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Everyday Copyright Violations 431

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the copywrong-extortion dept.
Schneier has pointed out a great law review article about the problems with copyright. The author takes a look at normal daily practices and how many commonplace actions actually result in what can be considered copyright violations. "By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million (to say nothing of potential criminal charges). There is nothing particularly extraordinary about John's activities. Yet if copyright holders were inclined to enforce their rights to the maximum extent allowed by law, he would be indisputably liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file sharing."
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Everyday Copyright Violations

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  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:31PM (#21481855) Homepage Journal
    From the .pdf the article quotes:

    In the late afternoon, John takes his daily swim at the university pool. Before he jumps into the water, he discards his T-shirt, revealing a Captain Caveman tattoo on his right shoulder. Not only did he violate Hanna-Barbera's copyright when he got the tattoo--after all, it is an unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work--he has now engaged in a unauthorized public display of the animated character. More ominously, the Copyright Act allows for the "impounding" and "destruction or other reasonable disposition" of any infringing work. Sporting the tattoo, John has become the infringing work. At best, therefore, he will have to undergo court-mandated laser tattoo removal. At worst, he faces imminent "destruction."
    Look on the bright side, at least we wont be seeing more of the Zune tattoo guy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bconway (63464)
      Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mOdQuArK! (87332)
        Was there a court decision which has verified this?
        • by theMerovingian (722983) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:17PM (#21482509) Journal

          Based on a cursory Westlaw search using the terms 'copyright' & 'fair use' & 'tattoo', this issue has not been litigated in the US. A personal tattoo does not fall into the listed categories of fair use such as criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research. See here. [copyright.gov]

          Ordinarily, non-commercial uses that do not affect the value of the copyrighted work tend towards fair use. This limitation applies regardless of the medium of the purported infringement. In order to get some real closure to our tattoo debate, what we need is a porn star with a Mickey Mouse tattoo clearly visible in a video.

          (warning: puns incoming) That would give us reproduction in a commercial context, and someone with deep pockets to sue. /ducks

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Znork (31774)
            "Ordinarily, non-commercial uses that do not affect the value of the copyrighted work tend towards fair use."

            Yep. More reasonably the copyright holder would sue the tattoo artist, who would be the one performing the actual copying and the main commercial beneficiary of the possible infringement. As far as I can recall, simple possession of an infringing copy has rarely been considered illegal for the purpose of copyright law.
          • by sledge_hmmer (1179603) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:40PM (#21482801)
            That "Mickey Mouse tattoo in a porn flick" sounds like an interesting idea. Quick, find out which one of us geeks does the IT for Hustler magazine. That way we might be able to get in touch with Larry Flynt and see if he wants to take on another fight! I do have a suggestions to make though - the tattoo should be Donald Duck and the man can get a blowjob while we have that audio clip of DD getting a bj actually being the soundtrack. I wonder how many copyright laws that would violate?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by masterzora (871343)
            But a professionally-done tattoo is indeed a commercial use, which could potentially make the tattoo artist liable, giving John liability for knowingly aiding blah blah blah. And he's still the work, and thus subject to destruction.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by DragonWriter (970822)

              But a professionally-done tattoo is indeed a commercial use, which could potentially make the tattoo artist liable, giving John liability for knowingly aiding blah blah blah. And he's still the work, and thus subject to destruction.

              He is not the work. The tatoo is the work. "Destruction or other reasonable disposition of the work" is not a license to kill; destroying the body of a living human being on which an infringing work is made is not even remotely a "reasonable disposition" of the unauthorized copy.

          • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday November 26, 2007 @03:12PM (#21483253)

            Based on a cursory Westlaw search using the terms 'copyright' & 'fair use' & 'tattoo', this issue has not been litigated in the US. A personal tattoo does not fall into the listed categories of fair use such as criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research.

            Tell that to Prince, who has issued a takedown for a photo of a fan's Prince tattoo.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by PhxBlue (562201)
              Prince can tell someone to take something down. Likewise, they can tell Prince to sod off. It has nothing to do with copyright (aside from abuse-as-usual of the DMCA).
          • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday November 26, 2007 @04:19PM (#21484111) Journal
            A personal tattoo does not fall into the listed categories of fair use such as criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research.

