NMR to speak on fair use & copyright law at the Alliance for Community Media Western Region Conference, October 23 in Ventura, CA

New Media Rights Staff Attorney Teri Karobonik will be speaking on a panel at the Alliance for Community Media Western Region Conference on October 23, 2014 in Ventura, CA

The topic of the panel will be "Intellectual Property, Copyrights, and Fair Use in Media"

Technology has made it increasingly challenging to navigate the world of intellectual property, particularly in media and arts. This panel will address common questions journalists and creators face such as:

  •  What kind of rights do you need to secure?
  • What is Fair Use and can anyone explain whether it applies? 
  • How do you navigate the legal issues inside of platforms like YouTube? 
  • Where can rights be obtain if needed?
  • What are a producer’s liabilities?
  • Can local bands play cover tunes?
  • Can you fight a take-down notice?
  • How much trouble can our organization be in? 

The panel will be an opportunity to give positive support to journalists and artists, showing them the ways the law can actually empower their creativity, how to avoid legal disputes in the first place, and how to move forward if you do face legal threats.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

September Newsletter: Standing up for the Open Internet at the FCC!

New Media Rights

We want to thank all of our supporters who made our #Oneof1000 celebration a success this summer.  It was nice to celebrate all we’ve accomplished as a community in person and online, and we hope to enjoy your company for some delicious tacos again soon!

Despite taking a moment to celebrate with clients and supporters like the San Diego based nonprofit Green Neuroscience Lab (pictured above left with their newest scientist!), our team has been standing up for the Open Internet at the FCC; writing to the President about the importance of copyright reform and an Open Internet to 21st Century innovation; appearing on This Week in Law; releasing new educational guides (here, here, and here); delivering educational workshops, and answering your legal questions.  Here’s are the highlights of what we’ve been up to!
 
Standing up for net neutrality and protecting the Open Internet
To protect the Open Internet, it will take both activism and sound legal arguments. New Media Rights has been actively involved in the fight for Net Neutrality at the FCC. There we’ve been making the kind of detailed legal arguments needed to explain the importance to independent creators, tech startups, and consumers of protecting the Open Internet by reclassifying internet access under title II. In our latest reply comment in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding we focused on a series of claims by broadband providers that are simply not supported in the record, and amount to a dangerous “take our word for it" approach. As with our initial comments, our goal was to ensure meaningful, defensible protections for the Open Internet under Title II of the Communications Act. You can check out our full comments here. For a lighter take on why the broadband providers “take our word for it" approach” is especially dangerous you can also check out our initial blog post here.

New Guides
We’re proud to announce three new legal guides. Special thanks to our amazing legal interns, who help us create these. Thanks also go out to all of you; our guides are inspired by the legal questions you ask us, so we couldn’t produce these guides without you!
  • Our new guide to 3D Printing and the Law is a guide for makers to explain some of the basic legal issues surrounding 3D printing. The guide answers key legal questions like, does the creator of a 3D-printiable file always own the file? Special thanks to former NMR Intern Christine Brekke for her work on this guide!
  • Our new guide, Disastrous Disclaimers in the Digital Era,  is a guide for blogers, vlogers and online journalists on how to use disclaimers when writing about products or services they may have received for free. Special thanks to former NMR Intern Amy Vaughan for her work on this guide.
  • Our final new guide,  Intellectual Property & Fiscal Sponsorship Agreements for Scientific, Research, and Archival Projects, is designed to help smaller projects understand intellectual property and other important considerations when entering a fiscal sponsorship relationship with a larger nonprofit. Special thanks to NMR Intern Marko Radisavljevic for his work on this guide.
Spring Internet and Media Law Clinic
Are you a student at California Western School of Law passionate about helping artists, entrepreneurs and internet users with legal issues brought about by the digital age? This spring we will once again be offering an opportunity to be a part of our clinic class, check out our intern page for more details on how to apply. Applications open October 1st and close October 31st.

Upcoming Events

It’s  Gonna Blow Premier
Thursday October 9th from 7pm-10pm
Our client, San Diego based filmmaker Bill Perrine, is screening his new film, It's Gonna Blow: San Diego's Music Underground 1986-1996 here in San Diego! New Media Rights actualy provided legal services for the film so we’re especially excited about the premier. We'll be at the screening and we hope to see you there! You can buy your tickets here.

San Diego Small Business Advisory Board Annual Community Outreach Meeting
Friday, October 17, 2014.
Come visit New Media Rights and other organizations that assist small businesses at the SBAB Annual Community Outreach Meeting! Please RSVP to Small Business Ambassador Lisa Gordon Hosch at lgordon@sandiego.gov.
 
How can you support independent creators and artists?

