Orphaned works are that special case in copyright law. You can tell, roughly, when they were created, but you can't find the owner.

It effects books, newspaper or magazine articles, or films that are still protected by copyright but for which the copyright holders cannot be located. The creator dies, the publisher shuts down, the distributor left.
But the copyright remains.

Its come up since the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has put out a call for comments about the changes for EU legislation (at http://www.djei.ie/science/ipr/copyright.htm )

Sadly, since its the Irish government, its released as a pdf file, but laws shouldn't be copyrightable. The deadline for comments is Wednesday April 23 2014.

Comments go to the "Orphan Works Consultation, Copyright Section, Intellectual Property Unit, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation", not me.?

Embedded Link

DJEI – Intellectual Property Unit: Copyright and Related Rights
Public Consultation on Transposition of the Orphan Works Directive and the Use of Orphan Works under Irish Law. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation invites submissions to the public consultation on the transposition of the Orphan Works Directive (2012/28/EU) into Irish law.

The EC is looking for feedback — but not much, and pretty sharpish.
Go to http://www.copywrongs.eu and answer the questions which are important to you. You do not have to answer all the questions, only the ones that matter to you.

The original consultation can be found at …
, and there's a simplified version at…

The deadline is 5 February 2014. Until then, we should provide the European Commission with as many responses as possible!


18 Dec 2012

About Instagram

Author: will | Filed under: creativity, data, data retention, identity theft, kerfulle, photo

If you are going to sell my pictures without me getting a cut and not call it piracy… Bye.

28 May 2012

Crowdsource copyright law

Author: will | Filed under: copyright, fair use, law, legislation, politics, public domain

Well I expect spaceshifting, timeshifting and something-else-shifting to show up as things made legal rather than the slightly grey area they currently live under.

Of course, as usual I might be mixing up American, Australian, Canadian, Irish, English, New Zealand and Scottish law. Again.

Lets see what TDs Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy with Antoin O’Lachtnain of Digital Rights Ireland, Tom Murphy of Boards.ie and solicitor +Simon McGarr .

Reshared post from +Siliconrepublic

TDs Stephen Donnelly and Catherine Murphy are crowdsourcing their response to the Copyright Review Commission

Embedded Link

Savvy TDs crowdsource their response to Copyright Review
A pair of independent TDs are enlisting the public as part of a crowdsourcing exercise to get feedback on their submission to the Copyright Review Commission in the aftermath of the signing of the sta…

Google+: View post on Google+

Free speech = Net neutrality?

As a principle many people would say that the freedom to disseminate information is a requirement of a democracy. After all an informed populace can make better decisions.

Except of course information about things we don’t want to know about. Pro-Anorexia and Pro-Bulimia forums are a controversial example. Its freedom of speech, its an informed choice, and women (mostly, men tend to have image issues with not being muscular enough) on these sites that promote being (too?) thin get positive reinforcement to get thinner. After all, this information isn’t a criminal action.

What has this got to do with Blackout Ireland?

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Well imagine if various food and health industry bodies got a legal settlement with Eircom to enforce a “three strikes and your out” policy against readers of these forums, without a chance to appeal? (Let’s ignore the fact that much of our lives are now done through the internet and that the German courts thought that it was to harsh a punishment; a death sentence to a virtual world). Would there be an outcry? “We’ve doing this to help you”. Then the lobby groups arrange to get Eircom to block certain pro-ana (after all Eircom have said that they wouldn’t fight the court orders). Then go after other Irish ISPs demanding similar action.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

So of course, these sites go underground; accessible by proxy, or new different ones spring up in its place. So the information is out there. Illegal. Hidden. Cherished by a knowing few. Shared with a wider knowing few.

Would there be mistakes and false positives? Of course. Every “not caught in the act” action has the potential for mistaken identity. And with wireless networks, connecting via your neighbour (or war driving to an open location) is going to ensure the wrong people are caught. Or a printer is blamed for having image issues.

But why stop at image issues! There is too much violence on the streets, lets ban all forms of internet violence. No more over the internet first person shooters.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Cyberbullying is too much. Lets block social network sites where such a situation can take place!

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

We can’t have our children accessing information and images about gay life. Block these sites!



Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.

Its the start of a slope.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

The initial logical, maybe apparently sensible first step leads to a worse situation.

So, back to the point of all of this. IRMA wants Eircom to block certain file sharing sites, starting with the Pirate’s Bay.

