Tag Archives: “intellectual property”

Intellectual property and liberty

Source: Strike the Root
by Alex R Knight III

“An ongoing debate in libertarian quarters has been and is whether or not intellectual property (or IP, for short) is a concept which has any place in a free society. While honest arguments on both sides can be compelling, there also seems to be a great deal of misconception surrounding the entire topic, and my goal here is to attempt to demystify some of it, and perhaps offer a clearer picture than may have been heretofore available.” (02/16/18)


BMG v. Cox: ISPs can make their own repeat infringer policies, but the 4th Circuit wants a higher “body county”

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Mitch Stoltz

“Last week’s BMG v. Cox decision has gotten a lot of attention for its confusing take on secondary infringement liability, but commentators have been too quick to dismiss the implications for the DMCA safe harbor. Internet service providers are still not copyright police, but the decision will inevitably encourage ISPs to act on dubious infringement complaints, and even to kick more people off of the Internet based on unverified accusations. This long-running case involves a scheme by copyright troll Rightscorp to turn a profit for shareholders by demanding money from users whose computer IP addresses were associated with copyright infringement. Turning away from the tactic of filing lawsuits against individual ISP subscribers, Rightscorp began sending infringement notices to ISPs, coupled with demands for payment, and insisting that ISPs forward those notices to their customers. … Cox, a midsize cable operator and ISP, pushed back and was punished for it.” (02/05/18)


What’s wrong with copyright and how to fix it

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Jeffrey A Tucker

“‘Happy Birthday’ has been part of popular culture dating back to the 19th century. The melody is well documented as ‘Good Morning to All’ and appeared in songbooks. What really happened is that a mega-big corporate monopoly pillaged the commons and took exclusive possession of a non-scarce good, solely to gain monopoly rents. And this is precisely what happens when you have a blunt instrument like the state available to take up the cause of a would-be industrial monopolist. This is precisely the case with patent and copyright. They were not instances of government coming to the service of previously agreed-upon contractual rights and cla[i]ms. They were cases of government creating legal rights for private parties to deploy coercion against competitors by asserting ownership where none can truly exist.” (01/28/18)


Grumpy Cat wins $710,000 payout in copyright lawsuit

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“A cat made famous online because of its permanent scowl has been awarded $710,000 (£500,000) in a copyright case by a California federal court. Grumpy Cat Limited sued the owners of US coffee company Grenade for exceeding an agreement over the cat’s image. The company only had rights to use the cat to sell its ‘Grumppuccino’ iced drink, but sold other Grumpy products. The cat, real name Tardar Sauce, went viral in 2012 after photographs of her sour expression emerged online. Originally posted on the social website Reddit by the brother of the cat’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, the image of the cat quickly spread as a meme with funny text captions. In 2013 Grenade Beverage, owned by father and son Nick and Paul Sandford, struck a $150,000 deal to market iced coffee beverages with the cat’s scowl on its packaging.” (01/24/18)


Trump tries to revive dead “intellectual property” parrot with threat of China fine

Source: The Epoch Times

“President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States was considering a big ‘fine’ as part of a probe into China‘s alleged theft [sic] of intellectual property [sic], the clearest indication yet that his administration will take retaliatory trade action against China. In an interview with Reuters, Trump and his economic adviser Gary Cohn said China had forced U.S. companies to transfer their intellectual property [sic] to China as a cost of doing business there. … While Trump did not specify what he meant by a ‘fine’ against China, the 1974 trade law that authorized an investigation into China‘s alleged theft [sic] of U.S. intellectual property [sic] allows him to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods or other trade sanctions until China changes its policies.” (01/18/18)


How closed trade deals ratchet up the copyright term worldwide

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Jeremy Malcolm

“Differences in the law aren’t a bug; they’re a feature. Just as a country has the right to craft specific exceptions to copyright law based on its own national circumstances (for example in India, where many foreign books are not available for sale, copyright law allows public libraries to make up to three copies of such books), so too it should be able to adopt the copyright term that makes the most sense for its citizens — which in most if not all cases will be the shortest term allowed. But because differences in copyright term make things more complicated for copyright holders, there are constant efforts by some copyright holders to try to homogenize the duration of copyright so that they can more easily enforce their copyrights worldwide — and of course, they would like them to be harmonized at the life-plus-70 year term, so that they can extract another 20 years of monopoly rents, over and above the Berne Convention’s standard life-plus-50 year term. Trade agreements are one way that they are trying to achieve this.” (01/17/18)


DRM puts the brakes on innovation

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Elliot Harmon

“Copyright law is slow. Whenever you hear about a case of alleged copyright infringement and you think, ‘What was illegal about this?’ consider that the law probably came many, many years before anyone conceived of the activity it’s being used to target. Then it starts to make a little bit more sense. Look at how U.S. copyright law treats DRM, the annoying array of methods that digital content providers use to restrict their customers’ behavior. Passed in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act made it illegal to bypass DRM or give others the means of doing so. When Congress passed Section 1201, it was mostly thinking of restrictions intended to stop users from making infringing copies of music and movies. The DMCA passed well before manufacturers began putting digital locks on cars, microwaves, toilets, and every other electronic product. We’re now living in a world where it might be a crime to modify the software on your rice cooker. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it is.” (01/16/18)


The public domain starts growing again next year, and it’s about time

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Katharine Trendacosta

“One major rationale for copyright is supposedly that, by giving an exclusive set of rights to artists for their work, we incentivize creativity by making it possible for artists to benefit from releasing works to the public. But copyright protection is supposed to be limited, and once it expires, a work enters the public domain, where anyone can use it. In the United States, the length of the copyright term has been steadily extended so that published works are effectively copyrighted for 95 years (for corporate works) or until 70 years after an author’s death (for individual works). This has resulted in a public domain that saw increasingly less materials being added to it, limiting the ability of artists to build on works that came before them. The last time Congress changed the law in the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, it was applied retroactively. Effectively, it meant that nothing has entered the public domain in the United States for years. January 1, 2019 will mark the end of this dry spell as works first published in 1923 will finally enter the public domain.” (01/15/18)


Software copyright back before federal circuit: Time for the court to get it right

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Vera Ranieri & Corynne McSherry

“Should a company be able to shut down competition by asserting copyright in a collection of software commands? Tech giant Cisco Systems thinks so: it’s gone to court to try to prevent its competitor, Arista Networks, from building competing Ethernet switches that rely in part on commands Cisco argues it initially developed. Cisco lost the first round in a California district court, but it’s hoping for a better outcome from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. As we explain in a brief we’ve submitted supporting Arista, Cisco is wrong. First, where the collection of commands in question is simply a group of standard, highly functional directives, arranged based on logic and industry standards, it shouldn’t be copyrightable at all. Second, any copyright that does exist must be sharply limited, as a matter of law and good practical policy.” (01/04/18)


First Amendment values versus the First Amendment

Source: Cato Unbound
by John Samples

“To participate in making a democratic culture, people need to (and do) use cultural artifacts owned by others. Balkin calls for strong ‘fair use’ to encourage democratic culture. Some would deny recognition and protection to intellectual property; after all, Mickey Mouse has retained his popularity because he has been absorbed into and retained by popular culture, long after Walt Disney penned his last cheerful rodent. On the other hand, in initially creating Mickey, Disney birthed an incredibly potent cultural product, and since at least 1688, the added value of that type has justified a kind of private property, for some people anyway. In a culture characterized by endless remixing, the locus of value creation can be difficult to determine.” (01/02/18)