Friday, May 22, 2009

French 3 strikes law worries EU neighbours

The Washington Post is reporting that the French 3 strikes law is causing concern around Europe.
"A thousand French Internet users a day could be taken off-line following approval of President Nicolas Sarkozy's pet project _ an unprecedented law to cut the Internet connections of people who repeatedly pirate music and movies...

But many in Europe have denounced it, saying government controls needed to enforce the law could open the way for invasive state monitoring that violate privacy. And legal challenges at home could derail it: The opposition is trying to get the law declared unconstitutional."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Microsoft apply for patent on a magic wand

I've been reading a draft introduction to our forthcoming Open University post graduate IT law course this afternoon. In the process of suggesting to the author that we might include a section on some of the Microsoft patent cases I came across one of the more interesting recent claims by the Redmond corporation. A magic wand no less, United States Patent Application number 20090121894:
"The claimed subject matter relates to an architecture that can facilitate rich interaction with and/or management of environmental components included in an environment. The architecture can exist in whole or in part in a housing that can resemble a wand or similar object. The architecture can utilize one or more sensor from a collection of sensors to determine an orientation or gesture in connection with the wand, and can further issue an instruction to update a state of an environmental component based upon the orientation. In addition, the architecture can include an advisor component to provide contextual and/or comprehensive guidance in an intuitive manner."
I expect the latest Harry Potter game on the Xbox is imminent or at least in advanced development with the latest movie due out in July. Coincidence that this patent comes to light now?

Looking around of course Slashdot has picked it up and no doubt the tech news circuit will be doing likewise soon enough. Yup. In fact I'm a week behind the times - the application was published last Thursday and that news story the following day.

Lessig on read write culture

In spite of retiring from the IP wars in order to concentrate on changing congress Larry Lessig is still doing talks about IP

Microsoft lose another big patent case

From Cnet:
"A federal jury in Tyler, Texas, on Wednesday ordered Microsoft to pay $200 million in a patent infringement case.

The jury ruled that the custom XML tagging features of Word 2003 and Word 2007 infringed on a patent from Toronto-based i4i."

Spielberg, King and copyright

It seems that the deal Steven Spielberg has just signed to produce a film about Martin Luther King is to be challenged by two of King's children.
"The offspring of the late civil rights leader, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the struggle against racial segregation, are embroiled in an ugly dispute over plans for a Steven Spielberg film celebrating his life, times and legacy as a modern American icon.

In a deal announced this week, the famous director's production company, Dreamworks, became the first film-makers to acquire rights to King's speeches, books and back catalogue of intellectual property, including the famous speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 "march on Washington"...

The news sparked huge excitement since, despite the fact that King is one of the greatest public speakers of the 20th century, no Hollywood film-maker has ever been granted permission to being his famous speeches to the big screen...

That was then. Unfortunately, less than 24 hours after the Oscar-winning director made his bullish statement, it emerged that two of King's three surviving children are threatening to sue because the lucrative film deal was brokered without either their knowledge or blessing."

It is a real shame that King's teachings don't get much wider distribution due to the long running saga of disputes over the rights to his speeches and writings. A hugely valuable documentary series on the US civil rights movement, Eyes on the Prize, was pulled from circulation for many years because the complex collection of rights for photographs, music and film clips, and writings had expired. It has got to be seriously damaging to our understanding of important historical developments if we cannot tell the story without getting hopelessly entangled in intellectual property rights issues. That one fact alone should be enough to convince us that the term of copyright is just too long. 14 years renewable for another 14 anyone...? I'd even go for a nice round 25 if we couldn't do a deal on the 14 but either way King's teachings would be in the public domain; although the Eyes on the Prize producers might have to wait a few more years to clear the rights hurdles.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Code of best practices in fair use

Michael Madison at Concurring Opinions notes:
"Yesterday, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University’s Washington College of Law and the Center for Social Media at AU’s School of Communication released “Remix Culture: Fair Use Is Your Friend,” a video that accompanies and explains the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, released jointly by the two centers last July. The video was underwritten by Google and was produced in collaboration with Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project.

The Code itself is one of four recent ”best practices” statements supported by AU (in particular, by Pat Aufderheide at the CSM and Peter Jaszi at the law school) and/or inspired by the “best practices” model.

The first is the “Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use,” released in late 2005.

The others are the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Media Literacy Education, and the recently-released “Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-related Materials: Recommendations for Librarians, Archivists, Curators, and Other Collections Staff,” produced by the Dance Heritage Coalition. Full disclosure: Law faculty and practicing lawyers who specialize in copyright law vetted each of these publications, and I was one of vetters."

Now where is the UK equivalent on fair dealing...?