The Public Domain shouldn't cost $165 an hour.

At New Media Rights we work to make the public domain more accessible. We feature guides to help you figure out when something falls into the public domain and we have a great guide that will help you find public domain and openly licensed works to use in your own creative works. We also have several YouTube videos that help answer commonly asked questions about the public domain.


At New Media Rights we think the public domain is something to be particularly concerned with since no new works will enter the public domain until 2019. That’s why the work New Media Rights does to bring awareness to the problems surrounding the public domain is so critical. Work like this blog post explaining how expensive it is to find out if some works are in the public domain.


If you have a question about the public domain you can contact us here. And if you’d like to support our work you can donate here. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. You can also sign on to support Copyright Week’s 6 principles, including the importance of building a robust public domain, through the EFF here.

 

 

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It's Copyright Week!

 

It’s copyright week! New Media Rights is joining with EFF and a host of other organizations to show why copyright law matters, and some of the challenges the law faces in the digital age.  Stay tuned to learn why copyright should matter to you and steps you can take to support copyright reform. You can vist the official copyright week page here.

 

 Each day this week we’ll be highlighting different principles critical to having balanced and effective copyright law, including Transparency, Building and Defending a Robust Public Domain, Open Access, You Bought It You Own It, Fair Use, and Getting Copyright Right.

Here’s a quick rundown of the six principles we support all year round but will be celebrating this week.

Monday Jan 13 - Transparency: Copyright policy must be set through a participatory, democratic and transparent process. It should not be decided through back room deals or secret international agreements.


Tuesday Jan 14 - Building and Defending a Robust Public Domain: The public domain is our cultural commons and a public trust. Copyright policy should seek to promote, and not diminish, this crucial resource.


Wednesday Jan 15 - Open Access: The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime.


Thursday Jan 16 - You Bought it, You Own It: Copyright policy should foster the freedom to truly own your stuff: to tinker with it, repair it, reuse it, recycle it, read or watch or launch it on any device, lend it, and then give it away (or re-sell it) when you're done.


Friday Jan 17 - Fair Use Rights: For copyright to achieve its purpose of encouraging creativity and innovation, it must preserve and promote ample breathing space for unexpected and innovative uses.


Saturday Jan 18 - Getting Copyright Right: A free and open Internet is essential infrastructure, fostering speech, activism, new creativity and new business models for artists, authors, musicians and other creators. It must not be sacrificed in the name of copyright enforcement.

 

If you have a question about copyright law you can contact us here. And if you’d like to support our work you can donate here. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. You can also follow Copyright Week here.

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The impact of California’s new Do Not Track law on innovators

California has been busy passing a multitude of new internet laws as we’ve outlined in a few previous blog posts.  The most recent law made us pause here at NMR because it directly affects the individuals we help everyday both in understanding and writing terms of use and privacy policies for internet users, creators, and tech startups.  Privacy policies are critical tools for website creators to protect themselves from liability and try to set consumer expectations for privacy on their website.

Under A.B. 370, all commercial websites that collect personally identifiable information are now required to disclose how they respond to “Do Not Track” (DNT) signals in their privacy policy.  Before we get into the practical application of this law, it’s important to understand what DNT is and what it isn’t.

DNT is the idea that users should be able to tell websites that they would not like tracking cookies used to track their movements on any given website. While we applaud DNT in theory as a way for users to stand up for their right to privacy, in practice DNT isn’t yet an effective means of putting consumers in control of their data. In fact, although discussions have been going on since 2007, industry, NGO’s and other stakeholders have been unable to agree on a standard implementation or even a definition of DNT. This lack of a DNT standard is highlighted by California’s new law.  Even when a service wants to promise to respect DNT in their privacy policy, technological limitations may mean they only partially respect DNT or worse doesn’t respect it at all. Even services that aim to respect the privacy of their users still have to be careful that they aren’t misleading users about how they respond to DNT in their privacy policies.

Admittedly, the law tried to address this lack of standardization, it just did so poorly. 370(7) allow website operators to define DNT for themselves by providing a conspicuous link to a description of the DNT standard that the website follows.  This essentially dumps the ongoing debate about the DNT standard into the laps of web service operators.  It leaves it up to services to find, understand and adopt another group’s standard. In theory, this could lead to the widespread adoption of a DNT standard by a popular choice.

But that process takes time, and during that time the environment for small services is uncertain.  Even if small web service operators put in the time at the beginning to make this choice, DNT options on various platforms are ever-evolving.

