Category: Intellectual property

Why copyright laws don’t actually protect many content owners

| March 18, 2015 | Reply

Sad story here by Alex Wild, nature photographer, who has been a constant victim of infringement despite the existence of copyright laws. How overwhelming is his battle?

For a concise idea of what could go wrong, let me indulge in a list of recent venues where commercial interests have used my work without permission, payment, or even a simple credit:

Billboards, YouTube commercials, pesticide spray labels, website banners, exterminator trucks, t-shirts, iPhone cases, stickers, company logos, eBook covers, trading cards, board games, video game graphics, children’s books, novel covers, app graphics, alt-med dietary supplement labels, press releases, pest control advertisements, crowdfunding promo videos, coupons, fliers, newspaper articles, postage stamps, advertisements for pet ants (yes, that’s a thing), canned food packaging, ant bait product labels, stock photography libraries, and greeting cards.

Yesterday evening, while Googling insect references in popular culture, I discovered that a small Caribbean island helped itself to a photograph I took in 2008. My photo shows a slave-raiding ant, a fascinating species that survives as a parasite on the labor of other ants. But the image had been imprinted on the back of a commemorative one-cent piece. Perhaps symbolically, this is one cent more than I received for my part in bringing the coin to the public.

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Monkey takes selfie. No one owns the copyright

| October 20, 2014 | Reply

I love this story about Indonesian macaques who borrowed a camera and took their own photos. It brings together intellectual property law and animal rights into one conversation.

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EFF offers copyright curriculum for high school students

| July 19, 2013 | Reply

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a curriculum for high school students on the topic of Copyright. I spent some time reviewing it, and it looks like an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about this important subject.

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Pay for Delay

| March 31, 2013 | Reply
Pay for Delay

Why is it that generic drug makers sometimes delay entering the market, sometimes long after the drug patent expires? This is another tale in corporatocracy, told by Alternet:

[I]magine you’re a big-time drug company. You want to keep competitors off the market as long as possible. Your move is to basically sue the pants off the generic drugmaker for copyright infringement, setting in motion a long and tortuous legal process. And these usually end with “pay-for-delay” deals. The brand-name drug company pays the generic manufacturer a cash settlement, and the generic manufacturer agrees to delay entry into the market for a number of years. In the case before the Supreme Court, the drug company paid $30 million a year to protect its $125 million annual profit in AndroGel, a testosterone supplement.

It’s hard to see this as anything but bribery, designed to preserve a lucrative monopoly for the brand-name drug maker. In fact, this is what the Federal Trade Commission has argued for over a decade. They consider it a violation of antitrust law, arguing that the exchange of cash gives the generic manufacturer a share of future profits in the drug, specifically to prolong the monopoly. As SCOTUSBlog summarizes from the FTC’s court brief, in the regulator’s view, “Nothing in patent law … validates a system in which brand-name companies could buy off their would-be competitors.” Indeed, everyone wins with pay-for-delay but the consumer: the FTC estimates that the two dozen deals inked in 2012 alone cost drug patients $3.5 billion annually, with the brand-name and generic manufacturers splitting the ill-gotten profits.

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Infographic on piracy

| December 28, 2012 | 1 Reply

Lots of facts and figures on video and audio piracy here.

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How much is digital piracy hurting content producers?

| July 19, 2012 | Reply
How much is digital piracy hurting content producers?

Here is an infographic with some surprising numbers.

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Proposed new law to protect bloggers from SLAPP suits

| July 19, 2012 | Reply
Proposed new law to protect bloggers from SLAPP suits

Join EFF and the Public Participation Project in calling on Congress to support the PETITION Act, strong federal anti-SLAPP legislation. The concept is simple: when a blogger faces a legal threat for legitimate online content, she can file a motion to get the case dismissed quickly. If the case is found to be frivolous in court, she won’t have to pay the legal fees.”

Here is discussion of a meritless suit against Matthew Inman that illustrates the need for such a law.

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Illegal downloading: more like trespass than stealing

| April 22, 2012 | 2 Replies
Illegal downloading: more like trespass than stealing

This ABC news report reframes what it means to illegally download intellectual property.

[Professor Stuart Green from Rutgers University Law School] says illegal downloading is more similar to the crime of trespass than it is to theft.

“To say that there was a trespass is traditionally understood to mean that there was a temporary use of someone’s property without permission,” he said.

“If someone trespasses on your property it means that they’ve come uninvited but they haven’t deprived you of use. They haven’t deprived you of the basic possession of the property.

“But to say that someone’s stolen something is to say something much more serious. It’s probably the single most substantial form of property crime that we have.

“And that’s exactly what the music and movie industries in the United States would like to happen. They want people to think that illegal downloading is just as bad and should be punished just as severely.”

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Exploring copyright math

| March 30, 2012 | Reply
Exploring copyright math

Rob Reid has some extremely serious points to make through his humorous six-minute talk. Excellent and well-deserved attack on copyright content owners.

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