October 14, 2008

Thank Goodness for Copyright [8:24 am]

How else might the children of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King survive? Martin Luther King Jr.’s Children Battle Over a Biography of Their Mother (pdf)

The two children who oppose the book, the Rev. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, say their mother did not want Ms. Reynolds to write the biography. Dexter King, who orchestrated the deal, said his siblings and mother signed control of their intellectual property over to their father’s estate.

A judge has ordered the Kings to appear in an Atlanta courtroom on Tuesday to resolve the dispute.

“It’s sad and pathetic to see the three of them behaving in this self-destructive way,” said David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Dr. King. “Unfortunately all of the children seem to regard their father’s legacy as first and foremost an income maximization opportunity for themselves.”

Lawyers for both sides drew similar conclusions, although of course they blamed different children.

I see that it is possible to find the “I Have A Dream” speech online — it used to be a much harder thing to find. And I see the note at the bottom: “Copyright Status: Text, Audio = Restricted, seek permission. Images & Video = Uncertain.”

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Missed This One [7:30 am]

I knew it had been up for consideration, but it appears that S.3325 has been passed and signed: Bush signs controversial anti-piracy law (pdf)

President George W. Bush signed into law on Monday a controversial bill that would stiffen penalties for movie and music piracy at the federal level.

The law creates an intellectual property czar who will report directly to the president on how to better protect copyrights both domestically and internationally. The Justice Department had argued that the creation of this position would undermine its authority.

The law also toughens criminal laws against piracy and counterfeiting, although critics have argued that the measure goes too far and risks punishing people who have not infringed.

[...] Richard Esguerra, spokesman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he was relieved to see lawmakers had stripped out a measure to have the Justice Department file civil lawsuits against pirates, which would have made the attorneys “pro bono personal lawyers for the content industry.”

But the advocacy group Public Knowledge had argued that the law went too far, especially given that fair use of copyrighted material was already shrinking.

Public Knowledge particularly opposed a measure that allowed for the forfeiture of devices used in piracy.

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