Fair Use

Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

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Photo Courtsey of  Jemimus Attribution 2.0 Generic

With books like Fifty Shades of Grey flying off the shelves, the question of the commercialization of fan fiction is once again at the forefront. While fan fic authors have been steadfastly devoted to their art since before the Internet, emerging technologies have brought about new scrutiny to what this community really means for traditional media giants and who, if anyone, should be able to profit from fan fiction.

About a year ago, Jeff Bezos decided to set aside some digital real estate just for the fan fic community. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds is an e-book publishing platform for fan fiction, and works like this: Amazon partners with copyright owners, like Alloy Entertainment, who license to Amazon its fan fiction publication rights. These licensors are known as “World Licensors,” and by licensing their “World,” fans can create and profit off of their fan fiction through a royalty system.

Among the first “Worlds” that made up this new universe were CW’s Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars. Kindle Worlds has since added G.I. Joe, Veronica Mars, and seventeen other Worlds. The question is, why would readers buy works from Amazon when there is an endless supply of free fan fic from other Internet sites? Fanfiction.net, for one, is the world’s largest fan fiction archive and forum where writers and readers come together to do just this.  The recently launched Archive of Our Own (created by the Organization for Transformative Works) is another space online where fans have come together to share their  fan faction and other original fan works in a non-commercial space.

The difference of utilizing the Kindle Worlds platform has been boiled down to three main points: (1) monetization for authors (each e-book costs between $0.99 to $3.99, but this is set by Amazon); (2) does not require constant Internet connectivity; and (3) a minimal level of quality that Amazon ensures by having final say on what will be made available. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 7(c).

On that note, we’re going to get real with the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement. Here’s what we found to be important to keep in mind if you are, or are considering to become, a Kindle Worlds author.

Executive Director Art Neill to speak on user-generated and "fan" content at Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting

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New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill will be speaking on a panel Monday June 8 regarding user-generated content and fan productions at the Copyright Society of the USA's 2014 Annual Meeting.

NMR joins USA Doing Archives' discussion of copyright and the law surrounding digital archive projects

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Ever wondered how copyright and other laws affect the work that archivists do? Here at NMR we’ve helped our fair share of archivists; so we were happy to participate in Doing Archives first Hang out On Air at New England Archivists Spring 2014 meeting.  We joined Christopher Felker, creator of Doing Archives as well as Henrik Mondrup from Aalborg University Copenhagen and Heather Nodler a law student at Georgetown and former archivist for an informative discussion on the current state of archives and the law.  Missed the live hangout? No worries, you can find a recording of the entire thing above.

Also if you an archivist, academic or scholar; New Media Rights is here to help with your legal questions. For more information, check out our “Services We Provide Page” we made especially for you!

NMR Testimonial: Filmmaker Michael Singh & the documentary Valentino's Ghost

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"Without New Media Rights, my latest film would have been in jeopardy.  Instead, it won a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, and at IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam), and is designated a New York Times CRITICS' PICK.  It has also qualified for Oscar® consideration.  

But back when my team and I were obscure and struggling, I couldn't afford society prices for counsel, and needed an attorney's opinion on many fronts.  My documentary is a research/educational/study "essay film," in which several world-class experts deconstruct and analyze various images from all variety of media.  Fair Use allows us to include these short clips throughout the film.  Getting opinions on Fair Use, creating legal documents, obtaining last minute advice on strategy or bargaining situations, whenever I needed complex help or simple assistance, NMR was there for me."  

New Media Rights submits comments to the Request for Comments on Department of Commerce Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy

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On July 31, 2013 The United States Department of Commerce, United States Patent and Trademark Office and National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.  On September 30, 2013 they released a request for comments on that paper. All three offices were particularly interested in how copyright law could be reformed to better promote the growing digital economy.  The request for comments was incredibly broad and ranged from questions about the first sale doctrine as it relates to digital goods to the role of fair use in remix culture.

In our November 13, 2013 comment New Media Rights sought to address three of the most critical issues that affect the remixers, entrepreneurs, creators and internet users we work with every day. First, our comments addressed five key copyright law problems that need to be solved to help remix creators spend their time creating rather than fighting legal disputes including the current failure of 17 USC §512(f) to protect creators from content bullying. Second, we discourage the widespread implementation of intermediary licensing modeled off YouTube’s Content ID system because it is not, in fact, an intermediary licensing system. We also explain the implementation of such a system could be incredibly detrimental to users’ rights largely due to the lack of an effective appeals process and various design challenges in the system. Finally, we address the Department of Commerce’s question regarding how best to go about fashioning a multistakeholder process that would create a working set of best practices for the DMCA. We hope that our comments in these three areas will spark discussion and encourage badly needed copyright reform for the digital age. 

