Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/17/2012

Is SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Good or Bad ?


Stop Online Piracy Or Not ? At What Cost ?

Truthfully … I’m confused and conflicted on this issue.

For a little background, this pro and con scenario is provided from Wikipedia:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (RTX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.[2] Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.[3]

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.[4]

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites.[5] They cite examples such as Google’s $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to illegally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.[6]

Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment,[7] is Internet censorship,[8] will cripple the Internet,[9] and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions.[7][10] Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January 2012,[11] but on January 17 Chairman Smith said that “[d]ue to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.”[12]

What do you think? Is striving for a more truthful Net going to result in censorship and restrictive business practices? Is censoring known untruths censorship at all?

Why can’t we provide an internet that respects copyrighted work and at the same time clears the way for easier and more fair business partnerships, etc.? 

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10/05/2011

Copyright Wars and the Public Domain – A Little History


Copyright - Will It Destroy Hollywood?

Back in 1998 and 1994, congress passed two controversial laws that many feel adversely affected copyright protection and the much relied upon ‘public domain’.

To this day many professionals still debate the pros and cons of these two laws.

A little history and current thinking is provided by Peter Decherney, an associate professor of film studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the forthcoming book “Hollywood’s Copyright Wars”, in this article from The New York Times:

Will Copyright Stifle Hollywood?

IN 1998, in a controversial piece of legislation, Congress extended the length of copyright protection in the United States by 20 years, freezing the entrance of works into the public domain. Four years earlier, however, Congress took a less well-known but even more drastic step: it shrank the public domain. With the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Congress restored the copyrights of many foreign works that previously had been freely available.

Among the potentially millions of creations that lost their public-domain status were Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” Picasso’s “Guernica,” the British films of Alfred Hitchcock, Astrid Lindgren’s earliest Pippi Longstocking books, stories by H. G. Wells, the drawings of M. C. Escher, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.” Artists and others now have to rely on the permission of copyright holders to make use of such works.

In my own field — film — the effects of the 1994 law have been palpable. Distributors of classic foreign films have seen their catalogs diminished. Students can no longer get copies of many films. Archivists have postponed the preservation of important films. And of course filmmakers have lost access to works of literature that they might have adapted and music that might have enhanced soundtracks.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in Golan v. Holder, a case challenging the copyright provision of the 1994 act. There are many reasons the justices should conclude that Congress went too far in altering the copyright system.

 

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12/05/2010

Canada’s ‘Fair Dealing’ Law Trumps Copyright Rights


First this:
 
Fair Dealing is the right to use copyrighted materials without permission of or payment to the copyright holder. Under current law, it applies only to materials used for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting. The new bill seeks to add education, along with satire and parody, to this list…(TOTALLY BAD IDEA!)

Canada has a cluster-muck mess in it’s publishing arena laws right now, and probably has had for some time, if this amateur researcher understands the small amount of data I have come across…AND, it looks like even MORE doo-doo to muck things up even worse is about to poop on the Canadian authors and publishers under their new proposed copyright bill (Bill C-32).  

For more detail on this Canadian conundrum in the publishing industry (and lessons to be learned and avoided in this country…although we may be guilty of much of the same!) PLUS a unique insight into the Canadian legal and publishing associations read this account by Kenyon Wallace from the National Post:

Textbook publishers fear copyright changes will kill their market
 
The canyon-like stacks of textbooks piled more than 10 metres high at Nelson Education’s distribution centre stretch over an area the size of six football fields, resembling some giant, futuristic library.

From Scarborough, Canada’s largest education publisher ships more than two million textbooks and other educational publications, created to meet the needs of provincial education curricula, across the country every year.

CEO Greg Nordal breaks open a box of university-level biology textbooks, looks up at the massive cliff-faces of shelving that dwarf the company’s 350 employees, and laments that homegrown publications for Canadian educators and students — textbooks, CD-ROMs, e-books and web content — could disappear if Bill C-32, new federal government legislation designed to overhaul Canada’s aging Copyright Act, becomes law.

“It’s an issue most Canadians are unaware of but should be very concerned about,” Mr. Nordal said. “The unintended consequences of Bill C-32 are profound for all Canadians, not just the publishers.”

