The recent Supreme Court decision, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, addresses fair use and the “first sale” doctrine, upon whose protection libraries, used-book dealers, technology companies, consumer-goods retailers, and museums have long relied. Professor Annmarie Bridy’s commentary focuses on the position that intellectual property rights in general and copyrights in particular are important, and when their scope is circumscribed to ensure the existence of a robust public domain, they benefit society. However important IP rights are, though – and reasonable people disagree pretty vigorously about that – they are not fundamental in the Constitutional sense.
What if you had to ask permission before selling, lending, or even giving away your books? On October 29, 2012 the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons, a case that could change the way we own everything from books to watches. Brandon Butler and Jonathan Band discuss how libraries, who own books, movies and other copyrighted works on behalf of the public could be hit especially hard by this decision.
Within the context of the decline of the law tort of “hot news” misappropriation, Professor Annemarie Bridy discusses a recent Pennsylvania case in which the parties are fighting over ownership of a LinkedIn account containing the plaintiff’s profile and her professional connections. The defendant, the former employer, asserted a state law counterclaim for misappropriation of ideas.
An important copyright case won’t be argued in the Supreme Court, which on October 3, 2011 declined to review Vernor v. Autodesk, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving the applicability of copyright’s first sale doctrine to transactions involving software and other digital information goods. Law professor Annmarie Bridy discusses the wide reaching impact of the first sale doctrine, without which there would be no free market for used books, CDs, or DVDs, because the copyright owner’s right of distribution would reach beyond the first sale, all the way down the stream of commerce.
On March 22, 2011, Judge Denny Chin rejected the proposed settlement in copyright infringement litigation over the Google Library Project. Judge Chin found that the settlement was not “fair, reasonable, and adequate” as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Judge Chin issued the decision over a year after the fairness hearing he conducted. His opinion agrees in large measure with the objections to the settlement asserted by the U.S. Department of Justice at the hearing and in its written submissions. This paper by Jonathan Band continues the series in which he discusses the opinion and where it leaves Google Books Search.
Copyright is an essential tool in the spread of new ideas, and the workplace has become ground zero for infringement. Ask employees up and down the corporate hierarchy, and they’ll tell you that whisking information electronically to co-workers is integral to their jobs. Their employers will emphatically agree. But unauthorized swaps of information also carry enormous potential risk: Ordinary office exchanges, so natural to the digital world, can easily violate the copyright rights of others and bring costly lawsuits or settlements. Now the same technology that has dramatically defined the Internet age is drawing a new roadmap to compliance, with software tools that simplify adherence to copyright requirements.
On Friday, November 13, 2009, Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers filed an Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) in the copyright infringement litigation concerning the Google Library Project. The amendments proposed by the parties are designed to address objections made by the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to the original proposed settlement agreement. This paper by Jonathan Band describes the ASA’s major changes, with emphasis on those changes relevant to libraries.
As Roger V. Skalbeck documents, one of the underlying obstacles to reproducing older books is a central place to look for information about what is protected by copyright and what may have passed into the public domain is lacking. Responding to this need, OCLC recently introduced a beta service, the WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry (CER). It could be a very valuable resource for recording and sharing copyright status information.
Jonathan Band’s article outlines the settlement’s provisions, with special emphasis on the provisions that apply directly to libraries. The settlement is extremely complex (over 200 pages long, including attachments), so this paper of necessity simplifies many of its details.
The Google Library Project: The Copyright Debate
American Library Association, Office for Information Technology Policy Brief, January 2006
By Jonathan Band