Copyfraud, Piracy, and the book I just read
Just recently SOPA became a big deal. If you haven't hear the basics Michael Geist provides a snappy overview. The intersection of copyright and internet access issues have really come into the main stream in the past year or so. Net Neutrality, Usage Based Billing, File Sharing becoming an official religion in Sweden. It has been an interesting past few months.
What I find ironic most of all is that the United States, a entity that prides itself on being a free market, deregulated, small Government society, is pushing so hard for far reaching, ever extending Copyright term extensions. I can't see this push being something that the American people are working for. After all I don't remember any campaign promises last presidential election stating that Copyright needs 20 More Year! To me it seems this is the direct result of lobbyists for content creators. *Cough* RIAA *Cough* MPAA *Cough*
Another startling tactic being employed by the Copyright lobby is something Jason Mazzone calls Copyfraud, which he elucidates in his book Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law. Put simply:
Copyfraud is therefore the term I use to refer to the act of falsely claiming a copyright in a public domain work. In the topology I use in this book to classify forms of overreaching, copyfraud entails a false claim to intellectual property where none exists.
(Emphasis mine.) I first heard about this book on the great site Torrent Freak. In all it is a great overview of the American Copyright landscape and explains how the magical fair use provision has traditionally enable people to use Copyrighted material for educational, and satirical purposes and how it has been challenged in courts. Two points in the book have resonated in my mind since finished the book:
- The doctrine of first sale, doesn't work on streamed media since no 'purchase' has been undertaken and there fore no transfer of goods. Be prepared for the streaming culture
- It costs about a 20 cents a page to license content from the out of copyright The Federalist. Why? Mostly because publishers want to indemnify themselves for any potential copyright claims.
The book is great. One caution though, the last third is full of legalese that detracts from the readability a bit. Search for it on WorldCat.
Now is the time for the call to arms!
I led off with a brief mention of SOPA. Every fan of the Internet should educate themselves on the upcoming battle for the internet that has been slowly brewing for some time. SOPA is the current hurdle but things could potentially get worse. Here's a video of Cory Doctorow explaining about the upcoming War of General Purpose Computing. Sound corny? Watch the video, I don't think any of his claims are outlandish. It's just a matter of time before we see companies attempt the things he talks about.
Copyright exists to protect content creators. I'm all good for that. However I'm strangely compelled by how cogent the following argument is: