@emzanotti: Power Grab: Is Google Trying to End Copyrights Once and For All?

Google has been on a quest to limit copyright holders’ rights when it comes to the written word, even winning a landmark Supreme Court case declaring that its Google Books program, which digitizes hundreds of [tens of millions] books, was creating “transformative works,” and not infringing on authors’ copyright.

Now, it seems, that Google is making a play for an even greater target: television. And they’ve already stacked the government deck in their favor. What’s at stake here? One of the greatest land-grabs in the history of content. And no one is looking….

Google appears to have already placed friendly officials high places, while using its sway with academics to make its case with the FCC that your cable — and cable’s copyrights — should be free.

Starting in 2016, Google-related appointees began appearing across the Obama Administration. Carla Hayden, who recently took over at the Library of Congress, was President of the American Library Association, a huge recipient of Google funding (largely because of Google’s digital library programs). The Library of Congress, of course, is home to the US Copyright Office, and the Register of Copyrights — America’s highest ranking copryight official.

When the set-top box proposal came to Congress, they of course turned to the US Copyright Office for insight as to whether Google, among other set-top box companies, might be infringing on cable’s copyright.

Google appeared to immediately exert its power. Five copyright academics sent a letter to the US Copyright Office defending set-top boxes, and all five had at least some ties to Google.

Signer Peter Jazsi was a member of Google’s policy fellowship program, an advocate on IP issues, and a founder of the Digital Future Coalition, which includes several organizations funded by Google. Signer Pam Samuelson, a Berkeley School of Information professor, is on the board of several non-profits that receive significant grants from Google. Signer Annemarie Bridy was a scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Internet & Society, whose largest corporate benefactor is Google.

Many of those same groups pushed back when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante said it was likely set-top devices could infringe on cable companies’ copyrights. One group, Public Knowledge, even claimed Pallante was in the pocket of cable and entertainment interests.

Weirdly, as soon as the new Library of Congress head (Hayden) was sworn in, Pallante lost her job as Register of Copyrights. She was first demoted and then resigned, opening up a space — conveniently — for a friendlier Registrar.

Read the post on Heat Street.

@CaseySeiler: No safe harbor in music tiff [Zephyr Teachout Campaign]

Why are a handful of musicians — a substrata of society generally predisposed to fall on the left side of the political spectrum — ticked off at Zephyr Teachout, the progressive Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional District?

Blame it on the internet. To be more precise, blame it on Teachout’s former work for Fight For The Future, a nonprofit “dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power,” according to its own website.

In online postings and outreach to the media, several artists have denounced FFF as having an “anti-artist, anti-copyright agenda” — an allegation the group denies vociferously. Teachout served on the board of the group’s education fund, but stepped down earlier this year after announcing her candidacy.

Those calling for Teachout to respond include the jazz great Jack DeJohnette, a resident of the Catskills who, in a recent letter, told the candidate, “It disturbs me that someone who seems to be running in support of the people is not further tuned in to the needs of us artists, who ultimately might be your constituents.”

DeJohnette said in his letter that since the advent of the digital age, his royalties from recorded music have declined 90 percent. “I am all over YouTube,” he wrote, and “everyone but me gets an income from this.”

The most immediate bone of contention for those hammering Teachout on this issue — a list that also includes guitarist Marc Ribot and Red Hook author and filmmaker David Newhoff — appears to be proposed changes to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in particular a toughening of provisions that aim to prevent websites from hosting copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright holder. Currently, online service providers are generally protected from liability under the so-called “Safe Harbor” provision of the DMCA, which aims to balance the interests of internet users and copyright holders.

Read the story on the Albany Times Union

@illusionofmore: The Next “Fair Use” Scam: TVEyes v FOX a Huge Deal for Copyright

In July of 2013, Fox sued TVEyes—a B2B, subscription-based, news-monitoring service that records, stores, and indexes 1,400 channels—for copyright infringement of its programs.  TVEyes provides several features for its subscribers, some of which were held to be fair use by the district court while others were not. Most notably, its Content Delivery Features were held to be “necessarily infringing,” and thus the company was enjoined from further offering these services to its customers….

This case is important because, if the evidence presented in the Fox brief is an accurate portrayal of TVEyes, and if the business as it stands were held to be a fair use, that outcome could be devastating to the existence of copyright law itself…..

….TVEyes is appealing on the grounds that the district court erred in not finding its whole business model, including the Content Delivery Features, a fair use of Fox’s copyrighted news broadcasts and that the court “abused its discretion” in enjoining the company from providing those services. Fox is appealing on the grounds that TVEyes is grossly misrepresenting its business model, the character of its customer base, and especially the nature of the Content Delivery Features; and it is seeking to have the entire district court ruling overturned. This case is important because, if the evidence presented in the Fox brief is an accurate portrayal of TVEyes, and if the business as it stands were held to be a fair use, that outcome could be devastating to the existence of copyright law itself…..

In simple terms, TVEyes portrays its service—so stated in its brief—as a “research only” tool akin to Google Books, and their argument relies heavily on this precedent ruling to assert that its entire service—including the Content Delivery Features—makes fair use of Fox’s copyrighted works…..

The evidence presented in the Fox brief, however, offers a very different view of TVEyes—one that cannot be compared to Google Books for one simple reason that Google does not make whole, copyrighted books available to users, while TVEyes apparently does exacly this and quite a bit more.  According to Fox’s testimony, TVEyes provides alternative, infringing access to its subscribers who may a) view 24/7 live streaming of broadcasts; and b) download entire programs in sequential, ten-minute segments.  These video clips are also made available in high-definition without watermarks or copyright statements, and these facts alone are highly suspect since there is no need for either a news-monitoring service or its customers to cover the cost of high-def streaming for “research-only” purposes like those described in the TVEyes brief.

Read the post on David Newhoff’s site, the Illusion of More.