Copyright/OCL Interactive Media Social networking

Copyright issues of the digital era hits Second Life

It was bound to happen.

Nick Carr posts about a fascinating development in SecondLife.

Apparently a SL user has created a tool that allows for direct replication of SL objects from within the game. Where many real people and organisations have started to make money from selling unique objects (themselves often virtual copies of real life objects), this new tool allows anyone to replicate, exactly, these virtual objects – in an instant turning the economy based on selling objects into one of endless abundance rather that scarcity, upside down.

As an irate Caliandras Pendragon writes at Second Life Insider, “Those people who are living the dream that is promoted in every article, of earning a RL [real life] income from SL creations, are now living a nightmare in which their source of income may soon be worthless. That’s not to speak of big commercial companies who have paid anything up to 1,000,000 dollars to have their product reproduced in loving detail, who will discover that every Tom, Dick or Harriet may rip off their creation for nothing – and then sell it as their own … If someone wanted to destroy the economy of SL I don’t think they could have found a better way.”

The furor took an ugly turn late last night when, according to the Second Life Herald, a “seething mob” surrounded a CopyBot operation run by Second Life resident GeForce Go. The mob shouted that Go was “ruining their Second Life.” Fearing for her safety, Go closed down her shop and sold her land. In a subsequent “tumultous meeting with dozens of angry and fearful residents all talking at once,” Second Life official Robin Linden “sought to allay fears of any further concern about mass copyright violations.”

Now officially banned by Linden Lab, the company that operates Second Life, CopyBot was, according to reporter Adam Reuters of Reuters’ Second Life bureau, “originally created by libsecondlife, a Linden Lab-supported open source project to reverse engineer the Second Life software … Amid increasing criticism, the group moved to pull the Copybot source code, but on Monday evening Copybot was put up for sale on the online marketplace SLExchange, raising the prospect that it could become widespread.” The resident who is selling the bot, Prim Revolution, demonstrated the machine’s ability by making a precise clone of Adam Reuters himself. Revolution defended the use of CopyBot, saying, “I think the idea of clones and bots is very cool, and I’ll be adding more new features for things like automated go-go dancers at clubs.”

AV Related Copyright/OCL

Channel fragmentation

Those museum staff who came to my presentations earlier this year on Web 2.0 would remember that I talked a bit about the idea of ‘channel fragmentation’ in relation to traditional media. I used the example of cinema releases, DVD sales, cable TV licenses, traditional TV licenses, as well as competition from Copyright infringing distributions (P2P, DVDRs, pirate copies etc).

Here is another great example of channel fragmentation – ‘Giveaways killing DVD cash cow’ – from The Australian that has nothing to do with Copyright infringement.

British newspapers are now giving away free as many DVDs as are being purchased in stores, revealing a silent factor contributing to the decline of Hollywood’s cash cow format.

The cover-mounted DVD giveaways, which have included Prizzi’s Honour and Donnie Darko, devalue the format in the eyes of consumers, one-quarter of whom said they would have bought the same title if they had seen it in shops for a reasonable price, according to a report released on Thursday.


Although most of the major Hollywood studios oppose the newspaper giveaways, the smaller local distributors who have licensed the films are opportunistically doing deals with publishers for short-term gains that can generate as much as £250,000 for a film.

“The argument in favor of this is that the majority of these films have reached the end of their commercial cycle,” Ms Jayalath said. “In many cases, they’re no longer stocked because traditional retailers have a limited amount of space. For the rights holder, it can be the last bite of the cherry.”


Microsoft & Creative Commons

Direct from Mike Madison’s blog

Microsoft Corp. and Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works, have teamed up to release a copyright licensing tool that enables the easy addition of Creative Commons licensing information for works in popular Microsoft® Office applications. The copyright licensing tool will be available free of charge at Microsoft Office Online,, and The tool will enable the 400 million users of Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel® and Microsoft Office PowerPoint® to select one of several Creative Commons licenses from within the specific application.

CC goes mainstream?


[update – CNet story is here.]


New copyright regime in Australia

At last the outcomes of the Attorney general’s Copyright Review have been released.

Kim Weatherall at Lawfont summarises, comments and contextualises the major changes.

There are some very significant moves on the museum front and her commentary is essential reading.

Copyright/OCL Interactive Media Web 2.0

SF Film Festival Video Remix Project

The San Francisco Film Festival has teamed up with Yahoo to allow people to ‘remix’ films from the festival. All online. Its quite amazing.

Take a look at the remixes and try it yourself.

The program allows Festival Web site visitors to reedit, repurpose, remix and mash up an array of clips from selected Festival films. Remixes are then posted back to the site for others to view and enjoy.