We’re concerned that in practice 370(7) does not work as planned.  Unless a service specifically wants to adopt a certain standard and has the capacity to ensure they keep their compliance with that standard up to date, we will likely see a lot of sites simply disclaiming DNT entirely.

In an effort to come up with DNT language that is accurate without being a PR nightmare, many sites that are good actors might want to express desire for a DNT standard, but not be able to promise to comply with the current amorphous standard of DNT.  This will lead many sites to potential language that would comply with the law, but avoid making promises they can’t keep.  Here’s an example:

Do Not Track (DNT) is a privacy preference users can set if they do not want web services to collect information about their online activity.  However, there is currently no universal standard for sending and receiving DNT signals. Due to this lack of universal standard, it would be impossible for us to promise that we comply with all known and unknown DNT standards.

Therefore, we do not in any way monitor or respond to DNT signals or other mechanisms that provide a choice regarding the collection of personally identifiable information about activities over time and across different Web sites or online services.

If a universal standard for DNT becomes available we may revisit our DNT Policy.

There’s probably at least one privacy advocate reading this thinking that disclaiming everything is not a solution. In the long term hopefully this will be true, but the current reality is a small tech startup is much better off promising nothing and delivering more rather than promising to observe DNT but not actually living up to their promises. Given the amorphous DNT standard services have to be careful not to put themselves in a situation where they might be subject to an action by California’s new privacy enforcement unit.  Services always need to explain to users clearly what information is being collected and how that information is being used.

 We look forward to seeing a clearer DNT standard, and methods of complying with these standards. We also think sites can differentiate themselves in the marketplace by providing superior privacy to their users.

Until then we support the work of organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center who are fighting for a universal DNT standard. However, we do not think it’s fair to put the weight of this complicated debate on the backs of small entrepreneurs.

There’s also an access to justice problem here.  This law assumes that all people who operate websites that collect personally identifiable information will have access to an attorney to help them write their privacy policy and help them understand this law. The reality is there are only a handful of groups like New Media Rights in the state of California who can write privacy policies for start-ups for a price they can afford, a price that is often zero dollars. Quite frankly, this is one of the areas where most attorneys in private practice are simply out of reach for the average website operator.  We’ve heard one too many of stories about websites who couldn’t afford an attorney copying and pasting another website’s privacy policy as their own. These are exactly the type of websites that will be especially vulnerable to this new law.

Overall the idea of implementing Do Not Track legislation at the state level is a bad idea. In the short term it only helps create an inconsistent standard for DNT and places an undue burden on small entrepreneurs.  There are so many problems that the State of California is facing that don’t involve the internet. We hope that in the new year the State of California will focus on those local issues.

If you’re worried that your website might not be compliant with the new DNT law feel free to contact us and we’ll see if we can help out.

Special thanks to NMR interns Elisabeth Morgan and Siamak Hefazi for their help on background research for this blog.

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New Media Rights helps shape FCC Consumer Advisory Committee recommendation on openness and transparency of consumer complaint data

Update 3/28/2014 - Senators Udall and Nelson sent a letter to the FCC requesting improved transparency of the over 400,000 consumer complaints the FCC handles every year.  The letter directly and heavily cited this CAC recommendation which New Media Rights helped shape.  You can read the letter here.

Today the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee approved an important recommendation to improve the FCC’s consumer complaint data reporting.  New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill, and Legal Intern Marko Radisavljevic were directly involved in the research, drafting, and proposal of this recommendation.

New Media Rights’ Executive Director Art Neill is a member of the CAC, and co-chair of the Broadband Working Group. New Media Rights conducted extensive background work on the FCC’s current data reporting practices, the regulations that govern the FCC’s data reporting, and reporting practices at other agencies.

Based on this research and conversations with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on their widely recognized approach to complaint reporting, New Media Rights’ staff and interns helped draft a recommendation encouraging the FCC to improve the accessibility and transparency of consumer complaint data.  Currently the FCC reports consumer complaint data on the top 5 types of complaints quarterly, in PDF form.  This recommendation specifically encourages both more depth in complaint reporting data, as well as releasing data in an interactive, machine readable format that 3rd parties can use.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is cited as a useful reference for modern complaint reporting.

New Media Rights is looking forward to continuing to be a vital part of the discussion surrounding policies that directly affect consumers and internet users at the FCC and its Consumer Advisory Committee.

