Today, New Media Rights joined a global coalition of access to research, science and education organizations to call on STM to withdraw their new model licenses. The new model licenses are not only largely incompatible with other open licenses systems but are also internally inconsistent. This new licensing system will also likely cause substantial confusion and do more to impede the flow of critical scientific research than it will to foster knowledge. Finally the new licenses will also create substantial legal uncertainty, which could only be resolved through costly litigation in multiple jurisdictions all around the world.
A complete list of signatories as well as the full letter can be found here.
by Kyle Reynolds and Art Neill
Hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens recently asked the FCC to protect the open Internet, but broadband providers filed comments that are the hundreds of pages equivalent of “take our word for it, everything will be fine” or “move along, nothing to see here.” In preparing our reply comments to the FCC’s open Internet proceeding, we’ve been examining the most recent comments of the big fixed and mobile broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.
What we found could be striking or completely obvious, but is probably both at the same time. Broadband providers primarily occupy themselves with aggressive posturing and finger-pointing aimed at content providers like Netflix and backbone providers like Cogent and Level 3. The big industry players’ comments also make clear that the big broadband providers apparently do live in an alternate universe to most Americans. In this universe, the vast majority of Americans can easily switch between an ample number of broadband providers on a whim, and where any real rules to protect the open Internet as we know it are unnecessary because… well, because… just take our word for it.
Here are some of the lowlights:
"If a provider were to block or degrade Internet applications or content, the provider would incur substantial subscriber losses and reputational harm. Thus, in order to undertake such a strategy, a broadband provider would first need to conclude that any theoretical benefits of the strategy outweigh these very real costs." (pg. 6)
After discussing at length the importance of a mercurial, end-around category of “specialized services,” and why the FCC should properly leave them beyond the scope of Open Internet rules, Comcast states, “While it is unnecessary to impose additional mandates on specialized services, the Commission should clarify the definition of specialized services to provide increased certainty regarding the scope of its open Internet rules.” (pg. 30, emphasis added)
“A policy of impeding access [instituted by a broadband provider] to services customers wish to access would only push those customers to other providers. Other ISPs face the same incentives. Under these – in which users demand access to all lawful content and ISPs are committed to fulfilling customers’ needs – there is no need for a prescriptive no-blocking rule.” (pg. 26)
"Just because the Commission could prohibit such practices [such as blocking or degrading content] in some contexts, does not mean that it should do so at the present time and instead could wait to see whether any such theorized harms actually materialize." (pg. 37)
"Applying Title II to the American broadband industry would be like tying a cinder block to the ankle of an Olympic sprinter in the midst of a race and then wishing her luck." (pg. 50)
“To engage in end-to-end prioritization of Internet traffic across connecting networks, it would be necessary to have a system coordinated among edge providers, backbone providers, and ISPs to mark certain packets for priority and to handle them accordingly. No such system exists today.” (pg. 18)
The FCC has an opportunity here to spur competition and innovation, but it starts with recognizing that “take our word for it” and “move along, nothing to see here” are not the cornerstones of a framework to protect an open Internet.
Today, New Media Rights joins hundreds of thousands of consumers, creators, and businesses in filing public comments about the future of Internet. The Federal Communications Commission now has an opportunity to choose a communications future of innovation, creative exchange, and consumer choice, rather than one where powerful broadband Internet companies can alter the Internet to support entrenched business models.
Specifically we are urging the FCC to reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers subject to Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and to reconsider its recently proposed Net Neutrality rules. Preserving an Open Internet is one of the most important social, economic, and legal issues of the twenty first century. It is critical that the FCC have the authority to protect it, and then that the FCC actually uses its authority to enact and enforce rules that uphold the tenets of an Open Internet for years to come.
In our filing, we stressed several important points:
• Broadband internet access speeds and quality in the United States are lagging behind the rest of the world and broadband internet access providers have no motivation to innovate and improve access because they do not compete. The FCC must have the authority to address issues raised by these powerful, entrenched broadband internet access providers.
• American innovators, creators, and consumers need world class internet speeds and quality at affordable prices or their ability to do business and compete in the global online marketplace will be severely limited.
• Broadband internet access providers have already taken actions that violate accepted tenets of an Open Internet (Transparency, No Blocking, No Discrimination), such as Comcast’s throttling of Bittorrent data, and AT&T’s sponsored data plans for mobile broadband.
