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Author Drops Copyright Case Against Scribd Filter

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the damned-if-you-don't dept.

The Courts 81

natehoy writes "Apparently, monitoring for copyright violations is not in itself a copyright violation, lawyers for Elaine Scott decided. As a result, they have dropped the lawsuit against Scribd, who was being simultaneously sued for allowing copies of Scott's work to be published, and retaining an unlicensed copy of the work in their filtering software to try and prevent future copyright violations."

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Seriously? (1, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32979886)

This is getting really frickin ridiculous.

They are being sued for not blocking copyrighted data, and then sued for holding a copy in their filter so that they can block further copies? WTF?

What do you even say to that kind of idiot?

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32979898)

What do you even say to that kind of idiot?

"Case dismissed."

Re:Seriously? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980188)

What do the respective lawyers say to their clients?

Thanks. We'll invoice you.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32983194)

Wrong. They got big fat retainers first, especially, in Elaine Scott's case, if they were smart.

See, lawyers hate losing cases, so if they even think they might lose, or, in harsher cases, the plaintiff's a fucking idiot, they'll want to cover themselves, and there's two ways to do that:

1. Get as much money up front.
2. Tell the client they might lose (or are fucking idiots). This isn't for their conscience, mind you, it's to stave off a possible misrepresentation suit.

Of course, even if most lawyers tell you you're a fucking idiot, you'll eventually find one who'll take your case.

But he'll still tell you you're a fucking idiot, just nicer. And he'll also get his money up front.

Here endeth the lesson.

Re:Seriously? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980396)

There should be a fine for filing a frivolous lawsuit. And of course all court costs.

Re:Seriously? (1)

fedos (150319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981450)

Don't forget paying the defendent's lawyer and court fees.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982840)

There is, if the judge actually rules it frivolous -- and there can be some pretty nasty penalties for the lawyer on top of the fine. However it almost never happens. You have to really be a fuckup to get a judge to make that ruling.

As silly as this case would be, I don't think they're wrong. Having a copy for a good purpose is still having a copy, and that's what copyright is all about. Even if it would be ruled fair use, fair use is an affirmative defense meaning you technically did do what you're accused of but you have a reason so good that you shouldn't be punished.

Don't get me wrong: The very thought of simultaneously suing somebody for not stopping infringement and having a copy to try to stop infringement makes my skin crawl. But if they're technically right under the law, or even if there is a reasonable question as to whether they are technically right under the law, I don't think it can (or should) be called frivolous.

Re:Seriously? (3, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32979990)

I don't know if it is getting ridiculous as much as the law itself is just confusing and unclear. It requires court arbitration to figure out the simplest of questions. "Is ripping CDs for a backup 'fair use'?", etc. Unfortunately, law is worse than code in terms of legacy support. Think of this as the ultimate code bloat legacy application. All you want to do is gut the whole thing and start over, but management will not entertain that motion at all.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980074)

The law SERIOUSLY needs to be gutted. I think the common law system is fatally flawed in this way. There's no way for a reasonably informed and intelligent citizen to be able to scratch the surface of the thousands of laws, decisions, precedents which could be brought to bear on him at any moment. How can that possibly be fair?

Re:Seriously? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980424)

That's the point...

Re:Seriously? (2, Interesting)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980914)

The purpose of America's laws is to benefit the socioeconomic elite, keep everyone else in line, and prevent major social upheaval. The laws are doing just what they are designed to do.

Re:Seriously? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32981004)

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers. --Ayn Rand

Re:Seriously? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981108)

I wish I had mod points for you.

Re:Seriously? (1)

X-Ray Artist (1784416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981632)

She definitely nailed that one! The whole quote is great and I especially agree with this part: "Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone?"

Infringed from Orwell's work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32982722)

Infringed from Orwell's work. The story 1984 has that as the central theme, concentrating on the fact that it is partial enforcement that is used to keep people down, NOT merely lots of laws.

After all Randians would NOT like the bit about "don't enforce the laws against the rich and connected". Hence her gutting of 1984's main thread.

Re:Infringed from Orwell's work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32983898)

As if there weren't socio-economical/dystopian worlds invented by other authors, prior to either Orwell or Rand's. The themes you refer to almost certianly originated before 1927's film Metropolis (or the 1926 novelization thereof), but it was that silent film which really helped bring these ideas to mainstream public consciousness.

