Copyright Law: Our Best Weapon Against Revenge Porn?

Titian/Rebecca J. Rosen

“Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more a man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.” – Sir Francis Bacon

* * *

When federal agents arrested Hunter Moore last month, the Internet breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Dubbed the “Most Hated Man on the Internet,” Moore ran the notorious revenge porn website IsAnyoneUp. His site racked up millions of pageviews and thousands of dollars in advertising revenue by posting sexually explicit photographs and detailed personal information about the people he featured on the site.

According to the indictment, Moore relied on a co-defendant, Charles “Gary Jones” Evens, to hack into victims’ email accounts and obtain nude photographs to feature on IsAnyoneUp. The pair is charged with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft, and seven counts of “unauthorized access of a protected computer to obtain information.”

Moore allegedly obtained some of the photos through hacking, but bitter exes submitted many more.

The photos hosted by websites like IsAnyoneUp are often referred to as “revenge porn.” The phenomenon is [B]: One in 10 former partners threaten to post sexually explicit images of their exes online, and an estimated 60 percent follow through. (It’s also worth mentioning that upwards of 80 percent of revenge porn victims are women.)

The harms caused by revenge [B] are very real—people featured on these sites receive solicitations over social media, lose their jobs, or live in fear that their family and future employers will discover the photos.


The Origins of [B]

Moore may have been the “King of Revenge Porn,” but he wasn’t the first contender for the throne.

[B]In 1980, someone at Hustler Magazine had the idea to start Beaver Hunt, a contest that published reader-submitted images of naked women. Beaver Hunt photos were often accompanied by details about the woman: her hobbies, her sexual fantasies, and sometimes her name. Some of the photos were stolen. Exes submitted many more.

Throughout the ’80s, women sued Hustler for publishing their photos in Beaver Hunt without their permission. Several courts determined that publishing intimate photos without verifying whether the pictured women actually gave the go-ahead gave the false impression that all of the featured women felt comfortable with their pictures appearing in a “coarse and sex-centered magazine.”

Revenge porn websites have adopted many of the features that made Beaver Hunt notable: showing off user-generated content, submitted without the pictured person’s consent or knowledge, flanked by personal information.

There is one important difference between a nude photo appearing on a website or in the pages of a print magazine. The impact of the photo, even one featured in a popular magazine like Hustler, was still constrained by the fact that it was bound in print. Pages of the magazine could be torn out or photocopied, but the likelihood of a prospective employer coming across a Beaver Hunt photo through happenstance was slim to none.

The likelihood of an employer Googling an applicant and following up on a hit from a [B]? Significantly more likely. Throw links, cross-postings, and email into the mix, and it becomes all the more certain that revenge porn will be discovered.


Problems with Preventing Revenge Porn

In many ways, the lawsuits pending against revenge porn websites echo the privacy suits brought against Beaver Hunt. So far, though, victims have had limited success going after revenge porn uploaders and websites.

It isn’t because existing laws aren’t applicable. Victims who are photographed without their knowledge can use state voyeurism or Peeping Tom laws. Victims whose photos were Photoshopped or whose names were linked to naked images of other people may be able to use defamation law. Because an estimated 40 percent of non-consensual pornography was obtained through hacking, those victims can rely on the civil provisions of the federal hacking law—the same one used to prosecute Moore.

So why haven’t all these sites been shut down?

Many of the lawsuits against revenge porn websites are for tort claims like stalking, harassment or invasion of privacy. The problem is that most stalking and harassment laws are not applicable to revenge porn submitters because there is no repeated course of conduct or direct communication with the victim. False light claims for invasion of privacy—like those alleged by women who were featured in Beaver Hunt without their knowledge—may be successful against submitters. However, these laws don’t provide victims with a way to take down cross-posted, cached or linked versions of their photos on other websites.

That would require additional injunctions against additional parties, and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act renders most claims against websites dead on arrival.

Section 230 protects interactive service providers, or ISPs, from liability for user-generated content. That protection does not apply if an ISP is also an information content provider, meaning that the ISP hosts both original and user-[B]. Revenge porn websites aren’t creating the sexually explicit photos they post. In fact, more than 80 percent of revenge porn photos are “selfies.”

Getting rid of something like Section 230 may seem appealing—why shouldn’t revenge porn websites be held responsible for the salacious selfies they post?

