John Degen Loses Argument Against Straw Man

April 23rd was the anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Garcilaso de la Vega, and in celebration, UNESCO has declared that day World Book Day. It is also called “World Book and Copyright Day,” but I don’t think the term is appropriate, since none of those authors’ works were ever under any form of copyright.

Someone who does think the term is appropriate is John Degan. This should not be any surprise: Degen is an outspoken copyright maximalist. He is currently Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, and Chair of the International Authors Forum; he was formerly Executive Director of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, and Communications Manager for Magazines Canada.

So, Degen decided to write an article called 5 Seriously Dumb Myths About Copyright the Media Should Stop Repeating. Here’s the first problem with that article: nobody in the media is actually repeating the “myths” he’s supposedly debunking. Here’s the second problem: all of the “truths” that he uses to debunk these “myths” are misleading, one-sided, or flat-out wrong. Even when he’s arguing against his own straw man, he loses.

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My sympathies for Zoë Keating on her loss

I haven’t posted much here recently. However, one of the articles I was working on was about the disagreement between Zoë Keating and YouTube, in advance of the launch of their Music Key service. (Tl;dr version: Google’s terms are not good, but neither are they “bullying” or a “shakedown,” as the anti-Google crowd has said.)

This is not that article.

Last Thursday (the 19th), Keating’s husband died from complications related to his cancer. I don’t know Keating personally, but I’ve always respected her outlook and attitude. I can only imagine the horrible things she must be going through right now.

So, I want to convey my sympathies to her, and to members of her and her husband’s family.

If you feel the same, then please consider donating to her, to help her and her family get through this trying time. Keating has set up a “donate” button on her website:
http://www.zoekeating.com/

Once again, my condolences.

My brother got a job at Android. Now what?

For those who don’t know (which is probably all of you), my brother is a programmer. He’s been one for many years, and has worked at a wide variety of software companies (including Amazon, Yahoo!, and Avid). A couple of months ago, he got hired at Google, working on the Android platform.

This is cause for celebration. The work he’s doing sounds interesting, he’s making a very good living, and from what I’ve heard, Google has a great work environment. It does, however, present an interesting conundrum for this blog.

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Legal Analysis of the SiriusXM Loss in New York

First, a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor am I even studying to be one. None of this should be considered any kind of legal advice. I’m just a guy who likes copyright law, and due to the magic of the Internet, I am able to actually read the various court cases. I suggest that you do the same, so I’ve included links to them in this story.

Now, about that. State court rulings, especially below the appeals court level, are still relatively hard to find. The only source I could get for many of these cases comes from a site called Casetext. While they make the entire texts of the rulings available, after a few minutes, an overlay pops up asking you to register, and it won’t let you read the rest of the text until you do. Refreshing the page will give you another couple of minutes. This annoys me as much as it annoys you, and if I find another site that has the rulings, I’ll update the links.

A couple of days ago, SiriusXM once again lost to Flo & Eddie, former band members of The Turtles, and current holders of the band’s sound recordings. I posted an article about it called SiriusXM loses to Turtles again, this time in New York. At that point, I didn’t have the time to go through the entire ruling. But I have now, and boy, is it a doozy.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t think this case was correctly decided. In this article, I’ll analyze the ruling, and show why I think it was wrong. But be forewarned, there is a lot of legalese to go through, and a lot it involves copyright concepts that are fairly obscure. Nonetheless, it is a fairly significant ruling (more than the California case), so it’s well worth reading if you’re a copyright wonk like me.
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SiriusXM loses to Turtles again, this time in New York

FIrst of all, my apologies for the lateness of this post, and for not updating this blog in a while. There are several stories in the pipeline, but I personally haven’t had time to finish them. I’m working on it, but you know what they say about life.

As has been widely reported, the SiriusXM cable radio station has once again lost to Flo & Eddie, the two former Turtles members who hold the copyrights to the Turtles catalog. SiriusXM had already lost in California, and now they lost again, this time in New York State. Continue reading

Lies, Damn Lies, and the 45% Statistic

In May of 2013, “Trichordist Editor” wrote an article with a staggering headline: 45% Fewer Professional Working Musicians Since 2002. The lead sentence lays all the blame at the feet of the internet: “The numbers are simple and staggering. The internet has not empowered musicians, it has exploited them.”

Indeed, if that figure is right, then the numbers are staggering. It would mean that nearly half of the jobs for working musicians have evaporated in a single decade. And if there was even a shred of evidence that it was “the internet” that destroyed those jobs, then that would be a powerful indictment.

Fortunately for artists – but unfortunately for “Trichordist Editor” – that figure is a complete and utter fabrication.

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Is Google Still Honoring Takedown Requests For Non-Infringing Material?

On October 10, username “davidclowery” (which, I’ll assume, is actually David Lowery) posted an article on the Trichordist called Is Google still serving ads on illegal sites? Lowery’s intent was obviously to slander Google, again, as a “piracy machine.” Instead, he inadvertently showed yet another example of widespread DMCA abuse by copyright holders.

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What Type Of Right?

When people use the word “right,” they often mean drastically different things. For example, the right to free speech is very different from the right to make a right turn at a red light, and both are different from the right to receive a public education. Talking about rights often enters the intersection of jurisprudence and ethics, so people have been discussing this for a long time.

In this article, I’m going to explain the various types of rights, and then relate them to copyright law.

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SiriusXM Loses To Turtles

Things are about to get weird in California. As has been widely reported, the Turtles have won summary judgement against SiriusXM for the public performance of their music.

Having read the judgement, and the relevant California statutes, it’s actually not that surprising.

California is one of the very few states that creates blanket rights in sound recordings, not just rights of reproduction and distribution, and the only one I’m aware of that doesn’t explicitly carve out radio and television broadcasts. SiriusXM’s argument that the rights are meant to specify those that are “left over” from federalization likewise don’t have much teeth, since federal copyright explicitly leaves all rights intact for pre-1972 recordings.

But legal wranglings aside, this ruling is going to create a whole mess of interesting problems. Here’s why.

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