Special thanks also goes to California Western School of Law 2L Marko Radisavljevic, one of New Media Rights interns from California Western School of Law who worked extensively on this recommendation.

Since New Media Rights is an independently funded program at California Western, it continues to rely on grants and individual donations to fund its work. New Media Rights is running a special holiday fundraising campaign.  To learn more about how you can support New Media Rights’ mission and to help them reach their year end goal, click here.

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New Media Rights joins Knowledge Ecology International and others in cautioning against mandatory expanded copyright terms in the TPP

This week Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators will be asked to endorse a binding obligation granting copyright protection for 70 years after the death of an author.  New Media Rights joins Knowledge Ecology International, 26 other groups, and countless individuals from all over the world to tell TPP negotiators that adopting this term would be a mistake. As stated in the letter:

There is no benefit to society of extending copyright beyond the 50 years mandated by the WTO. While some TPP countries, like the United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore or Australia, already have life + 70 (or longer) copyright terms, there is growing recognition that such terms were a mistake, and should be shortened, or modified by requiring formalities for the extended periods.

 

The primary harm from the life + 70 copyright term is the loss of access to countless books, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, films, sound recordings and other works that are “owned” but largely not commercialized, forgotten, and lost. The extended terms are also costly to consumers and performers, while benefiting persons and corporate owners that had nothing to do with the creation of the work.

NMR strongly supports comprehensive review of the economic and creative effects of excessively long copyright terms. We will continue to support evidence based copyright term reform through collations like these. We have already questioned a life + 70 term in our policy work, inluding our recent Comment responding to the Department of Commerce and the USPTO Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy , where we identified significant questions and problems that arise from a Life + 70 copyright term.  

Through shorter copyright terms, we hope to realize the purpose of copyright law, which is to encourage creativity while ensuring that creativity can actually reach the people.

The full text of the letter is attached below including all signatories to the letter as of December 6, 2013.

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KEI Letter83.49 KB

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Why have the number URL removal requests gone up so dramatically in the past year?

For picture: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved byopensourceway

Starting around June of 2012, the number of URL removal requests that were sent into Google started to go up dramatically. URL removal requests increased from about 173 thousand per week at the beginning of the year, to 1.5 Million requests per week by August 2012.  By November, Google received about 6 million requests per week to remove allegedly infringing urls from search. That’s about 34.7 times the number of request Google received in January. All of this happened during a time where Google has been actively tweaking its piracy algorithms to identify more infringing links than ever. So what gives? We’re not entirely sure.  However, it seems highly unlikely that this massive increase in takedown requests has any relationship to a corresponding increase in the actual amount of piracy on the web.  

Here at New Media Rights we’re particularly worried about the possibility of individuals using URL takedowns as a means of content bullying and censorship. There’s a question of how many of these url takedowns were in fact legitimate and non-infringing urls, but were removed from Google search results anyway without any form of due process.  To be fair, Google does disclose that they do not take down url’s if the request is blatantly bogus. But with millions of takedown requests being sent every week, we wonder how many bogus requests, that aren’t so blatant, are falling through the cracks.

Here’s where we need your help to track the problem. Have you had your entirely piracy free url been removed from Google search results? We want to hear about it! If this has happened to you please fill out our contact form and we’ll see if we can help you out.

New Media Rights is a small non-profit legal organization that runs on a shoestring budget. If you like what we’re doing and want to support us please consider donating to us here.

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Our 2013 accomplishments, and how to defend rights on the internet in 2014

We're stronger than ever thanks to support from individuals like you!

If you've already decided to give to support our work, you can level up right now by making a tax-deductible donation.

We continue to fulfill our non-profit mission to provide free and dramatically reduced fee one-to-one legal services to underserved creators and innovators that need specialized help with Internet, intellectual property, media, and technology law.

We're committed to helping individuals, nonprofits, and startups use their time to create and innovate, rather than fighting unnecessary legal battles.  We continue to stand up to internet censorship and those who abuse the system to bully independent creators and internet users.  Below is a list of accomplishments from 2013, and our plans for 2014.

 

We can't do this kind of work without your help.

Support us with a tax-deductible donation and help us start 2014 on the right foot!

We need your support to make sure hundreds of creators, innovative new media projects, and internet users like you will get the quality legal help they need to keep creating and avoid lawsuits. We are grateful for any donation in whatever amount is appropriate for you, but have 2 special levels for donors this year.