A lot of these works were undoubtedly influenced by H.G. Wells.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982344)

Just yesterday I saw a copy of the full criminal code, in all its fine print 700 page glory. I don't know how anyone can possibly say with a straight face that "ignorance is not an excuse".

Re:Seriously? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984036)

It's not that ignorance isn't plausible, or even relevant, but that it cannot be used as prima facie evidence against criminal charges. It doesn't *excuse* a criminal act. It *can* be mitigating though. If it were any other way, you'd have people claiming they didn't know rape was illegal.

Re:Seriously? (3, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980444)

I don't know if it is getting ridiculous as much as the law itself is just confusing and unclear.

It doesn't need to be, the original laws on the subject were pretty easy to understand, and pretty reasonable. Each time they revise it though it just gets worse and worse.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980130)

>What do you even say to that kind of idiot?

"I'm sorry, from now on I'll use a hash instead"?

Re:Seriously? (4, Funny)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980164)

Sorry, a hash is a derivative work.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980538)

...hash is a derivative work.

Yep, sure is... :-)

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32981572)

In that case, I've copyrighted everything that has an MD5 hash of d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e.

Re:Seriously? (1)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982402)

so you've copyrighted all empty files?
i think i have some prior art that nullifies your copyright.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982688)

I know it was an attempt at a joke, but prior art has nothing to do with copyright -- just patents.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32994262)

Depends on what one means by "prior art", and their locale.

As I understand it, in the US a work is copyrighted the moment it is created, there is no need to file with anyone. So if you can prove that your work was created before someone else's identical work...

Re:Seriously? (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982518)

Sorry, a hash is a derivative work.

I'd laugh but...I'm not so sure it isn't.

Has this been tested in court? Or have copyright lawyers not discovered hashes?

Re:Seriously? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32987384)

I think it is. I also think that a single line quoted from a novel is in a very pedantic way.

But that's why you have fair use. It is derived but it's not inringing because copyright law has exceptions for the at sort of thing.

Re:Seriously? (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980884)

Are you going to buy a legal copy of the work in question in order to make the hash? If not, you're still violating copyright when you get a copy to make the has with. If f you do buy it, then there's no point in making the hash since you own the copy you'll use in your filter.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981154)

A slight modification to the source and your hash is toast.

mmm.....hash and toast.....and eggs.....and orange juice.

Re:Seriously? (5, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980452)

The deposition goes like so:

Plaintiff's attorney: Are you blocking users from uploading content belonging to my client?

Defendant: Yes.

Plaintiff's attorney: How?

Defendant: We compare uploaded items to a copy of the book on our server.

Plaintiff's attorney: I see. And did you pay for it?

Defendant: What?

Plaintiff's attorney: This book, that you have on your server.

Defendant: Uh, yes. We bought it at Borders and scanned it in.

Plaintiff's attorney: Did you buy a license to make an electronic copy of the hardcopy you purchased?

Defendant: A what?

Plaintiff's attorney: (makes a note).

Defendant: Aw, shit.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32987650)

There's no such things as an "electronic copy" license. As long as you own something, you're entitled under fair use to convert it to whatever format you wish, as long as it's for personal use.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980890)

This is getting really frickin ridiculous.

They are being sued for not blocking copyrighted data, and then sued for holding a copy in their filter so that they can block further copies? WTF?

What do you even say to that kind of idiot?

Congradulations, You may ALREADY be a Supreme Court Justice!

Re:Seriously? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981138)

What do you even say to that kind of idiot?

You ask if this is a clever use of the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org] . Had you heard of Elaine Scott before this?

Re:Seriously? (2, Interesting)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982674)

Well, it is certainly on the silly side and the money-grubbing-greedy-bitch side as well. But legally speaking, aren't they correct? Especially if they really were holding an entire copy of the work for their filter?

I'm no expert, but it doesn't seem to me like they actually need to hold a full copy of the work to do their filtering. Can't they just take a random sampling of phrases and search for those, or something else entirely?

knew that! (2, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32979894)

Of course, I knew that already. My hard-drive contents, including the "diff" program are one big copyright violation monitoring tool.

A real shame. That was a brilliant business model. (2, Funny)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 4 years ago | (#32979926)

1 - forbid site from avoiding copyright infringements.
2 - sue when copies of copyrighted works appear on site.
3 - PROFIT!

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980484)

Except that your #1 is not the facts of the case.

The site was using an unauthorized copy of the work to check for other unauthorized copies.

