New York Federal judge rules that embedding tweets can violate copyright law

Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding. Read the rest

Meet the 'Calm Bearded Tree Enthusiast Painter Dude' minifig

Over at The Official Action Figure Therapy store, they've got all kinds of customized minifigs for sale including this "Calm Bearded Tree Enthusiast Painter Dude." It's like a hilarious exercise in describing Bob Ross and LEGO, without actually using those words.

Also see: the "Hairy Canadian Fast Healing Angry Claw Man In Wife Beater," the "Scary Kid Loving Sewer Clown With Balloon," and the "Terminally Ill Contraband Manufacturing Underwear Science Teacher."

Thanks, Howard! Read the rest

UK government produces numbingly boring cartoon defending rights of copyright proprietors

Britain's Intellectual Property Office admits that its cartoon informing children about copyright infringement is "dry and niche," despite exciting scenes such an old man in a suit explaining intellectual property and a goatlike charicature of popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.

The Intellectual Property Office is leading the government's efforts to crack down on internet piracy and protect the revenues of Britain's creative industries.

The government agency is spending £20,000 of its own money on the latest Nancy campaign, which is part-funded by the UK music industry.

Catherine Davies, head of the IPO's education outreach department, which already produces teaching materials for GCSE students, admitted IP was a "complex subject" for small children and something of a challenge to make accessible and entertaining.

Some fear, the BBC reports, that the campaign is so numbing and heavy-handed its message about piracy "could backfire." [via Tim Cushing] Read the rest

Video of 10 hours of white noise has 5 copyright claims

Sebastian Tomczak, who blogs his fascination with sound and technology at little-scale.blogspot.com, reports that "My ten hour white noise video now has five copyright claims!"

The culprit appears to be YouTube's hapless and hostile contentID system, which automatically matches portions of different videos, makes stupid conclusions about intellectual property, then invites corporate customers to "claim" and monetize other people's work as their own.

Owning white noise today are "White Noise Sleep Therapy", "El Muelle Records", "Rachel Conwell" and "Silent Knights." Read the rest

Who enters the public domain in 2018?

The Public Domain class of 2018 — authors with significant works entering the public domain next year — includes Aleister Crowley, Rene Magritte, Siegfied Sassoon and the other Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill was an American best-selling novelist of the early 20th century. He is nowadays overshadowed, even as a writer, by a certain cigar-toting British statesman of the same name, with whom he was acquainted, but not related.

Here's the CSPD list of works that should have entered the public domain this year, but didn't thanks to congressional servicing of Disney. Read the rest

The ultimate DMCA takedown fail

A gentleman jailed for his part in a $5.4m scam wanted Google to remove links to news stories about the wheeze. His cunning plan to get them to do it – file a DMCA takedown notice claiming copyright in his own name and criminal record – perhaps offers a clue about why he got caught in the first place.

From the FBI's press release:

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Henrik Sardariani obtained more than $5 million in loans after, among other things, falsifying numerous documents. In order to obtain one of the loans, Henrik Sardariani fraudulently used a house as collateral and falsely claimed to be the president of the company that owned the property. To support the claim that he controlled the company, Henrik Sardariani created false corporate records that were presented to the lender.

Henrik Sardariani also admitted that he created fraudulent property records to make it appear that prior loans had been paid off and that, therefore, new loans would be fully secured by unencumbered property. The fraudulent reconveyances bore forged and fraudulent signatures of notaries public, as well as fraudulent stamps of the notaries public.

Update: Shooting the Messenger writes that there are at least three of these DMCA takedowns filed by people involved in this particular case. Read the rest

New tool helps authors claim their copyrights back from publishers (even "perpetual assignments")

Under US copyright law, creators who have signed away their copyrights for the "full duration of copyright" can still get their rights back from publishers under something called the "Termination of Transfer," which is a hellishly complex and technical copyright provision that is almost never used, since it requires that creators wait decades and then successfully navigate all that complexity (even knowing how many years you have to wait is complicated!). Read the rest

Monkey meant business in selfie lawsuit settlement

A monkey in Indonesia will now be enjoying 25% of future profits from a selfie he took with a photographer's camera, following a settlement announced Monday.

Photographer David Slater agreed to donate the future profits to organizations responsible for protecting Indonesian habitats of crested macaques, according to CNN. The 2011 selfie of a then 7-year-old Naruto started a legal endeavor by PETA four years later over publishing of the photo and his rights under the Copyright Act.

The small success for the cheeky primate is more likely a larger victory for the inevitable simian overthrow soon to follow. Read the rest

Cease and Desist pin

Kingdrippa makes and sells these fabulously trenchant mouse pins. It's $11. In fact, there's so many cool things in this store I might have to blog the lot.

