Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) Passes Judiciary Committee

If you recall, Patrick Moore published the first draft of the Wikipedia article on COICA:
Patrick continues to participate in its accuracy. He reported some editors rephrased the article to shine a positive light on the act, which violates the wikipedia principle of “neutral point of view.”

Luckily, an editor other than Patrick reverted the changes, and if you check the history page, you can see many others have contributed to the article since Patrick’s original creation:

Here’s one specific example:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation gives a good outline of the issues associated with COICA in today’s update about the Judiciary Committee’s vote this morning:

To continue to watch the life of this legislation, check out

Final Draft of ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)

This American University article on the final version of the largely closed-door trade agreement explains:

In many of the countries negotiating the agreement, including the EU, the normal procedures for entering a treaty, including consent by the legislative branch, will be used. But not in the US. The USTR has stated repeatedly that ACTA will enter into force in the US as an executive agreement that does not require any congressional role.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has made the full text of the final version available here.

Here is a line-by-line comparison of the first and third drafts.

VSU P2P Policies and Enforcement

The theme of this class is to address issues of copyright and infringement, which we see play out regularly through digital networks. This week these issues hit close to home, with a hullabaloo surrounding Georgia’s Valdosta State University:

What is to be done to protect students and users rights to transfer digital works legally, like content in the public domain or that is openly licensed? What about fair uses? What about the fact that many digital technologies are “peer-to-peer” and this is an issue of public policy butting heads with technical dimensions of reproduction methods?

Open Access Brown Bag Event (campus ETS)

Thanks to Patrick Berger for his notes:

Academic journals are the second most profitable industry in the United States. The peer-review and research are all done by academia basically for free – and then the publishers can charge exorbitant rates to access the material and set incredibly strict copyright restrictions that inhibit its educational value.

Copyright issues particularly relevant to education and academia:
Data/Facts can’t be copyrighted; only the presentation of said data can. This leads to a virtually infinite amount of grey area because even taking a list of pure data from a scientific study that researched into something like car emissions and turning it into a graph would violate certain types of copyright.

The University of California is “copyright forward”. All course material is express copyright of the creator. This means that the GSI’s, professors, or students that create the work have the right to make these open materials. However, when material is published, copyright is usually completely transferred to the publisher of the work.

Copyleft publishing licenses are a gradient to how copyright usually works. The purpose is to preserve the idea of intellectual property but to expand the availability and usability of the material. Examples of these are
- Attribution no derivatives (Must cite the creator without altering the material in any way)
- Attribution non-commercial share-alike (Must cite the creator, you can alter the material, but cannot use it for financial purposes)

Fair-use Statute Section 107 lists the factors that must be evaluated in determining whether a particular use of a copyrighted work is a permitted fair use. These include
1) Whether the use is commercial in nature or is for non-profit education
2) The nature of the original work – reproducing a factual work is more likely than a creative work such as poetry or music.
3) The amount of the portion used in relation to the entire book. Reproducing one chapter of a 50 chapter book is obviously different than 4 chapters of an 8 chapter book.
4) The impact of the use upon the market or commercial value of the copyrighted work.

How academia is fighting back
Open access journals. These can be found at the Directory of Open Access Journals. These are what they sound like, less prestigious journals that can be accessed for free without the copyright restrictions. Benefits of publishing in these are that you could hypothetically get more hits and citations of your work since more people have access to it.

Publishing in a journal and paying a fee to make it open access. For most academic journals, this fee is ridiculously high – in the range of $5,000. The Berkeley Research Impact Initiative subsidizes the fee in order to promote open access publishing.

Government to the rescue. There is currently a governmental mandate that any research funded by public money should be published open and available to the public. Currently covers the National Institute of Health, however due to legal action there’s a 12 month embargo on it. Hopefully the embargo can be lifted and the mandate can be applied to wider areas of research such as the department of education, department of transportation, and the department of energy.

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

A man's back holding his hand up as though he is swearing, but the viewer can see his fingers cross so he is lying

Will it be signed as an executive accord, which requires no legislative approval, or will there be Congressional debate and a vote? Many notable Academics are asking President Obama this question and others:

Amazon Feigns “Lending” of Kindle E-Books

An official post from Amazon on Friday outlined a couple of new planned features for their electronic book reader, the Kindle. Among them was the ability to “lend” books to other Kindlers:

later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

PCWorld suggests this development may permit Libraries to more flexibly lend digital versions of their texts, as is currently practiced by the New York Public Library. Many have criticized Amazon, the Kindle, and other purveyors of DRM-enabled devices for not permitting users to do with their digital books what was essential of their analog counterparts–the ability to share, legally. This seems to be a literal attempt to address those criticisms.

We saw a similar controversy rise over the Kindle voice reader feature that allows users to listen to their E-Books out loud. Amazon dodged one bullet by permitting publishers and copyright holders the ability to allow or disallow the voice reader capability. However, a second bullet was fired at Amazon from advocates of reading for the visually impaired, including the World Blind Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Knowledge Ecology International.

Some argue Amazon had the opportunity to assert users’ rights to the voice reader feature and thus secure disability access, but failed or otherwise decided not to do so. By extension, the new “lending” feature seems also to be a case where Amazon has avoided liability by giving publishers the choice to permit sharing. This may be missing the essence of the argument against DRM formats of books as exemplified in the claims and behaviors of “The Real Caterpillar” from The Millions’ Confessions of a Book Pirate. However, giving Amazon the benefit of the doubt, is this a step toward flexibility of digital books or yet another consessionary act?

Issues of Copyright, Networks, and Privacy Play Out Each Day

Today it is in Ireland, where an ISP won a court case preventing them from being required to cut off users suspected of illegal file-sharing.

But what of tomorrow? Will this case spark lobbying for more stringent network regulation and copyright enforcement legislation in Ireland?