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The Online Censorship Machine Is Revving Up: Here Are a Few Lessons Learned

About a week ago, I did my usual check-in with Rick Beato’s channel on YouTube to see what new videos he had in store for me. I’m a former working musician, and one who supplemented my income by teaching music, so I was easily sold on Beato’s combination of fun music-related videos like “Top 20 Greatest Rock Guitar Sounds” and in-the-weeds educational videos on music theory. His channel is one of many on YouTube that offer music education, cultural preservation, and creative ways to bring great music to wider audiences. So, needless to say, I was less-than-thrilled to see that he had just live streamed a rant against a huge uptick of efforts to block his videos and those by other creators who also rely on using musical elements to create new content. These copyright strikes had been targeting many of these creators’ most successful videos, which often had been around for years and had attracted big audiences — some with over a million views. One of the impacted videos was Beato’s 20-minute piece on the history of rock guitar, which was taken down for using just 10 seconds of a live, improvised guitar solo by Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitar player, Randy Rhoads. One of Paul Davids’s videos was blocked for playing one chord (Dsus2 for those music geeks following along) in a guitar lesson video. Even in the squishy world of fair use, these seem as close to slam dunk examples of fair use as you can get.

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It’s Always DRM’s Fault

There was a recent viral story about Apple “deleting” purchased movies from someone’s library. As always with these stories, there’s a little more to it, but I’m here to tell you that the details don’t really matter. And because this is being published on the International Day Against DRM, I’m here to tell you that it’s DRM’s fault.

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On Ajit Pai, Fair Use, and “Harlem Shake”

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.

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Anticircumvention Report: Copyright Office Discounts User Community

This summer, the Copyright Office released a study on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 is the provision of the law that allows copyright owners to digitally lock you out of your own stuff, preventing everything from connecting your cellphone to a different carrier, to ripping your DVDs to your tablet, to accessing the diagnostic system in your car. We’ve long advocated for reforming this law which unnecessarily limits user rights, and actively participated in the Office’s study of Section 1201. The resulting report is less than we hoped for; while the Office has recommended some important and needed changes to the law and its application, it mostly leaves the law in place and has us asking what could have been. The report does, however, reveal something interesting about how the Copyright Office thinks about Section 1201–namely, when it chooses to believe (or not believe) the users.

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Packingham and the Public Forum Doctrine: Implications for Copyright

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a state law making it a felony for registered sex offenders to access social media websites. The decision has wide-ranging potential implications for technology law, especially on matters of rights to access the internet, which are particularly important for marginalized and disenfranchised voices in our society. Below, Harold Feld reviews the Packingham decision and explores its implications for one area of law: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s provisions regarding termination of Internet access for accused copyright infringers. This post was originally posted on Harold’s personal blog, “Tales of the Sausage Factory,” on wetmachine.com.

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