OTW Fannews: Technology and Legal Matters

  • While 2012 is now behind us, some of its legal developments may catch up to us in 2013. TechDirt warned that a proposed copyright small claims court “may have a bigger impact than the DMCA.” Because prosecuting users is generally so expensive for rights holders, they’re looking for other ways to target those they consider guilty of infringement. “We see a lot of the bullying and trolling that takes place in the informal copyright system, where overreaching DMCA takedown notices and cease and desist letters are common. As many people reading this may know, bogus copyright claims are regularly misused to takedown otherwise legal content. So we have to balance the need of independent creative people to get ‘justice’ for their works being wholly misappropriated by bad actors, while keeping life sane for average internet users.”
  • It’s not like we need more examples of bogus copyright takedowns to prove a point, but we still give a nod to Tech Crunch for making the story entertaining with its headline Amazon Pulls Self-Published Memoir About Star Wars Because it References Star Wars. ” [I]f Amazon wants to be the central repository for all paid and unpaid unpublished work, they need more than a Mechanical Turk to kick books into the ‘potentially infringes’ pile…Amazon cannot go the route of YouTube and other media sharing systems that are reliant on the good graces of big media and tend to ban first and ask no questions later. Instead, problems like these need a dedicated person with some authority to make the ultimate and intelligent choice.”
  • An article on frictionless entertainment explained the term as the “world of streamed music and videos where the producers, broadcasters, advertisers and various others (mostly stealthy tracking parties) watch what you watch and listen to what you listen to.” Discussing how services such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Kinect, Apple and Amazon gather data, they note “In almost every other setting, all these practices would qualify as cyberstalking.”

What legal developments are you concerned about in 2013? If you’re interested in fair use and how it relates to fanfiction and other fanworks, write about them in Fanlore. Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

News of Note
  1. msilverstar commented:

    The blurb about small claims court, in particular, is really confusing. The article, eventually, makes it clear that it’s more of a thought experiment than a danger that fans should be scared of right now. The article doesn’t even have a call to action, just a suggestion to be aware.

    I’ve written blurbs and it’s all about the audience. In this case, you have two: fans and media. My suggestion is to write for fans and let the media take care of itself.


    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      Thank you for your feedback. I’m sorry that the blurb was confusing. We though the terms “proposed” and “may” indicated that this is not something in imminent danger of occurring, but rather, the latest idea on how rights holders can exert greater control over how content is used or accessed. We were also trying to stress that any new proposal can exert a chilling effect on people’s activities, particularly when existing procedures are being badly applied.

      Could you give us an example of what you meant by writing for fans in this post?

      • msilverstar commented:

        I think the blurb was fine for the media target audience, and presumably the lawyers as well.

        A good number of fans reading it want know if they are going to be sued in US small claims court, and the blurb doesn’t say. The wording makes it look like “this is the new law” rather than “this is a trial balloon”. Then the quote ‘may have a bigger impact’ seems to emphasize an imminent danger to fans.