Intellectual Property

Trial Over Potter Lexicon Ends With an Olive Branch

J. K. Rowling held out an olive branch on Wednesday to the Harry Potter look-alike who wants to publish a guide to her books and whose publisher she is suing for copyright infringement.

Ms. Rowling seemed clearly wounded after the previous day’s testimony by the writer of the guide, Steven Jan Vander Ark. Mr. Vander Ark broke into sobs on the witness stand Tuesday as he said that he had once been one of her biggest fans, but now felt cast out of the “Harry Potter community” by her lawsuit.

Ms. Rowling told the judge in Federal District Court in Manhattan that she had been misunderstood. Mr. Vander Ark watched from the back of the room as the trial drew to a close.

Full story in the New York Times.

Publishers Sue Georgia State on Digital Reading Matter

Article in the New York Times: Three prominent academic publishers are suing Georgia State University, contending that the school is violating copyright laws by providing course reading material to students in digital format without seeking permission from the publishers or paying licensing fees.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Atlanta, the publishers — Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications — sued four university officials, asserting “systematic, widespread and unauthorized copying and distribution of a vast amount of copyrighted works” by Georgia State, which the university distributes through its Web site

Full article here.

Copyright in today's world

This is a podcast from the "Real Deal," where they discuss copyright with Colette Vogele, attorney, Fellow at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society. They discuss some of the concerns people have over copyright in today's world with the internet, downloads, mashups, etc.

Is There A Counter-Reformation Movement Afoot in the World of Copyright?

William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google thinks so... Slashdot pointed the way to a Post From ARS Technica that points the way to The Patry Copyright Blog where you can read about William Patry's ideas on a counter-reformation movement afoot in the world of copyright. The purpose of the movement is to chill the willingness of countries to enact fair use or liberal fair dealing provisions designed to genuinely further innovation and creativity, rather than, as is currently the case, merely to give lip service to those concepts as the scope of copyright is expanded to were-rabbit size.

He says The counter-reformation movement is presently at the stage of a whispering campaign, in which ministries in countries are told that fair use (and by extension possible liberal fair dealing provisions) violate the "three-step" test.

Sir Walter Scott would have welcomed wider access to his work in digital era

An issue has emerged over access to a series of unpublished and incomplete manuscripts by Sir Walter Scott held at five US and UK universities and public libraries. For UK band Radiohead, issues arose last autumn concerning the release of their new album, In Rainbows, with fans paying as much, or little, as they wished.

The delicate balance of relationships between creators, rights holders and, above all, consumers is changing and similar tectonic shifts are starting to take place in the academic world. The impact will be felt by everyone involved in the stewardship of the arts and sciences.

Internet book piracy will drive authors to stop writing

Book piracy on the internet will ultimately drive authors to stop writing unless radical methods are devised to compensate them for lost sales.

This is the bleak forecast of the Society of Authors, which represents more than 8,500 professional writers in the UK and believes that the havoc caused to the music business by illegal downloading is beginning to envelop the book trade.

Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring who also chairs the London-based organisation, said that her members were deeply concerned that the publishing industry was failing to adapt to the digital age.

Rowling 'deeply troubled' by unauthorised book

Pity Poor J.K. Rowling... “I am deeply troubled by the portrayal of my efforts to protect and preserve the copyrights I have been granted in the Harry Potter books,” she wrote in court papers filed against the publisher, RDR Books. Ark is editor of a website containing a fan-created collection of essays and encyclopaedic material on the Potter universe, including lists of spells and potions found in the books, a catalogue of magical creatures and a who’s who in the wizarding world.

“Authors everywhere will be forced to protect their creations much more rigorously, which could mean denying well-meaning fans permission to pursue legitimate creative activities. I find it devastating to contemplate the possibility of such a severe alteration of author-fan relations.”

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

Article in Wired.com by Chris Anderson called "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business". I was initially skeptical about the article but after reading it I found several ideas that librarians should think about. For example Stewart Brand is quoted in the article: "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive ... That tension will not go away."

How can libraries use the ideas presented by this article? What impact will the ideas in this article have on libraries?

"Intellectual property" is a silly euphemism

Cory Doctorow says "Intellectual property" is one of those ideologically loaded terms that can cause an argument just by being uttered. Fundamentally, the stuff we call "intellectual property" is just knowledge - ideas, words, tunes, blueprints, identifiers, secrets, databases. This stuff is similar to property in some ways: it can be valuable, and sometimes you need to invest a lot of money and labour into its development to realise that value.

Tolkien's family threatens to block new Hobbit film

The heirs to J. R. R. Tolkien are threatening to block the much-awaited film of The Hobbit over claims that they have not received a share of the $6 billion that the films and DVDs of The Lord of the Rings and related products have taken worldwide.

The two-film prequel to the trilogy faces this obstacle only weeks after New Line Cinema came close to losing the involvement of Peter Jackson, who directed The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien’s children, Christopher Reuel Tolkien and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien, on behalf of The Tolkien Trust, are involved in the legal action that seeks more than $150 million (£77 million) in compensatory damages from New Line, as well as punitive damages, and a declaration from the court that the plaintiffs have a right to terminate any further rights to the Tolkien works, including The Hobbit.

Full story here.

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