Re:Create Recap – Week of July 13

Automakers Engaging In “Copyright Creep” Is Bad For Consumers. In his July 8 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, William Rand, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, takes on the assertion by automakers that consumers don’t really own their cars due to copyright law. Rand takes a look at auto copyright exemptions filed writing, “Tinkerers, aftermarket repair shops and copyright activists are lobbying for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 to guarantee car owners the right to alter the software in their vehicles.” The exemption is supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Automobile Association, while automakers are opposing it because they claim consumers only purchase a software code “license.”

Copyright Grip On The “Happy Birthday” Song Reveals Problems With The Law. In “‘Happy Birthday’ Hits Sour Notes When It Comes To Song’s Free Use,” NPR profiles filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who is fighting for free use of the popular song. Warner/Chappell Music currently owns the copyright to the song, which means every time anyone wants to use it, a licensing fee must be paid. Sometimes the fee is “as high as six figures.” Nelson argues in her lawsuit that the copyright for the song expired in 1921. “[W]e don’t feel that [the song] should belong to anybody at this point…It’s over 100 years old, and it should be for the people,” she said.

RIAA Exec Makes Outrageous Claim That Africa And Middle East Culture Needs Stronger Copyright. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick reports on a paper RIAA Executive Neil Turkewitz submitted to the UN last year, arguing that Africa and the Middle East do not have cultural output because they don’t have strong enough copyright laws. In the July 13 post, Masnick calls the Turkewitz paper an “astounding piece of ridiculousness” and notes the general copyright claim is “a silly argument that has been debunked so frequently that we’d thought that it had been relegated to living on only among uninformed internet commenters, rather than actual industry execs.”

Readers Win When Libraries Add E-Books, Says Washington Post. On July 10, the Washington Post editorial board discussed the balance libraries must strike between digital and print resources with consumers choosing electronic books at an increasing rate. “Print still matters,” the editorial board said. At the same time, libraries are expanding their e-book collections. “With the necessary resources, libraries can take the right steps forward into the digital age without jettisoning too much of the printed past,” the editorial board concluded.

European Parliament Takes Steps Toward Balanced Copyright. The Center for Democracy and Technology’s July 10 blog post highlights a recent vote by the European Parliament to adopt a report on the “the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.” In writing about this important step towards finding a balanced copyright in Europe, they note it is important that “As the Commission seeks to advance a Digital Single Market regulation that removes the ‘national silos’ that inhibit a harmonized (or at least interoperable) European copyright system, limitations and exception must be part of that discussion.”