            Ah...but since the person in the example was a law professor couldn't he claim that the Captain Caveman tattoo was legal research because he wanted to see if he could get sued for having it and so therefore he couldn't be sued? Or would that much circular logic make a judge's head implode?
          • Umm (Score:3, Funny)

            by Chrisq (894406)
            what we need is a porn star with a Mickey Mouse tattoo clearly visible in a video.

            can I volunteer to do some research!
      • by idontgno (624372) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:08PM (#21482381) Journal

        Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.

        Well, thanks for clearing that up.

        I had no idea that a functional majority of the Supreme Court of the United State (A) had issued a writ of certiorari [wikipedia.org] in an appellate case involving copyright and fair use; (B) has chosen to collectively blog on Slashdot under a single pseudonym "bconway"; and (C) has decided to publish a definitive opinion on the scope of fair use in personal body art under the aforementioned pseudonym in the aforementioned Slashdot. As opposed to, say, The United States Reports [wikipedia.org], which is the oh-so-last-century "official" recording mechanism for SCOTUS decisions.

        I personally think you're right. But since Section 107 of US Code Title 17 doesn't call out "personal body embellishment" as one of the explicit examples of fair use, it's a judgment call. Not your judgment, not my judgment, but a court's judgment. And, if the appeal process runs far enough, the Supreme Court's judgment.

        ObDisclaimer: IANAL, but neither are most of y'all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by amokk (465630)
        You know what, people like you are the reason that Slashdot has such a bad reputation for providing dubious legal advice. You are one of the people that must firmly believe "If I read it on a blog, it must be the law."

        Since you are such a damn good lawyer, I'm sure you'll have reasonable sources to back up the claim that you're making. As another poster has already asked, please provide us some sort of peer-reviewed documentation to support your claim. Claiming that something is fair-use just because you
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cream wobbly (1102689)
          Since when has Slashdot been a source of authoritative information with properly referenced claims? Scratch that. Since when has the Internet been a source of authoritative information with properly referenced claims?

          It's people like you that tag every second sentence on Wikipedia with [citation needed].
        • Depends on your country. The things you mention can be legal where I live.

          Killing a person in self-defense is justified, when there was no other option for you to keep you or someone else from bodily harm from the person you killed, provided you can credibly claim that you could have suffered the same fate from his actions. I.e. it's not ok to shoot someone who is unarmed and obviously weaker than you (for example, shooting a drunk staggering to you with a good chance to fall over before reaching you is not
      • by Petrushka (815171) on Monday November 26, 2007 @04:13PM (#21484037)

        Unfortunately for your hyperbole, you haven't the slightest clue what you are talking about. In addition, you were too lazy to read an extremely interesting article. I refer you to footnote 38:

        See, e.g., Christopher A. Harkins, Tattoos and Copyright Infringement: Celebrities, Marketers, and Businesses Beware of the Ink, 10 LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. 313 (2006) (using the recent infringement suit involving NBA star Rasheed Wallace's tattoo as the starting point for analyzing the minefield of ink-related copyright issues).

        Obviously the point is not very heavily tested, but it sure sounds like there's some leeway for lawsuits there.

        (Naturally I avoid quoting your post as I don't want to be guilty of infringing your copyright on it. Oh, hang on -- my quotation from n. 38 above might be defensible under the "fair use" defence in the US, but unfortunately there's no such thing as the fair use defence in my country, so I guess I'm an infringer after all. Dammit!)

      • Unfortunately for the author's hyperbole, tattoos of copyrighted art on one's person fall under fair use.

        Other people have called you on the fact that you give us no reason to believe this, but I think I ought to call you on one more thing.

        If Joe Tattoo Artist gives me, for appropriate compensation, a tattoo of Mickey Mouse, there are three parties involved here:

        1. Me
        2. Joe Tattoo Artist
        3. Disney

        You fail to distinguish which of the parties Disney has or fails to have valid claims against. It is quite possi

    • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:44PM (#21482031)
      > At worst, he faces imminent "destruction."

