The fact that, under US copyright law, gods can’t hold copyright but a human can hold copyright on a god’s behalf (i.e. by saying a work was “divinely inspired” rather than directly inscribed by the hand of God) sure is… a thing.
Today we had three push-button votes on the Copyright Directive. On one of the votes, we pressed the wrong button: the vote on the order in which we would vote. If it had gone through we could’ve voted on deleting Article 13, which we wanted. The vote should have ended up 314–315.
Here’s a question for you: is cheating in games (specifically, using third-party cheat programs that alter the game in -memory) copyright infringement?
This is, I think, what one would call a “novel” approach to combating cheating in a online game. I’m also kind of reminded of the fandom C&D days (specifically, the Harry Potter wars) of the early 2000s.
And while it’s kinda lulz to watch some 1337 h4xx0r kid get, quite literally, served in Fortnight, if the legal argument holds up (i.e. that using trainers is copyright infringement), then places that deal in single player game cheats are also at risk and, shit. That basically means I will never play a video game ever again.1
- “You could just not cheat!” Yeah, and you could mind your own goddamn business. ↩
It’s a PDF, because of course it is, available for download here. Key point (bold added):
A piece of fanfiction is more likely to infringe copyright where it uses a “substantial part” of the original work, without permission from the copyright owner, and no exception applies (see Copyright exceptions and fanfiction below). Courts have held that a “substantial part” is a distinct, important, or essential part of a copyright work. In the context of fanfiction, this would include key characters and key plot elements, all things which fanfiction by its very nature explicitly uses and reproduces. Although the extent may vary between types and pieces of fanfiction, in many cases it will be arguable that fanfiction does use enough of a pre-existing original copyright work to be a considered a substantial part for the purposes of copyright infringement
And then, a bit further down (again, bold added):
For fanfiction authors who write parody fanfiction, or fanfiction that satirises the original story or story tropes, this would easily come under the fair dealing for the purposes of parody or satire. Similarly, fanfiction authors who write fanfiction which examine and critique the original material, either the original story itself or its themes and ideas, could arguably come under the fair dealing purpose of criticism and review. Other types of fanfiction, however, such as alternate universes or romance, do not easily fit into these purposes, and thus would not be covered by a fair dealing exception.
I’m kind of surprised about that “alternate universes” line, because to me that would seem to be exactly the type of fanfic that doesn’t use the “key plot elements” or–arguably, if it’s ATG‘y enough–“key characters”. Though I guess the latter in particular would rely on you making the argument that your fanfic isn’t copyright infringing because it’s, yanno. Too poorly written.
I’m also side-eyeing that whole “parody and criticism is okay but romance is by definition not parody or criticism” concept so hard, you’d better believe it. But the whole paper suffers from that “when men write it, it’s fine, but when women write it… ew!” thing, as seen in the direct quote:
[F]anfiction has become increasingly mainstream with the internet and “remix” novels such as Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, and 50 Shades of Grey with (in)famously began as Twilight fanfiction.
“(In)famously”? Fuck you, buddy. It’s probably not a surprising to learn that I’m of the opinion that romance–or romantic elements–can absolutely be used for the purpose of criticism, particularly in the “queering” context used in a lot of fanfic. This is the premise of Liesmith and Stormbringer, after all, which are Norse mythology fanfic under the lens of, “Yeah but how would you interpret the eddas if you weren’t a straight white dude?”
But I’m oldskool fandom, so maybe that’s just my bias showing.
That being said, don’t take it to mean I think the Copyright Council’s interpretation of the law is factually wrong; I’m assuming it’s not. It’s the cultural assumptions underneath the law that I have a problem with…
Apparently typeface piracy is a big thing. Who woulda thunk it?
True story: when I was a teenager, I made a font based on my own handwriting (or, well, the grunge lettering I used to be dArKeR aNd EdGiEr or whatever). It’s not a particularly good font (kerning? leading? what’s that bro?), but imagine my surprise when I went to play Vampire: Bloodlines a few years later and saw The Asylum for the first time. It’s not the same font, and honestly I doubt it’s related to my terrible scribble, but… still. It made me double-take to see it.
So here’s an interesting thought: the copyright that’s been held over the song “Happy Birthday” means that most people have never heard it performed by, yanno. Musicians. Instead, it gets taught down the generations orally, as a kind of droning chant (with a bit of screeching thrown in at the end for good measure).
Despite conventional wisdom, it seems entirely possible that the song “Happy Birthday” (more specifically, the lyrics) is, in fact, not in copyright and that Warner/Chappell has been illegally collecting royalties on it for years.
Apparently a bunch of documentary film-makers collected a fucktonne of evidence and are now suing. As the BoingBoing article says, “This is gonna be great.”
Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defense.
–Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, commenting on the ruling that Google’s mass book-scanning constitutes “fair use”.