post-thanksgiving ip & info news

  • Australia & the US continue to work on the bilateral Free Trade Agreement. Australia is now set to implement a notice-and-takedown rules despite criticism of their impact in the US. [news.com.au 11/30]

  • Another due process victory — the RIAA can’t sue the nation en masse, even if they do think it’s cheaper by the dozen/gross/other large quantities. [wendy seltzer reports on the Texas case [11/27]]

  • fluffy spending bill includes funding for copyright czar. p2pnet reports that the Hollywood Reporter reports that:

    Under a “massive $388 billion spending bill Congress approved during the weekend” the president can appoint a copyright law enforcement officer whose job is to coordinate law enforcement efforts aimed at stopping international copyright infringement and to oversee a federal umbrella agency responsible for administering intellectual property law, says the Hollywood Reporter.

    The legislation is part of the bill funding Justice Department operations and for the first time funds the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council, says the story, continuing ominously:

    “NIPLAC is charged with establishing policies, objectives and priorities designed to protect American intellectual property overseas and to coordinate and oversee implementation of intellectual property law enforcement throughout the government. While NIPLAC has been around since the early 1990s, it has never done anything, and appropriators hope that giving the organization $2 million and a new charter will make the office effective.”

    I like the p2pnet description of the story as “ominous”.

    You know, I know we live in the age of the imperial presidency, and we have our own domestic nobility, but why do we keep using the word czar? So annoying.

  • The wacky Dutch courts have now held that perfumes are copyrightable: They are “not only measurable by the senses but also … concrete and stable enough to be considered an authored work, as intended in copyright law”. Lancome v. Kecofa. [In this international world, I’m linking to the story in The Scotsman, 11/25.] This story was rife with interesting details including the fact that few smells have been trademarked in “this country” (Scotland? the Netherlands? unclear) except for “darts smelling of beer”. Don’t darts smell that way naturally?

    Apparently the Dutch Copyright Act of 1912 includes “works of applied art” and “generally any creation in the literary, scientific or artistic areas.”

  • ‘Tis the season: Rudolph Reserve Beer becomes Rude Elf Reserve Beer. This was described as a “copyright fight” by AP 11/25, but surely must be a trademark dispute.

  • Okay, this is not copyright, either, but trademark / right of publicity. The Nelson Mandela Foundation is upset over a plan to import gold coins with Mandela’s image on them. [South Africa, The Star, 11/23]

    What does it mean that so many people are calling all these different claims copyright? It’s like “copyright” has become the new “intellectual property.”

  • The E.D. Pennsylvania ruled on Nov. 12 that copyright management information (CMI) must be proximate to the copyrighted material. Reuse of images from a book, and removing just the copyright statement from the beginning of the book, did not constitute a violation of the DMCA’s CMI provisions.

  • Another DMCA case: Perfect10 is suing Google for indexing its copyrighted images. [complaint @ wendy seltzer’s site]

  • N.D. Cal. judge Maxine Chesney dismissed Kahle v. Ashcroft [11/24] [c|net 11/24. The Internet Archive plans to appeal.]

  • More reality show idea conflicts: This time the plaintiffs are suing TBS & Evolution Film & Tape, alleging that their development of a transgender reality show “He’s a Lady” infringes their copyright in a similar work titled “Sex Change.” They also charge breach of implied-in-fact contract and unfair competition. [businesswire 11/23]

    Oh. My. God. A, no copyright on ideas, please dismiss this claim right away, court. The article says that they “received protection from the U.S. Copyright Office” for their treatment. No ideas, no ideas, no ideas.

    B, how offensive is this:

    Both reality series are about a group of male contestants who believe they are in a competition to become an “All-American Man.” It is soon revealed, however, that they are actually going to be transformed to look and act like women and compete for a monetary prize – living together in a “doll house,” performing stereotypical female tasks and being assessed by a panel of judges – climaxing in a beauty pageant competition.

  • On the First Amendment side of things, Wired has a great new story explaining how recent Senate Commerce Committee, Science, Technology & Space Subcommittee hearings have shown that Internet porn is the worst scourge this nation has seen since CIA-sponsored heroin. [wired 11/19]

    “Pornography really does, unlike other addictions, biologically cause direct release of the most perfect addictive substance,” Satinover said. “That is, it causes masturbation, which causes release of the naturally occurring opioids. It does what heroin can’t do, in effect.”

    The internet is dangerous because it removes the inefficiency in the delivery of pornography, making porn much more ubiquitous than in the days when guys in trench coats would sell nudie postcards, Satinover said.

    Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), the subcommittee’s chairman, called the hearing the most disturbing one he’d ever seen in the Senate. Brownback said porn was ubiquitous now, compared to when he was growing up and “some guy would sneak a magazine in somewhere and show some of us, but you had to find him at the right time.”

    Thanks Sen. Brownback for sharing stories from your personal experience. As for Santinover, he is an advisor for a gay-cure group — clearly an unbiased social scientist with no axe to grind. Kudos to Wired for interviewing Carol Queen for the article.

    This all reminds me of a reading I attended some years ago, in which Susie Bright read dirty bits from the Meese Commission on Pornography report. [wikipedia; full-text] Can we have Susie Bright do all the CSpan coverage of these hearings? Please?

  • What is with the FCC these days? Or for that matter with the general government fascination with “indecency” and porn? It would take an entire company of bloggers to keep up with the stories. The mid-November indecency story du jour was the American Family Association’s [turn head to left, spit ceremoniously] attack on ABC’s broadcast of “Saving Private Ryan”, followed swiftly by the Monday Night Football skit or ad or something related to “Desperate Housewives.” Good grief. God forbid our coverage of live celebrations of violence and sexual exploitation (the cheerleaders and beer commercials) should be interrupted by, well, more sexual exploitation.

    The only good thing I saw about this recently was a report about a FOIA request to the FCC regarding its many indecency complaints regarding one of the recent TV incidents. I think there were a hundred or so total but maybe I’m off by a factor of 10? At any rate, there were fewer than the FCC actually claimed. And the really interesting thing is that almost all were form-generated. Total discrete complaints generated by spontaneous citizen outrage: 3. (now where did I see that article? sometime over the long food-stuffed thanksgiving weekend. darn darn darn. when will i remember to save these things when i see them?) [oh right: it was frank rich in the nyt 11/28 on “the great indecency hoax”]