Court backs student in textbook copyright case

A recent landmark copyright case could greatly benefit students.

In a case with important implications for the used textbook market, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 19 that textbooks and other goods made and sold abroad can be re-sold online and in discount stores without violating U.S. copyright law.

In a 6-3 opinion, the court threw out a copyright infringement award to publisher John Wiley & Sons against Thai graduate student Supap Kirtsaeng, who used eBay to resell copies of the publisher’s copyrighted books that his relatives first bought abroad at cut-rate prices.

Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion for the court that once goods are sold lawfully, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, publishers and manufacturers lose the protection of U.S. copyright law.…Read More

Tips for understanding copyright rules

U.S. copyright law includes five exclusive rights, but educators can use copyrighted works under the fair use practice.

With headlines about tough copyright rulings fresh in their minds, educators across the nation might hesitate when it comes to using copyrighted material in their lessons or sharing copyrighted works with students.

But according to the American Library Association (ALA), educators should not worry about using such material to boost student knowledge if it falls under the scope of fair use.

The original and intended purpose of copyright law is to promote learning and the dissemination of knowledge, said Carrie Russell, director of the library association’s Program on Public Access to Information. “The copyright law was just as important to them as the post office,” she said, adding that the founding fathers wanted to ensure that the new democracy was well-functioning and that people had access to valuable information.…Read More

Online piracy bill could be major burden for colleges

SOPA has not yet been voted on in Congress.

Campus librarians and IT staffers could be legally required to comb through digital traffic for signs of copyright violations if Congress passes online piracy legislation that has met stiff opposition from higher-education groups that see the law as broad censoring of the internet.

The House of Representative’s Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act, backed by the influential entertainment industry as a way to crack down on web-based copyright violations, could impose a lasting workload on college and university officials charged with tracking online piracy on their school’s network.

SOPA, introduced in October by a bipartisan group of legislators, would let the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders secure court orders against websites accused of contributing to internet copyright infringement.…Read More

New copyright ruling affects educators

Students can rip movie excerpts legally, but only if they are film/media studies majors. Copyright: opensourceway
Students can rip movie excerpts legally, but only if they are film/media studies majors. Copyright: opensourceway

A new ruling from the U.S. Copyright Office will affect how higher-education students and teachers can use digital material in the classroom, thanks to the efforts a university professor who says that increasing students’ digital literacy is a responsibility educators can’t afford to brush off.

The change is part of a new interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a U.S. copyright law that criminalizes production and dissemination of software, devices, or services intended to circumvent the digital rights management (DRM) technology that controls access to copyrighted works. The U.S. Copyright Office, a branch of the Library of Congress that meets to discuss exemptions every three years, oversees management of the DMCA.

Renee Hobbs, professor of communication at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater, was one of a handful of educators who led a formal petition of the Copyright Office in 2009 to receive an exemption that would allow educators and students to legally “rip” excerpts of copy-protected movie DVDs for comment and criticism in media or film studies classes. “Ripping” is the process of copying audio or video content to a hard disk, typically from removable media.…Read More

Major copyright ruling a victory for ‘user-generated content’

The pirated material came from the millions of people who have uploaded clips to YouTube since its 2005 inception.
The pirated material came from the millions of people who have uploaded clips to YouTube since its 2005 inception.

In a high-stakes legal battle with important implications for the future of the internet, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York sided with Google Inc. on June 23 as he rebuffed media company Viacom Inc.’s attempt to collect more than $1 billion in damages for alleged copyright infringement by the Google-owned web site YouTube during its first two years of existence.

YouTube’s actions spoke louder than its founders’ words when it came down to deciding whether the internet’s most watched video site illegally exploited copyrighted clips owned by Viacom, the judge found.

The 30-page opinion embraces Google’s interpretation of a 12-year-old law that shields internet services from claims of copyright infringement as long as they promptly remove illegal content when notified of a violation.…Read More