Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Online Course Offers Guide to Online Media Law for Bloggers and Others

The Poynter Institute's News University is launching a new e-learning course on media law designed specifically for individuals and journalists engaged in online publishing. Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers addresses defamation, privacy and copyright - three important areas of media law that affect bloggers and others who are reporting on events in their communities and helping to hold those in power accountable (

"Many people are using online publishing as a way to participate in the democratic process by reporting on local, regional and national events. This course allows NewsU to broaden its reach and bring educational opportunities to those who may not have a journalism background, as well as to experienced journalists who are launching their own blogs," said Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning at The Poynter Institute. NewsU is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Poynter.

Online Media Law, which is being offered free to registered users of NewsU, was co-authored by David Ardia, Director of the Citizen Media Law Project, and Geanne Rosenberg, Chair of the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at City University of New York's Baruch College and author of the Top Ten Rules to Limit Legal Risk .

The course was developed in partnership with the Media Bloggers Association with contributions from the Citizen Media Law Project, which is jointly affiliated with Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Citizen Media; City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism and Baruch College; and Media/Professional Insurance.

The course, which includes games and learning exercises, is designed to help participants understand their legal rights and responsibilities associated with their online publishing activities so they can protect themselves against lawsuits. The online course also provides resources to help bloggers and others improve the accuracy and quality of their reporting.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ICT Industry Moves To Address Copyright Confusion

"A deeply flawed law that undermines fundamental rights and simply will not work."

That is what the telecommunications industry, internet service providers, user groups, internet advocates and IT professionals think of parts of the recently passed Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act.

The TCF is today announcing steps to create a Code of Practice to guide ISPs and internet users through a legislative minefield created by section 92A of the Copyright Act.

"Section 92A has achieved one thing, and one thing only", TCF CEO Ralph Chivers said today, "uniting the ICT sector and others who will be affected in an unprecedented show of solidarity against it".

"While we recognise that the Act has introduced a number of positive measures, some hastily inserted last-minute changes have placed an unacceptable burden on internet service providers and have the potential to significantly undermine the legal rights of internet users", Mr Chivers said.

Section 92A, when it is brought into force, will require ISPs to "reasonably implement" a policy to disconnect "in appropriate circumstances" the internet services of users who have repeatedly downloaded or uploaded infringing music, movies, games and other copyright material.

"The Act gives no guidance on what 'reasonably implement' or 'in appropriate circumstances' mean," Mr Chivers said. "This leaves the door wide open to those who seek disconnection of an alleged repeat infringer based on flimsy evidence, or worse, allegations alone."

"Identifying repeat offenders will not be easy. A complex data matching exercise will be required, and even then it will not always be clear who the real offender is, particularly when an internet account is used by a family, a business or a school. The potential for an alleged offender to be denied natural justice is significant. For these reasons, a court order backed up by solid evidence would normally be required before taking such invasive action."

"Businesses support the need to protect intellectual property, and we are sympathetic to the significant problems the music, movie and gaming industries face. However, balance is the key. Protecting one person's interests at the expense of others is completely inappropriate," Chivers said.

InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson agrees. "The potential for infringement of human rights is a significant concern to us. Arguably one of the great benefits of the Internet has been the strengthening of human rights and the development of democratic freedoms around the world. However, this law change has the potential for Internet users to have their service disconnected on very weak grounds, undermining the fundamental right of 'innocent until proven guilty'."

"Rights holders and the industry need to work together, to find more pragmatic solutions. We need to preserve the service providers' obligations to offer unencumbered access to the Internet for their customers but at the same time find ways to adequately protect copyright," Davidson said.

Internet Service Providers Association President Jamie Baddeley likened the situation to putting private security guards in to quell a riot without body armour. "The worst aspect of this law is that it provides no protection to ISPs who try and implement the law's requirements in good faith. They are exposed to legal risk from their customers if they act, and to legal risk from copyright holders if they do not. They are caught in the middle without any form of legal protection and will be required to go through a costly and complex process to solve a problem that is not of their making," Mr Baddeley said. "This has the potential to put some of our smaller innovative members out of business - undoing a lot of the great work the government has previously done to develop a more competitive environment."