Apart from being a total hoot and a chance for people to mess around with the films that they have come to know through the SFIFF 49, the program does have a historical-cultural angle as well. These days, academic types would call the International Remix media mashups “social media” or “user-generated content”.

The program also pays homage to a lineage of cut-and-paste sensibilities that pervade modern media aesthetics, echoing many experiments in cut-up artistic practice such as Kuleshov, Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov’s film tests and Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray’s Dadaist use of ready-mades and absurd juxtapositions. These early experiments (and others like them) helped pave the way for the powerful artistic concept known as montage, which itself has been repurposed and remixed over the years through contemporary practices such as pastiche aesthetics, collage and mashups, which, in turn, owe a huge debt to the breakout of hip-hop turntablism in the early 1970s.

It is in the spirit of such unexpected, vital and fun innovations that we offer you International Remix. This program was developed in collaboration with Yahoo! Research Berkeley and the Institute for Next Generation Internet at San Francisco State University. Besides the online gallery, a selection of the best remixes will screen at Edinburgh Castle.

I wonder what permissions were required from the filmmakers to do this – its a very clever thing and plays off the idea of social media, audience co-creation. Could this ever happen in Australia?

I’m not so sure after the kerfuffle over the Australian Film Commission funding a project (Mod Films’ sci-fi remixable film The Sanctuary) that is to be released under Creative Commons because of moral rights issues (which, don’t exist in the US). See 7.9 and 7.10 below.

Is this an unintended consequence? Moral rights have a long history in Europe and there are plenty of very good justifications for them – not least being the ability of rights holders to refuse the use of their work in exploitative ways.

Moral rights in Australia –

Moral rights

7.7 The Copyright Act also provides creators with certain non-economic rights known as moral rights. They are the right of attribution of authorship of one’s work, (the right to be named in connection with one’s work), the right against false attribution of authorship and the right of integrity of authorship (the right to object to treatment of one’s work that has a detrimental effect on one’s reputation).

7.8 Moral rights apply to all works and films (and works as included in films) that were in existence and still in copyright on 21 December 2000 and all works and films (but not sound recordings) created after that date.

7.9 An author’s right of integrity of authorship in respect of a film is limited to the author’s lifetime. In all other cases, moral rights endure for the term of copyright.

7.10 Due to the personal nature of moral rights, they may not be assigned (ie given away to another) or licensed. It is, however, possible for an author to provide a written consent in relation to certain treatment of his or her work that might otherwise constitute an infringement of moral rights.

7.11 A range of remedies is available for an infringement of moral rights. These include an order for damages, an injunction or a public apology. The Copyright Act provides a general reasonableness defence to actions for infringement of the right of integrity of authorship and the right of attribution of authorship. It also provides specific defences to actions for infringement of the right of integrity of authorship in relation to certain treatment of buildings and moveable artistic works.

(from Attorney General’s Department, Australian Government)


AESharenet’s IP conference podcasts online

AESharenet, an Australian open content licensing organisation set up by the various state education bodies, have put all the sessions from their recent Making the most of creativity: In the public interest conference online.

There are some interesting papers including one by heavyweight Peter Drahos whose book Information Feudalism is a must read.

Copyright/OCL Digital storytelling Interactive Media

Lego Bionicle, power, language, meaning and the global ‘commons’

Excellent, fascinating and thought provoking article, Rhetorical Virtues: Property, Speech, and the Commons on the World-Wide Web by Rosemary coombe and Andrew Herman which examines the particularly American libertarian values behind the current debates around co-creation and digital media.

They look in detail at the Lego Bionicle controversy and the interaction between fan communities who Lego was encourgaing to ‘make meaning’ and effectively remix their toys, and Maori and Polynesian communities whose language and signifiers were ‘appropriated’ not only by Lego but also by these fan communities in their ‘remixes’.

Kataraina’s intervention also sought to disclose the collective social conventions by which the BZ Power virtual community (a “mini-culture” in her words) established rules of communication and interaction that governed their speech. Ownership of property and the sharing of culture is not only socially produced and recognized, it is also contingent upon the specific rules of sociality, reciprocity, and respect that are characteristic of a particular culture’s social space or, to use Kataraina’s term, the norms and values that are embedded in a particular community’s “turf” upon which visitors are greeted and embraced. These cannot be established solely by corporate authors, consumers, or individual creators but will require new forms of collectivity and the negotiation of new forms of digital sociality.

Maori activists ultimately encouraged the users of BZ Power to consider their Lego toys not simply as things to be manipulated, commodities to be consumed, and fantasy objects around which to build imaginary worlds, but as a portal to learning about Maori and other Polynesian cultures, the real faces behind the mask of the commodity fetish Lego had provided them. They linked BZ Power to a number of sites devoted to the preservation and celebration of Maori spirituality. The real point of the dialogue was to introduce an ethics of contingency (Coombe 1998) into cultural circulation. From the Maori point of view, non-Native peoples should recognize the contingency and peculiarity of their own concepts of property and propriety.