Read the rest

Legal advice to musicians, after "Blurred Lines": pretend you have no influences

It's been two years since Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a lawsuit brought by Marvin Gaye's descendants, who argued that their song "Blurred Lines" infringed Gay's 1977 song "Got to Give It To You," not because it copied the music per se, but because it copied its "vibe." Read the rest

Intel declared war on general purpose computing and lost, so now all our computers are broken

It's been a year since we warned that Intel's Management Engine -- a separate computer within your own computer, intended to verify and supervise the main system -- presented a terrifying, unauditable security risk that could lead to devastating, unstoppable attacks. Guess what happened next? Read the rest

Unesco warns the World Wide Web Consortium that DRM is incompatible with free expression

Unesco's Frank La Rue has published a letter to Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, warning him of the grave free-speech consequences of making DRM for the web without ensuring that lawful activity that requires bypassing it is also protected. Read the rest

Leaked Inspector General's report reveals millions lost to incompetence and waste at the US Copyright Office

A leaked report from the Inspector General reveals that the US Copyright Office blew $11.6m trying to buy a computer system that should have cost $1.1m (they ended up canceling the project after spending the money and no computers were purchased in the end), then lied to Congress and the Library of Congress to cover up its errors. Read the rest

On Jan 1, awesome stuff will enter the public domain: HG Wells, Gertrude Stein, Buster Keaton, Walt Disney, Lenny Bruce (but not in the USA)

In much of the world, copyright ends 50 years after the creator's death, in some of the rest of the world, it ends 70 years after the creator's death; in the USA, things have stopped going into the public domain until 2019 (unless America decides to retroactively extend copyright...again!). Read the rest

Samsung issuing copyright claims to remove videos mocking its exploding phones

YouTube users who post videos mocking Samsung's recently-recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone report they get removed because of copyright claims by Samsung.

The claims center on a popular add-on to the game Grand Theft Auto V, which lets players fool around with the hot handsets and use them as as grenades.

This is not how copyright works, the BBC says, and is likely to only focus more attention on Samsung's failings and YouTube's own shortcomings when it comes to copyright enforcement.

Samsung has not yet responded to repeated BBC requests for comment. Critics have warned that trying to remove gamers' videos will only draw more attention to them.

One US gamer - known as DoctorGTA - said restrictions had been put on his YouTube account as a result of Samsung's complaint.

"It's going to take three months to get the strike removed from my channel... I got my live stream taken away," he said in a video.

"If I submit a counter-notification to say 'sue me', I wonder what they will do. Will they sue me, the kid that has cancer and just makes money off YouTube playing a video game?"

The Note 7's propensity to burst into flames ultimately resulted in the handset being withdrawn from production and recalled from store shelves. The Federal Aviation Administration banned them from the skies, making it a federal crime to take one on board an airplane.

Here's a video still live. (Warning: moronic) Read the rest

Republican Mike Huckabee had to pony up $25k for playing Eye of the Tiger

When Mike Huckabee played Eye of the Tiger at a rally for a Kentucky county clerk who refused to marry same-sex couples, it cost him big. Sued by the song's owners, he forked over $25k to settle the lawsuit.

The failed Republican presidential candidate got the usual settlement gag clause, but decided to list the payment in election disclosures. Huckabee claimed the anti-gay rally was "noncommercial" and that his use of the song met the standards for "fair use," but...

...that argument fell apart when the songwriter's lawyer pointed out that Huckabee claimed the rally as a presidential campaign expense. He is now petitioning the Federal Election Commission to let him start a separate legal defense fund to pay off the settlement. However, the FEC just issued a draft opinion last week saying Huckabee should pay the costs himself.

Republican politicians routinely use Eye of the Tiger at rallies, and are routinely sued for it by Survivor's publishers, with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney among the greatest hits. Read the rest

Jury rules that Led Zeppelin did not steal "Stairway to Heaven"

A federal jury in Los Angeles has just ruled that Led Zeppelin did not swipe the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" from the Spirit song "Taurus." From the New York Times:

Mr. Plant and Mr. Page both testified that “Stairway to Heaven” had been composed independently, and that while both bands had played on the same bill a handful of times, they did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform and had no familiarity with “Taurus” until the lawsuit was brought.

“I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” Mr. Plant said.

The jury found that, although Mr. Page and Mr. Plant had access to “Taurus” before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” the two songs’ original elements did not contain enough similarities. Before reaching the verdict on Thursday, the jury asked to listen to audio recordings of the introductions to both songs twice.

Read the rest

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