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.  

This testimonial does not constitute a guarantee,warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

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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!

This testimonial does not constitute a guarantee,warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

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Who does California’s new revenge porn law actually protect?

California recently passed a new law criminalizing the posting of revenge porn. Revenge porn occurs when an individual, usually a former lover, post nude pictures or video taken during the course of the relationship of the other individual without that individuals consent. As the name implies, it’s usually done as an act of revenge after a particularly nasty fight or break-up.    If convicted under California’s new law individuals could face up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine. The law only affects a very small portion of revenge porn victims.  Here’s what the law doesn’t protect:

It won’t protect your selfies.

Did you take the picture yourself? Unfortunately this new law only applies to photos taken by someone else. The good news is, however, if you took the photo you automatically have a copyright in that photo and may be able to file a DMCA takedown notice to get the picture taken down.  If you need help sending a takedown notice feel free to contact us.

It won’t protect you from most hackers.

California’s new law only applies to photos taken by third parties, so it won’t protect you from any third parties that hack into your computer to get photos. However there are multitudes of other state and federal laws that can punish hackers who do so.

However, if a hacker were to hack into your laptop or mobile device camera and take pictures remotely, like a hacker recently did to Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, the new law would protect you.

It won’t protect you unless you can prove that you agreed or understood that the photos would remain private.

Talk about a he said/she said situation. In order for someone to be convicted under this law you have to prove that both parties agreed or at least understood that the photos would remain private. Unless both parties stop to sign a non-disclosure agreement, it will be extremely difficult to prove this understanding in court.

It won’t protect you unless you can prove intent to cause emotional distress and actual emotional distress.

Both the intent to cause and actual emotional distress are exceptionally hard to prove. For example, if an individual posted the photo because they thought it would be funny, that would not be enough to be convicted under the law. Similarly proving emotional distress requires documented physical signs of emotional distress that are directly linked to the uploading of photos. For example, if an individual who had a photo posted of them on the internet was upset, but not so upset that they had been to a doctor for physical symptoms like severe weight loss, insomnia, lethargy, this law may not apply.  With such a high bar it will be very hard to convict anyone under this law.

It can’t punish individuals outside the state of California

Keep in mind this law is only a California law so it is limited in who it can actually punish. Unfortunately the law fails to clarify if to be convicted the picture must be taken in California, shared on a site in California or even if the victim must be a California resident.

The bottom line is this law does little to actually protect revenge porn victims. The only bright side, if you can even call it that, is that the law will not impose liability on any sites that post or comment on revenge porn. While some may argue that sites that profit of this kind of porn should be punished it would have been very hard to narrowly tailor a law that would have only effected actual revenge porn sites and not sites that are sometimes used for revenge porn such as Facebook or YouTube. Moreover that law would also have to overcome CDA 230which is a federal law that already states that we don’t want sites that host user generated content to be responsible for embarrassing content on their sites. If this law had gone after websites it would have imposed exactly the type of liability that CDA 230 is meant to prevent.  

Sadly this law is, by and large, a waste of taxpayer time and money. Once again we encourage the State of California to stop trying to legislate the internet and spend more time focusing on badly needed reforms in other areas.

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New Media Rights tells a content bully to beat it... Just Beat It!

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New Media Rights tells a content bully to beat it... Just Beat It!
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New Media Rights

It’s been a year since the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board created a video to promote reading based on Michael Jackson’s iconic “Beat It,” video. After it was posted on YouTube, Sony took down the video claiming the parody was “copyright infringement.” But after taking a bit a beating in the press for content bullying these amazing teens, Sony rescinded its claim and the video went back up.

That was the end of the story until now. Recently, the audio to the parody video was muted through YouTube’s Content ID system. The Library called Sony, but Sony claimed there was nothing they could do, that the video was caught in what Sony called the “Youtube Vortex” and complaints about disabling it were old news. Together, Lansdowne librarian Abbe Klebanoff and New Media Rights have now gotten the teens’ video restored using Youtube’s appeals process, but the story is a reminder that content bullying is alive and well. Check out the full story here.


New Media Rights helps with a film that might just be on its way to the Oscars!

When we worked with Michael Singh on a variety of legal issues that came up surrounding his documentary, Valentino's Ghost, we noticed the film was excellent and told a compelling story. We didn't realize, however, that we were helping on a film that may be on its way to an Oscar nod. We want to congratulate Michael for making it to the final 120 films nominated for best feature documentary! Good luck Michael, we're all rooting for you!

