Posts by Sherwin Siy:

A new service called Legitmix lets remixers make new tracks out of old ones—without relying upon permission or fair use. It could easily boost sales of the original songs used in the mixes. But will it escape being sued?


Let’s get something out of the way: making a mixtape likely infringes copyright. In other words, if I want to give my friend a mix CD that contains her favorite tracks from 2013, I’m making reproductions of copyrighted works. Never mind that it’s basically harmless (and an accepted and celebrated part of our pop culture history), I’d have an uphill battle in court arguing that it’s a fair use. Luckily, today’s technology lets me do something remarkably similar without infringing any copyrights.

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Last Friday, PK joined the Organization for Transformative Works in supporting Stephanie Lenz in her suit to hold Universal Music accountable for abusing the notice-and-takedown system.

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Today’s copyright hearing will be talking about consumer expectations with media. But these expectations are more than just what we want out of commercial media; they’re based upon how we own our personal property and live our lives.


Today at 1:30, the House IP Subcommittee is holding a hearing on new ways of delivering media and how consumer expectations have changed in the decades since the Copyright Act was last significantly amended.

One of the big differences is that we use things as information and not objects. Instead of having a physical photo album that I pull off a shelf and pass around to my bored friends, I move data in an image format from my camera to my computer, and from my computer to cloud storage or to my friends. Instead of carting a half-typed sheet of papers (or even a floppy disk) from home to the office, I send a text file from one computer to another.

This is not, for anyone in the 21st century, riveting stuff. It’s humdrum, everyday, boring. It’s just how we do things. If my friend, a semi-pro photographer, sends me a picture he took, he doesn’t care that I might get it on my phone, my home computer, my laptop, or that it might display as part of a screensaver on my TV.

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What have we learned from the Wikileaks reveal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership? We’ve learned that our trade negotiators are secretly sticking to an agenda that is being increasingly questioned by the public, Congress, and other branches of the Administration.


The secretive negotiations around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement have been raising questions about what the administration is demanding other countries put into their IP laws. With the recent leak of the IP chapter via Wikileaks, one of the biggest questions is what new revelations are in the leaked text. The answer to that is either not much, or a lot, depending upon what you mean by the question.

As for the sorts of provisions the US is asking these several countries to agree to, there hasn’t been a lot of change there. It still has language that indicates that even temporary electronic copies—like the copy you’re making of this post on your computer just by reading it, or the copy your computer makes of an mp3 whenever you play it—are presumptively illegal. It still contains language that can make it harder for countries to create new types of exceptions and limitations to copyright. It still limits the types of exceptions countries can make for laws enforcing DRM. It still pushes for minimum statutory damages for copyright infringement. And so on and so forth.

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Banksy puts his work out on the street. So what happens when someone restricts access to it, for a fee? This post explores the separate questions of ownership surrounding this story: ownership of copyrights, ownership of copies, and “ownership” of neighborhoods.

A story has been circulating about a group of men in East New York who were charging people $20 to view an image of a beaver that street artist Banksy has stenciled onto a wall there. In any case, it’s generated a series of questions about various parties’ rights. 

 

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There’s a nagging point that copyright wonks might overlook in questions of broadcast and cable—that cable companies pay not just for the statutory copyright licenses to copyright holders, but also “retransmission consent” fees to local broadcasters—even if the content they’re paying for isn’t owned by the local broadcasters themselves.


When you watch network television channel (Fox, for instance), on cable, you’re likely aware that your cable company is paying someone to bring you that channel. After all, the shows you’re watching are coming from Fox, not Comcast or Time Warner or Dish. It would make sense if Comcast was then paying Fox for the rights to carry its programming.

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 Taking a closer look at the FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules.


Yesterday, Michael wrote about the importance of net neutrality, and what’s at stake in the court case that will be argued next Monday. Today, I’d like to take a closer look at the source of the court case that’s going to be argued next Monday: the FCC’s net neutrality rules that Verizon is suing to overturn.

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In the past Congress has granted certain organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Olympics special treatment when it comes to the use of names and logos. But with today’s trademark laws, isn’t it time to revisit the use of the law?


About a year ago, Samantha Matalong Cook and a number of her friends decided to start an organization that would teach their kids how to make, build, and hack various types of technology. They called the group “Hacker Scouts,” and as they got underway, they started getting interest from thousands of parents around the country, all interested in joining or starting local chapters of their own. Soon, the Hacker Scouts applied for a trademark in their name. And since you’ve read the title of this post, you know where this is going.

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Robin Thicke pushes back against copyright litigation threats.


Robin Thicke is apparently being accused of infringing copyrights in Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways” in his single “Blurred Lines.” Apparently in response to demands that he pay licensing fees to the estate of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, Inc. (the company that has bought up the rights to Funkadelic’s songs), Thicke is asking a court to state conclusively that he’s not infringing copyrights.

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Members of the band The Turtles, best known for their 1967 song “Happy Together,” have filed a class-action lawsuit against SiriusXM, saying that the satellite radio company is violating the rights they have in their sound recordings by playing their music to satellite radio subscribers without permission.


Sound Recording Copyrights are Recent, and More Limited

This might seem to be a strange oversight on the part of SiriusXM, except that normally, radio services don’t need to get permission to play music. This is because copyrights for recording artists are a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, recording artists didn’t have *any* copyright rights in their works until 1972. Even after 1972, when Congress decided to expand copyrights to include recorded sound (copyrights in sheet music had been allowed since the 1830s), it did so in a limited manner. Recording artists could prevent others from reproducing, making derivative works of, or distributing copies of their works, but they couldn’t stop anyone from publicly performing them. 

That included broadcasters, who were free to play records over the air without permission or payment to the people who made the records. Even much later, when Congress decided to expand recording artists’ rights to include public performance “by means of a digital audio transmission,” it also included a statutory license for that right, meaning that satellite radio and webcasters, who make digital audio transmissions, don’t have to get permission from recordings artists—but they do have to pay for the use of their songs. (These statutory licenses in section 114, which are calculated differently depending upon the type of broadcaster, are the source of a lot of the conflict you might be hearing about internet radio rates.)

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