The figures the Trump Administration is relying on when calculating the costs of Chinese IP “theft” are based on some fuzzy math, even when the administration can cite them correctly.
News and Commentary
Copyright trolling! Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about pornography. Specifically, the case of Prenda Law, whose employee John Steele masterminded a copyright trolling conspiracy that will land him in prison for five years. The company sued a number of unsuspecting porn viewers, and eventually the ISPs Comcast and AT&T, for illegally downloading or facilitating the download of copyrighted material, respectively. Most settled for only a few thousand dollars, netting the company $6 million. But, rather than suing on behalf of real porn companies, the firm set up phony shell companies that filmed pornography and uploaded the content to torrent sites directly.
The late Andy Warhol used a photograph of the rockstar Prince to create a series of 16 photos called the “Prince Series.” The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts was sued by photographer Lynn Goldsmith, who took the original photograph, for copyright infringement. A U.S. District judge ruled in favor of the Warhol Foundation, finding that the pieces were sufficiently transformative to constitute fair use.
Following the passage of the Music Modernization Act last year, the U.S. Copyright Office announced the designation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective last week as the body that will manage the rights and royalties as designated by the MMA. The MLC will be funded by music streaming services and create a comprehensive database of rights holders of various musical works to better streamline the royalty process.
YouTube has announced that it will streamline its copyright claims process. Previously, rights holders could simply flag videos, creating much angst for creators who previously had to deal with broad claims. Now, rights holders will have to point to specific portions of a video that contain infringing content.
Alex Moss and Joe Mullin dispute the claims made in last month’s Tillis/Coons 101 hearings, namely the relationship between foreign patenting and domestic innovation. They find that foreign patenting has little bearing on U.S. innovation, as those patents are not in effect in the U.S. (in fact, overly broad patenting abroad could be a benefit to American firms that would be free to use those inventions.) Further, Europe does have restrictions on software patents and other inventions that many proponents of the 101 reform falsely claim could be patented in the E.U., and China’s patent system grants so many low-quality patents that it is hardly a model to emulate.
The STRONGER Patents act was reintroduced last week. The bill would, among other things, provide injunctive relief for those whose patents have been infringed, raises the burden of proof for finding a patent invalid, and add a standing requirement for inter partes review. Currently, anyone can challenge a patent under IPR.
A new paper from the Center for Economic Policy Research discusses the relationship between basic scientific research and economic growth and innovation. The paper finds that, contrary to nay-sayers about the relationship between innovation and basic scientific research, patents directly based on scientific research are worth, on average, nearly $3 million more than those unrelated to science. Additionally, these patents tend to be more novel than those not based on scientific research within the same technological fields.