"It is unacceptable that Parliament has placed the burden of sorting out this mess on ISPs," TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman said. "ISPs in New Zealand are socially responsible; it's not their job to interpret and enforce vague laws, particularly when they interfere with their customers' rights. Worse still, the definition of ISP in the Act captures schools, universities, and libraries – in fact just about anyone who provides internet access to someone else. The loose language Parliament has included in the legislation will require an army of lawyers to interpret, at the expense of ISPs and ultimately, their customers."

"The New Zealand Computer Society strongly supports protection of Intellectual Property, but this isn't the way to do it", NZCS's Chief Executive Paul Matthews added. "You could use the same flawed justification that underpins this law to force The Warehouse to ban someone from shopping there for their food and clothes just because they are accused of copying a few DVDs that they have bought. Yes, copyright infringement is wrong, but it needs to be proven first and the penalty kept in proportion. Termination of all internet access in this day and age of online education, social networking and electronic services is a huge penalty," Matthews said. "This is simply bad law whichever way you look at it."

Cheryl Horo from Women in Technology pointed to the value of solving the underlying issues. "Ultimately it is in all of our interests to ensure that artists, as with our technology businesses, receive a fair return on their investments. New Zealand's film, music and gaming industries are increasingly dependent on advanced information technology - it is in all of our interests to help these sectors grow and develop. Education will play an important role in progressing this issue."

Recognising the difficulties created by s92A, the TCF is developing a Code of Practice aimed at providing a consistent and workable approach to meeting the requirements of the Act.

"We are grateful for the early work done on this issue by InternetNZ," Mr Chivers said. "We will build on this work to create an industry code that has wide buy-in, so that users are appropriately protected and ISPs are able to continue providing services without unnecessary legal risk."

"The TCF will continue to consult widely as we develop the Code, including with copyright holder groups. We accept that copyright infringement is a problem and we will do our part to ensure it is appropriately managed," Chivers said.

"In our view, it makes sense to delay the introduction of section 92A to give time for the Code to be developed. In our discussions with copyright holders and government we have stressed the need to find a better way of managing this problem – section 92A as it stands simply won't cut it. Regardless, it will be the responsibility of the next Parliament to repair the problems caused by this deeply flawed legislation."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frank testifies in support of copyright protection for scientific publishers

Martin Frank, the executive director of The American Physiological Society and coordinator of the DC Principles Coalition, testified before a U.S. House subcommittee in support of HR 6845, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.

The bill was introduced in response to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requirement that final peer-reviewed manuscripts based upon NIH-funded research be published on its web site within 12 months of publication in a scientific journal. HR 6845 would "prohibit the NIH from requiring the transfer of rights to publish a peer-reviewed journal article." The bill is pending before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

"NIH has undermined our publishing activities by diminishing a basic principle under copyright -- the right to control the distribution of the works we publish," Frank said. "The NIH could have provided access to their funded research without diminishing copyright protections."

The NIH has said that it has rights to the articles because the agency funded the research, Frank told the subcommittee. However, the NIH takes the articles only after the publisher has done the heavy lifting of validating the science through the costly and time consuming peer review process, he said. By protecting copyright, HR 6845 would help maintain the viability of the robust peer review process that helps ensure the quality and integrity of scientific research.

"We are gravely concerned that the funding base of some journals may be eroded to the point where they can no longer adequately serve their scholarly communities," Frank said. Without HR 6845, some publishers may be forced to increase their authors' fees at a time when funding for research is shrinking.

Frank pointed out that the NIH could have followed Congress's direction under the America COMPETES Act, which authorized the National Science Foundation to provide access to research reports, summaries of journal articles and citations to the copyrighted articles, rather than the articles themselves. The NIH also could have worked with publishers to provide access through existing links to journal article abstracts posted on PubMed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

University of Texas at Austin Adopts CCC's Annual Copyright License

The University of Texas at Austin -- one of the largest public universities in the United States -- is moving quickly to make it easier for faculty and staff to use published materials for a range of educational purposes. The university has signed an agreement with Copyright Clearance Center to become the latest -- and now the largest -- institution to adopt CCC's Annual Copyright License for academic institutions, providing librarians, faculty, copy shop staff and others with pre-approved permission to use content in coursepacks, e-reserves, course management systems, research collaboration and more.

CCC introduced the annual license only last year. Already, hundreds of publishers have signed on to participate, including many leading book, journal, newspaper and magazine publishers as well as a number of leading university presses. And more are joining every week. In all, more than 1 million books, scholarly journals, newspapers, magazine and other sources are available for educational use under the license. Participating publishers include Elsevier, Dow Jones, Harvard Business School Publishing and the American Medical Association.