      He has no time to survive! Make his time! (Move Zune! For great injustice!)

      Sorry. I had to.

      Since we've all seen and we all know Cardinal Richelieu's "Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him." quote, and Rand's "There's no way to rule innocent man..." quote, let's go for something a little closer to home in US jurisprudence.

      "With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him."

      -Former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson [roberthjackson.org], April 1, 1940

      Unfortunately, it wasn't an April Fool's joke.

      • by Elemenope (905108)

        You win the thread. Lots of luck educating the masses. ;)

    • by WED Fan (911325) <`ten.liamhsart' `ta' `egihaka'> on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:53PM (#21482157) Homepage Journal

      O.K. if I encode the opening chords of Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" into a barcode and have it tatooed on my schlong, then sleep around, and then the RIAA comes after me, do I have a leg to stand on? Do I have a shot? Will they cut me off? Am I in violation? Can I be infected by a rootkit? Does taking viagra count as intent to mass distribute?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Von Helmet (727753)

      Never mind the Zune guy, how about the chap who spent a year getting Albus "Homo" Dumbledore tattooed on his back [news.com.au].

  • Well, I've always said, as the rapid pace of technological change continues to force a reconsideration of the
    vitality of our intellectual property regime, it is tempting indeed to cite the
    "communications revolution" of our time -the Internet- as disrupting to the
    delicate balance struck by pre-digital copyright laws between the rights of owners
    and users of creative works. After all, it was no less than the Supreme Court that
    succumbed to this inexorable urge in its first encounter with cyberspace by
    famously p
    • by fmobus (831767) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:36PM (#21481901)

      for Bruce Schneier!

      Why a link to his blog, when all he says is boilerplate comment about the original article. Yeah, I know it's a PDF, but anyway. I believe does not need techniques like Roland's Piquepaile to get hits.

      hmm maybe I should watch my back now, considering I have bad-mouthed Bruce Schneier... brb, unplugging my box from the netwoGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAfldsfjadlkfw35r$@#%$ETW#TE%$T

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fmobus (831767)
        good God, this guy is fast! look what he done to the grammar on my previous post! I don't remembert typing it like that!
        *runs*
    • Re:duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:25PM (#21482625) Journal
      Everyone treats the internet like laws can't apply, but were the laws reasonable there would be no problem. Take copyright for example - if copyright law were written in such a way that noncommercial use of a work would automatically be non-infringeing, there would be no problem.

      IMO, anyone who believes that P2P really costs artists money has not given much thought to the matter. Clearly, if I've never heard of you I'm not going to buy your CD or book.

      Plagairism is another matter entirely; it should be severely punished.

      -mcgrew
      • Re:duh (Score:5, Funny)

        by pegr (46683) * on Monday November 26, 2007 @03:45PM (#21483667) Homepage Journal
        Everyone treats the internet like laws can't apply, but were the laws reasonable there would be no problem. Take copyright for example - if copyright law were written in such a way that noncommercial use of a work would automatically be non-infringeing, there would be no problem.

        IMO, anyone who believes that P2P really costs artists money has not given much thought to the matter. Clearly, if I've never heard of you I'm not going to buy your CD or book.

        Plagairism is another matter entirely; it should be severely punished.

        -pegr
  • by UnCivil Liberty (786163) * on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:36PM (#21481899)
    Link in the story is a blog, here is the pdf that the blog links to: http://www.turnergreen.com/publications/Tehranian_Infringement_Nation.pdf [turnergreen.com]

    As an earlier poster pointed out I found the caveman tattoo bit about destruction quite funny, was also shocked to hear that "Happy birthday to you" is still under copyright, according to wiki it will expire in 2030 in the United States.
    • by djones101 (1021277) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:52PM (#21482143)
      The validity of the copyright for Happy Birthday to You is also greatly in question, given the origin of the song itself. The copyright information on that can be found here [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yup, if you ever wondered why all the Chotchkie's and Flinger's of the world sing their own obnoxious and flamboyant versions of the birthday song... now you know.
      • by Xzzy (111297)
        The sad part is if any of their flamboyant birthday songs got popular, they'd rely on the same laws to extort money out of people using it.

