Jul 302014
 

jon-band[This post was updated on August 4, in response to the President's signature of the cell phone unlocking bill.]

On July 25, 2014, the House of Representatives passed the version of cell phone unlocking legislation adopted ten days earlier by the Senate. President Obama promptly announced that he would sign the legislation, bringing at least a short-term resolution to a controversy that had burst into the public eye early in 2013. The underlying issue, however, has much deeper roots, stretching back to the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998. Moreover, the legislation only temporarily permits consumers to unlock their cell phones to access other mobile networks. In 2015, the Librarian of Congress will determine whether to renew this permission for another three years. A permanent solution to this problem appears precluded by the free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This paper examines the legal background of this matter. Continue reading »

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Jun 102014
 

lca[Library Copyright Alliance Press Release, Link] The Library Copyright Alliance is extremely pleased with today’s decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, finding in favor of fair use. The Library Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief (PDF) in the case, supporting HathiTrust’s position and the lower court’s finding of fair use. Jonathan Band, counsel for the Library Copyright Alliance, said, “The decision is a significant victory for the public.” Continue reading »

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May 072014
 

jon-bandThe Administration’s 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement identifies “protection of public health and safety” as one of its “primary concerns.” A press release issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 24, 2014, concerning its intellectual property seizures in fiscal year 2013 suggests that its IP enforcement efforts are largely targeted at preventing the importation of counterfeit products that threaten health and safety. The actual statistics, however, reveal a somewhat different story: that DHS is either exaggerating the danger posed by counterfeit goods to health and safety, or it is not taking that danger seriously enough. Continue reading »

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Apr 142014
 

bad-gerafiJonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi

In March 2014, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) announced that global industry revenues declined 3.9 percent in 2013. IFPI claims that “digital piracy is the biggest single threat to the development of the licensed music sector and to investment in artists.” Notwithstanding these dire pronouncements, the record labels remain profitable and the music industry as a whole is thriving.

Click here for the full paper.

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Mar 132014
 

jon-bandOn March 4, 2013, the White House announced that it disagreed with the decision of the Librarian of Congress not to allow consumers to unlock their cell phones to access other mobile networks. The White House took this position in response to a “We The People” petition that gained over 114,000 signatures. With legislation to address this issue pending in Congress, the five largest mobile carriers on December 12, 2013, adopted a voluntary commitment to allow cell phone unlocking after the expiration of a service contract. While this voluntary commitment provides some benefit to consumers, a comprehensive legislative solution may be precluded by the free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This paper examines the legal background of this matter.

An earlier version was posted previously, but this version has been updated to reflect the debate over the new bulk unlocking language that was added as the bill went to the House floor.

Click here for the full paper (PDF)

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Feb 092014
 

jon-band[Cross posted from the DisCo Blog, Link]  The second season of the gripping Washington drama House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, will be available on Netflix in two weeks. But this post is about a different house of cards – the study released yesterday by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on the Economic Impact of Global Software Theft on U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness and Innovation. Although infringement of software obviously occurs throughout the world, the NAM report contains serious flaws. Continue reading »

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Jan 062014
 

Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi

Notwithstanding the challenges of quantifying the impact of copyright infringement on particular companies or industry sectors, there is a useful neutral source of qualitative information on the likely impact of infringement: the reports prepared by investment advisors concerning publicly traded companies. These equity research reports make investment recommendations (e.g., buy, hold, or sell) based on the companies’ performance and the risks they face.

We have reviewed the equity research reports issued over the past 90 days for eight leading companies in copyright-intensive industries: two software firms (Microsoft and Adobe); two publishers (Pearson and Reed Elsevier); the owners of two major motion picture studios (Disney and Viacom, owner of Paramount); and the owners of two major record labels (Sony, owner of Sony Music Entertainment, and Vivendi, owner of Universal Music Group).  In addition to Sony Music Entertainment, Sony owns Sony Pictures Entertainment (which in turn owns Columbia Pictures), while Vivendi also owns the Canal+ motion picture and television production and distribution company. Continue reading »

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The Cell Phone Unlocking Saga

 Posted by on December 23, 2013  4 Responses »
Dec 232013
 

jon-bandOn March 4, 2013, the White House announced that it disagreed with the decision of the Librarian of Congress not to allow consumers to unlock their cell phones to access other mobile networks. The White House took this position in response to a “We The People” petition that gained over 114,000 signatures. With legislation to address this issue pending in Congress, the five largest mobile carriers on December 12, 2013, adopted a voluntary commitment to allow cell phone unlocking after the expiration of a service contract. While this voluntary commitment provides some benefit to consumers, a comprehensive legislative solution may be precluded by the free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This paper examines the legal background of this matter.[1] Continue reading »

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Wikipedia’s Economic Value

 Posted by on October 3, 2013  3 Responses »
Oct 032013
 

jon-band[Jonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi]  In the copyright policy debate, proponents of strong copyright protection tend to be dismissive of the quality of freely available content. In response to counter-examples such as open access scholarly publications and advertising-supported business models (e.g., newspaper websites and the over-the-air television broadcasts viewed by 50 million Americans), the strong copyright proponents center their attack on amateur content. In this narrative, YouTube is for cat videos and Wikipedia is a wildly unreliable source of information.

Recent studies, however, indicate that the volunteer-written and -edited Wikipedia is no less reliable than professionally edited encyclopedias such as the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Moreover, Wikipedia has far broader coverage. Continue reading »

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Sep 262013
 

band-jaszi [by Jonathan Band and Peter Jaszi]  The Marrakesh Treaty, adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization this past summer, provides Contracting Parties with great flexibility concerning the implementation of its obligations. Article 4(2) sets forth one way a Contracting Party may meet its obligation under Article 4(1) to permit the making and distribution of accessible format copies domestically.  Likewise, Article 5(2) sets forth one way a Contracting Party may meet its obligation under Article 5(1) to permit the cross-border exchange of accessible format copies. Continue reading »

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Aug 142013
 

bad-gerafiJonathan Band and Jonathan Gerafi.  Today we’re releasing a study on CEO compensation in copyright-intensive industries. We found that for the past six years, the CEOs of firms in copyright-intensive industries received significantly higher compensation than the CEOs of the firms in the other industries we used for comparison (construction, transportation, and mining). For example, in 2012, copyright-intensive industry CEOs received $22.9 million on average in compensation, while the CEOs in the other industries received $7.4 million.  In other words, the 2012 compensation of copyright-intensive industry CEOs was more than triple the compensation of CEOs in the other industries. Continue reading »

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Aug 132013
 

jon-band[Reposted from DisCo, Link] Earlier this summer, I gave a talk in Seoul, Korea regarding how the United States actually has two copyright policies: one domestic and one foreign. These policies differ both in terms of how they are formulated, and what they say. Although these two policies have started converging, they still aren’t the same.

The talk occurred at a conference on “The Creative Economy and Intellectual Property” hosted by the Korean Institute for Intellectual Property and the Korean Intellectual Property Office. The conference reflected South Korean President Park’s initiative to promote a “creative economy” in Korea, which I suppose is an effort to distinguish Korea from the perceived “imitative economies” of other Asian countries such as China. At the conference, strong intellectual property protection was portrayed by the hosting organizations as critical to encouraging the development of a creative economy. Continue reading »

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