HathiTrust Win Good for Authors, Researchers, and Fair Use

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its opinion yesterday in the HathiTrust library digitization case, and it’s a solid win for fair use, innovation, and the accessibility of books. The court coolly and rationally affirmed the lower court’s ruling that scanning copyrighted books to create a full-text search engine is a fair use. The ruling is good news for libraries, researchers, and any author more interested in her work being read than collecting dust in deep stacks. B

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Decisive Section 230 Victory for GoDaddy in Revenge Porn Case

Late last week, a Texas appeals court handed down what should be an uncontroversial decision in part of the ongoing litigation. The opinion reverses last year’s misguided decision declining to dismiss claims brought against GoDaddy on the basis of user-generated content on its customer’s site. I wrote about the case then, arguing that GoDaddy was clearly protected under Section 230 of the Communications Act, and the court was plainly mistaken and the order should be reversed. The appeals court agreed.

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CDT, Allies Urge Court To Reverse Course on ‘Innocence of the Muslims’ Takedown

CDT and seven other free expression advocates have filed a legal brief urging a federal court to reconsider its order taking down the controversial ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video. As we wrote when it was made public in late February, the decision in Garcia v. Google to order the video’s removal on dubious copyright grounds will set a dangerous precedent for online free expression if it is allowed to stand.

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US Court Fumbles First Amendment, Orders Global Takedown of ‘Innocence of Muslims’

A troubling copyright ruling from the federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will have lasting repercussions for online free expression if it is not reconsidered. Yesterday, the appeals court released an order, issued under gag last week, that compels Google to take down all copies of the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” video. The order – called a preliminary injunction, because it is issued even before the plaintiff proves her case – also requires Google to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent future uploads of the video. In the accompanying opinion, the court held that Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress whose appearance in the video was obtained under false pretenses from its producer, had an independent copyright interest in her performance, distinct from any copyright in the video. To many copyright experts, the court’s holding that an actress has an independent copyright interest in her performance in a film is absurd and would cause chaos in the production of movies and recordings. More on that below.

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Copyright Week: Fair Use and Innovation

Today is all about fair use. Given its role in remix, mashups, parody, and lots of what’s funny on the Internet, fair use is always a favorite topic. It’s also famously hard to pin down, so it makes for some of the most interesting debates on copyright. But beyond its role in allowing space for free expression, criticism, and the creation of new works that build on others, fair use plays a critical role in driving technological innovation.

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Did You Buy It? Can You Sell It? Thoughts on Digital First Sale

In the week leading up to Saturday’s anniversary of the SOPA blackout, EFF is leading “Copyright Week.” Every day this week, participating organizations will be highlighting a different principle to guide the development of balanced, innovation- and free expression–friendly copyright policy. Today’s theme is “you bought it, you own it,” which sounds simple enough, but it turns out that this raises a lot of tricky issues when “it” is a digital good. EFF goes over some of the issues they see in their post today, and Public Knowledge explores end-user license agreements (EULAs) and whether you really own your software.

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Court Strikes Down Open Internet Rules: What Now?

A federal appeals court sent the FCC back to the drawing board on Internet neutrality today, striking down the agency’s Open Internet Rules. The decision is a real loss for US Internet users; the rules offered an important safeguard for keeping the Internet the remarkable engine for free expression, creativity, and innovation that it is. The upside, though, is that the decision also suggests that the thing really tying the FCC’s hands in this area is neither the Communications Act nor the Constitution, but rather the FCC’s own prior decisions regarding how to classify Internet access service. Far from putting Internet access services and Internet neutrality entirely outside the FCC’s purview, the decision effectively puts the ball back in the FCC’s court.

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Copyright Week: The Need for Transparency

In the week leading up to Saturday’s anniversary of the SOPA blackout, EFF is leading “Copyright Week.” Every day this week, participating organizations will be highlighting a different principle to guide the development of balanced, innovation- and free expression–friendly copyright policy. Today’s theme is transparency. We’ve been writing a lot lately on the importance of transparency when it comes to the government’s surveillance practices. The massive global scale of the NSA’s and other intelligence agencies’ surveillance activities means everyone has a direct stake in surveillance policy. That’s why, in the wake of ongoing revelations of secret programs, CDT has helped lead an effort to expand what the government and communications companies can share about the scope of surveillance activity.

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Sixth Circuit Needs to Reverse Ben-Gal Ruling that Contradicts Section 230

As part of our continual effort to ensure that the Internet remains a dynamic and innovative platform for free expression, CDT joined the ACLU and other allies this week on an amicus brief in an important case on the legal liability that content platforms face for users’ speech. In a series of opinions riddled with errors, a district court judge refused to dismiss a defamation case against and its operator over content posted by the site’s users, putting him on the hook for a $338,000 civil penalty. The ruling, currently on appeal, misinterprets existing case law and directly contradicts Section 230 of the Communications Act. If not reversed, as we argue in our brief, countless websites that facilitate commerce and speech – including controversial yet important (and lawful) critical speech – will be threatened by substantial new legal risk.

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