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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 4d ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: Judge Clears ‘Gone Girl’ Creators in Copyright Dispute

First off today, Emily Zantow at Courthouse News reports that a federal judge has dismissed an author’s lawsuit over the film Gone Girl and the novel its based on. According to the judge, there was simply no way a reasonably jury could believe that the two were significantly similar to her work.

The lawsuit was filed by Leslie Weller, who claimed that Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn infringed her screenplay Out of the Blue. Weller claimed that she gave a copy of her screenplace to a script consultant linked to Flynn and that Flynn then copied several elements from it including the central theme of the story.

The judge, however, dismissed the lawsuit saying that Weller “failed to connect the dots” in proving that Flynn had access to her work. Furthermore, the judge said that there are significant differences in the plots between the two works and that there was no means through which a reasonable jury could find copyright infringement. As such, the judge dismissed the lawsuit.

2: James Arthur sued for copyright infringement by The Script

Next up today, Sam Moore at NME reports that James Arthur has been sued for copyright infringement by the band The Script.

According to the lawsuit, Arthur’s 2016 song Say You Won’t Let Go is an infringement of The Script’s 2008 song The Man Who Can’t Be Moved. Allegations of the similarities had been swirling for sometime, leading Arthur to respond in 2017 claiming that the only similarity is that they are both blues songs and that “There’s only seven notes in music.”

The lawsuit also targets the songwriters of Say You Won’t Let Go as well as Sony/ATV Publishing, Sony Music, Columbia Records and several other music publishers connected to Arthur and his song.

3: Tucson Businesswoman Lisa Frank Settles Copyright Lawsuit

Finally today, Curt Prendergast at the Arizona Daily Star reports that Lisa Frank, the company best known for selling its colorful artwork on school supplies, has settled a lawsuit against Orb Factory, a company that sells toys at Walmart and other retailers.

Lisa Frank filed the lawsuit in 2015 alleging that artwork featured on Orb Factory’s toys were too similar to the their work. They sued for copyright infringement and the case made it to a trial, which had been ongoing for the past five days.

However, the two sides abruptly reached a settlement before the trial could conclude. The terms of the settlement are confidential though both sides did agree to pay their own attorney’s fees and costs. Orb Factor has also been ordered by the judge to pay $6,200 in jury fees for the use of jurors time so far.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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If you’ve been reading copyright news online, you’ve likely read several pieces about Congress’ intent to once again extend copyright.

The language sounds scary enough, talking about “new rights” being granted and a “144 year term” for some works. It’s understandable that anyone who is in favor of a balanced copyright system might be wary.

However, when you take a look at what the bill is trying to do, two things become clear. First is that it is not an extension. The copyright expiration dates in the bill have been a part of the law since 1998. Second, the rights being “granted” have already been effectively won in state courts (even if there is an open legal issue).

The CLASSICS Act, as it is known, is trying to clean up the mess that is pre-1972 sound recordings. While the bill may be far from perfect, it’s still better than the current system and that holds true for both artists and those who seek use or license their work.

The Basics of the CLASSICS Act

In July of last year, I wrote a lengthy piece explaining the CLASSICS Act, which has now been folded into the larger Music Modernization Act. Back in April the Music Modernization Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives and is expected to be taken up by the Senate.

The goal of the CLASSICS Act is to address some of the issues with pre-1972 sound recordings. Basically, since the Copyright Act of 1909 (not a typo) did not directly protect sound recordings, their protection was a matter of state common law rather than federal law.

In 1971 Congress passed the Sound Recording Act, which placed all sound recordings made after February 15, 1972 under federal jurisdiction. It did not, however, federalize pre-1972 sound recordings and they have languished there. The law originally said that they would become federalized in 2047 and subsequently become public domain. However, in 1998 with the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, that date was extended to 2067 (this date is important).

Having a large number of recordings under state common law may not seem like a large deal, but as Congress passed more and more copyright laws, the issue compounded. Two in particular were the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995, which granted sound recordings a limited public performance right when they are streamed digitally, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which protected hosts when users uploaded infringing material by creating a notice and takedown system.

How these laws applied to pre-1972 sound recordings was (and is) unclear. This resulted in some pretty significant litigation including Grooveshark’s battle in New York State Court over its streaming of pre-1972 tracks as well as SiriusXM settling for $210 million over its use of pre-1972 sound recordings.

The CLASSICS Act aims to smooth these rough edges out by making two key changes to pre-1972 sound recordings:

  1. Digital Transmission Rights: The CLASSICS Act would grant pre-1972 sound recordings with the same rights as newer recordings when it comes to digital transmission. It would create a compulsory license for such streaming and set up an agency to handle the distribution of such royalties.
  2. Safe Harbors: The CLASSICS Act would make it clear that DMCA (as well as Section 230) safe harbors apply to pre-1972 sound recordings.

So, why is this law controversial? Critics of the law generally point to a handful of criticisms that we can take a look at.

