Copyright and plagiarism are facing many challenges as evolving technology makes it easy for people to violate the creations of others. But what does copyright actually mean? What is public domain, and why isn’t everything that is free to read online not free for the taking? Explore the world of intellectual property (IP), and what it means to you and for you with these links to blogs and websites that we at BiblioBuffet believe to be among the best out there now on the world of intellectual property law. (Note: Many thanks to former BiblioBuffet columnist David G. Mitchell for his assistance and recommendations.)
Blawg Search (Intellectual Property Law Blogs)
This page lists more than 300 IP law blogs, some general, some specialized such as academic, e-commerce and Internet, patent, art, Australian trademarks, domains, etc. We have not checked these blogs, though you will find some of those also listed here (they are the ones we have looked at and like). If you are careful about researching them, this is an excellent overall introduction to many of the IP law blogs out there.
Blog Law Blog
Law professor Eric E. Johnson (University of North Dakota School of Law) writes clearly about various issues in copyright law from all over the U.S. His posts are free of “lawyer-speak” and offers excellent insights on recent rulings, events, and news of interest to those whose work or play requires an understanding of copyright.
A collaborative effort of seven respected writers, this blog explores “the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates—and will recreate—the networked world as we know it.” In other words, they look at intellectual property conflicts and the ever-changing evolution of copyright. This is eminently readable and interesting, though it can go a few days to a week or even more between posts.
“Understanding the copyright wars” is the subtitle of this new blog, and Terry Hart is right. In the age when technology provides the means to steal material very easily, the fight to protect intellectual property is nearing war proportions. It’s a strong blog with a fair amount of “legalese” but it’s not above anyone without a legal education.
Here you’ll find an unusually vibrant blog from Lloyd Jassin, an attorney who has been with several large publishing houses in both a publicity and legal capacity, was an IP specialist with a law firm, and worked in television syndication/legal affairs. His blog posts center on publishing, entertainment and IP law. He is also the co-author of The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook. The blog is well worth bookmarking and reading.
Copyright & Fair Use
From world-famous Stanford University comes this fantastic resource on copyright and fair use. A breathtakingly comprehensive—but not intimidating—look at various aspects of intellectual property law, it offers extensive information on fair use, public domain, the permissions process and website permissions, academic and educational permissions, releases, copyright research, and oh, so much more. Each of the pages has links to numerous other sites, recommended books, and on their Fairly Used blog, tabs to featured cases, dockets, legislation, regulations, the copyright office, news, and other blogs. If you want it all and you want it right, here is the place to come.
This alliance consists of individuals (artists, creators, teachers, lawyers) and institutional (artists’ groups, guilds, unions, companies, trade associations) who work together in a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization to “champion copyright as fundamental to our country’s creativity, jobs and growth.” Through events, press releases, videos, forums, meetings, and other public events (including the annual Copyright Alliance Exponential in September), they lobby to educate everyone about the rights and responsibilities of copyright in a technological age.
Copyright Alliance Blog
This blog, courtesy of the Copyright Alliance (above), is a more informal way, through a short but intriguing interview, to meet the artists whose work ranging from authors to web developers depends on copyright protection laws.
Copyright Litigation Blog
This blog belongs to Ray Dowd, a trial and appellate attorney practicing in New York who also authored a book titled Copyright Litigation Handbook. He specializes in copyright litigation, art litigation, licensing, strategy, trials, appeals, and settling disputes. His art litigation is exceptionally interesting, and he often lectures on art stolen during the Holocaust. More detailed than many of the other blogs, this one nevertheless is readable and definitely interesting.
Copyright Information Center
Set up by Cornell University, this site “offers information on copyright policy, copyright clearance services, and copyright training and tutorials” primarily for their students and faculty but also offering good information for the public. Check the links on the “Resources” page for Checklists and Other Decision Tools, and Related Sites, Pages and Materials. The “Video Tutorials” are short but excellent overviews of several copyright issues too.
Copyrights & Campaigns
Ben Sheffner has worked as a political reporter and political media consultant before becoming counsel for a television group and legal columnist. In this blog, he provides “news and analysis of copyright, First Amendment, and related issues from a pro-copyright-owner perspective, with emphasis on the interaction of these issues with campaigns and the political process.” If your interest lies in the political spectrum this is the blog to bookmark.