        I know the people who made laws establishing copyright went into it with noble intentions, but it's hard to see that now. The whole concept needs to be revisited, the system needs some kind of check against exploiting society the same way it was originally intended to prevent exploitation of creators.
        • by Znork (31774) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:52PM (#21482967)
          "I know the people who made laws establishing copyright went into it with noble intentions"

          Mmm, actually, no they didnt. Originally the 'copyright' had nothing to do with authors but were a pure and simple monopoly of the licensed printers guild, granted by the king in exchange for censorship control.

          As it got slightly more codified the authors were used as an excuse to lobby for it; the authors didnt particularly matter anyway as they couldn't afford the printer, leaving them in pretty much the same situation as before.

          IIRC, as far as the US was concerned, integration of IP rights into the US constitution was mostly with great hesitation and doubt about its legitimacy.

          "it was originally intended to prevent exploitation of creators."

          Except, of course, that was never the intended purpose. Which is why copyright law is the way it is, or we'd have an actual system guaranteeing a specific cut to authors, a tax/benefit scheme, or something like that. Think 'monopoly', 'control' and 'aristocrats' or you will just get confused about why IP law is the way it is. It's a 16th century throwback from the time the king granted monopolies on salt and spices to enrich his friends (as the population tended to be on the brink of killing him over taxes so it was much less troublesome to grant monopolies that didnt seem quite like taxes...).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was also quite surprised by the following passage:

      Clearly, we are only beginning to grasp the massive changes afoot with the advent of digital technology. Yet amidst the flux, one constant emerges: the 1976 Copyright Act lies always at the heart of these debates, inextricably mediating our relationship with cyberspace and new media. Three decades have passed since the current Copyright Act went into effect. Without dispute, tremendous economic, technological, and social changes have occurred in that time.

      • I was just rereading my message and since I quoted the article, I engaged in illegal duplication of a copyrighted work for public display -- Wow, neat! Slashdot is full of copyright law breakers then, in fact, you might say html is built for it because of the blockquote tag.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by davetd02 (212006)
          No, quoting parts of a work for the purpose of criticism (which is exactly what you were doing) is the prime example of fair use. No liability, you're OK. Look, I'll even quote yours to prove it:

          since I quoted the article, I engaged in illegal duplication of a copyrighted work for public display

          If you had quoted the entire article on your blog and just added one or two sentences of commentary then it's unlikely that you'd be engaging in fair use, but here you quoted a very small part of the total article
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773)
        I had no idea that the Copyright Act was made in 1976. Such a recent law, yet I thought the copyright law was from antiquity.

        The current Copyright Act is the 1976 Act (with a number of amendments since then). However, it was preceded by the 1909 Act, and so on, with the first US copyright law being the 1790 Copyright Act. The US didn't previously have the power to enact copyright laws, but many states did during the 1780's. And of course, we were British colonies, and Britain had the Statute of Anne, which
    • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:36PM (#21482765)
      it will expire in 2030 in the United States

      No. It won't.

      Sometime before that, DisneyCo will go to Congress and instruct them to extend Copyright terms again.

      And Congress will obey, like the subservient little corporate bitches they are.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 26, 2007 @03:18PM (#21483335)
        I took a class once taught by my grad school mentor that dealt with copyright law. He used to teach the standard thing of "x number of years after the author's death." I spoke with him more recently and asked him about this and he said that he now just tells his students bluntly "Anything copyrighted after the mid-20's will likely never fall into the public domain." Even in cases where stuff HAS fallen into public domain for whatever reason (abandonment, dissolution of the owning company, etc.), it can easily be de facto reclaimed if there is any financial incentive to do so (as the legal maneuverings [wikipedia.org] over "It's a Wonderful Life" illustrate).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        Sometime before that, DisneyCo will go to Congress and instruct them to extend Copyright terms again

        When Steamboat Willie comes into the public domain you get the right to publish derivatives based on Steamboat Willie: eight minutes of silent era sight gags linked by a thin narrative thread.

