This is daily column on Plagiarism Today where the site brings you three of the days biggest, most important copyright and plagiarism news links. If you want to offer your feedback on the column, use the contact form or just follow me on Twitter at @plagiarismtoday.
First off today, New Zealand is gearing up for a second round of its copyright fight over its controversial Section 92a legislation. The first round, which saw the government attempt to pass laws that would call for the disconnection of file sharers. was scuttled due in large part to protests by Internet users who felt that the punishments were disproportionate to the offense.
Recommendations for the new draft of 92a are due out later this week and there is widespread speculation as to what will be in the law. Though most don’t expect a full on repeat of the first round, either in terms of the protests or proposal, there is still talk that there may be a disconnection criteria in place and also the possibility of simply fining alleged infringers has been raised.
New Zealand’s move comes as France itself is going through round two of its “three strikes” litigation, the first round being scuttled by the country’s Constitutional Court.
Next up, in a case that highlights an interesting difference between U.S. and English law, Wikipedia, or more specifically the Wikipedia user “Dcoetzee” may be sued by the National Portrait Gallery in London. The reason, the user uploaded several photographs of now-public domain portraits to the Wikipedia site, images that were taken by the gallery itself. The gallery has since demanded removal of the images from the site, a request that Wikipedia has not obliged.
Those familiar with U.S. law will know that simply taking a picture of a public domain work does not produce a copyrighted work as there is no requisite creativity. However, that is not so in England. Combine that with the fact the images are being “published” in the UK due to their presence on the servers and you have a recipe where this user could, very likely, be sued successfully in the UK.
The problem being, of course, that if the user is in the U.S., or any country other than the UK, claiming any damages won could prove to be very difficult.
Despite this, the case does highlight the kind of nuances that make “international copyright” a figment of our collective imagination.
Finally today, British actor and Twitter celebrity Stephen Fry spoke his mind a little bit on copyright at the iTunes Music Festival.
Though he said that he didn’t want to be misunderstood as a “”help yourself and be a pirate’ advocate,” he did say that he didn’t approve of the litigation tactics by the movie and record industries (the former being an industry he’s a large part of), said that The Pirate Bay admins were unjustly pursued and that he had used Bittorrent himself to get access to an episode of House, which he had legitimately purchased earlier (and stars his old friend and partner Hugh Laurie).
In the end, Fry did admit that much of his income was generated by copyright protection and he did try to temper his comments some after the fact, however, the BBC article says that Fry was “preaching to the converted” with his talk and received a very warm reception at the festival.
That’s it for the three count today, we’ll be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
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