Sunday, March 26, 2017

2016 White Paper Concludes That Online Consumers Don't Understand Copyright

You don't say!

In January of 2016, a government task force concluded in a White Paper on Remix, First Sale, and Statutory Damages that, when consumers download ebooks, music, movies etc, they do not understand what they can legally do with these copies (or what they cannot do).

Now, on April 18th, 2017, this government task force is going to talk about it.

How long has online piracy been a problem for authors, musicians, movie-makers, artists, photographers? Since 2003? Should we say "better late than never"? Anyway, on April 18th, 2017, the government is prepared to "facilitate a dialogue" with the public about whether or not the government can help.

If you happen to be in Alexandria, Virginia, you may attend in person, space permitting. Registration is free. The event will also be webcast, so you may watch. Webcast information is on the USPTO's event page.

Forgive my snark, but it appears that the copyright notices that every ebook publisher prints in the front matter of every ebook is no protection whatsoever, and copyright infringers who "share" entire ebooks including the copyright page, may be "innocent infringers", and ought not to be fined as much as the law currently allows if they are caught.

It seems that "all rights reserved" and "no portion of this work may be reproduced" and "this book... shall not be lent... resold... hired out... or otherwise circulated..." is not clear and understandable. 

So, this meeting will focus on "identifying what copyright-related terms and conditions are important to communicate to consumers...".  Unfortunately, instead of communicating to copyright infringers what the law says, the liberal USPTO intends to discuss how many "lends", "resales", "shares" and "transfers of ownership" are reasonable and ought to be allowed.

The Task Force will also facilitate discussion on whether a "Buy" button ought to be called something else, if the author does not intend to transfer all rights including copyright and resale rights.

Here is some excellent advice for self-publishing authors about their front and back matter.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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