Re:Create Recap – June 1, 2017

Op-Ed: Register Of Copyrights Act Is A “Feeble” Attempt To Modernize The Copyright Office. In a recent op-ed published in Techdirt, R Street’s Sasha Moss explained how the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act and its Senate companion are “pointless legislation,” that focus on politicizing the Copyright Office rather than implementing significant modernization reform. She wrote, “Making the position a presidential appointment is unlikely to speed up IT modernization efforts, at a time when the office has faced numerous setbacks and problems getting that IT infrastructure in place…First step, or not, this is a feeble try.”

Objection! The Latest In Legal Updates. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) praised a recent Supreme Court decision protecting the right to tinker, after Lexmark tried to keep consumers from refilling their own printer cartridges. “The Court explained that people who buy things are allowed to use and resell them without being sued under patent and copyright law, and explained that this freedom is necessary for commerce to function,” wrote Kit Walsh in a blog post. Meanwhile, the Center for Democracy & Technology filed an amicus brief supporting Public.Resource.Org, a website that increases public access to the State of Georgia’s official legal code. The state is currently suing the website, claiming copyright infringement for posting the legal code. In a blog post, policy counsel Ferras Vinh explained, “By effectively placing the official state code behind an expensive paywall, Georgia obstructs open access to the law and strips its citizens of their due process rights under the 14th Amendment.”

Why Was A Local Theater Production Shut Down For Casting A Black Actor? A local Oregon theater company’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was cancelled after the late playwright Edward Albee’s estate denied the rights due to the theater’s decision to cast a black actor. Why? Vulture’s Mark Harris explained that “[s]ince copyrights survive their authors, decisions about Albee’s plays are now in the hands of an estate…” When still alive, Albee reportedly did not believe a black actor should play the role. In criticizing the estate’s decision, Harris wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a playwright’s work long surviving him if it’s shackled to the unexamined enforcement of questionable decisions from another era, or constrained by the terror that it might be mishandled. Who’s afraid of a new idea?”

No Jail Time For Colombian Biologist After Sharing Research Online. In 2011, Colombian graduate student Diego Gomez shared another student’s thesis on Scribd — an act that could have landed him eight years in prison. Fortunately, EFF announced on May 24 that Gomez was cleared of the criminal charges by Colombian courts. EFF hailed the decision as a victory for open access, writing that Diego’s story, “demonstrates what can go wrong when nations enact severe penalties for copyright infringement…With severe prison sentences on the line for copyright infringement, freedom of expression and intellectual freedom suffer.”

More Than 60 Organizations Call For European Lawmakers To Put Copyright Reform On Right Track. More than 60 civil society organizations and trade associations have come together to submit an open-letter to European lawmakers calling the European Commission’s proposal on copyright a “huge disappointment” according to a blog by Project DisCo’s Maud Sacquet. The joint letter outlines the most damaging aspects of the proposal and concludes by urging for reform “that is fit for purpose in the digital environment and that upholds and strengthens fundamental principles such as the rights of citizens to freedom of communication and access to knowledge.”