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Court Ruling Limits Copyright Claims 115

Spamicles writes "A federal appellate panel in Atlanta has reversed its circuit's 6-year-old opinion in a major copyright case, declaring the ruling's mandate on behalf of freelance photographers to be "moot." Until now, publishers could be forced to share with freelancers whenever they reproduce and sell those freelancers' previously published works in merchandise designed for computer access. The new ruling says that reproduction on a CD or other media is not a new use of formerly published issues. The full court decision (pdf) is available online, and has an analysis of the ruling's repercussions."
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Court Ruling Limits Copyright Claims

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  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @11:35AM (#19609023) Homepage Journal
    Common sense says that making a photograph part of a database or even electronic montage is creating a new derivative work.

    You should no more be allowed to reproduce a freelancer's photograph in a CD collection than you should be allowed to reproduce a writer's story in an anthology.

    Of course, the problem probably doesn't exist because I can't imagine anybody not covering this in the contracts of sale.

    With respect to National Geographic's problem of being able to control their archives, the answer is much simpler than abusing copyright holder's rights. Copyright should have a reasonable term limitation, say seventeen years. Within a few years, all the stuff not covered under modern contracts
  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @11:46AM (#19609173)
    Have you ever been to Jamaica? I doubt it, because you didn't use them as another example for your theory.

    On most of those islands, there are indeeds traffic lights and whatnot, but only where absolutely necessary. In most places where roads meet, they rely on courtesy to know goes when. You'll be in a taxi and he'll just stop at a crossing with no sign to do so, simply because it's courteous and they do it that way there.

    On top of that, they drive like madmen. There are no speed limits and they cut in and out like crazy. And yet they have very very few accidents. Why? The same reason as your parking lot theory: They have to be more aware of what's going on.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @11:49AM (#19609219)
    It's a bit grayer for me.

    If they put out the exact magazine as it originally appeared - but on CD. Then I see it as being on the right side of the line.

    If they change the format in anyway then it's clearly new stuff.


    now to flip flop.

    OTH- the original sale was for say... 1.125 million copies of national geographic. If they are now selling another 7.2 million copies of the issues, it would seem some new compensation was due to the photographers.

    OTOOH- The CD is being sold for something like $35 bucks for thousands of dollars worth of magazines at the original price. So the additional profits are tiny and the new compensation should be pretty darn small- and might even be swamped by the cost of calculating who is owed what.
  • by Maudib ( 223520 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:00PM (#19609391)
    I have read many comments where people are characterizing this as a battle between the big evil corporations and the individual. Not only is that not the case here, but in this fight it is the individual photographers who are most closely aligned with the RIAA/MPAA copyright goals.

    National Geographic and the NYT are arguing that once they have purchased the rights to produce/distribute content, then it doesnt matter if this content is displayed on a piece of paper, a computer screen or a rock. They are making our argument, that just because they switch the physical medium upon which they transmit the content they should not be forced to purchase an additional license to that content. The freelance artists here would like to see separate royalties for each medium, and to have the content locked up as tightly as possible. I see strong parallels here to fair use.

    Now the the freelancer's argument is that by changing the medium one has created a new and seperate product deserving of additional royalties. This seems entirely unreasonable to me. National Geographic didn't take the photographs and create a new book or movie, they reproduced 1 to 1 the magazine issues on a CD. The medium is no more relevant then going from tape to cd to dvd with audio.
      Should filmmakers get additional royalties because a TV station switched to HD broadcasting?
    The National Geographic and NYT are fighting for greater freedom of information. Who's side are you on?
  • Re:What about use? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dwarfking ( 95773 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:35PM (#19609911) Homepage

    That should already be covered under the fair use provision. What you don't have is the right to distribute the work on another medium. You pay a for a licenses to use music or movies or software. A publisher pays for the right to publish a work in any media format.

    IANAL, but the way I read this ruling was that if the contract does not directly address the media type, and the original work is not modified into something new, then the publisher has already paid for the right to publish the work.

    As a related, though slightly off topic issue, I have a son that just graduated high school. All of his class pictures are represented as being "owned" by the photographer. They claim the copyright on all the kid's photos.

    The photographer thought my son photographed well and asked permission to use his pictures in their sales brochures. My son and wife told the photographer they wanted me to review the paperwork.

    Upon reading this "release" it basically stated that if we approved, the photographer would then own the copyright to my son's image, period. No details about "only for use in their advertising."

    When I challenged them on that detail they indicated that was "standard practice" and they only meant for advertising. I offered a change to the release wording which they refused so I declined to allow it.

    My point on this is that everyone is looking to get as much control as they can, whether it is the publisher looking to say they already have the right to reprint or the photographer claiming they own the copyright on the image, so all I see with these rulings is see-sawing back and forth as to who owns what.

    In the end, the consumers are the ones that own nothing.

  • by The Angry Mick ( 632931 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @12:48PM (#19610091) Homepage

    They have to be more aware of what's going on.