Criticism of the Law

Most of the recent articles about the bill have stemmed either directly or indirectly from a letter distributed by Public Knowledge that was signed by 42 intellectual property scholars.

The letter outlines a series of criticisms of the bill, they key of which are as follows:

  1. It Creates a New Federal Protections: They object that the act creates new Federal protections for older works, meaning that it can’t incentivize the creation of new works. It does this while exempting the works from other limitations found in federal law.
  2. It Has a Lengthy Term: It grants that aforementioned right until 2067, which for the earliest works represents a 144 year term. According to the letter, this means some works may get longer digital transmission protection than their term.
  3. It Causes Disharmony: The terms of protection will vary wildly and it creates inconsistency between the United States and EU.

I encourage you to read the full letter as this is just a quick synopsis. However, these are the three overarching complaints.

The problem with these complaints is that, on scrutiny, they are either exaggerations or are simply incorrect, especially when one looks at the likely practical impacts of the law.

The Copyright Extension That Isn’t

Note: Terry Hart at CopyHype did a great debunking of these issues earlier in the month. Definitely read his write up if you are interested in this subject.

The easiest of the concerns to address is that the CLASSICS Act is a copyright term extension. It isn’t. The bill changes nothing with the term of the rights.

While it is true that pre-1972 sound recordings won’t lapse into the public domain until 2067 and that 2067-1923 (the earliest year still under copyright) is 144, this is not a new provision.

As we stated above, the original “drop dead” date for protection was 2047 and it was extended to 2067 in 1998. In short, the 2067 date has been in the law for 20 years.

The Library of Congress noted this in 2009 when it performed a study on the protection of pre-1972 sound recordings and the impact it has on non-profits. The study found that there are “virtually no public domain sound recordings”. Further, the study found that, due to the date of expiration and that so few pre-1925 sound recordings are commercially available, “96 percent of pre-1925 commercial recordings are inaccessible commercially and may not be published, sold, or offered for downloading legally until 2067.”

In short, no matter how you feel about the 2067 date and its impact, it’s not part of the CLASSICS Act and has been a part of the law for 20 years. This is also the crux of the synchronization issue with the EU argument. The CLASSICS Act doesn’t fix it, but doesn’t create it either.

This brings us to the issue of the law creating a new federal right. Here, the issue is more murky.

The bill would grant pre-1972 sound recordings the same limited digital transmission public performance right as later songs. However, it’s unclear if they have that right now. This is very much an open question. California is deciding the case though rightsholders secured some significant wins there. New York and Florida have both said no.

However, there are still more than 45 other states and this creates both a legal mess and a great deal of uncertainty.

Digital platforms aren’t waiting. SiriusXM settled a class action lawsuit over pre-1972 sound recordings for a minimum of $25 million, a separate lawsuit filed by the record labels for $210 million and Pandora settled with the labels for $90 million.

Between hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and other lawsuits ongoing, even if California declines to recognize a public performance right, the situation for both sides is untenable. Streaming services can face costly litigation in state after state, or they can settle and pay a royalty. More and more are opting for the latter.

In short, it’s very likely that pre-1972 sound recordings already have a public performance right, at least in some states, and that would mean that all the CLASSICS Act is doing is federalizing that right, creating a compulsory license and a crafting a streamlined process for paying royalties.

But, even if they don’t have that right, it’s going to require massive amounts of litigation to prove it, litigation smaller users can’t afford. Given that we’ve already seen major players shell out hundreds of millions to pay for pre-1972 sound recordings, it’s pretty clear that, even if such a right doesn’t exist, few are willing and able to face the litigation to prove it.

Because of that, many are happy to shell out royalties without waiting on the final word.

Bottom Line

In the end, there are legitimate disagreements to be had about the term of copyright and what it should protect. But this isn’t one of them.

Pre-1972 sound recordings are low-hanging fruit, a thorn that everyone (more or less) agrees needs to be addressed. While many, such as myself, would prefer full federalization that’s not practical without drastic changes to current law.

The CLASSICS Act, as imperfect as it is, at least addresses two major pain points, both of which have been the subject of litigation.

Unfortunately, the real solution to our pre-1972 sound recording mess is to invent a time machine and tell the authors of Copyright Act of 1909 to include sound recordings. Barring that, the CLASSICS Act is the best solution we’re likely to get for some time.

It’s not an extension and it most likely isn’t a new right, but it may bring a lot of much-needed certainty to a very uncertain area of copyright law.

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 1w ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: HBO Wins Copyright Infringement Case Over Graffiti Artist Relying On The De Minimis Copyright Exception

First off today, Krista Cox at Above the Law reports that HBO has emerged victorious in a lawsuit against grafitti artist Itoffee R. Gayle after the court ruled that the use of Gayle’s work was de minimis, meaning it was too small to warrant the court’s attention.

