Tag Archives: copyright

Despite Boycott, GoDaddy Still Supports SOPA

As if there weren’t enough reasons to not do business with GoDaddy, they recently made it clear that they not only support SOPA, but that they were involved in the authoring of the bill.

Polis pointed out that SOPA and Smith’s amendment already excluded certain operators of sub-domains, such as GoDaddy.com, from being subject to shutdowns under SOPA.

Even with that lesser-publicized fact aside, GoDaddy’s support of SOPA has spurred a large boycott, which they have met with a cavalier attitude (“we have not seen any impact to our business”) and some fuzzy PR-speak leading people to believe that they no longer support the bill, while they still do.

If you are looking to leave GoDaddy, or someone you know is, there are plenty of alternatives.

Domains: Name.com, Moniker, Gandi.net, Hover (Tucows), 1and1

Shared Hosting: HostGator, Media Temple, Site5, WPWebHost, A Small Orange, Nearly Free Speech

VPS Hosting: VPS.net, Linode, Media Temple, Rackspace

Universal Censors Podcast on YouTube for Mentioning Megaupload Music Video Takedown

Universal Music has been getting a lot of bad publicity online lately, after they filed a takedown request and illegally removed a music video produced by Megaupload from YouTube. The song, featuring several mainstream pop celebrities, is original work and the accusation of copyright infringement has caused some head-scratching. Megaupload is now suing Universal over the abuse of the DMCA.

Tech News Today, a podcast in the TWiT network, covered the story in Monday’s episode, just like various blogs have done since the news broke. Since Tech News Today is cross-published to TWiT’s YouTube channel, they have, strangely, been dragged into the fight. A few hours after the show went up, it was taken down from YouTube on “copyright grounds,” at the request of Universal. That’s right, a panel of pundits talks about a news story involving Universal, plays a 5-10 second snippet of the song that Megaupload produced, and their video gets a DMCA takedown request.

TWiT sent a counter-notice later, and the video was restored, only to have it taken down again by Universal shortly after. TWiT is currently on their second counter-notice.

This farce is dragging into the spotlight a problem that has long been an issue with the DMCA. The law is used just as often to censor criticism and squash fair use as to take down legitimate infringements. Since the defendant usually has to go to court in order to fight the takedown, which is expensive and time-consuming for individuals, the large businesses filing the claim can usually get away with it.

Update: TNT talks in greater detail about the issue in Episode 392: Conspiracy Theory Tuesday.

Blockbuster to Still Get New Releases, While Netflix and Redbox Have to Wait

Back in January I mentioned that Warner Brothers was pushing Netflix and Redbox into deals where they would not receive new DVDs until 28 days after the release date. (WB being under the impression that making it more difficult to rent films will cause people to buy them instead…) I said that I disapproved of that sort of customer-corralling, and thought it to be a rather bad business practice.

Well, it seems it’s time for an update on that…

Blockbuster, the decaying brick-and-mortar movie rental behemoth, will still be getting their new releases as they come out. The deal inked with Warner Brothers doesn’t just give Blockbuster a competitive edge to prop-up their failing business with, but it may mean that Blockbuster will be the only rental service to have new releases on their launch date.

In its announcement, Warner reaffirmed its commitment to assuring that Blockbuster remains the “only multichannel provider that has every hot new movie on the day of its release.” Indeed, with the agreements it struck with more innovative and competitive movie rental services like Netflix and Redbox, Blockbuster really is the only mainstream way for people to get movies on release day without buying them.

Can you say antitrust?

Viacom Uploads Their Content to YouTube While Suing Them for it Being There

For the last couple years, there has been an ongoing legal battle between YouTube and Viacom. Viacom has been protesting their content’s presence on YouTube, demanding that they do more to prevent clips from being uploaded, and referring to the site as a bastion of piracy.

The plot is thickening, as a recent blog posting from YouTube shows.

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

It’s hard to tell whether this was an intentional plot against YouTube, or if this is a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. The music industry, also, has had mishaps where the marketing arm distributed songs online as a promotion, only to have the legal department send DMCA notices to the sites hosting the music. It’s certainly possible that the hired marketing agencies were trying to artificially kickstart “viral marketing” campaigns with the “roughed up” video clips, and the legal teams were unaware. Either way, it’s bad.

Defending Your Blog’s Copyright

ProBlogger has a new guest post up, by Gary from DevOracles.com, on how to stop scrapers from profiting from your work. The article explains how to write Cease and Decist letters and DMCA takedown notices, and who to send them to.

The post recommends starting with the copyright infringer, and if they don’t respond to the C&D in a week or so, or refuse to comply, sending a DMCA takedown to their host. It also suggests letting Google know of the infringement so they could penalize the site in their results, as well as sending a message to Google’s AdSense branch if the scraper is running their ads.

I have found these methods to work in the past, though mainly I haven’t had many problems with scrapers lately. In the past I have had to take action against them, such as the one that had been hanging out at webmaster-source.blogspot.com.

Keep in mind that it’s against the AdSense Terms of Service to place ads on plagiarized work. So if you let Google know of the infringement, they will likely take the ads down, removing the incentive for the scraper to continue making things hard for you.

Stop the U.S. Orphan Works Act

A bill called the “Orphan Works Act” is pending in Congress. If approved, the bill would adversely affect U.S. copyright law, and cause major problems for individuals.

Currently, in the United States, a creative work such as a blog post, web design, podcast, video, or photo is protected by Copyright as soon as you create it, and until 100 years after you die. If you are unsure of the workings of U.S. Copyright, see this primer for further information.

If the Orphan Works Act is passed, all of your copyright holdings will be retroactively “orphaned” and lose their associated protections. You will have to register each of them with the federal Copyright Office in order to regain said protection. In addition, any future work of yours will have to be registered as well. This registration will cost a fee, and will likely be too expensive for most individuals to pay.

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Reminder: Update Your Copyright Notice

It’s 2009 now, which means it’s time to update an important part of your website that is easy to overlook: The copyright notice in your footer.

If you haven’t already updated the line of text, which should read something along the lines of “©2009 Your Name,” you should probably take the time to do so now. It looks unprofessional to have it be outdated, and can give the impression that a site isn’t currently being maintained by the owner.

If you get tired of updating the notice from year to year, you could use a PHP statement to automatically update the year. Just put something like <php echo date("Y"); ?> in place of the year.

Should you even have such a notice? Yes, while it’s not necessary to have in order to retain copyright on the works on the site, it does serve as a method to inform the general public that you are indeed the copyright holder.

For more information on copyright notices, and U.S. copyright law in general, see Copyright.gov. Other countries may have wildly different laws, which may or may not effect how you format the notice in your site footer. Either way, it would be a good idea to read up on such matters.