Please remember New Media Rights is an independently funded nonprofit program.  The reason a real attorney is able to review and respond to your request for legal services, is because of the support of individuals like you.  Become an NMR Supporter and ensure this service exists for years to come!  In addition, if you know any organizational or foundational

We accomplish a great deal on a modest budget, so any donation makes a huge impact for us. You can make a donation to support legal services and advocacy for internet users and creators by clicking here.  

Please also make sure to connect with New Media Rights on
 Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
 
Thanks again for being part of the New Media Rights community. Keep an eye out as our future battles and work on behalf of internet users and independent creators continues.

All the best,

Art Neill, Teri Karobonik, and the New Media Rights team

 

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Letter to the President's Office of Science of Technology: Net Neutrality and Copyright reform are key to 21st Century innovation

New Media Rights sent this letter to the President of the United States' Office of Science and Technology Policy in response to the White House's recent call for comments regarding updating the Strategy for American Innovation. We focus our comment on the importance of 1) protecting an open Internet through reclassification of broadband under Title II, and 2) copyright law reform for the 21st Century.

 

Dan Correa

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1650 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

Washington, DC 20504.

 

Dear Mr. Correa,

I am writing in response to the July 29, 2014 request for comment from  The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council regarding updating the Strategy for American Innovation.  Your call for responses indicated that the Strategy for American Innovation ”helps to guide the Administration's efforts to promote lasting economic growth and competitiveness through policies that support transformative American innovation in products, processes, and services and spur new fundamental discoveries that in the long run lead to growing economic prosperity and rising living standards.”

I submit these comments as Executive Director of New Media Rights.  New Media Rights is an independently funded, non-profit program of California Western School of Law (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) whose core service is providing one-to-one legal services to creators, innovators, and Internet users whose projects require specialized Intellectual Property, Internet, and media law expertise.  New Media Rights is known for our work providing preventative and transactional services on hundreds of cutting edge matters every year.  New Media Rights has created a system and process to efficiently handle a large number legal service inquiries, producing value for clients by quickly identifying their legal issues and finding a path to services. In addition to direct, one-to-one legal services, New Media Rights innovates by taking what we learn from individuals and turning it into hundreds of freely available videos and written legal education guides for creators and innovators.  This helps individual creators and innovators empower themselves.  New Media Rights also takes what we’re learning from clients and uses it bring underrepresented perspectives in regulatory proceedings at the Copyright Office, USPTO, FCC, and California Public Utilities Commission, including DMCA Anti-circumvention proceedings, Copyright Reform, and the Copyright small claims court proceedings.

New Media Rights is responding to this innovation inquiry, most specifically to your question 21 regarding Intellectual Property and Antitrust. (21)

(21) What new challenges and opportunities for intellectual property and competition policy are posed by the increasing diversity of models of innovation (including, e.g., through the growing use of open innovation, combinatorial innovation, user innovation, internet-enabled innovation, and big data-driven innovation)?

 

While there are obviously many tensions and interactions between innovation and existing intellectual property and competition policy, we wanted to share recent comments we’ve made at the Federal Communications Commission and the USPTO / Department of Commerce. These comments address two important aspects of competition and intellectual property policy, protecting and preserving an open Internet, and reforming copyright law for the Twenty-First Century.  We are attaching three comments in their entirety which address these issues, which I will summarize briefly below.

Comments and Reply Comments of New Media Rights in the FCC’s Protecting and Preserving the Open Internet proceeding.

In July and September, New Media Rights joined millions consumers, creators, and businesses in filing public comments about the future of Internet.  We argued that the Federal Communications Commission and the Administration now have 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.

New Media Rights’ USPTO / Department of Commerce Green Paper Comments on Copyright Reform

On July 31, 2013 The United States Department of Commerce, United States Patent and Trademark Office and National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.  On September 30, 2013 they released a request for comments on that paper. All three offices were particularly interested in how copyright law could be reformed to better promote the growing digital economy.  The request for comments was incredibly broad and ranged from questions about the first sale doctrine as it relates to digital goods to the role of fair use in remix culture.

In our November 13, 2013 comment New Media Rights sought to address three of the most critical issues that affect the remixers, entrepreneurs, creators and internet users we work with every day. First, our comments addressed five key copyright law problems that need to be solved to help remix creators spend their time creating rather than fighting legal disputes including the current failure of 17 USC §512(f) to protect creators from content bullying. Second, we discourage the widespread implementation of intermediary licensing modeled off YouTube’s Content ID system because it is not, in fact, an intermediary licensing system. We also explain the implementation of such a system could be incredibly detrimental to users’ rights largely due to the lack of an effective appeals process and various design challenges in the system. Finally, we address the Department of Commerce’s question regarding how best to go about fashioning a multi stakeholder process that would create a working set of best practices for the DMCA. We hope that our comments in these three areas will spark discussion and encourage badly needed copyright reform for the digital age.  Our full comments are below.