Gayle sued HBO after his work appeared in one episode of the HBO show Vinyl. The scene, which featured a woman walking down a New York City street, briefly showed one of Gayle’s work as the shot passed by a dumpster. Though the work was only on screen for a few seconds in the background, Gayle sued for copyright infringement, claiming that he was not asked for nor had given permission for the use of his work.

However, the court ruled that the use was so trivial as to qualify as de minimis. De minimis, is a concept in copyright law where a copying is so insignificant that it was not unlawful. Having found the use de minimis, the court didn’t even look at the fair use factors and, instead, dismissed the case outright.

2: Infamous Kodi Library TVAddons Has Denied Copyright Infringement Allegations in Court

Next up today, Tom Pritchard at Gizmodo UK reports that TVAddons has responded to the lawsuit filed against them by Dish Network and, in their response, have denied copyright infringement.

TVAddons was a site that distributed addons for the Kodi player. Kodi players, like other set-top boxes, allow access to legal content but Kodi players can be modified to allow access to pirated material. TVAddons, before its closure, enabled users to download just such addons. This prompted Dish Network to file a lawsuit after several addons provided by the site enabled access to Dish-owned channels that were limited to Dish customers. In particular the lawsuit targeted ZemTV, an addon that enabled access to pirated versions of those channels.

However, after crowdfunding a legal defense, the owners of TVAddons have denied that they had the “ability to supervise and control” the infringing activity that took place in ZemTV. Furthermore, they took issues with the way the lawsuit was filed, noting it combined allegations of contributing and inducing copyright infringement, and also with the damages Dish Network sought given the lack of a copyright registration.

3: Singapore ISPs Block 53 Pirate Sites Following MPAA Legal Action

Finally today, Andy at  Torrentfreak writes that the Singapore High Court has ordered local ISPs to block access to some 53 piracy websites due to an application filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The petition uses a 2014 law that makes it possible for rightsholders to demand that ISPs block such websites. The current wave targets some 53 websites across 154 domains that local ISPs must make inaccessible.

While the blocking order isn’t the first under the law, it is by far the most significant. The order comes after the High Court was satisfied that the sites involved were “flagrantly infringing” copyright.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 1w ago

The WHOIS system is a technology that, more or less, is as old as the internet.

But despite being around since the early 1980s, on May 25, 2018, WHOIS will likely either stop functioning or become significantly limited.

The system, which allows users to look up who the registered owner is of any given domain, has been mired in controversy for some time. To many, it’s long been a haven for spammers and scammers to get in touch with domain owners. To others, it’s been an invaluable security tool.

But, thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP), a new European regulation that restricts how companies and organizations can collect and share personal data, the WHOIS system faces an uncertain future.

What this means for the internet is unclear, but it will definitely have an impact on how individuals track and find the internet’s villains, including spammers, hackers, pirates and other infringers.

The Basics of WHOIS

WHOIS (pronounced who is) is simply a system by which anyone can look up who owns a particular domain name. Simply search for the domain and you discover the registration information for the name itself.

Though the system is heavily decentralized it is Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that currently oversees it. ICANN is also responsible for the Domain Name System (DNS), which is the process that converts human-readable domains into IP addresses and allows the internet to function.

ICANN both maintains the standard for what must be in a domain name registration and the technical process for performing the lookup. As a result, no matter where the domain was registered, you can easily lookup who owns it through a centralized search tool such as the one ICANN itself provides.

The current requirements for a WHOIS registration include the mailing address, phone number and email address of the domain owner or administrator. Many domain purchasers, especially private citizens, were uncomfortable with having that much information in a public database. This gave rise to domain privacy services, which mask that information.

Those services work by acting as proxies, by keeping the “real” information behind lock and key while making their proxy information available in the WHOIS results. Since ICANN’s requirements made it necessary that the owner/administrator be reachable via the WHOIS information, this proxy system is within the rules.

Though ICANN has been working on a standard for such proxy services, it has not come to fruition yet.

That’s been a big part of the story when it comes to WHOIS privacy. Though ICANN has long acknowledged that there are privacy issues with the WHOIS system, none of the proposals ever came to fruition and, to the end user, the system works much the same in 2018 as it did in 1988.

However, now those privacy concerns are crashing down on the WHOIS system, possibly taking it down for good.

Enter the GDRP

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) is an EU regulation that was adopted on April 14, 2016 and, after a two-year transition period, will take effect on May 25, 2016.

The regulation is large and complicated but basically places strict rules on how private data is collected, stored and shared online. In general, the rules require consent for processing personal data, places limits on how its stored, where it’s exported and how long it can be held onto.

It also requires that organizations make it possible for users to have their records purged, a right to erasure, and requires those storing personal data to notify those involved in any breaches within 72 hours (or as soon as practical).

Though the regulation is an EU one, it also applies to any organization that stores data of EU citizens. Needless to say, that applies to nearly every company or website online.