Section 230 was enacted after Stratton Oakmont, the financial firm of The Wolf of Wall Street fame, [B] against the early ISP Prodigy. Congress was worried that allowing ISPs to be held liable for user-generated content would crush the Internet. Even in the early ’90s, enough people were plugged into services like Prodigy and AOL that policing every piece of user-generated content would have been impossible.

As broad as it seems, Section 230 doesn’t give websites carte blanche to host any and all user-generated content—immunity does not apply to violations of child pornography, obscenity, criminal or intellectual property laws. Narrowing Section 230, or getting rid of it entirely, would allow victims to hold revenge porn websites responsible for the content they host.

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Department of Commerce releases report on Copyright Policy

The industries that rely on copyright are today an integral part of the U.S. economy, accounting for millions of jobs and contributing billions of dollars to the G.D.P. Moreover, the creative content they produce contributes to the development of the broader Internet economy, spurring the creation and adoption of innovative distribution technologies. Not only do these industries make important economic contributions, they are at the core of our cultural expression and heritage. It is no exaggeration to say that U.S. music, movies, television shows, computer software, games, writings and works of art have changed the world. Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.

Today, the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force released its anticipated Green Paper, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy. The Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) is a coalition of Department of Commerce bureaus launched in 2010 “to identify leading public policy and operational challenges in the digital economy.” Along with intellectual property issues, the IPTF has assessed issues relating to consumer data privacy, cybersecurity practices, and the global free flow of information.”

The purpose of the Green Paper is to review the development of copyright policy as it has responded to new technologies in recent decades, assess the current challenges facing copyright law, and provide a set of recommendations to address some of those challenges. The IPTF was aided by the input of a wide range of stakeholders as it drafted the Green Paper, who participated through roundtable discussions, public meetings, and a public commenting process.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opens the report noting not only the economic contributions of copyright — accounting for over five million US jobs and a significant percentage of GDP — but also the noneconomic benefits.

America’s writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, sculptors and other creators make up the lifeblood of our culture, build new stores of knowledge, and shape how we see ourselves—and how the world sees us as well. Their influence extends beyond our borders; our copyrighted works weave a compelling narrative of the opportunity and possibility of America, and continue to be at the forefront of the global creative marketplace. We must continue to nurture such extraordinary creative resources.

As the IPTF points out in the forward, “Copyright law has always adapted to technological changes,” but the most recent changes — including digital media and the global Internet — have perhaps been the most profound. Meaningful protection requires enforcement of rights, though there is no single solution to those challenges. This is the backdrop that has motivated the report. The IPTF says that “It is time to assess whether the current balance of rights, exceptions and responsibilities — crafted, for the most part, before the rapid advances in computing and networking of the past two decades — is still working for creators, rights holders, service providers, and consumers.”

The IPTF issues a number of recommendations that it divides into three broad categories:

1)“Updating the balance of rights and exceptions.”

  • Congress should “better rationalize the public performance right for sound recordings.” According to the Task Force, this entails extending the right to cover broadcasting and taking the impact on creators and rights holders into account if it reassesses ratesetting procedures for different types of digital music services.
  • Soliciting public comment on remix and digital first sale issues.
  • Supporting the Copyright Office’s work on Section 108, orphan works, and mass digitization issues.

2)“Assessing and improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement and promote the growth of legitimate services while preserving the essential functioning of the Internet.”

  • Repeating the call for Congress to standardize criminal penalties for streaming with those of reproduction and distribution.
  • Soliciting public comment regarding statutory damages for individual file-sharers and for secondary liability for large-scale online infringement
  • Establishing multi-stakeholder dialogue on effectiveness of DMCA notice and takedown system
  • Supporting the Copyright Office’s improvement of its database on registered agents under the DMCA and its examination on possible copyright small claims procedures.
  • Encouraging development of private sector cooperative initiatives to address online infringement
  • Enhancing public education and outreach for consumers about copyright law and legitimate online services

3)“Realizing the potential of the Internet as a legitimate marketplace for copyrighted works and as a vehicle for streamlining licensing.”

  • Providing input to Congress in any review of music licensing, particularly mechanical licensing for musical compositions
  • Supporting the Copyright Office’s improvement of its registration and recordation systems, including support of provisions for enhancing incentives to use those systems
  • Soliciting public comment on the appropriate role of government in improving online licensing.

