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Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 305

No. Here's the relevant part of the ruling, quoting the Senate report on the bill:

"[i]f the `primary purpose' of the recording function is to make objects other than digital audio copied recordings, then the machine or device is not a `digital audio recording device,' even if the machine or device is technically capable of making such recordings."

What information does the car's system digitally record other than music? That it might display digital information, or play digital information isn't relevant, since those don't involve the recording function.

Computers record lots of stuff to their hard drives. Some of it is music, but the ability to write to disk isn't primarily designed for digital music, nor primarily marketed for that.

Comment: Re:Time Shifting? (Score 1) 305

No, the car doesn't count.

Let's look at a bit more of the relevant language in the statute:

A âoedigital audio recording deviceâ is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use

It's what the primary purpose of the digital recording function is (or is marketed as) that matters. We disregard the car and the rest of the machine altogether.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 305

I think you really need to go back and read up on Copyright Law (17 USC). The license is implied in Copyright Law.

No, there's no license, particularly no license 'implied in the law,' whatever that means.

You have an inherent free speech right to do anything with a work that you like, except for things that copyright gives an exclusive right to the copyright holder about. A copyright holder can only possibly grant a license for something that he holds a right to; he cannot give you permission to do something you don't need his permission for. And once the copyright on the work expires (no, seriously), you're no longer limited as to the exclusive rights either.

So for example, there is an exclusive right to publicly perform music, but not an exclusive right to privately perform music. Even if you have a stolen CD that was itself made illegally, you can lawfully privately perform it without infringing on copyright. No license or anything.

All this licensing bullshit basically is a side effect of stupid (and largely unnecessary) practices in the software industry. It's mostly folk myths. If there's a license, you'll usually know it: it will almost certainly be pages and pages long, written, and you'll have to expressly agree in some way. Record companies would not sell CDs with some sort of implied license.

No, the CD is the work, it is not the derivative.

Depends. Assuming you just mean an album, and not the piece of plastic, it'll either be a work or a compilation.

You do have a right to transform it.

No, that's preparation of a derivative work, probably; an exclusive right at 17 USC 106(2), and doing it is infringing at 17 USC 501(a). You'll need an exception to copyright, or for the work not to be copyrighted, or a license, in order to just make the derivative, never mind distributing it. And if it's not a derivative work after all (see the definition at 17 USC 101), it's likely an infringement of the reproduction right at 17 USC 106(1).

By definition, Fair Use is not an infringement.

Correct. Though as a practical matter, it's treated like an affirmative defense... it just makes more sense to do it that way, even though it is indeed an exception to copyright.

Comment: Re:The Alliance of Artists should lose this suit (Score 1) 305

As long as you don't distribute it, its totally legal. No doubt about it.

No, it's only legal under the right circumstances. Fair use is entirely a case-by-case thing. Just because it could be a fair use sometimes doesn't mean that it will be every time. And vice versa, under the right circumstances, any sort of infringement might be a fair use.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend relying entirely on it if a better option were available.

Comment: Re:I had to look up the AARC (Score 1) 305

The AHRA means it is _legal_ to buy a blank audio CDR, copy a CD onto it (or make a mix CD), and give it to your friend.

No.

First, it doesn't make it legal, it makes it non-actionable; there's a difference. (I am reliably told that it was supposed to be legal, but it got changed at the last minute in a suspicious manner)

Second, it doesn't say you can give the AHRA-compliant copies away. Just that they can be noncommercially 'used.'

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 305

Even before CDs were invented it was legal to make your own copy for your own use of copyrighted material you owned

Actually, it was never quite clear. It's since been expressly made non-infringing (not technically the same thing as legal; they're very sneaky) in some situations, but not any that are relevant to most people. There's also a fair use argument, but that's not the best thing in the world to rely on; fair use depends on the specific circumstances at hand, and doesn't always produce consistent results.

Comment: Re:Unbelievable (Score 1) 305

This seems to be clearly format shifting for personal use which should be entirely legal.

Should be, but that's not actually what the case is about. This is about making & selling a limited purpose device with a digital music ripping function. Such devices are required to have certain limits, and the people who make, import, or distribute them, have to pay certain royalties. And it looks as though neither requirement has been complied with here.

People don't ordinarily run into this, since computers are general purpose devices which also happen to be able to rip, and are therefore exempt.

