#CopyrightWeek 2018: Accessible Legal Services Are Part of Building A Better Copyright System

We respond to over 500 requests for legal services every year, and over two thirds of these relate to copyright law.  Copyright law protects the work of creators, but it also controls how the culture around us can be reused and commented upon. It's our mission to make sure that copyright related legal services are available to all regardless of ability to pay. This way copyright law can be used as a tool for responsible enforcement, not trolling and bullying. This week a community of awesome organizations are offering our visions of a balanced copyright future.  

You can check out all the posts over at this website.

Each day there will be posts on a specific theme.  Since much of what we do day in and out is copyright law, we're going to link you to some of our best resources, new and old, on copyright law for the given topics.

For a general background, why not check out our Copyright law FAQ with all the most commonly asked questions about copyright law? The FAQ includes many of our 25+ Copyright FAQ Video series, which you can view in its entirety by clicking here! Or check out our basics of copryight and IP 101 series on Forbes.

Also, don't miss our new book, Don't Panic, which covers all sorts of copyright issues you may want to know about, from music and open source software licensing, to fair use, to the DMCA safe harbor provisions.

And remember... our work to keep copyright law balanced, and provide direct legal services to over 500 creators and internet users each year, is supported by individuals like you, so consider supporting us today. 

Monday, Jan. 15: Building and Defending the Public Domain

The public domain is our cultural commons and a crucial resource for innovation and access to knowledge. Copyright policy should strive to promote, and not diminish, a robust, accessible public domain.

Our links to the public domain

Tuesday, Jan. 16: You Bought It, You Own It, You Fix It

Copyright law shouldn't interfere with your freedom to truly own your stuff: to repair it, tinker with it, recycle it, use it on any device, lend it, and then give it away (or re-sell it) when you're done.

As software-enabled devices become ubiquitous, so do onerous licensing agreements and technological restrictions. If you buy something, you should be able to truly own it – meaning you can learn how it works, repair it, remove unwanted features, or tinker with it to make it work in a new way.

What New Media Rights is doing

New Media Rights has argued for your right to install the software you choose on your smartphone and tablet for nearly a decade.  In the last DMCA Anti-circumvention proceedings, we helped provide support for expanding important exemptions to install whatever software you choose on tablets.  While we achieved expanded exemptions, the section 1201 process of exempting particular circumvention is broken. We published an article in Tulane's IP & Tech Law Journal that discusses how to fix section 1201 at both the regulatory and legislative level and we made the same arguments to the Copyright Office. In the new 2017-18 proceeding the Copyright Office has adopted some of our proposed reforms, including renewing existing classes rather than requiring they be argued from scratch. At its essence, the reforms we advocate acknowledge that any fair use should simply be exempted from the anti-circumvention laws.

To that end New Media Rights has joined with EFF and OTW to request an improved exemption for the reuse of video clips that better respects fair use.

Wednesday, Jan. 17: Transparency and Representation

Whether in the form of laws, international agreements, or website terms and standards, copyright policy should be made through a participatory, democratic, and transparent process. It should not be decided through back room deals, secret international agreements, or unilateral attempts to apply national laws extraterritorially.

What New Media Rights is doing

We fought back with many others on the internet against SOPA, PIPPA, and other laws intended to extend the most restrictive of our copyright laws to other parts of the world, without important safeguards like fair use. More recently, the TPP represents another attempt to take the worst copyright policies and extend them without safeguards. We opposed fast-track authority for the TPP, and demanded TPP officials to include safeguards for users.


Thursday, Jan. 18: Copyright as a Tool of Censorship

Freedom of expression is fundamental to our democratic system. Copyright law should promote, not restrict or suppress free speech.

What New Media Rights is doing

  • We've defended hundreds of individuals who have faced unreasonable overreach from individuals and companies misusing copyright law.  Have you read the stories of our defenses of remix creators (here and here are examples) and Philadelphia area kids attacked for making a fair use video?  
  • In the last year, New Media Rights has seen a drastic influx of filmmakers and nonprofits seeking legal advice related to their social impact films and online videos. New Media Rights is working to ensure those making social impact films have the legal services they need to bring their stories to the public with confidence in the face of intimidation from powerful interests. We’ve helped with important social impact films that address gender and racial discriminationenvironmental degradationpublic health issues, gun violence, and human trafficking, to name a few.

Friday, Jan. 19: Safe Harbors

Safe harbor protections allow online intermediaries to foster public discourse and creativity. Safe harbor status should be easy for intermediaries of all sizes to attain and maintain.

What New Media Rights is doing

  • Providing legal services to over 500 individuals, nonprofits, and businesses every year on complex copyright issues every year. This includes intermediaries who want to learn how to use the safe harbors, as well as remix creators who need to assert their fair use rights in a counternotice.  We've even worked with copyright holders who have had their works infringed verbatim and monetized without their permission, and wanted to responsibly enforce their rights.
  • We have proposed extensive legislative fixes to problematic pieces of the DMCA Section 512 safe harbor. In addition to filing comments directly to the Copyright Office, we've written an article outlining our proposed reforms.

Happy Copyright Week!

Copyright Week image photo credit - EFF under a CC-BY 3.0 license

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