The Green Paper traces the early stages of copyright and the Internet, paying particular attention to the US government’s role in facilitating that development — the 1995 Intellectual Property Working Group report Intellectual Property and the National Information Infrastructure laid the ground work for the first wave of copyright policy in the digital age and, in many ways, serves as a blueprint for this Green Paper. The IPTF also calls attention to the current review of the Copyright Act by the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, making the release of the Green Paper ever more timely.

The Green Paper covers a lot of territory. Among the highlights:

  • The “making available” right, required by the 1996 WIPO Internet Treaties, was not implemented in the U.S. because Congress considered the right to be covered by the existing statutory language. Since then, however, courts have been split as to whether the distribution right incorporated the concept of “making available.” The IPTF attempts to rehabilitate Congress’s earlier view by pointing out more recent academic scholarship that better establishes the “making available” right in U.S. law.
  • A “new challenge” faces the meaning of the public performance right — specifically, the Second Circuit’s recent interpretation of the right in WNET v. Aereo. The IPTF writes that the result of this and similar cases might affect the “viability and scope of new licensed business models such as online video subscription services,” and Congress may need to step in if courts continue to undermine a meaningful public performance right.
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12 Stepping Through Piracy’s DMCA Takedown Maze of Madness

This past Monday the Wall Street Journal published a thought-provoking piece ”[website]  Written by [website], the article explored how the television industry, studios, and film distributors are protecting their businesses from the ravages of [website].  Kathy Wolfe, founder of [website], the largest distributor of independent LGBT films in the world, spoke about the challenge of staying in business amid a sea of piracy.  She told the Wall Street Journal that she estimates online piracy cost her small company more than 3 million dollars in 2012.  In order to prevent that figure from growing, Wolfe  spends over $30,000 annually (half the company’s profits) to scan the web for infringing content and to send a [website] several times per year.  When I spoke with her today, she told me that her  company could easily be forced out of business were anti-piracy efforts not in place.

In the meantime, according to Wolfe, they are working hard to develop a robust online streaming business.  She says that 38% of their income now comes from [website] and she expects that percentage to grow “radically” every year.  ”Now with our [website] [website], we have a formula that is accessible and affordable,” says Wolfe.  She adds that by establishing their own online portal, and not depending on exclusively on other sites (iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, etc), Wolfe can direct a bigger percentage of profits back to the filmmakers.

Despite Wolfe’s success in growing online sales, mitigating piracy has become a fundamental part of protecting their business.  ”If it weren’t for our anti-[website], we certainly wouldn’t be functioning at the level we’re functioning at now,” she says.

After all, it’s still difficult to compete with free and the indie filmmakers who partner with Wolfe (including myself) are fortunate that the company bears the brunt of worldwide anti-piracy efforts.  But whether it falls to a small independent film distributor such as Wolfe, or an individual filmmaker, the job of [website] content from the web is an onerous (and can be an expensive) one. There are several affordable DMCA Takedown services that can easily take on the task of removing [website] from the web.

Where does one begin?  Well, in the example I’m about to outline, these are the [website] a filmmaker would follow in order to remove ONE illegal movie from the web:

Continue reading at VoxIndie.org 


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Congress Misaligned the DMCA Online Copyright Safe on Grooveshark

Grooveshark runs a user-generated content (UGC) website that allows users to upload and download sound recordings.  UMG Recordings (a subsidiary of Vivendi, VIV:FP) sued Grooveshark for copyright infringement based on its users’ activities.

This week, a New York state appellate court partially denied Grooveshark’s eligibility for the online safe harbors enacted by Congress in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

This ruling creates several problems for UGC websites that let users post sound recordings, and it demonstrates one way Congress mishandled drafting its online safe harbors.

The Ruling

In 1998, Congress provided UGC websites with a safe harbor for user-caused copyright infringement (17 U.S.C. 512(c)).  To be eligible for the safe harbor, UGC websites must satisfy some preconditions.  If they do, copyright owners unhappy about users committing copyright infringement can send takedown notices to the UGC website.  If the UGC website responds quickly to a takedown notice, the DMCA online safe harbor says that the website avoids further copyright liability for the items identified in the takedown notice.   In contrast, if the UGC website ignores/rejects the takedown notice, it potentially bears legal responsibility for its users’ actions.  Obviously, most UGC websites prefer to limit their risk, so they routinely take down items identified in the takedown notices.

