Re:Create Recap – December 7, 2017

Is Browsing The Web A Copyright Violation? In a recent blog post, Public Knowledge’s Katrina Worsham explained how current court interpretations essentially render browsing the internet a copyright violation. “Courts have held that creating a copy of website code in a browser’s cache constitutes a copyright violation. The issue here is that copying site code into a browser is the only way you can browse the internet,” wrote Worsham. Although website owners rarely claim copyright infringement on the basis of browser caching, those that do set a dangerous precedent. Worsham concluded, “The point of copyright is to protect the creative rights of people who create work, not to prevent people from visiting webpages.”

Epic Games Sues 14-Year-Old Over YouTube Video. After videogame-maker Epic Games sued a 14-year-old for making a video demonstrating the use of a “cheat-hack” in a game, Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow covered the ensuing legal battle and explained why the video qualifies as fair use. Doctorow warned that the lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent and “establish that capturing incidental footage of games (the heart of Let’s Play videos and innumerable other forms of online communication, criticism and analysis) is a copyright infringement if you hurt some corporate overlord’s feelings in the process.”

Appeals Court Hears Important Case For Fair Use. Oral arguments began December 7 in an attempt by Oracle to roll back last year’s legal victory for fair use. In a preview of the arguments, Jonathan Band wrote a blog post for Project DisCo outlining the case’s timeline and “ample evidence supporting the jury’s fair use finding.” In 2016, a jury found that Google’s replication of some elements of Java APIs was protected by fair use. Oracle is currently appealing the jury decision in what will be an important test for fair use.

Digital Rights Groups Continue To Warn Legislators About CASE Act. 
Torrentfreak reported that digital rights groups like Public Knowledge and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are warning Congress that legislation to create a small claims system within the Copyright Office, known as the CASE Act, could end up doing more harm than good. While the bill is intended to resolve copyright disputes outside federal courts and limit legal costs for individual creators, EFF’s Mitch Soltz and Corynne McSherry write that the bill would create a new “quasi-court” within the Copyright Office that would “invite gamesmanship and abuse,” all while doing little to fix the “existing problem of copyright’s unpredictable civil penalties.”

State Of Georgia Sues Nonprofit For Making Annotated Laws Accessible To Public. In yet another absurd copyright case, Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer wrote for The Daily Signal about how the state of Georgia recently sued the nonprofit Public.Resource.Org for republishing its annotated code and uploading it to their website for free. Unfortunately, a federal district court ruled that Georgia possessed a valid copyright and that fair use did not apply to the nonprofit. Even though the public could access the annotated code on the nonprofit’s website for free, the court ruled nonetheless that it profited from the “attention recognition, and contributions it received.” Swearer noted, “Georgia’s insistence on profiting from an abject disregard for whether its citizens can access the full breadth of the law is not only ethically repulsive, but undermines the just foundations on which that law rests.”