News of the Week

News of the Week Top 5; May 6, 2015

1. “Homophobe” brings Ireland’s first “right to be forgotten” court case

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2. Homophobic game gets pulled from Steam Greenlight, developer issues statement

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3. Secret Shuts Down

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4. Apple pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch: Aggressive tactics from the music giant have garnered scrutiny from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission

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5. FBI Spent Years ‘Researching’ The Lyrics To ‘Louie, Louie’ Before Realizing The Copyright Office Must Have Them

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News of the Week Top 5; April 29, 2015

1. Carmakers Want To Use Copyright Law To Make Working On Your Car Illegal

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2. DVD Makers Say That You Don’t Really Own The DVDs You Bought… Thanks To Copyright

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3. Competition Killer: Why the Copyright Term Extension For Sound Recordings Will Limit Consumer Choice and Increase Costs (Michael Geist)

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4. Woman behind Pakistan’s first hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, shot dead by unknown gunmen

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5. Streaming Overtakes Live TV Among Consumer Viewing Preferences: Study

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News of the Week Top 5; April 22, 2015

1. Op-ed: What if MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” had been on Facebook?: Under current Alabama law, it would have been a crime. Other states feel similar.

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2. Copyright For Sale: How the Sony Documents Illustrate the Link Between the MPAA and Political Donations (Michael Geist)

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As Sony Continues Threatening Reporters, NY Times Reporter Wins Pulitzer For Reporting On Sony’s Emails

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3. A Robot That Bought Drugs Online Is Now Free From Police Custody

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4. Bell faces $750M lawsuit over advertising program: Bell Canada is facing a $750 million class action lawsuit over a program that tracked its users’ internet usage to sell advertising

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5. Race to the Bottom: Why Government Tax Credits For Film and TV Production Don’t Pay (Michael Geist)

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News of the Week Top 5; April 15, 2015

1. Photos secretly taken of family through window are art, not invasion of privacy: court

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2. Court Adds Much-Needed Element Of Malice To Nova Scotia’s Terrible Cyberbullying Law

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3. EFF Successfully Challenges Key Claims in “Podcasting Patent”

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4. Russia’s Internet censor reminds citizens that some memes are illegal

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5. Apple and the Self-Surveillance State (Paul Krugman)

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News of the Week Top 5; April 8, 2015

1. The cost of silence: mass surveillance & self-censorship

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2.  DDoS attacks that crippled GitHub linked to Great Firewall of China: Whitehat hacker’s traceroute wizzardry pinpoints origin of denial-of-service code.

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3. The Internet of Kafkaesque Things (Jay Stanley)

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4. How the DMCA’s Online Copyright Safe Harbor Failed (Eric Goldman)

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5. Taking Down Bigots With Their Own Weapons Is Sweet, Satisfying — And Very, Very Wrong: Actually, it’s about ethics in doxxing.

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News of the Week Top 5; April 1, 2015

1. China Uses Unencrypted Websites to Hijack Browsers in GitHub Attack

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2. Ellen Pao’s Statement On Losing The Kleiner Perkins Case: “The Battle Was Worth It”

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3. How C-51 undermines privacy (Lisa M. Austin, Benjamin J. Goold, Avner Levin and Andrea Slane)

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4. Facebook tracks logged-out users in ‘violation’ of EU law, study says

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5. Bell censorship: the status quo can’t endure

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News of the Week Top 5; April 25, 2015

1. Bell’s Crull Banned CRTC Chair Blais From CTV News Coverage Following TalkTV Decision

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2. The new authoritarianism (Sergi Guriev & Daniel Treisman)

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3. Russia Will Deploy “Digital Fingerprinting” to Enforce Copyright Online

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4. Canadian Bar Association condemns Harper’s anti-terror bill: The group representing law professionals argues the bill’s “vague and overly broad language” could chill expressions of dissent.

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5. Plagiarize This: A reasonable Solution to Musical Copyright After “Blurred Lines”

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News of the Week Top 5; March 18, 2015

1. It’s time for the FBI to prosecute Gamergate trolls (Brianna Wu)

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2. Twitter puts trillions of tweets up for sale to data miners: Company plans to make content generated by users available to commerce, academia and even police involved in crowd control

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3. We can’t accept Internet surveillance as the new normal

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4. No copyright and trade-mark rights in most metatags

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5. ‘Blurred Lines’ Verdict: How It Started, Why It Backfired on Robin Thicke and Why Songwriters Should Be Nervous

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News of the Week Top 5; March 11, 2015

1. Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to pay $7.4m to Marvin Gaye’s family over Blurred Lines: Jury decides Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke copied 1977 hit Got to Give It Up in lawsuit filed by Gaye’s children

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2. Raising the Broadcast White Flag: What Lies Behind Bell’s Radical Plan to Raise TV Fees, Block Content, Violate Net Neutrality & Fight Netflix (Michael Geist)

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3. Free to Be You and Me? Copyright and Constraint (Rebecca Tushnet)

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4. Federal Court finds meta tags do not infringe trademarks or copyright

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5. Spanish Court Limits Scope Of EU’s Right To Be Forgotten

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News of the Week Top 5; March 4, 2015

1. Bring on the lawsuits—FCC chairman says net neutrality will survive: Tom Wheeler confident his net neutrality order will withstand court challenge.

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2. Don’t Go Changing: The Canadian Broadcaster Fight Against Legal and Regulatory Reform (Michael Geist)

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3. Storytelling In The Digital Media Age

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4. Why Hollywood Refuses to Embrace Diversity — Even Though It Makes More Money

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5. ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ – the mantra of the Instagram era: How sharing our every moment on social media became the new living

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News of the Week Top 5; February 25, 2015

1. You Had One Job, Lenovo: And it didn’t involve sneaking malicious adware onto your customers’ computers.

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2. UK’s House of Lords Calls For Reclassification Of Internet Access As A ‘Public Utility’

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3. Google: Proposed government-sanctioned hacking is a threat to us all – “The implications of this expansion of warrant power are significant.”

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4. Something Is Going Right: Net Neutrality and the FCC (Lawrence Lessig)

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5. Study shows patent licenses don’t lead to tech transfer

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Power Rangers & Fair Use

Some of you may have seen the “grimdark” Power Rangers fan film that has been circulating around the internet lately. It was produced by Adi Shankar, who has produced similar fan films involving copyrighted characters like Venom or The Punisher in the past. The underlying legal justification for doing so is fair use, but as this article from Polygon describes, the fact that these are fan films made with no expectation of profit may not be sufficient for the fair use exception to apply. Such films offer an interesting test case for the current scope of fair use in the USA, and hypothetically in Canada as well. A pullquote for you:

So the question is whether the Power Rangers short is providing any commentary or parody. The interesting wrinkle is that people online can’t seem to decide whether the director was poking fun at hyper-dark takes on kiddie subject matter, or being serious. Is this a story in the world of the Power Rangers, or is it making fun of the idea of an ultra-dark Power Rangers story?

“That is as much in the gray area as I could give as an example. One could view this as commentary, taking a broad view of this, you’re taking a kid’s cartoon and making it a much darker short, and you could say well, that’s commentary on the copyrighted work and the characters,” Newberg explained.

“The copyright owner could make a really decent argument as well that no, what you’re really doing is creating a new story with our copyrighted characters, and we are the ones who have the sole right to make derivative works.” While judges may decide issues of fair use if it’s clear cut, this is not one of those cases. It would likely go ahead to a jury.

“This is a law school exam-type question,” Newberg said.

Interesting, then, that the director of the short did not seem to speak to a lawyer before speaking to the press:

“What I really want to accomplish when you watch, is you should really take it seriously. There’s nothing playful except for maybe the Hip-Hop-Kido thing. Maybe a few little like motivational character [things], interactions and stuff. Overall, it’s a very serious thing,” Kahn said in an interview with HitFix.

Or perhaps they did, and this is just another example of the widening chasms between the law, technology and social norms in the digital space:

“The joke isn’t that you’re laughing at each particular scene; the joke is that we did this ‘fuck you’ thing in the first place. You’re going to look at it and you go wow I can’t believe they fucking did that.”

News of the Week Top 5; February 18, 2015

1. Why the Copyright Board of Canada Needs a Leafs-Style Tear-Down

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2. The Canadian Privacy Cases of 2014

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3. How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last: “Equation Group” ran the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered.

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4. Russia Reaches The Censorship Endgame: Banning VPNs, Tor And Web Proxies

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5. Facebook still suspending Native Americans over ‘real name’ policy: Unlike Katy Perry’s Left Shark, many have to provide multiple forms of ID to prove they are who they say they are in latest row over controversial policy

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News of the Week Top 5; February 11, 2015

1. An Open Letter to Prime Minister Cameron: 20th-century solutions won’t help 21st-century surveillance (Jonathan Zittrain)

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2. US’s ‘Naughty List’ Of Countries Whose Intellectual Property Rules We Don’t Like Is A Joke That’s No Longer Funny

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3. Left Shark Bites Back: 3D Printer Sculptor Hires Lawyer To Respond To Katy Perry’s Bogus Takedown

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4. Coding Creativity: Copyright and the Artificially Intelligent Author (Annemarie Bridy)

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5. Labels, not Spotify, are (hurting) artists and breaking the music industry. Here’s how to fix it.

