Mister Copyright

by Kevin Madigan

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Usual Suspects Fight Effort to Impose Online Accountability in Europe

Last week, World Intellectual Property Day commemorated the role that intellectual property rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity, with a focus on the brilliant women who are driving change around the world and shaping our future. But while World Intellectual Property Day is a time to celebrate IP and the way it incentivizes and promotes the progress of the arts and innovation, it’s also an opportunity to recognize that some groups continue to advocate for weakened IP rights that would deprive copyright owners and creators of the ability to control and commercialize their works.

One of these efforts involves the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (“EFF”) relentless war against accountability in cyberspace, highlighted by its recent attempt to block updates to the European Digital Single Market Directive on Copyright aimed at reducing online infringement. Over the last

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CASE Act Set to Empower Creators and Impose Accountability

Next week, the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act is scheduled for markup before the House Judiciary Committee, promising long-overdue support for small creators and copyright owners in their fight against overwhelming infringement in the digital age. While the bill has bipartisan support and the backing of a wide array of individual creators, artist organizations, and the creative industries, some detractors are now raising questions of constitutionality in an attempt to interfere with the bill’s passage. But the constitutional argument is merely a meritless rhetorical refrain put forward to mask a steadfast resistance by certain companies to any effort to impose accountability for online infringement.

A product of years of advocacy on behalf of the creative community and a thorough report by the Copyright Office, The CASE Act would create a Copyright Claims

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Panel on Streaming Media Boxes Explores the New Face of Piracy

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion organized by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation on the growing problem of stream-based piracy. The panel, titled Unboxing the Piracy Threat of Streaming Media Boxes, brought together representatives from the creative industries, as well as copyright and cyber security experts, to explore the recent shift from unauthorized, torrent-based downloading to stream-based piracy facilitated by illegal media boxes. While the discussion touched on many aspects of copyright infringement, as well as legitimate content consumption in an era of on-demand streaming, the message was clear that the rise of illegal streaming devices (ISDs) poses a serious threat to artists, copyright owners, and the creative ecosystem.

The panel began with a demonstration of an illegal streaming device by Neil Fried of the Motion

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Updated TickBox Injunction and the Fight Against Add-Ons

Earlier this month, I wrote about a preliminary injunction handed down in favor of Netflix, Amazon, and six major studios in their case against the manufacturers of the set-top streaming device TickBox TV. While the order targeted the blatant language of inducement TickBox was using to promote the illicit capabilities of its streaming device, questions remained over what other steps, if any, TickBox would have to take to address boxes that were sold with built-in, piracy-enabling applications. In a significant update to the injunction, a Federal District Court in Los Angeles has ruled that TickBox must, among other things, implement a software update that will delete or disable previously installed applications associated with pirated content.

The New Injunction

The initial injunction, while certainly a step in the right direction, left unresolved questions surrounding devices that

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TickBox Injunction Targets Blatant Inducement of Infringement

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Late last month, a preliminary injunction was issued in favor of Netflix, Amazon, and six major studios in their case against the manufacturers of the set-top streaming device TickBox TV. The order comes as use of piracy-enabling streaming devices is on the rise, and it represents an initial victory in the fight against stream-based infringement. But while the order is a step in the right direction aimed at ending TickBox’s brazen inducement of copyright infringement, it’s important to understand that the injunction will not disrupt distribution of the TickBox devices and that the ultimate effect on streaming piracy is unclear.

Rise of Illegal Streaming Devices

TickBox TV is a device sold by a Georgia-based company that, in many ways, is similar to the popular name-brand set-top devices such as the Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV. It’s an internet connected box that is easily

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Concerns over ALI Copyright Restatement Leave Project in Limbo

Over the past few weeks, widespread criticism has emerged over a superfluous and seemingly partisan effort to override existing copyright law. The target of concern is the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Restatement of the Law, Copyright project which—despite its stated mission to clarify copyright law—has been revealed as an influenced venture that could futher muddle already complex areas of IP law. And with disapproval ranging from the Restatement committee’s own Advisers to the Acting Register of Copyrights, the project’s future is suddenly in doubt.

Founded almost one hundred years ago, the ALI is an independent organization whose mission is to produce “scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law.” It brings together lawyers, judges, and academics to issue Restatements, the focus of which is to advance uniformity in fundamental state common law principles. But the

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Study on Expanded “User Rights” Fails Econometric Scrutiny

Earlier this month, scholars at the American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) published a paper suggesting that governments around the world should consider weakening copyright protection in favor of expanded “user rights.” The Google-funded report presents an index purporting to show a positive correlation between broad fair use and safe harbor laws and certain economic and scholastic benefits. But, as economist George Ford explains in an essay published last week, the report is an exercise in flawed design and misapplied empirical analysis which cannot be relied upon for informed policymaking.

The PIJIP report, The User Rights Database: Measuring the Impact of Copyright Balance, written by Sean Flynn and Michael Palmedo, highlights a database of exceptions and limitations based on responses to copyright-related

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Monkeys, Turtles, and Cheerleaders: Copyright in 2017 and Beyond

2017 has come and (almost) gone, and with it, another year of noteworthy copyright developments…sort of. While there have undoubtedly been some interesting developments in copyright litigation—with the Turtles taking it on the chin and the Supreme Court contemplating the meaning of cheerleading outfits—the reality is that some of the most important questions involving the administration of copyright law entering 2017 remain unresolved. The Copyright Office (USCO) is not only still under the control of the Library of Congress and in need of modernization, but 14 months have gone by with no permanent Register of Copyrights appointed, notwithstanding a rigorous SurveyMonkey vetting process. Oh, and speaking of monkeys, that opportunistic macaque continued to dominate copyright headlines, despite it being years since the selfie seen ‘round the world was snapped.

The Copyright Office


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A New NAFTA Must Protect the Rights of Copyright Owners and Creators

Last week, the fifth round of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations closed in Mexico City with tensions high and little progress made towards a modernized trade deal. While the most recent talks saw the U.S., Mexico, and Canada discussing (and disagreeing over) ways to resolve trade disputes and rules governing automobile tariffs, earlier meetings have focused on ways to update international intellectual property standards for the 21st century. And though it remains unclear how potential updates will take shape, it’s essential they give creators and copyright owners a fair shot at protecting their works, rather than reinforce an outdated system that promotes immunity for those who continually facilitate infringement.

Held in Ottawa in late September, the third round of NAFTA negotiations concentrated on intellectual property and used text from the Trans-Pacific

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Debunking Criticism of the Copyright Small Claims Act

It’s been six weeks since the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act (H.R.3945) was introduced to Congress by a bipartisan coalition of Representatives, and while there’s an abundance of support among politicians, creators, artists’ rights organizations, and the Copyright Office, some have been critical of the legislation. Although much of the pushback can be chalked up to certain groups who seemingly resist any effort to hold infringers accountable for misappropriation, it’s worth addressing some of the criticisms to show that they’re largely baseless.

The CASE Act would create a Copyright Claims Board (CCB) within the Copyright Office to hear claims brought by individual creators and copyright owners. It aims to provide a venue for these often frustrated parties to address rampant infringement online, empowering a class of rights holders who have limited means

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