Stealing a car to look for stolen cars doesn't make you a cop.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (0, Offtopic)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981460)

>Stealing a car to look for stolen cars doesn't make you a cop.

Making false comparisons between copyable abundant data and non-abundant physical goods does not make you a good analogist.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982584)

Abundance has ZERO to do with ownership.

Stealing a blade of grass off my lawn makes you a thief.

Got it?

Now, get off it.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32982696)

Your understanding of "abundance" is lacking.

When I breathe, I am not stealing your air.

When I post on Slashdot, I am not stealing your bandwidth.

If every blade of grass remains on your lawn, what was stolen?

Captcha: "Imbecile" No shit.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984740)

I don't own the air. You're free to breathe it in. Just don't breathe it out at me if you have a disease.

When I access slashdot I grant you a license to the bandwidth needed to read your post.

If every blade of grass remains on your lawn, what was stolen?

If you haven't taken one, you haven't stolen one.

Captcha: "Imbecile" No shit.

There's a reason you refused to sign your post.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32983358)

Wow. You're justifying a legal argument which not only upholds copyright as a justified monopoly over the use of a work (I can agree with this, mostly) but also forces businesses to buy copies of that work in order to operate a law-abiding service on the supposition that illegal behavior might otherwise occur.

Basically, you're insane or evil.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984760)

No, I am saying that if they choose to use a copy of the work as a means of automatically ensuring compliance with the law, then they have to pay for that copy.

There are other means to comply with the law. They don't have to break the law in one way to comply with it in another.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984440)

Abundance has ZERO to do with ownership.

Stealing a blade of grass off my lawn makes you a thief.

Got it?

Now, get off it.

And if someone steals a blade of grass from your lawn, they should be required to recompense you for the value of that blade of grass. Which, due to abundance, is basically nothing.

Get it now?

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984808)

Grass is not a book. It took me a week to grow that grass from seed. Seed I dind't have to invent. Seed I bought. Regardless, it is my property, and stealing it makes you a thief.

If I did invent the seed, and it was valuable to someone, and you stole one of the seeds from me, you bet your thieving ass I'd be coming at you with a phalanx of lawyers and cops, especially if the law says that my failure to protect my rights to the seed causes my rights to lapse.

Copyright is a valid right. Stealing a book, no matter your excuse, and no matter how many trillions of copies someone can produce on a computer in a few seconds, is not a valid right.

Get it now?

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (0)

Reapman (740286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982444)

Seriously? Scribd was essentially providing a service saving the author money, and that's grounds for a LAWSUIT? So to ensure that they have nothing illegal on their servers Scribd (and others) should be bound to purchase a copy of EVERY BOOK?!?

Side A: You are bound by law to prevent that from being copied.
Side B: What is "that"?
Side A: Give us money and we'll allow you to know what your bound by law to prevent doing.

IANAL but that smells of extortion to me.

By the way I think your argument using cars should win an award... but not in a good way.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982622)

Scribd possessed a copy of a book that they did not pay for, and using it as part of a software program.

That's grounds for a lawsuit.

Whether it "saved" the author money is moot. They could have saved the author money by manually examining uploaded content, instead of by using a pirated copy in their software.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32982670)

Thanks for reaffirming what's wrong with your legal system then.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984814)

The only thing "wrong" with it is that fools like you don't understand it.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

plumby (179557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32989162)

Even ignoring the practical impossibility of doing this, presumably they would still have had to purchase a copy of that, and every other, book (and probably one copy for each person that would be tasked with checking the documents) in order to do it legally.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990996)

Then all is not lost and that business model might still have a bright future.
All we need to do is include books in shrink wraps, and have an EULA you must agree to before openingg, saying you may not use the book in a copyright infringement prevention system.

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980520)

Playing a devil's advocate a little bit here but is there no way to avoid copyright infringements other than storing the entire copy of a copyrighted work in your system?

Re:A real shame. That was a brilliant business mod (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980780)

Theoretically? Probably.

But the only way to be absolutely sure you are catching all of the violations is to store enough of the work itself that your filter can recognize it when it sees it.

A hash would work, for a specific version of the copyrighted work. However, I could add one sentence to the beginning of the document and the hash would then be different and the filter check would fail.

The only way to be sure is to somehow store enough information about the actual text to recognize that specific text each time you see it. I suppose you could hash every other paragraph and look for matches to the paragraphs, and for the written word that would probably work OK.