ICANN is no different though, as it’s come to realize, the rules of the GDRP are incompatible with the WHOIS system. After all, the WHOIS system is a giant tool for collecting private information and publishing it publicly.

This is why ICANN has been working since the GDRP was passed. ICANN has had regular meetings with the Data Protection Working Party (WP29), the group that is tasked with enforcing the GDRP. However, those meetings have born little fruit. In March, ICANN presented an “Interim model for compliance” that would have given tiered access to the WHOIS information but, in April, those guidelines were rejected by the WP29 saying it was non-compliant with the law.

In the cross fire is registrars, such as Godaddy, who could face significant fines if they violate the GDRP, including by passing along personal data as part of the WHOIS system.

Some registrars aren’t waiting for the 25th. In January, GoDaddy announced that it was redacting personal information through its automated system, though still making it available on its own site. This move upset a lot of users of the WHOIS system. The U.S. government began to pressure ICANN to investigate GoDaddy’s policies and ICANN confirmed that it is looking into it.

However, sometime in April, Google began to do the same, showing truncated records on third party sites. As of this writing, Google appears to also be truncating records in its local WHOIS search as well.

GoDaddy and Google likely won’t be alone. We’re heading toward a WHOIS showdown and one thing is for sure, if the WHOIS system exists on the 26th, it won’t be the same…

The Benefits of Privacy

If you’re a domain owner, you probably aren’t too upset about this.

Though the WHOIS database is immensely useful, it’s also been ripe for abuse. Spammers and scammers alike have made aggressive use of the tool to get email, postal and even phone numbers of domain owners.

If you’ve gotten mail from fake domain registrars warning you your name is about to expire, seen an uptick in spam after registering your site or even been cold called about your domain, they likely got that information from the WHOIS database.

However, for many spammers and scammers are the least of the privacy concerns. Many have been doxxed, threatened and harassed using info in the WHOIS database, making WHOIS privacy a requirement for anyone running a controversial website.

Because of this, groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are fully in support of limiting the WHOIS service. The EFF even went as far as to say the restrictive access model proposed by ICANN was putting the users of the WHOIS service ahead of the privacy of those in it.

In short, there are many people with very legitimate reasons to be happy that the WHOIS system is going to change drastically. But, that doesn’t necessarily make it a net positive for the internet.

The Other Side of WHOIS

For all of the nefarious uses of the WHOIS system, it’s also relied upon by a variety of security professionals of all stripes to protect everything from intellectual property to the core internet infrastructure.

IBM, for example, recently wrote in an article how it uses WHOIS to track down spammers and block more than 1.3 million malicious domains per month. Furthermore, it says that it might take up to 30 days to track down and stop malicious domains using other techniques, giving malicious users ample time to commit whatever crimes they want to commit.

This view is backed up by security researcher Brian Krebs as well as other cybersecurity experts who say that, despite widespread use of domain privacy and false WHOIS data, the tool is still useful for mapping out and taking action against malicious sites.

This view is echoed by those who work in trademark and brand enforcement, saying that restrictions on the WHOIS system will make it more difficult to shutter counterfeit sites.

In addition to helping detect malicious actors, the system is also used to notify individuals that their site has been compromised. This is one of the few uses I’ve had for the WHOIS system, where I was able to notify a site owner that they had been compromised and needed to clean up and secure their server.

The general fear is that, while truncating to ceasing the WHOIS system will make things more secure and private for domain owners, it may make the internet less safe in general. To many security experts, a public and open WHOIS database was a worthwhile tradeoff.

Whether that’s true or not, we’ll likely find out shortly after the 26th.

My Personal Take on WHOIS

At CopyByte, I do a lot of work with clients to track and remove copyright infringing material. Everything from marketing content to ebooks, software, movies, music and more.

Despite the wide variety of cases, I don’t use the domain WHOIS a great deal. While I could blame that on the private registrations (email forwards rarely work) and outright false information in the database, the real reason is that it’s not necessary.

Simply put, when filing a notice of copyright infringement, you’re usually trying to reach the host of a site, not the site owner directly. As such, contact information for a domain registrant isn’t very helpful most of the time.

What I do use is a tool called IP WHOIS. This tool contacts Regional Internet Registries to find who owns or controls a specific IP address. It works much the same as the domain WHOIS system, but for IP addresses.

Under the GDRP, the IP WHOIS tool should not need to be truncated because it contains no personal information. Instead, it contains contact information for corporations, which is not covered under the GDRP. Since, generally, no “natural persons” are identified in the IP Whois database, they should not be impacted.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be. If the IP WHOIS database is truncated, either out of an abundance of caution or due to personal information I have not identified, it could pose a problem. Some hosts only make their abuse and other contact info available in such a query, making the difficult to get in touch with.

While those cases are very rare, I do use the IP WHOIS database regularly to notify hosts of copyright infringement and other abuses. If taken away or limited, it would be a useful tool that is taken away.

