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Posts Tagged ‘copyright’


Webstock used to be my no-miss conference until this week. It’s like a combined rock festival and party for geeks – the learning and fun are intense and amazing. If Webstock was a keyword it would be “awesome”.

Nethui was not a rock festival, and less of a party in terms of headiness. Yes, there were superstars like Lessig. Yes the were miraculous acts of collaboration like the special on-off licence for that audience in that room granted by the BBC for a one-off showing of their documentary The Virtual Revolution. You might have watched it, but you can’t say you’re one of the few people in the country who have done so legally. Both of those wonderful things were not what the three days were about – quite the opposite.

The three days were about New Zealanders coming together to look at the challenges of the future and start the conversation around the question, “What do we do now?” It is easy to be brave in an environment in which one’s heroes are on the stage. At Nethui, we were required to be the heroes, in all our everyday ordinariness, speaking in that drab accent we wince at when we hear it from our neighbours and carrying all of the feelings of cultural unworth we New Zealanders seem to cherish.

There are plenty of good summations of the event available – I recommend Russell Brown‘s usual solid effort as a good starter for ten. You can even be a virtual attendee of large parts by viewing the videos collected here.

But if you weren’t there, and you had a question, answer or idea nobody else in the room did – then it wasn’t just you that missed out, it was all of us.

Don’t worry, libraries were well represented. In the last combined session on access, someone at one of the mics said the following:

“It’s not like you can go down to your local library for a lesson on how to use the internet.”

“Yes you can,” came a voice from the far side of the auditorium. I’m not sure who – but I have a suspicion it might have been a new friend from Dargaville. *waves* Whoever it was, they have my applause. *applauds*

When you’re “at the mic” you can often can only keep one thought in your head. “No, but you can’t just go your local library and…”

And then what you really should have been there for happened.

We, all of us from libraries, sitting wherever we were gave him the SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

Zippy Shut Up. by stev.ie
Zippy Shut Up., a photo by stev.ie on Flickr.

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I take some time to form opinions approaching final, so I was hesitant to comment when the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Act 2011  was brought in under urgency in April.

I’ve had some interesting discussions about the act since that time, and read some mighty interesting things coming from other library industry professionals and groups. Myself, I’m not so sure we can predict the possible consequences as yet, mainly because we have yet to see the organisational structures surrounding this law in place and functioning, or even a clear proposal as to what those organisational structures might be.

We see lawlessness around us constantly in society. We constantly drive up to 9kph over the speed limit, which is so enshrined that the police are obliged to announce special weekends when they’ll apply punitive measures if we’re more than 5kph over. Very much any law that is on the books is only as good as the systems of enforcement that support it.

Is there a moral issue here? Should I mention the now-hackneyed Melissa Lee story? I found Ms. Lee, a list member (who by the way must have photoshopped her twitter background picture – she normally looks like a human being), to be repugnantly ignorant when she described a motorway extension as a way of channelling social undesirables through Mount Albert, so I don’t feel a need to hold her up as a special example of the ability of “citizens of good standing” to construct ways in which lawbreaking doesn’t count when they do it.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. Breaches are happening all the time. I think we can agree to that even if I’m reluctant to identify a specific breach happening in a specific location, let alone any one library in New Zealand.

Sections 122J-O and 122T are where the meat is for me, in that they describe (a) what happens in a Tribunal situation, and (b) what the obligations of the IPAP (definitions) are.

From my non-lawyerly reading Section 122N, which deals with what pass for “evidence” here, allows the rights owners to make assertions of infringement. These assertions are presumed to “constitute an infringement”.

This is where I flounder. Isn’t the standard to ask the plaintiff and/or prosecutor to provide some evidence?

The “infringing party” is then required to submit evidence that they were not involved in said acts, when the they, like The Honorable Ms. Lee, may not have even known an “infringing act” was occuring.

The good news for them? IPAPs are required in section 122T to keep information on IPs assigned to rights holders for 40 days.

The bad news for us? That means we’re going to do the work to have these processes documented and potentially alter our digital environments so that’s possible in the first place.

Section 122U, “Fees Payable by Rights Owners to IPAPs”  is just plain weird to me:

(1) An IPAP may charge a rights owner for performing the functions required of IPAP under sections 122A to 122T

Sooo… we can just send a bill to AOL/Time Warner?

Here’s what I really think we should do: Let’s see what happens with this patchwork law, but more importantly strive to position ourselves at the forefront of friendly sharing. Isn’t that what we are all about?

Besides which, there are other models besides copyright we could be telling our users about.

