Re:Create Recap – April 13, 2017

Publishers Weekly: Critical Report Could Derail ‘Copyright Boss’ Bill. “Details of mismanagement at the Copyright Office complicate a rushed legislative attempt to block Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden from appointing a new Register of Copyrights,” reported Andrew Albanese with Publishers Weekly. The April 6 article dives into a recently released Inspector General’s report that discusses mismanagement at the Copyright Office and massive cost overruns for an electronic licensing project — dubbed “eLi” — that was originally projected to cost $1.1 million (it ballooned to more than $11.6 million). Ferras Vinh with the Center for Democracy & Technology also discussed issues at the Copyright Office in a blog post, Putting Problems at the Copyright Office in Perspective.

House Democrats Object To Register Of Copyrights Bill In Dear Colleague Letter. A dozen House Democrats — many of them members of the Congressional Black Caucus — came out in opposition of H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act. According to Politico Pro, the Democrats objected to the bill’s main premise, which would take the power to appoint a register of copyrights away from the Librarian of Congress and give it instead to the President of the United States. “The policy excuses for this are unpersuasive,” the letter read. “Join us in resisting this further expansion of the powers of the president.”

How Copyright Restrictions Could Hamper Artificial Intelligence. Vocativ explored how Bad Copyright Laws Are Creating Biased AI for an April 5 article, revealing that copyright restrictions can limit the kind of data that machine learning systems can use. Unable to pay costly licensing fees, many AI researchers have to rely on publicly-available datasets, which are both not tailored to the AI designer’s goals and often biased. “I argue that transforming copyrighted works into training data for AI is a fair use,” the author of a new paper on the issue told Vocativ. “The basic structure of copyright law never contemplated computers, let alone the idea that computers might need to learn from the world,” added the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Peter Eckersley. “We need a clear doctrine holding that collecting and using training data is fair use for the same reason that humans are always permitted to learn from and build upon the books we read.”

Appeals Court Decision Could Jeopardize DMCA’s Crucial Safe Harbor Provisions. A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals endangers the crucial safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, as reported by Fortune in Court Ruling on Celebrity Photos Raises New Copyright Risk for Websites. Paparazzi photo agency Mavrix sued LiveJournal for copyright infringement after the platform users posted some of Mavrix’s photos on a blog forum; in 2014, a federal judge ruled that LiveJournal was protected by the DMCA. Re:Create Coalition members, Pinterest, Etsy, and several other online platforms filed to support LiveJournal. Last week, the appeals court sent the case back to the lower court to reconsider because LiveJournal uses moderators to review and delete content. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote a blog post criticizing the appeals court’s decision: “many online services have employees (or volunteers) who review content posted on their services, to determine (for example) whether the content violates community guidelines or terms of service…Access to DMCA protections does not and should not turn on this choice.”