"CCC's license allows us to address workflow efficiencies in a high volume operation," said Fred Heath, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries, University of Texas at Austin. "It enables us to effectively address the broad spectrum of copyright issues while enabling our faculty to concentrate on classroom instruction."

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the country's leading research institutions. It has more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 21,000 faculty and staff, 16 colleges and 17 libraries containing more than 9 million volumes.

"The University of Texas at Austin is taking a leadership role in adopting this license and we look forward to working with them to continue to meet the ever-changing needs of faculty, staff and students," said Tracey Armstrong, CEO and President of CCC. "In the year since we introduced the annual license, we've been strongly encouraged by the positive reception from publishers and academic institutions alike. We believe this is a model for the future."

In all, more than 30 colleges and universities have adopted the CCC's annual license in the short time it has been available. Others include: Middlebury College, Suffolk University, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the United States Army Command & Staff College.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Noted Copyright Law Professor Lawrence Lessig to Discuss Influence of Greed and Corruption on American Institutions

Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford University copyright law-guru turned anti-corruption crusader, will delve into the threat of avarice on institutions ranging from universities to the U.S. Congress during the 2008 SFI Annual Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh. Presented by the Sara Fine Institute (SFI) in Pitt's School of Information Sciences, the lecture begins at 3 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Teplitz Memorial Courtroom of Pitt's Barco Law Building, 3900 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

Lessig will present "A Declaration for Independence," an exploration on the negative influence of money in the United States' most important institutions and the developing movement to counteract it. Lessig is the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He is best known for his work on copyright law, particularly as it regards technology. Lessig recently changed his focus to 'non-obvious corruption," in which people in power make decisions in exchange for an indirect gain.

Lessig is the founder of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, contracts, and the law of cyberspace. He represented Web site operator Eric Eldred in the groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court case 'Eldred v. Ashcroft," a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, and was named one of 'Scientific American's" Top 50 Visionaries for arguing 'against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online." Lessig is the author of 'Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" (Basic Books, 2000), 'The Future of Ideas" (Random House, 2001), 'Free Culture" (Penguin Press, 2004), and 'Code Version 2.0" (Basic Books, 2006).

For more information about the school, visit

Friday, September 19, 2008

Richlin V. Mgm: Coauthor of Movie Treatment Does not Automatically Own Movie Copyright


In April 1962, Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards wrote a 14-page treatment for a movie then entitled "The Pink Rajah" – later renamed "The Pink Panther." In May 1962, Richlin and Edwards entered into an employment agreement with the Mirisch Corporation to write the screenplay for the movie as a "work made for hire." 531 F.3d at 965. Later that same month, Richlin and Edwards executed a literary assignment agreement, transferring and assigning all of their rights in the Pink Panther story to Mirisch, including the right to copyright the treatment, renew the copyright, and retain all benefits therefrom. Id.

The first "Pink Panther" movie was released in 1963, followed by nine sequels, many of which credited Richlin and Edwards with creation of the characters. The first such movie indicates a copyright notice of 1963 in the name of Mirisch and G&E Productions. The U.S. Copyright Office issued a certification of registration for the "motion picture" entitled "The Pink Panther" in 1964. Id. The treatment itself was never registered or separately published.

Richlin died in 1990. The 1963 copyright on the movie was set to expire in 1991, but it was renewed that year by Mirisch's successors-in-interest, MGM-Pathe Communications Co./ Geoffrey Productions Inc. (collectively "MGM"). No one attempted to renew any copyright on the treatment or the screenplay. Id. at 966.

In November 1992, MGM sent Richlin's widow a check for "payment in full for any rights used in or relating to [Son of Pink Panther] that are owned or controlled by Maurice Richlin or by you pursuant to the Writers Guild of America agreement or otherwise." Id. at n.6. Though the check was paid pursuant to a 1965 settlement agreement between Richlin, Edwards and Mirisch, the money and the letter alerted Richlin's heirs to the possibility that they might own rights to the Pink Panther series.

Richlin's heirs filed suit in federal court in the Central District of California seeking declaratory relief and an accounting. They asserted a 50% renewal interest in the treatment and all derivative works, including all of the Pink Panther movies. The district court found that the plaintiffs had no such rights and granted summary judgment in favor of MGM. On appeal, the ninth circuit agreed. Richlin v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, 531 F.3d 962 (9th Cir. 2008).