Get ready for two weeks of NMR on This Week in Law!
New Media Rights is proud to announce that we’ll be joining Denise Howell on This Week in Law (TWiL), two weeks in a row! First up, catch New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill on TWiL on October 25.  Susan Crawford will also be on the show!  And on November  1st , Staff Attorney Fellow Teri Karobonik and former Assistant Director and current NMR Advisory Board Member Shaun Spalding, will be on the show. TWiL discusses breaking issues in technology law including patents, copyrights, and more.  The show records live every Friday at 11:00am PT/2:00pm ET.

New Media Rights features prominently in Copyright Office Small Claims recommendations!

Earlier this month the Copyright Office released its formal report recommending establishing a small claims court for copyright law. New Media Rights has been heavily involved in these proceedings,and the report makes that obvious. New Media Rights is heavily quoted in the report.  New Media Rights saw early on that a new small claims court would have a dramatic impact on independent creators, internet users, and entrepreneurs. We've shared our expertise with the Copyright Office in order to ensure that any new system respects fair use and provides a fair and just system for resolution of copyright disputes, not simply a new venue for content bullying. For more information and to read the full report click here.

Upcoming events
 
2013 IP Institute
Join us at the 2013 IP Institute November 7-9 in Berkeley hosted by the Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of California. New Media Rights' Executive Director Art Neill is speaking on a panel discussing copyright enforcement with representatives from the MPAA, large copyright holders, and Electronic Frontier Foundation. It should be an interesting discussion!

New Media Rights is headed to SXSW Interactive 2014!
The votes are in, and (drum roll please) we're headed to SXSW Interactive in March! Thank you all so much for your votes and support! We'll keep you updated as more details become available.
 
North County Bar Association Intellectual Property Section  Art Neill will be speaking at the North County IP Section October 24 on DMCA safe harbors and content bullying.  
 
Value legal services for internet users and creators?  Support them by clicking here.

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.

Donate now 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
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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,

The New Media Rights team
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Teens make parody video, but Sony tells them to beat it… just beat it!

It’s been a year since the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board created a video to promote reading based on Michael Jackson’s iconic “Beat It,” video. After it was posted on YouTube, Sony took down the video claiming the parody was “copyright infringement.” But after taking a bit a beating in the press for content bullying these amazing teens, Sony rescinded its claim and the video went back up.

That was the end of the story until now. Recently, the audio to the parody video was muted through YouTube’s Content ID system. The Library called Sony, but Sony claimed there was nothing they could do, that video was caught in what Sony called the “Youtube Vortex.” Together Lansdowne librarian Abbe Klebanoff and New Media Rights have now gotten the teens’ video restored using Youtube’s appeals process, but the story is a reminder that content bullying is alive and well.

In a world where it is easy for large media companies like Sony to remove content from services like Youtube, it should also be easy for these media companies to recognize and correct things when mistakes are made.

It all started, with one idea. Just read it! That was the goal; to get teens involved with the library and reading again. Of course all librarians want to see kids get involved with the library and read. But in a neighborhood like Lansdowne, where kids don’t have many safe spaces to hang out after school and test scores struggle, getting students involved in the library is critical.

That’s exactly what the Lansdowne Library set out to do when they made a video parody of Michael Jacksons “Beat it” called “Just Read It!” After all, parodying the song was a perfect fit. Take a song about gang violence and turn it into a song that encourages kids to read.

Once the idea was brought up the kids really banded together to produce this video. They wrote all the lyrics and choreographed the video themselves.  For Abbe, it was exciting to see kids get involved with the library instead of hanging out on the streets, and being exposed to all the technology and learning related to filmmaking that they wouldn’t normally have access to.

The reaction to the video was a huge success. The library had more teens actively involved with the library than ever before. Abbe simply never thought she could get kids that engaged in the library.  Everything was going great until the video was suddenly taken down off of YouTube.

On November 19, 2012 Abbe discovered the video had been taken down.  Abbe told New Media Rights, “The kids were devastated that all their hard work just vanished!” Abbe desperately wanted to get the video back up since the kids worked so hard on it. So she did everything she could to get the video back up from filling out all the content ID appeals paperwork, making a YouTube video to protest the takedown, and even going to Sony’s offices in New York to ask for help.

Going to Sony’s office didn’t work; in fact Abbe was asked to leave. However, the library’s Director, Sandra Giannella, eventually got a hold of Sony. As Giannella told New Media Rights, Sony initially refused to put the video back up because it was a “message video,” and not fair use. 

