I have now been a non-resident fellow at CIS since 2004. My work currently looks at copyright duration in a comparative and international context, and with the help of my brilliant students at Tulane, we are building a software tool --the Durationator -- to make usable the past once more. We hope to have it complete and available for use sometime in the Fall 2008.
I've been a CIS non-resident fellow (or now faculty afflilaite) now for a decade, beginning in 2004. I love being associated with CIS, and many of my closest friends have come from my connections with CIS. Whereever we've moved--Tuscon, London, Seattle, or New Orleans, CIS has always been a constant. When I was on the job market in 2006, I felt part of a crowd that year that included David Olsen and David Levine, as well as others connected to Stanford. CIS is an anchor.
January 1 is Public Domain Day--the day when new works around the world come into the public domain. Some countries, the term of copyright is life of the author + seventy years, and in others it remains life of the author + fifty (in a very simplified version -- the students working on the Durationator software can attest to how complicated the term of a copyright can really be--we at Tulane Law School are working on a web-based tool that will help users determine the copyright status of a given work (book, photo, film, etc.) for use in the U.S.
We made a simple program...
There's been a good deal of posts about Google's XLM file of copyright renewal records, mainly of books. See http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/8412 and http://www.boingboing.net/2008/06/24/copyright-renewal-re.html for two examples.
Just a quick post to say that I will be guest blogging at Terra Nova this month. I, along with my 2L research assistant, Rachel Goda, will be discussing our current project in Second Life, where we take 100 first year property law students into Second Life to see what comparisons they can find to modern property with virtual property.
So, thanks to the Librarian of Congress, film professors and media studies professors can now make a compilation of film clips for class without breaking the law. But ONLY film professors and media studies professors.
From the Copyright Office’s website:
"Townsend-Gard dreams of a world where librarians and researchers and students don’t have to waste time on copyright determinations. “I really believe that copyright should be more like electricity, where you don’t have to figure out how it’s made,” she says. You should just be able to hit a button and get your answer."
""We get questions all the time about, 'Can you help me with my patent?' But we couldn't until we got certification," said Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a Tulane Law School faculty member and co-director of the Tulane Center for IP, Media & Culture.
Townsend Gard said in each of the past three years, her intellectual property class has done about 100 trademark searches for people.
"“It turns out there’s a lot of weird questions that come up,” Townsend Gard says. The substitution of a comma for a colon in a book’s title can be enough to skew the results. “That the data is that picky is a problem.”"
The song “Happy Birthday” has a long, litigious history dating back to the 1930s. Every year, people spent millions in royalties to use the song, until a class action lawsuit was brought challenging whether the owner, Warner/Chappell Music, actually owned the copyright it so aggressively enforced. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, Tulane School of Law professor specializing in copyright law, discusses the case of “Happy Birthday.”