CHAPTER 2 P ART 1: C OPYRIGHTS M ATTER ! The extreme reason to care about copyright infringement is because, as an American, life as you know it is potentially in jeopardy. Yes, I just said that. Let me say it again. Copyright infringement may put “life as you know it” in jeopardy. P a g e | 22
Donâ€™t be a Pirate!
Are you an Internet Pirate?
There are many misconceptions about copyright law. One of the most frightening misconceptions is embodied in one simple question: P a g e | 23
Who cares? Many will say, “it’s not really my issue; why should I care?” The answer to this fundamental question is both simple and complex. Here is my answer to that question. Let’s try to set the copyright on Mickey Mouse (and even that of Copyright Cow) aside for a moment, let’s talk about Anderson Cooper and Human Rights atrocities. Then let’s talk about economics, taxes and social services. We can get back to the mouse and cow later. In a modern Democracy we value information. Information feeds our stock market, it feeds what we buy as consumers (even what we think we want in some cases) and who we P a g e | 24
vote for. The traditional media is part of the dissemination of that information. Blogs and other social media are also growing in popularity for the same reason. I am going to throw a wrench into the gears of Democracy – into the economic incentives that facilitate creating news reports and stories. Basically, I am going to take Anderson Cooper’s paycheck and shred it! The wrench is copyright infringement. News reporters like Anderson Cooper sometimes risk their lives to bring us news from foreign lands – they report on wars, human rights atrocities and good things too. This reporting can be used to help stop crime, catch criminals and even shape social justice. News reporters don’t work for free. Of P a g e | 25
course, news events can’t be owned. The pictures documenting the news events, however, are owned. The text of the reporter’s copy is similarly owned. It can be published and re-published. In essence, the news story and the pictures (at least the reporting of the story and the capturing of the action) become the intellectual property of the reporter and / or photographer (or the company they work for). Common FBI Warning
“may constitute a felony”
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Domestic Federal Law Enforcement
Government Anti-Piracy Seal
In todayâ€™s world, a news story without a picture is almost not a news story. The pictures of news events get sold. This is what helps pay P a g e | 27
for a freelance reporter’s airfare, travel expense, child support, student loan payments and taxes. Intellectual property is a property right in some intangible like a copyright, a trademark, a patent or a trade secret. In this case, the intangible rights are “copyrights” which protect, for example, texts, photographs, graphics, computer source code, movies and music. Since most reporters need to make a living, they can’t be gallivanting about the world with no hope of making money. In fact, you take away the money, you take away the professional reporter. With that, you start to break down the quality and flow of information at all levels. Without freedom of information Democracy stops working. The free markets even stop P a g e | 28
working. If you really think about it, life as we know it is premised on the free flow of information. When that information stops flowing or is controlled by a government that goes unchecked, you end up with unwanted wars and in some cases human rights atrocities. Germany’s Nazi regime illustrates what can happen when the government controls information and uses propaganda (unchecked false information) to control and influence public opinion. There are dictators and oligarchies all over the world, even today doing (or trying to do) the same thing. While it is true that the “citizen reporter” or blogger provides a new source of possible reporting around the world, without professional news reporters, to challenge government propaganda and dig for “truth” the P a g e | 29
very foundations of life as we know it, begin to crack! How did this all start? Copyright infringe -ment. Yes, the mouse and the cow count too. When we don’t protect the labor of our reporters, our artists, and even our doctors and our lawyers, we erode the foundations of our society. Even the “Founding Fathers” knew that copyrights were important – they wrote into the Constitution itself, the authority for Congress to pass copyright and patent laws. We have copyright laws. Yet, it is almost ubiquitous that we break them. When I speak at the University of Washington, for example, I often informally poll the students. Who has downloaded music P a g e | 30
without paying for it? Out of a classroom of fifty students, only 5 donâ€™t raise their hands. The same is true of businesses that download and use professional photographs and images on their websites without paying for them. As a lawyer in Seattle, I deal with that issue a lot. It is amazing how many companies do this! What is even more amazing is how many think its no big deal. Many are not even apologetic or ashamed. If you back your car into the side of your neighborâ€™s minivan, you make good on the damage. You apologize and offer to cover the repair or have your insurance cover the damage. P a g e | 31
Why is the same not true for copyright infringement? Is it because you can touch the damaged car but you canâ€™t touch the damaged copyright? Yet, the photographer who didnâ€™t get their licensing fee for the use of the image goes without food while the company that stole the image laughs all the way to the bank. This is not right or fair. In one recent case, the Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security began cracking down on some of the mass-infringing websites that facilitate widespread copyright infringement of everything from music to photographs to comic books.
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Based on an Order from a United States District Court ICE seized the domain names and posted the following: ICE- Homeland Security Investigations
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The reported response of one of the domain name owners was, “My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” My response to the owner’s comment is, it’s about time! How dare this industrial pirate ask for anything! He broke the law. A judge issued an order after a lawful investigation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the law. It protects all of us but this industrial pirate’s reaction goes too far. What it comes down to is this: Don’t steal my stuff. If you do steal my stuff, be prepared to pay the consequences, whether that be monetary damages or jail. This mass infringer threatens society as we know it. He ought to be ashamed of his P a g e | 34
actions not outraged by the collective efforts of our law and government to curb crime. As a society, if we continue to condone intellectual property theft, at all levels, how long will it be before we can no longer repair the cracks in our fragile Democracy? Before we have no insulation against government propaganda and power that will corrupt so absolutely that not even business can function? Not long, people. Not long.
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ON-LINE REFERENCES Trade Secrets Video (What is Copyright Infringement?) Seattle PI (Copyright Infringement & Free Press)
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Published on Nov 13, 2013
Timothy B. McCormack, attorney at law, and McCormack Intellectual Property, P.S. offer the “The Trade Secrets of Intellectual Property Serie...