    Whereas we, on the other hand, are making some very important calls.

    Seriously, the best way to avoid an accident is to pay attention to what you're doing, and realize that life itself does not revolve around your schedule. Courtesy makes the driving experience more enjoyable for everyone, but caution will keep you from getting squished.

    When I was learning to drive, my Dad beat me over the head with detailed questions. What color is the car behind you? How close is it? If the woman in front of you, the one applying mascara and reading the latest Stephen King, were to drop the book, could you stop in time when she slams on the brakes? Are turn signals optional equipment? [usually accompanied by a smack to the head] He taught me to constantly scan the road and look at everything that was going on around me. The end result was I learned to be patient - not driving like there's a NASCAR ranking on the line - and cautious - better able to react to the selfish gits who could care less about the safety of their fellow man.

  • Re:LOL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:07PM (#19610395)

    The last two examples I gave occurred in the last twenty years (DUI laws and Smoking Bans). And while, being basically a Libertarian at heart I don't care much for bans of that nature, it is very hard to argue that these laws were bought and paid for by their beneficiaries. "Old-school" romanticizes what is basically an unromantic past, filled with politicans serving either themselves or monied interests. Remember the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Dawes Act, Taft-Hartley, and a panoply of Railroad and Industry legislation at the turn of the nineteenth whole basic purpose was to put money in owners' pockets, these were all laws passed in the "old-school" days to which you unduly grant adulation. The overall truth, which is as true today as it was a hundred years ago, is that much legislation is bought and paid for, but there are always significant and life-changing exceptions in every period, with real statesmen approaching issues of public concern and prevailing on the public's behalf.

    I agree on Ron Paul, he is a breath of fresh air. Obama is similar on the other side; a fresh message, actual optimism, and not governing straight from opinion polls. The rest of both fields leave me with a bitter, bored taste, and if neither of them is on the final ballot I will probably just cast my quadriennial protest vote for whoever the LP puts up.

  • by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdot@krwt e c h . c om> on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:44PM (#19610925) Journal
    This reminds me of TSR/WOTC publishing the first 250 issues of Dragon magazine back in 1999. I remember a lot of discussion over why things like ads and whatnot were included. A WOTC rep at the time (perhaps Ryan Dancey?) stated that the reason why the magazines were fully converted to PDF and they didn't strip anything out was because they had the right to republish their work in whole but didn't necessarily have the right to republish freelance content in a different publication. When Dragon was first published in 1976, nobody on either side of the contract ever even considered the idea that in the future, it would be completely trivial and cheap to distribute works in an ala carte type fashion. The solution to getting an article was to just procure a backissue of the magazine.

    Anyway... WOTC felt that they were simply reproducing the content of the magazine, albeit on a new medium, and as long as it was an identical reproduction, they were within their rights. This court ruling seems to agree with that. Some people were happy about it and some grumbled.

    Somewhat offtopic but related since it involves a potential copyright grab by the same company in the same timeframe...
    More disturbing to me at the time, was Ryan Dancey going around implying that all unique work (such as campaign settings, character classes, spells, etc created by you in your home and for your friends) used in [A]D&D games at the time was derivative of [A]D&D and thus, at least in part, controlled and/or owned by TSR/WOTC. I promptly pulled all of the info on the setting I created off my website and have never put it back up since. Ignoring that I didn't care for the rule changes of D&D3 to begin with, I didn't trust the motives of WOTC when they came out with the D20 license and the market pretty much lost me completely in terms of buying new material. I'm still working on collecting some rare AD&D1/2 stuff that I don't have but I haven't bought a new book from TSR since somewhere around 1999/2000. I also stopped development on a suite of tools I was making to make things easier for DMs. The flamewars between Dancey and various community members in at the time (hey seebs, if you read this) made the recent week-long flamewar over the GPL3 on LKML look rather tame.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 22, 2007 @01:58PM (#19611165)
    "The end result was I learned to be patient - not driving like there's a NASCAR ranking on the line"

    If everyone drove on the highways and what not with the attention and concentration (not speed of course) that the average NASCAR driver does during competition I suspect the accident rate would drop to near zero.
  • by Retric ( 704075 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @02:11PM (#19611347)
    Hmm, this still brings up other issues. If the format is not an issue you should be able to rip CD's to MP3's without issue.

    AKA I have a CD and I want an MP3. The fact that I need to copy it as part of the change is ok because the goal is OK.
  • by Coward Anonymous ( 110649 ) on Friday June 22, 2007 @02:20PM (#19611483)
    I love anecdotal stories like yours because they are so often just plain wrong even though they sound very appealing.
    In this case, Jamaica has far more (~900%) road deaths per licensed vehicle than the good ol' US and they are close to equivalent, with the U.S. a bit higher (14%) in road deaths per capita... earea/publications/1_771_Pa3568.pdf []

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson