Monday, February 13, 2006

The Reach (Retch) of Copyright

An Australian citizen is facing extradition to the United States as a suspect in a file sharing network:

The alleged Australian ringleader of an international software and movie piracy group may be extradited to the US if he fails to appear in an American court later this month.
Sean Patrick O'Toole, a 26-year-old from Perth, did not appear in the US District Court in Chicago as scheduled yesterday.
Judge Amy St Eve ordered O'Toole to attend the court on February 21.
"We have to wait and see if he turns up," assistant US district attorney Pravin Rao, who is prosecuting the case for the US government, told AAP.
"We are hopeful he will turn up. That's what he has been directed to do by the judge."
O'Toole, who faces up to eight years in an American jail if convicted, was charged last week with 18 other defendants after a two-year international law enforcement sting codenamed Operation Site Down. (SMH)

I wonder how far the authorities are prepared to go to arrest O'Toole? If recent activities in Europe are anything to go by it may be getting very unpleasant for Mr O'Toole in the near future. But all is not doom and gloom on the access to information front with Lawrence Lessig celebrating a recent victory for Google Print:

"A district court in Nevada has rejected the claim that Google's cache violates copyright law. The opinion is grounded both on "fair use" and implied license. The 'fair use' part of the opinion is fantastic. But interestingly, the 'implied license' part of the opinion weakens any such claim in the context of Google Book Search." (Lessig).

The Google Book project is a telling study of how Intellectual Property and Fair Use have become a global arena of commodity and access. A online presentation by Professor Lessig Google Book Search: The Argument. Some notes I took from it:

Google Print search as protected under fair use.
Lawrence Lessig
Thumbnail as transformation linking to original work
1. Google as producing a transformation of the original of the original copyrighted work, making it possible to link back to original copyright work, a book that you can buy or borrow from a library. This adds value back to the original copyright work.
2. 17 USC 107 Right of Fair Use:
Markets (actual and potential)
Publishers admit they are not loosing money but they are not part of the innovation. Thus hurting a potential market.
This effect copyrighted works still in print (9-15% of the Google Book Search books)
Google negotiating with publishers to grant access to broadest extent possible.
Copyright is the most inefficient property system devised by humanity
Copyright in the USA reaches back to 1923
No list of copyright owners ("No simply way to know and therefore no way to ask permission")
The Google project therefore impossible.
What Google does with books it does with the WWW.
Possible for authors to have their work removed from the Google book index.
Search engines all profit from the work of others.
A land grab going on as industries recognizing the perverse way copyright law works.
Effect: will stifle the develop new and innovative ways to develop culture
If Google pays in a settlement with AAP as creating a precedent then only a few will be able to afford to undertake such projects in the future.

Interesting times ahead.....

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