of his possessions. The Court's decision turns on questions of different varieties of copyright law (common law vs federal) and whether any rights to publication carry with possession of the list, which it seems clear they do not.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations

January 4, 2011