"Copy Me" episode 3: "Early Copyright History"

Alex writes, "It features censorship, hangings, dissent and criticism, a whole bunch of state and church control, angry queens, sad Stationers, and, of course, our terrible culprit: the printing press."

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The Clown Egg Register


Our friends at Futility Closet (hosts of Boing Boing's wonderful Futility Closet podcast) have a short item about The Clown Egg Register. Apparently, a clown's face can't be copyrighted, but if you decorate an egg with the clown's face, you can copyright that, which stops unscrupulous clowns in their tracks.

Interview with the creators of Stripped, feature-length doc about comic strips [New Disruptors Podcast #68]

Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder created the movie Stripped about the past, present, and future of comic strips and their creators. Dave is the creator and cartoonist of two webcomics titles, Sheldon and Drive, and the co-author of How To Make Webcomics. He is one of a small but growing group of webcomics artists who are self-sufficient. Fred is a veteran cinemographer, nominated for Best Cinematography at Sundance for his work on Four Sheets to the Wind. He has been shooting commercials for much of his career.

Together, they matched Fred's filmmaking skills with Dave's personal knowledge of the field and his contacts to create the first feature-length documentary on the topic, funded in part through two Kickstarter campaigns. They don't pull punches about the difficulties of being a comic-strip artist, but they show all the joy and love that goes into the work along with many potential bright lights already illuminating parts of the field and shining on the horizon.

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UK consultation on orphan works

The UK's Intellectual Property Office has opened a consultation into orphan works -- works that are still in copyright but whose copyright holder can't be ascertained or located. The US Supreme Court case Eldred v Ashcroft heard that 98 percent of the works in copyright are orphans, and this problem will only get worse as the duration of copyright keeps on getting extended.

Parliament enacted the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which set out a plan for letting people buy and use orphan works with an escrow fund for absentee rightsholders. Now, the IPO is seeking opinions on how that system should run.

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Copyright Week: the law shouldn't be copyrighted


The Electronic Frontier Foundation continues to publish its excellent series of Copyright Week posts (here's yesterday's installment). Today, Corynne McSherry describes the fight over copyrighted laws. Not copyright laws -- laws about copyright -- but, rather, laws that are copyrighted, and that can't be read without paying hefty fees.

This odd situation crops up often in the realm of public safety standards (the last kind of law you'd want to hide away from the public, really): lawmakers commission private standards bodies to write these standards, then write a law that reads, "In order to comply with the law, you must follow standard such-and-such." So now you've got this weird situation where the law is a secret, it is proprietary, it cannot be published, and you can't see it or know what it says unless you're willing to pay the standards body.

But that's just the beginning:

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'Destroy all Patent Trolls,' by Jonathan 'Song a Day' Mann (music video)

Man oh man, Mr. Mann. I didn't know if it was possible to adore the unfathomably prolific Jonathan "Song a Day" Mann any more, but yes, yes it is. Song a Day #1728, "Destroy all Patent Trolls." Lyrics:

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You buy a music CD. Who gets what?

The BBC's Natalie Donovan breaks down the £8 that one pays for a music CD in the UK: 30% to the label, 17% to the retailer, 13% to the artist, 8% to manufacturers, 7% to distributors, and 5% on "administering copyright." The rest appears to be eaten by taxes. It's an anachronistic and vaguely boosteristic thing to cover, but it's also true that the CD remains a popular format: 70% of (ever-declining) album sales.

German newspapers go back to Google after winning right to be excluded from it

After lobbying for laws to allow them to opt out of Google's search results, German newspapers have opted right back in again. The publishers claim it's a temporary measure while they figure out how to "charge aggregators for their use of its material." Which might be a problem, because Google says it would rather just let them stay opted-out than pay to link to them. [AP]

Who Owns Omni?

Glenn Fleishman on the legendary science and science fiction magazine’s murky proprietorship.

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Copyright threat issued over gorilla dressed as Freddy Mercury

A sculpture depicting a gorilla wearing a Freddy Mercury-style jacket was removed from Norwich City Center following a legal threat from the Mercury Phoenix Trust. The trust claims copyright on the outfit's design, so the company in charge of Norwich's gorilla statue program is repainting it: "That's being sorted. To save any bother we will change it." [Daily Mail]

Annoying lawsuit for Annoying Orange

An advertising agency is suing the creators of Cartoon Network's The Annoying Orange, accusing them of ripping off a character, The Talking Orange, that they created for a 2005 public information ad. [Mercury News]

Lawsuit: Warner Brothers a cat meme copycat

Media companies have dirty hands when it comes to copyright infringement? Timothy B. Lee at Ars:

Warner Brothers is facing a federal lawsuit for using two feline-themed Internet memes in a video game without their creators' permission. The authors of "Keyboard Cat" and "Nyan Cat" have sued the media giant arguing that the game Scribblenauts, published by WB Games, infringes their copyrights and trademarks. The game's developer, 5th Cell, is also named in the lawsuit.

Cellphone unlocking is the first step toward post-SOPA copyright reform

Derek Khanna was a Professional Staffer for the Republican Study Committee in the House of Representatives. Khanna, 24, previously worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and in the office of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).

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Crazy copyright bot threatens those who tweet tiny poem

This has to be some kind of brilliant hoax: a Twitter 'attribution troll' is showering threats on anyone who tweets a popular one-line poem.

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No new public domain works for US until 2019

At The Economist, Glenn Fleishman laments the freezing of the public domain in America under relentless entertainment-industry lobbying, even as Europeans enjoy an annual movement of cultural history to it: "While much of the rest of the world may take cheer from mass migration of material to the public domain each year, America has not seen one since the 1970s, nor will it until 2019."