TLPC Briefs Copyright Office with Reply Comments on E-book Accessibility DMCA Exemption

Today, the TLPC, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, the Library Copyright Alliance, and the American Association of People with Disabilities filed reply comments at the U.S. Copyright Office requesting a renewal of the exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed at  making e-books more accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled and authorized entities. If renewed, the exemption would increase access to literary works and educational resources for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled.

Take a look at the long-form comment attached here, and stay tuned for the Copyright Office’s decision later this year.

E-book Accessibility Reply Comments

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 14: Piracy and File Leakage in the Digital Age

(by Conor Stewartson, TLPC Student Attorney)

As spring approaches, millions of fans of Game of Thrones, HBO’s most successful television program, become anxious with anticipation for yet another season of the television adaptation of the critically acclaimed book series.  Season 5 of GoT was scheduled for simultaneous release on April 12th in 170 countries across the globe in order to decrease the historically high piracy rates that the show experiences.

The efforts by HBO were made at least partially moot on Saturday when the first four episodes of the season were leaked online.  Over 1.7 million copies of these episodes were downloaded in less than 24 hours.  The leaked episodes appear to have come from review copies sent to the press, which contained a blurred watermark and were only available in standard definition.

The timing could not have been worse for HBO, which recently rolled out its new “HBO Now” service that allows for viewers to pay a monthly rate ($14.99) in return for standalone HBO service that does not require a cable subscription.  In the past, obtaining an HBO subscription may have been impossible for viewers that lacked standard cable service—a difficulty that may have been a driving force behind the proliferation of online piracy of GoT.

[Editor’s note: we’ll be (mostly) offline over the summer break. See you in the fall!]

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 13: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Music

Last week, rapper and business mogul Jay Z reintroduced Tidal in a press conference highlighting the platform as an artist-owned, subscription-based music service. The service boasts a movement to “change the status quo” and “reestablish the value of music.” Tidal values music at $19.99 per month for high fidelity (lossless/CD-Quality) streaming, or $9.99 per month—comparable to other music streaming services like Spotify.

The re-emergence of Tidal as a music streaming service owned by artists themselves in order to procure greater profits for their music begs the question: how are artists doing now?

This infographic from data journalist and information designer David McCandless shows how many plays from each music service an artist needs to earn a monthly minimum wage of $1,260.

As we previously discussed, digital technologies have changed the way consumers receive all entertainment content. Some argue that the rise of music piracy and peer-to-peer sharing in the digital age have impacted profits, but the migration to streaming services may also have a countervailing impact on piracy.

Spotify claims that their free model shifts consumers away from piracy to a platform they can simply listen to music for free, and then drives them to the paid subscription ($120 per year), doubling the amount these average consumers spend on music (supposedly, $55 per year), and generating more royalties for the artists. Some artists, notably Taylor Swift, have qualms with the free tier service Spotify provides.

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 10: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Content

(by Sam Moodie, Student Attorney)

This past Thursday, Colorado Law’s Silicon Flatirons Center hosted a conference focusing on the current state of innovation in the creation and distribution of content.  The conference hosted well-known artists in music, film, television, and photography as well as major players in content distribution to discuss in part, how digital technologies are either enhancing or challenging traditional structures of creation and distribution.

Music

Music has long been the stage to exemplify how digital technologies can frustrate and disrupt an entire content industry.  Some have argued that the rise of music piracy, peer-to-peer sharing, and pay-per-track have drastically reduced profits for music executives, song writers, and performing artists alike.  The new wave in music distribution is streaming—a technology made possible through licensing and advertising revenues.  However, artists claim that this model drastically under-compensates them  for their work, to the point where an artists song earning a million streams may not even earn the profit of $100.  In response, some popular artists like Taylor Swift has removed her work from Spotify, one of the most successful music streaming sites.

Many now question whether streaming has fundamentally shaken the music industry at its core, or if the traditional business structure simply needs to adapt slightly in order to remain relevant. Some take the perspective that users need to be retrained on the value of content, and how to interact with it.

Television

Digital technology in the television industry has quickly stepped in to answer users’ demands to control their content.  The most notable means through which this has happened are subscription networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime.  This distribution model arguably assists in the democratization of television because producers can work directly with distribution companies instead of working within the traditional broadcast television structure.

Similarly, the interfaces used by these entities provide a wealth of content and allow users to interact and search for content on their own terms.  The subscription model allows for a wider array of content, often much edgier than can be found on mainstream television, and at a vastly lower price compared to cabe subscriptions.