Interestingly the international version of IRMA is trying to get the Pirate’s bay shut down. And based on the reports of the trial in Sweden, the prosecution are not doing a good job in persuading the courts that the Pirate’s Bay are any different than Google (in fact, it seems that much of the same information can be found using Google). File sharing isn’t a criminal offence. Depending on the outcome of the trial, using Pirate’s Bay may not even be viewed as a civil offence.

So block Google? It’s an option, but too many companies use their cloud computing services for the Irish economy to survive such a block.

So back to net neutrality. Actually it isn’t exactly entirely related to speech. Its closer to a deep packet inspection; what type of packet is this. Is it a web (or encrypted html) packet? A packet form an email? Or a bit torrent packet?

Which is how some software updates itself, for example Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.

Which is how millions (if not billions) around the globe saw the inauguration of President Obama on CNN’s software.

For something purely illegal, those are very odd companies to be using it. Content companies too.

So join in the week long protest against this. Shout, not whisper about the chilling effects on internet free speech.

Join with the other voices around Ireland speak out on this issue.

Darken your avatar.

Write to your local TD about it.

Write to Minister Ryan about it.

While you still can, speak out.

Will Knott

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6 Jul 2008

Only happy when I’m singing in the rain

Author: will | Filed under: copyright, humour, parody, video, YouTube

Take one classic film clip, one deeply disturbing song and enough cheese to ensure clogged arteries. The result is the video for Richard Cheese and a little video entitled “Gene Kelly vs Garbage vs Richard Cheese“.

Given the weather in Cork at the moment it sort of suits the mood.

Given that the result is a parody, is a two phase combination considered Fair Dealing under European Copyright?

take care,
Will Knott

When a books comes out with 27 pages of source references, you know someone is trying to prove that he is correct.

A Replica of R2-D2 created by John Marco. Photo taken at Star Wars Celebration IV, in Los Angeles, CA.

Image via Wikipedia

And when the 532-page ebook is free, I suspect that the author is trying to be very correct and get his point across. Partly to stop himself being sued by George Lucas no doubt. The book is question is The Secret History of Star Wars which skews from the Lucasfilm version of history.

According to the “Frequently Asked Questions” part of the book’s site, Michael Kaminski wrote the book to fill the perceived knowledge gap (or at least lore gap) between the observed history from the fan’s perspective, and the official history according the Lucasfilm.

To be honest, I don’t care enough about the politics of the Star Wars movies (or the Jedi religion) to be worried, about the book’s content. But the existence of the book is interesting.

Essentially this book is a compiled collection of sources to create a history of the creation of six highly influential movies; a series which continues to generate controversy. And is of course unauthorised.

When an unauthorised biography is compiled, the person at the heart of it can sue for liable, as long as the accusations (if any) in the book are false). This book is not about George Lucas, but about the creation of a series of products. Which means that is possible to sue for copyright violations in much the same way that a lawsuit was perused against the creators of a printed Harry Potter Lexicon (which was settled out of court). Its not just reputation at stake here, but a multimillion empire. By being a free download, the author manages to avoid at least part of the consequences (financial gain) and given that this 3rd edition of the book came after the above settlement, it is possible that a few discrete alternations may have been made to prevent the “too much of my work” arguments.

There are of course two reasons as to why Lucasfilm has not sued.

1) Suing your fans is not a good idea; you need them

2) Lucas has a Pirates Dilemma problem. Yes its is a derived work, but its taken the history of the series in a direction which LucasFilm never would. While they are unlikely to support it, it would be a bad idea for them to try to destroy it. Because its something they can build on (or at least with).

Could someone who cares about the series and can confirm the truth of any of the books details contact me? Also in the unlikely possibility that someone from LucasFilm is reading this, is there an official response to the book? I can confirm that the author cares enough about copyright to disable copying and pasting from the PDF file.

Still behind the scenes shenanigans are always interesting.

take care,
Will Knott

p.s. I’m waiting for The Secret History of the Babylon 5 series (or at least the collected Hyperion archives). Have I missed them?

I have the nasty feeling that I have more questions than answers but here goes…

The old days

Before technology, life in the office was simple. You have documents, and you filed them away. They were big, bulky and paper based (once stone, velum and papyrus had their days). Sometimes documents got lost (down the back of the filing cabinet), sometimes documents were destroyed (blessed be the shredder despite projects to restore shredded documents using software). Rarely did physical documents end up in the hands of the wrong person (but it happened). The came easy duplication. And then came electronic records.

Electronic records, or data to give it an even more generic name, are everywhere. Data can be automatically collected and stored. When I first raised “data loss” I simply assumed I would stay on simple technical grounds such “hard disk crash” or indeed loosing the financial data of 25 million people in the post. Some of the issues are technical, some and legal, but all are social.

