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18 Dec 2023
The Internet Archive has a program they call Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).
They have scanned a whole lot of physical books, put the books in storage, and
then lend out the scans, ensuring that each scan is lent to one person at a
Publishers don't like this, sued several years ago, and the Archive lost thoroughly in April.
The judge ruled on a motion for summary judgment without a trial, which means
the judge believed there was no significant dispute about the facts.
He found that CDL was not fair use, the scans were a substitute for the paper books,
and the Archive lost.
Unsurprisingly, the Archive has appealed the ruling.
This looked to me to be a long shot.
The appeal is to the Second Circuit which decided the Google Books case.
Their decision said that Google's scanning is OK because they don't provide the
full contents of the books, but do other stuff that makes it transformative.
Since the Archive does provide the full contents of the books, they're
out of luck.
The Archive appealed in September but until recently the only activity has been
routine stuff like which lawyers will be representing whom
On Friday they filed
laying out the legal theory of the appeal, and I have to say it's surprisingly strong.
They say that the judge misunderstood what CDL is, that he got all four prongs of the fair use
analysis wrong, and that there are significant disagreements about facts that prevent summary judgment.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/pubappeal.html
14 Aug 2023
In 2020 a group of book publishers sued the Internet Archive over their Controlled Digital
Lending program, which made PDF scans of books and lent them out from the Archive's
For books still in copyright, the Archive usually limited the number of copies of a book
lent to the number of physical copies of the book they had in storage.
Several publishers sued with an argument that can be summarized as
"that's not how it works".
In late March the judge made a ruling that can be summarized
as "of course that's not how it works."
(More background here.)
After several months of quiet negotiations, on Friday the two
proposed consent agreement in which the Archive promised to stop it, and pay the plaintiffs
an undisclosed but presumably not huge amount of money.
The only disagreement was exactly what they promise to stop, with letters from each
to the judge explaining their positions.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/fryingfire.html
07 May 2023
Large Language Models (LLM) like GPT-4 and its front end ChatGPT work by ingesting
gigantic amounts of text from the Internet to train the model, and then responding to prompts
with text generated from those models.
Depending on who you ask, this is either one step (or maybe no steps) from Artificial General
Intelligence, or as Ted Chiang wrote in the New Yorker,
ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web.
While I have my opinions about that, at this point I'm considering what the relationship
is under copyright law between the input text and the output text.
Keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer, and no court has yet decided a LLM case, let's take a look.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/llmcopy.html
14 Apr 2023
The Internet Archive has for several years run a program they call Controlled Digital Lending (CDL.)
The Archive takes physical paper books, scans them, puts the books in storage, and
then lends out the scans, with each scan lent to only one person at a time.
Their theory is that the scans are equivalent to the books, so what they're doing is
the same as when a library lends physical books.
Not surprisingly, book publishers don't like this since they have their own idea about
how e-books work. In 2020 several publishers sued, and on March 24 the court ruled
quite firmly in favor of the publishers and said there is no such thing as CDL.
While there was a lot not to like about the plaintiffs, and there are certainly reasons to want CDL to exist
in some form, this decision reminds us that wishful thinking is not a substitute for legal
What we think the law should say, or wishes it said, is not what it actually says.
It also reminds us yet again why copyright law is such a poor fit for digital materals.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/nocdl.html
22 Mar 2023
CDA Section 230 has been called ``The 26
Words that Created the Internet''.
While it is obvious how Sec 230 protects the World Wide Web, it is equally
important for e-mail.
A recent Pennsylvania court case emphasizes this point.
Dr. Thomas, a professor at the Univeristy of Pennysylvania forwarded an article about another
professor Dr. Monge to an online e-mail discussion list.
Dr. Monge claimed the article was
defamatory and sued Dr Thomas, the university, and many others.
But since neither Dr Thomas, nor the university were the author of the article,
under Sec 230 they were quickly dismissed from the case.
This is good news for anyone who (like me) runs mailing lists for other people.
If we were legally responsible for everything anyone said on a list, the number
of lists would be a whole lot smaller.
But Sec 230 doesn't just protect mailing lists. It also protects spam filtering,
and on the modern Internet, mail without filtering would be unusable.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Email/sec230spam.html
11 Jan 2023
We hear that the widely touted ChatGPT can do a respectable job writing high school
essays, malware ransom notes, and the like. When it writes a document,
who owns the copyright?
An acquaintance asked ChatGPT for its advice and unsurprisingly it suggested
updating copyright law to give special recognition to material written
by AI software. (Tomorrow I plan to ask an herbalist if I should use more herbs.)
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/notai.html
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