Fair Use Takes A Point

Sadly, though, chilling effects still seem to have the upper hand….. Judge Says Artist Can Make Fun of Barbie (see also Mattel v. Walking Mountain

Seven years ago when Tom Forsythe, an artist and photographer, was searching for a subject for a new project, he settled on Barbie, ultimately producing a series of 78 photographic images of the wildly famous doll showing her nude, and sometimes posed provocatively, in or around various household appliances.

[…] Mr. Forsythe developed a theme that he called “Barbie’s power as a beauty myth.” He displayed his photographs at art fairs in Utah and Kansas City, generating a few thousand dollars in sales but otherwise attracting little notice.

But his work drew the attention of Mattel Inc., which has manufactured the Barbie doll since 1959. In the summer of 1999, Mattel sued Mr. Forsythe for copyright and trademark infringement.

After a lengthy legal tussle, which included a series of appeals, a federal judge late last week instructed Mattel to pay Mr. Forsythe legal fees of more than $1.8 million.

Copyright: Mattel Spanked for Bringing Objectively Meritless Suit Against Artist and More on Barbie’s battles…

The Father of the DVD

A Newsweek profile: One Man’s Flight of Fancy (Slashdot)

In the future, will there be a place for a “hard” medium that you can touch and store on your shelves? Lieberfarb believes that answer is no. “The future will see video on demand delivered over the Internet, and movies will be just one of the offerings,” he says. Already, services like RealNetworks can offer “Finding Nemo” online, and TiVo offers connections to Internet movie sites. Digital video “will transform what, where, when and how we get our entertainment,” he says.

Further Beastie Boys on Slashdot

I doubt there’ll be a Slashdot echo, but it’s interesting to see just how sensitive the Beastie Boys (or their fans) seem to be to the attribution of DRM-crippled CD releases to them. Should make for some interesting times when the record companies start rolling them out in earnest soon: Beastie Boys Respond to DRM Claims

Note: I’ll be away for a couple days, and thus posting somewhat less (possibly not at all!) until I get back. Check the blogroll to the right for updates. And try Findory’s Blogory — it’s been an interesting way to get a look at more of the blog world than I usually have time to do.

PIRATE Act Passes Senate

So much for all the whistling past the graveyard, claiming that Congress had too much real work (like passing a budget) to mess with the copyright fights. Now my tax dollars will go to helping maintain the RIAA/MPAA business model, unless the House shows more sense — good use for the Department of Justice with a summer of “high alert” coming my way: Senate OKs antipiracy plan (S.2237 status)

Senate leaders scheduled Friday’s vote under a procedure that required the unanimous consent of all members present. Now the Pirate Act, along with a related bill that criminalizes using camcorders in movie theaters, will be forwarded to the House of Representatives for approval.

“These acts will provide federal prosecutors with the flexibility and discretion to bring copyright infringement cases that best correspond to the nature of the crime and will assure that valuable works that are pirated before their public release date are protected,” said Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America. Counting a new round of lawsuits filed this week, the RIAA has sued 3,429 people so far.

[…] One influential backer of the Pirate Act has been urging an avalanche of civil suits. “Tens of thousands of continuing civil enforcement actions might be needed to generate the necessary deterrence,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said when announcing his support for the bill. “I doubt that any nongovernmental organization has the resources or moral authority to pursue such a campaign.”

“This turns the Department of Justice into a civil law firm for the industry’s benefit,” said Adam Eisgrau, the executive director of P2P United. Its members include BearShare, Blubster, Grokster, Morpehus and eDonkey.

Slashdot, oddly enough, only focuses on the camcorder bill: Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-Camcorder Bill

It’s Friday: Pending George W. Bush Singers Release

The George W Bush Singers WWW site announces the pending release of An All-New — FCC Friendly — CD Release Packed With Memorable Words of InspirationSongs in the Key of W [via MI2N]

There’s a site with song samples

It’s election time. In joyous celebration, a group of talented musical balladeers joined together to celebrate our President. Austin, Texas based Choir Director Steve McAllister decided it was time to start singing the right songs. Drawing inspiration from the memorable words spoken by our President, McAllister and a cast of patriots opened the door of musical oppression. It was easy — they had the key…

In the tradition of The First Family, The Capitol Steps and A Mighty Wind, Songs In the Key of W contains no bad or questionable words, but may contain some questionable grammar.