I acknowledge that you probably think most court opinions address arcane legal issues, but even I think this ruling dealt with unusually arcane legal issues.  The DMCA online safe harbors apply to “copyright” claims, but it turns out the word “copyright” is ambiguous.  In the 1976 Copyright Act, Congress attempted to eliminate most state copyright laws.  As a result, today most potentially copyrightable works either are protected under federal law, or they are not protectable under federal or state copyright law at all.  However, Congress preserved a few categories of works that can be covered by state copyright law–the most commonly-encountered example is certain bootleg recordings of concerts.  Congress also said that sound recordings made before 1972 remain protected under state copyright laws.  Some of these pre-1972 sound recordings are hugely important and highly recognizable cultural assets; for example, the Grooveshark court cites the UMG-owned recordings of “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly, “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, “My Girl” by the Temptations and “Baby Love” by the Supremes.

It’s this latter group of pre-1972 sound recordings at issue in the Grooveshark case.  Grooveshark argued that the DMCA safe harbors applied to both federal and state copyrighted works.  UMG argued that the safe harbors only apply to federal copyrighted works, not state copyrighted works.  In a short and relatively unenlightening opinion, the New York state appellate court sided with UMG and ruled that the DMCA  safe harbor’s “notice-and-takedown” scheme doesn’t apply to state copyrighted works.


I see at least three problems with the court’s ruling:

Problem #1: In 20111, a New York federal court (in Capitol v. MP3Tunes) reached the directly opposite conclusion and held that state copyrighted works are covered by the DMCA.  (The Grooveshark opinion acknowledged this precedent but made no effort to distinguish it).  In 2007, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2007 that all state IP claims against UGC websites (including, presumably, state copyright laws) categorically are preempted by a different federal website immunity, 47 U.S.C. 230 (see Perfect 10 v. ccBill).

Thus, we have three different and conflicting interpretations of the DMCA’s applicability to pre-1972 sound recordings.  What a mess!  It’s never good for anyone when courts have three different answers to the same legal question.  It also means litigants may engage in wasteful forum-shopping efforts to find the judicial venue where the rules are most favorable them.

Problem #2: The ruling doesn’t hold Grooveshark liable for users’ copyright infringement of pre-1972 sound recordings.  Instead, Grooveshark simply failed to qualify for the safe harbor for those works, so the judicial inquiry will now turn to the default laws applicable to “secondary” infringement of state copyrighted works.  Unfortunately, we have no idea what those rules are.  Because most UGC-related copyright infringement cases have been resolved by the DMCA safe harbor, we don’t have many rulings interpreting the secondary infringement rules in those rare situations when the safe harbor doesn’t apply (see this post for more about that).  Furthermore, we have even scarcer caselaw interpreting secondary liability for infringement of state copyrighted works.  (It’s probable the rules will track the federal copyright laws, but that’s not guaranteed).  Thus, this case now involves novel and unpredictable legal questions.

Problem #3: Grooveshark has no easy way to distinguish which user-submitted sound recordings are covered by federal copyright versus state copyright.  However, its legal liability depends this difference.  Operationally, how should Grooveshark proceed?  Without universal protection from the DMCA’s safe harbor “notice-and-takedown” scheme, Grooveshark may be required to pre-screen user uploads to assess whether the file is a pre-1972 sound recording or not, and then it may have to handle those files differently.

However, if that’s the result, Grooveshark probably doesn’t have a viable business.  The pre-screening costs would be exorbitant, Grooveshark would make many classification errors, and copyright owners would subsequently argue (probably unsuccessfully, though we are not sure) that Grooveshark should lose the DMCA safe harbor if it fails to catch infringing files during its pre-screen.  (See the latest Viacom v. YouTube ruling for examples of copyright owners’ arguments about website operator scienter).

More importantly, if Grooveshark must build a uniform site-wide operational process to deal with the small minority of user-uploaded recordings protected by state copyright law, then the DMCA online safe harbors failed at a fundamental level.  Even if the safe harbor applies to 99% of the works, the safe harbor doesn’t help UGC websites with their business planning because the UGC website must still anticipate and address the 1%–and this becomes impossible if, without further research, the 1% looks identical to the 99%.

In a recent post, I discussed some key design attributes of safe harbors and immunities.  One element I identified was “global preemption,” meaning that a successful safe harbor has to swipe out all overlapping claims covering the same activity.  

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Protect Rights of Artists in New Copyright Law

By Sandra, Aistars, executive director, Copyright Alliance

Protect Rights of Artists in New Copyright Law

The head of the United States Copyright Office has suggested that it may be time to start considering “the next great Copyright Act.” The last general revision to U.S. copyright law passed in 1976 at the end of a process that took over twenty years. Looking back, that time may seem like a completely different world. Since then, incredible technological advances and an ever-shrinking world have brought new opportunities and challenges. Copyright law has not been immune to these developments.

