In the aftermath of the $222,000 jury verdict that the Recording Industry Association of America recently won against a Minnesota woman who shared 24 songs on Kazaa, the U.S. Congress is preparing to amend copyright law.
Politicians want to increase penalties for copyright infringement.
It's no joke. Top Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced a sweeping 69-page bill that ratchets up civil penalties for copyright infringement, boosts criminal enforcement, and even creates a new federal agency charged with bringing about a national and international copyright crackdown.
"By providing additional … Read more
The Bush administration has officially entered the file-sharing lawsuit pitting the major record labels against a Minnesota woman named Jammie Thomas. And it's siding with the record labels.
In legal documents filed in federal court in Minnesota on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice said it wants to defend the constitutionality of the copyright law that a jury decided Thomas violated.
"Copyrights are of great value, not just to their owners, but to the American public as well," the Justice Department's brief said. "Congress has recognized this value from the first days of the … Read more
Victor Keegan of The Guardian asks an important question for today's market of near-disposable IP: how long should we allow copyright to endure? When business models increasingly revolve around immediate monetization, does it make sense to hold copyright for 50 to 70 years after the creator dies?It is curious that there is so much pressure to extend copyright in an internet age defined by the willingness to share knowledge freely, ranging from Wikipedia to the genome project. The reason? Producer lobbies are far more powerful than difficult-to-organise consumer ones.
I'm somewhat biased in this - after all, my understanding of IP came of age under the tutelage of Larry Lessig in law school - but I believe the desire to extend copyright interminably bodes ill for both consumers and creators of intellectual property. That is, provided we actually policed it, which we fortunately don't (or don't strictly) [PDF].
As Keegan points out, and which I've noted before, we don't really have a "respect for IP" problem that goads us into extending copyright. It's just that our producers are still tweaking business models for a digital age that recognize the ease of copying and capitalize on this, rather than fear or shun it:… Read more
Ever wonder what the world would be like if copyright holders actually enforced their rights on a regular basis? Where IP is respected to the nth degree? You don't want to know.
But in case you do, Bruce Schneier points to an excellent law review article by John Tehranian: "Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap" [PDF]:
By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). … Read more
A coalition of entertainment and publishing industry heavyweights would like to see the 2008 presidential candidates champion "meaningful copyright protection" in their policy platforms.
The requests came Tuesday in the form of a letter (PDF) and a questionnaire (PDF), dispatched by the Washington-based Copyright Alliance to 17 candidates vying for Democratic or Republican nominations next year. The group has requested responses to its questionnaire by early January of next year and plans to make the answers public.
The alliance's 44 members include the Recording Industry Association of America, Motion Picture Association of America, Association of American Publishers, … Read more
WASHINGTON--What's wrong with Congress being a little stingy about doling out taxpayer dollars to universities if they let peer-to-peer file-sharing pirates run amok on campus networks?
Not a thing, says the Motion Picture Association of America's top lawyer in the nation's capital.
On the heels of a House of Representatives committee's passage of a higher-education funding bill that includes new antipiracy obligations for universities that participate in federal financial aid programs, MPAA Washington general counsel Fritz Attaway suggested it's reasonable to condition federal education funding on copyright enforcement efforts.
"When the government is subsidizing … Read more
Eds. note: This story was updated at 8:07 p.m. PST to give an update on the expected committee vote time.
WASHINGTON--So far, a U.S. House of Representatives panel hasn't done anything to alter part of a bill that would deprive colleges and universities of financial aid for their students unless they make a plan to provide "alternatives" and deterrents to illicit peer-to-peer downloading.
Debate on a massive Democratic-sponsored higher education spending bill (PDF) began around 1:30 a.m. ET and continued late into the evening on Wednesday. But no amendments were expected to … Read more
Prince is close to making up with three fan sites that spent the past week trading nasty publicity releases with the purple music king.
Prince Fans United (PFU), a group formed by three fan sites dedicated to Prince; Housequake.com, Prince.org, and Princefams.com, was trying to hammer out an agreement with the artist's representatives on Wednesday, according to Gavin McLaughlin, a spokesman for the group.
PFU was formed after Prince allegedly demanded that the sites remove all "photographs, images, lyrics, album covers and anything linked to Prince's likeness," the site operators claimed.
"We'… Read more