But Scribd obviously thought, and the author's lawyers have reluctantly accepted, that storing the original document to have something to compare to is a reasonable method of filtering.

Remember, Scribd is not accused of distributing the copy they retained in their filter. They retained it for the purpose of preventing distribution. And it seems to me that, by doing so, they came up with an extremely effective filter that gave the original work far more protection than is required under the DMCA.

If anything, Scribd should be commended for going above and beyond the letter of the law in order to protect copyrighted works.

New Strategy... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32979960)

It's a new strategy for pirates.

"I'm not pirating software! I'm watching out for copyright infringement, and I need a copy in of the pirated product in order to do just that!"

What about Child Porn? (2, Interesting)

mightybaldking (907279) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980124)

Let us suppose we are an image hosting site, that has in the past been used to host child porn (Think Flickr or ImageHost). By the same logic, it would then be appropriate for us to maintain copies of child porn in order to filter new uploads against it. In my opinion, the only organizations that should be allowed to retain copies of c.p. are those government organizations actively involved in policing it -- regardless of motive. So when our company gets v&, do you think they'll accept our filtering excuse? Notwithstanding that the IP laws are screwed up, It was still an illegal copy, and I feel the author's case has merit.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980182)

Why wouldn't you be allowed to keep copies for your filter? It would be inane to argue it's harming anyone.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980516)

If you bought the copy you were using in your filter, then you did the right thing.

If you scanned it, or kept one of the illegal uploads as a template, then you hurt the people who didn't get paid for the copy.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980558)

I have no idea why the title of this thread is what it is, but I'm certain it's for an unconscionably stupid reason bordering on or diving deeply into trolling.

I don't want to read it. Suffice it to say that I could refute the reasoning. So just consider it nullified and move on.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981096)

If you bought the copy you were using in your filter, then you did the right thing.

Why should Scribd have to buy a copy to put it in a filter? They haven't infringed the work. They are preventing others from doing so.

The copy they retain will not be distributed. It will be used to prevent further distribution. It exists to help the author, not hurt them.

The logical extension of your line of reasoning is that any author can increase their sales by simply accusing every document-sharing site on the planet of distributing a copy of their work.

Since the site logically needs a copy of the work in order to know whether the stuff they have on the site might be infringing, the site would then have to buy a copy to compare it.

Eventually, once the publishing houses get wind of this, if you want to host a document-sharing site, you'd have to negotiate rights to every known written work from every author and publishing house on the planet.

If you scanned it, or kept one of the illegal uploads as a template, then you hurt the people who didn't get paid for the copy.

How do you hurt them, exactly? By retaining a copy that exists only for the purpose of protecting the original work?

I'm really struggling with the logic behind that.

The copy Scribd retained was not used to distribute the work (if it was, I'd be right alongside you with the pitchfork and tar in hand).

Instead, it was used to help the author by preventing further distribution of their works.

Personally, I think the author should be responsible for finding infringements and provide the hashes that should be blocked, but that makes the system unworkable for the author since the infringers could simply insert a few characters at the beginning or the end and change the hash.

So this is a reasonable compromise that benefits the author significantly by providing their work adaptive protection against infringement.

I think Scribd actually not only did the right thing, but went above and beyond in protecting the actual written work, rather than stopping one specific infringing version (a block that could be easily worked around by making very slight alterations to the text).

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982390)

If you scanned it, or kept one of the illegal uploads as a template, then you hurt the people who didn't get paid for the copy.

Hurt them? If you make an unauthorized copy, you have merely failed to benefit them. Despite the efforts of the content industry to equate the two, there actually is a difference in both degree and kind between taking twenty dollars out of your pocket and simply not giving you twenty dollars.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32985110)

It's not the industry, it's the law.

If I own the content, and you want the content, you pay me for the content. You don't copy it from someone else unless you've paid me, and you don't make copies of it without paying me, and you don't sell copies of it that you haven't paid me for.

There are exceptions to this, some called fair use, but stealing a whole copy of it to be used as part of your business is not that.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

D4MO (78537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980296)

You don't keep a copy of the image in question. You keep a hash to detect duplicates and a simhash to flag potential duplicates.

Re:What about Child Porn? (2, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980302)

What if you're training filtering applications to automatically discover and block child porn? You'd want to talk to the police first, obviously, but you have a strong legitimate reason in having it there. By you having it for non-nefarious reasons, in order to help stop it, the world would have significantly less of it going around.

