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.
This week has been a busy week for copyright reform and New Media Rights has been in the thick of it to make sure that the voices of independent creators, entrepreneurs and internet users are represented.
Tuesday, Staff Attorney Teri Karobonik participated in the Los Angeles round of the USPTO/NTIA’s ongoing series of roundtables about copyright reform. Teri participated in both the statutory damages roundtable and the panel regarding laws around remixes. A recording of the roundtable can be found here. In addition to following our work in these proceedings, you can also keep up to date on the USPTO's website.
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.
On Thursday, May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a 4 month rulemaking asking for "public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet." For months, regulators, consumer advocates, and service providers have wrestled over what the next steps should be after a court decision that threw out the FCC's previous open internet rules, adopted in 2010.
Now its your turn to share your ideas with the FCC. How we can promote and protect the Internet as a vital resource for years to come?
In November of 2013, New Media Rights responded to the Department of Commerce’s inquiry regarding the formation of a multistakeholder process to create a set of best practices for the DMCA notice and takedown process. That multistakeholder process has begun and New Media Rights wants to ensure that the voices of independent creators, small user generated content sites, internet users and remixers are represented.
As a first step, New Media Rights joined with a coalition of public interest groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Center for Democracy and Technology, Public Knowledge and The American Library Association, to submit a set of principles for improving the efficiency of the notice and takedown system. These principals will not only make the process more efficient for all stakeholders but also make sure that creativity and free speech are not unnecessarily chilled.
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.
Yesterday New Media Rights joined a broad coalition of 14 public interest groups asking lawmakers not to grant "fast-track" authority for trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a complex multi-national agreement that could rewrite international rules of copyright enforcement. If fast-track authority was granted Congress would not review the TTP at all, leaving no room for amendments, review or accountability for a treaty that was negotiated in near-total secrecy. As stated in the letter:
The American public has a right to know the contents of the international agreements its government is crafting. Corporations cannot be the only interests represented in this agreement, since they do not advocate for policies that safeguard or even represent the interests of the public at large. Given the administration's complete lack of transparency in negotiating the TPP, it is vitally important that democratically elected representatives are at least given the opportunity to conduct a review and push for fixes.
Right now the public has no way of knowing what the text of the TPP even says. The only reason we even have any idea what some of the agreement may end up saying is due to a leak of the "Intellectual Property" chapter in February of 2011. That leak contained some pretty scary stuff, including formalizing the U.S. ban on circumventing Digital Rights Management (DRM) software worldwide. The affect of exporting enforcement measures to parts of the world that don't have safety valves like fair use could be disastrous for remix creators.
Today the Copyright Office released its formal report regarding the challenges of copyright litigation in Federal Court and recommended 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 quoted six times and New Media Rights Executive Director is directly quoted by the Copyright Office twice.
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.
Teenager posts a stupid/reckless/illegal/vulgar thing online, chaos ensues. It’s become a staple of court dockets and headlines across the country. It’s hardly surprising that lawmakers have picked up on this problem and set out to solve it. The latest attempt that has just become law is California’s Senate Bill No. 568. Best case scenario the bill merely fails to protect teenagers and worst case scenario it’s an entirely unenforceable waste of taxpayer money.
Unfortunately, New Media Rights has seen evidence in recent months that suggests that some large media companies have been able to override legitimate appeals and disputes by users regarding content takedowns. Today's guest blog from Patrick McKay of the Fair Use and Youtube watchdog FairUseTube.org, explains the problem in more depth.
We're monitoring the issue closely and trying to gather additional information to help address this issue, so feel free to contact us with additional information you may have regarding DMCA counternotices that fail restore disputed content on Youtube.