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Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance. After decades of ever more draconian statutes and judicial decisions, our intellectual property system has veered far away from its original purpose. Too often, our nation’s deeply held-commitments to promoting free speech and innovation seem to go out the window as soon as someone cries “infringement.” An unproven allegation that your video or blog post infringes copyright, or that your domain name infringes someone’s trademark, can be enough to shut down perfectly lawful speech. A bogus lawsuit based on an obscure patent can be enough to kill your promising and innovative startup. It doesn’t have to be this way. Ideally, intellectual property law—generally, copyright, patent, and trademark—is supposed to embody a balanced incentive system. Trademarks work a little differently—they are supposed to protect consumers by encouraging sellers of goods and services to stand by their brand, so consumers will know what they are buying.

What does that veto look like? Trade Agreements and Digital Rights. Trade agreements are treaties between two or more countries by which they agree on common rules relating to trade, committing to implement these in their own countries through domestic laws and policies. Originally, these sorts of agreements dealt only with issues such as tariffs, agricultural and industrial subsidies, and other trade barriers. But more recently powerful private and public actors have taken advantage of these secret, opaque processes to enact extreme digital policies, on the theory that these too impact trade. Trade agreements are one mechanism they use to pass Internet rules that would not otherwise survive the scrutiny of transparent, democratic rule making. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), are a few such deals.

. * Expand Copyright Terms: Reinforce and extend already-excessive lengths of copyright restriction beyond existing international norms. Sorry iPhone Users: Apple’s Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App for iOS. Today we launched a new app that will make it easier for people to take action on digital rights issues using their phone. The app allows folks to connect to our action center quickly and easily, using a variety of mobile devices. Sadly, though, we had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them.

Why? Because we could not agree to the outrageous terms in Apple’s Developer Agreement and Apple’s DRM requirements. As we have been saying for years now, the Developer Agreement is bad for developers and users alike. Here are a few of the terms that we are worried about: Ban on Public Statements: Section 10.4 prohibits developers from making any "public statements" about the terms of the Agreement. App Store Only: Section 7.3 makes it clear that any applications developed using Apple's SDK may only be publicly distributed through the App Store, and that Apple can reject an app for any reason, even if it meets all the formal requirements disclosed by Apple.

Intellectual property. It's Time to Legalize Cell Phone Unlocking. Official White House Response to Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal. By R. David Edelman Thank you for sharing your views on cell phone unlocking with us through your petition on our We the People platform. Last week the White House brought together experts from across government who work on telecommunications, technology, and copyright policy, and we're pleased to offer our response. The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties.

This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs -- even if it isn't the one on which the device was first activated. Contrary to the NTIA's recommendation, the Librarian of Congress ruled that phones purchased after January of this year would no longer be exempted from the DMCA. So where do we go from here? R. Twitter’s New Transparency Report Shows Increase in Government Demands, Sheds Light on Copyright Takedowns. Yesterday, Twitter released its second semi-annual transparency report, which details the numbers behind every user data demand, censorship order and copyright takedown request that the micro-blogging site received in the second half of 2012. As with Google’s transparency report last week, there was a clear increase in government demands for user data, with the United States leading the way by far.

Censorship requests from around the world also increased. In addition, the report shed valuable light on the copyright takedown procedure that also often results in undue censorship. With their respective reports, Twitter and Google are leaders in a positive new trend of sharing information that sheds new light on just how government surveillance and censorship works. It should be a model for other companies, including Facebook, Skype, and cell phone carriers. Let’s take a deeper look at the information Twitter provided: Data Demands Censorship Orders Copyright Takedown Requests. Twitter's Surprising Solution to the Patent Problem: Let Employees Control Them | Wired Opinion.

Drawing taken from a Twitter patent application (source: USPTO) Here’s the current state of affairs in the industry. Engineers and designers typically sign an assignment agreement with their company. That agreement irrevocably gives that company ownership of any patents filed related to the employee’s work. The agreements all read the same: The inventor agrees to “sell, assign, and transfer” to the company “all right, title, and interest” to their inventions. But what if we could keep control of the patent in the hands of engineers and designers … the very people who created the innovations in the first place?

