Links Roundup for 7 November 2011

Here’s a roundup of stories on copyright matters that might be of interest to fans:

  • Two media outlets presented a very different picture of the new “anti-piracy” venture, Creative America. A feature in the Hollywood Reporter stuck to the basics, suggesting international theft threatens American jobs: “Creative America is meant to provide a place where members of the industry and creative community can learn more about the impact of the theft of intellectual property on their jobs and industry. It is also designed to help rally support for passage of legislation now before Congress to fight content theft, especially the Protect IP Act, which combats foreign trafficking in stolen movies TV shows and other forms of intellectual property.” A post at TechDirt questions an industry org being termed “a grassroots effort” and notes it requires members to contact representatives in Congress only on the org’s terms. “”Creative America” apparently does not trust its own members to be creative. The letter is 100% locked down. You can only send their text. Honestly, if a group supposedly representing creators won’t even let its own members express themselves freely, you know that it’s not actually about protecting “creative” America. ”
  • Of course, copyright ownership is often an unclear picture. A study conducted in the UK paints a troubling picture of copyright clarity when it comes to written works published in the last 140 years. Using titles published between 1870 and 2010, researchers discovered that only 29% were out of copyright and 43% of the works were “orphans”, having no clear copyright owner. The 1980s produced the highest percentage of orphans, 50% of the total. This suggests that a great many relatively recent works will exist in an unclear state of ownership, particularly if the treatment of orphan works differs internationally.
  • What falls under copyright continues to be a contested issue as well. A post on Freakonomics asked if you can copyright a football play. The conclusion focused on a motivation rarely seen in copyright discussions which center on money: professional pride. “In the NFL, innovations can pay even if they provide an advantage over only a few games (although for reasons we’ve explained, copying a football coach’s innovation effectively is often more difficult than it may at first appear)…That gleaming, buffed Lombardi trophy prize drives innovation in football more surely than any rule of intellectual property.”

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