Cathay Smith, University of Montana Blewett School of Law
Pure suppression: Dr. Drew’s minimization of Covid;
YouTubers compiled these clips and he sent takedown notices. Lawyer asserted ©
over text messages to ex partner when they were published on a blog by the ex
partner to substantiate that she experienced abuse. Netflix v. negative tweets
of those who shared the trailer of its controversial film Cuties (but only
negative tweets). Religious © assertion to control doctrine. Suppressing
criticism, but not necessarily suppressing content. Finally, punitive
assertions: Hustler v. Moral Majority; Campos Santos v. Pewdiepie where a game
studio asserted © against Pewdiepie b/c of his racist comments in livestreams
of another game. Sony v Cohen: Sony says an artist who’s trying to terminate
transfers can’t use album artwork in advertising his work. And another
potential candidate: moral rights/no econ interest: Pepe the Frog v. Alt-Right,
Greenblatt v. McCloskey (the St. Louis gun couple who used photo of them);
musicians v. Trump, Success Kid’s mom v. Steve King; Anish Kapoor v. NRA (for
using Chicago’s Bean). To preserve privacy? Much scholarship on this—Hill v.
Public Advocate (engagement photos used in anti-gay political ad); revenge
porn; Monge v. Maya/secret wedding photos.
Copyright is asserted for personal interests, not market
exclusivity/economic interests in the work. “Weaponizing” can be good or bad—a
weapon can be in the hand of an aggressor or in the hands of
powerless/traditionally defenseless. But there are also abusive uses of © that
seem weaponized for economic purposes: anticompetive uses, abusive overclaims.
Those are excluded from her definition because they’re ultimately financially
driven and have money/market objectives.
Why ©? It’s better than other causes of action which are
limited by 1A and §230.
Blurry lines/overlapping objectives—erase information/bury
facts, suppress speech/criticism, punish/retaliate, protect
dignity/reputation/against tarnishment, preserve privacy—but the lines are
blurred and overlapping. Greenblatt says it’s not about the money when he
asserts rights against the gun toting couple, but is this about dignity, or
retaliation when they’re smugly handing out greeting cards with them pointing
guns, or punishing speech, or money, or all of these things? Hard to find a
line within © that will allow her to distinguish revenge porn victims from
Harvey Weinstein for purposes of identifying abusive claims.
Lemley: maybe this is more about how © has infiltrated our
lives so that we all exist in a field of uses and infringements—society couldn’t
exist if we stopped all that but it means there’s an ability to invoke the rule
“you’re all violating the law all the time” in order to achieve non © goals.
One way to deal with that is at the back end—weeding out bad uses—but maybe
this is more about the overall problem that too many things are ©able and too
many things are infringing.
Guy Rub: reminds him of Wendy Gordon’s anti dissemination
motives from the 1980s—sounds like manybe all of these would be washed away by
Andrew Gilden: Note that trespass law is weaponized all the
time—who has the ability to get the cops to come harass their neighbors? What’s
the comparative power dynamic in ©? Is it more egalitarian?
Yvette Liebesman: the McCloskeys are suing Redbubble, the
photographer, and others for trespass, violation of publicity rights—for the
same images that they used to become famous. They are trying to get awarded the
Jake Linford: is there a way to structure this to allow
punching up but not punching down? Compare attractiveness of Simon Tam’s claim
v. that of the Washington football team. May be difficult to do.
Annemarie Bridy: Google sees a ton of DMCA abuse.
Intermediaries can sometimes step in where legislatures are paralyzed, though
laws against nonconsensual porn are now coming in. Now when we get a DMCA
complaint, we don’t take them down for © reasons but for violation of the
policy against nonconsensual images. A way to keep © more in its lane.
Xiyin Tang, UCLA School of Law
The Privatization of Copyright’s Public Law
Subtle but profound shift: shifting public-facing principles
to require/defer to private agreements. The old strategy: extending © by
statute: in the 90s, term extension, foreign works, anticircumvention, adding subject
matter. The new: contract around the statutory limits. Or get the statute to change—the
revision of music license ratesetting by wiping out public interest/access
considerations to be replaced by “willing buyer/willing seller.” Contracting
out of first sale by framing functional sales as licenses.
Although misuse isn’t new, the fact that it hasn’t much revived
in response to these changes shows something about deference to private markets.
Contracted to more antitrust-like situations. But misuse is important when,
say, © owners create tuggable blanket licenses that allow them to remove any
uses to which they object—super-moral rights. And while Art. 17 requires a
complaint/redress mechanism for material that is used lawfully in criticism,
review, pastiche, it doesn’t say anything about penalties for wrongful blocking.
They could just send multiple takedowns.
Lemley: what do we do about Content ID? The cops playing
music to prevent records of their behavior being shared are doing a bad thing.