In fact, with the advent of digital technologies and the internet, the centuries-old legal doctrine of copyright has perhaps faced more challenges than any other area of the law. So it is not surprising that in recent years, we’ve heard calls for copyright revision from a wide range of sources. But when that call comes from the Register of Copyrights, it makes revision seem less a proposal and more a reality.

Should Congress take on the challenge of updating the Copyright Act, it must do so guided by sound principles, and its deliberations must be based in reality rather than rhetoric.

Chief among these principles is that protecting authors is in the public interest. Ensuring that all creators retain the freedom of choice in determining how their creative work is used, disseminated and monetized is vital to protecting freedom of expression. Consent is at the heart of freedom, thus we must judge any proposed update by whether it prioritizes artists’ rights to have meaningful control over their creative work and livelihood.

Copyright is vital to protecting individual creators’ choice in how they express themselves to the general public. Whether authors take a DIY route or partner with a company, whether they sell their works or give them away, their choices must be respected.

Choice, coupled with consent also drives the economy. The free market system is premised on the idea that the result of individuals making choices, and having stable property rights, will lead to greater economic growth and prosperity than any other system.

Copyright embodies these principles. By securing stable rights to expressive works and vesting the choice of what to do with those rights in creators, we all flourish. It is vital that if Congress accepts the challenge to revise the Copyright Act, it is guided by these principles.

It is just as vital that revision debates remain grounded in reality. It is far too easy to be diverted here.

Those skeptical of copyright protection have expended a lot of energy to redefine its language and revise its history. Calls for lessening copyright protections are far too often accompanied by heated rhetoric. Appealing to emotions may be a great way to drum up signatures for online petitions, but has no place in policy discussions. Finally, it is not hard to find examples of those who propose dramatic changes without understanding the business realities of how creative individuals and industries operate.

Fortunately, data that Congress can rely on is emerging. Recent academic studies, for example, have presented empirical evidence that shows that not only has widespread infringement harmed authors and copyright owners, but also effective and tailored enforcement efforts can guide consumers toward legal avenues.

At the same time, there is a limit to how much the goal of copyright law — the progress of the arts and sciences — can be reduced to numbers.

No one can doubt that creators in the U.S. have contributed a wealth of new ideas and expression — whether in the form of music, films, books, visual art or scholarly research — in the three decades since the last general revision of the Copyright Act. This is, in no small part, thanks to the fair and ethical treatment of authors and creators.
Aistars is executive director of the Copyright Alliance.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/288763-protect-rights-of-artists-in-new-copyright-law#ixzz2RQ8lsSVr
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Will.i.am And Chris Brown Hit With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For ‘Let’s Go’

Musical war is coming

Will.i.am And Chris Brown Hit With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For 'Let's Go'

will.i.am and Chris Brown have gotten themselves into a lot of trouble. Apparently the duo who have just released a new track called ‘Let’s Go’ have committed copyright infringement.

The new track comes from will.i.am’s latest album #willpower and features controversial singer Chris Brown, who is no stranger to the law.

Apparently artists Arty and Mat Zo have heard the track and believe that there are too many similarities between Let’s Go and their song Rebound.

Borrowing from other songs is common practice in the music industry and is legal as long as it is cleared first with the original artist. However, Arty has taken to Twitter to declare that will.i.am and his label never asked permission to use beats from their song.

He wrote “they never cleared the rights through Anjunabeats, who’s only one label, who ownes the rights for Rebound.” (sic)

Fans of Arty and Mat Zo are furious about the copyright infringement and have begun to attack will.i.am and Chris Brown on Twitter.

Zo has tried to stop fans from doing this and released a statement on the social media network explaining “I really and truly appreciate all the support you are giving me and Arty in response to will.i.am’s copyright infringement,” he then added “however, this doesn’t excuse the horrific abuse you’re sending the way of will.i.am and Chris Brown, and it especially doesn’t excuse being racist.”

Zo also posted a longer version of the statement on Dancing Astronaut that read “Arty and I are not bitter about this, more surprised. We knew will.i.am was interested in this track, but declined working with him at the time.”

Zo then deleted his Twitter account to prevent an “outbreak [of] verbal diarrhoea”.