Confusion over what Canada’s proposed new copyright bill would permit to be copied has left observers and stakeholders uncertain of its effects. The proposed change has provoked controversy on Parliament Hill — where Bill C-32 recently passed second reading and is now before a legislative committee — and on school campuses, in boardrooms and in the offices of literary agents across the country.

Already the debate has pit school boards against publishers, publishers against the government set to pass the law, and students against authors.

The proposal that “education” become a category under the bill’s fair dealing provision has authors and publishers waxing prophetic on the coming end to Canadian content in the classroom if the bill, as written, becomes law.

Fair dealing is the right to use copyrighted materials without permission of or payment to the copyright holder. Under current law, it applies only to materials used for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting. The new bill seeks to add education, along with satire and parody, to this list.

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11/23/2010

SAP to Pay Oracle $1.3 Billion for Copyright Infringement!

Filed under: copyright infringement,John R. Austin,Oracle,SAP — gator1965 @ 6:40 pm

Another publishing copyright infringement case…BUT, this one pops for one of the largest settlements ever: $1.3 BILLION!

This one involves SAP, a German software company, illegally downloading millions of Oracle’s files…Well, howdy dodo!

From Reuters by Dan Levine:

SAP AG must pay Oracle Corp $1.3 billion for software theft, a jury decided, awarding damages that could be the largest-ever for copyright infringement.

The decision, by a U.S. district court jury in Oakland California, drew a gasp from the courtroom and prompted hugs and handshakes among Oracle’s legal team, which has pursued their case for years.

Oracle’s shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trade, while those of SAP slipped 1.4 percent.

SAP, Europe’s top software maker, said it was disappointed by the verdict and might appeal.

“We are, of course, disappointed by this verdict and will pursue all available options, including post-trial motions and appeal if necessary,” SAP said in a statement in response to the verdict.

Attorneys for Oracle called the verdict the largest ever for a copyright infringement case.

While SAP could appeal, Oracle attorney David Boies said, that would raise the possibility of a retrial. “If I were SAP, and I’m not, but if I were SAP, I’m not sure I would want to have another trial,” Boies said.

SAP SAYS $40 MLN AT MOST

At the outset of the trial, the German company acknowledged that its TomorrowNow subsidiary had wrongfully downloaded millions of Oracle’s files.

With the admission of liability, the issue before the jury was how much Oracle was owed in damages. SAP said no more $40 million, while Oracle at least $1.65 billion.

“The mark of a leading company is the way it handles its mistakes. As stated in court, we regret the actions of TN, we have accepted liability, and have been willing to fairly compensate Oracle,” SAP said after the verdict was announced.

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11/19/2010

French Intellectual Property Law Stronger than US Copyright Law for Authors


More clarity and detail RE the Google copyright infringement case with US and French authors and publishers…AND why the French agreement is superior!

For a little background on this intriguing issue, read my 11/18/10 post on Writers Thought for Today Blog .

Diane Mullenex and Jacques Mandrillon, legal beavers for the French legal firm, Ichay & Mullenex Avocats, write this for Lexology.com:

In 2004, Google launched its “Books Library Project” in order to create a universal library online by digitising books and making it available for consultation on one of its application. This initiative was followed, the next year, by a copyright infringement case brought by the US Authors Guild and five majors US publishers.

Finally, in October 2008, they reached a settlement which has been amended some months later. The Google Book Settlement is not finalized yet, awaiting US Department of Justice approval. Nonetheless, the deal was the best they could get at the moment.

On the 17th of November, Google and Hachette Livre, the largest publisher in France and the No.2 trade publisher by sales worldwide, have reached an agreement authorizing Google to scan and sell electronically its out-of-print French language titles under the control of the publisher. This agreement covers about 50,000 French titles, including literature and nonfiction works, still under copyright protection.

The two deals are different: but why?

Judicial history is different, culture is different and political background is different

In December 2009, the search engine company was found guilty of copyright infringement by the High Court of First Instance of Paris for digitising the books of the French publisher La Martinière and putting extracts online without its written prior approval. The case was brought by La Martinière, the French publisher’s union (SNE – Syndicat national de l’édition) and a publishers and authors’ group (SGDL – Société des gens de lettre). All the more, several French major publishers, including Hachette, declared their intentions to sue Google for the same reasons.

These cases are related to the initial version of the Books Library Project. In this Google application, in order to answer to their search queries, users were allowed to read the full text of public domain books but only few paragraphs in titles still protected by copyright.

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