Neither side should be able to demand perfection or the platform will have to
pay statutory damages.
Tang: statutory damages could be a sliding scale—an AI that
messed up could mean a few hundred in statutory damages. There is a deterrent
Andrew Gilden, Willamette University College of Law
Capacity and Copyright
AI and © discussion hasn’t discussed mental capacity at all.
Creative spark is required, but there is no additional threshold of capacity.
Example: Ron Swanson’s
will, which he wrote when he was 8: it would not likely be probated, but is
almost certainly ©able. Children can’t execute a will, but they can create. But
note that both © and trusts/estates are supposed to structure rights for heirs.
If the dominant theory of © is that authors are rational actors, that’s difficult
to reconcile with not having a capacity requirement.
Capacity requirement protects individuals from exploitation;
the concerns are also present w/authors but not in expected ways. Authors who
lack ability to contract can be highly vulnerable to family members—example of
Britney Spears who can produce highly valued IP but is not allowed to control
any of it. If she were unable to author works during incapacity, perhaps there’d
be more incentives to work to restore her capacity. Parents’ decisions to
commodify children might be questionable.
However, capacity doctrines are discriminatory in application.
Burden people w/disabilities; insane delusion doctrine is applied to invalidate
people w/marginalized beliefs (such as a donation to the National Women’s Party
rejected for neurotic degree of feminism).
Also, perhaps capacity is in tension with ©–the cultural association
b/t creativity and madness is a long one.
What would a capacity requirement look like? Author should
have a general awareness of context in which they are creating; ability to
deliberate about creative process; voluntarily participates in fixation; be able
to connect these elements in a coherent plan. Perhaps an age limit, though not
sure what that would be.
Victoria Schwartz: © is about acquiring rights rather than
giving them away. Assignments/WFH agreements seem better candidates for
capacity requirements/analogies to wills.
Gilden: Agrees that giving rights away is an issue, but also
interested in why we give people © in the first place if they lack capacity.
Zvi Rosen: Coverture and ©. (I couldn’t find a book by that
name but this
looks interesting.) Where would the © go with a capacity requirement: would
it dissolve? Or go to someone else?
Rebecca Curtin: note that the capacity to marry is lower threshold.
Gilden: what’s closer to the core of autonomy/human choice?
Sean O’Connor, George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law
Copyright, Science, and Federalism
Part of “Means of Innovation” project—trying to expand our
interpretation of the IP clause by showing how French philosophes were thinking
about it. Uncovering meanings of words before late 1800s that have very
different meanings today. Takes seriously that you look at writings, authors,
science v. discoveries, inventors, useful arts in the Clause. Art is the way we
do something in the world; science is the way we step back as an observer and
systematize. Title confusion: is this just a historical paper?
Covid brought new attention to ©’s role in science, not just
artistic expression. Premise: of standard IP justifications, no one has won
out. We have no real sense of © because of shift from protecting substantive
scientific expression to protecting artistic content.
Deep purpose of ©: to get things out of manuscript and get
them into circulation, even before the printing press. Publishing as a concept
goes back to Greco-Roman times: to make public statements. Censorship was
secondary; the idea was to control all fields through guilds, and printing was
thus a guild occupation. But the Enlightenment sought public availability v.
private hoarding of knowledge, especially among guilds. Desire: codify
knowledge in text and plates and put out there for all to access and learn
from. Statute of Anne flows from that background. Important that Statute of
Anne provides for library deposit. Notably, music was confirmed as statutory
subject matter on its basis as a science not an art: Bach v. Longman, 1777;
judge expressly compares mathematical and scientific notation to musical notation
and says former is ©able so latter is too. That’s why there’s no performance
right. Musical notation is a mode of analysis.
IP clause: in that reading, creative or fine arts appear
intentionally left out. Probably because that was all that was needed for
national economy/defense. An argument in favor of saying that the Constitution
only provided limited powers. Framers aren’t against © for fine arts, but they
were leaving it to the states. Unprotected subject matter like pre 72 sound
recordings were in fact protected under state law.
Confirmed by 1790 Copyright Act limited to maps, books, and
charts. Argues that we allowed new subject matter for sheet music—added again
in science mode—and engravings, because engraved plates are key for scientific
publications such as encyclopedias and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as official
documents like stock and currency. Thus, in early 1800s, expansion of © is
still for knowledge, not pure creativity.
It’s at the end of the 1800s that art and science start to
shift, and art shifts to meaning fine/decorative/creative arts, not just
artifice/manipulation of environment for functional purpose, while science gets
narrowed from generalizable knowledge to more tech-focus. We’re losing our mooring.