In my latest solo musical project, I am sharing everything I do with a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported licence. I enjoy content I own, have hired, or that has been released for free. I pay for some of that free content simply because I choose to support those creators.

I don’t think I’m unique in this, but I do think I’m living out some of the ethic I see in our profession in doing so. I think we can collectively live out that ethic by teaching and encouraging our users in recognising themselves as legal, celebratory sharers who have a relationship with libraries, because libraries can connect them with a lifetime of top-quality content.

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I’m posting this now so that I can maintain my contribution to the effort whilst deferring the actual work. Thus, TROID (an acronym I hate, by the way) gets to have its contributor posting on the correct day, but I get to feel I deliver something more effective.

So tomorrow I shall communicate some of my thoughts around the just-enacted copyright law and libraries, emphasising the need to educate the public around not just copyright but differing models – how to identify content released by creators who do not aim a punitive system against reusers.

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You may have missed it, but copyright is again being debated. This time it’s part in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which is currently being negotiated behind closed doors.

On the weekend there was a public meeting and discussion on the ramifications of  ACTA and copyright and Internet freedoms. It resulted in the a Public Declaration on ACTA.

So it is good to see LIANZA coming out with a statement in support of the Declaration.

LIANZA supports Wellington Declaration regarding trade agreement on copyright

LIANZA, the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa / Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa, supports the points made in the Wellington Declaration, which is addressed to the parties negotiating ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, meeting in Wellington this week.

LIANZA firmly believes that one of the principal purposes of copyright law is to encourage the dissemination and sharing of information, and is strongly opposed to any measures which inhibit these.

ACTA is a trade agreement being negotiated in secret.  LIANZA considers that any agreement relating to intellectual property should be negotiated openly and transparently, so that all potential stakeholders have input to the process. 

The Internet has become a vital tool for communication and dissemination of knowledge, and LIANZA believes that any measures, such as peremptory disconnection as envisaged in the now-abandoned section 92A of the New Zealand Copyright Act, that have potential to damage the open principles of the Internet should be avoided.

LIANZA also considers it is essential that exceptions currently included in copyright law, such as copying for research or private study, fair dealing, copying for educational purposes, and copying by libraries for library users and the users of other libraries, must be retained.

These and other exceptions are vital in maintaining an appropriate balance between encouraging creativity and protecting the rights of authors, publishers and other creators of literary, musical and artistic works, and providing for the needs of society to benefit from and make use of the ideas and knowledge incorporated within publications and other artistic works.   Maintenance of this balance is fundamental to good copyright law.

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Lock downIt could have been this ugly for us too, without some sustained lobbying from many groups including LIANZA. It still could. The following article from the New Zealand Herald is a cautionary tale, which shows why we need to be vigilant in monitoring legislation before parliament. It is very easy sometimes to think that a bad law won’t be used in a way we fear, or to think that legislation won’t affect us, but copyright is one of laws that can and will impact on us. Actually that reminds me that I had better chase up where we are with the new laws. Just because we one the first round doesn’t mean we have one the battle.

Pirate gets town’s Wi-Fi unplugged By Pat Pilcher

The battle for the internet rights of individuals versus those of big business have taken a turn for the worse with the latest battlefront opening up in the small US town of Coshocton, Ohio.

The Coshocton county has provided Wi-Fi for a number of years as a free municipal service but last week was forced to shut it down after a single copyright infringing download saw the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) threatening legal action.

Unlike proposed copyright laws soon to come into force in New Zealand, US copyright infringement regulations lack any provisions for protecting for ISPs from the activities of their users.

This in effect leaves internet service providers such as Coshocton county potentially exposed to legal fallout for any copyright infringing downloads done on their networks.

Because it’s a free service with a public login, tracking down the persons who downloaded copyrighted material on the Coshocton network is at best tricky and will realistically be next to impossible.

Shutting down the network is expected to have impacts beyond inconveniencing visitors and the citizens of Coshocton.

According to statements made by the Coshocton CIO, Mike LaVigne to the Coshocton Tribune, The free Wi-Fi service is used by many people, including sheriff’s deputies.

The whole sorry saga sets an ugly precedent for public internet access providers across the USA, with many like Coshocton County forced to consider either no longer offering free public internet access or investing in network management software to prevent copyright infringing downloads.

The economics of implementing such a capability however are likely to be beyond the financial means of many smaller internet providers, with LaVigne stating such software would cost the small, fiscally-challenged county US$2,900 to implement along with US$2,000 for equipment and $900 per year.

