Category Archives: Copyright + IP

articles about copyright reform, intellectual property rights & digital life

Note: regarding WKRP on TV and music licensing, Oingo Boingo, Fast Times etc.

As an aside, the reason the most excellent show – WKRP – is played so infrequently in reruns or released in box sets etc. is because of the huge challenges/expenses of licensing the music.

WKRP with “Dr.” Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap, Bailey Quarters and a poster of Oingo Boingo’s Only a Lad

Even though the songs are only used for a few seconds, it’s not like they like they could edit out Foghat (or Three Dog Night, or Average White Band) when Venus Flytrap or Johnny Fever introduces “… and now here’s Foghat…” Though the various TV re-runs and some boxsets so try to replace music with generic similar tracks (to great failure) 

Though some movies tried to change the soundtrack to skirt licensing fees when released on VHS (notably, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was sued by Danny Elfman for removing the Oingo Boingo song at the end… Mr. Elfman won, the song was reinstated and he cashed out, again).

Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter | Techdirt

by Mike Masnick

Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter

from the and-the-gold-medal-in-promotional-idiocracy-goes-to… dept

And we’ve got yet another example of insane attempts by the Olympics to extend copyright and trademark law well beyond its stated intentions (which, tragically, some governments have been known to accept in order to get the Olympics on their home turf). This time, it involves the International Olympic Committee sending a cease-and-desist to a guy who posted the photos he took at the Beijing Olympics on Flickr. Seriously.

It’s hard to understand what they’re complaining about specifically. They mention that he violated the “terms and conditions” on the back of the ticket (which are often not enforceable, anyway) in “licensing pictures.” Inquistr suggests the problem is that the guy, Richard Giles, put his own photos (on which he owns the copyright) on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. It’s difficult to see what sort of leg the IOC has to stand on here (though, it may involve jurisdiction in a few different countries). The guy took photos himself — so it’s his copyright. Putting them under a CC license is then his decision. The trademark claims are laughable. At best, the IOC might be able to claim breach of contract in violating the “back of the ticket” agreement — but even that seems like a stretch, and it’s difficult to see what sort of “harm” the IOC could suggest these photos caused.

It’s difficult to understand what the IOC thinks its accomplishing here. This was someone spreading the word (and view) of his Olympic attendance to his friends and many others online. You would think that would be seen as good and free advertising rather than as something for which the legal dogs should be unleashed. What sort of organization lets loose its lawyers on a fan posting photos showing off his cool experience attending an event? Honestly, I can’t fathom what anyone at the IOC could possibly be thinking here.

Source: Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter | Techdirt

IOC Sends C&D To AWIA Committee Member Over Olympic Photos on Flickr

Oct. 6 2009, Duncan Riley

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has sent a cease and desist notice to a committee member of the Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) over his publication of photos he took at the Beijing Olympics on Flickr.

The IOC is demanding that Richard Giles, who as well as being in charge of communications for AWIA is also the founder of Australian web startup Scouta, remove the images because under the terms of entry into the Olympics, photos taken “may not be used for any purpose other than private.”

The C&D (pictured below) even goes as far as suggesting that Richard’s use of the word “Olympic” is also illegal because it cannot be used without “prior written consent.”

The pictures on Richard’s Flickr account (at the time of writing still available online here) include a mix of photographs taken in public places and of Olympic events Richard saw while he was in Beijing at the time.

The legal issues raised by the C&D are mixed on a couple of fronts. The IOC has zero standing in demanding that Richard remove photographs outside of Olympic venues. It would also have a very slim to zero claim over the use of the term Olympic in Richard describing pictures he has taken, for example a description on this shot stating “Beijing Olympics Water Cube” is a factual description of the shot, as opposed to any effort to hijack the Olympic trade mark.

The publication of the pictures on Flickr could be argued to constitute private use, but although the IOC does not specify the issue in their letter, their problem may lie with the fact that Richard has a creative commons license attached to the images.

It should be noted that the IOC makes no copyright claim over the images because it can’t: the copyright of the images belongs to Richard under US and Australian law (Techdirt has an interesting article on the topic here.)

What it comes down to is an argument about the enforceability of the terms and conditions of the tickets Richard purchased to attend Olympic events, specifically relating to the pictures he took at those events (as opposed to pictures taken outside venues.) Solution Journalism explains the US situation:

“…once you take the pictures of a public sporting event, you (or your employer) own the copyright of the picture, even if the pictures were taken in violation of a contractual agreement (such as the terms on your ticket stub). It is not possible to own “the event.” This was legally decided in the 1997 case of NBA v. Motorola Inc.”

There’s also the question as to whether the photographs were taken on private property, a consideration in the enforcement of the terms and conditions in this case. The law in the United States and Australia is clear on this point: people are usually free (with some exceptions) to take photographs on public property. The Olympic infrastructure was publicly owned in China, so the ability to enforce T&C on non-privately held grounds becomes thin.

But all of this may be moot, because we have to consider where the pictures were taken, and in this case they were taken in China. Would the terms and conditions of a ticket sold for an event in China be enforceable in Australia? Although the photos are hosted in the United States, the issue isn’t one of copyright, so there is no grounds for a takedown notice, instead it is a dispute between Richard personally in Australia and the IOC.

My bet is that it would be difficult for the IOC to get an Australian court to enforce the terms and conditions imposed on an event in a stadium in China, let alone events held in stadiums that were publicly owned.