While that seems unlikely at this time, obviously, this is something I will be watching closely.

Bottom Line

In the end, the fault for this can only be placed on one organization: ICANN.

ICANN has been well aware of the privacy issues with the WHOIS system for decades and, despite several false starts, has failed to do anything about it. Now we are just over a week away from the implementation of the GDRP and its privacy house of cards may come crumbling down.

ICANN had every opportunity to resolve these problems on their terms but now have to deal with the on the EU’s. Because of that, the internet may be a less safe place though the real impact won’t be known for some time.

If anything, this story is a lesson about what happens when you put off a problem infinitely and then are forced into dealing with it. It creates uncertainty and, unfortunately, it’s uncertainty that the whole of the web must deal with.

ICANN’s failure punishes us all…

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 1w ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: ‘Zorro’ Licensor, in Role Reversal, Faces Trial for Copyright Infringement

First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Zorro Productions Inc (ZPI) is well known for its hold on the rights to the iconic character but now finds itself not in the plaintiff’s chair, but in the defendant’s side of a lawsuit.

The story deals with playwright Robert Cabell, who, in 1996, published a musical entitle Z- The Musical of Zorro that based on the character but only drew from works already in the public domain. This started a legal tussle that ended in 2004 when both sides signed a “walk away” agreement to pave the way for a new Zorro film. However, that reprieve only lasted until 2005 when ZPI authorized a new Zorro musical that, like Cabell’s focused on Zorro’s earlier years. This led to a renewed legal fight that began in 2013 and continues today.

However, in a Twist, a judge has ruled that Cabell’s musical is non-infringing since ZPI did not challenge his motion for summary judgment. However, now ZPI may be facing a trial for infringing Cabell’s work since, according to Cabell, ZPI used original elements from his musical. The judge agrees that a reasonable juror could see substantial similarity between the two works, denying a summary judgment on that and setting the case to a possible trial, but one where ZPI is the accused infringer…

2: TVEyes Pulls Fox News, Fox Business After Losing Copyright Suit

Next up today, Jon Levine at The Wrap reports that TVEyes has dropped Fox News and Fox Business from its clipping service, a move that comes after the company lost an appeal in the Second Circuit over its use of Fox’s content in their service.

TVEyes is a tv clipping service that allows users to search for and find relevant clips of news coverage. TVEyes also enabled sharing, downloading and streaming of those clips. This prompted Fox News to file a lawsuit and they eventually won both in the lower court and on appeal.

TVEyes did say it would continue to provide alerts and search results for Fox content but that it would not provide the clips. Fox News is lauding the decision, saying that it ends a long-running legal fight over the use of their content.

3: Roku Displays FBI Anti-Piracy Warning to Legitimate YouTube & Netflix Users

Finally today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that a technical glitch with Roku devices led to many legitimate channels being blocked on copyright grounds.

Earlier this week, Roku users who attempted to open up apps such as the Netflix and YouTube app were greeted with an FBI anti-piracy warning and nothing more. The issue also affected other channels as well.

According to Roku, the problem wasn’t overzealous rightsholders but rather a technical glitch in a new anti-piracy system they’ve implemented. Users who are impacted by the issue are encouraged to update their Roku’s firmware to restore access to the affected channels.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Permission Here. It's Free.
Have a Plagiarism Problem?Need an expert witness, plagiarism analyst or content enforcer? Check out our Consulting Website

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As many of you may already know, I’m able to write as much as I do for this site because I work full time as a copyright and plagiarism consultant at my firm CopyByte.

There, I do a wide variety of content-related work including plagiarism analyses, expert witness work, content tracking/removal and public speaking.

Though last year was a great year for me professionally, I realized by the end of it that the site was looking pretty haggard and dated. So, I’ve revamped the site, making it both easier on the eyes and much easier to navigate.

The new version also contains some additional information including a couple of case studies from recent work and a breakdown of some of the areas of expertise we work in.

You can check out the new site here.

So, if you’ve never been to CopyByte and are unfamiliar with it, now is a great time to swing by. Likewise, if you’re looking for someone to help with a copyright or plagiarism related issue, please consider me. Not only will you get 13 years of experience in the field, but you’ll be helping support this site and ensure it’s around for a long time to come.

Hope to hear from you soon.

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 2w ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: Judge Clears Path for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Trial in June

First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that an Alabama judge has agreed with a New York judge that the To Kill a Mockingbird case should be litigated in New York, setting the stage for a trial as early as June.

The battle is between the estate of Harper Lee, the author of the book, and Scott Rudin, who obtained the rights to create a theatrical version of Lee’s novel shortly before she died. According to the estate, Rudin’s proposed script took too many liberties with the source material and the estate tried to pull the rights, claiming breach of contract. This resulted in dueling lawsuits, one in Alabama filed by the estate and one in New York filed by Rudin.

