The Traklight Blog

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

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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U.S. Copyright Office Report Pushes Changes To DCMA That Would Favor Rightsholders

Modern copyright law has long been in need of an overhaul, but need does not necessarily precede action, and the gap between what is and what should be can be wide indeed. Critics of current applications of the law would suggest that it comes down too often in favor of the powerful, which is to say on the side of rightsholders pressing the case for infringement, with many of those rightsholders being big corporate entities. They're of course entitled to protect their rights to their intellectual property under the law, but what those rights are and what they entail has shifted greatly in their favor over recent years.

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Tiger King Offers Insight Into The Flaws of Copyright Law

The thing about notoriety, or infamy, is that it places a magnifying glass over every part of your life, and that's particularly true of the reality television stars of today. That means any legal trouble of legal issues you face become fodder for the internet, because there's seemingly nothing we enjoy more than the rise and fall of stars.

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NYU Law's Copyright Panel Gets Copyright Claim on YouTube

The general absurdity of YouTube's copyright system is well-trod territory on this blog, but it's always worth reiterating anytime the company bungles cases or otherwise misses the mark on IP matters; after all, YouTube is perhaps the repository of videos online, so if the copyright system is wrong on the site, it's going to affect far more people than almost anywhere else.

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Mashable Wins Copyright Case Over Embedded Post

Who owns what we see online? It's perhaps not a question we give too much thought about, at least beyond our own purview; so long as we don't see something that we own or created on some website, we're not too worried about the question, particularly given the overwhelming number of other worries we have on a daily basis.

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Should Copyright Be Eternal? UNESCO Seems To Think So

How long does our work survive beyond our time among the living? It's not a question that the average person has to much consider, although given how the internet is bound to our current existence, it's fair to say that traces of us will live on for years to come, even if you have to hit up the Wayback Machine to find them. For creators, questions about legacy and immortality are usually reserved for thinking of the collective consciousness, while realizing that the day will come when the financial benefits will disappear and the work will enter the public domain.

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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

While this space remains focused on intellectual property and all matters related, I would like to take the occasion presented by the story covered today to talk briefly about the importance of Michael Jordan. The fact that he was important isn't questioned by anyone who lived through the past thirty to thirty-five years as a sentient being, but he had a special significance to those of us who were kids at the point he was at the peak of his athletic and commercial powers. Words hardly do it justice; he was omnipresent and seemingly all-powerful, and anything that he deigned to endorse was a thing worth having, doubly so when your parents (rightfully, in retrospect) refused to accede to your whims and some clever marketing.

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Medical Technicians and IP Law

Need is a strong motivator, and urgent need of the kind felt in many walks of life during this pandemic will hopefully spur the kind of ingenuity that is demanded at the moment. Need during times of crisis is also not generally subject to the kinds of normal restrictions of law and regulation that might normally apply, either due to a suspension of or flaunting of the law, and so it serves as a window to examine the efficacy or need of those particular laws. Intellectual property might feel ephemeral in a time like this, but the story of how copyright and medical care intersect show how it underpins so much of the work we do and how its enforcement can do more damage than good.

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Disney's Tweet Claims Raise Copyright Questions

The story of copyright in the twenty-first century tends to be one of corporate overreach, though you perhaps can't blame big business for trying; after all, it falls to regulatory and oversight bodies to rein in the worst actions and instances of IP abuse, and those institutions don't always appear to be up to the challenge. That's not to say the overstepping companies bear no culpability, just that you can't expect those corporations to act in anything other than naked self-interest, and in the absence of someone telling them "no" they might assert rights they have no basis to claim.

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Online Education Exposes the Flaws of Copyright Law

The lockdown and isolation that we're all living through has brought certain realities to light; namely, that as much as many people may have lamented that much of life had moved online prior to March 2020, it was nothing compared to what we're experiencing right now. The last bastions of in-person activites have shuttered or moved online out of necessity, creating a brave new world that no one could have entirely predicted or prepared for. It's given us a new appreciation for the hassles of the physical world; personally, I'd give my paper towel supply to have the back of my seat kicked in a movie theater.

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NBA2K Makers Win Summary Judgment in Copyright Case

There are no shortage of new problems technology has introduced into the world, but notionally there are some things that should be exempted from that principle, and for many young people, video games is front of mind as an example. The internet and smartphones may provide new ways to spy on us or hack our personal information along with their provided benefits, but there would seem to be little downside to the exponential improvement in video games over the course of this century. The load faster and look better than ever before, and with hundreds of millions of dollars poured into hardware and game development, we start to approach something like verisimilitude — which might be a problem, in some cases.

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Musician Tries To Fix Copyright By Copyrighting All The Melodies

Music copyright has proven to be a tricky topic in recent years, given how readily available music is at present paired with the ability to take on alleged infringement, both through YouTube and in the courts. (Not that any court case would ever be considered easy.) The exponential growth in copyright cases within music is a matter of some debate and contention; some believe in the absolute ability of creators to protect their work from infringement, while others argue that influence and sampling are simply part of the art form, and that to take those away is to remove the ability for new artists to build upon what others have done, as they have for decades, if not centuries. It's not an argument that looks to be resolved anytime soon, although one ambitious musician is seeking to short-circuit the issue entirely.

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Fortnite Rolls Out Mute Feature to Combat Copyright Complaints

Copyright in the present day presents any number of questions for the interested observer, not least of which are questions completely unrelated to copyright itself. New technology presents new challenges to both copyright and to the understanding of people who have aged out of the demographic of said tech.

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Rockstar Wins Summary Judgment in Grand Theft Auto Cheat Copyright Case

Building on top of existing works is a fundamental principle of creation, and one that has its place within precepts of intellectual property. But that idea increasingly seems to run up against a modern interpretation of IP law, and copyright in particular — specifically, the hyper-protective view that many well-heeled creators take in protecting their work. It goes beyond the product itself, particularly in the case of entertainment: don't even mention a film or show or any sort of product in a YouTube review, lest you risk having your videos flagged for infringement. It's IP law as aggressive, a tool of offense, rather than as a defensive measure against misuse, and that theory is being fought over in the courts on a regular basis.

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The Sleeper Has Awoken: Dune Takes Aggressive Copyright Approach to Logo Leaks

If there is a theme to be found in this week's blogs, it's that sometimes less is more when it comes to enforcing your copyright. Disney going after what is a rounding error for them from an elementary school is an extreme example, to be sure, but there are other instances of companies taking a hardline approach that, rather than preserving the brand and its value, do some damage in tangible or intangible ways. It is, after all, the case that sometimes free publicity is worth the cost of what you might perceive to be a bit of infringement.

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Disney Backtracks in Lion King Copyright Case Against Elementary School

Big companies don't get big by letting others trample on their intellectual property, nor do they stay big by getting themselves become complacent in that regard once they've climbed to the top of the pile. Big revenue means a big legal department, eager to pursue every possible instance of infringement and justify their considerable billable hours. More often than not it's an arrangement that works out well for the conglomerate in question, but that zeal can occasionally lead to the occasional misstep.

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YouTube's Copyright Reporting Problems Continue Apace

I've written before about the problems with both the aggressive assertion of copyright and the inability of online platforms to discern legitimate claims from the misuse of reporting tools on offer, with YouTube as the convergence point of these dual phenomena. Invariably the response from these platforms is that their user base is too large and too spread out to offer any effective administrative policing, so the task falls to users to police one another. The problem with this approach comes from the baseline assumption that users can be trusted with these tools and this power; as we've seen in society at large, while the vast majority of people will probably do the right thing, it only takes a few to do wrong and ruin the whole thing for everyone.

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