Tag Archives | Copyright Law

Supreme Court Rules Against Patenting Of Human Genes

 Patenting Of Human GenesGreat to know that I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyrights with my existence. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented and held for profit, a decision that medical experts said will lead to more genetic testing for cancers and other diseases and to lower costs for patients.

The decision invalidates a Utah company’s patents on two genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer, and is likely to lead to several thousand other gene patents being tossed as well.

The court’s decision also came as a relief to the biotech industry. While the justices agreed “naturally occurring DNA” cannot be patented, they also said DNA “synthetically created” in a lab can be patented. Industry lawyers had worried the court could issue a sweeping decision that would wipe out patents for genetically engineered drugs or farm products.

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Kim Dotcom Accuses Federal Prosecutors of Conspiracy

Kim Dotcom has faced illegal surveillance by the New Zealand government and now faces extradition to the United States. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Kim Dotcom has faced illegal surveillance by the New Zealand government and now faces extradition to the United States. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Eccentric German-Finnish billionaire Kim Dotcom and his attorneys fired back at federal prosecutors Wednesday by accusing them, alongside other domestic authorities, of conspiracy to “deprive defendants of their presumption of innocence.” Dotcom is currently fighting attempts to extradite him from his haven in New Zealand, where he has faced illegal surveillance from that government, in addition to the charges of mass copyright violation that motivated the surveillance. According to his indictment by the United States last year, Dotcom’s former media-sharing website Megaupload was at some points responsible for 4 percent of all Internet traffic.

Dotcom’s lawyers wrote Wednesday, “[T]he outside motivating factor in this case stems from Motion Picture Association of America’s (erroneous) view of Megaupload as “the very top of the piracy pyramid,” coupled with the current Administration’s desire to placate an association whose members, as a group, are some of the Democratic Party’s strongest political supporters and most generous campaign contributors.”

Read more at Opposing Views.… Read the rest

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U.S. Department Of Justice Acknowledges Aaron Swartz Was Prosecuted Over His Political Views

The decision to hound Swartz on flimsy charges with the possibility of decades in prison was in part because of an anti-copyright manifesto written by Swartz in 2008, reports the Huffington Post:

A Justice Department representative told congressional staffers during a recent briefing on the computer fraud prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz that Swartz’s “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto” played a role in the prosecution.

The manifesto said sharing information was a “moral imperative” and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations “blinded by greed” that led to the “privatization of knowledge.”

“We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world,” Swartz wrote in the manifesto.

Swartz was 26 when he killed himself in January. He had been indicted and faced a prison sentence for downloading millions of academic articles from the online database JSTOR, though he maintained he had permission to access them.

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Schools Consider Taking Ownership Of Students’ Work

What a life lesson the kids will learn. The Washington Post on guidelines under consideration by the county surrounding Washington D.C.:

A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

If the policy is approved, the county would become the only jurisdiction in the Washington region where the school board assumes ownership of work done by the school system’s staff and students.

David Rein, a lawyer and adjunct law professor who teaches intellectual property at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, said he had never heard of a local school board enacting a policy allowing it to hold the copyright for a student’s work.

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It Is Now A Felony To Unlock Your Smartphone

The gadgets that you paid for control you, not the other way around. The Atlantic on the most ridiculous law of 2013:

Starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers. Seriously: It’s embarrassing and unacceptable that we are at the mercy of prosecutorial and judicial discretion to avoid the implementation of draconian laws that could implicate average Americans in a crime subject to up to a $500,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

When did we decide that we wanted a law that could make unlocking your smartphone a criminal offense? The answer is that we never really decided. Instead, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 to outlaw technologies that bypass copyright protections. In practice it has terrible, and widely acknowledged, negative consequences that affect consumers and new innovation. The DMCA leaves it up to the Librarian of Congress (LOC) to issue exemptions from the law, exceptions that were recognized to be necessary given the broad language of the statute.

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Sony Releases Major Album Solely To Extend Copyright Protection

The New York Times on a dubious and surreal moment in the history of recorded music:

In response to provisions in a new European copyright law, Sony Music has released a compilation of early Bob Dylan recordings [subtitled] “The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1” — that was rushed to a handful of record shops in Germany, France, Sweden and Britain just after Christmas. Only about 100 copies of the four-CD set were produced, with sparse packaging.

The point of the release was to keep the recordings under copyright protection in Europe, where the laws are in flux.  A change extending copyright in the European Union to 70 years will be in effect by 2014. But recordings cannot benefit unless they were published before the 50-year term expired. The recordings on “Copyright Extension” were about to fall over that legal precipice.

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Is Sowing Artificial Scarcity The Future Of Business?

Via the The New Inquiry, Peter Frase on where we’re headed:

Where we see scarcity, much of it appears to be imposed by choice. In particular, the increasing weight of intellectual property law heralds a world where the prime objective of business is to make things scarce enough that people will still need to buy them.

Unexpected scarcity long characterized agricultural societies—drought, pestilence, fire, and other natural calamities could bring about famine at any moment. But today’s farmers, who have learned to overcome many of these challenges, now face the prospect of a legal, rather than natural disaster. In a case that will soon appear before the Supreme Court, a 74-year-old farmer named Vernon Bowman was ordered to pay $84,000 in damages for infringing on the patents of agribusiness giant Monsanto. His crime was to plant a seed—a patented “Roundup Ready” seed, whose license agreement prohibits using it to produce new ones.

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Local Cops Now Paid With Federal Money To Troll IRC

Picture: Liam Cooke, Flickr (CC)

In an era where the Rand Corporation claims links between IP theft and terrorist activity (ignoring a 2011 major international study that found “‘no evidence’ of systematic links between piracy and serious organized crime”), your tax dollars are being used to put cops in chat rooms to track down the degenerate digerati.

Via  at Ars Technica:

In a speech before an assembled crowd of law enforcement officials in Maryland this week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the winners of a new federal grant that will send hundreds of thousands of dollars to 13 agencies in an effort to step up enforcement of copyright and trademark laws.

The Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Grant Award, which became available in January 2012, was given to a wide variety of local law enforcement groups, including the City of Austin, the City of Orlando, the County of Sacramento, the Virginia State Police, and most oddly, the City of Central Point, Oregon (population: 13,000).

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Anonymous Wreaks Revenge On Pirate Bay Censor

Don't mess with "open and free internets"! Robert Andrews reports on Anonymous' latest target for Gigaom:
God forbid anyone incur the combined wrath of both The Pirate Bay and Anonymous. The hacking collective is claiming responsibility for levelling a successful distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on the websites of Virgin Media. Anonymous tweet Virgin became the first UK ISP to block its subscribers’ access to The Pirate Bay last week, following a High Court ruling that the Bay breaches record label copyrights and should be blocked...
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Anonymous’s ‘Black March’ Media Survival Guide

"copyrighted media won't be allowed while internet is censored"

"copyrighted media won't be allowed while internet is censored"

Anonymous and other various Internet freedom groups are calling on people to boycott the corporate media for the entire month of March 2012 in efforts to affect the bottom line of organizations calling for the imposition of The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.  ACTA will profoundly restrict the fundamental rights, freedom of expression and communication privacy of Internet users the world over.

For those of you who intend to participate in the boycott, there is plenty of public domain and Creative Commons licensed  media that, for now, is freely available for you to download and enjoy, enough for the entire month of March.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list of sources to help you remain entertained while participating in the Black March Boycotts.

Video

Audio / Music / Sound

Text / Books / Magazines / Literature

Please dig in, re-view some classics and enjoy our open media heritage, while it remains free and open, and feel free to post your suggestions of Black March safe media.… Read the rest

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