Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New controversies over authors' rights in serials of books regarding control of content integrity; a DMCA case; more privacy concerns from "smart glasses"

Sometimes it pays just to read printed magazines and newspapers on the DC Metro, like it was the early ‘90s.  Today, riding in on the Orange Line, I looked over a copy of Business Insurance, which comes to my business UPS mail box (“it’ free”), and a couple of disturbing stories about book and media author rights caught my eye.

On p, 46 (Nov. 18, 2013), the mag reported a legal dispute between paranormal erotica novel author Erin R. Flynn (from Nebraska) and the publisher of her series Siren BookStrand.  She owns the copyright (or perhaps trademarks) on certain characters in her series of novels, but the publisher has a “right of first refusal.”  The publisher wanted her to make a change to her most recent novel.  It may be speculation, but it could well be that somehow her writing of certain erotica stepped over what is perceived as an industry line.  She refused, and self-published two books on Amazon herself.  (I’m not immediately familiar with how Amazon’s self-publishing process works, but I probably should be.)  Then Siren filed a DMCA takedown, claiming copyright infringement. 

It sounds very disturbing to me that an author could lose control of the “artistic integrity” if his or her series of interrelated books or media works. 
Business Insurance also reports a dispute between Warner Brothers and Global Asylum (a producer and distributor of B-movies and parodies, often of established film franchises; I have reviewed films from this company on my movies blog)  over a “Hobbit” Tolkien parody.
There is also a case regarding a woman who claims workplace injury from creating fake profiles for people for dating purposes on social media.
The magazine “Economist”, Nov. 16, on p. 27, in an article “The People’s Panopticon”, talks about the social and legal issues that may result from the automatic photologging in public places (like bars and discos) possible with the new Google glasses, to be available in 2014.  Will they be banned in some places?  The article points out that privacy laws (for public places) are stronger in Europe than in the US.  In Europe (and probably the UK) people need permission to use public photos of others on the Internet, according to the article.  The article raises the question whether someone could be required to remove a purely private non-commercial “sleazy” photo (from beneath).  How could it be detected, from Carbonite?

My destination was the Newseum, were I wanted to finish last weekend’s visit and see the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 civil rights events.  The most interest pictures showed the volunteers who worked registering black voters in Alabama and Mississippi, including the three young men murdered near Philadelphia, MS in the summer of 1964; I remember that story in the news well.  

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