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PIPA/SOPA

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.039  Tuesday, 31 January 2012

 

[Editor’s Note: I suggested this thread with trepidation, and despite my own political and pacifist beliefs I must remind everyone that the thread has to do with the relationship of SHAKSPER to PIPA/SOPA. If this connection is not observed, the thread will end by executive order and with extreme prejudice. –Hardy]

 

[1] From:         Donald Bloom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 30, 2012 12:39:05 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA 

 

[2] From:         Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 30, 2012 7:11:37 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA

 

[3] From:         Robert Projansky < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 30, 2012 8:55:08 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Donald Bloom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 30, 2012 12:39:05 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA

 

It strikes me that PIPA and SOPA -- now on hold in the U.S. Congress, and possibly dead -- are a classic reaction against an unpleasant reality. The battle is already lost. While many cruel injustices could be perpetrated in an attempt to enforce such laws, that would be the sole accomplishment: the free exchange of information, including proprietary information and creative efforts, is going to continue. Moreover, it would be a strong incentive to the vicious sort of hackers to attack the companies and individuals that were trying to benefit from such laws. Those attacked wouldn't enjoy the results.

 

Simply put, it is an attempt to enforce a 19th Century concept on a 21st Century situation, and it is doomed. I can understand that people want to maximize the payback from successful creative endeavors. But copyright, as we have known it, is dying, if not dead. The whole business needs to be re-thought. But thinking, including re-thinking, is something rarely found, especially where money is involved. Eventually, the accountants will figure out how to maximize the bucks, and the authors, producers and lawyers can go back to whatever it is they do.

 

Cheers,

don

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 30, 2012 7:11:37 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA

 

Gabriel Egan challenges my assertion that the scope of copyright protection (as opposed to its duration) has not altered materially since the enactment of the 1976 Act, by citing one case and a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which codifies into U.S. law provisions of international conventions designed to provide mechanisms to protect copyrighted material from electronic theft.  In neither instance does the cited authority expand the scope of existing protections.  

 

Indeed, the case Gabriel cites -- Bridgeman v. Corel -- actually rejected a claim for broad protection.  That was a trial court decision that held that a photograph of a two-dimensional work of art (painting, etching, etc.), which was only a faithful reproduction of the original work without any creativity much beyond snapping the shutter was not, itself entitled to copyright protection. The case says nothing about photographs of three-dimensional works, which might entail creative choices regarding lighting, angle, etc.; so Gabriel’s statement that the holding deals with photographs of "artwork" in the broader sense is incorrect.  The Bridgeman case surely does not represent an expansion of copyright protection.  It was nothing more than an application of the hoary doctrine that a work must exhibit some modicum of creativity to be entitled to copyright protection. There may, indeed, be a Constitutional dimension to that rule.  There was no definitive U.S. authority to the contrary view, so Bridgeman cannot be said to depart from the prior state of the law.  U.K. law does allow a photographer to have a copyright in a photo of a painting, and the court held that, on choice of law principles, that law did not apply in the Bridgeman case.

 

Gabriel also misstates the DMCA.  He says that it “criminalizes the circumvention of digital locks for the purpose of accessing locked material even when that material itself enjoys no copyright protection.”  That is not so.  The prohibition of the statute (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)(A)) is confined to circumventing digital locks preventing access to copyrighted material only: "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." (emphasis supplied).  The statute goes on to make clear that all defenses are unaffected by the enactment: "Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title." (17 U.S.C. § 1201(c)(1)).

 

As for the asserted position of the Huntington Library that it owns rights to the microfilm images of works in its library which are available on EEBO, Gabriel might be correct that “The validity of that assertion depends upon complex judgements about the amount of creativity embedded in microfilm reproduction and subsequent digitization.”  That would be the inquiry under the Bridgeman case, if it applied, but I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope for successful prosecution of such a claim.  And, of course, it is difficult to hypothesize a case in which it matters in the least.  Will a researcher copy the microfilm or the text on the microfilm?  What purpose would be served by copying the microfilm?  Of course, Huntington would have a tough time claiming a copyright to an Elizabethan text.

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Robert Projansky < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 30, 2012 8:55:08 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: PIPA/SOPA

 

After decrying the politicization of the Obama Administration’s administration of justice and how it might affect SHAKSPER, I appended this smartass substitute solution to copyright piracy:

 

>I might point out that things previously unthinkable are now commonplace 

>in post-9/11 America. Maybe if SOPA/PIPA fails of passage the 

>government will use another method with which it has already had such 

>great success: the CIA tracks down the offenders and the president 

>orders them killed. 

 

In response Larry Weiss asks:

 

 I wonder which of the deaths Bob Projansky prefers not have occurred -- bin Laden? Awaki?

 

My answer, since I am asked, is both of them, and many more. 

 

Two weeks after President Obama had Anwar al-Awlaki killed by drone attack, the president also killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son the same way. If the president of the US can kill Awlaki and his child, American citizens both, away from any combat zone, without the slightest due process, the US Government can kill anyone, anywhere. And they are not the only people the US Government has slaughtered via its drone method -- and my answer is the same as to all of them. If someone commits an indictable crime against the US, the government’s business should be prosecution, not murder. 

 

Apart from the moral issues (if that separation is even possible), no president or any of his minions is infallible. It is now undisputed common knowledge that some men - and teenage boys too - have been caged at Guantanamo for years although entirely innocent. But if our power-of-life-and-death president had just had all of those “terrorists” slaughtered upon arrest, who would be the wiser? And why publish the arrest of the next Bradley Manning when President Death-at-a-Whim can just quietly dump his corpse in the nearest ocean?

 

The events of 9/11 were crimes, not acts of war. Criminals should be tracked down, arrested, and brought to justice, not made the excuse for shredding the Constitution and launching real wars of aggression that have killed and maimed and displaced many hundreds of thousands of people.

 

When terrorists attempted to bring down the World Trade Center towers in 1993 the US Government tried, convicted and imprisoned eight people for the crimes without invading any other countries or murdering any citizens abroad. And before you say fat lot of good all that did in preventing the 9/11 attacks, I might point out that all of the killing and invading and renditioning and torturing and civil liberties-mutilating and bombing and lying and destruction that the US government has done has not and will not put an end to the terrorism it would defeat. 

 

Much of the Islamic world has very substantial grievances against the US. Just by way of simple example, it is indisputable that the Iranian antagonism against the US for the last thirty-three years begins with the 1953 CIA gangsters’ coup that ousted the democratically-elected Mossadegh government and foisted a kleptocratic US-managed police state on the Iranian people’s backs for almost three decades. Well, as long as the US continues to add to the very large catalogue of third-world grievances against the US we can expect lots more terrorism. If we wrong them shall they not revenge? 

 

When Congressman Ron Paul, in a recent Republican presidential candidates’ debate, proposed the Golden Rule as a basis for US foreign policy, the yahoo Republican audience booed him for it, but Rep. Paul is no milksop, no Pollyanna. It’s a matter of practicality: unless and until something like that idea takes hold in Washington there is going to be lots more terrorism for us, no matter how many Larry Weiss-approved murders the president commits.

 

Pax to all,

Bob Projansky

 
 

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