Category Archives: Law: Copyright and DMCA

What He Said (Copyright Dept.)

Randy Picker has it exactly right in Politics, Copyright and the First-Amendment Commons.

When I saw NBC’s mendacious moaning about the Romney campaign’s use of archival NBC footage from 1997 of Tom Brokaw reporting on Newt Gingrich’s ethics problems, I immediately thought it to be about as fair use as fair use can be. But Picker also sees a bigger picture:

[T]he trump card that NBC and Brokaw sought to play would seem to mean that professional video representations of historical facts would simply be taken off of the table for political campaigns. It is hard to see how NBC and similar organizations could ever consent to use, given that consent itself would seem to be inconsistent with the neutral role of news organizations. Far better to have the fair use regime, where there is no consent and no sense of endorsement by a news organiation of one campaign over another.

Then we get to the bigger picture on this. I have this sense, with more frequency than I would like, that major media organizations think of the First Amendment as something that runs in their favor but never against them. A First Amendment for me but not for thee. It would have been nice if NBC and Mr. Brokaw had seen this as an opportunity to invest in the First Amendment ecosystem. That would have meant acknowledging the legitimacy of the use of the video clip by the Romney campaign and the need for such use in a vibrant democracy. Instead, NBC saw its interest in the narrowest terms possible and threw away a great opportunity to demonstrate how the First Amendment should work in a robust democracy.

(PS. For those with a poor memory of ancient history as regarding second-rate political figures, Newt Gingrich was briefly considered a serious challenger to Rick Santorum in the 2012 GOP Presidential contest.)

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA | Leave a comment

Open Access Research – The Money Quote

The NIH public-access policy has substantially increased public access to research results with benefits as described below that far outweigh the costs. Similar benefits can be expected from extending such a public access policy to other major federal funders.

from Committee for Economic Development, The Future of Taxpayer-Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results? issued last week.

Posted in Econ & Money, Internet, Law: Copyright and DMCA, Readings | 1 Comment

The Name-Your-Own-Price Pricing Model Applied to Casebooks, A Field Report

What if you let law students choose what they would pay for their (digital) casebook? Would you make any money?

That’s the gamble behind the Semaphore Press, the publishers of James Grimmelmann‘s, Internet Law: Cases and Problems, which is the book I am using in my Internet Law class this semester.

Semaphore Press’s name-your-own-price publishing model was publicized by Radiohead (although not invented by them). It is very different from the traditional law school casebook publishers who now charge well upwards of $100 per book. The Press suggests students pay $30 for this casebook, but allows them to pay as little as a penny:

What do you have to pay?
Each publication has a suggested price. We price full casebooks based on our belief that it is fair to ask a student pay about $1 for the reading material for each one-hour class session. Different schools use different calendars and credit hours, so we’ve settled on a suggested price for most of our casebooks of $30. We ask that you pay the suggested price either with a credit card (by clicking the appropriate link on our page), or by sending us a check, and then download a digital copy of the casebook. Note that if your professor has assigned, e.g., only 10 class sessions of material from a Semaphore Press book, then we suggest that you pay $10.

We have expenses that we need to cover. Our authors hope, and deserve, to receive some royalty revenue from the works that they’ve created. But we also recognize that law school is expensive. We’ve heard stories of students not buying the required books because they just can’t afford them. These students – who want to learn just as much as those who can afford the books – borrow a classmate’s book some days, read the copy that is on reserve in the library other days, and some days simply can’t do the reading. We think that is not the best way to go about obtaining, or offering, an excellent legal education. Download the required reading and pay what you can, or what you think is fair.

The risk of freeriders
We know that the biggest risk to our business model is freeriders. If too many students pay little or nothing for the materials they download, Semaphore Press won’t be able to pay its bills over the long run, and we won’t be able to attract authors to publish their casebooks with us. Put simply, we need a critical mass of students to pay for the materials they download. Be a part of the solution to $130 casebooks, by fostering the creation of $30 casebooks: Please pay the suggested price. If you can’t pay it, please at least pay something to help Semaphore Press succeed.

In my introductory note to my students, I repeated to the language Semaphore requests faculty use:

This book has a suggested price of $30. I urge you to pay the suggested retail price in order to keep high-quality legal educational material available at reasonable prices. You might want to read the Semaphore Press FAQ before you buy the book.

I was curious: What did law students, a notoriously hard-bitten bunch, actually pay? So I asked them. Every student in my class was asked to write on a piece of paper, without their names, how much they paid, their age, gender, and what year of law school they were in. The tallied results are interesting.

