Why Google, Twitter and Tumblr Are Backing the ‘Dancing Baby’

By Sam GustinTime Remember the Pennsylvania Mom who posted a 29-second home movie of her toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” prompting the purple-hued pop star’s record label to demand that YouTube take down the video? That was in 2007. Now, six years later, the legal battle ignited by a 13-month-old with a penchant for His Royal Badness is approaching a critical juncture, in a case with important ramifications for copyright law and the nation’s largest Internet and entertainment companies. When Universal Music demanded that YouTube remove the clip, the Google-owned video giant complied, but Stephanie Lenz, whose son Holden was the star of the video, decided to fight back. With the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco digital rights group, Lenz sued Universal Music for misrepresentation of copyright claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 law that defined the intellectual property rights and limits of companies in the Internet age.

Music publishers fire DMCA take-down notices at top lyrics sites

by Joan E. Solsman

Lyrics sites are the latest in the crosshairs of the National Music Publishers’ Association, an organization set up to protect the copyrights of songwriters. The NMPA sent take-down notices citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to the biggest 50 lyrics Web sites that it said profit from advertising without compensating songwriters. “This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally,” NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said. “NMPA is targeting 50 sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior.”  

The take-down notices tell a recipient that its site displays lyrics of thousands of copyrighted musical compositions and that substantially all the lyrics are unlicensed.

Opening Pandora’s Box: Copyright and Antitrust

by Glenn Manishin
Disruptive Competition Project

Are copyright holders allowed to decide without legal constraint to whom they will license their content and on what terms? That is the issue facing Pandora and other new streaming radio firms, for whom music and its associated licensing fees represent the biggest hurdle to commercial success against more established broadcast radio competitors. The answer lies in the sometimes obscure interface between the Copyright Act and antitrust law in the U.S.

In Pandora Media, Inc. v. American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers, an antitrust case currently pending in federal court in New York, the streaming company is suing ASCAP and some of the major record labels for “withdrawing” their content from the ASCAP joint licensing venture, thus forcing individualized negotiations. It’s a leading-edge dispute, scheduled for trial by year-end, that may help catalyze a new approach to the old question of whether — and if so to what extent — owners of copyrighted digital content are permitted to refuse to deal with competing distribution channels on dramatically different commercial terms.

Most Project DisCo readers likely know about Pandora, a prominent start-up in the Internet radio space — one of the hottest markets around these days, especially given the launch of iTunes Radio by Apple. What is less understood is that streaming music on the ‘Net is fraught with legal issues surrounding copyright, constraints that effectively function as a barrier to the more widespread adoption of such disruptive technologies.

Feds Take Down Online Fraud Bazaar ‘Silk Road’, Arrest Alleged Mastermind

By Brian KrebsKrebs on Security Prosecutors in New York today said that federal agencies have taken over the Silk Road, a sprawling underground Web site that has earned infamy as the “eBay of drugs.” On Tuesday, federal agents in San Francisco arrested the Silk Road’s alleged mastermind. Prosecutors say 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR), will be charged with a range of criminal violations, including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, and money laundering.   A screen shot of the Silk Road Web site, taken Oct. 2, 2013. The Silk Road is an online black market that as late as last month was hosting nearly 13,000 sales listings for controlled substances, including marijuana, LSD, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Copyright As Censorship: Using The DMCA To Take Down Websites For Accurately Calling Out Racist Comments

By Mike MasnikTechDirt While some still believe that copyright can never be used to censor, we see it happen all the time. Here’s just the latest example. The websites for both the Center for a Stateless Society and the Students for a Stateless Society have been taken down by Bluehost, an ISP with a history of taking down entire sites based on single DMCA claims (i.e.: don’t ever use Bluehost as a hosting company). Why? Apparently because of a DMCA takedown notice sent by lawyer JD Obenberger on behalf of his client, Olivier Janssens (though, in the DMCA notice, Obenberger refers to him as Oliver, not Olivier).

Record Label Picks Copyright Fight — With The Wrong Guy

By Laura Sidell
NPR – All Things Considered

An Australian record label may have picked a fight with the wrong guy. The label sent a standard takedown notice threatening to sue after YouTube computers spotted its music in a video. It turns out that video was posted by one of the most famous copyright attorneys in the world, and Lawrence Lessig is suing back. Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor, has lectured around the world about how copyright law needs to adapt to the Internet age. In his lecture, he shows examples of people who have used the Internet to “share their culture and remix other people’s creations.”

In Spain, website owners can now get six years in prison for linking to copyrighted material

By Adrianne JeffriesThe Verge Website owners whose sites profit from linking to unauthorized copyrighted material can now be jailed for up to six years under a new measure that passed today in Spain. Spain is considered one of the worst offenders in Europe when it comes to illegally downloading content; one study reported that 98.7 of music Spaniards listen to is pirated. The law will spare peer-to-peer filesharing sites, search engines, and users of the link-sharing sites.   The country enacted the law as a response to pressure from the US, where ironically the law is not as strict. Spain is in danger of being added to a list of countries that Washington considers to be the most egregious violators of copyright law, meaning it could be subject to trade sanctions from the US.