Richlin did not coauthor the movie and thus has no copyright interests in the movie

The Richlin heirs asserted two legal theories in support of their claim, both of which were rejected by the courts. First, the plaintiffs claimed that because Richlin coauthored the treatment, which was a substantial component of the movie, he is also by definition a coauthor of the movie. 531 F.3d at 967.

As coauthor of the movie, Richlin would have an interest in the movie's copyright. Although Richlin assigned all copyright renewal rights, he died prior to the renewal date. An assignment of renewal rights is only effective if the author/assignor is alive at the time of the renewal term, because only then does the renewal interest actually vest in the author. Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 220 (1990). The Richlin heirs claimed that because Richlin died before the renewal term, the pre-vesting assignment was ineffective and the copyright interest reverted to them. 531 F.3d 962, n.5.

In determining whether Richlin coauthored the movie, the courts turned to Aalmuhammed v. Lee, 202 F.3d 1227, 1234 (9th Cir. 2000). Aalmuhammed sets forth three criteria to determine whether a work is jointly authored as defined under section 101 of the 1976 Copyright Act:(1)

1) Whether the "putative authors ma[de] objective manifestations of a shared intent to be coauthors;" a contract evidencing that intent is dispositive;
2) Whether the "author superintended the work by exercising control -- often the most important factor; and
3) Whether "the audience appeal of the work" can be attributed to both authors and whether "the share of each in its success cannot be appraised." Id.

The courts agreed that Richlin undoubtedly coauthored the treatment. However, the treatment "is not the appropriate reference point." 531 F.3d at 968. The lawsuit was premised on the claim that Richlin's coauthorship of the treatment automatically made him coauthor of the copyrighted motion picture. Therefore, the court had to apply the Aalmuhammed factors to determine whether Richlin was coauthor of the movie, not the treatment. Id.

The first Aalmuhammed factor went against the plaintiffs, as Richlin executed an Assignment dispositively indicating that Richlin "did not intend" to be a coauthor by virtue of his manifested intent to convey away all present and future interests in the treatment and its derivative works. Id. at 969-970. Richlin also executed an employment agreement indicating that the script was a "work for hire," another contractual provision inconsistent with an intent to establish coauthorship. Id.

The second Aalmuhammed factor easily lay in MGM's favor, as Richlin never exercised any supervisory powers or control over the movie. Id. at 970. Though Richlin co-wrote the screenplay as a work for hire, that does not equate to control over the creation of the movie. Id.

Though the third Aalmuhammed factor arguably favored the plaintiffs, the court stated: "Given that the two primary Aalmuhammed factors weigh most heavily in favor of Appellees, we hold that Richlin was not a coauthor of the Motion Picture. Therefore, there is no renewal interest in the Motion Picture that might conceivably have vested in the Richlin heirs under a theory of coauthorship." Id.

The treatment was not copyrighted by virtue of publication of the movie

The plaintiffs' second argument theorized that although the treatment itself was never published or the subject of federal statutory copyright, it obtained statutory copyright protection by virtue of publication of the movie, which incorporated portions of the treatment. The Richlin heirs claimed that because Richlin died before the renewal rights in the treatment vested, those rights reverted to them. Id. at 971. They further asserted that MGM's renewal of the movie copyright renewed their statutory copyright in the treatment, and because the movie incorporates the treatment, they co-own the movie's copyright. Id.

Under the 1909 Copyright Act, which governed the treatment, unpublished works were protected by state law while published works received federal copyright protection. Id. Accordingly, when Richlin and Edwards assigned the treatment to Mirisch, California common law copyright protections applied – that law held that an author's transfer of rights in a work prior to first publication completely and forever divested the author of his copyright interest, making the transferee the copyright holder. Id. at 972. Mirisch's subsequent publication of movie containing copyrightable elements of the treatment secured federal statutory protection for the movie and protected the screenplays and treatments incorporated in the movie. Id. at 973 and 975-976.

However, the court noted that although the movie's federal copyright protection did extend to those copyrightable elements of the treatment that were components of the movie, "this did not constitute publication of the Treatment ‘as such' – i.e., as a work standing alone." Id. at 973. The court deferred to the Register of Copyright's interpretation of the copyright statutes as holding that publication of a portion of a work does not necessarily constitute publication of the work as a whole. Id. Therefore, the movie's publication that incorporated parts of the treatment did not invest the treatment with separate statutory protection. Id. at 973 and 975-976.(2)

Richlin and Edwards would have had to separately and independently publish the treatment in order to secure copyright protection for it under the 1909 Act – they failed to do so. Id. at n.14. Because the treatment never received independent federal copyright protection, there was no right to renew anything, and nothing reverted to the Richlin heirs. Id. at 974 and 976-977.


