Sarah Jeong continues her excellent series of critical perspectives on technology with a piece on the way that technology is being used to let computers control their users, on behalf of the corporations who make and sell these tools. Read the rest
Once again the MPAA has released its box-office numbers for the year, and once again, this year has smashed all records (as has been the case throughout our young century) (really!). As always, the astronomical rise-and-rise of their fortunes is somehow used to launch a call for more publicly subsidized enforcement against "piracy." Read the rest
A song that became the "unofficial anthem to the civil rights movement" was wrongly placed under copyright, and should be released into the public domain. That's the argument in a lawsuit filed today in federal court over the song "We Shall Overcome."
Who's behind it? The same group of lawyers who fought for years to free "Happy Birthday" from copyright prison.
The 'Happy Birthday' case succeeded at last just a few months ago, and made it safe for little kids all over the world to sing the song over candlelit cakes at birthday parties, without fear of attorneys knocking on the door demanding royalty payments.
The new copyright battle is a proposed class action lawsuit that asks for copyright licensing fees to be returned. The case argues that royalties were wrongfully collected by Ludlow Music Inc. and The Richmond Organization, which claimed copyright over "We Shall Overcome" in 1960. But the song is probably based on an old African-American spiritual, according to popular belief--and the lawsuit.
The song is based on “an African-American spiritual with exactly the same melody and nearly identical lyrics from the late 19th or early 20th century,” reads the complaint.
"This was never copyrightable to begin with," Mark Rifkin, an attorney for the plaintiff, told Reuters Tuesday. "The song had been in the public domain for many, many years before anyone tried to copyright it."
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The We Shall Overcome Foundation, the plaintiff, is seeking to produce a documentary film about song and its relationship to the civil rights movement.
Cassetteboy, last seen with this amazing video about David Cameron's relationship with dead pigs, is back with a new video that mashes up the UK Prime Minister and Home Secretary/Sith Lord Theresa May describing the real powers in the notorious Snoopers Charter (a far-reaching spying bill), set to the Police's "I'll Be Watching You" (what else?). Read the rest
The World Wide Web Consortium, once the world's most trusted source of open standards, is helping Comcast make a DRM standard designed to give studios a veto over the legal use of their programming -- something that would have prevented the cable industry from ever coming into being. Read the rest
The World Wide Web Consortium spent more than 20 years making standards that remove barriers to developers who want to make Web technology; now, for the first time, they're creating a standard that makes it a crime to make Web technology without permission from the entertainment industry. Read the rest
Revolv is a home automation hub that Google acquired 17 months ago; yesterday, Google announced that as of May 15, it will killswitch all the Revolvs in the field and render them inert. Section 1201 of the DMCA -- the law that prohibits breaking DRM -- means that anyone who tries to make a third-party OS for Revolv faces felony charges and up to 5 years in prison. Read the rest
Not this Netflix, but the next one, the one that'll make Netflix look like Blockbuster -- because if the World Wide Web Consortium goes along with its plan to make it illegal to innovate in ways that the movie studios and record labels disapprove of, there will be no more companies like Netflix. Read the rest
Robert Altbauer created this series of illustrations depicting crusaders meeting the HP Lovecraft's monsters, annotated in medieval Middle High German. Read the rest
Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Hey Internet! Ever since SOPA we've all known that copyright laws have a huge impact on the Internet, free speech, innovation, creativity." Read the rest
Three of America's sharpest copyright scholars have released a landmark study of the impact of copyright takedowns on free expression in America: Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice, by Jennifer Urban (UC Berkeley), Joe Karaganis (Columbia), and Brianna L. Schofiel (UC Berkeley) uses detailed surveys and interviews and a random sample from over 100,000,000 takedown notices to analyze the proportion of fraudulent, malformed or otherwise incorrect acts of censorship undertaken in copyright's name, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's takedown procedure. Read the rest
Karen Hallion, a frustrated Disney animator, has updated her brilliant Princess Leia/Haunted Mansion mashup from 2014 with an inspired, complete set of Star Wars inspired Haunted Mansion stretch-gallery portraits. Read the rest
Natalie Bursztyn created this fantastic pattern for a Wonder Woman sweater, which she has prototyped and modelled herself. Read the rest
Historically, MIT Media Lab students who released their work under free/open licenses had to get approval from a committee (that always granted it). Read the rest