The New York judge previously held that his court should have jurisdiction over the matter and scheduled the case for a June trial, expediting the case since the production was scheduled to open in November. However, that order for an expedited trial hinged upon the Alabama judge agreeing the New York jurisdiction, which he did on Monday, putting the final pieces in place.

2: US Cancels Duty-Free Import of 155 Types of Ukrainian Goods Due to Copyright Infringement

Next up today, the Kyiv Post reports that the United States has cancelled the duty-free import of some 155 types of goods from Ukraine citing concerns over the country’s handling of copyright-related matters.

Ukraine, along with 11 other countries, was placed on the priority watch list in the U.S. Trade Representatives Special 301 report both in 2017 and in the recent 2018 report. Countries on the priority watch list are considered targets of “intense bilateral engagement” on the issue and may be targeted for other actions. In this case, the U.S. Trade Representative has decided to suspend duty-free import of 155 of the more the 3,500 types of good allowed into the U.S.

According to the Ukraine government, the removal of this restriction hinges on Ukraine adopting a bill control the activities of collective management organizations and bring them into international standards. The U.S. Trade Representative restrictions went into effect on April 26, 2018 which came 120 after the publication of the Presidential Proclamation on December 22, 2017.

3: Sean R. Heavey Challenges Netflix for Alleged Copyright Infringement

Finally today, A.J. Etherington at the Glasgow (Montana) Courier reports that local artist and photographer Sean Heavey has filed a lawsuit against Netflix over the alleged use of his photo The Mothership in an episode of Stranger Things.

According to Heavey, he photo, which depicts a very unusual cloud formation, was featured in an episode of the Netflix series as well as a documentary about the making of the series. When Heavey learned of the use he approached Netflix about obtaining a license but Netflix balked, claiming that he could not copyright a cloud formation and that, even if they did use his image, they had altered it to the point that it was a new work.

However, Heavey responded by noting that others had recognized his photo in the series and that meteorologists and photographers alike confirm it was unlikely another image was used. As such, Heavey has filed a lawsuit against Netflix seeking damages for the use of the image. (Note: Article discloses a friendship between subject and author.)

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Permission Here. It's Free.
Have a Plagiarism Problem?Need an expert witness, plagiarism analyst or content enforcer? Check out our Consulting Website

The post 3 Count: Strangest Things appeared first on Plagiarism Today.

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 2w ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: Fox Searchlight Defends ‘Shape of Water’ From Plagiarism Suit

First off today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that Fox Searchlight has responded to The Shape of Water plagiarism lawsuit saying that the works involved are extremely different and that the alleged similarities are not protectable under copyright law.

The lawsuit was filed by the son of playwright Paul Zindel, who claimed that the movie was a copyright infringement of Zindel’s play Let Me Hear You Whisper. To highlight this he pointed to several factors including similarities in the plot and characters between the film and his father’s work.

However, Fox Searchlight has hit back saying that the elements the estate is claiming are copied are not protectable under copyright and that many of them have been featured in plenty of other works. Fox also notes that the two works are radically different with Zindel’s work being more child-friendly while The Shape of Water took more of an adult approach to the story.

2: RIAA: ISP Profited From Keeping Pirating Customers Aboard

Next up today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that the RIAA has filed an amended complaint against Grande Communications, an ISP that the RIAA says has not done enough to prevent piracy on its network.

According to the RIAA, Grande Communications has not been terminating the accounts of repeat infringers, prompting them to file the lawsuit. However, Grande Communications got the lawsuit pared down, getting the court to completely drop the case against their parent company and the claims of vicarious copyright infringement against them. According to the court, there was no evidence that Grande had profited directly from the infringement, making it so that a vicarious copyright infringement claim was not appropriate.

RIAA could have moved forward with its contributory copyright infringement claims but instead has filed an amended complaint, saying that it has new evidence from discovery. Specifically, it says it has evidence Grande s imply stopped suspending suspected infringers in 2010 in a bid to earn more money. The amended complaint also has new evidence implicating Grande’s parent company and the lawsuit hopes to revive both the vicarious copyright infringement claims against Grande and the original claims against the parent.

3: Poppy Responds to Mars Argo Copyright Suit, Calls It ‘Desperate Grab for Fame’

Finally today, Gil Kaufman at Billboard reports that Poppy has responded to a lawsuit filed by fellow YouTube performer Mars Argo by claiming that the lawsuit is nothing but an attempt to gain publicity.

The lawsuit alleges that Poppy and Titanic Sinclair are ripping off Argo’s character, noting that Sinclair once worked with Argo until the pair split up and Sinclair began working with Poppy. According to Argo’s lawsuit, Sinclair was abusive toward her and that Sinclair and Poppy are working together to infringe upon the character and identity she created.

Poppy has said that the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt at publicity and to force her to reveal details about her meticulously protected private life. Furthermore, Poppy adds that Argo is working with a man who was previously abusive to her and, in a statement, says that Argo’s claims of stalking and harassment are “preposterous projections of her own actions.”

