An Unusual Copyright Problem

I’ve been helping out a friend by doing post production for his film over the past few years. It’s a long story why it’s been years, so don’t ask 🙂

Five years ago I added in a piece of music to cover up a previous editor’s work and I was careful to make sure the licensing was OK. The song I used was Good Ol’ Country by Realism12 Productions Team and distributed with a CC BY-ND license. I got the song from the Internet Archive, a legitimate site so I never anticipated any copyright problem.

Today I was uploading another draft of the film when I noticed that a copyright violation claim had been placed on it for that piece of music. The claimant let it stay on YouTube but added monetization which is usually no big deal however in this case when finished the filmmaker would like to put it on DVD and maybe other web based video sites. With an alleged copyright violation claimed the film could never be copied anywhere else or on to media for family & friends.

Knowing this was going to be a problem I decided to investigate the issue more before giving up and removing the music. I found that the YouTube Content ID system thinks Good Ol’ Country is Walking the Horse by Marcello Micheli. Comparing the two songs I feel they are more similar to each other than My Sweet Lord  and He’s So Fine and I remember well the outcome of that copyright dispute.

So rather than try to deal with the copyright mess I opted to simply pull that song from the film.

Public Domain Images

I was about to take some quick photos of household objects for a demo home inventory system today when it dawned on me to simply look for suitable ones online. Searching around I found one great site and one that is totally clueless as to what public domain means.

First the great site,, an absolutely wonderful collection of images that are truly public domain.

Now the clueless site,, I found one picture that I thought I might use but then I read this on the images page.

License: Public Domain. If you are going to redistribute this image online, a hyperlink to this particular page is mandatory.

The highlighted part is completely contradictory to the concept of public domain. The CC public domain license they link to disagrees with the highlighted text.

The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.

When you waive all of your rights you can’t have a mandatory attribution provision, you can ask for a link and many people would freely give one but making it mandatory is right out. Because they want attribution in the form of a link they need to use one of the CC attribution licenses. Considering how clueless they are, and that their one image I was considering was not that good anyway, I’ll pass on ever using or recommending their site. People who are this clueless on copyright and public domain I’ve found are often trouble waiting to happen so I strongly recommend you stay well away from their site.

Again if you want fantastic unencumbered by licenses images, click this: public domain images.

Televangelist in Training

Lying to the public, breaking copyright laws, keeping money intended for charities, lying to his parents to get more money, bigotry against Jews and the disabled, raising lots of money. Yep he’s well on the way to becoming a televangelist. If a religious professional is accumulating money, THEY’RE DOING IT WRONG. Every good, honest religious professional I’ve known (including my Dad) gave up huge income potential to serve those less fortunate than themselves.

Watch the four part video documenting the bad behavior of televangelist in training Shawn aka VenomFangX starting here.

Texas Instruments has reached the heights of stupidity

The latest from the EFF:

it is scandalous that the company continues to send its improper demands to other bloggers and hosting companies. In fact, TI has sent an identical take-down demand to Mr. Smith’s university complaining about the same OS keys having been posted on our client’s student webpage, and demanding that the school take the materials down from that URL.

TI’s abuse of copyright law is disgusting, I’m starting to think I should set up a boycott Texas Instruments website. They clearly have no clue, are very likely breaking the law and obviously have nothing but contempt for their customers. In the meantime my personal boycott remains in effect, no new components, assemblies or other products of any kind from TI will be used in my work or home. I strongly encourage everyone else to boycott TI as well because what they are doing is far worse than the RIAA or MPAA. While I dislike the tactics of the RIAA and MPAA at least they are operating legally, whereas what TI is doing is almost certainly illegal.

EFF sends notice to Texas Instruments

As I mentioned before I am currently boycotting Texas Instruments because of what to me is behavior worse than the RIAA and MPAA. They are using fear of copyright law to suppress legal actions by customers when there is no copyright infringement. The EFF has sent a warning letter to TI that explains the situation clearly. I am glad that the EFF has taken on the defense of the people abused by TI. I will continue to boycott TI until they publicly apologize for their egregious actions.