Chris Brown has declared himself out on this one, trying to avoid the problem. He tweeted “Someone asked for a feature on a record and I did it.” The post was later deleted.

Will.i.am And Chris Brown Hit With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For ‘Let’s Go’ – Entertainmentwise

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Online Digital Content, Is Yours At Risk?

Is Someone Stealing Your Hard Work?

Is Someone Stealing Your Online Digital Content?

Today, our nation faces domestic and foreign piracy of a different sort: the illegal duplication of software, music, DVDs, and other digitized information. This piracy comes with a high price.

Your online digital content is at risk!

Last year U.S. copyright industries reported losses of nearly $22 billion due to piracy just from overseas.

Today, copyright owners are faced with the challenge of adapting to the digital revolution. The ease of making and distributing perfect copies of virtually every kind of work protected by copyright is putting strains on traditional modes of doing business. To stop thieves from stealing your work now, go —-HERE< ---- The growing tide of piracy both in traditional form—tapes, CDs and other hard copies—as well as in new modes of distribution—the Internet—continues to cost the content industries billions of dollars every year. To realize the potential of e-commerce for the distribution of all sorts of information products, from entertainment to education, from business software to databases for scientific research, providers must be confident that their products are safe from piracy. This development will enrich all of the participants: content providers, hardware and telecommunications providers and Internet users. Providing this security requires both technological and legal means to enable copyright owners to protect their works. It also means that these same technologies and laws need to recognize that fair use means that some uses that might otherwise be infringing will be permitted. To respond to these concerns and to adapt the copyright law to the digital environment, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a carefully balanced law to ensure that content owners would enjoy the protection they need to put their works on the Internet, and that appropriate fair use is maintained for consumers, scientists and educators. The inevitable progress of technology continues to present new challenges and opportunities. These developments include: peer-to-peer file sharing systems; broadband technology; webcasting, and the expansion of the Internet into every corner of the world. The issues raised for the content community by these developments include topics like the application of the fair use privilege to the digital reproduction and distribution of works; file trading systems; the application of the first sale doctrine to digital distribution, and technical protection measures and rights management. The fair use privilege is an important part of copyright law. This judge-made doctrine was first incorporated into the copyright law at the time of the 1976 general revision of the law. It has changed and evolved over time, in no small part due to the demands of changing technology. The net result is that the law now tolerates some degree of copying of works, including in digital form. Typically, this copying has been of a private nature, for the use of the copier and the immediate circle of friends and family. When dealing with paper copies or even analog copies on tape, the commercial impact of this sort of copying has been minimal. Indeed some studies have indicated that such copying may sometimes be commercially beneficial to copyright owners. Thus, traditional fair use achieved a careful balance to enable owners of copies of works to use them for personal purposes and in ways that did not unduly harm the interests of copyright owners. Digital copying and Internet distribution, however, significantly changed that balance. One simply cannot analogize the loading—or "ripping"—of a song or other work onto one's personal computer to making a tape-to-tape copy. The issue is much more complex because of the interconnectivity provided by the Internet. Once a song or E-Book is in digital form, it can be transmitted to anyone else connected to the Internet - be it one person or a thousand. The recipient gets a perfect digital copy with no degradation in quality, and the sender keeps his copy. And as the experience with peer-to-peer file distribution systems shows us, it can and possibly will be transmitted all over the world. Napster, Morpheus, Grokster, and others are examples of these systems on the Internet. Instead of computer files being stored on, and distributed from, large, centralized "server" computers—which is how most of the authorized music distribution systems work—these systems allow individuals to ask for and obtain copies of files from others' personal computers if those individuals are using the same system. The computer file travels from a "peer" (a person's PC) to another "peer" without having to reside in an intervening storage facility. In the United States, many see the Ninth Circuit's decision in the Napster case as affirming the view that when thousands or tens of thousands of copies are being made, it cannot reasonably be called "fair use" as we have traditionally understood it. The court made it clear that a for-profit business—even if it is not making any profits—which provides a system for wide-scale unauthorized copying of protected works is engaged in "commercial" activity that is not likely to be a fair use.••• It has been proposed that one who lawfully acquires a digital version of a copyrighted work should be permitted to pass that copy, without making another, on to a second person just as that person may now do with a "hard" copy of a work under the first sale doctrine, codified in Section 109 of the Copyright Act. We concur in principle with this interpretation of Section 109. There is, however, a significant difference between traditional acts of distribution and acts of digital distribution. In a traditional distribution, the work is reproduced and only subsequently distributed. In a digital distribution, the act of reproduction is an intrinsic part of the act of distribution. Because of the present limitations of digital technology and the difficulties in ensuring that the transmitting party had erased or otherwise destroyed the copy resident in the sending computer, there are serious reservations about the prudence of amending Section 109 to grant a blanket exception to digital distribution. It is important to note that general principles of fair use will be applicable to the distribution by digital transmissions of a work just as it is to the distribution of a "hard copy." Consequently, when considering all of the fair use factors, a court might decide that certain digital distributions of works were fair, particularly if the sending party erased the copy in the sending computer, without the need for amending the Copyright Act.