Copyright comic!

Although this is based on US law it is a great and engaging look at the issues around Copyright at the moment and the erosion of concept of the ‘public domain’.

A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the “Rocky” theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? “Eyes on the Prize,” the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this new comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary, and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound By Law reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.


Weatherall on CAL and schools paying license fees for the Internet

Kim Weatherall on CAL’s outlandishing push for charging schools for directing students to use the Net rather than photocopies (which they pay CAL a license fee for).

It makes for excellent reading – here’s some excerpts – I’d encourage all to read the whole thing.

Schools use copyright material in Australia under a statutory license (Pt VB of the Act). They pay a yearly fee, usually determined on a per student or per page basis, for copying copyright material, and for communicating copyright material to ‘the public’. (Two of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner in Australia are the right to copy, and the right to communicate to the public. The statutory license allows schools to do this as much as they like, so long as equitable remuneration is paid to copyright owners. Remember, that Australia has no fair use defence). The system (at least for literary/artistic works) is administered by the Copyright Agency Limited. The Copyright Tribunal sets rates, and surveys are done to see what copying is happening. There is a current dispute between CAL and the Schools of Australia, regarding the rates appropriate for electronic copying/communication/use. In that context, CAL is saying that one things that should be included in the ‘survey’ used for sampling – to see how much is going on – is when teachers ‘Tell Students to View’ material online. The Schools say this shouldn’t be on the questionnaire. CAL apparently have several arguments as to why it should be. But the one that is generating all the heat and light right now is this one: that when students view something online, a remunerable act occurs.

But wait a minute. How can it possibly be argued that schools should pay in this situation? Schools pay for their of copying or communicating a work, for their educational purposes. If a student clicks on a link, or goes to a site, how is the school doing any copying? Or communicating to the public? CAL’s argument is that when a student clicks on a link they have been told to view, or types in the URL, that student is communicating the work to the public – because they are electronically transmitting the material to themselves, and they are the ‘copyright owner’s public’.

then . . . .

A couple of final comments are appropriate. I noted at the outset that one reason why this argument might be being made is because CAL are concerned that increasing use of the Internet in schools will cannibalise the copying previously made under the educational statutory licenses. If teachers, and lecturers provide lists of links, instead of copies of readings, CAL might have reason to be concerned that copying will, indeed, drop. I can understand such a concern. But there are two reasons why it should not be dealt with this way.

First, as I noted at the outset, remuneration is provided through the statutory licenses in recognition of the fact that copying is an exclusive right of the copyright owner, and most particularly, because copyright owners suffer some loss when copying occurs in schools and universities. This is of course particularly true for educational books. If schools could just copy educational texts, they would buy one and copy. Thus a statutory license is appropriate. The point here is that we are talking about publicly available material on the Internet. The copyright owner in those circumstances makes a choice to put stuff online. They cannot be expecting to be remunerated. If you want to be paid, put it behind a wall.

Second, concerns like cannibalisation should be dealt with openly, through debate. Not by attempting to stretch statutory provisions beyond their natural reach. If copyright owners want us to consider the creation of an exclusive right to view online, let’s have the debate. In Parliament. I think I know which way that debate would go.

One final point. The legal argument I’ve discussed here is only one aspect of CAL’s case, as I understand it. There is more, much more to the whole thing. What I’ve examined here is one legal argument – but an important, and truly radical one.


Copyright madness

Read this.

What happened to ‘fair dealing’ and use of Copyrighted material for purposes of ‘study’ and ‘research’?

SCHOOLS have warned they will have to turn off the internet if a move by the nation’s copyright collection society forces them to pay a fee every time a teacher instructs students to browse a website.

Teachers said students in rural areas would bear the brunt of cuts if the Copyright Agency was successful in adding internet browsing charges to the $31 million in photocopying fees it rakes in from schools.
The agency calculates the total due by randomly sampling schools each year for materials they copy, and extrapolating the results.

The battle between the schools and the agency will go to the Federal Court over its attempts to make schools pay for asking students to use the web.

Negotiations between the Ministerial Council on Education Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, representing the schools, and the agency have broken down over plans to change the scheme to include a question in the survey on whether teachers direct students to use the internet.

“If it turned out we’d have to pay them, we’d turn the internet off in schools,” the council’s national copyright director Delia Browne said.

“We couldn’t afford it; it would not be sustainable. How on earth are we going to deliver education in the 21st century? How are taxpayers going to afford this.”