Re:Create Recap – August 4, 2016

Stephen Colbert’s Identical Twin Cousin Raises Copyright Issues. During CBS’ “Late Show” coverage of the DNC, comedian Stephen Colbert resurrected his eponymous “Colbert Show” character. Shortly after airing the episode, Colbert announced on-air that lawyers contacted CBS to claim the character of Stephen Colbert as Comedy Central’s intellectual property before introducing his “identical twin cousin” also named Stephen Colbert. “I think [lawyers would] have a really hard time stopping him from acting in the manner of a parody of a right-wing talk-show host,” legal expert Jeremiah Reynolds told The Wrap. “I think a court would find that too generalized to be protectable.” In a separate interview, Re:Create Coalition member Rebecca Tushnet told Bloomberg BNA that Colbert would likely prevail “because [the character] is so central to who he is, and courts are protective of artists’ freedom to continue making art in their own style.”

Getty Images Gets Caught Charging For Nearly 19,000 Public Domain Photos.
Acclaimed photographer Carol Highsmith is suing Getty Images for licensing her photos after she donated her work royalty-free to the Library of Congress, according to the Los Angeles Times. Highsmith accuses Getty of illicitly claiming rights to 18,755 of her photographs. The article notes that Getty has been known to infringe digital rights before, paying $1.5 million in damages for infringing a photographer’s copyright on eight photos from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Furthermore, Ars Technica reports independent press agency Zuma Press sued Getty later in the week for copyright infringement and unauthorized licensing of more than 47,000 images.

Re:Create Coalition: Why Fair Use Is Important For Everyone. Coalition Executive Director Josh Lamel wrote a blog post on Medium on the importance and widespread prevalence of fair use in our society. The post highlights the Coalition’s recent “Day in the Life” infographic series and defends the importance of fair use in order to protect creativity and innovation.

Opinion: DMCA Section 1201 Stifles Free Speech. CEO of gadget-repair site iFixit Kyle Wiens penned an op-ed in MIT Technology Review on the free speech issues with Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), an anti-circumvention clause that prohibits users from modifying copyright-protected software. Wiens explains that nowadays most products, “from Barbie dolls to calculators, motorcycles to tractors” have embedded software, and an exception from the Copyright Office is required to modify or repair these products. “Repair is not crime. No one should have to ask the Copyright Office for permission to fix their stuff. No one should be threatened with a lawsuit for looking at code inside something that belongs to them. And no one should risk jail time because they have the audacity to fix a tractor without the manufacturer’s blessing,” he concludes.

PETA Continues To Monkey Around. After the case involving a selfie taken by Naruto, a crested macaque ape, was dismissed by a federal court in January due to a lack of standing, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court. The Hollywood Reporter’s Ashley Cullins in PETA Takes Infamous “Monkey Selfie” Lawsuit to Appeals Court highlights PETA’s argument on behalf of Naruto’s proper ownership of the photo and how this case could affect future copyright law when dealing with artificial intelligence. PETA’s David Schwartz writes in his appeal brief: “Because copyright protection exists primarily to advance society’s interest in increasing creative output, it follows that the protection under the Copyright Act does not depend on the humanity of the author, but on the originality of the work itself.”

EFF And Manila Partners Create Tool To Help Educate Online Creators. When a takedown notice is issued, users are often confused or not fully briefed on why or how their content infringes on another’s copyright. To combat this confusion, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with Manila Partners, have created a tool that helps better inform users why a notice has been issued. In New Tool to Help Notify Users When Their Content is Taken Offline, Jeremy Malcolm explains how the tool can help: “[It] may provide a useful shortcut for [intermediaries] to generate a draft notice that covers most of the important information that a user needs to know.”