••• Legislative proposals—supported by some copyright owners—that would require computer and electronics manufacturers to include copyright-protection technologies in their products has been the subject of considerable discussion. Supporters of such an approach have said that it could be promoted on the grounds that stronger copyright protection would spur the development of the Internet. The immediate impetus for the legislation stems from concerns that Hollywood studios are unwilling to broadcast movies on over-the-air digital television without consumers being able to copy them on digital recorders and upload them to the Internet. Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers agreed to use so-called "5C" technology created by Intel, Matushita, Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi that includes watermarks on cable and satellite broadcasts. Disney and other studios have declined to sign on because the agreement does not cover over-the-air transmissions. They argue that legislation is necessary to address such broadcasts. Some content owners believe they need more protection than is already provided in the DMCA. Such an approach is highly unpopular with the computer and software manufacturers, and to a lesser extent with electronics manufacturers. I am told the Information Technology Industry Council, the Business Software Alliance, the Digital Media Association and the Consumer Electronics Association oppose such an approach. Many argue that providing appropriate protection for copyrighted works that are transmitted by digital technology is a prerequisite for the distribution of these products on the Internet, and for digital over-the-air broadcasts. Negotiations are presently underway among hardware manufacturers and content owners to develop improved means for protecting online content, which I believe would encourage creativity and promote the development of a broader range of services for consumers in the Internet and broadband technologies. Intellectual property has become increasingly vital to our nation's economic competitiveness, our standard of living, and our global security. IP industries represent the largest single sector of the American economy and employ over 4 million Americans. Copyright industries are creating jobs at three times the rate of the rest of the U.S. economy. Under the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999, the under secretary of commerce for intellectual property is directed to advise the president, through the secretary of commerce, and all federal agencies, on national and international intellectual property policy issues, including intellectual property protection in other countries. The AIPA to provides guidance, conduct programs and studies and otherwise interact with foreign intellectual property offices and international intergovernmental organizations on matters involving the protection of intellectual property. In keeping with this directive, we continue to be active in a number of different venues to streamline and strengthen protection for IP. Through our office, we: help negotiate and work with Congress to implement international IP treaties; provide technical assistance to foreign governments that are looking to develop or improve their IP laws and systems; train foreign IP officials on IP enforcement; draft and review IP sections in bilateral investment treaties and trade agreements; advise the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on intellectual property issues in the World Trade Organization; and work with USTR and industry on the annual review of IP protection and enforcement under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The USPTO also serves as co-chair of the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council, which coordinates domestic and international IP law enforcement among federal and foreign entities. The goal in the international arena is to move toward greater consistency in intellectual property protection around the world. Just as the framers of the Constitution created standard intellectual property rules for the nation, there is work to be done to develop consistent rules for the rest of the world. With respect to copyrights, the work continues to bring copyright law in line with the digital age. Back in 1996, the USPTO led efforts to adopt the two WIPO "Internet treaties"—the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). Both treaties establish important new international norms related to the right to make a work available to the public through interactive media. They also provide for the protection of copyright management information and technological measures used to protect copyrighted works. As might be expected, a significant part of our international efforts at the USPTO are devoted to strengthening IP enforcement abroad and combating IP piracy. With the growing importance of intellectual property assets, the need for enforcement of these rights abroad has increased substantially. For example, IP protection is critical for U.S. exports, with more than 50 percent of our exports now dependent on some form of IP protection. Because American IP owners compete in a global marketplace, there is a need to expand efforts to promote IP protection internationally. There is a need to make sure that American IP owners and law enforcement authorities have sufficient legal tools to fight piracy. The bottomline is, there is much work left to do in order to protect the rights of those who create original works, and to keep those works from being distributed illegally. Let us help you protect your work, your money, your good name. Get started ---->HERE< ----

Know your rights!
Here is the link to the DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1998.
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DMCA Rights

Know your rights! Read about the DMCA Act


What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection automatically provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.