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Permission Here. It's Free.
Have a Plagiarism Problem?Need an expert witness, plagiarism analyst or content enforcer? Check out our Consulting Website

The post 3 Count: Poppy Responds appeared first on Plagiarism Today.

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On July 18, 2016, Melania Trump took the stage at the Republican National Convention to give a speech in support of her husband, then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. However, her speech contained several lines lifted near-verbatim from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

The story quickly caught fire. On a grand stage, the now-First Lady, plagiarized a political opponent. It was a significant unforced error to say the least.

But, as embarrassing as the story was, it did little to derail the campaign. President Trump went on to win the election and the lessons about plagiarism were clearly not learned. The Trump Presidency racked up half a dozen plagiarism scandals before inauguration was over and since then has seen several more.

However, now Melania Trump has stepped back into the plagiarism spotlight. In launching a new booklet to help kids be safe online, many quickly noticed an uncanny similarity between the work and a 2014 booklet published by the FTC.

Originally spotted by Ryan Mac at Buzzfeed, the story of Melania Trump’s plagiarism is once again exploding and, this time, it’s not detracting from a Presidential campaign, but from a serious issue the First Lady claims is a passion of hers.

Understanding the Plagiarism

In January 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. The 26-page booklet advised parents on how to speak with their kids about security on the internet.

On Monday, May 7, Melania Trump published her guide to the subject entitled Talking with Kids About Being Online. The controversy, however, is that the two documents are virtually identical with almost all of the same text, design, images and links.

In short, the First Lady, or someone working for her, clearly took the original FTC document, made minor modifications to it, and is releasing it as a new document.

What’s interesting about the duplication is that the new document also appears to come from the FTC, complete with the FTC seal and name on the back page. Furthermore, all of the links in the new document point to the FTC site, albeit a different page. However, that page lets you download the 2014 document, not the 2018 one.

In short, the 2018 one is currently only available from the White House website, not the FTC site. Combine that with a page added by the Melania Trump that highlights the importance of this subject to her and it’s clear that this is meant to be a work representative of the First Lady, even though nearly all of it comes from the FTC without clear attribution.

Especially since this is a public-facing document that’s coming from the First Lady’s office, it should have more clearly stated it’s a revised/updated version of the original FTC document. The fact it didn’t, makes this document a source of ridicule even though the subject is definitely one that needs more attention.

Still, the plagiarism is a good opportunity to analyze what is original in the First Lady’s version. After all, Melania Trump’s office did make several changes to the document and they are worth examining.

What’s New in Melania Trump’s Version

To compare the two versions side-by-side, I used Draftable, which is a tool that is mostly used to detect differences between two versions of the same document. Normally, such a tool isn’t very useful in plagiarism evaluations (it’s generally better to highlight similarities than differences) but, here, the documents are so similar it was truly the only way.

With that in mind, here’s the Draftable comparison of the two works.

As you go through, you’ll see a list of small changes, rewriting sentences to either be shorter or longer and rearranging lists. However, there are still several key differences between the documents:

  1. Melania Trump’s Author Page: In the First Lady’s version, she added a full page to the document that discusses how important this issue is to her and why she feels passionately about it.
  2. No P2P Discussion: On page 20 of the 2014 document, the FTC included a lengthy discussion about being safe while using peer-to-peer file sharing tools. The First Lady’s document omits that, replacing it with a discussion about securing your home network. The First Lady’s document also rewrites a portion about using secured Wi-Fi networks away from home, encouraging kids to not do any shopping or banking away from home.
  3. Updated Images: Both documents use most of the same images though the First Lady’s document updated many of the images to be more modern. This is especially true of phones, which now look more like smartphones we know today (see below).
  4. Added a Section About Multi-Factor Authentication: The First Lady’s document adds a section about multi-factor authentication on page 18. To maintain formatting, it reduces the size of the section regarding keeping software up to date. It also rewrites the section about creating strong passwords, but keeps most of the information the same.
  5. New Page of Links: The next to last page in the First Lady’s document is new (much as is the second page) and simply adds links to relevant FTC pages. This page was most likely added to counter the First Lady’s about page while keeping the document at an even number of pages.

These changes are, in a word, insignificant. They represent only a small percentage of the booklet and, even when combined with the other grammar changes and rewrites, only  make up a tiny fraction of the work overall.

The most interesting change is the removal of the P2P content as it may indicate that the First Lady’s office is either responding to the changing nature of piracy or decided to omit it on moral grounds.

Either way, while this version is definitely an update, the changes are not significant and not worthy of much discussion outside of curiosity and possible political interest.

Why This Plagiarism Matters

In March of last year, when discussing allegations of press release plagiarism against the Trump administration, we examined why it matters. Much of what was said there holds true today.

While it’s true that plagiarism scandals don’t have the impact they once did and this story will also likely disappear with enough time, it still points to a serious problem.

