Comic explains the fight over music copyrights


The San Francisco Chronicle's weekend package on copyright included a feature on law profs James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins' forthcoming music copyright comic, Theft: A History of Music (a followup to their magnificent comic on copyright and documentary films, Bound By Law). It includes a centrefold with one of Theft's best two-page spreads -- I was lucky enough to read an early rough this summer and boyoboy are you in for a treat when they ship!

Also in the package is Copyright law needs a digital-age upgrade, by Pamela Samuelson, one of America's greatest copyright scholars, and as you'd expect, it's a must-read:

Modernize copyright office: Instead of one registry for all copyrighted works, certify registries run by third parties for photos, films, computer programs and more. The model is akin to the domain name registration system.

Refine scope of exclusive rights: Weigh commercial value when determining whether someone's exclusive right has been infringed. This shields non-harmful activity from the threat of highly punitive copyright claims and commercial harm.

Limit damage awards: Guidelines for awarding statutory damages need to be consistent and reasonable.

Reform judicial infringement tests: Courts apply different tests to assess copyright violations, leading to mixed interpretations of complex copyright law. Develop consistent tests to ensure greater coherence in rulings.

Limit orphan works liability: Enable libraries and others to preserve a part of our cultural heritage by allowing greater use of orphan works - copyrighted materials whose owners can't be found.

Create "safe harbors": Protect online service providers from excessive damage claims if they undertake reasonable, voluntary, measures to discourage peer-to-peer file-sharing. Providers that comply would be shielded from liability for user infringements.

(Thanks, Jamie!)
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