While countries like Finland make broadband access a basic human right, the world’s most powerful democracy appears to be stuck in the past with clunky copyright laws that favour increasingly powerful organisations such as the MPAA.

Perhaps the US could take some learning’s from New Zealand’s soon to be enforced copyright legislation?

 

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Everyone Is Free


So I thought I would drop an extra post or two this week reflecting on conference. For all our non-conferencing readers I apologise.

Actually yesterday’s keynote from Richard Stallman was quite thought provoking, so I needed to get some of what I have been discussing on to the small screen.

Richard was big on freedom, and being free to do with things what you want. He talked a bit about the problems with copyright, and reducing it. It seems his mantra was “sharing is good” while “Proprietary software is evil”. Like many what I call “pure ideologues” I feel his ideas are good and worthy but when they intersect with reality, and humanity, they fall over.

So what were my reactions:

Copyright: Rather than reducing it to 10 years (or about) as he proposed, I think copyright should last for the lifetime of the creator, or until they relinquish it.

Freedom: This is the part that had me thinking the most. RS had 4 freedoms in software he believed in: freedom to do with it what you want; freedom to see the code; freedom to alter the code and freedom to share.

He was very big on freedom for the user, but I felt that to give that freedom to the user, he wanted to take the freedom to control your own work from the creator. But then what is freedom? He was talking as if these freedoms were some inviolable right. I have become more and more convinced that there are no such things as rights or freedoms, that are in some intangible way, inherent in humanity. Rights and freedoms are an expression of force as defined by the majority of those making up society, or by the minority with the power to express that force . As such they are always vulnerable to those willing to acquire power and express it, either by brute force, monetary force, or educational force.

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I’m always on the lookout for new music and last.fm is brilliant for helping me find bands and musicians previously unknown to me. But, having found music I would love to listen to on my stereo, how to obtain it? I happily purchase music legally whenever possible, but what happens when this is not possible?

 

I wanted, for example, to purchase a couple of mp3 tracks from Amazon but discovered that mp3 downloads are not available to those living outside the United States. Great, I thought. What’s the difficulty? Luckily one of the bands I’d recently discovered was available to purchase online from cdbaby and I did so but this site does not sell the music of better known groups. I find that legally purchasing music online in New Zealand can be fraught with difficulties. I’m still frustrated at the delay in the release of Speed Caravan’s album in New Zealand, for example. It’s available overseas but do you think I can find a legal copy to purchase? No, I have to wait another few months. It can be frustrating for an impatient music fan such as myself.

 

Some of my discoveries are generous bands who are happy to let you download some of their music for free and I’ve obtained music this way from the bands’ Myspace page (e.g. the brilliant New Zealand group An Emerald City or the Italian group, Novembre). Such generosity makes a person such as me want to buy their music. I joined the fan club of An Emerald City and purchased their albums legally but even then the group sent me 2 or 3 free downloads via email.  As a consequence, I’m a fan for life!  Perhaps the artists themselves should arrange for legal purchase of mp3s from their fan sites.  If fans believed that the artists got most of the proceeds (and not just a fraction) they’d be happy to pay.

 

However, I will admit to downloading a track or two through filesharing sites, but only one or two tracks of an album that is difficult to purchase legally. I have never downloaded an entire album. I may be one of a minority certainly but draconian amendments to copyright laws (such as the proposed but discarded Amendment 92a) will not help to solve the problem.

 

Anti-piracy software exists of course to prevent illegal copying of DVDs and games, for example. This is fine if the software used does not harm the computer of a legitimate purchaser. When Electronic Arts changed their anti-piracy software from Safedisc to SecuROM on their Sims 2 expansion packs, many game fans found that their computers had been corrupted by the software. This sort of thing does not encourage legitimate purchasers. On the contrary, fans sought out illegal copies which did not have the harmful DRM software on it. Oh, the irony!

 

I’m certainly not advocating illegal copying but as a normally law-abiding citizen I just wanted to point out that there are many reasons for illegal copying and downloading beyond the simple want of something for free.  I just illustrated two.  Those of you who saw Dylan Horrocks’ presentation at last year’s LIANZA conference will be aware of other reasons for illegal copying, one of them being to share artwork which could otherwise be lost forever. 

 

But then, can anyone be surprised that pirating and copying is so widespread?  The technology exists such as file-sharing protocols, and DVD and CD burners (which are now standard on computers). Naturally they’ll be used! 

 

On that note, I will leave you with Dylan Horrocks’ cartoon (which, incidentally, is copyright-free).

 

Evil internet

 

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