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Copyright Violations

There's a site I only recently heard about through LifeHacker called Mygazines.com that hosts scans of full magazines entirely for free. The users upload the newest issues on the newsstand, and people come and read it. It looks like an open-and-shut case of U.S. copyright violations (and it pretty much is), but it's a complicated legal mess for the publishers.

The Domain Name is owned in the name John Smith from Anguilla. The address is a P.O. Box. While they can claim damages in U.S. courts (since the site is available to U.S. citizens), they have no real way to coerce the person or company into showing up in court.

The site's claim is that it is as legal as a doctor's office, and in a certain way, they're right, but we've been through the same thing with music. You can't stream whatever you want on the internet without paying royalties just because the supermarket plays the radio while you shop.

Also, I'm uncertain as to whether or not doctor's offices or hospitals pay any sort of fee for having their magazines out, but I'm leaning towards arguing not that Mygazines is legal, but that those people that leave magazines out are doing something illegal and nobody is bothered enough to file a claim against them. I'm unsure of a legal precedent here. Maybe someone who's studied law can reference a landmark case. If not, I'm surprised it has never been brought forth.

Taking a step back, I find the ease of electronic duplication provides a fascinating and necessary, albeit complicated and frustrating, legal and moral thought experiment.

AP Story

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
The copyright violation comes in the actual duplication of the content. Doctor's don't do that in their offices. This guy, by comparison, is actively encouraging people to duplicate and distribute copies of material to which they hold no copyright.

happinessiseasy
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
What if (hypothetically) they destroy the magazine upon scanning it in?
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that it's OK up until the point where they redistribute it.
happinessiseasy
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I think making a photocopy for personal use might even be illegal in that world.
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Personal use probably falls under Fair Use.
happinessiseasy
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
You still have to have permission to make a copy, even under Fair Use.
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
happinessiseasy
Aug. 20th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
Have you ever attempted to have a copyrighted work copied? Most places won't let you without a written form.
chris462
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
Store policy doesn't necessarily align itself with copyright law.

They're more draconian than is necessary, more often than not. I had one print shop refuse to print one of my own photos, on the grounds that they're not allowed to print copyrighted material (which is sort of a self-defeating policy).
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
Also, Fair Use is the same thing that makes it legal for me to copy a CD onto my iPod.
happinessiseasy
Aug. 20th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
No, that's the Audio Home Recording Act.



Edited at 2008-08-20 12:09 am (UTC)
chris462
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
*shrug* Fair enough. It's still a mechanism by which I am authorized to make personal copies of a copyrighted work.
bjbass
Aug. 19th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
you're right, copyright law as we know it kind of falls apart with today's technology.

The supermarket, if they're honest, is paying for the right to play that music. It's not free.

In the doctor's office, you are reading a copy that has been paid for. If the doctor made ten copies of the magazine and put them in his waiting room, he'd be violating copyright law.

happinessiseasy
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
I don't think the doctor is necessary violating copyright law, but I still think that's gotta be technically illegal. Even if you own a copy of a movie, showing it to a room of 20 people is illegal, even though you've made no copies.
chris462
Aug. 19th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
If it's a "private exhibition", it's legal. We had a lawyer look into it while we were starting to show movies at Boy Scout functions.
happinessiseasy
Aug. 20th, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
"Fair use is decided on a case by case basis, on the entirety of circumstances. The same act done by different means or for a different purpose can gain or lose fair use status."
chris462
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
... Which relates to "private exhibition" how, exactly?
happinessiseasy
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
It means that, just because you had a lawyer look into it for your specific case, doesn't mean you couldn't have been sued had someone claimed damages. And it sure doesn't mean that I could assume the same for myself in a different circumstance.
chris462
Aug. 20th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
I'm pretty certain that exhibition rights (or privileges) aren't privy to Fair Use, actually. Our use is, by definition, private. Not public.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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