Comment: I think that this is actually illegal (Score 1) 305

I don't think that it should be, but let's take a look at the actual law, since 'should be' doesn't provide much practical help.

What we're looking at is the Audio Home Recording Act, or AHRA, which is Chapter 10 of the Copyright Act, and can be found at 17 USC 1001 et seq.

17 USC 1002:

No person shall import, manufacture, or distribute any digital audio recording device or digital audio interface device that does not conform to-- (1) the Serial Copy Management System; (2) a system that has the same functional characteristics as the Serial Copy Management System and requires that copyright and generation status information be accurately sent, received, and acted upon between devices using the system's method of serial copying regulation and devices using the Serial Copy Management System; or (3) any other system certified by the Secretary of Commerce as prohibiting unauthorized serial copying.

17 USC 1004:

(a) Prohibition on Importation and Manufacture.-- No person shall import into and distribute, or manufacture and distribute, any digital audio recording device or digital audio recording medium unless such person records the notice specified by this section and subsequently deposits the statements of account and applicable royalty payments for such device or medium specified in section 1004.

So the question is, is this feature in the car a "digital audio recording device," "digital audio interface device," or "digital audio recording medium"? As always, if a term is specially defined in the statute, that meaning controls, as opposed to the ordinary meaning. Definitions are provided at section 1001. They're a bit complicated, and we'll have to work through several layers here.

Let's start with a digital audio recording device.

Per 17 USC 1001, a "digital audio recording device" is:

A "digital audio recording device" is any machine or device of a type commonly distributed to individuals for use by individuals, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine or device, the digital recording function of which is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use, except for-- (A) professional model products, and (B) dictation machines, answering machines, and other audio recording equipment that is designed and marketed primarily for the creation of sound recordings resulting from the fixation of nonmusical sounds.

This refers to another definition:

A "digital audio copied recording" is a reproduction in a digital recording format of a digital musical recording, whether that reproduction is made directly from another digital musical recording or indirectly from a transmission.

And that refers to yet another definition:

(A) A "digital musical recording" is a material object-- (i) in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds, and material, statements, or instructions incidental to those fixed sounds, if any, and
(ii) from which the sounds and material can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

(B) A "digital musical recording" does not include a material object-- (i) in which the fixed sounds consist entirely of spoken word recordings, or (ii) in which one or more computer programs are fixed, except that a digital musical recording may contain statements or instructions constituting the fixed sounds and incidental material, and statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in order to bring about the perception, reproduction, or communication of the fixed sounds and incidental material.

(C) For purposes of this paragraph-- (i) a "spoken word recording" is a sound recording in which are fixed only a series of spoken words, except that the spoken words may be accompanied by incidental musical or other sounds, and (ii) the term "incidental" means related to and relatively minor by comparison.

Also,

A âoeprofessional model productâ is an audio recording device that is designed, manufactured, marketed, and intended for use by recording professionals in the ordinary course of a lawful business, in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of Commerce shall establish by regulation.

So --

The machine in the cars is a digital audio recording device, as that term is defined in the statute, if:

1) It is commonly distributed to individuals, for use by individuals

I think that's true here

2) It doesn't matter whether or not it is included with, or part of some other machine or device

So the fact that it's part of a car doesn't protect it

3) The digital recording function (i.e. the CD ripping; more on this in a minute) is designed or marketed for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, making a digital audio copied recording for private use.

Since this refers to only a specific function, and not to the whole device, or to the overall car (which was already excluded as being the other machine or device that this device is part of), I think it probably applies. The feature is designed to make copies, and the CD ripping feature is marketed for the purpose of making copies.

4) There's an exception for professional model products. But those are defined as being designed, manufactured, marketed, AND intended for use by recording professionals. I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

5) There's another exception for dictation machines, answering machines, and equipment that is designed and marketed for making recordings of non-musical sounds. Again, I don't think that this qualifies, and therefore the exception doesn't help us.

6) So, it now hinges on whether the digital recording function as discussed above, is designed and marketed for making digital audio copied recordings. That's a reproduction of a digital music recording, in a digital format. Well, whatever the music is being stored as (mp3, wav, flac, etc.) I think we can expect that it's a digital format. So are the CDs digital music recordings?

They're material objects -- like CDs -- in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds and incidental material, and from which the sounds can be perceived with the aid of a device.

So yes, CDs appear to qualify.