This leads to the question of whether cable and broadcast are still relevant, and if so, if they can remain relevant in the future.  Some consider the current price of cable subscriptions to be unsustainable given the success and popularity on online streaming television.

Some see traditional and digital entities as being able to work together.  As noted at the conference,  cable providers and producers see themselves as the leaders in providing up-to-date and new content.  Coupling with entities like Netflix that provide past seasons of television shows all at once, allowing viewers to binge watch and catch up on past content, may be a perfect marriage for complete access to content.  However, with Netflix now creating its own series, how long will cable have a relevant role in this relationship?

Regardless, it is increasingly clear that these technologies are giving a considerable amount of leverage to users. The point where the balance has shifted, and industry executives are losing more and more control over their content.

TLPC Briefs Copyright Office on E-book Accessibility DMCA Exemption

(by James Frazier, Melissa S. Jensen, and Samantha Moodie, Student Attorneys)

Last Friday, the TLPC, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, and the Library Copyright Alliance filed a comment at the U.S. Copyright Office requesting a renewal of the exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed at  making e-books more accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled and authorized entities. If renewed, the exemption would increase access to literary works and educational resources for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled.

Take a look at the long-form comment attached here, and stay tuned for the Copyright Office’s decision later this year.

 

 

 

TLPC FIles Security Research DMCA Exemption Comments

(by Chelsea E.  Brooks,  Student Attorney, Joseph N. de Raismes, Student Attorney, Andy J. Sayler, Student Technologist)

Last week, we filed three comments in response to the Copyright Office’s DMCA Section 1201 Tri-annual Exemption Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: a Short Comment for Class 27 (Medical Devices), a Short Comment for Class 22 (Vehicle Software), and a Long Comment for Class 25 (Security Research). All comments were filed on behalf of our client, Professor Matthew Green.

Professor Green is an Assistant Research Professor in the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University and needs to be able to circumvent various access controls on software and devices in the process of conducting good faith security research. Such circumvention is chilled by Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In our long comment, we argue for an exemption to Section 1201’s anti-circumvention provisions and show that preventing circumvention of access controls is chilling good faith security research and creating other adverse effects. Our short comments reiterate this point with respect to specific types of security research and urge the Copyright Office to grant a broad exemption to the Section 1201 anti-circumvention rules for all forms of good faith security research.

Next up in the proceedings is the second round of public comments filed by those that oppose each exemption. The objection comment deadline is March 27, 2015. Following that, there will be a third round of public comments in which supporters can respond to the objectors’ comments. This round closes on May 1, 2015, after which the Copyright Office will begin the internal process of making their decisions.

TLPC Students Organize Screening and Panel for the Documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

(by Stephanie Vu, Colorado Law 3L, and Stefan Tschimben, Interdiscliplinary Telecom Program student)

On October 20th, the TLPC and the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado held a screening and panel discussion of the documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz. The documentary follows the life and death of Internet activist and programing prodigy Aaron Swartz. Aaron played a part in the creation of web feed format RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and was a co-founder of Reddit. Aaron was best known to some for his political activism against the Stop Online Piracy Act and his crusade for the open access to information. This crusade led to a two-year legal battle and ultimately his death at age 26. The documentary explores the relationship between civil liberties and technology and gives a heartfelt account of a young man whose life work has benefited almost everyone who has ever used the internet.

According to Professor Blake Reid, “Aaron’s life and death have left an indelible mark on public policy surrounding technology, digital civil liberties, and access to knowledge. The Internet’s Own Boy is a window into Aaron’s legacy through which anyone interested in the future of our democracy in an information age should take a careful and thoughtful look.”

Continue reading “TLPC Students Organize Screening and Panel for the Documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz”

TLPC files DMCA exemption for good faith security research

The TLPC continued its efforts in the Copyright Office’s triennial review last week by filing a petition for exemption from the anti-circumvention measures in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs) to perform good faith security research. The TLPC filed the petition, drafted by student attorneys Chris Meier, Amber Williams, and Bridgett Murphy on behalf of  Dr. Matthew Green, Assistant Research Professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute.

TLPC files DMCA exemption renewal petition for ebook accessibility

Last week, TLPC student attorneys Mel Jensen and Alex Koral filed an initial petition with the Copyright Office seeking to renew an exemption for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled to  read ebooks on equal terms by circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs) on ebooks that interfere with adaptive technologies, such as text-to-speech functions and refreshable Braille displays. The TLPC filed the petition in partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of exemptions from the anti-circumvention measures in section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).