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The Public Domain Shrinks as the Supreme Court Decides

Last week, January 18, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a copyright case that has broad implications for educators who use or perform musical works.  In Golan, et al., v. Holder the Court upheld Congress’s authority to withdraw works from the public domain and put them back under copyright protection.  If someone wants to resume the use or performance of a work after it regains copyright, they must pay for the privilege, the decision made clear. 

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New Code of Best Practices in Fair Use Released

Today, January 26, 2012, the Center for Social Media at American University, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and the Washington College of Law at American University released its Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, part of a series of codes developed by practitioner communities that are designed to assist those communities in interpreting and applying fair use under United States copyright law.  The code was developed through interviews at a diverse array of academic and research institutions throughout the United States. 

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Supreme Court Rules that a Warrant is Necessary for GPS Tracking

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday, January 23, 2012 that police must get a search warrant before they attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car.  The decision, however, is also notable for the privacy issues it does not settle.

In separate opinions, the justices raised questions about how much privacy people can expect as they buy GPS-enabled smartphones and cars equipped with tracking devices meant for safety, but which may be susceptible to misuse by government – even as they agreed that the FBI went too far in this case.

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DNS Provisions to be Removed from SOPA

Today, January 13, 2012, Rep. Smith (R-TX), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that he plans to remove the controversial DNS provisions from the “Stop Online Piracy” (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) bill.  In a statement Smith said, “After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the “Stop Online Piracy Act” so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.  We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.”

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European Union to Focus on Digital Content Policy in 2012

The Digital Agenda for Europe, a project of the European Union (EU), issued its Annual Progress Report for 2011on December 22nd.  The project’s primary goal is creating a single digital market to boost entertainment download and streaming services across borders, including simplifying content licensing and harmonizing online payments access.

The key provisions in Europe’s big digital content policy project for 2012 include:

Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

The U.S. Copyright Office has issued its report on Federal Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings. The report, prepared after receiving written and oral input from stakeholders, recommends that sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 be brought into the federal copyright regime.

Congress instructed the Copyright Office to conduct a study on the desirability of and means for bringing pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal copyright regime. Congress directed that study was to cover the effect of federal coverage on the preservation of such sound recordings, the effect on public access to those recordings, and the economic impact of federal coverage on rights holders. The study was also to examine the means for accomplishing such coverage.

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Copyright Office Announces Proposals Received in DMCA Anticircumvention Rulemaking

The United States Copyright Office seeks comments on proposals to exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. In September 2011, the Office initiated a rulemaking proceeding in accordance with provisions added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that provide that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention. The purpose of this rulemaking is to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention. This notice publishes the classes of works received by the Office that were proposed by several parties in the comment period that ended on December 1, 2011.

SOPA Markup on Hold

The House Judiciary Committee postponed the Wednesday, December 21, 2011 markup of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) (H.R.3261) because the House would not be in session, according to a committee staff person.  The markup will likely resume early next year.  The earliest the committee could meet would be January 17, 2012 when the House session resumes.  The committee began its markup of the bill on Thursday, December 15, 2011 and voted on 28 of the proposed 66 amendments before adjourning on Friday, December 16, 2011 due to a series of House floor votes.

SOPA-PIPA-OPEN: Where are we now?

EDUCAUSE has been blogging about PIPA and SOPA and their impacts on campus networks if either were enacted.  See blog posts May 25th, July 8th, July 15th, October 28th, November 15th, December 1st for background information.  EDUCAUSE is also following the new OPEN Act that was released yesterday.

OPEN: Alternative to SOPA/PIPA Released

Today, Sen. Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Issa (R-CA) released their alternative to SOPA (H.R. 3261) and PROTECT IP (PIPA)(S. 968).  The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act is “built to protect creative ownership in American while securing the open, accessible Internet …”  What is particularly interesting is that they have put up an entire website called KeepThe, which is designed to encourage participation and feedback.