Copyright Infringement and Your Business: Making The Tough Calls

The issue of copyright infringement has become more complicated in recent years, especially in business. The Internet, other technological changes, and even recent court rulings make it difficult to keep up with things. Whether you’re a content creator, a site developer or just a seller of information and technology, here’s a roundup with some of the latest developments. For example:

Infringement in the Digital Economy

Copying with impunity. Webcomic creator Matthew Inman complained online about another site that was allowing users to upload his content repeatedly without attribution, asking them to take the material down. Less than a year later he finds himself threatened with a defamation suit by the very same site. In a digital marketplace where original content is the product, content creators have become major stakeholders. Ars Technica

Preparing for the worst. Meanwhile, on the other side of the issue, popular social site Pinterest allows owners to “pin” photo content that doesn’t necessarily belong to them and already has some people not too pleased about the posting of their protected images to the site by users. Pinterest has retained former Google lawyer Michael Yang for what many see as an inevitable showdown. WebProNews

The next logical step. So what happens if an Internet service provider wants to make content unavailable due to legal restrictions, for example, because it contains material that is copyright infringed, and the ISP doesn’t want to display it to users? XML co-inventor and Android Developer Advocate Tim Bray has created a draft of a new http Status Code for just such an occasion. The development may have implications for businesses who hope to protect their original content. The Verge

The Intellectual Property Frontier

When worlds collide. Sometimes disputes have emerged not over efforts to upload copyrighted content without attribution, but with the mere scanning of content (including material already out of print) for the benefit of all. Consider Google’s dispute with French authors and publishers over attempts to share books that might not otherwise be available in digital form. The implications for the information economy are clearly important. Bloomberg

Crazy Town. But the intersection of copyright law, technology, and legal precedents may hold implications even for retail businesses, importers, and resellers of products outside the digital realm. Consider recent court decisions that may erode the so-called first sale doctrine allowing buyers of copyrighted items like books to resell them without seeking permission from the copyright owner. Techdirt

When your business model infringes. Though the 25-year-old student who operated reportedly made no money from a site that offered subtitle files for many movies and TV shows, a court has still fined him for operation of the site. Providing services that fill a need may infringe on copyright if they involve proprietary information, so thinking about whether anyone has rights to the content you are providing is critical. TorrentFreak

New Copyright Implications

Judgement Day. Intellectual property and entertainment law attorney Richard Busch gives the low down on the emerging battle between content creators and publishers over the 1976 Copyright Act. The act allows content creators who transferred ownership of their copyrighted work to publishers, in this example record companies, to reclaim that copyright after 35 years. The decision could have far reaching implications for content creators and publishers today. Forbes

A Better World for Content Creators

Copyright goes global. The good news for businesses who rely on intellectual property as a significant part of their business, is that compliance around the globe is getting better. Stan Abrams, a Beijing-based IP/IT lawyer and law professor, gives some insight into copyright protection in China, long believed to be one of the worst places for copyright infringement and a major thorn in the side for content creators. Business Insider

Infringement wars. The fight against the proliferation of copyright infringement on the Internet has become more transparent, thanks to reports filed by Google. The reports detail the requests the search engine receives for removing search results based on infringement. Unfortunately, as the reports show, some claims of infringement have more merit than others, blogs Fred von Lohmann, Senior Copyright Counsel. Google Official Blog

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.