NMR Testimonial - The Dark Mod (Broken Glass Studios) - Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World

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We're thrilled to announce that one of our clients, the Dark Mod Team at Broken Glass Studios, recently launched the standalone version of their wildly popular open source game, the Dark Mod! Here's is a testimonial from the Dark Mod Team about how New Media Rights helped them launch their game. The Dark Mod is a completely open source, free to download and play game created by hundreds of dedicated volunteers all over the world, and bills itself as "Stealth Gaming in a Gothic Steampunk World."

It's an example of the best kind of collaborative creativity the internet enables, bringing to together, artists, designers, and programmers from across the planet to create something for the public.  Here's a quote from the Dark Mod

"In our case, they went into significantly more detail in gathering all the information and aspects of our specific issues, doing hard research on all the legal issues potentially raised, and then packaging it all into a weighty brief that not only answered our most pressing questions, but also was written in a practical way we could actually use as working developers.

NMR is in the business of assisting digital artists in getting their creations to the world in the right way. There are so many complex issues out there, that by itself the simple desire to do things legally and properly isn't enough. We need guidance. And as my original searches confirmed, I couldn't find any other group that was even looking at the questions we needed answered except NMR, to say nothing of a group willing to offer free assistance in meeting our goals, to say nothing of going to the great lengths NMR went to do it. NMR did all of these things."

Click here to read their full story of how New Media Rights helped the Dark Mod.

New Media Rights tells a content bully to beat it... Just Beat It!

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New Media Rights
 
It’s been a year since the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board created a video to promote reading based on Michael Jackson’s iconic “Beat It,” video. After it was posted on YouTube, Sony took down the video claiming the parody was “copyright infringement.” But after taking a bit a beating in the press for content bullying these amazing teens, Sony rescinded its claim and the video went back up.

That was the end of the story until now. Recently, the audio to the parody video was muted through YouTube’s Content ID system. The Library called Sony, but Sony claimed there was nothing they could do, that the video was caught in what Sony called the “Youtube Vortex” and complaints about disabling it were old news. Together, Lansdowne librarian Abbe Klebanoff and New Media Rights have now gotten the teens’ video restored using Youtube’s appeals process, but the story is a reminder that content bullying is alive and well. Check out the full story here.


New Media Rights helps with a film that might just be on its way to the Oscars!

When we worked with Michael Singh on a variety of legal issues that came up surrounding his documentary, Valentino's Ghost, we noticed the film was excellent and told a compelling story. We didn't realize, however, that we were helping on a film that may be on its way to an Oscar nod. We want to congratulate Michael for making it to the final 120 films nominated for best feature documentary! Good luck Michael, we're all rooting for you!

Teens make parody video, but Sony tells them to beat it… just beat it!

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It’s been a year since the Lansdowne Library Teen Advisory Board created a video to promote reading based on Michael Jackson’s iconic “Beat It,” video. After it was posted on YouTube, Sony took down the video claiming the parody was “copyright infringement.” But after taking a bit a beating in the press for content bullying these amazing teens, Sony rescinded its claim and the video went back up.

That was the end of the story until now. Recently, the audio to the parody video was muted through YouTube’s Content ID system. The Library called Sony, but Sony claimed there was nothing they could do, that video was caught in what Sony called the “Youtube Vortex.” Together Lansdowne librarian Abbe Klebanoff and New Media Rights have now gotten the teens’ video restored using Youtube’s appeals process, but the story is a reminder that content bullying is alive and well.

NMR Testimonial: Media Literacy Project

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Media Literacy Project is an Albuquerque, New Mexico based nonprofit.  Through education and grassroots campaigns, Media Literacy Project works to help people become “critical media consumers and engaged media justice advocates who deconstruct media, inform media policy, and create media that reflect their lived experience.”

Sometimes government or corporate interests don’t appreciate their criticism.  Recently, New Media Rights stepped in and helped ensure they were not unfairly silenced.

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