Designers Please Boycott Texas Instruments

I’m boycotting Texas Instruments for all new designs I create until they pull their heads out of their butts and apologize to their customers for their stupid anti-consumer actions. Linear Technology, National Semiconductor and ON Semiconductor are now my preferred analog and power chip suppliers and I’ll go with Microchip, Zilog, Intel and Freescale Semiconductor for my microcontroller needs. I strongly encourage all other electronic designers to join me in boycotting TI products until they wake up and treat their customers fairly.

Briefly, TI has sent DMCA takedown notices to TI calculator owners who posted the keys needed to change the OS on certain calculators. This is almost certainly legally wrong since the DMCA has been ruled by the courts to not apply in a similar situation (Lexmark v. Static Controls). While TI has a lame excuse about keeping the calculators trustworthy it is ridiculous because they used weak fairly easily breakable encryption. If TI truly feels they need to keep users locked out, they need to make an effort and use a real lock not a toy lock. Whatever they want to accomplish, legal threats against their customers is not the right thing to do.

Read more about this at the EFF.

Catholic League Announces Plan for Large Scale Copyright Infringement

The announcement is here:

We are now getting copies made for a mass mailing later this week. We will send a copy of this episode to 414 bishops, and to hundreds of influential Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Mormon religious leaders across the United States. We will also send a copy to hundreds of activists and members of the media.

Not only are they promising to break the law in their statement, they are already violating the law by posting the Penn & Teller video here. This blatant disregard for copyright law from a religious organization is despicable. With the enormous wealth of their organization and church they should obey the law and buy the right to distribute the video.

I support copyright law, I believe it currently lasts too long hurting the public domain but, it is important that creators have control over their creative works. Large scale piracy always makes me mad and when an organized group such as the Catholic League publicly announces their intention to violate copyright law I hope that they are prosecuted. Of course I doubt Showtime or their parent company CBS will file an infringement suit. The negative publicity is probably not worth it and, after all it is their intellectual property and only they can decide how to handle the situation.

If the Catholic Church wants to show they have some morals left, they will immediately make a public announcement condemning this action by the Catholic League. I won’t hold my breath for it. While I am incredibly tolerant of religious beliefs, as Roger Williams taught, over the past few decades the actions of Catholics and particularly their leadership has forced me to believe that the Catholic Church is no longer an institution worthy of any respect or tolerance. If they really cared about people they would have insisted that Cardinal Bernard Law be put on trial for his alleged actions in helping hush up so much child sexual abuse. Instead they sent him to the Vatican where he is protected from the legal consequences of his past actions.

Hat tip to the Friendly Atheist for pointing me towards this story via the J-Walk Blog.

Now I see why the jury upped the fine

The 1.9 million dollar fine issued against Jammie Thomas-Rasset came as a big surprise to me since I hadn’t been following the case. Then I read the six part coverage of the trial at Ars Technica starting with, Jury selected in Thomas retrial: shockingly law-abiding. If I had read those articles before the verdict the fine would not have surprised me. Frankly I’m surprised the defense lawyers didn’t settle the case earlier given what came out at trial.

Much of the media coverage of this case has once again mistakenly called this a case of prosecution for downloading. It was no such thing, it, like all the other cases that I’ve looked at, was about file sharing. Jammie’s IP address was caught sharing files via KaZaA.

MediaSentry presented its evidence of having caught the tereastarr@KaZaA user sharing files; the company downloaded complete copies of 11 songs from that user and grabbed the metadata on nearly 2,000 more. Source: Sony lawyer: $150K damages per song “certainly” appropriate – Ars Technica

My advice to everyone, if you are sharing copyrighted music via a file sharing program/network and you get a notice from the RIAA lawyers, take the settlement, it is tiny compared to the fines you get from losing at trial. Jammie was offered a settlement for 5 thousand dollars when they first caught her IP address sharing.

