The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Online Anti-Cheating Tool Proctorio Uses DMCA TO Silence Critics

If you'll forgive visiting once more with a frequent topic of this blog, we have to talk yet again about the DMCA. Specifically, about the ability of seemingly any company to use the DMCA for other than what it was ostensibly created, which is to protect copyright on the internet. We've seen the fruits of the maximalist position that most corporations have taken: every video that even makes mention of a product ends up flagged, regardless of the dictates of fair use. It's rote at this point to say that the implementation of the DMCA has been manipulated to the point of near-uselessness, but it's worth saying over and over again, in the hopes something might change.

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RIAA Makes DMCA Claims Against Github Over Video Download Software

There is broad philosophical debate, dating back to the dawn of the advent of tools and other implements manipulated by humans, as to freedom and agency as it regards their use. Plenty of tools are designed to be used for the betterment of the species, and are far more frequently used as such, but can be corrupted for darker purposes. One smarter than myself might argue that such a dichotomy reflects the duality of human nature, but that's likely a bit grandiose for a column on intellectual property. Suffice it to say, every tool is a weapon of sorts in the wrong hands. But does that offer justification to take those tools out of the hands of users?

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TV Reboot Draws Copyright Claim From Original Writer

It's become fairly evident over the past several years that, given enough time, every show you ever loved will return in some fashion, whether that be as a sequel featuring a far-older cast than you remember, or as a rebooted property for a new generation to enjoy, or at least watch. Perhaps it's a mix of the two: the old stars of a teen series now serving as the parents and teachers to a new collection of fresh-faced avatars. The reason for this proliferation is of course money and IP: studios own the IP around those old shows, and more important to this conversation, they trust that old IP more than they do new ideas, for better or worse. And so we'll get new versions of every show until the reach the end of the catalogue and the cycle begins anew.

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Twitch Offer No Explanation To Users For DMCA Takedowns

What makes laws work, or at least what should, is that they are or are at least meant to be prescriptive. Violators should know what they did, and what the punishment for the violation should be, in order that they not offend again. Short of that, the system falls apart; people continue to violate the rules unknowingly because there's no way of knowing what actions might cause them to break those rues. Broadly speaking, that is why rules and laws exist, rather than relying upon the capriciousness of a individual or body to determine what is or isn't a foul.

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Nintendo Shuts Down Fan-Made Zelda Game on Copyright Grounds

The advent of modern fandom has perhaps blurred the lines of IP ownership, at least in the minds of fans. I don't mean to suggest that die-hards are under any apprehension that they hold the legal rights to any aspect of the properties they love so dearly; rather, it's a type of spiritual ownership that can create both a heretofore unknown passion in a pop culture artifact and, more harmfully, a sense of entitlement. For some, nothing done in the name of fandom can be wrong, even though the transactional nature of the relationship hasn't changed after all these decades.

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Photographer's Copyright Case Against Tennis Website Misses The Mark

Most images on the internet get passed around about a half-dozen times before they end up on our screens, so when we hear that copyright can be a challenging issue in the age of social media, it's fair to say that the case is being understated. How exactly to fix it is a big question for far smarter people, but there does remain the issue of how it's addressed in the here and now, which is to say somewhat haphazardly.

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Nirvana Copyright Case Gets Added Wrinkle With New Ownership Claim

Most famous art has become, over the course of time, tied to the artist that created it. Da Vinci pained the "Mona Lisa," van Gogh pained "Starry Night" and and on and on until you reach the end of the casual knowledge of art the average person possesses. No such relationship exists in commercial art, which, despite protestations of purists, certainly rises to the level of some kind of artistic expression, or is at least relevant enough to warrant inclusion in that conversation. Most of the iconography attached to brands or products comes from an originator anonymous to all but a few, which can make for compelling mystery when questions of ownership and origination arise.

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Another Creator Hit With Copyright Takedown Over His Own Work

What is perhaps underappreciated, or not understood at all, by those with only a passing knowledge of the online video economy is that many creators are reliant upon the ad dollars that come in from monetization on YouTube (Or perhaps other platforms). Thus a loss of the ability to feature ads or profit from them is akin to, if not losing a job, working at that same job for no pay. It's admittedly a foreign idea for those over a certain age to wrap their heads around; until a few years ago, jobs were done in offices or factories or out in the workaday world, not in front of a computer. Nevertheless, it's a viable way for many to earn a living, even if all but a few aren't making much more than that.