• The FCC must reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers if it is to have any hope of having the authority to pass the kind of rules necessary to protect Net Neutrality.
• Reclassification of broadband internet access providers as common carriers, and consequently reclassification of broadband internet access as a “telecommunications service” as opposed to an “information service” (which it is currently classified as), is necessary because internet access is a distinctly different service from other “information services”. Broadband internet access has been wrongly grouped together with services that like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others and have thus been able to maintain enormous market power while being subject to very little oversight.
• The FCC must reconsider its proposed rules, because do not adequately protect key tenets of Net Neutrality. The “No Commercially Unreasonable Practices” rule in particular must be revisited in order to bring it more in line with its much more effective 2010 version – “No Unreasonable Discrimination” – in order to ensure that broadband internet access providers cannot abuse their power by discriminating between those who are willing or able to pay for faster access to end users and those who are not.
Again, New Media Rights urges the FCC to take advantage of this important opportunity to ensure that America’s internet ecosystem will remain free to create, innovate, and thrive long into the future, rather than captured by business practices of entrenched broadband internet access providers.
Photo Courtsey of Jemimus Attribution 2.0 Generic
With books like Fifty Shades of Grey flying off the shelves, the question of the commercialization of fan fiction is once again at the forefront. While fan fic authors have been steadfastly devoted to their art since before the Internet, emerging technologies have brought about new scrutiny to what this community really means for traditional media giants and who, if anyone, should be able to profit from fan fiction.
About a year ago, Jeff Bezos decided to set aside some digital real estate just for the fan fic community. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds is an e-book publishing platform for fan fiction, and works like this: Amazon partners with copyright owners, like Alloy Entertainment, who license to Amazon its fan fiction publication rights. These licensors are known as “World Licensors,” and by licensing their “World,” fans can create and profit off of their fan fiction through a royalty system.
Among the first “Worlds” that made up this new universe were CW’s Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars. Kindle Worlds has since added G.I. Joe, Veronica Mars, and seventeen other Worlds. The question is, why would readers buy works from Amazon when there is an endless supply of free fan fic from other Internet sites? Fanfiction.net, for one, is the world’s largest fan fiction archive and forum where writers and readers come together to do just this. The recently launched Archive of Our Own (created by the Organization for Transformative Works) is another space online where fans have come together to share their fan faction and other original fan works in a non-commercial space.
The difference of utilizing the Kindle Worlds platform has been boiled down to three main points: (1) monetization for authors (each e-book costs between $0.99 to $3.99, but this is set by Amazon); (2) does not require constant Internet connectivity; and (3) a minimal level of quality that Amazon ensures by having final say on what will be made available. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 7(c).
On that note, we’re going to get real with the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement. Here’s what we found to be important to keep in mind if you are, or are considering to become, a Kindle Worlds author.
The Benefits and Disadvantages of Using Kindle Worlds
Exposure to Amazon’s User base. As a fan fic writer on Kindle Worlds, you get exposure to Amazon’s vast audience and user base. That said, you cannot market and promote yourself as being affiliated with Amazon or the original licensor. Also, make sure you’re only including up to 20% of your creative work (for free) on your website or blog to promote yourself as an author on Kindle Worlds. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 10. If you don’t abide by these rules, do not be surprised when Amazon ceases publication of your work (or removes it altogether).
Opportunity to earn money. By submitting a creative work to a World(s) of your choice, Amazon will pay royalties to you for all copies sold. The standard digital royalty rates are broken down between works of over 10,000 words (35% of net revenue) and short works of between 5,000 – 10,000 words (20% of net revenue). Net revenue is based off the gross amount Amazon actually receives from the sale, less returns, half of Delivery, and other factors. See Section 5(a) for the full definition. Also, if you have a problem regarding the royalty payments, make sure to speak up within six months after the date the statement is made available; otherwise, you may not be able to resolve past royalty mistakes. See Section 5(e).
Quality control. As a Kindle Worlds author, you will be held to Amazon’s quality control regulations. This means making sure there are no typos, and ensuring correct alignment, formatting, and linking across Amazon’s many products and services, i.e. Kindle devices, Amazon.com, iOS, Android, and reading apps. It’s easy to submit your stories online, and you have access to Amazon’s free programs and services to design covers or enhance your work’s quality. Keep in mind that each of your submissions will be additionally subject to that particular World’s guidelines. See Section 7(a).
