Copyright in the News
R.I.P. Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013 / Jan. 14, 2013
Aaron Swartz, an open access activist, committed suicide on Friday, January 10, 2013. He was facing a 13-count indictment from the US Dept. of Justice for breaking into JStor, an academic articles database, although JStor had dropped all charges. Academics worldwide have begun releasing their papers as a tribute, posting the URL to twitter using the hashtag #PDFtribute and the Internet Archive has begun a memorial archive. See NYT obituary; Larry Lessig, "Prosecutor as Bully".
Buffy Versus Edward – War on Cited Remix Video / Jan. 9, 2013
The acclaimed remix video "Buffy Versus Edward", which critiques gender politics in the "Twilight" movies, was removed from YouTube as a copyright violation of Lionsgate's movies – despite Lionsgate's admission just the previous month that the video was a fair use. See video creator Jonathan McIntosh's account of the takedown, "Buffy vs Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate" (Jan. 9, 2013).
Already receiving significant attention, this particular takedown incident will no doubt be resolved quickly – Lionsgate conceded the fair use in December, and it is likely that this current takedown is more of an administrative problem than anything else. But it illustrates the difficulty that artists and critics face engaging with an increasingly automated and algorithmically-based copyright enforcement system. When YouTube's ContentID system automatically flags content for takedown or other copyright-based actions based on its algorithmic analyses, copyright loses the critical checks and balances that let it co-exist peacefully with the First Amendment.
Ironically, "Buffy vs. Edward" was shown to, and cited by, the Copyright Office in its most recent DMCA 1201 anticircumvention rulemaking, as the sort of vital work that merited an exemption to the circumvention restrictions. If only we could get an exemption from automated copyright control.
Update: January 10, 2013 - Lionsgate caved in the face of significant Internet protest, and "Buffy Versus Edward" has been re-posted.
The Times, They Are A-Changin' (or not) / Jan. 8, 2013
Cover of "The Copyright Extension Collection"
A new Bob Dylan release of only 100 copies was designed to exploit copyright extension in Europe - See "Bob Dylan's label releases ultra rare box set to exploit copyright loophole", Guardian, Jan. 8, 2013; "Stuck Inside of Europe with the Copyright Extension Blues Again" (Philly.com Jan. 8, 2013); "Bob Dylan's New Album Is 'Copyright Extension Collection'", ''The Register'', Jan. 8, 2013.
Open Access AND Open Use / Jan. 6, 2013
Cameron Neylon, "Science Publishing: Open Access Must Enable Open Use", Nature 492, pp. 348-349 (Dec. 20, 2012). Open access is not enough – researchers need to be able to index and have other reuse rights to scholarly literature.
Last Edited: 12 February 2013