If it was me, I’d drop the CC licensing because that’s a front that would be more difficult to fight on. The rest comes down to do you want to go to court to battle it out; it would certainly make for some interesting case law and might finally put the wind up the likes of the IOC when it comes to muscling the little guy when it comes to fair use photography. If Richard does want to take it to court, let me be the first to contribute to his legal fund with a donation.

The IOC C&D as follows, a bigger version on Flickr here.
ioc letter

Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter: Canada needs principled approach to copyright | Vancouver, Canada |

Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter: Canada needs principled approach to copyright | Vancouver, Canada |

Canadian Copyright Reading Guide

Geof Glass: How Canada’s new copyright law will affect you

Canada is about to reform its copyright law. Our government is holding a public consultation, and we need to be involved.

Big media companies are pushing hard to make more activity illegal and to institute extraordinarily harsh penalties. They want your Internet provider to spy on your private communications to make sure you aren’t sharing anything you shouldn’t. They want to terminate your Internet access on the basis of mere accusations of infringement—with no need to prove you did anything wrong. They want to outlaw DVD players capable of playing legally purchased movies from Asia, Europe, or South America. They would allow teachers to critique popular culture without asking for permission—but then force them to destroy the lesson materials, and ensure that all students’ copies are also destroyed.


All the evidence from around the world is that draconian copyright laws do not work. They fail to stop freeloaders. But they are devastatingly effective at restricting artists and innovators—because they operate in the public eye. People see this. When they see copyright blocking the creativity it is supposed to promote, they lose respect for the law. For copyright law to be effective, it must be respected. To be respected, it must be fair.

I am a member of the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition. We want a fair law that benefits all Canadians—artists, innovators, educators, citizens, consumers. At, you can find more details. You can download a guide that makes it easy to write a submission reflecting your interests. Please participate in the consultation. Please help our government write a good law.


About the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition

The single most important thing you can do right now is to submit a comment in the government’s copyright consultation. We have written Copyright Consultation Made Easy, a simply guide to writing an effective submission to the consultation.

Download Copyright Consultation Made Easy, our simple guide to participating in the federal consultation.


Charlie Angus: Will the Conservatives get the message on copyright reform?

Over the last five years, there has been a slow but steady movement between the various “armed camps” on copyright. When I speak with artists groups or consumer advocates, there is a growing recognition of the need to move beyond the rhetoric and get the legislation rolling.

Needless to say, the corporate lobbyists continue to attempt to define the debate as in apocalyptic terms. To them, Canada is a haven of “pirates”, “thieves”, and “bootleggers”. But the Chicken Little approach to copyright is wearing thin. Put simply, people aren’t buying it anymore. All we have to do is look south of the border to see the results of corporate-driven copyright legislation. Earlier this summer, an American single mother was smacked with a US$1.92-million judgment for trading a batch of Gloria Estefan and Green Day MP3s.


Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter: Canada needs principled approach to copyright

By Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter

Indeed, the time has come to move beyond commonly repeated rhetoric that either inaccurately describes so-called pirates who “steal” media or else falsely advocates for free copyright and performance-based business models. The issue of copyright extends much farther than this rhetoric and deserves focused attention. In fact, even distinctions between creators and users fail to reflect an accurate picture of the nature of innovation. In the digital age of blogs and remixes, the lines between creators and users have become even more blurred.

Thus far, no political party has offered a positive vision on copyright. Such a vision must reflect simple truths. Information-sharing technologies are here to stay. These technologies are beneficial to all sectors of the economy. A thriving information commons is one that yields sustainable artistic innovation.

From these truths a principled approach to copyright emerges:

  • User rights must be defined and extended through a flexible fair-dealing mechanism;
  • Current laws on Crown copyright and public domain must be reformed to build a healthy information commons; and
  • Protection and compensation for creators must be ensured through a statutory-damages provision based on reasonably demonstrated loss.


Bill Henderson: Voluntary music file-sharing fee would benefit songwriters and fans

By Bill Henderson

The Songwriters Association of Canada believes—and Internet technical experts agree—that unauthorized file-sharing cannot be stopped without actually shutting down the Internet. Attempts to sue it out of existence are futile. They alienate our audience, and earn us no money.

Canadian songwriters don’t want to sue file-sharers. In fact, we like file-sharing. It’s the most efficient distribution system of the largest repertoire of music ever assembled, and it’s available to virtually everyone. What’s not to love about that? We don’t want to stop it; we just want to get paid for the use of our work. We think that most music fans agree with that, and that millions of Canadians would welcome a legal way to share any and all music files.

The Songwriters Association has proposed a way to do just that. It would be voluntary for consumers, voluntary for songwriters and rights holders, and it would be administratively light. A small fee from file-sharers would be collected and distributed on a pro rata basis to all the creators and owners of the music shared.

SAC Songwriters Association of Canada

To have a universal recognition that songs play a spiritual and intellectual role in society which is of profound and lasting benefit to humanity.


To protect and develop the creative and business environments for songwriters in Canada and around the world.


Advocacy – Education – Community

An association led by active professional and amateur songwriters, the S.A.C. is committed to the development and recognition of Canadian composers, lyricists and songwriters by pursuing:

* their right to benefit from and receive fair compensation for, the use of their work;
* the advancement of the craft and enterprise of songwriting through educational programs, networking opportunities, dissemination of business knowledge and other services;
* a more favorable environment through the provision of a united national voice when dealing with government, the music industry and the general public; and
* the development of activities which allow members to reach out and enjoy the sense of community shared by songwriters.