Jonathan Coulton on Megaupload, Piracy, and SOPA

One of my favorite performers on why piracy isn’t the horrible end-of-civilization thing Big Media would have you believe it is. #seb #Piracy #Copyright #Laws

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Uh oh, he’s blogging. What happened?
I wrote this thing on Twitter this morning about the MegaUpload shutdown, and it’s gotten some crazy traction on the old internet. In addition, I’ve just done a couple of interviews for NPR on the subject, and I think I may have said some crazy, provocative things. There are many comments and questions out there already with more to come, and rather than have a bunch of separate discussions on a bunch of different social media platforms, I thought I would …

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Companies ripping off small time artists that have gone viral seems to be increa…

Companies ripping off small time artists that have gone viral seems to be increasing.

H&M isn’t the first and certainly not the worst, but they’re learning quickly that the Internet doesn’t take kindly to such acts. If they’re smart, they’ll ink out a decent licensing agreement and then shout it from the rooftops. If they’re stupid, well, they’ll keep doing what they’re currently doing and piss more people off and perhaps invite a lawsuit. #seb #H&M #Copyright #Piracy

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H&M Thinks “Inspired By” Artwork Is Different From “Copied It Exactly”
H&M, better known as the store you go to when you need a decent-looking shirt that you don’t expect to make it through the wash more than twice, is feeling some Internet heat today over allegations that it’s cashing in on the work of a Georgia-based artist without permission or payment.

In 2008, artist Tori LaConsay painted a love letter to her East Atlanta neighborhood that simply, charmingly reads “You Look Nice Today” followed by a little red heart.

“It was a small gesture that I genuine…

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Senators pushing PIPA are pirates? That's unPOSSIBLE!

Actually, it demonstrates that the Senators in question aren't even familiar with the issue they're trying to legislate. How can you possibly craft and support good legislation on an issue you don't have a good understanding of? I doubt any of these Senators was aware he or she had violated copyright in the use of the pictures on their sites, but according to the law they could be fined up to $250,000 for the infringement (let alone jail time). Perhaps it's time the folks in Washington actually took the time to educate themselves about copyright and piracy before they try pass anymore laws aimed at curbing piracy.

Naahhh, it's not like Big Media would go after any of them even if they were knowingly pirating stuff. Hell, they probably get most of it for free from Big Media as it is anyway so they're only really pirating from the small-timers and independents who couldn't afford to sue them if they wanted to. #seb #copyright #sopa #piracy #laws #politics

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Senators behind PIPA are a bunch of copyright infringers
Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete continues to investigate the copyright shenanigans that SOPA and PIPA's authors get up to (see the saga of how SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) ripped off the photo on the front page of his website).

Now Taete is digging into PIPA supporters, having a quick look at their Twitter profile photos and websites, and yup, the Senators backing PIPA are a bunch of depraved pirates.

This is a screencap of PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt's Twitter page from a couple of days ago….

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Dave sums up the problems with SOPA/PIPA eloquently. It’s a…

Dave sums up the problems with SOPA/PIPA eloquently.

It's a bad bill and it will cause no end of problems for everyone.#google+ #politics #SOPA #Copyright

My consolidated nattering on SOPA and PIPA

Here are my thoughts on SOPA and PIPA, consolidating about a dozen other posts I could have written today. Copyright is a cool thing . Creators should have their creations protected. They should also be able to profit by selling their rights to something to a third party, who should then be able to profit from it. For some length of time, at least. Copyright has also been dreadfully abused by Big Media, among others – leveraging extensions of copyright periods ad infinitum, abuse of copyright…

I trust Lamar Smith about as far as I could throw him

I've read the bill along with reports from legal analysts who at least appear to know what they're talking about and I definitely think it's going to be abused by the folks who want it most for everything they think they can get away with. Be that quasi-legitimate claims to full-on censorship of stuff they don't like. You can sure as hell kiss Fair Use goodbye if it comes to pass. #seb #Politics #SOPA #Copyright

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SOPA Sponsor Accuses Wikipedia Of Spreading Misinformation
Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act that has moved a number of sites, including Craigslist and Reddit to shut down for the day, accuses the biggest name involved in the blackouts, Wikipedia, of doing a disservice to its users by inciting outrage over the piece of legislation.

"It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act," Smith said in a statement released yesterday. "The bill wil…

The MPAA is crying about websites going dark being an abuse of power?

It's nothing compared to what the MPAA, RIAA, and other media companies will do with SOPA and PIPA if they pass. Hell, they're already abusing the hell out of the DMCA take down rules and YouTube's automated infringement system. Imagine if they suddenly gained the ability to have any website anywhere yanked from the net just based on an accusation of infringement whether real or imagined. #seb #MPAA #SOPA #Protests #Politics #Copyright

Reshared post from +Chris Guanche

The sheer mendacity of this is amazing, especially coming from a former U.S. Senator.