$250 - Founder (Individiual)

$500 - Founder (Organization)

$1000 Champion

You can donate now by clicking here!

In return for a donation of $250 or more, we will place your name, or your organization’s name, as well as a link to your website, on our Founders page on our website (unless you choose to give anonymously).  You'll also get a custom postcard signed by the NMR team. If you give $1000 or more, we'll also feature you prominently as a Founder & Open Internet Champion and you'll get all of the above.

Please share this page on Facebook and Twitter and let the world know you support New Media Rights!

How New Media Rights grew in 2013

  1. In November 2013, we provided services to our 860th tech & media law inquiry since June 2010. We continue to provide free or nominal fee legal services to hundreds of clients consisting of copyright, free speech, media, and internet law matters with annual budget of less than $150,000.
  2. For example, we provided legal services to a variety of preventive and transactional projects that launched to substantial accolades, including a film that might be on its way to an Oscar nod and a seriously amazing open source independent video game
  3. We continued our efforts to fight content bullying. In January, we helped remix artist Jonathan McIntosh get his amazing 'Buffy Versus Edward' remix back up after it was repeatedly taken down. In September, we helped the Media Literacy Project stand up to a bogus copyright claim from a third party. In October, we also helped the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board get their video unmuted after it was disabled for the second time through YouTube’s Content ID system.
  4. We held our first 3D printing advice night in conjunction with FAB LAB SD and provided valuable intellectual property guidance to a half dozen innovators whose work truly inspired us.

  1. We participated in hearings that helped mold legislation for a new copyright small claims court and wrote comments to try to reform copyright law for the digital age.
  2. We continued to add to our library of video legal guides, including our LAGD series for indie game developers, and our Copyright FAQ series.  We also produced a timely video this past Spring to explain the new Copyright Alert System monitoring internet subscribers' internet connections.  In jsut the last year we've had nearly 120,000 views of our 150+ video library, and we now have over 2300 subscribers! 
  3. We launched our guide to Free Speech and Censorship for Students
  4. We provided more than 10 workshops in California to independent creators and Internet users.
  5. We educated 5-6 law students each trimester [Spring, Fall, and Summer] in public interest internet law issues.

Looking Forward

While we are able to accomplish so much with a small staff of two full-time employees along with a few interns and volunteers, we have high hopes for what we are able to achieve in 2014.

  1. Helping over 400+ individuals around the world with internet-specific legal matters, especially with unjustified takedowns prompted by DMCA Takedown notices and automatic filtering like YouTube’s Content ID system.
  2. Sponsoring and organizing more than 12 workshops and community events throughout the San Diego region and throughout the United States about digital rights. Including speaking at SXSW in Austin for the first time!
  3. Working on policy initiatives to reform copyright law to ensure the Internet continues to be a thriving force of information and distribution for users and independent creators. This includes commenting on potential revisions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
  4. Launching our clinic class with California Western School of Law to better train the next generation of lawyer to understand the needs of creators and entrepreneurs.

Significant events of 2013

  • January 2013- We helped remix artist Jonathan McIntosh get his amazing 'Buffy Versus Edward' remix back up after it was repeatedly taken down by content bully Lionsgate.
  • April 2013- Executive Director Art Neill was reappointed to the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee where we ensure internet users have a seat at the table in policy and regulatory discussions.
  • June 2013- We launched our New Media Rights Advisory Board made up of creators, entrepreneurs and innovators! These luminaries also serve as New Media Rights ambassadors to the community.
  • August 2013- The City of San Diego Office of Small Business awarded New Media Rights a $23,800.00 Citywide Small Business Enhancement Program grant.  Not only did New Media Rights receive a perfect score on the application but the City of San Diego called New Media Rights an “[i]mportant, unique, cutting-edge, and much-needed program and services to be offered to technology and media-related small business in the city of San Diego.” We're proud to be partnering with the City of San Diego in ensuring critical legal services are available to San Diego based creators and entrepreneurs.
  • October 2013- We helped the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board get their video unmuted after it was mistakenly tagged for the second time by YouTube’s Content ID system.

