Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a new and improved version of the Music Modernization Act, following the Senate’s lead from last week. We had expressed strong reservations about the earlier iterations of this bill, and its impact on the public domain for sound recordings. We’re happy to say that after extensive negotiations spearheaded by Senator Ron Wyden, the new version of the bill brings these works more fully into line with with the existing copyright system for legacy works and finally allows these recordings to enter the public domain. The bill now heads to the President’s desk.
One of the questions about copyright that comes up most often at fan conventions is whether or not cosplay is “legal.” It’s a good question, but it gets into some of the murkiest areas of copyright law.
Sound recordings made prior to 1972 don’t enjoy federal copyright protection. There’s a thorny legal and legislative history behind this, but the end result is that these recordings are only protected under state law. Federal copyright has evolved, with new rights, limitations, and user protections applied to copyrighted works -- but not to pre-’72 recordings. And as the internet became ubiquitous, consumption of these works began to cross state lines, further muddying the waters.
The policy sphere has its knickers in a knot over Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s meme-filled video collaboration with The Daily Caller. In the video, Chairman Pai defends his decision to repeal net neutrality protections by enumerating the things folks can still do on the internet.
It’s almost axiomatic that independent artists face unique difficulties in the digital environment. Unlicensed commercial use of creative works is not uncommon, and the money that those uses theoretically represent in unpaid licensing fees can be substantial. So it’s understandable that artists would push for a system that makes it cheaper and easier for them to recover royalties for infringements of their copyrights.
As we’ve been talking about recently, the Copyright Office has a long history of being bad at its job, and misrepresenting the law it’s charged with understanding. Anyone familiar with tech policy already knows about the debacle that is the exemption process under Section 1201, but it doesn’t end there. Aside from its seemingly never-ending quest to accumulate more power by pulling non-copyright issues under its umbrella, the Office pushes wildly expansive interpretations of copyright law--asserting rights that don’t exist, interpreting consumer safeguards so narrowly as to render them useless, preventing consumers from using assistive technologies, creating “solutions” that nobody asked for, and otherwise making bizarre proclamations that completely ignore relevant facts and law. Over and over again, the Copyright Office bends over backwards to align its positions with the lobbying agendas of the big entertainment conglomerates.
AT&T, predictably hysterical over the Federal Communication Commission's privacy proposal, claimed in its comments to the FCC that an opt-in system would destroy its ability to “subsidize affordable consumer services by using customer data to engage in profitable first- and third-party marketing.”
Last week, we filed our official comments with the Federal Communications Commission for its privacy proceeding. The closer we got to the deadline to submit comments on the proceeding, the thinner the arguments against it become, and we included several indisputable facts in our comments for the Commissioners to keep in mind.
If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the FCC’s recent privacy rulemaking, you’ve probably heard its opponents claim that any regulation (no matter how minor, apparently) will create “distortions in the market” that would put broadband internet service providers (or BIASes) at a disadvantage. What market is that, you ask? Yeah, we’re not sure either.
Happy Copyright Week! To celebrate, I’m looking back on all the exciting copyright cases that have occurred since last year’s Copyright Week, with courts and the music industry alike tackling everything from uncredited sampling to fair use dancing babies. I’ve rounded up some of the highlights of the year’s upheaval, and took the liberty of suggesting a few edits to reflect the changing times. (And yes, that does mean I’ll be reviewing landmark music copyright cases via lyrical skits.)
Yes, you read that right: the Supreme Court of the United States may get to decide the legal status of all those Jedi robes you’ve got squirreled away. The Supreme Court is considering a case that will set the standard for when clothing and costume designs can be covered by copyright—and when people who mimic them (such as costumers) can be sued for potentially enormous damages.
On Monday, Blizzard—the triple-A game studio that gave the world titles such as World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and Heroes of the Storm—quietly filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court for the Central District of California. In it, they accused a player who goes by the handle “Apoc” of a broad range of copyright, contract, and contractual interference violations. Apoc’s crime? Building a bot.
Over the coming weeks, we will feature a series of blog posts about the tech transitions. You can read the first two posts of the series here. In our third post below, Meredith Filak Rose breaks down the meaning of "Section 214" and explains why your phone provider can't just cut you off.
If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu this campaign season, you’re not alone. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just earned public backlash from singer Neil Young for using Young’s song “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Young claimed that Trump used the song without seeking his permission. While true, the hitch here is that Trump didn’t actually have to ask.
It’s been almost three months since the FCC issued its order reclassifying Internet Service Providers as Title II telecommunications carriers and establishing strong net neutrality rules. No one was surprised when the ISPs cried foul and sued to overturn the ruling.