Sharing music, images and movies - using a PVR to record TV shows, creating your own Hitler parodies from Downfall and using photos from websites - is something many of people do every day. But are they legal activities? It's possible that you're breaking copyright laws, either intentionally or inadvertently every day. Here's a look at copyright law and what you can do to protect yourself.
Tagged With copyright
For the first time in twenty years, as the Atlantic points out, a whole year's worth of copyrighted works will enter the public domain in the U.S. on January 1, 2019. Under the terms of the Sonny Bono Copyright Act, works first published in 1923 will enter the public domain, meaning anyone can re-publish them, or chop them up and use them in other projects, without asking permission or paying the old rights holders. You can record new versions of the musical compositions; you can show the movies for a profit; you can even remake them. Amazon can sell you the ebook and keep all the money, and Project Gutenberg can give you the ebook for free. The Atlantic has a short list; we have a longer one below.
A few years ago I was scrolling through the home page of a large magazine and saw a photo I had taken featured in the middle of its homepage. The pic was a distinctive one of a surprised Mark Zuckerberg that I had taken at a press conference. Where I was sitting when I took the picture and my luck in catching him at the precise moment he made the face in question made for a one-of-a-kind shot. I knew it was mine, and I knew I hadn't given the magazine permission to use it.
Like medical advice or the answers to HQ trivia questions, you need to be careful where you get your legal advice. Twenty-odd years into the internet, people still make terrible decisions based on a faulty understanding of the law. We asked several lawyers to share the one thing they wish everyone knew about the legal profession, or how to get a lawyer. Here are their answers.
If you've gone to YouTube to watch an unofficial upload of a TV episode, or even a single scene from your favourite anime, you've probably seen the weird things uploaders do to stop YouTube from taking down their videos. Your show might be sped up a bit, the voices pitched down, the video flipped horizontally or covered in digital snowfall. Maybe you suffered through it, recognising that this degraded quality is a necessary sacrifice to avoid YouTube's copyright bots. The bad news is, it was probably completely unnecessary.
"A good composer does not imitate; he steals," Igor Stravinsky supposedly said. Faulkner allegedly phrased it as "Immature artists copy, great artists steal." Steve Jobs put it most simply: "Good artists copy, great artists steal." The saying regularly inspires artists, thinkers and dorm-room poster designers. But in practical terms, what does it mean?
This week, Village Roadshow co-CEO Graham Burke announced the company will start suing Australians who infringe on its copyright. This means anyone who has streamed or downloaded a movie via an illegal pirate site is potentially in its cross hairs.
But when will litigation begin? Who will be targeted? And how much money will you need to pay? We spoke directly to Burke to get some answers.
If you're a professional photographer who assumed that slapping an obtrusive watermark across your work would protect it from being misused online, Google has some bad news for you. A team of researchers from the company has found a way to automatically and perfectly erase the watermarks used by popular stock photography organisations.
At a for-profit editorial outlet like Lifehacker, when we need an image for our posts, we can't just do a Google image search and slap up the first result. We have to use properly licensed photos. Sometimes we use our own original photos, sometimes stock images that we pay for, sometimes the millions of Flickr photos licensed for free use through Creative Commons.
The current row about the certification of Manuka honey, and whether it is a distinctly New Zealand product, is just the latest dispute involving Geographical Indications (GIs). These are markers that products have special qualities due to their origins in a specific region, like Champagne.
There is a debate as to whether a registered GI system for food should be adopted in Australia. It might be good for our farmers – to more effectively protect King Island Beef, Bangalow pork or Tasmanian lobster against low quality imitations. But would it be in the best interest of Australian producers and consumers to simply capitulate to demands about New Zealand Manuka, or about GIs in general?
Last week, we brought you the news that Village Roadshow was seeking to add 40 more sites to Australia's anti-piracy block list. ISPs will now need to ban customers from accessing popular torrent and movie streaming sites that include ExtraTorrent, Demonoid, Torrent Downloads, TorrentProject, YTS, 123Movies, and Icefilms. Here is the full list of banned websites (and how to bypass the blocks).
Copyright holders certainly have legitimate grievances when it comes to piracy. People who turn to the BitTorrent channel to watch the latest blockbuster movies are stealing and it's delusional to tell yourself otherwise, no matter how justified you feel in your actions.
That said, it's hard to feel sorry for Australia's copyright police when they're so determined to shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity.
In December last year, the Federal Court ordered Australian ISPS to block a number of popular torrent websites in a case brought on by Foxtel and Village Roadshow. The court gave ISPs 15 working days to implement site-blocking technology to prevent subscribers from accessing the torrent websites. Today is the deadline.
Dear Lifehacker, I have made many trips to Bali and now have over 100 cheap DVDs purchased from market stalls over there. I like to travel but carrying around 100 DVDs isn't very efficient. I was thinking about moving them onto my MacBook but don't want to get in trouble for breaking copyright. Am I allowed to transfer these DVDs to a MacBook or is this considered pirating?