The lesson from Richlin is clear - in order for an author to claim copyright protection for a treatment, screenplay, or any other components of a motion picture, he or she must secure federal copyright protection by separate and independent publication and/or registration of the treatment or screenplay.

The Richlin case may have had more to do with the plaintiffs' unsubstantiated greed than with resolving challenging issues of law. The contracts Richlin executed with Mirisch were clear and conclusive; the check Richlin's widow received related to a settlement agreement, not questionable current copyright interests. The court did not have to forge new legal ground in deciding this case – it merely showed the plaintiffs why their arguments failed under existing precedent. The plaintiffs likely spent a lot of money on legal fees to fight this losing battle.

The levity in the court's opinion reflects the lack of challenge it faced with this case. The opinion begins with: "Inspector Jacques Clouseau, famously unable to crack the simplest of murder cases, would most certainly be confounded by the case we face. While Inspector Clouseau searched for the answer to the question, "Who did it?" we must search for the answer to the question, "Who owns it?"… Although the Richlin heirs have developed several theories that could supply the answer to the question, "Who owns it?", unlike Inspector Clouseau, they have not quite stumbled upon a theory that favors them." CITE

(1) Section 101 of the 1976 Copyright Act defines "joint work" as "a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole." 17 U.S.C. section 101 (1976). The copyright claims at issue are governed by the 1909 Copyright Act, not the 1976 Act, and the 1909 Act does not expressly address joint authorship. However, courts regularly applied the common law definition of join authorship to the 1909 Act. Section 101 of the 1976 Act incorporated the same definition that had been in use in the courts. Therefore, the Richlin courts determined that it was appropriate to reference interpretations of the 1976 Act language to the Richlin case, even though the 1976 Act did not, in general, apply to the underlying claims.

(2) The court referenced a decision by the Copyright Office Board of Appeals that "an unpublished underlying work that is incorporated into a statutorily copyrighted motion picture does not receive a statutorily copyright independent of the motion picture's copyright." CITE, citing Husbands, Copyright Office Board of Appeals Letter, Control No. 10-600-754-2(C), at 6 (May 14, 2002).

About the Author:

Ms. Campos is an Associate at Zuber & Taillieu LLP, where she specializes in entertainment and intellectual property law. She earned a J.D. from Stanford University School of Law, and B.A.'s in History and Ethinicity Race & Migration from Yale University. She graduated both universities with honors

Thursday, September 18, 2008

'Cite Them Right' New Edition Aims to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism

After extensive consultation with users of the previous editions, the new revised and expanded edition of 'Cite them right' ( ), the renowned guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism written by Richard Pears and Graham Shields, will be available in bookshops from September 5, 2008.

Plagiarism is a major concern in education and publishing, with frequent reports of students and writers copying information from the internet and passing it off as their own work. Poor time management, cultural differences, low information literacy skills, pressure to publish or get the best grades for money invested in educational fees are all cited as reasons why students (and some academics, journalists and authors) have resorted to plagiarism. Detection technology is widely used in educational institutions to catch those who inadvertently, or willingly, take shortcuts.

There is another way: education. 'Cite them right: the essential referencing guide', provides advice on key areas of academic writing and avoiding plagiarism, including paraphrasing, secondary referencing and the use of quotations. It gives clear examples of how to provide correct references to every source of information, from books, journals and the internet to legal sources, text messages, vodcasts and works of art.

Concentrating as before on Harvard style referencing, new sections summarise alternative referencing styles published by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) and the Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). Sample passages of text and reference lists demonstrate how students and writers can incorporate information sources in their writing without resorting to plagiarism and instead demonstrate their mastery of key writing skills.

Graham Shields, co-author of 'Cite them right', stresses: "A lot of the debate about plagiarism concentrates on detection and sanctions. We believe that education and the development of lifelong writing skills are more effective means to prevent plagiarism."

Richard Pears, co-author of 'Cite them right', notes: "We have received many positive comments and support for the previous editions from tutors, librarians and students. We were keen to involve them in making this new edition even more user-friendly."