Significant press in 2013

Daily Times - Chalk up another win for Lansdowne kids; audio restored to ‘Read It' video

Salon YouTube’s court of no appeal

Wil WheatonGoogle Removes Comedy Group's Video from YouTube. Kafkaesque Nightmare Ensues

Boing BoingComedy troupe loses YouTube account after viral success of "PS Gay Car," can't get anyone at YT to listen to them

Forbes - "Copyright In The Twilight Zone: The Strange Case Of 'Buffy Versus Edward'" -

ARS Technica - "“Buffy vs Edward” remix unfairly removed by Lionsgate"


You can see all of our recent press on our press page.

 

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NMR Testimonial: Filmmaker Michael Singh & the documentary Valentino's Ghost

Michael Singh is a Los Angeles, California based filmmaker.  New Media Rights has represented Michael on a variety of legal issues with his film Valentino's Ghost. Valentino's Ghost is an insightful and important film, but the film's story itself is an inspiring one. Michael's film rose from a little known, bootstrap documentary, to qualifying for Oscar consideration, screening at film festivals around the world, and receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, and others.

"Without New Media Rights, my latest film would have been in jeopardy.  Instead, it won a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, and at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam), and is designated a New York Times CRITICS' PICK.  It has also qualified for Oscar® consideration.  

But back when my team and I were obscure and struggling, I couldn't afford society prices for counsel, and needed an attorney's opinion on many fronts.  My documentary is a research/educational/study "essay film," in which several world-class experts deconstruct and analyze various images from all variety of media.  Fair Use allows us to include these short clips throughout the film.  Getting opinions on Fair Use, creating legal documents, obtaining last minute advice on strategy or bargaining situations, whenever I needed complex help or simple assistance, NMR was there for me."  

My next film may not be so complex, but I have already engaged NMR's services to draw up a contract for me, regarding that project.  The quality of NMR's work has been superb, so I'm looking forward to reading what they write for me.  I have recommended and will continue to recommend NMR to all documentary filmmakers who ask me for referrals.  

I cannot imagine a better outfit."

You can even support the Valentino's Ghost Indiegogo campaign here.  

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New Media Rights submits comments to the Request for Comments on Department of Commerce Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy

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 multistakeholder 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.

Thanks to legal intern Marlena Balderas for her assistance in drafting these comments.

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NMR Testimonial - The Dark Mod (Broken Glass Studios) - Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World

We're thrilled to announce that one of our clients, the Dark Mod Team at Broken Glass Studios, recently launched the standalone version of their wildly popular open source game, the Dark Mod! Here's is a testimonial from the Dark Mod Team about how New Media Rights helped them launch their game. The Dark Mod is a completely open source, free to download and play game created by hundreds of dedicated volunteers all over the world, and bills itself as "Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World."

It's an example of the best kind of collaborative creativity the internet enables, bringing to together, artists, designers, and programmers from across the planet to create something for the public.  Here's their story and how New Media Rights helped them.

"The Dark Mod Team (aka Broken Glass Studios, www.thedarkmod.com) recently released a standalone version of our game, The Dark Mod, which until that point had been a mod of Doom 3 (meaning one had to own Doom3 first in order to play it). 

In short, people could just download our game and play it ("standalone"), even if they didn't own Doom 3.

The process of going standalone required us to replace all the assets our game used that were owned by Doom 3 (and there were a lot!) with new, free assets -- i.e., ones we could freely release publicly -- that had to be both different & do the same job as the old Doom3 assets (in the sense that our maps would depict the new assets in place of the old assets, so they had to still fit). The practical problem this presented to our artists was what led us to seek help from New Media Rights.

To our great fortune, New Media Rights went into great detail over all the issues we needed to think about in our process of going standalone, much beyond what we were expecting. It was important because the task was so huge (we're talking about 100s of assets), and there were so many potential landmines at every turn, that having a guide through the potential IP & legal issues was very important.

I'm not sure we would have been able to sustain the motivation over the long haul without a little certainty in what we needed to do to make our standalone the right way and feel some confidence that our work would not be wasted. So in that respect, NMR's assistance was exactly what we needed. Also simply in practical terms, our artists needed NMR's guidance to even know how to go about creating specific assets, like what features or aspects could be kept or needed to be changed, and in what respects. So NMR's assistance was incredibly helpful in both big and little ways. 

How did you find out about New Media Rights?

