An open letter to my Senators and Representative.

This is an open letter to my representation in Washington.  My hope is that with your comments and input we, as a community, can improve this open letter and then we can all send it to our various representatives.  I believe this issue is important enough to be worthy of their attention.  Hopefully, with your help, some of the larger blogs will recognize this problem and join in the fight.

Honorable Senator Jeff Sessions
Honorable Senator Richard Shelby
Honorable Representative Mo Brooks

Dear Sirs,

I bring to you today an important loophole in current copyright.  The Copyright Office, on their website, has already recognized that technology and creation of content has already started to outstrip the advancements afforded copyright holders under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  In 1998, when the DMCA passed, blogs were not as serious an activity as they are today.  Since WordPress was introduced in 2004, blogs have exploded onto the Internet, yet the vast majority of blogs do not enjoy the benefits of Copyright Registration due to the overwhelming burden and cost to individually register the copyright of each post.  Even electronically, registering each post as it is written is costly and time consuming, to the point that the vast majority of blogs can not afford to register their copyright.  Without a registered copyright, a blogger has little options under the Copyright Laws to enforce their rights to their own work.

The Copyright Office has decided that under the current law, blogs can not even enjoy the expensive but timely recurring publication copyright registration afforded newspaper, television and radio.  As a result, bloggers are offered less than ideal means of registering their copyright.  Bloggers are left with either not registering at all, and hoping to get an injunction against others who infringe their works, forgoing the copyright statutory penalties, or using a substandard method of registering that offers them less protection for individual blog articles.  The most typical method of registering is to file a registration for the entire blog every three months, at $55 a quarter.  That’s $220 a year, and when most blogs are already a money losing hobby, that isn’t very feasible.  Besides, registering the complete blog provides less protection for an individual post being stolen and used without permission.

Additionally, since blogs are timely, the value of most blog posts are measured in days, if not hours.  Since it currently takes months to obtain a registration if you are not a recurring publication, that means by the time a blogger has possession of registration, it may be six months after the post was written and several months after the infringement, which has already hurt the blogger.  Furthermore, it is impossible to obtain registration inside the window of the DMCA timeline for takedown notices.

Bloggers deserve the full protection of the power of Copyright Registration.  With modern technology, there is a simple solution to the situation.  Develop a recurring copyright method, similar but less costly than the system afforded to the newspapers, television and radio world.  This could be done at very little expense to the taxpayers.  The Copyright Office could develop a portal that would allow bloggers to register with the portal for an annual fee of $100.  Bloggers would then be able to register with the portal their existing blog, in total, as a compilation work.  Bloggers would then be required to enter the URL of new posts in a timely (perhaps monthly) manner.  Once the blog is established on the portal, each new post would be given proper copyright registration for individual post written after initially joining the portal.

The beauty of the portal system is that other than maintaining and backing up the system, the Copyright Office would need to do nothing more.  Instead of issuing certificates for each new post, the portal would be the de facto proof of registration.  The only time the Copyright Office would need to do anything at all would be in the case when a post is infringed, at which point the copyright holder could be charged with a $25 fee for having the Copyright Office provide authenticated proof of the time of the registration in the portal.  Even that could be automated, so that an official notice was sent via email or mail to the court in which the case is filed.

This simple method would greatly increase the protection of copyright to the millions of bloggers already writing without the significant benefits of Copyright Registration.  The $100 fee is not onerous, and could potentially see a significant windfall to the Copyright Office.  Of the millions of blogs in existence, if only the top 10% of bloggers registered, that could be over a million dollars a year flowing into the Copyright Office for almost no additional work.

Please help bring copyright registration to the blogosphere, and help end the rampant intellectual property theft occurring every day online.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Your Constituent,

Michael Malone

 

Advertisements

Confession, it’s good for the soul.

A certain Whiney Maryland Spectre (WMS), who appears to dislike it when Running Wolf Blog (RWB) uses his real name, must feel better today.  RWB hopes that all the good things happening in the world of the WMS has helped to alleviate the pain WMS has recently been complaining about.  RWB hopes WMS doesn’t overdue the celebrating and actually aggravate the issue behind the pain.

Despite the WMS’s well earned celebratory moment, RWB is prouder of the WMS for his confession the other day.  Confession is, after all, good for the soul.

