News: David Brooks has a fun look at “The Alpha Geeks” in an op-ed in the NYT. Here’s a cool passage:
“The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.
“They can visit eclectic sites like Kottke.org and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names. They’ve created a new definition of what it means to be cool, a definition that leaves out the talents of the jocks, the M.B.A.-types and the less educated.”
News: Seeqpod is a search engine that locates music files on the Internet and allows you to play whatever you find on a music player that appears on the Seeqpod page. The music is not stored on Seeqpod, as I understand it, but on third party sites that are identified in the search engine.
Warner Brothers Music has sued Seeqpod for copyright infringement. Seeqpod will be invoking one of the safe harbors under the DMCA for search tools. Ars Technica has an excellent discussion, as does EFF’s Fred von Lohmann.
Analysis: I’ll have more to say after I read the complaint.
I’ve been meaning to blog about this video clip of Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s take on Web 3.0. It’s a fascinating explanation and prediction of the next phase of the Internet. His explanation is so good, I’d rather let you just listen to the explanation rather than attempt to paraphrase it. You can tell this guy has a Ph.D.
We’re probably not yet there at Web 3.0, but the possibilities seem fast approaching. We’ve barely had time to digest Web 2.0, but here’s a video with a good explanation of the history behind the term Web 2.0.
In my legal scholarship, I try to analyze complications created by new technologies for existing paradigms of law, usually in the area of intellectual property. Right now, I’m continuing my exploration of how Web 2.0 affects our copyright laws. Hopefully, I’ll have a draft soon to share online.
News: The General Counsel of NBC Universal Rick Cotton has stated that NBC supports the ability of users to reuse and remix copyrighted shows. As I reported last week, NBC already allows free download copies of many of its shows on its website. When you couple this free dissemination of NBC copies online with Rick Cotton’s statements, it appears that NBC has bought into the mashup/remix culture of user-generated content that relies upon preexisting copyrighted works.
Here are some of Cotton’s statements:
“They can choose to download commercial free episodes of our TV shows or watch free, streaming, ad-supported programs on our websites. We’ve offered fans material from “Battlestar Galactica” and “The Office” to create mashups. And we expect to expand those offerings both on our websites and on Hulu.com.”
“But, looking forward, one of the exciting characteristics of the new, digital world is that technology will allow us greater flexibility to respond to consumer desires.”
“It bears repeating that short-form mashups, parodies and the like are NOT the primary focus of content owners’ anti-piracy activities. Let’s be clear that sympathy for parodies and “re-interpretations” should not be used as a justification for inaction in addressing aggressively the wholesale trafficking in complete, unchanged copies of movies and TV programs. Having said that, most major content owners today want to see fans fully engage with their favorite content and are working hard to provide legitimate ways to do that.”
Analysis: NBC Universal should be applauded for its stance on remixes and mashups, as well as for allowing free downloading of many of its shows online. If I take Cotton’s statements at face value, he basically gives his blessing to noncommercial remixes of NBC’s copyrighted shows. I would not have expected this kind of position from a Hollywood studio. But I hope NBC doesn’t scale back the free stuff and start selling all of its shows on iTunes (for more, see Mashable).
News: You know that the (copyright) times are changing when NBC is now allowing download copies of some of its most popular shows (instead of just watching them online). It’s part of “NBC Direct” (beta) and it’s all free. I’m assuming the free video downloads contain no DRM, but I haven’t verified that yet.
If you go to this menu, you’ll see that over 20 NBC shows are downloadable, including 30 Rock, Law & Order SVU, The Office, ER, and Heroes.
The free downloading of NBC shows is also a little surprising, given the rather hard-line copyright position expressed by Rick Cotton in this NYT debate. I wonder what the difference, as a practical matter, between NBC allowing copying of its free broadcast shows and third parties doing it on their own with their own devices for those very same shows. If the market for free TV shows eventually adopts a free download practice, then the “piracy” rhetoric seems hollow. (Movies are different since they are not usually free, either online or offline.)
News: Flickr and The Library of Congress announced a joint project called “The Commons.” It includes wonderful photographs from the 1930-40s and 1910s — for which there are “no known copyright restriction.” Apparently that means in this case of the 1930s-1940s photographs they were taken for the US government and did not get copyrights (I’m guessing). For the 1910 photographs taken by a news service, they are simply too old to be conceivably under copyright protection today.
This is a terrific idea (and I love the incredible photos), but the copyright description by Flickr and The Library of Congress is a little bit vague. They don’t come out and say that you can freely copy and re-use the photos, at least not on my first reading of the site. They simply encourage you to add tags to the photos.
Analysis: I would think the more common use that the public wants to make of these old photos, however, is copying and disseminating. If there is “no known copyright restriction,” the Library of Congress should come out and say that it’s in the public domain, free for all to use and copy.
The closest they come to stating that is a statement buried in their FAQ, which I’ve copied below:
Enjoying and Re-using Photos
Q: Can I reuse the photos the Library has made available on Flickr? What are the rights and permissions on these? Can I reproduce these pictures?
A: Although the Library of Congress does not grant or deny permission to use photos, the Library knows of no copyright restrictions on the publication, distribution, or re-use of these photos. Privacy rights may apply. For further information see the rights, see the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection color photographs rights information and the George Grantham Bain Collection rights information.
Q: Are higher resolution copies available?
A. Yes. Higher resolution TIFF versions of the photos are available through the Prints and Photographs online catalog. Example: Click on the ”Persistent URL” link in the data information for the photograph (the URL looks like “hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a35075”) and when the new catalog record displays, click on the picture for the larger images.
Q: How do I get copies of these pictures?
A: You can download and print copies of the pictures yourself. Higher resolution TIFF files are available through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Alternatively, you can purchase copies through the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service. For further information on purchasing copies, see the Reproductions information page on the Prints & Photographs Division Web site.