Tag Archives | Intellectual Property

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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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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Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Jail for Selling Six Counterfeit Discs

Picture: Flickr, quinn.anya (CC)

I guess they’re calling it Copyright Terrorism! This report shows just how friendly the recording industry is with your friendly neighborhood law enforcement.

Via RT:

A Mississippi man was sentenced to 15 years behind bars and another three under supervised release this week after pleading guilty to selling five counterfeit DVDs and one bootleg music CD to an undercover agent.

Patrick Lashun King, 37, was sentenced by Judge Lamar Pickard of Copiah County Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to six counts of selling pirated material, charges that he was lobbed with after an undercover agent attempted to purchase just a half-dozen homemade copies of music and movies the defendant wasn’t authorized to have up for sale.

When investigators searched King’s home and businesses, they eventually turned up 10,510 counterfeit discs and the computer equipment they believe he used to manufacture the bootlegs. The Clarion Ledger notes that authorities also uncovered a number of weapons, including an assault rifle, from King’s Hazlehurst, MS home, but it was only the six counts of piracy that will put him away until 2027.

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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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United Nations Intellectual Property Group Denies Pirate Party Observer Status

Picture: Pirate Party (PD)

Via Ars Technica:

The United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, a body that sets rules for trademarks, copyrights and patents as well as settles some disputes over internet domains, has denied observer status to members of the Pirate Party International. The PPI is an organization that represents chapters of the Pirate Party throughout Europe. While the Pirate Party isn’t a mainstream party, they’re hardly the lunatic fringe: Sixty countries throughout the world have active Pirate Parties, all of whom are independent but hold common cause on issues of copyright and intellectual property reform. It’s hardly in the interest of the multinational corporations that the organization serves to allow the Pirate Party to have a presence during their little shindig.

Read more at Ars Technica.

 

 

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Kopimism (The IP Pirate Religion) Takes Root In America

KopimizmAmerican online pirates now have places to worship, reports Jason Koebler for US News:

A Swedish religion whose dogma centers on the belief that people should be free to copy and distribute all information—regardless of any copyright or trademarks—has made its way to the United States.

Followers of so-called “Kopimism” believe copying, sharing, and improving on knowledge, music, and other types of information is only human—the Romans remixed Greek mythology, after all, they say. In January, Kopimism—a play on the words “copy me”—was formally recognized by a Swedish government agency, raising its profile worldwide.

“Culture is something that makes people feel much better and makes people appreciate their world in a different way. Knowledge is also something we should copy regardless of the law,” says Isak Gerson, the 20-year-old founder of Kopimism. “It makes us better when we share knowledge and culture with each other.”

More than 3,500 people “like” Kopimism on Facebook, and thousands more practice its sacred ritual of file sharing.

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Spanish Author Quits Writing, Claims More Copies Of Her Books Are Stolen Than Sold

Lucía Etxebarría. Photo: Xavier Thomas (http://photo75.online.fr)

Lucía Etxebarría. Photo: Xavier Thomas (http://photo75.online.fr)

Are things really so hopeless for writers? In Spain perhaps. Giles Tremlett reports for the Guardian (thanks to Mike for the tip):

An award-winning Spanish novelist claims that the illegal downloading of ebooks has forced her to give up writing and start looking for a new job.

“Given that I have today discovered that more illegal copies of my book have been downloaded than I have sold, I am announcing officially that I will not publish another book for a long time,” Lucía Etxebarria announced on her Facebook page.

Etxebarria told the Guardian that Spanish authors faced a difficult future as online piracy spreads from music and film to literature.

She pointed to Spain’s position at the top of the world rankings for per capita illegal downloads. “We come after China and Russia in the total number of illegal downloads but, obviously, there are a lot more of them so we win on a per capita measure,” she said.

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How The Family Circus Confronted the Web

Dysfunctional Family CircusTuesday cartoonist Bil Keane died at the age of 89 — and one webmaster fondly remembers how Keane gracefully confronted unauthorized parodies on the internet.

Keane was a good sport about fake Amazon reviews that gushed about supposedly hidden literary themes in collections of his newspaper comic strips, and he once even drew his own characters into a “guest appearance” in a Zippy the Pinhead strip. But in 1999, Keane’s syndicate threatened legal action against the “Dysfunctional Family Circus” site, which had been re-captioning Keane’s cartoons for over four years.

Heading off a “free speech” showdown, Keane resolved the situation with a friendly phone call to the webmaster, who ultimately decided to voluntarily remove the images just because “He’s actually a nice guy.”

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Who Is The Protect IP Act Really Protecting?

The Preventing Real Online Threats of Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PROTECT IP Act, is supposedly targeted at so-called ”rogue websites” that trade in infringing goods. Abigail Phillips gives some much-needed context to the controversial legislation for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Last year’s rogue website legislation is back on the table, with a new name: the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011″—or (wink, wink) “PROTECT IP”. The draft language is available here.

Screen shot 2011-05-12 at 6.44.57 PM

The earlier bill, which failed to pass thanks largely to a hold on the legislation placed by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, would have given the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers targeted at websites “dedicated to infringing activities,” even where those websites were not based in the United States. Despite some salient differences (described below) in the new version, we are no less dismayed by this most recent incarnation than we were with last year’s draft.

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Low-Budget Movie Companies Using BitTorrent Lawsuits As Business Strategy

Nude Nuns With Big GunsDavid Kravets writes in Wired:

On March 7, Camelot Distribution Group, an obscure film company in Los Angeles, unveiled its latest and potentially most profitable release: a federal lawsuit against BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded the company’s 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns between January and March of this year. The single lawsuit targets 5,865 downloaders, making it theoretically worth as much as $879,750,000 — more money than the U.S. box-office gross for Avatar.

At the moment, the targets of the litigation are unknown, even to Camelot. The mass lawsuit lists the internet IP addresses of the downloaders (.pdf), and asks a federal judge to order ISPs around the country to dig into their records for each customer’s name.

It’s the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant getting a personalized letter in the mail from Camelot’s attorneys suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit as having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

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