Re:Create Recap – April 21, 2016

Supreme Court Supports Google Books As Fair Use That Benefits Public Knowledge. On April 18, the Supreme Court denied appeal to the unanimous federal appeals panel decision that Google Books is legal under fair use. Hailing the decision, the Executive Director of the Re:Create Coalition said “Our copyright laws were established to help expand access to information, and today the nation’s highest court affirmed that the Google Books project benefits public knowledge…[This] case was a major victory for fair use, and librarians, archivists and members of the public.” Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Corynne McSherry commended the court, proclaiming the denial of appeal “leave[s] intact a fair use doctrine that is robust and flexible enough to counterbalance the copyright creep that would stifle new innovation and creativity.” Additionally, Mike Godwin of the R Street Institute highlights Judge Pierre N. Leval’s articulate analysis on the Court of Appeals decision.

Copyright Office To Hold DMCA Section 512 Roundtables In NY And CA.
Representatives of new creators, artists, musicians, Internet users, the tech industry and more will gather before the U.S. Copyright Office at public roundtables in New York (May 2-3) and Stanford, California (May 12-13) to discuss the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). As stated in a Re:Create Coalition written filing for a study on section 512, “The risk of being responsible for infringing content would be a huge burden on online intermediaries that host content, like YouTube, WordPress, Facebook and Etsy…Without this balance, it is likely the Internet we know today – a place where creativity is thriving – would not exist.”

Law Professors Concerned “Stairway To Heaven” Lawsuit Could Stifle Musical Creativity.
Two legal experts weighed in on the disastrous consequences for creativity in the recently filed copyright lawsuit against Led Zeppelin for allegedly copying the iconic opening of “Stairway to Heaven.” In the Salon column Led Zeppelin are not thieves: “Stairway to Heaven” fight rests on a nearly impossible copyright standard, Colorado law professor Paul Campos questions if a jury of laypeople can reasonably determine if an alleged copying is “substantially similar.” Meanwhile City University London’s Enrico Bonadio emphasizes in Newsweek that “[b]orrowing from earlier pieces is a structural element of music creation in many genres” and that “composers and musicians wouldn’t have created many masterpieces because of the fear of violating some legal provisions” if today’s strong copyright standard had existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Could Copyright Restrict Your Instagram Vacation Pics? “Freedom of panorama” is a commonly-held copyright provision allowing the right to take and distribute photographs of copyrighted works in public spaces, such as architecture and public artwork. The Metropolis Magazine article The Copyright Law That Should Have Architects Up in Arms examines the “minefield of legal issues” in limiting freedom of panorama as some countries permit the photography but not its publication. Most people don’t even know they could be restricted from taking photos in public areas let alone “publishing” them to Facebook, Flickr or Instagram.

Judge Dismisses “Hustlin’” Copyright Case. Last week a federal judge ruled that music group LMFAO’s lyric “everyday I’m shufflin’” was not copyright infringement of rapper Rick Ross’ lyric “everyday I’m hustlin.’” The Hollywood Reporter notes in the article Judge Tosses Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’” Lawsuit that Judge Kathleen M. Williams dismissed the case, stating that Ross does not even hold a valid copyright registration for the song. Furthermore, a previous federal decision ruled that the three-word phrase is not original enough to be eligible for copyright.

Government Of Australia Treats Fair Use Like Gravity Treats Its Toilets: Backwards.
The Australian Government has completely missed the mark when it comes to fair use, according to Jeremy Malcolm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In Copyright Experts: Fair Use is Not Getting a Fair Deal in Australia, Malcolm explains how fair use is “one of the biggest undelivered promises” when legislators used a bias report to enact SOPA-style restrictions and data retention. The recent release of a counter-study however, that uses better examples of fair use and its positive effects on innovation and technology, brings hope for change Down Under.