US courts have ordered many services to implement filtering systems for copyrighted material. For those to work, they need to know what the copyrighted material to be blocked is. If you rule that copyright filtering systems can't itself have copies of the material, the copyright blocking systems stop working (to some degree or another). This is exactly the sort of situation that falls under fair use. Otherwise the court orders to implement filtering would have to be overturned, and there would be significantly more infringement going on.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980608)

US courts have ordered many services to implement filtering systems

Really?

I'd think they'd just order services not to allow infringing content, and leave the means up to the service.

a solution to a simpler problem (1)

John_Sauter (595980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32984800)

What if you're training filtering applications to automatically discover and block child porn? ...

I heard a story about a similar problem with a clever solution. According to the story, IBM wanted to eliminate all "bad words" from all of IBM's computer programs. The expectation, clearly, was that there might be bad words in the comments, which would offend IBM's customers. IBM has customers all over the world, and they read a large number of languages, so the directive was to eliminate all bad words in all of the languages used by IBM's customers.

The programmer given this task was not fluent in all of the languages used, so he asked IBM's field offices in each country to provide him with a list of the bad words in the local language. The field offices resisted, because even writing down the bad words offended them. Even if this were not a problem, there was the issue that the resulting program, and its data, would be IBM software, and therefore subject to itself.

The solution, according to the story, was to have the field offices send the bad words spelled backwards. This removed their offensive nature, and also solved the second problem. The program reversed each line it read, and then compared with all of the reversed bad words. The result: a program with no bad words that can detect the presence of bad words.

Application of this trick to the copyright problem is not so simple. A copyrighted work, reversed letter-for-letter, is a derived work of the original. Using ROT13 would have a similar problem. Child porn, on the other hand, isn't child porn any more if the image is not recognizable. You could do something like stretch the image horizontally until it becomes visually meaningless. Do the same for each input image and compare with the "neutered" child porn.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980592)

Could I propose an extension to Godwin's Law? Or maybe a modernization of it? "As any legal or political discussion progresses, the probability that someone will bring up child porn approaches one", complete with the "and the person who brought it up loses the argument" clause? Seriously, is that all anyone thinks about anymore?

Re:What about Child Porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32983116)

That clause is stupid one in the original one too, so I'm not for it.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980612)

That would only be valid if there were a single "child porn" and only exact copies of it were child porn. As this is obviously not true, your analogy fails.

Re:What about Child Porn? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980626)

Child porn brings up some other arguments, but I'll leave those for another discussion and discuss this:

I feel the author's case has merit.

One or the other portions of this specific case may have merit, but saying that BOTH aspects of the case has merit is basically saying that all web sites need to be shut down immediately for potential copyright violation.

Ms. Scott initially demanded that Scribd perform due diligence on her behalf to prevent distribution of her copyrighted work. That is a fair and reasonable request, and the DMCA allows for that. Scribd implemented a filter that ensured that her work could not be distributed any more.

But then to claim that the copy of her work that sits in their filtering algorithm is itself a violating copy is utterly silly.

A hash is not going to work. Some uploader could simply add a few words to the document somewhere and the hash is rendered useless. In order to do meaningful filtering, they need to do significant matches against the original work.

It sounds like Scribd made more than a reasonable effort to protect Ms. Scott's work, and fortunately even her lawyers finally clued in and dropped the case.

If that isn't a violation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980320)

What about monitoring monitoring for copyright violations? Is meta-monitoring a copyright violation?

DMCA Safe-harbor sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32980502)

I buy the DMCA safe-harbor defense, that seems iron-clad to me, but they were still knowingly making copies of her works (even if they didn't make them available) and profiting off the information. I would argue that they had a pretty good chance of winning on that claim.

Still this is really a non-story, "person with lawyers decides not to sue", sounds like something the Onion would run.

Re:DMCA Safe-harbor sure (2, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981248)

Can you explain how Scribd knowingly made a copy of her work and profited from that copy?

Scribd's users knowingly made copies of her work. Once Scribd was made aware of the infringement, they reacted properly and appropriately to the DMCA notice and implemented a filter to prevent further distribution of the work. So they did not knowingly make the copies that they profited from. Case one for the defendant, DMCA "Safe Harbor" protects them from prosecution since they acted swiftly and appropriately in response to a perfectly valid and reasonable DMCA notice.

