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First off, today marks the day of the scheduled protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) as several major websites, including Reddit and Wikipedia, have turned their sites dark for all or part of the day. In face of the protests, two key Senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas have announced they are dropping their support for both bills. Rubio, a former sponsor of PIPA. The two bills would allow copyright holders to get court orders forcing ISPs to block access to certain “rogue” websites and also require, advertisers and payment processors to cut off funds to such companies. Opponents, however, feel that the legislation could be misused to shut down almost any website and censor free speech.
Next up today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in that a Congress has the right to take works that were once in the public domain in the U.S. and put them back under copyright protection. The lawsuit stemmed from a challenge to the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994, which extended copyright protection to a variety of foreign works that previously did not have it as their countries had no existing copyright relationship with the U.S. That changed, however, after the U.S. became a signatory to the Berne Convention and the Uruguay Round of negotiations. According to the court, Congress acted in the “best interest” of the country with the bill and, with a 6-2 vote, upheld its right to apply copyright protection to public domain works. The challenge was brought by a group of orchestra conductors, performers and educators but was also backed by Google.
Finally today, the German state of Bavaria has said that a plan by a UK publisher to print three 16-page segments of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” may violate their copyright in the book. The publisher, Peter McGee, plans to publish the segments along with commentary critical of the work. “Mein Kampf”, an anti-semetic trieste was written by Hitler while imprison in Bavaria following the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. After World War 2, the allies agreed to give the state rights to the work and Bavaria has used those rights to prevent almost all republication of it. However, those rights will expire in 2015, 70 years after Hitler’s death.
That’s it for the three count today. We will 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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