Amazon usurps all your creative rights. By submitting a story to Kindle Worlds, you grant Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to your work for the term of the copyright. This includes global publication rights on any new elements you’ve created. Amazon can then use your ideas to make more money, i.e. licensing your work to others for a fee, and does not need to compensate or even notify you of this Further, Amazon has reserved the right to create movies, TV shows, games, merchandise, and other works based on your Kindle Worlds submissions. If such a future deal is struck, you’ll simply continue to get royalties from sales of your fan fiction but not these other deals. See Sections 4(a) & (b). Keep in mind that because this right is exclusive, you will not be able to create anything associated with your work other than more written fan fiction; this includes any related merchandise, outside fan art, and even YouTube spin-offs!
No crossovers allowed. Although you may have written an epic Veronica Mars/Gossip Girl crossover, you won’t be able to publish it on Kindle Worlds for now. Amazon is currently trying to get content owners on board with the idea of mixing and matching across Worlds, however, so stay tuned.
Amazon can use your name and “likeness.” Depending on who you are, this may be either a benefit or a disadvantage. In any case, it is worth noting that by using Kindle Worlds, Amazon may now use your name, information, and “likeness” worldwide for any purpose in connection with your work and participation in their platform. For example, say Amazon wants to promote its fan fic platform and your work is particularly popular and representative of its success. Under this provision, it can now blast out your name and photo in its newsletter or post a video interview of you on its website.
You waive some other pretty important rights. In order for Kindle Worlds to function the way Amazon ideally envisions it, participants must waive any legal claims that pertain to their rights being infringed from any use of their work. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 6. Translation: don’t complain how Amazon, copyright owners, or other fan fic authors use and contribute to your work because you have essentially contracted away the right to fight back against any reuse of your work that you don’t like.
Key Points to Consider Before Entering this Alternate World
As an author of Kindle Worlds, you are promising that you are the sole owner of all rights to your work and that none of it violates any law or regulation. See Section 12(a)(1)-(3). By extension, if a third party brought a claim against you, saying that you did not have all the rights required to make your work (because so much of it has been “borrowed” from people other than the original content creator ), this will all be on you. Moreover, Amazon may hold all royalties due to you until such issues are resolved, and if necessary, require you to return any applicable payments. See Section 5(f)(2).
If Kindle World’s limitations and regulations don’t stifle creativity by their mere breadth, they can be seen as a careful, first step toward clarifying the role of commercial fan fic in society. But like many first steps, Kindle World’s isn’t without its stumbling points, points which can hopefully serve as lessons for future creators and entrepreneurs in this space.
Irene is a second year law student and is based in San Diego, California. She received her BA in Media Studies at Scripps College and her MBA at KAIST Business School in Seoul, South Korea, with an emphasis in IT & Media Management.
Are you #Oneof1000?
New Media Rights was founded on the idea that legal services provided for the good of the public should take into account not only the financial need of a client, but the social good generated by the client’s activities. As part of that mission New Media Rights provides direct legal services that help hundreds of people every year. Earlier this summer we passed the 1000 mark, that is to say we’ve provided direct legal services in over a thousand matters since 2010! And we think a little celebration is in order!
In order to celebrate we’ve got two big things planned. 1) A campaign we’re launching to get the word out about just how many people we’ve helped and grow our supporter base, and 2) a celebration we’re inviting you to August 21st at our new headquarters.
You can go here to make a donation to support our work for our next 1000 clients.
You can get tickets to the August 21 event here.
We're celebrating both our past accomplishments as well as some of our amazing accomplishments this year including:
#Oneof1000 and Supporter campaign
Are you one of the over one thousand people we’ve directly helped? Maybe you benefited from one of our educational guides online, a workshop we gave, or one of our policy accomplishments? Maybe you cut your teeth as a law student here at NMR? If you were helped by NMR in any way, or just want to show your support for our work we’d love you to share this milestone on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your blog, Instagram, Vine etc using the hashtag #Oneof1000. Not sure what to share? Here’s a sample tweet to get you started.
I am #Oneof1000 creators, startups and internet users helped by @newmediarights free & nominal cost legal services!http://goo.gl/sVV0cz
And if you want to support NMR even more, please consider becoming an NMR supporter today! It’s donations like yours that allow us to reach amazing milestones like this.
#Oneof1000 Celebration August 21 at CyberHive in San Diego!