Never enough

Disk drives get larger to cope with the torrent of data. Much in the same way that “you can never be too rich” it’s true that “you can never have too much disk space”. However… As data volume grows, our ability to weed out the what from the chaff declines. It’s easy to say ‘never throw out anything, in case it’s needed’. It also lets you avoid the boring (and possibly compromising) task of deleting data you don’t need. However, then your operational budget bloats – it costs as much to look after useless data as expensive data. If it goes on long enough, you can’t do anything about it; it’s possible you won’t never remember what most of it is.

This is where one part of the legal framework stands. If you are, say, automatically collecting all the web sites that a certain IP address connects to, how long should you hang on to it? How long is it legally useful for? And worth keeping for? ( Digital Right Ireland have a few things to say on this.) There is also a technical problem… If an Internet access node is unsecured, is the owner of the node liable for something posted using it? At the moment, yes, but that is because it hasn’t been tested in an Irish Court

Sealed with a click

Another part of this is content. Google have an archive of a precursor to the web, called Usenet on archive. This is data. Public data? Well everything was considered public a the time. So this archive is publicly available.

But what about you diary? Not your blog, but your diary. Currently you have automatic copyright protection on everything you write. The contents of your diary become public domain 75 years after your death. Does the same apply to your e-mail? Private musings are supposed to become public domain after a time. If you turn out to be a famous person (at the time of your death) someone will hang on to every scrap of paper in the hopes that it will be worth something.
However every e-mail you write is technically protected under copyright, and replying or worse, forwarding an e-mail is technically in breach of a dozen copyright laws. When should your e-mail become public domain? If that data is on your hard drive, there is some hope that it will be forgotten about, but as a Microsoft anti-trust cases showed, e-mail has a habit of copying itself in other places than your drive. After all, there are the recipients, and all the server between (and a few that shouldn’t have gotten it in the first place).
When should this mail become public domain? 75 years after your and every contributor’s death? Something like that is impractical. 100 years after the message is sent? 50 years? And what if the message contains still confidential information (like the secret recipe for Snickerdoodles & Chocodoodles)?

Silly idea? Old medical records do go “public”, but these are usually stored in archives of interest to few (usually medical students and researchers who would be qualified to have access to the information in the first place).
“Would it be morally right to give public access to email & messaging accounts 100 years after they were last accessed ? How interested would the historians of the future be in a copy of bebo.com from 2005 ? Or the contents of the mailbox of a famous serial killer 50 years after they died ? I don’t think we have the option of letting that sort of data lapse. It will be the clearest echo of society’s global digital consciousness.”

This is the first time that the general public have had their personal messages (not just) information stored. Should I be retailed for your grandchildren (but hidden from your prospective employer)? When should an e-mail be considered an orphaned work?

Backing away

Along with the problem of how long data should be retained, lets look at the actual retention problem. If you ‘never throw out anything, in case it’s needed’, you have an increased storage problem. I hear the call of “backups”?

“As data volumes grow, you either have to put all your eggs in one basket, or have multiple baskets. From experience, it’s so tempting to try consolidate your data in one place, to reduce admin overhead. Hopefully that one system won’t have a buggy motherboard that’s silently corrupting everything it writes. And it’s really painful if someone accidentally deletes a few petabytes of data – copying from backups takes ages, for a start.”
Or “bugs in archival software (“Yup, that’s archived. Oh, wait. No..it isn’t. The machine had a bad disk, software crashed, and reported ‘everything OK’ when it restarted…”) and freaky network instability (guys doing rewiring, restarting cluster routers and maybe some dodgy cables) resulting in more than one machine reporting as being the ‘one true repository’ for a certain type of data.”

So the backups might be a problem….

But let’s assume that the backups are valid. Then you have 2 format problems.
We don’t have the hardware which can read the tapes anymore.
This actually happened to me professionally. I remembered when the archives were made, and indeed the data was found. Documented in place A where where the off-site storage utility had the backups. However, the tape drives had been scrapped years before.
And those of you that remember the Domesday project know tha the BBC fell in to a similar problem.

But let’s assume that the anarchic backup archive tape could get it’s contents loaded on to a system you can use… can you read the data format?

Earlier this year, Microsoft released a service pack which purposefully disabled older file formats. So your carefully restored data might be unreadable to the world, and worse, yourself. In a business case, the original specifications (or recipe) might be needed. Or your great grandfather’s proposal on an on-line forum to the woman you’ve come to know as your great grand aunt.