Two days ago RWB published an article about the WMS’s producing pornography. In that article, RWB was very clear about the terms production/producer/producing.   Specifically, RWB was referring to section 2257, which defines the record keeping responsibilities of porn producer, and who is defined as a producer under the law.  According to WMB’s confession the WMB is not a first producer, but is a second producer in that he took porn already in existence (or so WMS claims) and posted it to twitter.  So everything RWB posted has been proven as true by the WMS’s own confession.  And here, for your reading pleasure, is that confession.

Screenshot 2014-07-01 09.58.06Screenshot 2014-07-01 09.58.39Screenshot 2014-07-01 09.59.11Screenshot 2014-07-01 09.59.32

So again, RWB thanks the WMS for the confession.  You’ll note that the WMS confesses to every aspect alleged by RWB.  The WMS admits to having the pornography, and disseminating the pornogrphy by posting it to both his blog and to Twitter.  That meets the definition of second producer exactly, and this confession (minus the ramblings about Mr. Hoge) matches what was posted by RWB earlier.

I’m sure today’s celebrations were aided by the weight lifted of of the WMS’s soul by confessing to this issue.

RWB would like to also note it’s concurrence that pornography is not automatically obscene.  But would also like to point out that what is obscene, and which may include some pornography, is not decided on a national basis, but a community standard basis.  So what is not obscene in NYC may be obscene in Gadsden, Alabama.

To my State Representatives….

Honorable Mike Ball
Honorable Phil Williams

Dear Sirs,

I write this open letter to you today to ask for your help with a very troubling statistic in our great state.  Motorcycle deaths on Alabama highways is at an all time high.  And I think it’s time the legislature of our state took a stand against it.

Since 2008, the nation has been blessed with a continuous decline in motor vehicle deaths in all categories but one; Motorcycles.  According to the CDC, the best thing a state can do to reduce deaths is to pass a universal helmet law.  Alabama has done this, and I hope the two of you will continue to fight against attempts to weaken the universal helmet law.

Have I ridden my motorcycle without a helmet?  Yes, I am afraid I have.  I can fully understand the desire by riders to do away with the helmet law.  The joy and freedom of riding without a helmet is far better than riding with one.  But I’m also glad to say I’ve never ridden my bike on a major or busy road without a helmet, and I’ve never allowed a passenger to ride without one.  Helmets do save lives.  Please keep Alabama’s helmet law universal.

But Alabama had the universal helmet law prior to 2008, and we are still seeing an increase in motorcycle deaths. It is time to do more.  I strongly suggest a two prong approach to reducing deaths on two wheels in Alabama.

The first part I call “Look twice, Save a life” is to cover what is far too common cause of motorcycle accidents and deaths.  According to the American Motorcycle Association 80% of motorcycle and vehicle accidents are the fault of the car and not the rider.  A quick perusal of recent motorcycle deaths in North Alabama show a common thread.  The driver of the car claims “I never saw the motorcycle.” I find this excuse unacceptable.

Motorcycles may be smaller and less common than cars, but the excuse of not seeing one is not valid.  It is a drivers responsibility to be aware of the traffic around him, and allowing drivers to edit out motorcycles as not important is risking lives on our roadways.  I propose a bill that will significantly increase the punishment of motorists who hit motorcycles.  Clearly part of this needs to be an investigation showing the driver is at fault, but ultimately any time a motorcycle is hit at the very least a ticket should be issued and a fine levied.  Not seeing a motorcycle is not an excuse, and law enforcement in this state need to stop treating it like it is not a crime.  If drivers will face fines and possible jail time, drivers will look twice.

And as a motorcycle rider, I can assure you that far to many Alabama drivers aren’t looking twice.  We have an amazingly unobstructed view into the vehicles around us, and I can tell you drivers in Alabama are doing a lot of things in their cars besides looking twice.  I’d easily estimate that a good 50% of the time I have to avoid a car that pulls out in front of me the driver is talking on their cell phone.  Another 25% of the time, the driver is texting… which is already illegal.  The other 25% is drivers pulling into traffic or drifting out of their lane while messing with something else in the car; things like radios, newspapers, makeup or something similar.

The other prong I’d suggest in reducing motorcycle deaths is a statewide crackdown on riders who ride unsafe.  I’m now talking about my brothers and sisters who ride like maniacs and pass improperly and speed excessively.  It’s no fair to ask drivers to treat riders with respect if our fellow riders won’t treat drivers with the same respect.  The rules of the road are the same for everyone, motorcycles included.  I’d love to see fewer bikes weaving through traffic like idiots, although if I’m honest there are times when this would snag me as well.  Sometimes you just can’t resist twisting the throttle a bit.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Michael Malone
Rider and motorcycle enthusiast