But we’re just not having a celebration online; we’re having an IRL party to celebrate. Join us August 21 at 6pm for a celebration of the work we’ve done and the work we’ve yet to do. More details to follow, but early planning meetings indicate a strong possibility of special guests and some seriously legit tacos (Art Neill, our Executive Director, knows someone who knows alguien)! Your #Oneof1000 posts may even make an appearance!
We’ll be offering tickets to the event for a nominal fee (to cover food and drink) through Eventbrite. More information about the event can also be found on the Facebook event page, but you'll still need to buy your ticket through Eventbrite.
New Media Rights is excited to announce that we’ll be returning to VidCon 2014, THE conference for YouTubers. VidCon will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center June 26-28. And this year you’ll have a chance for a double dose of NMR copyright YouTube goodness!
If you’re attending the industry track, catch Executive Director Art Neill on the “Copyright on YouTube?” panel at 3pm Thursday in room 213. In addition to Art, the panel will feature in house council from innovative companies like Corridor Digital and Loudr.
If you’re attending on the community track, you'll also have a chance to catch an awesome panel on copyright entitled appropriately enough “Copyright on YouTube” at 11am on Friday in room 202. Jon Bailey, the voice of Honest Movie Trailers will moderate the panel which will focus on the practicalities of copyright on YouTube.
So if you’re at VidCon, please stop by and check out these amazing panels!
New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neil will be speaking on a panel Monday June 8 regarding user-generated content and fan productions at the Copyright Society of the USA's 2014 Annual Meeting.
Here are the details
Crowd-Sourced Editorial Content and Fan Productions
The panel will explore new business models that have arisen that allow IP owners to profit from crowd- (or fan-) sourced content while more fully engaging their fans and expanding their audience of consumers. Each panelist will focus on a particular entertainment industry. Art Neill of New Media Rights will explore film and video production, including the impact of YouTube’s Partnership and Content ID/monetization programs, Gregory Boyd of Frankfurt Kurnit will focus on videogames and machinima, and Matt Bloomgarden of Alloy Entertainment will discuss publishing projects such as Amazon’s KindleWorld. The panel will also examine other online businesses that seek to leverage fan interest in generating new content in ways that offers benefits to both the IP owners and the fans. Finally, the panelists will discuss copyright and other legal issues that these new business models present as well as challenges that IP owners face from the growth of user-generated content featuring their properties without their involvement or consent.
Jay Kogan, DC Entertainment
Matthew Bloomgarden, Alloy Entertainment, A Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
S. Gregory Boyd, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC
Art Neill, New Media Rights
For more information about the Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting click here.
As of May 1, 2014, the US Copyright Office has updated its fee schedule resulting in increased fees across most of its services. The following are three of the most relevant changes:
However, not all online registration fees are going up. If you have a single work to register (like a book) that was not a work made for hire, the registration fee will remain $35! A complete list of the new fees can be found here.
On Thursday, May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a 4 month rulemaking asking for "public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet." For months, regulators, consumer advocates, and service providers have wrestled over what the next steps should be after a court decision that threw out the FCC's previous open internet rules, adopted in 2010.
The first comments are due by July 15, 2014, and reply comments are due September 10, 2014. In particular, the FCC is asking about whether pay-to-play arrangements, where certain content providers can pay for prioritized, "fast lane" access to users should be permitted.
New Media Rights took part in the net neutrality proceedings back in 2009-2010, and we will be involved in this proceeding as well. We plan to submit comments, as well as work to encourage positive recommendations through our role on the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee.
We've provided legal assistance to thousands of internet users, bloggers, video creators, remix artists, nonprofits, and innovators like you who rely on the open internet to share their creativity and innovative ideas with the world.
Now its your turn to share your ideas with the FCC. How we can promote and protect this vital resource for years to come?
There's some options for how to participate in the upcoming 4 month long proceeding. We'll share 2 services below where you can directly submit your thoughts to the FCC. Or, if you have ideas that you would like to share with New Media Rights for consideration for inclusion in our own comments, send your thoughts to email@example.com.
Here our the tools that our friends at the EFF and Free Press have built for you to submit direct comments to the FCC.
Free Press's "Stop the FCC from Breaking the Internet"
Learn about our legal services for: App Developers, Artists & Graphic Designers, Bloggers & Journalists, Clothing Designers, Entrepreneurs, E-commerce Business People & Startups, Filmmakers & YouTube creators, Game Developers, Internet users & Smartphone users, Makers, Musicians, Non-Profits, Photographers, Scholars, Researchers, and Writers and Publishers.