        You do not get the rights to the trademarked character designs.

        You do not get the right to use the Mouse and his companions in any of their later incarnations. No Sorceror's Apprentice. No Phantom Blot.

        You do not ge

  • Any good /.er can see that copyright is reaches way too far, but now what good is that doing us. The only way this can change is to break through the lobbying stranglehold that the content-producing cartels have on our legislatures. Short of that there isn't much that can be done other than just hope you aren't one caught by someone trolling for a lawsuit.
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:36PM (#21482759) Journal
      The only way this can change is to break through the lobbying stranglehold that the content-producing cartels have on our legislatures.

      And there's the rub - you're talking about making fire cold, at least in the US. Sony gives ten million to the DemocRATs and ten million to the Re(prehensible)publicans and it doesn't matter which candidate loses, Sony wins. And as they own all the politicians, the only two chances this will change are slim and none.

      You should not be able to "contribute" to more than one candidate in any race. That's clearly a bribe. Clearly bribery is legal in the US.

      You should not be able to contribute to the election of someone you aren't eligible to vote for. John Shimkis is supposed to be MY representative, not Sony's or Bill Gates'. But a Sony lobbyist Bill Gates has easy access to Shimkis, while I have next to none.

      We have the best politicians money can buy. So long as our laws are for sale to the highest bidder, I refuse to respect them and will instead follow my own conscience.

      -mcgrew

      PS- I have a friend who reports to prison on the 1st for a drug posession charge. I have another friend whose brother spent five years in prison for loaning a drug dealer money, while the dealer spent 2 years. There is no justice in the US!
  • by TheGoodSteven (1178459) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:43PM (#21482019)
    Isn't this concept applicable to laws in general? How many of you think that you could drive to work without making a single violation? Hell, when was the last time you got on the highway and the majority of the traffic wasn't going at least 5 mph over the speed limit? And depending on what state you live in, you have varying laws that you most likely break every day. The law is getting so intricate that few people understand exactly what it entails anymore. Ideally, the law should be easily understood; written in the vernacular. We shouldn't need lawyers to translate it for us.
    • Alot of speeds limits are set to low for the road and it can be unsafe to try to go the limit. This is not the same thing as alot of Copyright rules are not posted like a speed limit is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      Ideally, the law should be easily understood; written in the vernacular. We shouldn't need lawyers to translate it for us.

      Yes, someone should come up with a short list of laws. Ten seems reasonable. And they should be very concise and to-the-point. But something tells me that even then, people would still have a hard time obeying them...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by merreborn (853723)

      Ideally, the law should be easily understood; written in the vernacular. We shouldn't need lawyers to translate it for us.

      The vernacular is ambiguous. Ambiguity in laws is a bad thing. If you try to write unambiguously in English, you end up with legalese. Additionally, legal jargon is efficient -- a single word in legal jargon communicates an idea that would take many words to describe unambiguously in the vernacular.

      Legalese is almost like a programming language -- it must be precise, and ideally, effi

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sckeener (137243)
      My parents are lawyers and I remember them telling me when I was growing up that the FBI estimates that 99.8% of the population has committed some crime worthy of jail time.

      As always, your duty is not to get caught and remember the "Computer is Your Friend"
  • And Fonts... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:44PM (#21482025) Homepage
    Does anyone even understand copyright on fonts?

    • Re:And Fonts... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DustyShadow (691635) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:53PM (#21482153) Homepage
      Their copyrightability is questionable. The U.S. Copyright Office will not register them.
      My 2 second google search brings up this [totse.com]. Disclamer: I haven't read that page though other than the title.
      • Also, the main reason that the are not copyrightable most likely is because they are considered to be "useful" tools.
    • Re:And Fonts... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:54PM (#21482167)
      Does anyone even understand copyright on fonts?