Other administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have gone to great lengths to vet and check content that they put out to the public. They’ve worked hard to prevent plagiarism from being a distraction to their message.

The Trump administration, for whatever reason, has been far less successful at that. Though this is the first such story in some time, it’s an embarrassing doozy of one. Any reasonable check of this document would have found its cohort. Furthermore, the entire thing could have been prevented by simply being upfront and saying that this is a revised/updated version of the 2014 document, especially since it was coming from a different office.

Whoever compiled this document, and it wasn’t likely the First Lady herself, was careless and reckless but so were those who approved it. Whether they intended to be dishonest or not isn’t important, a few lines of citation and clarification could have saved everyone this distraction.

And a distraction this is.

But not only is this a distraction for the Trump administration and the office of the First Lady, it’s a distraction for the topic of children’s safety online. The document, both documents, give overall solid advice on how to keep safe online. The administration it was written under isn’t important.

But instead of a conversation about how to keep individuals, in particular children, safe online, the headlines are about plagiarism.

Though such a distraction was inevitable with the way this document was released, it’s still an unforced error getting in the way of a good and relatively non-divisive message.

Bottom Line

This entire story could have been avoided so easily, a statement in the document or even in the release that it’s an updated version of the 2014 document would have made a world of difference.

Instead the First Lady opted to release this document in a way that indicated to the world it was both new and original even though it was neither. The original was bound to be discovered, the new document literally links to it, there was simply no reason to omit that information.

Instead, the controversy takes away from the issue the First Lady wanted to talk about and, more to the point, makes her claims to be passionate about it seem weak. This level of carelessness does not indicate passionate concern.

It’s perhaps the most egregious unforced error in an administration that’s made over half a dozen such errors when it comes to plagiarism.

The only hope we have is that, this time, the lessons about plagiarism stick.

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The post Melania Trump Faces New Plagiarism Allegations appeared first on Plagiarism Today.

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Plagiarism Today by Jonathan Bailey - 3w ago

Have any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: Cloudflare Fails to Exclude Daily Stormer Evidence From Piracy Trial

First off today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that a judge has denied Cloudflare’s request to exclude evidence related to its removal of the white supremacist site the Daily Stormer from its piracy-oriented battle with ALS Scan.

ALS Scan, an adult entertainment publisher, sued Cloudflare claiming that the content delivery network provider was not doing enough to stop piracy on its network. Cloudflare, however, has long maintained that it is not a host and it only removes websites when it is given a court order. However, last year Cloudflare broke that rule by taking down The Daily Stormer, kicking it off its network without first receiving a court order.

ALS Scan asked Cloudflare’s CEO about the Daily Stormer, opening up the possibility it would become evidence at trial. Cloudflare filed a motion to have that evidence barred fearing “guilt by association”. However, the judge in the case has denied that motion, thereby allowing ALS Scan to raise to blocking of ALS Scan at trial, which seems increasingly likely as the two sides have failed to reach a settlement.

2: Kodi Box Trader Made £38,500 from Selling Devices – But Will Only Repay £1

Next up today, Gareth Lightfoot at Gazette Live repots that, in the UK, former Kodi box seller Brian Thompson has been ordered to pay a nominal sum of £1 ($1.35) to the state as compensation for operating his business.

Thompson was arrested in June 2015 after his business Free TV Stream Box, was searched by police. He had been selling “fully loaded” Kodi boxes that gave free streaming access to pirated content. After being arrested and charged, it seemed as if Thompson was going to be a test case for the legality of selling such boxes but he abruptly changed his plea to guilty.

Thompson was given an 18-month suspended sentence and, after a recent hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act, it was revealed that Thompson had no assets and any profits from the sales were long gone. As such, the court ordered him to pay a nominal amount, just £1, to settle that portion of the case.

3: A Record Label Company Ignored Copyright Laws and Blamed the Photographer

Finally today, Elisabeth Heleba at Resource Magazine reports that photographer Adrienne Row-Smith had a battle with an (as of yet) unnamed band and record label over the misuse of some of her photographs on the band’s website.

According to Row-Smith, she took the images while on a freelance assignment for Monkey Goose Magazine. Someone who works for the band or their label, then took the photos and, after some alterations, put them up on the band’s website. This prompted Row-Smith to ask for their removal but the representative asked for a price. In response, she quoted $50.

However, according to Row-Smith, when she attempted to follow up on the situation, the representative became abusive toward her, accusing her of “harassing” the band and saying that the price is outrageous because she has  been paid in exposure and her images weren’t that good anyway. Row-Smith did not reveal the band, saying the wanted to highlight the kind of treatment photographers get when asking to be paid for their work.

Suggestions

That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Permission Here. It's Free.
Have a Plagiarism Problem?Need an expert witness, plagiarism analyst or content enforcer? Check out our Consulting Website

The post 3 Count: £1 Repayment appeared first on Plagiarism Today.

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