The arists in our team opened a thread in our forum to specifically discuss the IP issues of making new assets in going standalone, and many of them looked to me as I'm our resident lawyer that's actually taken a copyright course. But the issues quickly went over my head. So on my own initiative I did an online search. I found that NMR pages were popping up again and again with practical information on exactly the sorts of issues we were having, issues that other potential sources weren't talking about at all.  But I found our very specific question wasn't quite covered. So I emailed NMR asking them to clarify some issues for our specific needs. It was then that Art Neill from NMR contacted me directly and we set up a much more involved relationship, since it was clear our kinds of questions couldn't be answered over a simple email or phonecall. I was very happy to see how much NMR was able to get involved in following up on our questions and doing such extensive research, and then explaining it carefully and answering questions, to cover all the kinds of bases our problems were touching. 

How did you feel about having this problem? or What were your concerns before NMR assisted you?

Our main concern was that there wasn't a simple answer for how to deal with creating assets for our game to go standalone. Of course our intention has always been to be completely legal and never use anything protected, and we were quite willing to do as much work as it would take to do that. (And in fact it took more than a year and a half of work create 100s of assets to do just that!) We want our game to be above scrutiny so no one would ever have any reason to restrict it. But the issue we had was that we needed assets that had to fulfill the functional elements of our game without treading on others proprietary righs, which was a subtle task. 

Even wanting to do the right thing, we needed guidance on how to do it! 

How did New Media Rights help you with your problem?

NMR helped us in a lot of ways. The most direct way they helped us was to actually articulate the legal standards for copyright protection in visual images in a way our artists could work with. They needed to understand things like can they use generic features essential to create real world features (bricks can look like bricks, plaster can look like plaster) but should avoid manifestly artistic features (like an artistic flourish of paneling), and a number of other principles
and things to look out for. NMR also helped with the other kinds of assets we had, such as non-engine code and sound files. 

The other way they helped might not be as obvious at first but it's just as important, and I mentioned it at the top. It's that in giving us some certainty, 
NMR's work helped significantly in motivation. It's hard to overstate how demotivating uncertainty is. You can't motivate artists to spend 100s of hours 
replacing 100s of assets without giving them some confidence in advance that all that work won't be wasted (or worse, get us into real trouble or shut down our game!), especially when they don't know what work they're even supposed to be doing, or what standards they should be following in doing the work. By giving us some guidance to work with, NMR did a world of good in just giving us the confidence that this is a project we could do. 

Even when their advice might ostensibly require *more* work from us, it was better in the long run in giving us some certainty in what our task was before us. For example, there might have been a temptation to take risky shortcuts without NMR's assistance, and it might have been hard to convince some artists we really needed to do 100s of hours of more work to do this right. But with the greater certainty NMR gave us about what our task involved, we could put together a plan and build the motivation and actually put in the hard work to do what we needed to to release our standalone game in a proper way. 

It was a huge task, and now we've done it! 

How has NMR helped improve your life?

Well our entire team is on a tremendous high for having finally released a standalone version of our game. Our download numbers within the first few days indicate something in the neighborhood of 50,000 (it's hard to count since there are many download sources; but some individual sources alone are well over 10K), and there are indications that it's still rising from that.  We have received significant media exposure, almost universally positive. Our game had already received great reviews and even a "Mod of the Year" Editor's Choice award when it was a mod, but now that it is totally open for anyone in the public to play, it's getting a lot more of the recognition it's always deserved. It's very gratifying to have this kind of response after all our hard work. 

NMR is one of the resources we needed to make this happen, and without them it may not have happened at all, or it would have been a much riskier & scarier prospect.And we have not had any questions raised about our assets. I think all of that speaks for itself. 

Why would you suggest other people check out New Media Right and ask for assistance from us?

The main reason I'd suggest NMR to others is that NMR goes way beyond a simple Q&A brand of help with IP or legal questions. 

In our case, they went into significantly more detail in gathering all the information and aspects of our specific issues, doing hard research on all the legal issues potentially raised, and then packaging it all into a weighty brief that not only answered our most pressing questions, but also was written in a practical way we could actually use as working developers. 

NMR is in the business of assisting digital artists in getting their creations to the world in the right way. There are so many complex issues out there, that by itself the simple desire to do things legally and properly isn't enough. We need guidance. And as my original searches confirmed, I couldn't find any other group that was even looking at the questions we needed answered except NMR, to say nothing of a group willing to offer free assistance in meeting our goals, to say nothing of going to the great lengths NMR went to do it. NMR did all of these things. 

I cannot say enough positive things about how helpful NMR has been to us and would be to any artist in the digital era. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone hoping to venture artistically into the new media. 

It's dangerous to go alone! Take NMR!

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