NYTimes Op-Ed on Music Biz & Compulsory Licensing

Two op-ed pieces in the NYTimes today on the music business and the push for compulsory licensing (Terry’s book must be coming out soon!):

  • Harvard Law School’s Terry Fisher: Don’t Beat Them, Join Them

    History may give us some guidance. After all, file sharing isn’t the first new technology to have destabilized the entertainment industry. The way in which the industry responded to the introduction of three earlier inventions — radio, the VCR and Webcasting — offers important clues for music executives today.

    […] If the pattern holds, then the record industry’s response to file sharing — trying to block the technology altogether — would generate the worst of all possible results. To its credit, the industry has started to participate in paid music download services like iTunes, but a better solution would be to institute a monthly licensing fee paid by Internet users. History suggests that the record industry, and society at large, would be better off in the long run if it approached this new challenge with more open minds.

  • University of Iowa’s Kimbrew McLeod: Share the Music

    With its new round of lawsuits, the recording industry association is once again demonstrating its failure to recognize the obvious: file sharing isn’t going away. Consumers have grown attached to it, and more and more musicians believe file sharing can help promote their music in an age of limited play lists at radio stations. Given its hold in our culture, downloading, in some form, must be part of any solution to this impasse.

    A blanket license model, like that legalizing the use of copyrighted material by cable television and radio, can point us to a future system that might work for file sharing. There would be differences, of course, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Various lawyers, professors and organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting individual freedoms in the digital age, have offered workable solutions.

    […] Some critics call these plans unrealistic, but a legally sanctioned cable television system also seemed like a pipe dream in the 1960’s because of the television industry’s resistance.

    It would be dishonest, and foolish, to suggest that hammering out a compromise palatable to all sides is going to be easy. But the alternative — to do nothing, or to pass new industry-backed legislation — would continue to criminalize the everyday behavior of millions. And it would continue to stifle an innovative way to distribute artistic works.

You Say Cannibalism, I Say Fair Use

Tasteless? Inept? Perhaps. But, with language like this, don’t be surprised when Sen. Hatch decides to extend copyright terms based on the critique given here: Critic’s Notebook: Stop! Thief! An Author’s Mind Is Being Stolen!

You don’t have to be personally involved or angry to notice how often dead writers’ words are lifted and put in the mouths of their novelized selves today. Their lives and ideas have been borrowed, even more insidiously than they are on screen, in three novels about Henry James, one about his brother William and two about Plath. Reach back a few more years and there’s Michael Cunningham’s Virginia Woolf-inspired fiction, “The Hours.” These contemporary novelists go inside other writers’ minds, pilfering their language — a phrase here, a whole diary passage there — feeding off their bodies of work in acts of literary cannibalism.

Colm Toibin’s beautiful, subtle illumination of Henry James’s inner life in “The Master” is surprising. But it’s the book’s artistic success that is startling, not its attempt to invade a dead writer’s thoughts. The extravagant attention to “The Master,” in fact, highlights how prevalent the concept is, how cheap and easy it is to botch things up.

“DRMing” Public Domain Texts

BoingBoing points out that you can buy your own DRM-protected copy of the US Constitution from Amazon: DRM’ed Constitution: more primitive than the original [via IPNewsBlog]

This DRM’ed ebook version of the US Constitution costs $3, and can only be printed twice per year. As John notes, “It would only take 7 years to get copies out to the 13 colonies. Even with the primitive means the colonists had, it only took a few months to distribute the constitution.”

Call for Licensing

From EFF’ Deep Links: If Not INDUCE, then What?

While we at EFF have been critical of the overbreadth of the INDUCE Act, some have asked “what would you suggest that would target P2P while leaving things like the iPod intact?”

Answer: It’s not a question of more laws, it’s a question of new business models.

Related: Taking the INDUCE Act to its Illogical Conclusion

What would the world look like under Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) INDUCE Act (PDF)? To give you a glimpse, we drafted a mock legal complaint (PDF) against Apple for “inducing” copyright infringement by manufacturing the iPod, against CNET for reviewing the iPod, and against Toshiba for providing hard drives for iPod files.