Nothing changed in the Constitution but the subject matter expanded without
So what? If we’re not going to roll back subject matter, and
he’s not advocating that, then what do we do about the expansion exceeding
Congress’s constitutional authority? Maybe we just give up on the IP clause as
a constraint. Or do we try to revise it? That’s probably infeasible. We just don’t
have a coherent account, and until we do we will be in a muddle. Even more
practically, if the protection is for creative works, then utilitarian justification
only probably does not work. Attribution/integrity would have to be brought in.
Tyler Ochoa: Malla Pollack’s article on meaning of progress
as dissemination is relevant/consistent. But on federalism: the Federalist
Papers say that states can’t do this effectively, and he’s seen nothing making
that distinction b/t creative arts and scientific knowledge—might just drag
creative arts incidentally along with it. 1802 protection for prints is only a
few years after the first © Act, but nothing in the Act says it’s limited to
scientific purposes even if that’s the core motivation.
Derek Miller: The Stationers/publishers are the other piece:
the authorial right arises out of opposition to the publishers, and your
account seems to leave them out. The Bach case is about what’s a “writing.”
A: read the case again—he reads it as being a scientific
Zvi Rosen: Ruth Shaw Leonard wrote a great dissertation in
the 1930s where she went through every registered Mass. ©, worth looking at.
A: Agrees that by the end of the 1800s it’s all fine arts,
but that’s the problem.
Rosen: to what extent is that about constitutional
A: Commentator at the time notes the shift in use of the
term: useful arts have become “technology,” and so they just ignore the word “useful”
and say the clause protects “arts and sciences.”
Peter Karol: Q about role of religion. So many engravings
A: theology would be the related science. Even if I’m right,
there’s so much stuff that seems to be conveying wisdom/systematic knowledge of
environment. If you’re conveying substantive knowledge about the religion, then
it’s part of “science.” So the fundamental difficulty is: when does it cross
the line from knowledge to entertainment?
Tang: what did the Framers think the relationship b/t © and
patent was? What work was © doing that patent wasn’t already doing in this framing?
A: patents were still evolving at the time especially in
terms of what disclosure was required. Instructive that they don’t use those terms,
patent and ©, because they didn’t necessarily want to adopt the European
versions. But the paradigmatic way of scientific dissemination at the time was
treatises—think of Euclid etc.
Christine Farley: Invention of photography as changing how
we think of fine art: as representational and therefore a way to disseminate
A: you keep getting these dual use media where you can do
both; even the Greek plays were about teaching morality. The original system
keeps breaking down—the Enlightenment dream is about identifying knowledge, but
much creative expression conveys important info.
Graham Reynolds, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University
of British Columbia
Copyright as (Progressive) Property
Critique of IP as property: protects the power of the
already rich & powerful, especially people who are white/male/from the global
North. So could replacing the property concept make © more equitable?
Frequent references to © as property in courts,
legislatures, constitutions around the world complicate this effort. Building
on literature by exploring progressive property theory as a response: PPT
recognizes that common conception of property as protection of individual
control over specific resources is legally influential and intuitively
powerful. But inevitable impact of one person’s property on others make it
inadequate. Have to look at underlying human values and social relations. That
can help © theory, and it can also help PPT—which may need more attention to acquisition
of rights and redistribution, both of which © theory has explored. We can also
look into the back catalog of property theory more generally to find more
useful building blocks.
Lemley: Understands the desire to make the best of a bad
situation, but fears it’s still a rigged game. Adoption of property rhetoric
has not led us either in IP or in property law to progressive policies; the
instinctual/easy sell of “absolute despotic dominion” is powerful. What to do
about that? Maybe not talk so much about extending PPT from real property but more
about how we differentiate types of property.
Rub: the problem isn’t property per se, but what people
think property means! Let’s assume we can change people’s minds: does it solve
the problem that both “good” and “bad” people use © to further their interests?
A: might help in certain ways around how we define reproduction;
fair dealing/fair use; but not a total reconceptualization.
Tang: Note that © owners move away from property when it
helps them: characterizing sales as licenses, which doesn’t work in real property;
characterizing works as their “children” where it would no longer be acceptable
to say you own your actual children.
Carys Craig: Canadian SCt case accepting notion of © as
property was a throwaway sentence without debate; we do have to deal with it
strategically but may not need to be resigned to it. It’s not property that’s
the problem but rhetoric and imagination.
Bita Amani: Unjust enrichment as another relevant concept—uses
RT: Another variant of the worry expressed by some of the
comments: At least some defenders of expansive exclusive rights are presenting ©
as already progressive: CO educational materials trying to get students to
think of themselves as creators and therefore to refrain from what we call
copying, or infringement (compare to the quote from a progressive economist as
reported by John Maynard Keynes: “[w]hen he was asked if he favored private
property, Montgomery replied, ‘I do—so strongly that I want everyone in Texas
to have some.”’); claims that © is a way for members of marginalized groups to
build wealth without starting with other social capital.
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