Last two weeks on copyright: world tour mapping recent developments, why people actually engage in piracy, Oracle vs Google = APIs can be copyrightable

Let’s start with a copyright world tour:

  • Italy begins torrent sites blackout;
  • in France, a new proposal to change the copyright law suggests to cut the access of piracy sites to advertising income and the Ministry of Culture and Communication embraces CC licences;
  • in Spain, a law firm abused copyright to silence critics of the Ecuadorian government;
  • in Sweden, the anti-piracy law boosted music sales, which resulted in a drop of Internet traffic;
  • UK‘s new plan against piracy is to send warning letters to copyrighted material downloaders;
  • and in the States, they finally realized that everyone is infringing copyright.

In Australia, alongside Attorney General George Brandis discourse against online piracy, which he aims to eradicate from the country, another very interesting debate was brought forward about why people actually engage in piracy. It points out the fact that usually the consumers are left out from the discussions. The music industry quickly replied, emphasizing that music is still pirated even when the access and price needs are met since it’s impossible to compete with free. The movie industry replied as well saying that pirates destroy the jobs of the people working in the movie industry and their favorite shows.

All in all, though the question the debate raised is legitimate and of extreme importance, both sides seem to perpetuate the same myths and stereotypes as 10 years ago. One English organization tried to answer the question regarding what consumers and especially pirates want in a study they released recently and in which they reviewed hundreds of previous piracy studies. Though the findings are interesting, they still don’t shed light on the “why” question, emphasizing the need for more research on the subject:

[…] we just don’t know so we are stumbling around in the dark, legislating as we go. […] Both the industries affected by piracy and the legislators seeking to tackle it should be interested in robust evidence about how we predict unauthorised copying. Here, no one benefits from a distorted worldview. Each proposed new measure should be evaluated carefully against its desired behavioural effects. That’s the only way to create a system that works for companies, artists and the people who listen to music, watch films, use software and play games.

Probably the biggest piece of news from the past weeks was the 2012 revived lawsuit between Oracle and Google regarding the latter’s use of Java programming language in its Android OS. A new court ruling is saying that the language was actually protected by copyright, which basically is bad news for everyone: everything from code, structure, sequence, API are now entitled to copyright protection. There is a high risk that copyright APIs will have negative effects on the app economy and innovation.

The good news is that our second episode was released. Enjoy!

Featured image from Everyone’s a Violator