Tag Archives: fair use

Online Piracy legislation: Wikipedia to go on strike over SOPA

The discussion of the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been causing plenty of noise online.  Wikipedia is planning a strike this week – for 24 hours they are going to pull the plug on their site.  This will no doubt grab the attention of their estimated 25million daily visitors!

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia has (according to the Guardian):

  “been a persistent critic of Sopa, calling it “the worst internet legislation I have ever seen.””

This is one of many voices against the proposed legislation.  Last year the BBC reported:

“The founders of Google, Twitter and eBay have signed a strongly worded letter criticising controversial US legislation ahead of a debate in Congress… Sopa was introduced by Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, who said the legislation was designed to “stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites… that profit from selling pirated goods without any legal consequences”.”

Yesterday however, The Guardian reported that:

“Congress ready to drop Sopa vote after White House says it would not support legislation that threatens openness of internet”

Again from the Guardian:

“…while Sopa now looks severely damaged, Protect IP is still up for a vote on 24 January and there is widespread support among politicians for tighter control of the internet”

Of course there is support for this legislation.  Whilst it seems the voices against have been most successful in capturing media headlines, there are also compelling arguments in support of legislation (see video below).

What is clear is that striking a balance between infringement and fair use is very difficult to legislate for….  Fair Use is a concept that we often rely on in our work so it’s worth taking the time to exploring the wider issues.

Final comment from the Guardian:

…So far, the Sopa battle has been largely fought out in the tech, media, and business pages. All that could change Wednesday when Wikipedia goes dark.”

Read the official legal docs

Some background Q&As

U.S. refocusing on IP enforcement — including “enforcement across borders”

I first read on IP-Watch news about recent release of a national intellectual property strategy from the US government.

IP-Watch highlight that:

“The strategy  encompasses 33 enforcement strategy action items that fall within six categories of focus for the United States: (1) leading by example; (2) increasing transparency; (3) ensuring efficiency and coordination; (4) enforcing our rights internationally; (5) securing our supply chain; and (6) building a data-driven government.”

A complete copy of the strategic plan can be viewed here.
The “Enforcing Our Rights Internationally” is particularly interesting as the strategy seeks to influence enforcement outside of US government jurisdiction.

“..Federal agencies, in coordination with the IPEC, will expeditiously assess current efforts to combat such sites and will develop a coordinated and comprehensive plan to address them that includes: (1) U.S. law enforcement agencies vigorously enforcing intellectual property laws; (2) U.S. diplomatic and economic agencies working with foreign governments and international organizations; and (3) the U.S. Government working with the private sector.”

This includes (from IP-Watch site):

“Cracking down on foreign-based and foreign-controlled websites that infringe on American intellectual property rights and having federal law enforcement agencies encourage cooperation with their foreign counterparts on enforcement investigations, particularly in China.”

PCmag.com picked up on that part in their items:
DOJ, FBI to Monitor Foreign Web Sites for IP Piracy” and “Biden: U.S. to Target Pirate Web Sites“.
In the former PCmag include one of the voices who were not applauding the stance, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) who:

“…warned against imposing too broad an enforcement strategy. “We are surprised that no one appears to be recognizing the broader economic debate on this issue. A proper enforcement strategy would ensure that legitimate innovation is not being squashed by an overly broad, overly zealous crackdown,” CCIA president and CEO Ed Black said in a statement. “Balanced intellectual property will promote innovation, investment, and civic discourse, while ensuring that intellectual property rights holders are fairly treated.”

The CCIA website publishes some questions they raised around the issues of the new strategy.  They quote their own report “Fair Use in the U.S. Economy“:

“…companies benefiting from limitations on copyright-holders’ exclusive rights, such as “fair use” – generated revenue of $4.7 trillion in 2007 – a 36 percent increase over 2002 revenue of $3.4 trillion. The most significant growth over this period was in Internet publishing and broadcasting, web search portals, electronic shopping, electronic auctions and other financial investment activity.”

In the preface Ed Black, President & CEO of the CCIA says:

“we are only beginning to fully understand in the 21st century that what copyright leaves unregulated—the ‘fair use economy’—is as economically significant as what it regulates.”


Some practical steps on how to “detect, fight and report the unlicensed republication of your content”

An interesting article on Robin Good’s media blog today provides some practical steps to deal with online plagiarism.

The item collates links to relevant articles and sites to help deal with this growing problem.  From free tools to detect plagiarism to how to report unauthorised re-use of your content.  It’s a great selection of resources – thanks Robin Good!

The blog aggregator and subsequent attribution debate

These posts raise interesting debate that can be applied to a wider discussion on attribution and the application of fair use principles.  It’s kind of like saying please and thank you!  To properly attribute costs nothing, whereas failing to properly attribute can be damaging –as the comments on these posts can testify.