Law

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Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!

The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.” She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942.

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Jan 1 – Public Domain Day

In Canada, the works of T.S. Eliot, Winston Churchill, and Malcolm X will emerge into the public domain. Canadians can stage their own dramatizations of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (the basis for the Broadway show CATS), or add the full works of Churchill and Malcolm X to online archives, all without asking permission or violating the law. However, Canadians may have much less to celebrate next year. The recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (“TPP”), if ratified, would require Canada, along with 5 other countries, to add 20 years to its copyright term (expanding the term from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death). This is happening at a time when there is a consensus among academics, economists, and policymakers—including two heads of the United States Copyright Office—that this term is a “big mistake.” Why? Because its benefits are minuscule—economists (including five Nobel laureates) have shown that term extension does not spur additional creativity. At the same time, it causes enormous harm, locking away millions of older works that are no longer generating any revenue for the copyright holders. Films are literally disintegrating because preservationists can’t digitize them. The works of historians and journalists are incomplete. Artists find their cultural heritage off limits. Estimates are that the yearly cost to Canada from this term extension could exceed 100 million Canadian dollars. (You can read about the works that won’t enter Canada’s public domain here.) Yet, against this backdrop, the TPP would nevertheless mandate the term extension. If “the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results,” this would certainly qualify.

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NFL Arrest-o-meter

If no NFL Football players are arrested between now and the end of Black Friday(11/27), it will be the longest arrest free streak in over 11 years and 2 months of NFL history. On average a player gets arrested every 7 days, we are currently over 5 times the average. If no players get arrested by the end of november, it will be the first calendar month in over 6 years without an arrest.

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How Uber Beat The Las Vegas Taxi Industry

But tonight, for the first time, there were Uber cars among the limos and cabs. One picked up a fare at Caesars Palace and embarked on what would have been one of the first Uber rides in Vegas. But before it could leave the hotel roundabout, the Uber was cut off by two unmarked cars, sirens blaring. Two men burst out, ordered everyone out of the Uber, and told the driver to put his hands on the car’s hood. They were masked and wearing bulletproof vests.

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A dancing baby, a Prince, and internet freedom

Lenz wasn’t thinking about copyright, user rights, or user-generated non-commercial content when she created the video of her dancing toddler and posted it to YouTube. Years later, her video has been viewed over one million times and has played a pivotal role in ensuring that others can post similar videos without fear of having them taken off the Internet.

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Could Happy Birthday finally be free?

The world’s most popular English language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.