Prosecuted for Sharing a Master’s Thesis?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (of which I am a member) shares the case of Diego Gomez:

Today and tomorrow [2.1 and 2.2], there’s an oral hearing taking place for Diego Gomez, a Colombian student being prosecuted for sharing another student’s Master’s thesis with colleagues over the Internet—something that thousands of researchers do every day. Diego faces the possibility of years in prison, thanks to the steep penalties for copyright infringement that Colombia implemented as part of a 2012 trade agreement with the United States.

EFF has long held that extreme criminal copyright rules chill people’s rights, especially in countries where copyright law doesn’t protect users’ freedom of speech through robust fair use exceptions….

SeeStand with Diego. Support Open Access @ EFF.

I’ll update as news becomes available.  The EFF, by the way, describes fair use correctly: fair use provisions are exceptions to another’s copyright, not standalone rights, or rights at all.

Entrepreneurial Bookseller Goes Back to the U.S. Supreme Court

Supap Kirtsaeng won a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, and now he’s heading back to seek attorneys’ fees. Here’s the background: Supap Kirtsaeng built himself a business on eBay buying textbooks in Asia and reselling them to students in the US. That practice made him the target of a copyright lawsuit by…

Monkey Copyright Case Is About More Than A Monkey‘s Copyright

At first blush, a case in which People For the Ethical Treatment intervened on a monkey’s behalf to secure a copyright in a photograph that the money took (and receive monetary damages from its infringement)  is about the possibility of a monkey holding a copyright.  That’s not a particularly hard question, as the Copyright Act…

Venezuelan Gov’t Tries U.S. Court to Silence Currency-Info Website

If you thought that simply publishing online the exchange rate between the American dollar and Venezuelan bolivares was an innocuous act, then you’re not a member of the (fumbling, stumbling) Venezuelan government: In its bizarre and bombastic civil complaint, the US-based lawyer for the CBV [Central Bank of Venezuela] argued that the three Venezuelan-American men…

You Can Sing Now (More Safely)

It’s now (probably) legal to publicly sing the world’s most popular song, thanks to an opinion handed down yesterday by a federal judge in Los Angeles. After years of litigation, the court held that the lyrics1 of “Happy Birthday To You” are not restricted by Warner/Chappell’s copyright, handing a solid victory to a group of…

From the Annals of Copyright Improbabilities™ 

PETA filed suit Tuesday, asking the courts to declare Naruto the rightsholder and hence an owner of property: a copyright. David Slater, the British nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the Indonesian jungle, said he has been granted copyright protection in the UK for the photos. He said he was “very…

About those Ashley Madison Terms and Conditions

Very few start-ups dream of establishing a site like Ashley Madison: the Avid Media’s venture is unappealing in service and (now more than ever) reputation. Among the many practices to be avoided at Ashley Madison would be an emulation of that website’s terms and conditions: those terms attempt to waive liability on the company’s part…

“4 Common Legal Mistakes Small Businesses Make”

I first saw Stephanie Christensen’s brief list of mistakes that small businesses make in late 2013, but it’s evergreen. Numbers One and Two (‘Misunderstanding ownership of creative assets’ & ‘Misunderstanding copyright laws’) are related: they often concern smart, well-educated non-lawyers who mistakenly think the law protects more or less than it actually does. Very few business people…

The Big Picture on IP

David Post, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy, recommends a recent paper from Mark Lemley (“IP in a World Without Scarcity“) that summarizes the state of intellectual property law. It’s a sound recommendation, and well worth following to Prof. Lemley’s paper. Here’s Post’s assessment: If I were still teaching a class on IP law, or Law…

Answering an Objection to the Language of Reddit’s Expanded Ban

In last week’s post, defending Reddit’s decision to expand its content ban, I promised that I’d answer an objection to that expanded content-restriction policy.  The objection to that content policy comes from Gizmodo, in a post from Annalee Newitz entitled, Reddit Bans /r/Coontown For All the Wrong Reasons.  Ms. Newitz, sensibly, isn’t opposed to a…


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