'Cite them right: the essential referencing guide' (ISBN 9780955121616) is available from

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Protect Yourself from Identity Fraud

You may have laughed at the commercials on television where an actor's voice that is obviously different from the actor's body talks about making all kinds of purchases through stolen credit card information. But identity fraud is nothing to joke about, especially considering that the total value of identity fraud in the United States was $56.6 billion in 2006, according to a June 2006 survey from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer information group.

Additionally, a May 2006 report entitled "The Demographics of ID Fraud" published by Javelin Strategy & Research asserts that Hispanics and African Americans have a 56 percent higher chance of becoming victims of identity fraud than other consumers. The report also found that identity fraud perpetrated on Hispanic and African American victims takes longer to detect.

It used to be that identity thieves would have to rummage through garbage and steal information from items like discarded receipts and credit statements, or eavesdrop on a potential victim making a transaction. Our technological era has created more possibilities for thieves. Some hack into computer databases that carry extensive personal information. Others use email to disguise themselves as trustworthy companies, gain a victim's trust, and acquire a victim's sensitive information, a technique known as "phishing."

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) home page on identity theft at gives some signs that you may be a victim of identity fraud, including unusual credit card purchases on your statements and unexplained credit denials. If this has happened, you should immediately close the tampered account and file a police report. The FTC also gives consumers tips to deter thieves and contact information if you have been victimized. Some rules to remember:

* Shred any documents with personal information before you throw them in the trash.

* Don't give your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary.

* Don't click on links in unsolicited "spam" emails.

* Keep all your personal information in a secure, hidden place.

* Don't give out personal information by telephone, mail or internet unless you know the other party well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"How to Copyright Songs" Service

ProveMyCopyright allows artists to copyright protect all their songs, lyrics and music in a single account at one low price.

How to copyright songs?

The online copyright registry for musicians,, today launched the latest improvement to the service which allows artists to copyright songs, copyright song lyrics, copyright music and much more.

The new service for both existing and new customers worldwide is an increase in their account size from 1Gb to 5Gb, but with no extra cost.

Douglas Baxter, Account Specialist at said: "ProveMyCopyright allows musicians to register the copyright to songs, by allowing them to upload them to a special account where they are fingerprinted and timestamped. This gives independent third party proof that the creator holds the copyright."

"We recognize the importance of allowing artists to show a trail of demos etc that prove they were the original creators and that is why we have always offered large accounts so artists can upload as many songs as they wish to register for copyright without having to worry about increasing costs."

"Now we have taken this to the next level by giving 5Gb accounts where artists can instantly register copyright on literally 1000's of songs at the one low price."

The team at also include free storage of all your copyright-able files for 10 years after the lifetime of your account which means that your files will be safely backed-up in case you every had a crash on your home computer.

The ProveMyCopyright service is available world wide and more information on how to copyright songs can be found at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Author Solutions Fined $50,000

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), the voice of the world's commercial software industry, has reached a settlement with Author Solutions of Bloomington, IN. Author Solutions paid BSA $50,000 for having unlicensed copies of Adobe, Microsoft, and Symantec software installed on its computers. As part of the settlement agreement, the company agreed to delete all unlicensed copies of software installed on its computers, acquire any licenses necessary to become compliant and commit to implementing stronger software license management practices.

Author Solutions is a company providing self-publishing services to authors and which has developed publishing services platforms that enable publishers, retailers, communities and printers to become publishers. The company has worked with 50,000 authors and approximately 80,000 titles. The company has offices in Indiana and an international branch in the UK.

"Even though these infringements occurred in one of our companies prior to our ownership, we cooperated with the BSA to get this matter resolved and are committed to making sure the appropriate licensed software is used in all Author Solutions companies," said Kevin Weiss, President and CEO of Author Solutions.

"BSA's settlement with Author Solutions illustrates that even a well-managed, reputable company needs to be fully attentive to software licensing requirements," said Neil MacBride, BSA's Vice President of Anti-Piracy and General Counsel. "It's necessary for businesses to purchase licenses for all software installed on their computers. They need to pay as careful attention to their software management as they do to other aspects of their business. The lesson can sometimes be a hard one: it's cheaper to purchase legal software and invest in software management than get caught by the BSA."