Above all we hope our comment will spark discussion and encourage badly needed copyright reform for the digital age.  This reform need not, and should not, take the form of any radical evisceration of copyright. At the same time, reform should not be used as an opportunity to continue unreasonable expansion of copyright law without concern for the collateral damage it causes to artistic progress, freedom of speech, and the intellectual enrichment of the public.  Rather, much like one would tend to a garden, it is time we examine our current copyright law, remove the old weeds of law that no longer serve us, and plant the seeds of new law that will help to foster  a new generation of artists and creators.

Conclusion

We hope the attached comments are informative regarding the impact protecting the open internet, as well as reforming copyright law has upon independent creators, early-stage innovators, and consumers.  As you update the Strategy for American Innovation, please realize that these groups, often under-represented in policy debates, are the fuel for the kind transformative innovation you seek to promote.  If you have any other questions about our work, or would like any more insights from our work with over 1000 creators and innovators, please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience.  Thank you for your time and consideration of these comments.

Sincerely,

Art Neill, Esq.

Founder / Executive Director

New Media Rights

1855 1st Ave., Suite B

San Diego, CA 92101

619-591-8870

art@newmediarights.org

 

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Our reply to large cable and wireless companies in FCC's Open Internet proceeding; we won't just take your word for it

Today we filed our reply comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding.  We focused on a series of claims by broadband providers that are simply not supported in the record, and amount to a "take our word for it" approach.  As with our initial comments, our goal is meaningful, defensible protections for the Open Internet under Title II of the Communications Act.

1) Large broadband provider claims that competition alone will protect the Open Internet lack any reliable data to back up this claim.  In fact, some key data providers rely on expressly says it is 

2) Large broadband providers' claim that Section 706 is ample authority, and Title II is unnecessary.  They make this argument because they know that 706 is so weak that they will be able to challenge and likely win against any kind of meaningful enforcement of Open Internet policy by the FCC.

3) Large broadband provider claims that Internet access is the same as the information services and content that pass through the network are technologically inaccurate.  Now is the time for FCC to correct this definitional error and stop allowing broadband providers to circumvent the plain language meaning of what is considered an information service.

4) FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said there is "only one Internet."  Large broadband provider claims that mobile broadband and fixed broadband should have significantly different rules goes against the idea of one Internet, and network management exceptions handle any variations in the two technologies.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Tags: 

New Media Rights joins the Internet Slowdown: a protest to protect the Open Internet

This week we'll be submitting detailed reply comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding, providing detailed legal, economic, and cultural reasons, from the standpoint of internet users independent creators why the Open Internet must be preserved.

Those legal arguments are about to be filed, but today New Media Rights joins the Internet slowdown, a large coalition of organizations and individuals that want to protect and preserve the Open Internet. If you don't want your favorite websites to look like the loading icon below, join the #InternetSlowdown.

 

 

 

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Help us reach our next 1000 clients!

New Media Rights


We've provided free and nominal fee legal services in over 1000 matters since 2008! These 1000 matters include creative projects, free speech, nonprofit services, and job-creating business ideas that may die on the vine, or be the victim of improper censorship without these services. But we can't do it without your help!  We're asking for your donation now to ensure our services will be available to the next 1000 clients who need it.

Your donation will help ensure we have the resources to reach a wide variety of clients to provide critical legal services. Clients much like Anita Sarkeesian. Here is her story of how we helped her fight improper takedowns of her pop culture critiques.  



To help us reach our next 1000 clients, please click here to donate. Then, if you're in San Diego August 21, come celebrate with us!

We'll be featuring more stories from a variety of creators, entrepreneurs, and even law students who support our work in the coming weeks over social media.

In addition to our one-to-one work, we've produced 150 educational videos that have received over 290,000 views! We've helped create public policies that improve our ability to access and remix the world around us, and to have control of what information and services we can access through new technologies like smartphones.  
 
We've been able to support this work with grants from the California Consumer Protection Foundation and the City of San Diego, but we're still independently funded, so we need your support today to help ensure our services will be available for years to come.

This summer, we're asking you to show your support for New Media Rights with a donation.
 
If you donate at least $250, your name will go on our Sustaining Donors Wall!

When you donate, you're making sure that the next generation of creators and innovators have access to quality, affordable legal services.

Make your donation by clicking here!

New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration
Our #Oneof1000 celebration features unlimited tacos, video and photo booths, 3-d printers, and a chance to meet a fantastic array of creators, entrepreneurs, and attorneys.  

Get your tickets now!

