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  • Jun 6th, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Speaking at USCO's Pre-1972 Sound Recording Hearings

    To Anonymous Coward:

    I'm a bit unclear about this. It seems you're suggesting that my coverage is inconsistent with Mr. Hoffman's public testimony. I did not read Mr. Hoffman's testimony prior to covering the hearing, so I don't know whether or not the statements I summarized and attributed to him in my Twitter coverage are inconsistent with what he submitted to the Copyright Office in response to the Office's RFC.

    I can tell you Mr. Hoffman appeared only at one session. He made his statement, indicated he would have to leave the session before its conclusion,and did, in fact, leave the session prior to its conclusion. Mike Masnick did ask me on Twitter during the hearing whether Mr. Hoffman seemed serious in his statements. I responded I thought he was quite serious, since I was sitting nearby in the Office's relatively small hearing room.

    I don't have any immediate input about the possible takings issue, other than to say that it was discussed. Mr. Hoffman was the one of the few -- actually, I believe the only one -- who raised and extensively reviewed the possibility that federalizing pre-1972 sound recordings law could impact contractual terms, thereby leading to a takings issue.

    An official from the Copyright Office said the agency will post a hearing transcript later this month. While I'm confident my coverage captured the highlights and gist of the hearings, that transcript will and should be the hearing's definitive record.

    K. Matthew Dames

  • May 15th, 2010 @ 9:20am



    Please define "copyright defender." The members of our editorial staff, William Patry, Rick Cotton, Jessica Litman, Jane Ginsburg, Lawrence Lessig, the MPAA, the RIAA, Ray Beckerman and the average artist who seeks compensation from creative work all could be defined as "copyright defenders." Yet, there are wide ideological and doctrinal differences among these parties.

    The premise of this post (and your request to challenge the Public Knowledge proposals) depends almost exclusively upon a clear definition of "copyright defender." Unfortunately, you've left this open, so it's difficult to say whether your assertion that "copyright defenders" failed to challenge the Public Knowledge copyright reform proposals, or to defend the current copyright system is correct.

    Thank you in advance.

  • Jan 12th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Interesting, but

    The "copyright bubble" is an interesting metaphor, particularly during the current economic problems, fueled in part by real-estate speculation. What the writer seems to presume, though, is that changes in technology and the nature of protected works is fueling this bubble. That may be true for the last 15-20 years, but it is not necessary true for the rest of U.S. copyright law & policy, which goes back to the 18th century.

    We are far from copyright maximalists, but it is sort of tiring to hear a lot of strong opinions about copyright from the so-called "copyleft" that limit the scope of any argument about copyright's relevance or viability to the technologies, works, or laws that have arisen since the mid-1990s. It's as if all started with John Perry Barlow's manifesto, and everything prior to that is irrelevant. (We just had this verbal joust with 4 people at once on Twitter, so we're still a bit amped.)

    The reason U.S. copyright exists is to encourage learning. Arguably, we have gone considerably past that in scope, in term, and in judicial & political interpretation. At the same time, copyright's applicability to everyday tasks also is a very recent phenomenon. See http://bit.ly/5sX784.

    But to resolve the ill fit between copyright & contemporary uses requires more than discussions about bringing about a "more enlightened copyright regime" and how fair use needs to be expanded, and wearing ignorant T-shirts that equate copyright with censorship. To even engage in any responsible discussion about copyright's issues, we think, requires a fundamental, holistic understanding of why the copyright system exists, what its purpose is, and what led us to a point where this is a real problem for too many.

    The one think we think is missing most from an informed dialogue about U.S. copyright is historical and statutory ignorance. None of this stuff just began blowing up in 1995. The game is what it is because of what went down before now, and in no small part because copyright law and policy got away from existing for the encouragement of learning. It seems only reasonable and prudent that if the game needs to be changed, we all should at least know the basic outlines of the game and its history.

  • Sep 2nd, 2009 @ 7:53am


    We like all these alternative business models, and conversations thereof, but let us not forget that there were groups like Wu-Tang Clan doing unique stuff like this as far back as the early 1990s, when (unlike now) the Internet mostly was unknown to the public and it was more socially acceptable (and economically viable) to make money by signing to large labels. Wu-Tang's model wasn't necessarily tiered in the way outlined here, but its model of self-production, self-promotion, collaborative royalty earnings scheme, and spinoff groups and acts was revolutionary at the time. While we know less about her music, Ani DeFranco probably falls into this category as well.

  • Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 5:00pm

    Why don't professors actually negotiate?

    One aspect of this issue that seems to have been missing is what responsibility authors have to preserve at least enough rights in their work so they legally can post a pre-print to their Web site, SSRN, or some other venue besides the print publication. The fact is that published work in traditional print journals does matter for promotion and tenure, and the publishers thus far have a lock on citation (i.e. their citation scheme is the "official" site, and therefore the work that corresponds to that cite is the "official" version). We have no problem with that.

    But we think professors need to be more responsible and proactive about this matter. It's not enough for professors to say "Oh, the publisher won't let me publish a preprint online," or "the contract says I can't do it." (The publishers will say they won't allow it because an online version competes with the final version. That's totally bogus, especially since the professor can't get credit for the online, preprint version for promotion and tenure purposes: only the "official," citable, final version counts.)

    Professors will raise holy hell if they can't get a specific type of notepad for a meeting, but they'll cower to academic editors who say they can't publish an unofficial, online preprint of an accepted article when (a) there's no competition between the two, and (b) it may take as much as a year *from acceptance for publication* for a journal to publish the final version? It's true this is a problem; it's also true that too many professors have punked out and not stood up for their work or the rights associated with it.