Tag Archives: Copyright infringement

NH Woman Fights RIAA

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Someday we will look back on the actions of RIAA and the rest of the music industry and laugh, or maybe cry.  For now, however, we will have to continue hearing stories like this:

The woman, Mavis Roy of Hudson, has called on legal clinics at the state’s only law school to represent her as she fights the charges in federal court this year.

The lawsuit brought by UMG Recordings, Interscope Records, Motown Record Co., and BMG Music alleges that Roy violated copyright infringement laws by downloading and distributing 218 audio files on April 24, 2007.

Roy’s defense team questions how that could be when she did not have a computer in her house at the time in question.

Why RIAA is allowed to behave in this manner is confounding.  Nearly every suit they bring reeks of intimidation and weak evidence.  Not only that, but going after grown women for allegedly downloads a few songs from a pirated source is simply not going to help save an industry that is built on a collection of obsolete business models.


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Will Machinima Videos Be the Next Victims of Copyright Takedowns?

A scene from the popular machinima series Red ...
Image via Wikipedia

If you aren’t familiar with Machinima, it’s basically when people use the graphics of games like Halo combined with voice-overs and sound-effects to create original videos.

One of the best examples of the form is the legendary Red Vs. Blue series:

There are literally millions of other examples and tons of software to help you make your own.  For the time being it seems like various videogame companies are taking different approaches but I am curious to see where the lines will be drawn.

Take a look at this post from Tilzy about another Halo-based series.  Not only is the filmmaker using the game footage but he is also using “authorized” action figures.

Halo is made by Microsoft and I can’t imagine they are real lax when it comes to copyright infringement and one can argue that some of these unauthorized third parties are making some amount of money, however small, by making these videos.

At the same time, even if they were making millions of dollars from this sort of work, would they owe some of it to Microsoft?  Have they re-imagined and re-purposed the original material in such a way as to make it a new, wholly original work? Not to mention how it acts as free publicity for Microsoft – but publicity with a message Microsoft doesn’t control.

Big questions to be explored.  Stay tuned.

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Emily the Strange, Wishbones and the Endless Complications of Copyright, Patents and Property

Two very interesting posts that explore the difficulties and challenges faced by all of us as we try to contend with the issues of copyrights, patents and intellectual property.

First, over on BoingBoing (a site that continues to devote serious time and attention to these sorts of things) has the curious case of Emily the Strange. Emily is a drawing that became something of an iconic logo on all sorts of stuff one might buy at Hot Topic if one were a disaffected suburban teen.  Well, it turns out the drawing, that the artist claimed to be original, is clearly a extremely minor adaptation of a pre-existing work.  Here are the two images so you can judge for yourself:

Picture from BoingBoing

Picture from BoingBoing

The left is the original from the 1978 children’s book “Nate the Great Goes Undercover, by Marc Simont.  The one on the right was “originally” produced in 1991 by Rob Reger.

The question is what does Marc now deserve in return for Rob’s obvious reuse of his original work without consent or compensation.

Now, one could argue that Marc had already gotten his due from the book and the art contained within.  He never thought to take the image and place it into a comletely new context, thus reigniting it’s monetary value.  That’s what Rob did.  Rob’s big mistake was not the idea of repurposing some cool art from the 70’s but that he claimed it was his own and did not both to credit or compensate the original artist.

So far, I can find no official response to this “discovery” by either party but it will be interesting to see if any legal action is taken, and if so, what the courts find.

Clearly, Marc should be compensated in some way, but how much is a far more complex question.

The second story falls under the complications of copyright infringement – something I am learning more about while reading James Boyle’s insanely great book “The Publc Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.”

According to TechDirt (another killer site for following these kinds of issues) a man successfully sued Sears after he sent them a prototype for a plastic, reusable wishbone and then discovered Sears was selling a similar item from a different manufactured.  As TechDirt points out:

“The lawsuit was over copyright infringement claims only, and Sears made two good points that should have prevailed, in our opinion. First, you can’t copyright something occurring in nature — such as a wishbone. Second, the wishbones that Sears ordered were in different colors and sizes than the ones supplied by the original company.  And, in fact, that’s exactly how competition should work. Sears pushed another manufacturer to innovate, designing different (and, in their opinion, better) wishbones. That’s competition and that’s how innovation works.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As we move deeper and deeper into the digital age and reproduction and distribution become cheaper and easier – um, have you seen the 3D printers?! – there will be some major choices to be made to balance the free flow of ideas with the need to compensate those doing the thinking.

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Dear Barack Obama, Please Kill RIAA

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RIAA’s CEO – Ew!

A couple months into the new acedemic year and one thing is clear – RIAA wants to sue the crap out of college kids for listening to music.

Every day it seems there is some new story about how RIAA is trying to force colleges and universities to share info about what their students are downloading and sharing so that RIAA can then assault their students with criminal charges, court dates and mammouth lawyer fees that can often result in students being forced to drop out of school altogether.

Considering that there is no real proof that music piracy has a direct impact on the profits of labels and that there are real problems facing America perhaps it is time to reign in RIAA and stop them from screwing up the lives of people who have done little more than click on a link.

Please, Presendent-elect Obama, call these people in and tell them to stop the unnecessary abuse.

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Evidence? The MPAA Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Evidence

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In the ongoing “war” on internet pirates, the MPAA has submitted a court brief claiming that they don’t need evidence to prove guilt of piracy! (via Wired)

“Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances,” MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

“It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement,” van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

As TorrentFreak puts it:

“So, the MPAA is basically saying that is is too hard to come up with solid evidence, and because of this, they should not have to proove anything. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it”

Once the MPAA can convince the courts it doesn’t need evidence they will be one step closer to their supreme goal – imprisoning all of their customers thus making them the perfect captive audience.

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