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VidAngel Copyright Suit Settlement Ends "Filtering" Debate

It's been a long-standing matter of contention as to the right to alter a piece of artistic work. Generally speaking, if someone is to make alterations in a manner consistent with added artistic value, they have far more leeway than might be given otherwise under intellectual property law. But what if you're just removing things from said work?

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TikTok Faces Copyright Lawsuit As Woes Mount

We've all probably experienced the phenomenon of cascading bad luck, wherein misfortune piles upon itself until we feel that fate has conspired against us. The alarm doesn't go off, the car won't start, work projects go awry —eventually we feel like kindred spirits with Job. But however bad our toughest periods might have been, we can at least take comfort in the fact that we're not TikTok.

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Google Saved In Genius Lawsuit By Copyright Considerations

Among the many benefits that the proliferation of the internet and search engines have provided, finding song lyrics wouldn't rank among the most important, but it would certainly be a more popular use than, say, looking up academic papers for school work. And it's an underrated benefit; for years prior, you had to rely on liner notes from records or CDs, and that's even if the artist put the lyrics there. Otherwise, you were left guessing as to whether you heard the words correctly over the radio, only to be corrected years later.

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DMCA Copyright Trolls Get In On The Automation Game

There's nothing good that can't be ruined, and nothing bad that can't be made worse, and that holds true for intellectual property as it does for anything else in life. Take the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), for example; like any law, it has its flaws, but applied in the spirit in which it was intended, the DMCA probably does more good than harm. But measuring good versus harm is always subject to the small group of bad actors willing to do the worst things they think they can get away with, and those outliers are often enough to sway at least some thinking on the efficacy of any program or law.

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Japan's Twitter Users Liable For Retweets That Violate Copyright Law

If you've even spent any time on Twitter (and for your sake, I hope you haven't) you recognize it as a space largely disassociated from the world in which its users live. While there are plenty of real people engaging in genuine interactions, no one is necessarily attached to any actual identity, and thus millions are large freed from the consequences that might follow them in real life. It can feel like a space to say and do whatever you want, with seemingly no one interested in stopping you, save for the overwhelming concern Twitter professes for copyrighted material. And now Japan seems poised to take that concern to perhaps absurd heights.

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Star Trek Comic Con Panel Taken Offline For Copyright Protection Glitch

We've placed an awful lot of faith in technology to fix problems and generally bail us out of issues we've created for ourselves as a species, from the biggest existential threats to the smallest inconveniences. Which is all well and good, save for the fact that tech has shown itself to be as smart as we might assume it to be, or rather is only as smart as the people creating and programming it.

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Police Agency Uses Copyright Claim To Avoid Transparency Law

Accountability is at the crux of this moment of our history — who bears blame for their action or inaction, particularly when the cost is borne by others. And yet it's often the case that, for those in power, accountability lies elsewhere, often diffuse and shrouded behind rules and regulations and the law. Laws can protect us, but they can also serve as a fig leaf which people and organizations use to avoid questions or silence critics.

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Twitch To Delete Clips Automatically Over Copyright Claims

The tension that once existed between the rights of the average content creator online and those of copyright holders no longer exists, because the battle has long since been decided in favor of rightsholders. As long documented in this space, the rules and regulations governing YouTube and Facebook and other content repositories lean decidedly towards those pressing a claim of copyright infringement, to the point that the act of filing such a claim has been made easy in every regard for the claimant and almost impossible to fight for the alleged violator.

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Internet Archive Facing Copyright Lawsuit Over Unauthorized Lending

The crisis caused by the coronavirus has given rise to a wave of goodwill gestures form companies looking to help people throughout tough times. Whether it's out of genuine communal spirit or a desire for good will, brands have made an effort to both donate money and make available products for free in order to try and help the country get through what we've been told repeatedly are "unprecedented times." And while the gestures are not without consequence for some.

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Even In A Pandemic, Copyright Bots Don't Rest (Or Learn)

In the midst of the pandemic lockdown, artists and musicians have turned to virtual means of staying connected to fans and audiences, as much for their sake as ours. It's a trite observation given the real challenges they face, but performers do survive on the attention that we're able to give them, and the money that comes along with that attention and subsequent ticket sales. We're not sweating the fate of superstar performers, but what about those who are far less famous but nevertheless dependent upon support to survive, particularly those who are coming up against the pernicious threat of copyright bots online?

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