      I believe I have a semi-reasonable grasp of it, but welcome anyone to correct any errors I might make. The outlines of the characters in a font are not themselves copyrighted (nor can they be). However, the digital representation of these characters is copyrighted (i.e., the font files you buy or that come with software). This also includes derivatives based upon modifying the original digital files. However, if you were to print out the characters in a font, then redraw them in FontLab or Fontographer, you could claim the copyright to your new creation. However, you will then be scorned by the typographic community for doing so unless you at least make a few modifications to some of the characters. It's somewhat similar to software in that a disassembly and reimplementation of it must take place.
      • I should add that the digital font files are considered software and are subject to all of the same copyright laws that protect other pieces of software.
      • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce AT wordhole DOT net> on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:33PM (#21482725)

        However, you will then be scorned by the typographic community for doing so

        I wonder exactly how it would change my life for the worse should this occur. Would I be relegated to dictating correspondence to a shady "letter merchant" in dark alleys? Would the psychological oppression from being a typographic outcast cause me to break under the steady gaze of traffic signs and theater marquees? Would all children's educational programming be mysteriously absent from all the PBS channels I receive? Would the BIC company blackball me from future writing implement purchases? Truly, these are the questions that keep one awake at night.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:54PM (#21482173) Homepage
    That's a very good article. The example surprised me. I thought that one would need to be much more far-fetched than he was to get the total that he gets.

    It even failed to mention some potential liabilities. When he "emails his family five photographs of the Utes football game he attended the previous Saturday," the point is the infringement of the copyright of his friend who took the pictures. He doesn't pile on the possibility that the images themselves contain copyrighted team logos, or that... this is so weird that I'm not sure I'm remembering it correctly, but I believe the owners of some buildings are now claiming that the appearance of the building itself is copyrighted and that photographing the buildings infringes... so the photographs might be infringing by showing the stadium itself.

    What he does not mention is the spectre of selective enforcement. It is very convenient for authorities if everyone is a law-breaker, because then you always have a valid pretext for prosecuting/persecuting them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      I believe the owners of some buildings are now claiming that the appearance of the building itself is copyrighted and that photographing the buildings infringes...
      We had to take pictures of a building complex downtown for a college class, and security came out and asked me and my partner to leave. Our teacher had to sort it out with the building's manager to get us a special permission for educational purposes.
      All of that before 9-11 of course.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:58PM (#21482245)
    I'm guessing someone will raise the point of Fair Use, so I'll repost the comment I posted on Schneier's blog as to why that doesn't really help you any. Oh, and a bonus link to USC 17 (copyright law) [cornell.edu] so you can see that I'm not making this crap up. Mind you, IANAL, but you need one to make sense of that. Any layman can figure out where and how it does NOT make sense, though, which is why I encourage you all to read it.

    -----

    You guys realize that Fair Use is something you have to *prove in court* right? By the time you're proving that your use was fair, you're already on the hook for big money in legal fees.

    And how many of the copyright rules do you know? Did you know that having a TV that's too large can be copyright infringement in some cases? You can rent console games that meet very specific requirements, but you can't rent PC software (I really have to wonder where the X-Box games fall, legally speaking, given that the X-Box is just a PC, but it doesn't seem like Microsoft cares to test it and they may still meet the statutory requirements).

    Honestly, read USC 17 sometime. It's positively mind-boggling. We've got everything from international treaty created super-trademarks (the Olympics & Red Cross spring to mind), loads of crap meant to serve various lobbies, and so many screwball statutes that I don't understand at all.

    Granted, IANAL, but I think that the average person would be surprised by just how many rules there are. And those are just the statutes!

    God help you when you find out that, while "facts" aren't copyrighted, facts about a fictional work aren't really "facts" according to at least one court! That's right, the fact that Harry Potter attends Hogwarts may not be a "fact" per the law. So I might just have infringed upon Rowling's copyrights right there.

    She won't sue, you say? Actually, she IS suing someone right now over that very issue because they want to publish an unauthorized encyclopedia...

    Is it really Fair Use when there are so very many confusing rules you have to follow to maybe, hopefully be protected (with that assuming the courts decline to make a new precedent or extend existing law)?

