Tag Archives: intellectual property

FROM THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE

Movies: A Global Passion

The U.S. Copyright Office will present a Copyright Matters program in connection with World Intellectual Property Day on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:45 p.m. This year’s theme, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization, is “Movies: A Global Passion.”

The program will feature remarks from Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and presentations about the many creative components of film and other audiovisual works from members of the Copyright Alliance. The Copyright Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest and educational organization representing artists, creators, and innovators across the spectrum of copyright.

World Intellectual Property Day, internationally observed on April 26, marks the date in 1970 when the World Intellectual Property Organization Convention came into force. The anniversary of this occasion is observed as a way of promoting and increasing general understanding of intellectual property.

The program will be held in historic Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and is free and open to the public.

Calendar

April 23, 2014: World Intellectual Property Day celebration at Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

May 1, 2014: Effective date of new Copyright Office fee schedule

May 5, 2014: Public roundtable on “making available” study


May 16, 2014: Due date for comments on current state of the music licensing marketplace

May 21, 2014: New due date for comments on orphan works and mass digitization and responses to public roundtables

MICROSOFT’S 3-STEP PROCESS TO ONLINE THEFT

By Robert Henson, courtesy of Tall Firs Media, LLC

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker and itself a massive consumer of image content for its products and services, has taken the bold step of promoting the theft of images online. Through its newly revamped Office product, Microsoft is replacing an image search functionality – one that routed the user to vetted sources for searching, transacting and integrating content into their online projects – with a general Bing search. While Microsoft is certainly free to remove one piece of Office functionality and push users onto the Bing platform, the methods of how it is doing so underscores a blatant disregard of intellectual property.

On Microsoft’s Office web page Images, it guides an Office user on the acquisition of images for use. Under “Use Bing to get images”, it outlines a three step process:

  1. Open Bing.com (and search for an image)
  2. Hover over your selected item…and Right click
  3. Click Save picture as…in the menu. Save image.

The message is clear: use Bing to download images for whatever intended use you might have. Microsoft does not attempt to educate the user on copyright, use rights or even how unauthorized use of images pulled from the web might expose the user to risks. It would seem that driving Bing traffic at the expense of content owners and generating volumes of orphaned works is far more important to Microsoft than architecting a solution where both parties might benefit from online search and use.

The unauthorized use of images has increased year over year, where it is now assumed that well over 85% of all images used online are done so illegally. Sites like Pinterest routinely expunge image metadata when users pin images, and despite attempts by Getty to monetize their collection by coupling Getty orphaned works with their rightful information, it’s a drop in the bucket considering the hundreds of millions – or billions – of images Pinterest hosts. Google is still the leader in generating orphaned works, and they’ve recently made greater strides in obfuscating information on the rightful owner of an image, while giving easier direct access of any online image from their search to users.

Microsoft, desperate to try and play catch up in the online search market, is brazenly throwing the content industry under the bus in the name of Bing. How it is educating the market on image use and consumption might very well be categorized as reckless, but more so ironic given that Microsoft is a corporation that vehemently defends its own intellectual property with extreme prejudice.

It’s not the lack of viable alternatives that accelerates unauthorized use, but lack of market education and general disinterest on behalf of search engines and social media platforms. What market education there is comes through the wellspring of Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other entities that advocate for free and unfettered access to content, and are intent on rewriting the rules around content ownership and accessibility. Microsoft has joined in the chorus, with a clear full-throated voice.