Posted on December 30, 2007 in copyright, NTC, NTEN by Brian RoweComments Off

I am very excited to announce that we will be running a copyright panel at this year’s NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference). The Conference is in New Orleans and runs from March 19th through the 21st. The panel will be focusing on best practices for non profits including Creative Commons, GPL, BSD, Wiki’s and User Generated Content.

Here are the details:
Generation Y meets Printing Press Law: Copyright questions in the digital age
Friday, March 21 , 2008
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Brian Rowe | Freedom for IP, Founder
Sarah Davies | ACLU of Washington, Internet Operations Manager
Others TBA

This interactive panel discussion will delve into the sticky mess of online copyright. User-generated content is an unforeseen battle-ground for legal rights on the internet. We will talk about what some organizations have done to clarify ownership of online content, from very restrictive to entirely open. Your organization’s values around community and sharing should be reflected in your copyright choices. Help us discuss how to make those choices and what your plans and fears are for the future.

NTC Registration – Early registration ends the 15 of January

Posted on December 28, 2007 in Uncategorized by Riana PfefferkornComments Off

DLA Piper’s Mark Radcliffe blogs about the Top 10 FOSS Legal Stories of 2007. Hat tip: Eric Goldman (lots of interesting stuff in his link roundup for this month).

In other news, you have 3 days left to make donations to charity that you can deduct from this year’s taxes. Wendy Seltzer has a few suggestions.
Posted on December 28, 2007 in 3D, File Sharing, Freedom to Tinker, Neil Gaiman by Brian RoweComments Off

Author Neil Gaiman responded on his blog to a reader asking about file sharing of two movies he cowrote – Beowulf and Stardust. They have both been more popular with P2P than in the box office. His response is very practical: add value to the in-theater experience, legitimize downloads and self distribute.

Guest Blogger Mitch Golden at Freedom to Tinker makes very similar points about 3D yesterday: “you could just download this fantasy flick and see it on your widescreen monitor. But unless you give us $11 and sit in a dark theater with the polarized glasses, you won’t be seeing the half-naked Angelina Jolie literally popping off the screen!”

Full letter and response from Gaiman’s blog

Dear Neil,

I wonder how you feel about both Beowulf & Stardust being among the top 10 most P2P traded movies of the year?

Are you glad that they’re popular, or do you wish people would actually pay for them?



I’m simply glad that they’re popular.

I suspect that in a few years you’ll be able legitimately to download a film the same day it goes on general release, and go to cinemas for an experience you’ll not be able to get elsewhere (Beowulf is a much better film in 3D, and, interestingly, did 40% of its first week business on 700 3D screens. The 3D thing is not something you can experience from a pirated download, not yet,) and one day the people who made the film (including the writers) will be properly compensated for it. Because mostly the solution to piracy seems to be providing the pirated thing yourself…

Gaiman photo by Kimberly Butler

Posted on December 27, 2007 in Free Culture, open access, SPARC, Students for Free Culture by Brian RoweComments Off

SPARC has started their own Innovator Awards to recognize students who are helping move scholarly communication towards an open access model. SPARC, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system. This years SPARC awards were heavily pervaded by students in the Free Culture movement.

Here are this years winners:

* “The Technologist,” Benjamin Mako Hill, Graduate of the MIT Media Lab, current Researcher at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, Fellow in the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, and engineer of the 2007 “Overprice Tags” project at the MIT library.

* “The Professional,” Gavin Baker. Political Studies graduate of the University of Florida, Open Access Director for Students for Free Culture, and co-mastermind of the National Day of Action for Open Access, February 2007.

* “The Politician,” Nick Shockey. Current undergraduate and Student Senator at Trinity University in San Antonio and author of the second-ever student senate resolution in favor of public access to publicly funded research results.

* “The Diplomat,” Elizabeth Stark. Student of Law at Harvard University, Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, founder of Harvard Free Culture, and architect of one of the first student free thesis repositories.

* “The Evangelist,” Nelson Pavlosky. Law student at George Mason University, co-founder of Students for Free Culture, and ally of the Student Global AIDS Campaign and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.

Read the full Story at SPARC:

Posted on December 26, 2007 in copyright, Egypt, retroactive copyright by Brian RoweComments Off

I thought Disney was being abusive for trying to extend the copyright act every time Mickey has a birthday, but Egypt is about to one up Walt in an obscene way. Egypt is about to pass a law that would perpetually, retroactively, copyright works of antiquity including the Pyramids and artifacts in museums. This is not the purpose of copyright. Copyright theoretically encourages creation and add to the commons long term; this is a tax on culture.

Although the Egyptian government is claiming that the law will have international scope it does not seem likely. None of the international agreements on copyright recognize this this new type of copywrong yet. I am curious how they will try to enforce this tax.

Related press:
Boing Boing
Read more at the BBC:
“Egypt’s MPs are expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids.”

Posted on December 24, 2007 in CC by Brian RoweComments Off

Image:Cc-by-nc-3.0-88x31.png + Image:Commercial-license-button.png

As mentioned in our last post, Creative Commons this month released a new functionality called CC+.

The first thing to remember is that CC+ is NOT a new license, it is a way to grant more permissions on top of ANY standard CC licenses.
CC+ = CC license + Another agreement

The main goal of CC+ is to add a simple system for enabling commercial transactions that can link to a CC license.