This is a non-profit organization dedicated to “making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright” though the use of free licenses and other legal tools. You may have seen and used images off Wikipedia and other sites where Creative Commons provided you the right to do so. At their home, here, you can search for works (but as they note, you should not assume that the results are under a CC license), learn about their various licenses, stay informed on CC via a newsletter, a community list, and/or events, and more. Note that they do not provide legal advice: “We're much like a legal self-help site that offers free form-based legal documents for you to use however you see fit.”
Dear Rich: Nolo’s Patent, Copyright & Trademark Blog
Courtesy of Rich Stim, editor of Nolo Press, the publisher of do-it-yourself law books, and the author of Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference and other books, this blog’s posts come in the form of a Q&A. Each post begins with a question and the answer is always clear, informed and direct. It’s a fantastic place to search out questions related to your interests—or to ask them yourself. The blog notes that it is the writer’s opinions and not those of Nolo Press, and like all others, provides legal information, not advice.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The EFF is a kind of legal watchdog, championing “the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.” Lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists combine their knowledge and experience to work on behalf of consumers and the general public in the courts. They work on the leading edge to bring news of laws, proposed regulations, and more to protect freedoms in the networked world. It’s an extremely well-done website and an essential one for reading if you work in the digital world.
A bit off the beaten track, this blog is concerned with legal issues in the tech world, but it also celebrates the creativity that shapes the ideas, discoveries, inventions and art we enjoy. The commentary revolves mostly around their informed opinions on and reasons for court rulings and other interesting developments in the field of arts and their legal grounds.
Intellectual Property Watch
Going a bit further abroad than most, this website, a non-profit independent news service, reports and comments on the dynamics behind and developments in international intellectual property policy through its news reports and analysis. Its thorough, insightful, open, honest, and extremely well written with a strong editorial team. For those with interests in the international IP arena, you can’t do better than here.
Intellectual Property Law Blog
The law firm of Sheppard Mullin runs this blog (one of many), which provides up-to-date information on intellectual property law. Proposed laws, court rulings, licensing issues, digital media, and other IP news are explained quite well though lawyers, politicians, and those with specific interests in such cases are the target audience.
“A blog about law and technology” is the subtitle, appropriate for the writer, Evan Brown, a technology and intellectual property attorney in Chicago. Brown’s posts are both erudite and explicable as well as interesting. He takes care to provide sufficient background for context, then goes on to explain case factors, legal history, rulings, and adds possible criticisms. Occasionally, he even adds a sense of humor.
IP In Brief
It’s easy to joke about the protracted prose of lawyers so here is one lawyer who promises in his title to be brief. Rather than a blog, the writer, Andrew Berger, calls it a dialogue on “changes and developments in copyright and trademark law.” Its language and explanations of legal rulings are clear and straightforward, making the legalese of the courts easy to understand.
The IP Law Blog
The source of this blog is the law firm of Weintraub, Genshilea, Chediak located in Sacramento, California. Though the posts are thorough, they are also very lawyer-like, with language and references more likely to be of interest to other legal minds rather than the general public.
Lev Raphael: An Internet Pirate Stole My Memoir
One author’s personal take upon discovering his entire book had been illegally scanned and uploaded without permission.
Library Law Blog
This blog focuses on issues of concern to libraries and the law. You won’t find legal advice here, “just a dangerous mix of thoughts and information,” as they note on the home page. But it seems to have an excellent and well-stated series of posts for those in the library field.
Unlike many of the blogs here, this one is not run by a lawyer but by a “legally-minded Webmaster/Writer frustrated with the plague of plagiarism online and doing something about it.” Its readership is Webmasters and copyright holders, and its aim is to increase awareness, provide information and tools, reduce the overall rate of plagiarism, and to bring about legal reforms that balance the rights of owners and society-at-large. This is a blog well worth reading even if you are not a webmaster.
This is not a copyright-focused blog, but rather one that spreads its watchful wings over “news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies (sic) ability to innovate and grow.” From a single blogger it has grown into a group blogging effort, and its economic framework allows it to stay concentrated on the effects of policy, law, and technology over a wide range of issues.