Average price paid in entire class: $21.19 N=26

Average male payment: $20.63 N=16
Average female payment: $22.10 N=10
Average 2L payment: $23.40
Average 3L payment: $17.00
1 LLM @ $30

Paid zero: 5 (3M 3L, 1F 3L, 1M 2L)
Paid $.01: 1 (1M 3L)
Paid $.02-$29.99: 3 (3F: $5, $15, $20)
Paid $30.00 :1 7 (11M 6F)
Paid over $30: none

Age range was 23-29, no particular correlations seemed visible.

We might also conclude from this small sample that the Semaphore Press model may have a future. This is consistent with the Radiohead experience, by the way: as Ed Felton noted in 2007, Radiohead’s Low Price Might Mean Higher Profit. Casebooks are perhaps even less highly substitutable than songs, and the demand is likely less elastic, so the parallel is far from exact. Even so, I think it’s an interesting result.

(We might also conclude from this small sample that male 3Ls are cheap.)

Meanwhile, however, even though name-your-own-price seems to have worked out well for Radiohead, for their latest album Radiohead have gone back to fixed prices.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Law: Internet Law | Leave a comment

YouTube Has Regional Controls

Someone I met recently recommended I listen to the Scissor Sisters so I went to YouTube to get some sense of what their music was like.

I was very surprised to find that I could not play the video for a song called Laura. All I got was a message saying

The uploader has not made this video available in your country.
Sorry about that.

Try playing it yourself, and you you get content, please let me know where you are, what platform you are using, and how the song is.

YouTube/Google is not only within its rights to do this, it may even be a legal requirement in some cases, but I see it as a further harbinger of the socially costly fragmentation of the Internet.

Posted in Kultcha, Law: Copyright and DMCA | 3 Comments

Pacemaker Recipient Wants Source Code to Know What’s in Her Body

Interesting issue:

Lawyer Karen Sandler’s heart condition means she needs a pacemaker-defibrillator to avoid sudden death, so she has one simple question: what software does it run?

Yet it turns out that it’s impossible for her to see and understand the technology that’s being installed into her own body and upon which her life depends. Regulatory authorities don’t see or review the software either.

Despite the Australian provenance of the “Cyborg lawyer demands software source” story, this is the same Karen Sandler who is executive director of the GNOME Foundation, lives in New York, and has http://punkrocklawyer.com/.

Spotted via Slashdot.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | Leave a comment

Microsoft Women and Minority Law Student IP Summit to be Held at UM

The 8th annual Microsoft Women and Minority Law Student IP Summit will be held at the Newman Alumni Center here at UM, on Friday, November 11 from 1:30 – 8:00 p.m.

The IP Diversity Summit is an opportunity for law students from diverse backgrounds to learn about different career paths in intellectual property law, while networking with attorneys from leading companies and law firms. Microsoft has hosted prior summits in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin. This year is our turn.

Registration begins at 1:30 with students and faculty invited to attend some or all sessions. The event includes an overview of the principal areas covered by IP law, a career discussion with lawyers representing a broad range of paths to IP, as well as a panel specifically focused on what firms and companies are doing to support IP law career opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. The panels will be followed by a networking reception, with hors d’oeuvres and a hosted bar for law students, law firms and participating companies and organizations. The IP Diversity Summit is open to all law students, and the organizers “strongly encourage participation by women, minorities, LGBT and students with disabilities in particular”. Admission for students us free, but space is limited so students should register on-line in advance.

Agenda:

1:30 – 2:00 pm Registration: University of Miami Newman Alumni Center, Gumenick Family Lobby (must be pre-registered online)
2:00 – 3:00 pm IP Law 101
3:15 – 4:45 pm Panel Discussion “Careers in IP”
5:00 – 6:15 pm Panel Discussion “Diversity in the Legal Profession”
6:15 – 8:00 pm Networking Reception – Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson Living Room

Posted in Law School, Law: Copyright and DMCA | Leave a comment

Oral Argument in Golan Case

The Supreme Court has posted the transcript of today’s (!) oral argument in Golan v. Holder, the case about the constitutionality of taking works out of the public domain and extending copyright protection to them.

It’s an unusually good argument on all three sides (2 advocates and the court), but I think that Anthony T. Falzone’s effort for the Petitioners was especially impressive.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Law: The Supremes | 2 Comments