Mister Copyright

by Kevin Madigan

Page 3


by Matthew Barblan & Kevin Madigan
cross-posted from the CPIP Blog

In 2013, CPIP published a policy brief by Professor Bruce Boyden exposing the DMCA notice and takedown system as outdated and in need of reform. The Failure of the DMCA Notice and Takedown System explained that while Section 512 of the DMCA was intended as a way for copyright owners and service providers to work together to fight infringement in the digital age, the notice and takedown system has been largely ineffective in managing the ever-increasing amount of piracy.

Three years later, the DMCA is still just as broken. Since we published the brief, courts have further diminished service providers’ responsibility to cooperate with copyright owners to detect and deter infringement, rendering the DMCA even more fruitless and desperately in need of retooling.

Boyden explained the fundamental problems with the system at

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Advertiser Pledge Sets Example of Accountability in the Fight Against Piracy

It should come as no surprise that popular websites make money by hosting advertisements. Anyone surfing the web has undoubtedly been bombarded with ads when visiting certain sites, and for websites that offer free services or user experiences, advertisements are often the only way to generate revenue. Unfortunately, websites that promote and distribute pirated material also attract advertisers to help fund their illicit enterprises, and despite a recent push for awareness and response to these sites, legitimate advertisers, search engines, and domain name registrars continue to enable them to profit from flagrant copyright infringement.

A 2014 study by the Digital Citizens Alliance found that ad-sponsored content theft is a big and growing business. Even after a year that saw the shutdown of some of the most notorious file-sharing websites, an examination of 589 illicit websites

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Radiohead Video Makes Unauthorized Use of Fictional Characters

Last month, Radiohead released their ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, after a five-year hiatus from recording. In true Radiohead fashion, the album’s release was preceded by a unique succession of mysterious social media postings, teaser artwork and music videos for the singles Burn the Witch and Daydreaming.

The Burn the Witch video was shot in stop-motion animation and features an alarming narrative in which an outsider is welcomed into a seemingly idyllic village, only later to be burned alive inside of a wicker man structure. While the creators of the video have acknowledged that the story is an allegory for the current migrant crisis in Europe, viewers have noticed something suspicious about the video unrelated to the chilling subject matter.

Burn the Witch uses claymation figures to portray its characters and soon after the video’s debut, viewers began recognizing

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FCC’s Extreme Proposal Threatens the Livelihood of Creators

Capture.PNGBy Matthew Barblan and Kevin Madigan

Cross-posted from the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) blog.

Earlier this year, the FCC proposed a new regulatory scheme ostensibly designed to improve the market for pay-TV set-top boxes. Chairman Wheeler claimed that the proposed rules would “tear down the barriers that currently prevent innovators from developing new ways for consumers to access and enjoy their favorite shows and movies on their terms.” But set-top boxes are already on their way out as more and more consumers turn to streaming apps to watch their favorite movies and shows. So what is the FCC up to here? A close look at the proposed rules reveals that this isn’t about set-top boxes at all. Instead, the rules are designed to benefit a handful of companies that want to disseminate pay-TV programs without negotiating with or paying a license to the owners of

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Google Image Search and the Misappropriation of Copyrighted Images

b8hgWFyNTvubhEPTqD9w_IMG_4649.jpgLast week, American visual communications and stock photography agency Getty Images filed a formal complaint in support of the European Union’s investigation into Google’s anti-competitive business practices. The Getty complaint accuses Google of using its image search function to appropriate or “scrape” third-party copyrighted works, thereby drawing users away from the original source of the creative works and preserving its search engine dominance.

Specifically, Getty’s complaint focuses on changes made to Google’s image search functionality in 2013 that led to the appealing image galleries we’re familiar with today. Before the change, users were presented with low-resolution thumbnail versions of images and would be rerouted to the original source website to view a larger, more defined version and to find out how they might legally license or get permission to use the work. But with

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Separating Fact from Fiction in the Notice and Takedown Debate

Cross-posted from the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) blog.

By Kevin Madigan & Devlin Hartline

With the Copyright Office undertaking a new study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Section 512 safe harbor provisions, there’s been much discussion about how well the DMCA’s notice and takedown system is working for copyright owners, service providers, and users. While hearing from a variety of viewpoints can help foster a healthy discussion, it’s important to separate rigorous research efforts from overblown reports that offer incomplete data in support of dubious policy recommendations.

Falling into the latter category is Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice, a recently-released study claiming to take an in-depth look at how well the notice and takedown system operates after nearly twenty years in practice. The study has garnered numerous

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Google Books and the Need for Supreme Court Clarification

photo-1457369804613-52c61a468e7d.jpgOn October 16, 2015, the Second Circuit upheld a district court summary judgment ruling in favor of Google and affirmed that the unauthorized scanning of millions of books, as part of the decade long Google Books project, qualifies as transformative fair use. In the opinion, the Second Circuit asserts that Google’s creation of a “data mining” search function and the display of only small snippets of the books represents a transformative purpose and that the revelation of snippets of text will not provide a market substitute for the original works. But the court mistakenly assumes that the protected, expressive content of the scanned works will not be communicated through the snippets of text, when in fact expressive content can and will be revealed and have a damaging effect on the marketplace for the original works.

The Google Books project began in 2004 when the tech giant announced

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Artur Fischer’s Life Illustrates the Power of Invention

Whether taking a photograph, hanging a picture, or doing some work around the house, it’s easy to take for granted all the inventions that make our lives better on a daily basis. But the devices, tools and machines we use every day are all the products of creative genius, hard work and constant innovation. Look around you and you’ll see countless devices that were once the brainchild of a visionary who was able to put his or her idea into practice, secure a patent, and improve the world. One of these visionaries just passed away, and it’s important to recognize him and the patent system that facilitated his extraordinary life in creation.

Artur Fischer is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time, with over 1,100 registered patents. The New York Times recently ran an obituary detailing his life and highlighting many of the inventions that would become regarded as some of the

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Let’s Go Crazy Trying to Take Down that Baby!

Eight years ago, Stephanie Lenz uploaded to Youtube a 30 second video of her young child dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” The video went viral and soon Universal, the copyright holder for “Let’s Go Crazy,” sent a take down notice to Youtube alleging the video violated their copyright. Youtube complied with the notice and removed the video but later reposted it when Lenz filed a counter-notification claiming fair use. After getting the attention and support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization that supports civil liberties in the digital world, Lenz sued Universal for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by filing a frivolous take down notice.

Take down notices were originally created as a way for copyright owners to fight infringement and for websites and online service providers to avoid liability for hosting infringing material by

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I’m Just Writing This So I Won’t Get Fined

If you follow the NFL, or just couldn’t avoid the riveting extravaganza leading up to the Superbowl known as media day, you may have heard about Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch answering reporters’ questions with the response, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” His insistence on repeating the phrase was in response to the league hitting him with a $100,000 penalty for refusing to participate in media day the year before. Lynch used the phrase roughly 27 times during media day, and now, like anyone eager to cash in on something that goes viral for fifteen minutes, has filed a trademark application with the USPTO to register the terse response as his intellectual property.

Marshawn Lynch is no stranger to trademarks, having successfully registered several marks related to his “Beast Mode” brand, and it’s likely he won’t have any problems getting trademark protection for

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