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The MPAA Says Blackout Protests Are an Abuse of Power
Tomorrow huge sites like Wikipedia and Reddit will "blackout" in protest of SOPA, and the MPAA doesn't like the behavior of these "technology business interests"one bit.
The statement comes down from …

Cory Doctorow on the coming lockdown war

It's hard to say how much of what he describes will come to pass, but it's clear that we're headed in that direction as evidenced by the copyright wars. This is something that anyone who cares about what they can and can't do with the computers and devices they own should be paying attention to. #seb #computing #security #copyright #politics

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Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing

The coming war on general-purpose computing

By Cory Doctorow – Share this article


This article is based on a keynote speech to the Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin, Dec. 2011.

General-purpose computers are astounding. They're so astounding that our society still struggles to come to grips with them, what they're for, how to accommodate them, and how to cope with them. This brings us back to something you might be sick of reading about: copyright.

But bear with me, becau…

McCain campaign finds the DMCA, which McCain voted for, is bothersome.

It seems the McCain campaign isn’t happy with the folks at YouTube because they’ve taken down a good number of his campaign videos after being hit with DMCA takedown requests:

The McCain campaign on Monday fired off a letter to YouTube complaining that the company had acted too quickly to take down McCain’s videos in response to copyright infringement notices. McCain campaign general counsel Trevor Potter argued that several of the removed ads, which had used excerpts of television footage, fall under the four-factor doctrine of fair-use, and shouldn’t have been removed.

And he’s quite right. The videos in question did contain portions of copyrighted material that did fall under the doctrine of fair-use and were probably perfectly legal. I say “probably” because until a court says it’s fair-use it remain questionable, but they probably were fair-use in the examples being discussed.

There’s just one small problem: YouTube doesn’t have a choice in the matter:

But citing the DMCA, a controversial copyright law that McCain voted to approve a decade ago, Levine pointed out that YouTube risks being sued itself if it doesn’t respond promptly to takedown notices.

“If … service providers do not remove the content to such notice, they do so at their own risk because they lose their safe harbor,” she wrote.

Further, Levine argued, the fair-use analysis is complicated, and the creators of the videos are better equipped to perform it. The uploader can then issue a DMCA counter-notice if they believe they’re on solid legal ground, and YouTube will restore the video.

Oooo! That’s gotta suck when a law you voted for comes back to bite you in your proverbial ass! Once again a lawmaker finds out the hard way that he is susceptible to the laws he passes and perhaps it would be wise to carefully consider what you’re enacting before doing so.

Google Chrome EULA grants Google a license to anything you create while using Chrome. [Updated!]

Update @ 4:15PM: Well that didn’t take long. Google contacted the folks at saying the EULA is a mistake and will be corrected ASAP and the changes will be retroactive for folks who have already downloaded the software:

Google’s Rebecca Ward, Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome, now tells Ars Technica that the company tries to reuse these licenses as much as possible, “in order to keep things simple for our users.” Ward admits that sometimes “this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don’t apply well to the use of that product” and says that Google is “working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome.”

Kudos for a quick response, but it appears that this isn’t the only controversial aspect of the new browser:

The auto-suggest feature of Google’s new Chrome browser does more than just help users get where they are going. It will also give Google a wealth of information on what people are doing on the Internet besides searching.

Provided that users leave Chrome’s auto-suggest feature on and have Google as their default search provider, Google will have access to any keystrokes that are typed into the browser’s Omnibox, even before a user hits enter.

What’s more, Google has every intention of retaining some of that data even after it provides the promised suggestions. A Google representative told CNET News that the company plans to store about 2 percent of that data—and plans to store it along with the Internet Protocol address of the computer that typed it.

In theory, that means that if one were to type the address of a site—even if they decide not to hit enter—they could leave incriminating evidence on Google’s servers.

You can stop this behavior by turning auto-suggest off, using Incognito mode, or by not using Chrome.

This is a disappointing discovery. The folks over at Gizmodo have an article up about a detail in the End User License Agreement (EULA) for Chrome, Google’s fancy new web browser, that definitely appears to be an attempt to claim a license to anything you happen to create while using said browser:

11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

Needless to say that’s certainly a deal-breaker in a decision on whether or not to use Chrome anytime soon. Even though I use a Creative Commons license on my blog there’s still plenty of content I create in a web browser that I’d like to maintain control over the rights for and using a tool that automatically grants a license to any company is out of the question.

It seems pretty clear the intent behind this is to enable them to come up with marketing materials that say “See what folks are doing with Chrome!”, but there’s nothing stopping them from using it for other purposes should they suddenly choose to do so.

MPAA to court: “Proof? We don’ need no stinkin’ proof!”

Gotta love the MPAA where you are considered guilty and they don’t think they should have to prove it:

The Motion Picture Association of America said Friday intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.

“Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances,” MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

“It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement,” van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

Burden of proof? What’s that? Sounds like something only a commie pinko liberal would demand. Of course they’re guilty! We wouldn’t be suing them if they weren’t guilty. Now give me my money!