Sandra consulted with copyright lawyers at the time who told her Sony was wrong and that the video was allowed under fair use. Nevertheless, Sony absolutely refused to put the video back up.  At first Sony only wanted to allow the library to post the video on the library’s own site, which the small public library site just wasn’t equipped to handle.  

Then the library reached out to the press. That’s when Sony changed their tune and finally allowed the kids to put their video back up on YouTube.   A Sony representative also asked that if the video was ever taken down again to call him first, not the press, and he would take care of it.

Sony tells the library and kids to just beat it… again.

All of that happened nearly a year ago. Since then the video received 15,600 views.  It even won a Best Practices Award from the Pennsylvania Library Association and was embedded on sites across the internet.

However, the Lansdowne Library recently discovered the audio track on their video had been disabled and muted by Sony through YouTube’s content ID system.  They thought this had to be a mistake. Less than a year ago Sony released their claim! They called Sony thinking this was just a mistake; surely they would unblock the video.

Sony didn’t just refuse to unblock the video; they claimed they had no power to unblock the video. 

“The most exasperating thing Jimmy Asci[a Sony Representative] said was that he claimed that there was nothing Sony could do, that it was caught in the ‘YouTube vortex’ and even tried to cast blame on Warner Chappell, the previous owners of the song,” said Sandra.  According to Sandra, Mr. Asci even jokingly offered Sandra a job if she could get the video back up using YouTube’s system.

But none of Sony’s excuses were convincing to Sandra and Abbe. Especially considering they reached out to Sony first instead of the press, just like Sony asked us to.  That’s when Abbe reached out to New Media Rights, a non-profit known for standing up to content bullies like Sony.

Art Neill and Teri Karobonik at New Media Rights reviewed the case pro bono and explained to Abbe that the video has a strong fair use argument, that content owners like Sony do play a role in YouTube’s Content ID system and that because the takedown occurred based on a erroneous copyright claim from Sony, Sony should be willing to be involved in restoring the content.

Then, Art and Teri walked Abbe through the content ID appeals process on YouTube.  In the tiny window that YouTube allows for appeals this is what New Media Rights wrote:

This video is fair use because it is a parody. It takes Michael Jacksons song Beat It, a song that glorifies violence and gang culture, and transforms it into a powerful message promoting reading and libraries. This song is not a market substitute for the original song and was made for non-commercial use.

Early the following week Teri noticed the video had been un-muted and called Abbe to congratulate her and the kids. This was news to Abbe because YouTube had not sent her any kind of notice her appeal was successful.

Together Abbe and New Media Rights were able to get these teen’s awesome video back up using 53 words. 53 Words to stand up to Sony’s content bullying. 53 words to beat the “YouTube vortex” that was allegedly beyond the means of a large company like Sony.

One last thing, New Media Rights is a small, non-profit two lawyer operation on a shoe-string budget fighting to make sure content bullies don’t keep people like the teens and librarians at Lansdowne Public Library from posting lawful content online. So if you can, please consider donating to fight content bullying here.

Also, please consider donating to the Friends of the Lansdowne Public Library, who do so much to support the library and the great programs that allow them to reach out to the community like their “Just Read It!” video.

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New Media Rights joins 17+ groups in calling for an extension for public comment in critical copyright law review process

Today New Media Rights joined 17 other organizations in asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office to extend the amount of time the public has to reply to the request for comments on the Department of Commerce green paper, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, And Innovation In The Digital Economy.”  The Green Paper extensively outlines the current challenges regarding copyright enforcement in the new media age. The request for comments outlines five critical areas for comment including: the law around remixes; the first sale doctrine in the digital age; the reform of statutory damages in file sharing cases; the possibility of government organized licensing and improvement of the DMCA takedown system. Each of these topics deserves extensive discussion and asking stakeholders to provide comments on 5 broad areas of copyright law within 2 weeks is unrealistic. The initial comments period proposed only allowed 2 weeks before the first public hearing.  New Media Rights is hopeful the request for changes to comment period and public meeting schedule will be granted. You can find the full text of the letter below.

New Media Rights is looking forward to continuing to be a vital part of the discussion surrounding the modification of copyright law for the new media era.  We offer insight from front line work with independent creators and internet users whose perspective is too often missing from policy debates.  We’re hope that reforms in the coming years can radically decrease the legal uncertainty around remixing and increase independent creators’ ability to stand up to content bullying.

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