Wednesday, August 10, 2022

At the end of 2021, Blake Reid published an article on "Copyright and Disability in the California Law Review. The article is available through the Law Review and the SSRN website (Elsevier) in full-text.  As he states in the abstract, Reid has written this article after noting "an ableist tradition in the development of U.S. copyright policy." Sections of the paper include:

  1. Introduction: Accessibility and Copyright Limitations and Exceptions
  2. The History of Accessible Books and Copyright in the United States
  3. Accessible Films and Television in the United States
  4. The Future of Accessible Copyrighted Works 

Accessibility should be the norm, yet it is not. Sadly, as he notes, copyright concerns can get in the way of accessibility.

Abstract

A vast array of copyrighted works—books, video programming, software, podcasts, video games, and more—remain inaccessible to people with disabilities. International efforts to adopt limitations and exceptions to copyright law that permit third parties to create and distribute accessible versions of books for people with print disabilities have drawn some attention to the role that copyright law plays in inhibiting the accessibility of copyrighted works. However, copyright scholars have not meaningfully engaged with the role that copyright law plays in the broader tangle of disability rights.

This Article fills a gap in the copyright literature by observing that recent progress toward copyright limitations and exceptions elides an ableist tradition in the development of U.S. copyright policy: centering the interests of copyright holders, rather than those of readers, viewers, listeners, users, and authors with disabilities. The Article illuminates this ableist tradition through two contrasting case studies of U.S. policy toward making copyrighted works accessible. First, the Article examines the pre-Civil War institutional approach to creating and distributing accessible books, which became mired in copyright issues at the Library of Congress in the lead-up to the 1976 Copyright Act and forms the basis of today’s paradigm of copyright law’s application to accessibility. Second, the Article traces the divergent approach to captioned films and television, which mostly avoided copyright issues after responsibility shifted away from the Library of Congress and evolved into a radically divergent regulatory approach administered by the Federal Communications Commission.

These case studies demonstrate that copyright’s ableist tradition subordinates the actual interests of people with disabilities to access copyrighted works to the hypothetical interests of copyright holders who may withhold access without reason. This subordination has led to a harmful, invasive, and unnecessary intrusion of copyright’s permission structure and culture into disability policy. The Article argues that copyright limitations and exceptions should not be understood as an expansion of access to people with disabilities but rather as an important-but-modest reversal of copyright’s largely unnecessary presence in disability policy. That reversal leaves unresolved significant questions about how to actually make copyrighted works accessible that must ultimately be answered by disability law, not copyright law.

Citation

Reid, Blake Ellis, Copyright and Disability (December 2021). 109 Calif. L. Rev. 2173, U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3381201

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Jonathan Bailey: One Month of the Copyright Claims Board

In his blog post, Jonathan Bailey wrote:

But now that over a month has passed, I wanted to take a look and see what is going on with the CCB right now. Specifically, I wanted to see where we are in the process of these cases, what, if any, trends are emerging and what the likely next steps are.

I'm thrilled that we have people among us who are willing to dig into details like this. This is totally worth a read. 

 

Monday, August 08, 2022

Post: Misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

This blog post, Coming to You Soon from Beijing: Misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
is from January 2022. This entire post is worth reading and this text might lead you to do just that.

A user’s posting of inspiring moments from the broadcast of a sporting event is a fair use under the four factors set forth in 17 U.S.C. § 107 of the Copyright Act. (1) A user’s post is noncommercial and transformative; while the broadcaster is broadcasting the event to document the event itself, the user is reposting an image or a short clip to express her response to the event, e.g., admiration of the athlete’s accomplishment. (2) The broadcast is nonfiction coverage of a live event, which favors fair use. (3) The clips are only a short segment of a much longer event, and (4) as such do not harm the market for the broadcast of the entire event.

Copyright holders may use automated methods to find and notify a user of copyright infringement, but that does not mean that infringement occurred. Understand fair use for yourself and then be willing to use it!

Friday, August 05, 2022

How to read academic books and articles

My SU office

This is off-topic, but honestly something that does come up in conversations especially with new college students (of any age). 

When you were in high school, did your teachers teach you how to read academic materials? Mine didn't and I think it is the same for most students. Yet some guidance on how to read academic materials can make a huge difference. You might use your time better, cover more materials, and understand more about the topic. 

This is a topic where schools and others have produced good information, some of which is below (and you can find others). I encourage you to look at some of those resources and learn the techniques. My summary of the techniques is:

  • Not every work should be read the same way. This is a truth that instinctive we might know, but do not put into practice.
  • Understand why you are reading the work. What's the goal? This can help you determine how to read it.
  • Pre-read the work by reading the title, introduction, headings, table/graphic captions, and conclusion. This can help you understand the arch of the work and determine where to focus your energy in it. Perhaps you need to focus on one section, for example, and not the entire thing.
    • You might also read the first sentence  in every paragraph.
    • Notice any words you don't and find out what they mean.
    • Read. Don't underline.  
    • If it is a book, look at the table of contents and the index. Both will give you a sense of what the entire book contains.
  • Now read the entire work or the sections that contain new content or content that is important to the topic you are studying.
    • Limit how much you underline. We tend to underline too much! Consider underlining only after you have read the work. In other words, go back and understand key words or phrases.
  • Capture key points about the work. This could be notes that you create for each work. Perhaps it is notice written on the work (article) itself. This will help you remember what the work is about, especially if you will need to reference this work later.

This technique takes practice. You will need to be intentional about it, especially at first. However, once you understand it, I think you'll apply it to other words like long (non-academic) journal articles, the law, and other works. 

One final piece of advice. Just because you started reading a work doesn't mean that you need to finish it. True. If it isn't useful, move onto something else and don't feel guilty.

Okay, you've read (or skimmed) this far! What are your tips?

Resources

Monday, July 25, 2022

Blog Post: This Bear’s For You! (Or, Is It?)

Winnie the PoohThe subtitle to Jennifer Jenkins' post is, "Can Companies Use Copyright and Trademark To Claim Rights to Public Domain Works?" Of course they will try!  Jenkins provides excellent details about this, specifically regarding:

  • What Happens When the Same Characters Appear in Both Public Domain and Copyrighted Stories?
  • When Trademarks and Copyrights Overlap

If you're curious about what in the Pooh universe entered the public domain earlier this year or want to know more about how think about the distinctions between what is public domain and what is not, this post is for you!