Sunday, July 15, 2007

Copyfraud

There is an interesting read about copyfraud on slashdot, it refers to a paper published by the Social Science Research Network. I have been reading this paper now for some time and it does a good job at explaining the problems with the copyright claims of works that are in the public domain. The issue is very much that as the paper explains nobody cares about what is technically an offence.

Organisations that deal in copyfraud are legally fraudsters. While reading this paper one question that comes up to me is, how can industries that do not implement the law themselves on such a massive scale expect their customers to respect the law ?

The paper informs of the many ways it prevents people to use material that is public domain. There have been many threads on the WMF mailinglists about this subject and it is quite clear that our projects would benefit enormously from a strengthened public domain.

This paper does address the issue of how the public domain can be strengthened, it mentions among other things that courts ruled that those with dirty hands because of the assertion of copyright on public domain material were denied copyright enforcement.

Industry protects its copyright through organisations that represent them. With an industry massively breaking the law by claiming copyright where it is not theirs to claim, the moral footing of their representatives is undermined. There is legislation where the court denied copyright enforcement to copyright owners with unclean hands. Many industries have engaged in the implementation of digital rights management. These implementation do not take into consideration the fact that copyrights expire. Consequently I would argue that these implementations are broken by design and consequently they are not a legal correct implementation of copyright restrictions. I think it could also be argued that combined with the massive copyfraud perpetrated by the industry copyright enforcement should not be allowed because of the fraudulent behaviour of these industries by organisations representing the whole of an industry.

Thanks,
GerardM
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