Ben Lee is the head of litigation and intellectual property at Twitter. Since Twitter doesn’t want patents to impede the innovation of others, we developed a new type of patent agreement between an inventor and a company: the Innovator’s Patent Agreement, informally called the “IPA.” A Promise Not to Sue Anyone Unless for a Defensive Purpose This approach is not limited to Twitter. Copyright Removal Requests – Google Transparency Report. Copyright Strikes Again: 'Real Calvin And Hobbes' Shut Down By Copyright Claim. It's early in the week, but it seems like there have been a whole bunch of stories already about copyright being used (and abused) to take down content. The latest victim, tragically, is the blog that was Real Calvin and Hobbes by Michael Den Beste, in which he would take scenes from the classic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and place them in "real photographs.

" Like many people of my generation, I grew up completely addicted to Calvin & Hobbes. I bought all the books, and even now, decades later, I keep The Complete Calvin & Hobbes on my night table, and I enjoy reading it with my son. While I know that Watterson always fought back against attempts to license out the work, it still seems fairly ridiculous that his publisher, Andrews McMeel Universal, has told Den Beste that he needs to take down the works because they are infringing, in their view. Hi Michael, Thanks for your inquiry. Of course, it's not just the copyright holder who gets to determine copyright infringement. NY Judge: An IP-Address Doesn’t Identify a Person (or BitTorrent Pirate) A landmark ruling in one of the many mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US has delivered a severe blow to a thus far lucrative business. Among other things, New York Judge Gary Brown explains in great detail why an IP-address is not sufficient evidence to identify copyright infringers.

According to the Judge this lack of specific evidence means that many alleged BitTorrent pirates have been wrongfully accused by copyright holders. Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits have been dragging on for more than two years in the US, involving more than a quarter million alleged downloaders. The copyright holders who start these cases generally provide nothing more than an IP-address as evidence. The problem, however, is that the person listed as the account holder is often not the person who downloaded the infringing material. Previous judges who handled BitTorrent cases have made observations along these lines, but none have been as detailed as New York Magistrate Judge Gary Brown was in a recent order. FL Judge: IP-Address Is Not a Person and Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate. An important ruling in Florida has made it more difficult for copyright holders to extract cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates.

District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed a lawsuit filed by Malibu Media, arguing that the IP-address evidence can't identify the person who actually downloaded the pirated file. Over the past several years hundreds of thousands of alleged BitTorrent pirates have been sued by so-called ‘copyright trolls’ in the United States. The rightsholders bringing these cases generally rely on an IP address as evidence. They then ask the courts to grant a subpoena, forcing Internet providers to hand over the personal details of the associated account holder.

The problem, however, is that the person listed as the account holder is often not the person who downloaded the infringing material. Responding to this order to show cause, Malibu Media gave an overview of their data gathering techniques. The order. Chilling Effects Clearinghouse - A Behind-The-Scenes Look At How DRM Becomes Law -- DRM -- InformationWeek.

Cory Doctorow looks at the back room dealing that allowed entertainment companies and electronics companies to craft public policy on digital rights management. Otto von Bismarck quipped, "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made. " I've seen sausages made. I've seen laws made. Both processes are pleasant in comparison to the way anti-copying technology agreements are made. This technology, usually called "Digital Rights Management" (DRM) proposes to make it hard for your computer to copy some files. Because all computer operations involve copying, this is a daunting task -- as security expert Bruce Schneier has said, "Making bits harder to copy is like making water that's less wet. " At root, DRMs are technologies that treat the owner of a computer or other device as an attacker, someone against whom the system must be armored. Why manufacture a device that attacks its owner? The reward is the entertainment industries' promise of access to their copyrighted works.

Long Live the Web.