7) We've got a couple of last-ditch exceptions; if none of these apply, we're in trouble. Are the CDs only spoken word recordings? Well, some CDs are, but I doubt that the functionality or even the marketing only involved that. Do the CDs include computer programs beyond the 'incidental material' level discussed above? Likely not; we're basically looking at music CDs.

So that's it: Because the relevant function of the device makes digital copies of CDs, and is designed or marketed with that as the primary purpose, and is commonly sold to individuals, for use by individuals, notwithstanding the fact that it's part of a larger device and a car, the devices at issue are digital audio recording devices. And it's illegal to make, import, or distribute them unless you comply with certain copy protection schemes and pay royalties.

We can even leave the questions about a digital audio interface device (probably not), and digital audio recording medium (very probably not; it's almost certain to be a generic hard drive) as exercises for the reader.

But wait, you say -- didn't the RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia case say that this was allowed?

Well, no, actually; it didn't.

If you're unfamiliar with the Diamond Rio music player that was at issue in the case, just think of the older iPods that really only played music. The Rio had no ripping function; it could only copy mp3 files from an ordinary personal computer equipped with the correct software. The business of ripping CDs happened entirely on the personal computer side of things.

This meant that the Rio had no ability to directly (a requirement in the statute; look for it in the definition of a digital audio copied recording) make copies of a digital music recording, since the Rio copied files from the computer's hard disk, and a computer's hard disk doesn't qualify as a digital music recording. (It's not the physical medium that matters so much as that there's lots of stuff on the disk, such as computer software, beyond the merely incidental level)

This is what saved it -- the lack of a ripping feature. But the doohickey in the cars does have a ripping feature.

Further, the computers used to rip did not fall under the AHRA because they're general purpose computers, and their digital recording function was not their primary purpose. Even things like Apple's old 'Rip, Mix, Burn' ad campaign didn't make it the primary purpose.

Fair use is a fine argument, but it's functionally a defense against copyright infringement. The AHRA, despite being in the Copyright Act, is treated (like the DMCA) as something different. So fair use won't help here; the plaintiffs aren't alleging (AFAIK) infringement, but failure to comply with the AHRA.

The reason that fair use came up with the Rio was because the Rio didn't fall under the AHRA, and contributory copyright infringement was an alternate attempt to go after it, which also didn't work. The same argument as for the Rio would likely work just as well here -- if the plaintiffs were making a claim to which fair use applied. Too bad that they don't seem to be doing that.

Some people might also remember 17 USC 1008, the part of the AHRA that limits certain actions. Sadly, it's of no use. That section limits infringement actions, and this is not an infringement action. It's an action under the AHRA (sections 1009, 1002, and 1003 -- infringement is sections 501 and 106).

So as I said, I think that the plaintiffs here have a solid argument. There's a reason why mp3 players that did their own ripping were few and far between. The defendants here would've been wise to notice that, and to ask their lawyers to check to see if they could offer a ripping feature along with storage and playback, on a specific-purpose device.

I'd rather see the law changed to make this thoroughly legal without the stupid copy protection, restrictions, royalties, etc., but right now, it is what it is.

Comment: Don't get too happy (Score 1) 77

by cpt kangarooski (#47537873) Attached to: Compromise Struck On Cellphone Unlocking Bill

This bill actually does very little. The DMCA is written very broadly, and has been commonly interpreted as to prohibit cell phone unlocking. Because Congress, in the 90s, when they enacted the stupid thing, was aware that the DMCA could go too far, but didn't want to be cautious or have to keep reexamining the law itself, they gave authority to the Library of Congress to add exceptions to it in specific cases. The process for these exceptions is that every three years, anyone who wants an exception has to plead their case. If found worthy, they get an exception. But the exception only lasts until the next rule making session, three years hence. Then it has to be reargued from scratch or lost.

Two rule making sessions ago, the Library of Congress found that cellphone unlocking was worthy of an exception. But in the most recent rule making session, they did not find it worthy, and the exception was lost; it went back to its default state of being illegal.

This law could have amended the DMCA to permanently allow cellphone unlocking. Or it could've directed the Library of Congress to always find that cellphone unlocking is allowed. But it does neither of these.

Instead it only reinstates the rule from two sessions ago for the remainder of the current session. Next year it will have to be argued again, from scratch, to the Library of Congress, or lost, again. And even if argued, it can be rejected, again.

This is less than useless. It's only a temporary patch, it doesn't even have an iota of long term effect (the rules don't take precedent into account, and this doesn't change it), and we've wasted all this effort getting it instead of something worthwhile.

Comment: Re:The key distinction in the ruling (Score 1) 484

by cpt kangarooski (#47316847) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

So basically, if they just shift from LIVE to a TIME DELAYED model, they could go right on transmitting and not be considered "performing" under the current act.

As J. Scalia points out, the 'standard' the Court has chosen is unclear. Maybe that would be legal, maybe it wouldn't be. We'll never know until either 1) Congress amends the law to be clear about that; 2) Someone tries it and the Court reverses this opinion in a useful way; or 3) Someone tries it and the Court rules squarely on that in light of this opinion.

One thing is for sure: Only someone with lots of resources and a lot of daring will even attempt to find out by actually trying it.

Comment: The key distinction in the ruling (Score 5, Informative) 484

by cpt kangarooski (#47315793) Attached to: Supreme Court Rules Against Aereo Streaming Service

This case boiled down to one major issue: Whether the allegedly infringing conduct in this case was engaged in by either Aereo, or by its users. Don't get hung up on the public performance v. private performance issue; it was really certain that if Aereo was liable, that the performance was public; if it were the users, it would be private.

J. Scalia's dissent does a good job of explaining the issue:

There are two types of liability for copyright infringement: direct and secondary. As its name suggests, the former applies when an actor personally engages in infringing conduct. Secondary liability, by contrast, is a means of holding defendants responsible for infringement by third parties, even when the defendants âoehave not themselves engaged in the infringing activity.â It applies when a defendant âoeintentionally induc[es] or encourag[es]â infringing acts by others or profits from such acts âoewhile declining to exer- cise a right to stop or limit [them].â

Most suits against equipment manufacturers and service providers involve secondary-liability claims. For example, when movie studios sued to block the sale of Sonyâ(TM)s Betamax videocassette recorder (VCR), they argued that Sony was liable because its customers were making unauthorized copies. Record labels and movie studios relied on a similar theory when they sued Grokster and StreamCast, two providers of peer-to-peer file-sharing software.

This suit, or rather the portion of it before us here, is fundamentally different. The Networks claim that Aereo directly infringes their public-performance right. Accordingly, the Networks must prove that Aereo âoeperform[s]â copyrighted works, Â106(4), when its subscribers log in, select a channel, and push the âoewatchâ button. That process undoubtedly results in a performance; the question is who does the performing. If Aereoâ(TM)s subscribers perform but Aereo does not, the claim necessarily fails.
The Networksâ(TM) claim is governed by a simple but profoundly important rule: A defendant may be held directly liable only if it has engaged in volitional conduct that violates the Act. ...

A comparison between copy shops and video-on-demand services illustrates the point. A copy shop rents out photocopiers on a per-use basis. One customer might copy his 10-year-oldâ(TM)s drawingsâ"a perfectly lawful thing to doâ" while another might duplicate a famous artistâ(TM)s copyrighted photographsâ"a use clearly prohibited by Â106(1). Either way, the customer chooses the content and activates the copying function; the photocopier does nothing except in response to the customerâ(TM)s commands. Because the shop plays no role in selecting the content, it cannot be held directly liable when a customer makes an infringing copy.

Video-on-demand services, like photocopiers, respond automatically to user input, but they differ in one crucial respect: They choose the content. When a user signs in to Netflix, for example, âoethousands of . . . movies [and] TV episodesâ carefully curated by Netflix are âoeavailable to watch instantly.â That selection and arrangement by the service provider constitutes a volitional act directed to specific copyrighted works and thus serves as a basis for direct liability.

The distinction between direct and secondary liability would collapse if there were not a clear rule for determining whether the defendant committed the infringing act. The volitional-conduct requirement supplies that rule; its purpose is not to excuse defendants from accountability, but to channel the claims against them into the correct analytical track. Thus, in the example given above, the fact that the copy shop does not choose the content simply means that its culpability will be assessed using secondary-liability rules rather than direct-liability rules.

So which is Aereo: the copy shop or the video-on-demand service? In truth, it is neither. Rather, it is akin to a copy shop that provides its patrons with a library card. Aereo offers access to an automated system consisting of routers, servers, transcoders, and dime-sized antennae. Like a photocopier or VCR, that system lies dormant until a subscriber activates it. When a subscriber selects a pro- gram, Aereoâ(TM)s system picks up the relevant broadcast signal, translates its audio and video components into digital data, stores the data in a user-specific file, and transmits that fileâ(TM)s contents to the subscriber via the Internetâ"at which point the subscriberâ(TM)s laptop, tablet, or other device displays the broadcast just as an ordinary television would. ...