What else we've been up to in recent weeks: Protecting an Open Internet, fair use, and copyright reform

The creators and disruptive startups we work with rely on an open Internet, and we're fighting to protect the open Internet as an engine for creativity and innovation. Just in the last few weeks, we've filed comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding urging the FCC to use its TItle II authority to protect the basic tenets of an Open Internet.  We also wrote an article summarizing a few of the most outlandish claims by broadband providers in that proceeding that appeared on Techdirt.

In addition to our work protecting an open Internet, we recently filed an Amicus Brief in Capitol Records v Vimeo with allies to protect fair use.  We also participated in USPTO / Department of Commerce roundtables in L.A, where we argued for reforms to copyright law to protect remix creators and consumers.
 
Politifest, San Diego
Politifest is a family-friendly festival featuring community booths, activities, music and food. This year the goal is to set aside some of the politics that divide us and celebrate the many diverse neighborhoods that connect San Diego residents to one another. Come check out our booth and meet some of the NMR community. The event will be held Saturday August 3ed from 10AM to 2PM at Liberty Station in San Diego.

Useful guides - The NMR website has all kinds of guides and videos to help artists and creators, here's a few that can help you while you're out there creating.

New Guide explains your rights as a fan fiction writer in Kindle Worlds!

Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

How can you support independent creators and artists?

Please remember New Media Rights is an independently funded nonprofit program and relies on the support of individuals like you to provide free and low cost legal services to internet users and creators.

We accomplish a great deal on a modest budget, so any donation makes a huge impact for us.You can make a donation to support legal services and advocacy for internet users and creators by clicking here. Please also make sure to connect with New Media Rights on
 Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
 
Thanks again for being part of the New Media Rights community. Keep an eye out as our future battles and work on behalf of internet users and independent creators continues.

All the best,

Art Neill, Teri Karobonik, and the New Media Rights team
 

 

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

New Media Rights joins global coalition of access to research, science and education organizations to call on STM to withdraw new model licenses.

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.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Content Types: 

Tags: 

Broadband industry to American public: “Who needs open Internet rules when you can just take our word for it?”

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:

Comcast:

"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)

  • Ok, a couple points here. First, the basic assumption that this argument relies on is that subscribers actually have another provider to switch to, which many people who live in Comcast territory know is simply fantasy. That said, the point about reputational harms also seems to ignore the fact that broadband providers are already considered the worst companies in America. Subscriber bases and profits are maintained due to these companies entrenched, excessive market power, not customer service. But then, I suppose you can’t blame Comcast for trying: They were neck and neck with Monsanto this year (http://consumerist.com/2014/04/08/congratulations-to-comcast-your-2014-worst-company-in-america/).

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)

  • Comcast’s argument here can best be summed up as follows: “Specialized services are perhaps the greatest thing we have ever thought of, and the FCC has wisely chosen to not regulate them. By the way, what are specialized services anyway?” If you’re confused, you’re not alone.

Who’s next?

Verizon:

“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)

  • Verizon asks that we set aside any silly preconceived notions we may have about the lack of alternative providers (discussed above) and how poorly broadband providers have been known to respond to their subscribers (Matt Stone and Trey Parker may have summed it up best already: http://southpark.cc.com/clips/qblqju/the-cable-company-runaround), and then essentially says that we hardly need rules in place when we can just take their word for it.

"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)

  • Translation: Just because the Commission could stop us from experimenting in ways that break the open Internet to extract more money from both content providers and our subscribers does not mean they should do that. Instead, why don’t we wait to even think about doing anything until we’ve locked in business practices that ensure the open Internet as we know it disappears?

"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)

  • You should first know that Verizon spent a fair amount of time making accusations that proponents of Open Internet regulations are “sensationalistic”, “superficial”, and spouting “politically motivated fantasy.” Sadly, the only “fantasy” here is that Verizon likens the American broadband industry to an Olympic sprinter. It is more akin to Godzilla: more prone to simply crush the competition than to race against them.

AT&T:

“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)

  • AT&T may be right that no such system of coordination between edge providers, backbone providers, and ISPs exists today, but that overlooks the reality that broadband providers have already found a better way to achieve this goal while also cutting out backbone providers: Directly connecting to edge providers, like Comcast has done with Netflix. Not only that, but cutting out the middle man (backbone providers) has an added benefit for last-mile providers (like Comcast and AT&T) in that it cuts off revenue sources for backbone providers (as edge providers rely on their data transport services less often), weakening them and making them more susceptible to increasing demands from the last-mile broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others.

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.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Tags: 

NMR files comments urging the FCC to protect the 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.

Read the entire comment here

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

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

Benefits:
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).

Disadvantages:
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.

Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them.

Topics: 

Content Types: 

Pages