Scribd themselves knowingly made one copy of the work, to put it in their filter. No profit was made from that copy, and that copy was made for the sole purpose of benefiting the author. Scribd made no profit from that work, it simply allowed them to protect the author's interests extremely effectively.

Re:DMCA Safe-harbor sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32982206)

How exactly were they profiting by denying people from seeing something they have no right to see?

Judge! (2, Funny)

ceraphis (1611217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32980716)

I swear, judge! I downloaded that copy of Backyard Vixens 7 because I was trying to make sure nobody infringed on their copyright to do doggie style...that way.

I wish they would have been found guilty (2, Funny)

Lohrno (670867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32981284)

If they found them guilty, then it would have been impossible for them to filter copyrighted stuff, making many people's lives easier. "Sorry, we can't do copyright filtering without violating copyrights..."

Re:I wish they would have been found guilty (1)

master0ne (655374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32982910)

actually it more likely would have led to a system where user generated content is dis allowed because there is no other way to block copyrighted material.

'DOLL (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32981984)

example, iF yoiu butts are exposed

Is this a precedent for online music? (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32983916)

This could be a useful precedent for the music business. A growing problem is: You're a musician who thinks you've written a new tune, but think you might be pulling a George Harrison and merely putting new words to someone else's tune. How do you find out if the tune in your head is copyrighted?

Some significant work has been done with putting music online in several computer-encoded forms, with several lookup tools that try to identify similar pieces of music. Leaving aside the fact that this is a nontrivial problem musically, the work has been seriously held back by fears of the copyright enforcers. There have been demands from publishers and agents that copyrighted music be removed from the databases, which has usually been done. So the available music is pretty much just material that's out of copyright. It's obvious that you can put Bach's and Beethoven's music online in computerized form, and it's equally obvious that "folk" tunes published centuries ago (by Playford et al) is legal.

But I've actually asked some music publishers' reps how one might legally find out if they hold a copyright for a particular tune. Their answer, apparently told with a straight face, is that I should buy a copy of everything they've ever published, and search through all of it for the tune. There is a certain lack of practicality to the idea that every musician should own a printed copy of every piece of music that's under copyright. I'd need a house orders of magnitude larger than my current house to hold it all. And the search operation would take several years of full-time work.

So what's the prospect for this decision being applicable to music? Would it be legal for musicians to transcribe lots of copyrighted tunes, putting what's essentially a computerized "fake-book" version of everything in our database, and make the lookup tools available online to musicians? Or would we be risking a multi-million-dollar years-long lawsuit over such a tool? Asking publishers for permission isn't feasible; many of them have already said they don't approve.

If it's not legal, how might a musician learn whether that tune in their head is copyrighted? You can play it at a gig, and wait for the indictment papers to arrive at your door, of course, but it'd be nice if there were some better way that's legal. It'd be even nicer if the database could have contact info for each work, so the musicians can quickly ask for permission to play a work in public. But at present, such a tool seems illegal, on the ground that its database is inherently a mass of copyright infringements.

(There's also the separate problem: How to decide whether two tunes or songs are "the same music" is an unsolved problem, whose only answer right now is "Ask the courts", and it's not obvious how to write a CGI program that does that. ;-)

so, let's see what's happening here (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32987296)

Step 1: Private profit-making business wants to make money by hosting other people's work (not necessarily without authorisation).

Step 2: Some woman points out that her work was up without her authorisation.

Step 3: Private profit-making business takes down her work and instead makes a copy of her work as part of an algorithm to prevent further infringement.

Step 4: Woman points out the business is still making an unauthorised copy of her work.

Step 5: Slashdot protects the "right" ("sense of entitlement") of the private profit-making business to make a profit, arguing that it would be somehow "unreasonable" or "evil" for exceptions to copyright law to be made to private profit-making businesses which would otherwise find it "difficult" to operate.

Essentially, /. is pulling an MPAA/RIAA. It's not this woman's problem that it's difficult for Scribd to otherwise police for copyright infringement. It could keep short extracts; it could keep summary statistics (not just a hash - any amount of data on sentence/word structure/length which wouldn't be significantly adjusted by making small tweaks); it could hire humans. It could even find that its business model is unworkable. But no - /. thinks, like MPAA/RIAA, that some corporation should have the right to its profits, and that exceptions should be made in law to protect the corporation's sense of entitlement to profits.

I need to start a filtering service and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33010072)

I need to start a filtering service and make the data available to everybody else so that they can start their own filtering service.

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