The only question is whether those performances are the product of Aereoâ(TM)s volitional conduct.

They are not. Unlike video-on-demand services, Aereo does not provide a prearranged assortment of movies and television shows. Rather, it assigns each subscriber an antenna thatâ"like a library cardâ"can be used to obtain whatever broadcasts are freely available. Some of those broadcasts are copyrighted; others are in the public do- main. The key point is that subscribers call all the shots: Aereoâ(TM)s automated system does not relay any program, copyrighted or not, until a subscriber selects the program and tells Aereo to relay it. Aereoâ(TM)s operation of that system is a volitional act and a but-for cause of the resulting performances, but, as in the case of the copy shop, that degree of involvement is not enough for direct liability.

In sum, Aereo does not âoeperformâ for the sole and simple reason that it does not make the choice of content. And because Aereo does not perform, it cannot be held directly liable for infringing the Networksâ(TM) public-performance right.

However, that's not the decision that the Court reached. Instead, J. Scalia describes the Court's opinion as:

The Courtâ(TM)s conclusion that Aereo performs boils down to the following syllogism: (1) Congress amended the Act to overrule our decisions holding that cable systems do not perform when they retransmit over-the-air broadcasts;4 (2) Aereo looks a lot like a cable system; therefore (3) Aereo performs. ...

Making matters worse, the Court provides no criteria for determining when its cable-TV-lookalike rule applies. Must a defendant offer access to live television to qualify? If similarity to cable-television service is the measure, then the answer must be yes. But consider the implications of that answer: Aereo would be free to do exactly what it is doing right now so long as it built mandatory time shifting into its âoewatchâ function. Aereo would not be providing live television if it made subscribers wait to tune in until after a showâ(TM)s live broadcast ended. A subscriber could watch the 7 p.m. airing of a 1-hour program any time after 8 p.m. Assuming the Court does not intend to adopt such a do-nothing rule (though it very well may), there must be some other means of identifying who is and is not subject to its guilt-by-resemblance regime.

Two other criteria come to mind. One would cover any automated service that captures and stores live television broadcasts at a userâ(TM)s direction. That canâ(TM)t be right, since it is exactly what remote storage digital video recorders (RSâ"DVRs) do, and the Court insists that its âoelimited holdingâ does not decide the fate of those devices. The other potential benchmark is the one offered by the Gov- ernment: The cable-TV-lookalike rule embraces any entity that âoeoperates an integrated system, substantially dependent on physical equipment that is used in common by [its] subscribers.â The Court sensibly avoids that approach because it would sweep in Internet service providers and a host of other entities that quite obviously do not perform.
That leaves as the criterion of cable-TV-resemblance nothing but thâ(TM)olâ(TM) totality-of-the-circumstances test (which is not a test at all but merely assertion of an intent to perform test-free, ad hoc, case-by-case evaluation). It will take years, perhaps decades, to determine which automated systems now in existence are governed by the traditional volitional-conduct test and which get the Aereo treatment. (And automated systems now in contemplation will have to take their chances.)

The Court's opinion states that it doesn't have an effect beyond Aereo and Aereo-like services:

Aereo and many of its supporting amici argue that to apply the Transmit Clause to Aereoâ(TM)s conduct will impose copyright liability on other technologies, including new technologies, that Congress could not possibly have wanted to reach. We agree that Congress, while intending the Transmit Clause to apply broadly to cable companies and their equivalents, did not intend to discourage or to control the emergence or use of different kinds of technologies. But we do not believe that our limited holding today will have that effect.

For one thing, the history of cable broadcast transmis- sions that led to the enactment of the Transmit Clause informs our conclusion that Aereo âoeperform[s],â but it does not determine whether different kinds of providers in different contexts also âoeperform.â For another, an entity only transmits a performance when it communicates contemporaneously perceptible images and sounds of a work. ...

And we have not considered whether the public performance right is infringed when the user of a service pays primarily for something other than the transmission of copyrighted works, such as the remote storage of content.

But, as J. Scalia points out:

The Court vows that its ruling will not affect cloud-storage providers and cable- television systems, but it cannot deliver on that promise given the imprecision of its result-driven rule.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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