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Blurring the Lines in Music Copyright Will Hurt Artists and Online Hosts

In the copyright infringement verdict against artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, a jury found the music duo guilty of copying the “total concept and feel” of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit song, “Got to Give It Up.” This holding creates the potentially dangerous notion that copyright extends past protectable elements such as melody to cover more ambiguous fields like “vibe,” “groove,” and “feel,” and could lead to significant repercussions in an era of takedowns.

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EU Copyright Proposals: Do Two Wrongs Make an Ancillary Right?

Copyright reform is one part of the EU Commission’s efforts to develop a Digital Single Market (DSM) for Europe, a vision of a robust digital economy with fewer borders and in which European creators and businesses can thrive. Leaked drafts of the Impact Assessment analyzes the predicted outcomes of the various reform proposals around copyright in light of the goals of the DSM Strategy. Unfortunately, both the proposals and the analysis raise some troubling issues.

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Look It Up: Carla Hayden is Qualified

Dr. Carla Hayden understands technology and its interaction with libraries. She is passionate about using technology to modernize the collection and digitize its assets to increase access to the Library. She wants to make sure digitized materials are accessible in formats that will allow people with visual disabilities to access them. She believes in the value of free access to information, and protecting the privacy of library users. If our Senators want to be able to send their staffers to the library to “look it up,” they should confirm Dr. Hayden as the Librarian of Congress without further delay.

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European Commission Online Platform Proposals Puts Onus on Companies

The European Commission has published a set of proposals and documents under the umbrella of its Digital Single Market strategy. Among them is a Communication on ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe’. There are positive messages in the document, but also some problematic ones. CDT has consistently pushed back on proposals that would endanger the internet as an enabler of free expression, public debate, and access to information.

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CDT Comments to Copyright Office Focus on Preserving Balance and Cooperation in the DMCA

CDT and the R Street Institute filed comments in response to the Copyright Office’s Notice of Inquiry regarding Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 512 protects the conduits, websites, cloud storage providers, and search engines from statutory damages and other liability for copyright infringement based on works posted by users so long as service providers comply with certain requirements. CDT very much hopes that the Office does not lose sight of the importance of that flexibility and balance as it evaluates the many proposals for change it will receive.

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Needed Reforms to Section 1201 of the DMCA

The US Copyright Office accepted its first round of comments on Section 1201 of the DMCA. This provision imposes civil and possibly even criminal penalties on persons who circumvent “technological protections measures” that control access to copyrighted works. CDT hopes that any changes to Section 1201 can build on points of general agreement and arrive at a more stable, predictable, and permissive approach to circumvention for noninfringing purposes that do not implicate the copyright interests of rightsholders.

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Fair Use in Art, Politics, and Babies Going Crazy

The Center for Democracy & Technology spends a lot of time working on the role of copyright doctrines, like fair use, in enabling new innovations or innovative uses of existing works. The Supreme Court’s Sony v. Universal decision established the central role of fair use in the creation of new technologies that empower users to choose where,…

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Repairing Damages: The Commerce Department's Copyright White Paper

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce released its “White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages.” The paper is the culmination of more than five years of work by the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force. Among its many recommendations, the paper plots a course for significant progress on calibrating statutory damages for copyright infringement.

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Beyond the Elephants’ Graveyard: Recent Additions to the Public Domain

Like open licensing, a vibrant public domain can further equality, education, and access to information. It also can fuel intellectual curiosity. Fostering this vibrancy requires actively populating the public domain rather than just waiting for works to end up there. It also requires reassessment of basic assumptions behind copyright policy (such as equating “harmonization” with longer copyright terms). But the effort is worthwhile. After all, the public domain is a shared resource: we get out what we put in.

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