Tobias summarizes a topic very well. :)|
If anyone interested in the SFWA DMCA abuse story has not read Tobias Buckell's summary, with quotes from many people including a Coda from the SFWA president
, I recommend you do.
(Long story short: SFWA used a DMCA-based request to pull copywrited material from document sharing site Scribd
; their list was flawed, and the site pulled material from authors SFWA was not authorized to represent -- material the authors actually wanted to have up there. Many authors railed about the abuse of authority and posted more public material just to demo that it's all right (a win for the public, IMHO). SFWA promises it will not happen again.)
ETA: Steven Silver points to what he says is an even better write-up on Scalzi's blog
Thanks. I'd wondered about this. Although I am kind of fuzzy (kick in Strattera, it's hard enough dealing with the migraines and depression without the ADD semiconsciousness) about how it happened. Did someone read an ill-considered how-to article on copyrightnazis.biz? Did someone accidentally page down twice and skip the "now go over your list and make sure it's not flawed" step? Did someone promise to write the code for finding copyright violators and get a pre-release of Halo 3, leading to someting being slapped together at the last minute and not be checked for having "left the sponge in"? Even if you don't think that the fellahin over at the SFWA are terribly smart, you'd think that there is at least a vestige of competence and high IQ's there.)
Btw, the way copyright has been explained to me, it is my understanding that, yes, technically, it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it (including "Yes, we have Passion's Reckless Flame in stock, sir. Would you like me to set it aside for you under an assumed name?"), quote it in your sig line, or have its cover in the background when you are posing for a photograph that you are showing publicly. This suggests to me that either we need less repellent 'splainers, because the way the law is being explained, stupid people like me can't understand them and think the above is the case, or laws that are reasonable. Has John done an article on the same?
I think the explanation you got is more than a bit flawed.
The premise that "it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it" is incorrect. At the very least, please go read up on the concept of "fair use".
The explanation I got said that "fair use" is so dicey a proposition that it's probably best to avoid it, and as understood by 90% of anyone who would try to do so to a lay person, one should treat it as a bullshit wikiconcept, much like "unauthorized satire of a trademarked product/ logo is okay," which it most certainly is NOT or "if you don't make money off using infringed copyrights or if you credit it, it's okay." Which is also not okay, in my understanding. I mean, I read in an AP wire story that up until a few years ago, you were in violation of the law if you sang "Happy Birthday," without paying royalties to the authors of the song... who, in this country, is without sin, in this case? And if the Associated Press is not a trusted (if not unimpeachable) source, as long as one follows its retractions and keep aware of its politics, whom should you accept information at face value from?
Sigh. Perhaps I am alone in thinking that it's hard to know whom to trust when explaining hot button legal issues to idjits like me... but I wonder if this is the case.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)|| |
You can sing "Happy Birthday", but not publicly perform it; that's a fairly major distinction. (This is why some restaurants have their own birthday songs, incidentally.)
You could also hum it, since the music was originally published as "Good Morning to All" in 1893 and is therefore out of copyright.
I suggest you go take a look at Bound by Law?
, which is a comic book explaining many concepts of copyright and fair use for a filmmaker. Many of the concepts can be generalized quite easily. It's produced by the Duke University Center for the Study of the Public Domain and was written by lawyers.
As for "Happy Birthday", I believe (IANAL) that the circumstances under which royalties would be due include any commercial usage, performances in a public place, etc., but does not include singing the song at a birthday party at home.
|Date:||September 4th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)|| |
the way copyright has been explained to me, it is my understanding that, yes, technically, it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it (including "Yes, we have Passion's Reckless Flame in stock, sir. Would you like me to set it aside for you under an assumed name?"), quote it in your sig line, or have its cover in the background when you are posing for a photograph that you are showing publicly. This suggests to me that either we need less repellent 'splainers, because the way the law is being explained, stupid people like me can't understand them and think the above is the case, or laws that are reasonable.
Forgive the bluntness, but whoever explained it to you was either deeply ignorant or deliberately lying. Even if you're risk-averse about fair use, mentioning a title cannot -- ever -- be a violation of copyright. The other examples you give are also nuts, but not quite as moronic as the title claim. Wow.
I certainly think you've got my point about feeling like I want to have a source I can trust explain things to me--- preferably with original language next to it, so I can see where it comes from and draw my own conclusions (I am a bit of an original-source snob). Yes, Anne and Elaine are correct: I should have done my own research before whinging, but it's been an extraordinarily busy weekend, and a fairly rigorous one academically.
As for blunt, I appreciate it. "I am but an egg."
|Date:||September 4th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)|| |
Reviewing original sources on legal topics can take a lot of work, because you need to not only look at the statute itself (which is pretty easy) but at any court decisions which are relevant to your question and which the courts hearing it would be obligated to follow. I can point you to some web references, or I'm happy to talk about it the next time you're in Ann Arbor and we're in the same place. Some explanations are simple, others aren't. For example, here are the brief explanations of why the person who explained copyright to you is a fool:
* "it is a violation of copyright to mention a thing's title unless you are reviewing it" -- wrong, because the title of a work is not actually protected by copyright. (It could be protected by trademark, but unless it's something like _Mickey Mouse goes to Daffy Duck's House_, that is extremely unusual, and even then it would not be a trademark violation to mention its name either.) Holding this belief is not consistent with being capable of giving advice on intellectual property law.
* "quote it in your sig line" -- wrong, because (1) the use is _de minimis_, meaning too trivial for the law to recognize as an infringement, and (2) the damages the copyright holder could claim would be too small for them to get into federal court anyway, even if they could find a lawyer desperate enough to take the case. Holding this belief doesn't make someone an idiot, but it does suggest that one's paranoia has overcome one's common sense.
* "have its cover in the background when you are posing for a photograph that you are showing publicly" -- It is *just vaguely possible* that a really aggressive rights-holder could decide to test the limits of this if the cover image is shown clearly and you are using the photo in a high-profile commercial context. People have been sued over showing copyrighted images in the background of TV shows before, for example. This belief isn't exactly irrational, but it shouldn't be stated so broadly that people think that they can't pose in front of bookshelves or something.
There's a good page with a number of references here:http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/9-b.html
|Date:||September 2nd, 2007 04:34 pm (UTC)|| |
I assume, looking at the link, that SFWA stands for Science Fiction Writer's Association?
|Date:||September 2nd, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)|| |
stands for Science Fiction Writers of America, but you were close.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)|| |
*grin* I've heard nothing about this before you posted it, but I was potentially interested. :) Fortunately, I was nosy enough to click things when I had no idea what they were. :D
|Date:||September 2nd, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)|| |
Actually, it's Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
They're writers; counting isn't their thing.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2007 11:37 am (UTC)|| |
Having followed the thing in the private areas of SFF.net, I think John Scalzi has a better, more unbiased, write-up of the situation on his blog
|Date:||September 3rd, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)|| |
Oh. hey. right, his sabbatical is over. Thanks for the pointer.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)|| |
Also, the SFWA Board has voted to disband the E-Piracy Committee and create an exploratory committee to examine what the membership's stand on e-piracy and SFWA's role should be in the future.
There has already been a lot of behind the scenes discussion (generating much heat, and some light), even before Capo issued his response.