    Or to sum up this entire post, isn't it bad if we each need our own personal lawyer just to be able to *OBEY* the law?
  • Olig. quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vertinox (846076) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:59PM (#21482261)

    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
    -Ayn Rand

    Of course the same applies to copyright. The copyright laws have become so over reaching that everything we do on a daily basis could be construed as breaking a law, so if we displease the wrong person then they already have something to pin on us.
  • Law on Everybody (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gadzinka (256729) <rrw@hell.pl> on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:02PM (#21482309) Journal
    Watching as US Copyright goes south is particularly painful for someone who grew in a communist country. I was old enough before '89 to take part in political discourse, which often took form of political jokes. It was a kind of very bitter humor, uninteligible for someone who didn't breathe this air of suspicion and fear. So this is a kind of nasty flashback for me, as it reminds me the joke/saying from those times: there is a law on everybody*. As soon as you stick your head too high, to far, put your nose where it doesn't belong, someone will find a law that will punish you severly. It's kind of bitter irony, that it is US, the mythical Land of the Free of my youth.

    Robert

    * pl. na kazdego jest paragraf

    PS The nineties called and they want their "iso-8859-1 hardcoded webpages" back. Need I wait for "Web 5.0" to be able to use non-latin1 characters in /. comments?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fallingcow (213461)

      PS The nineties called and they want their "iso-8859-1 hardcoded webpages" back. Need I wait for "Web 5.0" to be able to use non-latin1 characters in /. comments?


      In the mean time, see this [wikipedia.org] for how to get UTF-8 characters to show up in HTML.

      It's not a pretty solution, nor quick, but it will work.
      • It's not a pretty solution, nor quick, but it will work.

        Below, you can find the series of character pairs: first latin character, and than Polish diacritical character based on it (e.g. a-with-tail, c-acute, e-with-tail etc).

        a -
        c -
        e -
        l -
        n -
        o - ó
        s -
        z -
        z -

        All those characters have been given as html entity of the form &#000; Of them only the counterpart of "o" apears in Latin1 table, and consequently is the only one displayed. The rest of the characters disapears from the HTML source.

        So, once

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by spikedvodka (188722)
      Reminds me of a good joke:
      A Soviet, An American and an Austria are talking in a bar
      Soviet: You see, where I come from, we have the best system of laws: if it's not allowed, it is forbidden
      American: No, no, no, you have it backwards, in the USA we have the best system: If it's not forbidden, then it is allowed
      Austrian: Bah, both of you are wrong, we know what we're doing when it comes to the law: If it's forbidden, then it is allowed!
  • *sigh* (Score:3, Informative)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:15PM (#21482487) Journal
    I respect Schneider, I am for copyright reform (but never expect to see it un the US so long as we remain a plutocracy with a more or less meaningless vote), yet I was disappointed. I should not have RTFA; I only did so because it was Schneider's blog, yet the entire post was in the slashdot summary.

    I clicked on his link to the paper, and was disappionted to find a PDF. Google failed me when I made a cursory effort to find an HTML version.

    The paper he links is itself incorrect in its very first page when it speaks of "the rights of owners and users of creative works." The US Constitution makes it quite clear that the "owners" of creative works are we, the people. The copyright holder is NOT the "owner". He has a "limited time" monopoly on publication, NOT "ownership".

    When I've paid off my house, I will own it. I can pass it down to my decendants who can hand it down to theirs. My two registered copyrighted works, however, pass into the public domain after a rediculously long time.

    When I see an inaccuracy in the very first page of a paper, especially a whopper like this, hat's as far as I read. Sorry.

    -mcgrew
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      I clicked on his link to the paper, and was disappionted to find a PDF. Google failed me when I made a cursory effort to find an HTML version.

      Huh? Paste the link to the PDF into Google. It provides a "view as HTML" link.

      The paper he links is itself incorrect in its very first page when it speaks of "the rights of owners and users of creative works."

      "Owners" is the correct term, check the law [copyright.gov] yourself. At worst, you could say that the wording was ambiguous by not explicitly saying "copyrigh

  • by RockMFR (1022315) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:19PM (#21482525)
    Should I get a license to sing "Happy Birthday to You" from Warner Chappell [warnerchappell.com]? I guess I will, just to be safe...