BSA was alerted to the unlicensed software use by a confidential report made to BSA's hotline, 1-888 NO PIRACY. Each year, BSA receives nearly 3,000 reports of software piracy to its website,, and hotline. The majority of BSA's leads come from current or former employees who had information relating to the unlicensed software activity.

Know it / Report it / Reward it
Under BSA's "Know it, Report it, Reward it" program, individuals who provide qualified reports of software piracy are eligible to receive up to $1 million in a cash reward. Despite BSA's national Rewards Program offering this cash reward for qualifying reports of software piracy, fewer than half of the sources opt for the reward. Informal studies conducted by BSA suggest that a key driver for reporting software piracy is the motivation simply to "do the right thing."

"When I contacted BSA, I was simply looking to do the right thing," said an individual who previously reported software piracy to the BSA via the Web reporting form. "I'm just glad there's a resource for people to turn to in order to report software piracy."

In a report released in July which focused on piracy in eight states across the U.S., it was found that software piracy cost software vendors an estimated $4.2 billion, which is higher than the national figure for all other countries in the world except China. Lost revenues to software distributors and service providers were an additional $11.4 billion, for a total tech industry loss of more than $15 billion. Software piracy also has ripple effects in local communities. The lost revenues to the wider group of software distributors and service providers ($11.4 billion) would have been enough to hire 54,000 high tech industry workers, while the lost state and local tax revenues ($1.7 billion) would have been enough to build 100 middle schools or 10,800 affordable housing units, or hire nearly 25,000 experienced police officers. *

"The United States may have the lowest PC software piracy rate in the world, but still, one out of every five pieces of software put into service is unlicensed," said MacBride. "Not only is this a problem for the software industry, but piracy also creates major legal and security risks for the companies involved. The saddest aspect is that the lost revenues to tech companies and local governments could be supporting thousands of good jobs and much-needed social services in our communities," he said.

Under US copyright laws, software piracy can result in fines of up to $150,000 for each software title copied. In addition, the government can criminally prosecute for copyright infringement. If convicted, violators can be fined up to $250,000 or given a jail term of up to five years, or both. These are not just idle threats. Federal judges are increasingly showing little tolerance for the theft of intellectual property, handing down large damage awards against software pirates. This past March, Maurice A. Robberson, and his brother Thomas K. Robberson, were sentenced to federal prison for managing several for-profit websites and selling more than $6 million in pirated computer software. Both were sentenced to a collective 66 months in prison and given an additional three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution.

BSA works with businesses to help ensure that their company isn't at risk for financial, technical, and legal risks associated with illegal software. In addition to resources provided on, BSA is working with the Small Business Administration to help small businesses develop smart strategies to manage their software. Through the partnership, BSA will educate up to 100,000 small businesses on software licenses, copyright laws, tips on how to purchase safe and legal software online, and how to develop a Software Asset Management program.

Businesses trying to determine whether their organizations are using unlicensed software can download the free software audit tools at

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jury Awards Mattel $100 Million in Copyright Infringement Case

Today in federal court, a jury unanimously awarded Mattel $100 million damages from MGA Entertainment and its CEO, Isaac Larian, for copyright infringement and other claims related to Mattel's rightful ownership of Bratz-related works.

The jury awarded $90 million for MGA's and Larian's wrongs against Mattel and $10 million for copyright infringement against MGA and Larian. The Court will make the final determination regarding the total of damages that MGA and Larian will pay to Mattel. Additionally, the jury found that MGA fraudulently concealed the basis for Mattel's claims of intentional interference with contract and Mattel's claims of conversion.

"Mattel has pursued this case first and foremost as a matter of principle," said Robert A. Eckert, chairman and chief executive officer of Mattel, Inc. "We have an obligation to defend ourselves against competitors who choose to engage in fraudulent activities against us. We're pleased that the jury agreed with Mattel that what MGA did was wrong and that damages were awarded."

Mattel's counsel, John Quinn, added, "After carefully weighing nearly three months of testimony and evidence, the jury arrived at a unanimous and undeniable conclusion that MGA engaged in illegal business practices."

Mattel was represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP, a 400-strong lawyer business litigation firm – the largest in the United States devoted solely to business litigation. The litigation team was led by John Quinn, founder and managing partner at the firm, and partners Bill Price and Mike Zeller. The trial of Mattel, Inc. v MGA Entertainment, Inc. began on May 27, 2008, in United States Court of the Central District of California in Riverside, Calif., and was presided by the Honorable Stephen G. Larson, United States District Judge.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Veteran Teacher Shares Experience with Plagiarism Prevention

Bruce Becker, a high school teacher at Lake Washington School District in Redmond, Washington, didn't know it at the time, but a phone call was about to change his life as an English, social studies and humanities teacher of 28 years.

