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Home :: Copyright Law
06 Apr 2021
Back in the 1980s, everyone used the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet on their PCs.
In 1989, Borland released a competitor, Quattro Pro.
It used the same menu commands as 1-2-3 so that users could import their 1-2-3 spreadsheets
with keyboard macros.
Lotus sued Borland, and after a loss in the district court, Borland won on appeal, arguing
that the keyboard commands are a "method of operation" and not subject to copyright.
Lotus appealed to the Supreme Court, which deadlocked 4-4 (one justice was recused) in 1996.
That meant the appeals court decision was affirmed but it did not set a formal precedent.
Since then everyone assumed that settled the matter, you can't copyright the way a program works
or its interfaces.
Well, everyone except one guy in Hawaii.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/oragoog.html
14 Sep 2020
The Internet Archive scans paper books and lets people borrow the scans. In what they call Controlled
Digital Lending (CDL), scans of books still in copyright are limited to one person at a time per physical copy,
analogous to the one person at a time who can borrow a physical book from a library. For books not in
copyright, there's no limit on how many people can use the scans at once.
Earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they turned CDL into a National Emergency
Library that let multiple people borrow the in-copyright
scans as well, saying this was a temporary replacement while local libraries were closed, and indeed
they want back to the one-borrower CDL policy in mid-June.
The publishing industry has never liked CDL, and the expanded access was for them the last straw, leading four
large publishers to sue the Archive in early June to make them stop.
The suit is moving very slowly, with the current schedule running through at least September 2021 before
a trial could start,
but in the meantime, lots of people have opinions about the suit, such as a recent
in The Nation.
The public face of the Archive's CDL is
who started the Archive and still leads it.
Since those publishers are pretty faceless, the most visible public face of opposition to the CDL
Ed Hasbrouck, one of the leaders of the National Writers Union (to
which I belong so he's sort of my shop steward.)
Ed's written a lot about CDL, such as
this FAQ on the NWU web site.
I happen to know and like both Brewster and Ed, each of whom has been kind enough to invite me to dinner
at their respective houses when I was in town.
So which one is right?
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/cdl.html
22 Jul 2018
Carl Malamud's Public.Resource.Org
has for over 20 years been putting public documents online so they are easier
to find and use. He's been quite successful in getting documents online that were formerly
available only on paper, or only by paid subscription.
One project involves putting US laws online. In a lot of cases, laws
refer to standards maintained by private organizations. For example,
most state building codes require new construction to comply with the
National Electrical Code published by the private National Fire
Protection Association. There are thousands of standards used in laws
around the US, and in many cases the only way to find out what the standard
says, and hence what the law says, is to buy a copy from the publisher, or
at best to go to a library and read a paper copy.
PRO has been scanning and publishing standards on the theory that in the US, laws
are not copyrighted, so if a standard's part of the law, it's not copyrighted either.
Unsurprisingly, the standards publishers disagreed.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/publicstandard.html
26 Jun 2014
Aereo is (was?) a system with a large array of tiny TV antennas,
each of which is assigned to a customer who can pick a channel
and record it on a remote DVR system and/or stream it through
the Internet. TV networks claimed they had to pay for retransmission
like a CATV system.
The Supreme Court
yesterday in the networks' favor.
I'm not a constitutional law scholar, but I play one on the net, so ...
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/aereo.html
19 Apr 2014
I used to say to our audiences: "It is difficult to
get a man to understand something when his salary depends
on his not understanding it!"
- Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And how I Got Licked, (1935), p. 109
In November, the Authors Guild suffered a
in their long running suit against Google's book scanning project,
with a broad decision agreeing with Google that the scans are protected by fair use.
Not surprisingly, they're making a last ditch appeal to the Second Circuit.
While I see no realistic chance of them winning, not least because Judge Chin
who wrote that decision is now a well respected member of the court to which they
it's always interesting to see how they think they'll get the court to reverse.
all I can say is, it's really strange.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/agaltrel.html
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