For example a Flickr photo licensed under a BY-NC license could have a simple click through to an agent to provide commercial rights for that photo.

Other press
CC+ at
CC+ at
Lawrence Lessig explains CC+

Posted on December 16, 2007 in CC, creative commons, events, licensing by Riana PfefferkornComments Off

Last night Creative Commons celebrated its fifth birthday with an excellent party in San Francisco and several announcements. Due to the difficult acoustics situation in the venue, I was unable to hear just what Prof. Lessig was saying most of the time, and there don’t seem to be announcements on his blog or the CC website yet, so I hope I get this right – please check those sites soon for more authoritative information. (Meanwhile, here is another partygoer’s post, far more detailed than mine.)

- CC met and exceeded its goal of raising half a million dollars in individual donations by Dec. 31. It’s also just raised a massive amount of funding from other sources, as covered in the above-linked SocialMedia post. Congrats!
- CC is starting a Legal Commons (Beta), to debut on Jan. 15, with some sort of affiliation with Carl Malamud of The gist of the announcement seemed to be that all federal cases will be publicly accessible (dating back to when, I’m not sure). This is excellent news for those of us in the legal community, and, as a friend of mine commented, “It raises a big middle finger pointed directly at Eagan, Minnesota” (home of Thomson West, i.e. Westlaw). As the open access journal movement continues to gain steam, law journals that want to go open access – and their readers – will benefit from open resources such as, Altlaw, and the forthcoming Legal Commons, as they provide alternative/parallel citations to Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis. Much of the value of a law journal article is in the citations, so readers can now follow up on a citation even if they don’t have (cheap/free) access to Westlaw or Lexis.
- There are going to be new CC licensing options: CC+, which adds more rights than any CC license currently offers; and CC-0 [zero], which allows a creator to waive all rights over her work and to authenticate that waiver with a signature, in a machine-readable way. I’m not sure what the details of the CC+ license are and I hope I’m getting CC-0 right. I was not able to ask Prof. Lessig what is probably a question that has already been answered, or for which he would have a ready, detailed answer (as he usually does when asked pretty much anything, from “Hey, should privacy rights be alienable?” to questions about unladen swallows’ airspeed). My question is, What about the analog hole? This has surely come up in the context of existing CC licenses. If CC-licensed (or CC-0 rights-waived) content jumps offline, doesn’t the machine-readable license tethered to that content by a bunch of ones and zeroes become useless? Does it become, to borrow a loaded word, orphaned? I should investigate this on my own, but I address it to the Lazyweb here in the hopes that people whose minds don’t get easily distracted by DJ Spooky and chocolate cake (man that was a great party) will weigh in.
Happy birthday, CC!
UPDATE: Aha, Lessig has blogged about the party, the money, and the new licenses. Among the various clarifications of my mealy-mouthed interpretation of his announcements Saturday, Lessig says all federal case law will be free by about this time next year. Tasty.
Posted on December 13, 2007 in Fair Use, Western Digital by Brian RoweComments Off

Western Digital has built a new line of Defective by Design Hard Drives with forced “features” that limits the user’s ability to share files. Western Digital is the world’s second largest hard-drive manufacturer.

This is a terrible sign for Fair Use and users rights. The technology is being sold to protect copyright but have not safe guards for your rights even if the files to be shared are created by the users themselves. I put my work under a CC license for a reason I want to share it and I do not want my hardware screwing with that. Adding digital locks at the hardware level* allows for no discrimination by users and breaking this system my be a violation of the DMCA.

The good news is that the software Western Digital is using only works on Windows. I see where Linux and Mac will become the OS’s of the free world, although this is not Microsoft’s fault this time, the blame is all on Western Digital.

Write Western Digital and let them know that you want them to remove all DRM from their products before you buy another hard drive from them. I have personally purchased between 5-10 drives from them in the past, I used them for a RAID Array when I was EQing before Law School devoured all my time. I will have to check out Maxtor and Seagate now.


*Technicly speaking this is a software lock that is embedded in a peice of hardware.

I recently starting using Google’s “blog recommender” tool in Google Reader and have found three very interesting blogs worth checking out:

Patent Troll Tracker: This blog rocks! Troll Tracker is an anonymous blogger, probably a patent lawyer, that reports over abusive patent claims and litigation. The posts are well cited with links to court docs. There is a current bounty out on the Tracker’s identity. A powerfully patent attorney , and alleged Troll, Ray Niro is offering $5k to anyone who unearths his identity. I strongly recommend this blog,

Wa Patents: This is a local Seattle blog run by Mark Walters a patent attorney at Darby & Darby. The content is interesting, recent and especially relevant to patent geeks in Washington. I respect the authors knowledge and depth of treatment on local and national patent issues even though I do not agree with his economic and political arguments. I recommend this blog especially to people with an interest in local patent issues.

Copyfight: This is a team blog with some impressive names in copyright law including Donna Wentworth of the Berkman Center and Wendy Seltzer of of Northeastern University School of Law. The articles are a bit on the academic side, but very well researched and cited. The only downside is that the authors seem to post in cycles and I can not tell which authors are still active or have gone elsewhere to blog.