It’s been a mixed season for copyright champions and opponents. On the side of copyright maximalism are the Supreme Court’s upholding 6-figure filesharing fines and the revelation that astronomer Carl Sagan had to get copyrights before beaming songs into space.
Hmm, I wonder if Warner only secured “worldwide” rights…that would leave other worlds like Alpha Centuri free to plunder the Voyager material, right?
“Voyager 1 is expected to reach interstellar space soon. It will be the first made made object to cross the heliosphere, which is the final stop in our solar system. Voyager 1, famously contained a gold phonographic record. The record was filled with iconic sights, images, and sounds from earth, and the prevailing message, “we come in peace”. The disc was [composed] by a man named Carl Sagan, and it contained many pieces of art, songs, and images, that are all copy-written. According to NASA, ‘Most of the material they used was copyrighted by the creators/owners and Sagan had to get copyright releases in order to assemble the original record. Subsequently, Warner Multimedia was able to obtain copyright releases for the 1992 version of “Murmurs of Earth” .. Unfortunately, the book and CDROM are no longer being published and are hard to find as a set.’”
Meanwhile, the Supremes overturn an attempt to restrict exorbitant filesharing fines.
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a $675,000 file-sharing damages award that a jury levied against a college student for making 30 music tracks available on a peer-to-peer network.
Without comment, the high court, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer not participating, declined an appeal brought by former Boston college student Joel Tenenbaum. His petition (.pdf) claimed that Congress did not intend “unrestrained discretionary jury damage awards against individual citizens for copyright infringement.”
The case before the justices, the second file-sharing case the high court has rejected in the Recording Industry Association of America’s now-defunct litigation campaign against individuals, concerned a decision by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appellate court had reversed a federal trial judge who slashed the award as “unconstitutionally excessive.” U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner of Boston reduced the verdict to $67,500, or $2,250 for each of the 30 tracks defendant Tenenbaum unlawfully downloaded and shared on Kazaa, a once popular popular file-sharing, peer-to-peer service. The 1st Circuit reinstated the award last year.
Opponents of restrictive copyrights have won a few battles recently:
More than three years in the making and open for signing until May 2013, ACTA exports on participating nations an intellectual-property enforcement regime resembling the one in the United States.
Among other things, the accord demands governments make it unlawful to market devices that circumvent encryption, such as devices that copy encrypted DVDs without authorization. That is akin to a feature in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States, where the law has been used by Hollywood studios to block RealNetworks from marketing DVD-copying technology.
‘So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API.’
The prosecution mentioned that the images were saved on his hard drive via the browser cache. However the court ruled that this was not the same as having a saved image. This means that people from New York state who click the wrong link by accident will no longer face serious jail time and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. People will be able to report what they’ve found to the police who can then go after the source of the child porn, instead of someone who was merely browsing the internet.