Well, 2013 has come and gone! Did anything happen in copyright law this year?
Way too much time on my hands.
How DARE you! Have you not been reading the “Doc” every issue of this wonderful and scholarly newsletter? So much happened this year that the “Doc” has scarcely had time to chronicle even a small portion thereof. Here, in brief, is what the “Doc” did not have time to opine upon in 2013:
- It may have been twenty years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play, but 50 years ago, the lads from Liverpool entered the studio and produced “Please Please Me” (something the “Doc” says to Mrs. Doc every night, but I digress…) Now, because of changes in European copyright law, the previously-unreleased recordings from those sessions are being sold – not to increase Sir Paul’s vast fortune, but, rather, to prevent the recordings from falling into the public domain where anyone would be able to copy them. Publishing them now locks them away in the copyright vault for another 20 years. Are these recordings any good? How would the “Doc” know? I’m an intellectual property lawyer, Jim, not a music critic! Stay tuned for lots more recordings of the Beatles and other bands that were previously thought inferior to be released in the name of copyright in 2014 and beyond. If you want to learn more about nuts and bolts of this trend, see my colleague’s most scholarly article on the subject below.
- Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a rights owner may request that a link or file be “taken down” from the Internet if it infringes copyright. In 2013, web site TorrentFreak notes, “copyright holders have asked Google to remove more than 200,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine…” They further explained, “that means Google is now removing nine allegedly-infringing URLs from its indexes every single second of every single day.” That’s more than twice the rate of last year. The organizations that file the most requests are exactly those you expect: companies working on behalf of the music and film industries. And they most often go after sites such as Dilandau.eu, zippyshare.com, and filestube.com. Takedown requests take an average of six hours for Google to process, according to the search giant. This, by the way, is LOTS quicker than when Mrs. Doc requested takedown of the Christmas lights, but again, I digress…
- Finally, although not strictly copyright, this year we learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) vacuums up, er, “collects” just about everything the “Doc” (and every other person on the planet) puts on the Internet, and saves a copy in a giant hard disk drive in Utah. Nobody has thought to sue the NSA for copyright infringement for all that secret copying (hey, the “Doc” may be on to something, so the ACLU might want to send a carrier pigeon message to the Doc.)
Here’s wishing you and yours a very proprietary 2014. And remember, if you have a question about intellectual property law, you should ask the attorneys at LW&H – they do that sort of thing, and strangely, they seem to enjoy it.
— Lawrence A. Husick, Esq.