If you’re positive you are not sharing music but receive an RIAA notice, stop using the PC and get experts on the case immediately. It is possible for the RIAA investigators to be fooled by spoofing or other people tapping into your LAN but that is a rare enough occurrence that a court is not likely to side with you unless you provide strong evidence.

A Message from JamesBurkeFan

I have good news and bad news, first the good news. James Burke’s wonderful documentary series The Day the Universe Changed is finally becoming available at a reasonable price. Until now the only way to buy it was at $80 each for the ten DVD’s of the series that’s right $800US (although the Discovery Education Store sells the ten episode set for only $750US). Well on 1/27/2009 the complete 10 episode series will be shipping for $150US from PBS in a 5 DVD box set (you can pre-order now). Not only will you save a big wad of cash but you’ll be helping support PBS (NOVA, Nature, etc.). PBS also has Connections: 1 and Connections: 2 available as box sets at the $150US price in stock for immediate shipping. Also of note to Netflix subscribers is the availability of Connections 1, 2 & 3 right now and TDTUC will be available soon.

Now the bad news, the JamesBurkeFan YouTube channel is gone, he is protesting the copyright related takedown of another YouTube channel he was working on as RichardFeynmanFan. He sent me an email with permission to post it so, I’ll let him explain this in his own words.

This refers to “former” YouTube user “JamesBurkeFan”, which is (or was) myself. I should like to say no request was made to me to take down that channel due to any copyright issue. Nobody contacted me, and I had even been told that Mr. Burke was well aware of the existence of the channel which promoted his views and ideas without any advertising or monetary benefit to myself. Originally I had mentioned on the page that TDTUC was not available for sale to private individuals. This has changed and I was delighted to find out about it, and immediately posted a link to the purchase page on the main channel page.

I took this channel down willingly (and with much sadness) in protest for the takedown of another channel I was building in dedication to Richard Feynman. That channel was another purely educational channel which took the Feynman lectures and combined the audio with clips from the lecture notes making them far easier to understand. I made a pact with myself essentially linking the two channel’s existences (though I pretended to be two different people).

After much correspondence with the complaining party (Michael A. Gottlieb) who was really complaining on behalf of Addison-Wesley publishers (aka. Caltech*), an agreement could not be reached and the site (together with it’s fundamental [and I think novel] idea) was destroyed.

Of course YouTube and my subscribers will not know why the channel was closed. However the awareness raised by it (I have many emails and messages to verify this) brought Mr. Burke to many young people who would otherwise have never heard of him. Additionally, I believe the channel indirectly encouraged the ultimate publication of TDTUC in DVD format for sale to the general public. That was the main goal anyway and I’m glad if in some small way I helped to cause it’s realization.

– Alan Carre [aka JamesBurkeFan & RichardFeynmanFan]


*that was meant as a joke

It’s too bad that a copyright holder would do this but it is their right. Personally I think Mr. Burkes way of acting is the right way, let the material stay up on the web as long as the poster is not trying to profit from the work and the posting is meant for global public education. But that is a decision only a copyright holder and their attorneys can make, obviously Addison-Wesley doesn’t feel this way. While I never got to see any of Alan’s work on The Feynman Lectures it sure seems like it would have been very helpful in making them easier to understand for the general public. Again personally, I think it could have driven sales of the books and audio of the lectures to the general public but then again, I may be wrong and it could have hurt Addison-Wesley by lowering sales. I also think it is too bad that Alan felt the need to take down the James Burke videos but hey, just like Addison-Wesley’s decision, it is solely his decision to make.

Somewhat related to all this, Blake Stacey of Science After Sunclipse had pointed me to Feynman’s “The Character of Physical Law – Messenger Lectures” series on Google Video last year. Checking to see if I could link to those as a consolation prize for my couple of readers, I see those videos have been taken down too.

*** UPDATE July 18. 2009 ***

Alan has sent me some exciting new information, the Feynman lectures have been purchased by Bill Gates and are being put online for free! You can read more about the story at this article from the NY Times.