Category Archives: Stanford CIS

From Stanford's Center for Internet & Society

The above is about the conference described below:

DATE: April 24-25, 2009
LOCATION: Stanford Law School
Register now at
…It has been hailed as the art form of the 21st century.
…It is redefining music videos.
…And reinventing the videogame.
…It might be the future of cinema.
But there’s a catch: if you make machinima, you might be breaking the law.
Or are you?
Find out at Stanford University. “Play Machinima Law” from April 24-25, 2009. This two-day conference will cover key issues associated with player-generated, computer animated cinema that is based on 3D game and virtual world environments. Speakers include machinima artists/players, legal experts, commercial game developers, theorists, and more. Topics include: game art, game hacking, open source and “modding,” player/consumer-driven innovation, cultural/technology studies, fan culture, legal and business issues, transgressive play, game preservation, and notions of collaborative co-creation drawn from virtual worlds and online games. Films will be shown throughout the conference, including: Douglas Grayeton’s Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator and Joshua Diltz’ Mercy of the Sea.

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Posted in good code, Stanford CIS | 2 Comments

CIS needs a Constitutional Law/IP fellow

On your way to legal academics? Need some time to write, as you do some good? The Stanford CIS (fresh off of a string of incredible victories) needs a new fellow with a particular fondness for the First Amendment and IP. Specs in the extended entry below. Continue reading

Posted in Stanford CIS | 1 Comment

A big victory: Golan v. Gonzales

The 10th Circuit decided our appeal in Golan v. Gonzales today. In a unanimous vote, the Court held that the “traditional contours of copyright protection” described in Eldred as the trigger for First Amendment review extend beyond the two “traditional First Amendment safeguards” mentioned by the Court in that case. It thus remanded the case to the District Court to evaluate section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (“URAA”) under the First Amendment, which removed material from the public domain.
This is a very big victory. The government had argued in this case, and in related cases, that the only First Amendment review of a copyright act possible was if Congress changed either fair use or erased the idea/expression dichotomy. We, by contrast, have argued consistently that in addition to those two, Eldred requires First Amendment review when Congress changes the “traditional contours of copyright protection.” In Golan, the issue is a statute that removes work from the public domain. In a related case now on cert to the Supreme Court, Kahle v. Gonzales, the issue is Congress’s change from an opt-in system of copyright to an opt-out system of copyright. That too, we have argued, is a change in a “traditional contour of copyright protection.” Under the 10th Circuit’s rule, it should merit 1st Amendment review as well.
I suspect this decision will weigh heavily in the Supreme Court’s determination whether to grant review in the Kahle case. It also nicely demonstrates the wisdom in this part of the Eldred decision (don’t get me started on the Progress Clause part of the decision…) The rule of Eldred, as interpreted by the 10th Circuit (and by us) is that Congress gets a presumption of First Amendment constitutionality when it legislates consistent with its tradition. But when it changes that tradition, its changes must be scrutinized under the First Amendment. This is an interesting constitutional argument — echoing some of Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence, as we argue in the cert petition. And it also makes a great deal of sense: practices unchanged for 200 years are less likely to raise First Amendment problems (but see …); but whether or not immunity is justified for them, it is certainly not justified for practices that deviate from Congress’ tradition.
The opinion by Judge Henry is well worth the read. The argument was one the best I have seen. All three judges knew the case cold. It is a measure of how good courts can be that they took such care to review this case.
Thanks to everyone on our team that made this possible. First the clients — Lawrence Golan, the Richard Kapp Estate, S.A. Publishing, Symphony of the Canyons, Ron Hall and John McDonough (all of whom use and build upon material in the public domain; all of whom were negatively affected by Congress’s removal of material from the public domain). But also and especially to the gaggle of fantastic lawyers who supported us in the case — the Denver firm of Wheeler, Trigg, Kennedy, and Stanford CIS lawyers Chris Sprigman, Ed Lee, Jennifer Granick, David Olson, David Levine, Colette Vogel, Elizabeth Rader and Lauren Gelman (Tony Falzone came on afterwards). Continue reading

Posted in 1st A, Copyright, good code, Good news, heroes, Stanford CIS | 24 Comments

Another fantastic victory by the Center for Internet and Society

Brian Transeau, aka BT, is a well known electronic, or “trance musician,” as Wikipedia puts it. More than a year ago, his lawyer contacted me about a lawsuit that BT was defendant in. BT was alleged to have “copied” a 9 second drum track in a recording that was used in an advertisement. BT had not copied anything. Moreover, the drum beat was totally generic, and not, BT argued, subject to copyright protection at all.
We don’t usually get involved in cases involving famous artists. But after more than a year in litigation, this (totally bogus) case had become too much. We therefore took the case to defend this creator’s right to create, rather than see him forced to cave to these groundless claims by a litigation happy plaintiff (he had done this to others before). Musicians, especially using electronic technology, need to be free to create without basic sound patterns being used as tools of litigation extortion.
Yesterday, the district court finally dismissed the case. After an extensive period of discovery, and expert testimony, the Court found that plaintiff had no credible evidence that BT copied the 9 second drum beat.
BT: “[The plaintiff] attacked my integrity as an artist. It’s very satisfying to be vindicated by the Court, and reassuring to know there are organizations and lawyers out there who are willing to donate their time to help artists protect themselves and their work.”
You can read the opinion here.
Thanks to the lawyers at CIS who made this happen, and also to the fantastic lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis who were also volunteers in this case. Continue reading

Posted in Stanford CIS | 7 Comments

CIS also needs a Fellow

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society is also looking for a Residential Fellow. Check it out at the CIS site. Continue reading

Posted in Stanford CIS | 1 Comment