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We’ve written many times about the issue of termination rights in copyright. Under the Copyright Act that went into effect in 1978, artists have a “termination right” to basically take back their copyright from whomever they assigned it to, 35 years after the works were created. Artists cannot contract that right away. It’s inalienable. Of course, it’s 2013, and as you may have noticed, that’s 35 years after 1978. There are a variety of legal fights going on, as copyright holders (generally large gatekeeper companies) are fighting to stop the termination rights. One of the first key cases on this involved The Village People’s Victor Willis, who initially scored an initial victory last year. Of course, the legal fight went on. The NY Times, however, is reporting that Willis himself is now claiming victory, but the details are lacking, and the lawyer for the record labels denies Willis’ claim, noting that there’s still an appeal to be heard.

That said, what struck me as more interesting — but no less troubling — is the gleeful manner in which it appears Willis is preparing to use his new copyright powers (if he actually gets them) to make the current version of The Village People stop performing the band’s classic songs….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Village People Singer Wants To Ban The Group From Singing YMCA After Claiming He’s Regained The Copyright”

Ray Kelly is the NYPD Commissioner with a heart of gold and a severe case of the flip-flops when it comes to how security technology in his city is used. The potential DHS chief candidate is a huge fan of the complete failure known as “stop and frisk”, as well as all the cameras and license plate readers the city has at its disposal, except when that technology is turned towards his officers. It’s classic Orwellian thinking, in which LEOs and the government get all the toys while you have to find the blind spots in all the cameras just to write in your journal. That journal these days meaning the internet, which of course doesn’t really offer any blind spots.

And that’s how we get headlines today about Ray Kelly apparently declaring war on someone going by the handle AfroDuck, which is exactly the comic relief the world needs right now. Who is AfroDuck, you ask? Well, he or she is an idiot who decided to circumnavigate Manhattan, a twenty-six-plus mile trip, in just twenty-four minutes. Then, because idiocy and internet-braggery go hand in hand like spaghetti and meatballs, AfroDuck uploaded a dash-cam video of the feat to the internet….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dumb Speeding Criminal Decides To Post Manhattan Speed Run Video Online”

As you hopefully are aware, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful, moving and memorable I have a dream… speech. In a just world, that speech would be in the public domain. And, legally, it might be. While King did apparently send a copy of the speech to the Copyright Office, he did so as an “unpublished work.” There has been a dispute, then, about the speech itself, since that would be a publication. His estate, however, has argued that the speech was not a “general publication,” but rather a “limited publication” and thus King retained a common law copyright — and an appeals court appeared to agree, but the lawsuit over this was settled without a final ruling, and no one has challenged it since. However, King’s estate has beenridiculously aggressive in trying to lock up his speeches and take down videos commemorating his talks, with a focus on this momentous speech.

Of course, they’re more than happy to license the speech to the highest bidder…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Let Freedom Ka-Ching! On The 50th Anniversary Of ‘I Have A Dream,’ AT&T Can Use The Speech To Sell Phones, But You Can’t Post It”

There’s a very cool group out there called the Hacker Scouts, which was started last year, trying to get kids interested in cool hacking stuff:

Hacker Scouts is a national non profit organization, founded in the Fall of 2012 in Oakland CA, that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big. A variety of experts and mentors from the community ensure a well rounded and high level of attention and skill building for all ages through accessible programs that meet the different needs of our young makers. Hacker Scouts provides open source material and a support program for Hacker Scout programs globally.

Awesome, right? Definitely the kind of thing that should be encouraged. But, then the Boy Scouts of America went ballistic and threatened the Hacker Scouts with trademark infringement claims…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congress Gave Boy Scouts Special Law To Let Them Be Obnoxious Trademark Bullies”

As was recently covered here, a Morgan County, IL state’s attorney by the name of Robert Bonjean declared his intentions to selectively enforce a state law declared unconstitutional by the Seventh Circuit Court.

The law in question was the 1960 Eavesdropping Law that forbade recordings without the consent of both parties. The court stated that using this statute to prevent citizens from recording police was likely unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, a citizen (Randy Newingham) was detained for doing exactly that. Bonjean said he wouldn’t issue a “blanket statement” on citizens’ recordings and would take it on a “case-by-case” basis.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “IL County Attorney Seeking To Enforce Unconstitutional Law Draws The Attention Of The ACLU”

The administration wants Snowden back badly enough that it has let this singular aspect cloud its judgement. Obama recently stated he won’t be meeting with Putin, stating Russia’s harboring of Snowden as a factor (rather than Russia’s multiple issues with human rights). Rather than engage in the debate Obama claimed he “welcomed,” the administration is circling the wagons, as evidenced in the petty statement it issued in reference to Rep. Justin Amash’s NSA-defunding amendment. Don’t govern angry, as they say.

There are plenty of people who believe Snowden is a hero. Many others believe the opposite. The problem is the middle ground is pretty much nonexistent. Allowing Snowden to go free would appease the former, but allow him to continue exposing the NSA’s surveillance programs. Locking him up wouldn’t do much either, other than allow the government to avenge its embarrassment. It won’t stop the leaks, however, at least not if Snowden’s “dead man’s switch” works as intended. The Guardian is already in possession of thousands of documents. Capturing Snowden will only hasten their release.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why It Might Be In The U.S.’s Best Interests To Grant Snowden Full Immunity”

The ongoing court battle over warrantless cell phone location tracking continues and the latest decision is another setback for the Fourth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy over their location data. The decision states that location data is a “business record” created by private companies with the implicit consent of cell phone users and therefore are not subject to privacy protections.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals Upholds Decision That Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Doesn’t Violate Fourth Amendment”

We already talked about the Amash Amendment being voted down very narrowly (217 – 205). While it didn’t pass, this was still a huge victory, because a few weeks ago (hell, even last week) people predicted that this amendment had no chance at all and might not even be debated. To come within seven votes of passing shows you why the NSA, the White House and the Senate’sprimary NSA enablers went absolutely ballistic in going all out against the amendment. Think about that: you had incredibly powerful interests working overtime against this amendment, and no special interests beyond basic common decency and grassroots support working for it… and the vote was still incredibly close.

The full roll call has now been released, and you’ll note that this is not a partisan issue….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The 217 Representatives Who Voted To Keep NSA Spying On All Your Data”

One technique in the world of pharma that has started appearing here on Techdirt is “evergreening” — making small changes to a drug, often about to come off patent, in order to gain a new patent that extends its manufacturer’s control over it. The advantages for pharma companies are evident, but what about the public? What economic impact does evergreening have? 

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Using Patents To Needlessly Drive Up Healthcare Costs: The Economic Impact Of Evergreening Drugs”

Judge James Robertson

Last year, we noted that after five years of nothingness, despite what the law required, the federal government finally had a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), after years of nominations that went nowhere. The PCLOB does now exist and has been charged with looking into the government’s surveillance efforts. While the PCLOB does have some really good members who are strong privacy/civil liberties advocates, there are significant questions about how much authority it actually has. Still, on Tuesday, the PCLOB held hearings on the ongoing surveillance programs, and perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of them were the comments from James Robertson, a former FISC judge, who had quit the court, but had not spoken publicly about why until now…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former FISC Judge Quit Over Warrantless Wiretapping, Now Argues FISC Is Out Of Control”

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