Archive:Alex Curtis of Public Knowledge

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A) Who is Public Knowledge?

  • Non-profit organization who advocates copyright, technology, trademark, net neutrality, open access, and WIPO to the US Congress in Washington, D.C.
  • They work to bring public interest and commercial groups together

Consumers and creators are both part of the content creation community

B) Copyright from the Constitution - incentivize creators with exression and fixation.

The original copyright was 14 years. Today it is life plus 75 years, and 95 years for companies. No registration is required.

Users have rights, known as fair use. They can comment, educate, criticize, and other non-commercial uses. No permission is needed.

Betamax was not convicted of secondary liability because they were capable of substantial non-infringement use. Mickey Mouse and Ernest Hemingway are the reason for the increased amount of time copyrights are held.

The DMCA prevents fair use. It came up with inducement less than five years, as a way to prosecute a company for promoting a product for infringement use.

C) Current Policy Debates

  • Orpan works: owners of copyright that can't be found. 98% of copyright works are unexploited - this could be a great opportunity. Getting permission is cost-prohibitive, between searching the copyright owner down and the likelihood of having to pay to use their works. Public knowledge encourages copyright registration, in order to match owners with users, and minimize the cost risk of finding the orphan works owners.
  • Tech mandates: the broadcast flag, the radio flag. HDTV is digital. The DMCA is trying to change all digital technology so that all hardware has to respond to a signal protecting copyright - but this limits fair use. The "analog hole" is the vulnerability of copyrighted analog content to being captured and reproduced digitally.

At EFF, the "Seven Years Under the DMCA" paper is available.

  • Net Neutrality: influences your choice on content on the Internet. Internet providers would at least slow, and possibly even block access to certain sites for money.

If one of your Representatives sponsored H.R. 1201 "Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act of 2005", you should thank them and encourage them to continue supporting similar legislation in the future. If your Representative didn't, you should tell them that they should similar legislation in the future, period. The following Representatives sponsored the bill:

Rep. Frederick Boucher [D-VA] Rep. Robert Andrews [D-NJ] Rep. Joe Barton [R-TX] Rep. Susan Davis [D-CA] Rep. John Doolittle [R-CA] Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY] Rep. Mark Kennedy [R-MN] Rep. Dale Kildee [D-MI] Rep. John Lewis [D-GA] Rep. Zoe Lofgren [D-CA] Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald [D-CA] Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL] Rep. John Murtha [D-PA] Rep. David Price [D-NC]

Also, here is a recommendation of the program HandBrake, which rips and converts DVDs to MPEG4. It currently only has ports for MacOS X and Gnu/Linux, although a Windows port is being worked on. You should recommend this to your friends.

  • What can you do

Tell your friends about HandBrake. Support net neutrality. Use YouTube and VideoBomb and express yourself.

You can email Alex Curtis at

Also, you can go to Save The Internet and watch the Public Knowledge video.

See Also

Summit 2006

Public Knowledge