Copyright in Cyberspace

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February 28

The Internet has enabled individuals to become involved in the production of media and to distribute their contributions widely at a very low cost. The former bastion of the entertainment industry is opening up to what many are calling a democratization of culture. The copyright doctrine of fair use seemingly bolsters the right to "recut, reframe, and recycle" previous works, but the protection fair use gives to those re-purposing copyrighted material is notoriously uncertain.

Digital and file-sharing technologies also spawned the proliferation of sharing of media and music, which has led to a number of controversial legal and technological strategies. The "notice-and-takedown" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") allow Internet service providers to limit their liability for the copyright infringements of their users if the ISPs expeditiously remove material in response to complaints from copyright owners. The DMCA provides for counter-notice and "put-back" of removed material, but some argue that the statutory mechanism can chill innovative, constitutionally-protected speech.

This class provides an overview of some major copyright law concepts and takes up some of the issues swirling around copyright in cyberspace.

Required Readings

Optional Readings

Class Discussion

Just wanted to share an interesting post from The Wall Street Journal Law Blog on trademark infringement and online shaming: Shame on You, Trademark Holders
Aditkowsky 14:21, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

February 28: Copyright in Cyberspace Just Johnny 17:10, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

I've been waiting for the right time to share this link, I think this is it. Whenever TPB (The pirate bay) gets send a cease and desist letter they post it and their (often funny) response here [1]. (Some replies contain NSFW language).
Gregor 14:21, 27 Febuary 2012 (UTC)

I have been particularly sensitive of copyright laws since I am interested in music recording and video. Lawrence Lessig’s article Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy does bring up an important point; do companies really stand to lose profits by targeting artists who may use short clips of their copyrighted material or are these cases mostly based on ideology and principle with little concern for lost profits? In the case of Stephanie Lenz and the Youtube video of her child dancing to Prince, clearly Lessig is correct in pointing out that the inclusion of Prince music in the video would not cut into the album sales. The clip was short and the sound quality was poor. In fact, popularizing the clip through the video could only broaden interest in Prince’s music and may lead to additional sales.

In the case of Gregg Gillis who remixed existing clips, I think his response to the copyright infringement law suit was apt; “This wasn’t something like a bootlegging case.” While Gillis’s music involves hundreds of different clips and I can only assume that no one single clip defines an entire song, certain copyright infringement cases are trickier. For example, rapper Vanilla Ice’s hit song Ice Ice Baby clearly took the entire bass line of the Queen song “Under Pressure” and used the clip repeatedly throughout the song. While Vanilla Ice never credited Queen, he would ultimately be forced to pay royalties. Therefore it may be a little more nuanced between Gillis’s case where the sum of the clips is more important than any one clip and Vanilla Ice’s situation where a single clip makes up the entire song. --Jimmyh 17:52, 27 February 2012 (UTC)