    Name of the Client: me
    Description of the Presentation: birthday party
    Who will view the presentation? friends and family
    How many people will be attending the presentation? 20
    What is the number of locations where the presentation will take place? 1
    How many copies will be made? 25
    Will any copies be sold? No
    Please give a detailed description, including timing(s), of how the song will be used in the presentation: The song will be sung once before I blow out the candles on my birthday cake. There will be a camcorder set up and the recording will be sent to everybody at the party and some people who could not attend.
    Are you going to license an original master recording or are you going to re-record the song? Rerecording
    Will you be altering the Song's lyrics in any way: Yes
    If yes, please type new lyrics.
    Happy Birthday To You
    Happy Birthday To You
    Happy Birthday Dear RockMFR
    Happy Birthday To You
    And Many More
    On Channel 4
    And Scooby Doo
    On Channel 2
    And Frankenstein
    On Channel 9
    General Comments: no gifts, please

    *submits*

    Fee: $0.00

    :)
  • Huge stretches.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:24PM (#21482607) Homepage Journal
    The example has a number of things which either (1) are fair uses, (2) aren't infringements at all or (3) aren't subject to copyright at all.

    For example, the cell phone snapshot that happened to capture a copyright picture in the background -- that's clearly fair use. Displaying your tattoo in public doesn't make it a "public display." The forwarded emails are probably subject to an implied license and, even if they weren't, they may not contain sufficient creative expression to be copyrightable. The rough drawing of an architectural building is not an infringement (see 17 U.S.C. 120(a)). Reading the e.e. cummings poem is probably also fair use, especially if each student has a textbook containing the poem.

    Copyright law is generally *civil*, not criminal. In general, this means that a lot of wrongs are ignored by potential plaintiffs, just as a matter of tradition, convenience and politeness, just as they are with a lot of other civil wrongs -- nuisance, trespass, assault** (especially among children), etc..... Nobody goes around saying "Look at how many acts of trespass you committed today. We need to fix trespass law."

    [Note: I agree that copyright law needs some reforms; the repeal of Sonny Bono would be a great start. I just don't find this example to be very persuasive.}
    • by tepples (727027)

      The example has a number of things which either (1) are fair uses, (2) aren't infringements at all or (3) aren't subject to copyright at all.
      But do you have the money to pay a lawyer to prove it to the judge?

      In general, this means that a lot of wrongs are ignored by potential plaintiffs
      But it also means that plaintiffs have every right under the law to be dciks about it.
  • by SnowDog74 (745848) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:47PM (#21482907)
    This is why I do not read blogs... because they are rife with poorly researched theses such as this.

    The entire argument made in the excerpt is predicated upon completely ignoring 17 USC 1, Section 107, "Fair Use". Period.

    TFA is not newsworthy material.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pla (258480)
      The entire argument made in the excerpt is predicated upon completely ignoring 17 USC 1, Section 107, "Fair Use". Period.

      Fair use does not, however, count as a "right" in the normal sense of the word.

      It counts as a legal defense.

      Which means, even if you win, you've already lost - Time, at the very least, and money (lawyer's fees) if you want any shot at all of winning the case.
  • by syousef (465911) on Monday November 26, 2007 @04:24PM (#21484165) Journal
    What do you expect really.

    The entire idea that "I got here first, so I own it" is antiquated in the digital age. If someone can reproduce the steps you took to get there, someone will. The whole idea that the creator should continue to control their creation after it is released is just plain counter-productive. The separate issue of whether they should be compensated for their work is another matter entirely.

    Then there's the fact that companies spend billions on marketing then try to sue if someone uses the image they intentionally made popular. How asinine is that!

    What we need is a change to the law such that anyone may produce their own copies or derivatives once a work is made public BUT if they profit from a copy of someone else's creation, they must pay part (or all) of their revenue back to the copyright holder.

    As it stands copyright law is based on an 18th Century world (or rather part of the world) and the unique conditions of that time and place. They don't belong here and now.

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