"My son called from college and it was not to ask for money," said Becker. "Instead, he asked me to check out the anti-plagiarism site where he was required to turn in his papers."

Thus began Becker's journey with Turnitin (, an originality checking and plagiarism prevention service used by millions of students and thousands of teachers worldwide.

"My epiphany came when my son told me, 'I'm tired of competing against professional writers,'" said Becker. "He was right. No student should have to compete against material that others cut and paste from the Internet and submit as their own."

Becker soon discovered the service is less about playing "gotcha" with students and more about upholding academic honesty, rewarding those who do their own work, and encouraging young writers to find their own voices.

"I made many joyful discoveries -- a culture of implicit trust in my classrooms, students rededicated to their writing, credible high stakes writing assessments, and grading as it should be: stress-free and focused on the writer's thoughts and style," said Becker.

After submitting a student's paper electronically, Turnitin sends Becker an originality report in mere seconds, giving him more time to do what he is supposed to do -- grade papers without being sidetracked by questions of misappropriated prose. In fact, Becker and his colleagues discovered they could grade papers in half the time.

Just as important to them is an integrated suite of instructional tools from Turnitin called WriteCycle(TM) that addresses the process of composition, feedback and grading for writing-intensive assignments. In addition to originality checking, WriteCycle services include Peer Review and Grademark digital grading tools with an integrated GradeBook. The entire WriteCycle solution is a 100 percent paperless classroom solution that Becker and his colleagues enthusiastically embrace.

As for solving the problem of plagiarism, Becker said, "In three years I have never had a student push back about being caught. I called one student to my desk and explained that I'd found plagiarism in his assignment. He asked, 'Where?' I just spun my display around to show the color-coded report. His response was, 'Cool!' It was cool all right: he was busted. Some kids start out thinking they can beat the system, a misconception that disappears as the deterrent effect takes hold."

One unexpected outcome: Becker finds more and more students are coming from junior high school with established Turnitin accounts, habits and expectations. "They like going paperless and Turnitin helps them to make a smooth transition to high school with their electronic writing portfolios intact," he said.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Star Wars Creator Lucasfilm Loses IP Case Against London Affiliate of SimmonsCooper Law Firm

The English High Court may be a long way from East Alton, Ill., but the SimmonsCooper law firm continues to make its mark in the legal industry, most recently winning a high profile intellectual property lawsuit (case #HC06C03813) with its London affiliate, SimmonsCooperAndrew LLP, against Lucasfilm of Star Wars film fame.

Known for contingency-based intellectual property and patent litigation, their website is viewable at In the English High Court case of Lucasfilm v Ainsworth, SimmonsCooperAndrew represented the prop designer who produced the Stormtrooper helmets and armor for the 1977 Star Wars film. Lucasfilm was attempting to prevent Ainsworth from selling replicas of the helmets, but the High Court last week dismissed the majority of Lucasfilm's claims.

"Our firm has a storied history of taking on corporate giants," said Paul Lesko, intellectual property lawyer for SimmonsCooper's U.S. practice. "Because of this ruling, Mr. Ainsworth will be able to rightfully sell his product throughout most of the world. It's not only a victory for him. It's a victory for prop designers throughout the film industry."
"We took on the infamous Death Star and lived to tell about it," said Chris Messina, SimmonsCooper's president of International Litigation. "The goal of our business and intellectual property practices always has been to give entrepreneurs and small businesses a voice to protect their legal rights. To see that success play out on the international stage like this is truly gratifying."

Three years ago, SimmonsCooper decided to expand beyond its well established asbestos litigation practice into intellectual property litigation and business-to-business litigation. Moving away from traditional fee structures, the firm strategically chose to offer legal representation on a contingency basis, affording individuals and smaller businesses the ability to take legal action against companies with deeper pockets. SimmonsCooper then began to form international relationships with other like minded firms, such as SimmonsCooperAndrew, to affectively pursue intellectual property infringement and patent litigation wherever their clients happen to reside.

"As more U.S. businesses expand globally, working with affiliate firms in other countries expands our ability to help those businesses resolve legal disputes regardless of location," Messina said