Is there a “fix” for this? Well making the older formats fall in to the public domain would help. After all, if you’re not using them…

So who deserves the credit, and who deserves the blame

So the disk has crashed, who do you sue? It should be simple, but it ain’t. Much like a delayed or canceled air flight is not the cause of refunds if the cause of the problem is beyond the control of the airline, there are ways a disk can go. Legally.

Usually a hard disk will crash in infancy (within a day or two of starting life), meaning little if anything has been lost and it’s under warranty of the manufacturer. Or the disk will die was it approaches the end of it’s predicted life (well after warranty). The fact that the computer is usually obsolete long before you take it out of the box isn’t something to be considered.

And while I’m sure that back-up software and hardware has warranties, the legal click through probably covers some lost data. But since the cost a new hard disk is usually less than the lost of the backup measures… home backing up is rare.

In a corporate setting, the party that looses the data should be held liable, but I don’t know of any cases in Irish law on data crashes. Data gong missing however…

it’s a steal, it’s a loss

Credit card data gets stolen. It’s an identifiable crime. Who (other than the criminals) is liable?
Well was a reasonable attempt made to protect the data? If so, was it reasonable enough? Can you sue for loss of data? (and given the ability to reconstruct shredded credit card bills (cited at the start) are you the cause of the data breach?)

Apparently no. If data is lost (in the post) or stolen, there is no case until the data is used and a victim can be shown to have damages (or have lost money) from the act. If personal data goes missing, is there a lawsuit? Liable or slander is not applicable since the data suggests if not proves that the information about the victim is true. There are privacy charges, but currently there is no privacy law in Ireland. Direct financial damages are possible, but the cost of the case is usually more than the loss? And there is the time it takes…

In the case of the recent UK financial data loss a lot of the data is personal data pertaining to minors. In fact everything needed for identity theft for then the minor becomes an adult. So someone sitting on the data would wait 10 to 18 years to strike. Is there a statute of limitations (or similar) for data theft? Or in this case, identity stolen almost a generation ago?

Well, I have asked more questions than I’ve answered…

Anyone able to answer some of these too?

Take care,
William Knott

With kind thanks to John Looney of Google (for the tech and social angles) and Simon McGarr of Tuppenceworth.ie (for the legal questions and answers)

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“I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!

Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize…
Only be sure always to call it please, ‘research'”. — Tom Lehrer (MP3)

Now then, I have no doubt that most of you think I’m talking about a little kerfulle (called copyright theft) between Daimen Mulley and Ace Internet Marketing, but not quite.

First off, Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky really did exist, but there is no evidence that he plagerized. The entire Tom Lehrer was written for Danny Kaye was a joke but the above attitude exists… because it’s legal!

Lobachevsky and Lehrer both work in mathematics… a hard science. And simply put, you can’t copyright a fact.

Think about it. What colour is the sky on your planet? “The sky is blue” is a fact and not copyrightable. The line “well, I’m from Ireland so it’s mostly overcast grey” is opinion, and so is copyrightable.

If you publish a non-fiction book, then you are stating that everything in it is fact. If someone then used the facts in your book as a basis for fiction, you shouldn’t be able to sue. If its a history (or even a pseudo-history) book, then your “plot premise” is probably re-producable without you getting a penny.
However is large chunks of your text have been copied (and not text attributed from another source) then you have a stronger case.

So, if you are going to steal off someone, it is better to take the facts and then reproduce it in your own words.

What about fair use… well let me put it this way, if you take content form another site, make the entire chunk a link. If your post, article, whatever is almost entirely a link… you have breached fair use.

Unless of course you do something to turn it (or them) into a completely different work. Think Andy Warhol and his soup cans. Think any of those music mashups you can think of. Usually it forces you to listen to the sources with fresh ears.

Or think about it creatively. Take other peoples footage from across the world and edit it in to a cheap music video to make a point like Sarah McLachlan does in “World on Fire”

Or mix together 32 songs and 28 different dance routines to make something humorous (laugh-out-loud in places) like Judson Laipply does with “The Evolution Of Dance”.

take care,

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When the precursor to the phonograph arrived, John Philip Sousa was not a happy musician. He fretted that people would stop spending time singing the old songs and the songs of the day.

I don’t know if he meant mixing them together, but he was right.
Sort of.

The law changed in such a way to make these mixes illegal. But Mashups still live…

Yup I’m going to Mashup University (and possibly Mashup Camp too). Sousa (and perhaps Larry Lessig) would be proud.

To see what I’m talking about here is Larry Lessig talk on Creativity recorded at TED in March of this year. And yes I so want to go to one of these.

Embedded video from T.E.D. Talks series

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