Here's another important Copyright Week post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Mitch Stoltz looks at the brutal penalties for copyright violations: "What if a single parking ticket carried a fine of up to a year's salary? What if there were no way to know consistently how much the fine would be before you got it? And what if any one of hundreds of private citizens could decide to write you a ticket?"
Something very close to this scenario is a reality in copyright law. Copyright holders who sue for infringement can ask for "statutory damages" and, if they win, let a jury decide how big of a penalty the defendant will have to pay—anywhere from $200 to $150,000 per copyrighted work. That's a big problem for Internet users, and everyone else who wants to use creative works in lawful but non-traditional ways. Authors of remix video and fan fiction, bloggers, coders, entrepreneurs and others who create, inform, and empower on the fuzzy edges of copyright law must gamble every day. They risk unpredictable, potentially devastating penalties if a court disagrees with their well-intentioned efforts.
People from across the spectrum of opinion on copyright—including many who generally support more restrictive copyright law—agree that copyright damages are broken and need fixing. In today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the scope of copyright, Professors David Nimmer and Glynn Lunney agreed on almost nothing—but both agreed that copyright’s penalty regime makes no sense today.
Different from almost all other areas of the law, plaintiffs in copyright cases don’t have to present any evidence that they were harmed. And aside from setting some broad ranges of amounts for "willful" and "innocent" infringement, the only guidance that the Copyright Act gives to juries in picking an amount is to say that it should be "just."
Copyright Week is a worldwide effort to fix copyright: here are the six principles you can sign onto.
To Safeguard the Public Domain (and the Public Interest), Fix Copyright’s Crazy Penalties
Businesses like Adobe Stock use large, visible watermarks to deter copyright infringement; a new paper presented by Google Researchers to the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition shows that these watermarks can be reliably detected and undetectably erased by software.
US court records are not copyrighted, but the US court system operates a paywall called “PACER” that is supposed to recoup the costs of serving text files on the internet; charging $0.10/page for access to the public domain, and illegally profiting to the tune of $80,000,000/year.
Semihandmade started out as a Los Angeles cabinetmaker called “Handmade,” but when they got a commission to design aftermarket doors for a cheap and surprisingly robust set of Ikea kitchen cabinets, they realized that they could supply excellent-looking, high-spec kitchens at a tiny price by just manufacturing replacement doors for Ikea’s ubiquitous cabinetry.
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]
Guaranteeing your privacy online goes way beyond checking the “Do Not Track” option in your browser’s settings. To ensure that your internet activity is totally hidden from Internet Service Providers, advertisers, and other prying eyes, take a look at Windscribe’s VPN protection. It usually costs $7.50 per month, but you can get a 3-year subscription […]