U.S. copyright law generally gives the author/creator or owner of an original creative work an exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce (copy) or distribute the original work to the public (e.g., create and sell copies of a film)
  • Create new works based upon the original work (e.g., make a movie based on a book)
  • Perform or display the work publicly (e.g., perform a play)

Violation of one of these rights is called copyright infringement. However, the use may be authorized by copyright limitations (such as fair use) described below.

What types of works are protected by copyright?

  • Literary works
  • Music and lyrics
  • Dramatic works and music
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Photographs, graphics, paintings and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Video games and computer software
  • Audio recordings
  • Architectural works

What is not protected by copyright?

  • Unfixed works that have not been recorded in a tangible, fixed form (e.g., a song you made up and sang in the shower)
  • Work in the public domain (see below)
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; numbers
  • Ideas and facts
  • Processes and systems (e.g., the Dewey decimal system)
  • Federal government works (e.g., the tax code)

If I have an idea in my head, is it automatically copyrighted?

No, ideas are not copyrightable. Only tangible forms of expression (e.g., a book, play, drawing, film, or photo, etc.) are copyrightable. Once you express your idea in a fixed form — as a digital painting, recorded song, or even scribbled on a napkin — it is automatically copyrighted if it is an original work of authorship.

Who owns the copyright?

  • Author/Creator
  • Author/Creator’s heirs if the creator is dead (living family)
  • Creators of a joint work automatically share copyright ownership unless there is a contrary agreement. (e.g., If two students write an original story together, they share the copyright.)
  • Anyone to whom the author/creator has given or assigned his or her copyright (e.g., an employer if the copyrighted work is created under a “work made for hire” agreement, a publisher or record company if the copyrighted work is given in exchange for a publishing or recording contract). Usually this means that the author/creator has given up his or her own copyright in the work.

Who owns the copyright in recorded music?

It depends. If a person writes a song and records it, that person is the creator and owns the copyright. But professionally produced music can have many copyright owners. For example, the copyright to a particular sound recording may be owned by the songwriter, the performer, the producer, a record label, a publisher, or a combination thereof.

When I buy music, either online or offline, do I get copyright in the work?

No, when you buy music, you own that copy of the music. If you bought a CD, you are allowed to sell that particular copy or make fair uses of it, but you don’t own a copyright in the music itself. If you bought a song on iTunes or other service, your ownership of it may be subject to certain restrictions.

When does copyright start? Do I have to register the work with the government?

Copyright status is automatic upon creation of your original creative work in a fixed, tangible form. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not necessary for copyright status and protection, though registration is needed in order to pursue an infringement claim in court.

How do I formally register my original, creative work?

You can fill out the form and submit a filing fee at the U.S. Copyright Office website.

How long does copyright last?

  • For original works created after 1977, copyright lasts for the life of author/creator + 70 years from the author’s death for his/her heirs.
  • For “works made for hire” corporate works and anonymous works created after 1977, copyright can last from 95-120 years from publication.

Are there any copyright limitations?

There are several limits on copyrights. For example:

Fair Use allows the public to use portions of copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner. To decide whether a use is a fair use, courts look at four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of the second use: Is it just a copy, or are you doing something different from the original work? Is your use commercial?
  2. The nature of the original: Was the original work creative or primarily factual?
  3. Amount used: How much of the original work was used, and was that amount necessary?
  4. Effect: Did the use harm the market for the original work? For example, would people buy this work instead of the original?

First Sale allows a consumer to resell a product containing copyrighted material, such as a book or CD that the consumer bought or was given, without the copyright owner’s permission.

Public Domain works can be freely used by anyone, for commercial or noncommercial purposes, without permission from an original copyright owner/author. Public domain status allows the user unrestricted access and unlimited creativity! These works may be designated for free and unlimited public access, or they may be no longer covered by copyright law because the copyright status has expired or been forfeited by the owner.

What is licensing?

Licensing is when a copyright owner gives permission for someone else to do something normally restricted by copyright law. For example, the creator of a song may license a song to an advertising agency, allowing the ad company to use parts of her song in a television commercial in exchange for compensation.

Sometimes a creator may want to give everybody the permission to make copies of his or her work. For example, some musicians want fans to make copies and share their songs, so they license their songs in a way that gives others explicit permission to copy and share them.… Read the rest