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News of the Week Top 5; February 4, 2015

1. Why Does Facebook Censor Gay Images?: Photographer Michael Stokes, among others, says his work is regularly censored by Facebook even when the images clearly don’t break the rules. Who makes these decisions?

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2. When Musicians Unintentionally Steal: Sam Smith’s hit single sounds an awful lot like a Tom Petty song, but that doesn’t make him some kind of artistic hack.

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3. Gag order prevented Google from disclosing WikiLeaks probe for 3 years: Search giant says its policy always contests secrecy orders tacked to data requests.

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4. “No Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes”: CRTC Rules Bell’s Mobile TV Service Violates Telecommunications Act (Michael Geist)

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5. The NFL wants you to think these things are illegal: Yes, you can record Sunday’s game. And you can talk about it.

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Copyright term extensions might be coming to Canada

This jumps off our discussions from last week. According to this post by Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the foremost Canadian experts in this area, it looks as though Canada may be considering extending its copyright terms as part of its negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP):

“If new reports out of Japan are correct, however, Canada may have caved to U.S. pressure to extend copyright term. The U.S. extended its term to life plus 70 years in 1998 in response to demands from the Disney Corporation (Mickey was headed to the public domain) and has since pressured other countries to match. NHK reports that a deal on copyright term has been reached within the TPP with countries agreeing to a life plus 70 term. Alongside Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam (the TPP countries that adhere to the Berne standard), it appears that Canada has dropped its opposition to the change.”

Geist flags some interesting research by the EFF that suggests that on the whole, copyright term extensions cost consumers millions in extra royalties. My hunch is that these additional profits largely accrue to large multinational media conglomerates, since the author is, by definition, dead during those additional twenty years. This is, to my mind, textbook rent-seeking. What is rent-seeking, you may ask? I’m partial to the Economist’s definition: “cutting yourself a bigger slice of the cake without making the cake bigger.” Or, to mangle the metaphor, getting cake sent to you for an additional 20 years because of work done by a dead person at least 50 years ago.

News of the Week Top 5; January 28, 2015

1. 4 Ways Copyright Law Actually Controls Your Whole Digital Life

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2. Canadian spy ops targeted global file-sharing services, drowned in Glee episodes: Canada’s version of the NSA targeted RapidShare, MegaUpload, and SendSpace.

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3. College Claims Copyright On 16th Century Michelangelo Sculpture, Blocks 3D Printing Files

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4. Zoë Keating vs YouTube: The End of an Artist’s Right to Choose Where Their Music Appears on The Internet.

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5. Can robots break the law? (Andres Guadamuz)

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News of the Week Top 5; January 21, 2015

1. Art Spiegelman Criticizes US Press for Not Publishing ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Cartoons

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2. EFF Offers A Strong Rebuke Of President Obama’s Cybersecurity Proposals

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3. TV on your phone: Dish prevails in copyright fight with broadcasters: Judge says Dish Anywhere service is not Aereo. Fox “disappointed” with ruling

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4. Artist Luc Tuymans Loses Plagiarism Case, Raises Questions

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5. Steven Soderbergh Fought To Make Re-Editing Films Illegal; Now He’s Re-Editing Famous Films: from the the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me dept

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News of the Week Top 5; January 14, 2015

1. ‘Anonymous’ Member Calls For Revenge On Terrorists For Charlie Hebdo Massacre

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2. Code Is Law: But law is increasingly determining the ethics of code. (Jonathon Penney)

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3. Stop sketching, little girl — those paintings are copyrighted!

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4. Rightscorp and BMG Exploiting Copyright Notice-and-Notice System: Citing False Legal Information in Payment Demands (Michael Geist)

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5. Copyright and Inequality (Lea Shaver)

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News of the Week Top 5; January 7, 2015

1. Novelists, poets, cartoonists respond to attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris

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2. Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom – China, Russia, or the US?: Beijing and Moscow are rightly chastised for restricting their citizens’ online access – but it’s the US that is now even more aggressive in asserting its digital sovereignty (Evgeny Morozov)

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3. The Cybersecurity Tipping Point

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4. Why cash and copyright are bad news for creativity

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5. Canadians That Access U.S. Netflix May Be in a Legal Grey Zone, But They Are Not Stealing (Michael Geist)

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