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Treaty for the Blind in Jeopardy, Copyright Zealots to Blame

May 29, 2013 Copyright , Enforcement , Fair Use , International

In a few weeks, the nations of the world will gather in Morocco to finalize a treaty that could help the millions of blind and visually impaired have affordable access to books, but lobbyists from Hollywood and the publishing industry are making a last minute push to fatally weaken the Treaty – despite getting all their previous demands.


In a few weeks, the 186 governments that are members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will gather in Morocco with the goal of crafting a Treaty For The Blind.  The agreement would facilitate global production and lending of audio books, Braille translations, and otherwise enable the visually impaired and those with certain learning disabilities to have affordable access to books. 

This will most benefit the millions of blind people in the developing world who live in poverty, by adopting many of the rights to translate works into braille or other forms accessible to the visually impaired that are already law in the United States.

But last minute lobbying by Hollywood and publishing interests in the U.S. and Europe have threatened to derail the Treaty for the Blind at the last minute.

We are asking everyone to please sign this We The People Petition telling the Obama Administration to side with the blind, not Hollywood.

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The Craigslist Case and Other Examples of Copyright Abuse

May 2, 2013 DMCA , Enforcement , Safe Harbor , Statutory Damages

This week, a federal district court in California refused to toss craigslist’s claims that it owns its users’ postings. More and more, we’re seeing fine print in terms of use (“TOU”) agreements and end user license agreements (“EULAs”) that try to make copyright claims. Why?

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Why is Congress Expanding Enforcement of the DMCA?

March 26, 2013 DMCA , DRM , Enforcement

It’s no longer a debate: people recognize that the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA are flawed. Insofar as they keep people from doing things like unlocking their cell phones, over 100,000 people and the White House have said so, members of Congress have said so, and the FCC has said so. There’s also widespread recognition that the DMCA as a whole needs reevaluation, which the Register of Copyrights recognizes.

So why are we seeing simultaneous efforts to double down on enforcing a defective law?

Yesterday, Senators Baucus and Hatch introduced a hefty bill on trade issues.

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Notes From Today’s Hearing: The Register’s Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law

March 21, 2013 Copyright Office , DMCA , Enforcement , First Sale , Internet Blueprint

Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights (and thus, head of the Copyright Office) was the sole witness in a hearing today with an ambitious title: “The Register’s Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law.” (An archived copy of the hearing is here) Her testimony provides a guide to the sorts of changes she thinks are necessary in the coming years.

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Wyden Calls for Copyright Reform at CES

January 9, 2013 DMCA , Enforcement , Fair Use

Today, Senator Ron Wyden spoke at CES, and remarked on the striking contrast in the landscape of technology policy between today and the time of last year’s CES. Back then, SOPA and PIPA seemed like inevitabilities to be, at best, mitigated through a trench warfare style of advocacy. Today, we see a willingness to move forward on important (and often neglected) issues and challenge old assumptions underlying these policy debates.

Wyden’s talk reflects this, indicating a broad agenda to encourage what he calls the “freedom to compete.” I’d call it ambitious, but if that’s so, it’s only in its breadth—each of the particular areas he addresses has concrete, feasible goals that improve things not just for tech companies, but primarily for consumers and users.

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