Free Culture

By cremse
  • The Statute of Anne

    The Statute of Anne
    The Statute of Anne is considered the first copyright act in the world: "An act for the encouragement of learning, by vesting the copies of printed books in the authors or purchasers of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." -----The Statute of Anne
  • Donaldson v. Beckett

    Donaldson v. Beckett
    The decision in this case, made by the British House of Lords, put an end to the common law practice of extending terms of copyright in perpetuity even after a work had first been published. This case set the precedent that was carried out in United States' copright law, particularly in Wheaton v. Peters. Case Documents
  • Copyright Act of 1790

    Copyright Act of 1790
    The first federal copyright act, the Copyright Act of 1790, granted copyright for a term of "fourteen years from the time of recording the title thereof". The copyright could be renewed for another fourteen years if the author survived the first term. The act covered books, maps, and charts.
  • Copyright Act of 1831

    Copyright Act of 1831
    The Copyright Act of 1831 extended its protection to all works of authorship to twenty-eight years, and allowed another fourteen year extension after the end of the first period of twenty-eight years.
  • Wheaton v. Peters

    Wheaton v. Peters
    This was the first major copyright decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court. It marked a distinction between statutory and common law interpretations of copyright, favoring the former. Case Documents
  • Berne Convention

    The works of creators were automatically protected in all member countries of the Berne Union. Article Overview
  • Copyright Act of 1909

    Copyright Act of 1909
    The copyright act broadened the scope of categories protected to include all works of authorship. In addition, it extended the term of protection to twenty-eight years with a possible renewal of another term of twenty-eight.
  • Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)

    Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)
    Universal Copyright Convention The UNESCO serves as faciliator and organizer for a serious of meetings and written exchanges that result in signing the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC). The United States is known to be one of the first countries that ratifies this new treaty in 1954.
  • Rome Convention

    Similar to the Berne Convention, the Rome Convention introduces certain minimum rights. The Rome Convention, however, is considered less influential than the Berne Convention predominantly due to its smaller membership base. Article Overview
  • Geneva Convention

    The Geneva Convention, also known as the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Programs, was found to globally fight recording piracy. Article Overview
  • UN adds WIPO

    UN adds WIPO
    The United Nations (UN) added the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as specialized agency in order to promote global protection of intellectual property.
  • Copyright Act of 1976

    Copyright Act of 1976
    As a revision of the Copyright Act of 1909, the Copyright Act of 1976 secured basic rights of creators due to the rise of mass media such as sound recordings, motion pictures, etc. The act went into effect on January 1, 1978. The copyright was secured for the life of the author plus 50 years postmortem. Copyright Act of 1976
  • GNU Project

    GNU Project
    Computer programmer Richard Stallman began this project as a response to the decline of the sharing community of software developers. He set out to create an operating system that was "not Unix", but instead would run entirely free software. This project initiated the use of copyleft and established the mission to inspire an ethical concern for keeping software open source which became the free software movement. The GNU Project
  • Sony v. Universal - The Betamax Case

    Sony v. Universal - The Betamax Case
    This Supreme Court decision ruled that the use of video recording devices for the purposes of time-shifting could not be considered to be copyright infringment, instead it falls within the criteria for fair use. This ruling was signficant because it also established that the manufacturers of such recording devices could not be held liable for infringement. Case Documents
  • Free Software Foundation founded

    Free Software Foundation founded
    Computer programmer Richard Stallman founded this non-profit organization to support the free software movement. According to its current executive director, "The Free Software Foundation is working to secure freedom for computer users by promoting the development and use of free (as in freedom) software and documentation — particularly the GNU operating system — and by campaigning against threats to computer user freedom like DRM". Official Website
  • Berne Convention Implementation Act in the US

    The Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 becomes part of US law in order to enforce the articles of the Berne Convention within the United States.
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation founded

    Electronic Frontier Foundation founded
    This non-profit organization was established in an effort to act as a legal advocate for the public in court cases and legislative deliberation that threatens to impede upon our freedoms online. It champions free speech, free culture, and the right to privacy, in addition to pushing for for technological innovation. Official Website
  • Feist v. Rural

    Feist v. Rural
    This Supreme Court ruling established that information is not copyrightable, but a compilation of information that exhibit a modicum of creativity is. Case Documents
  • North American Free Trade Agreement and Copyright

    North American Free Trade Agreement and Copyright
    The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, plays an important role within international copyright regulations insofar as it applies a substantive provision of the Berne Convention as well as the Geneva Convention. Within NAFTA computer software, for instance, is protected as literary work and databases as compilations. North American Free Trade Agreement
  • Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music

    Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music
    This Supreme Court decision ruled that rap group 2 Live Crew's parody of Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" constitued fair use, even though it was a commercial work. Case Documents
  • Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement

    Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement
    The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is considered a landmark copyright event as it expanded the Berne Convention. The international agreement, administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO), introduced intellectual property law into the international trading system. TRIPS
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty

    WIPO Copyright Treaty
    The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) updates the Berne Convention for digital work due to the growing presence of the Internet. More than 100 countries adopted the treaty in order to recognize the copyright owner's exclusive right to determine the communication of his or her work of intellectual property. WIPO Copyright Treaty
  • The "No Electronic Theft" Act

    The "No Electronic Theft" Act
    On December 16, 1997, President Clinton signed the "No Electronic Theft" Act (HR 2265) into law. HR 2265 reversed the old statutory scheme under which people who intentionally distributed copied software over the Internet did not face criminal penalties if they did not profit from their actions. The "No Electronic Theft" Act
  • Legal Protection of Databases

    Legal Protection of Databases
    The European Union (EU) directive grants full copyright protection for "original" databases that emerge as the author's own "intellectual creation." Furthermore, the directive protects "unfair extraction" and lasts for 15 years. This time period starts over once a substantial change in the content of a database is made. Legale Protection of Databases
  • Copyright Term Extension Act

    Copyright Term Extension Act
    The Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), also known as Sonny Bono Act, extended the Copyright Act of 1976 by increasing the copyright term by another 20 years. President Bill Clinton signed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 on October 27, 1998. Simultaneously, the CTEA impedes the development of the public domain as it takes another 20 years for intellectual property to enter this legal sphere.
  • The Digital Millenium Copyright Act

    The Digital Millenium Copyright Act
    On October 12, 1998, the U.S. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. On October 28th, President Clinton signed the Act into law. "The legislation implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA also addresses a number of other significant copyright-related issues." ----U.S. Copyright Office Summary
  • Record Industry Sues Napster

    Record Industry Sues Napster
    The record industry sued Napster, a peer-to-peer filesharing network over which millions of users shared music and other copyright protected content. Mr. Bronfman even compared Napster with slavery and communism in order to express his disdain. On July 2, 2001, the courts shut down Napster.
  • Creative Commons founded

    Creative Commons founded
    This non-profit organization unites legal scholars, computer science experts, and creators of intellectual property in an effort to create more reasonable and flexible copyright license for creative works. Official Website
  • Wikipedia launches

    Wikipedia launches
    Wikipedia is a "free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project". Its content is under a Cretive Commons license and open to editing from registered users. Some, including creator Jimmy Wales, consider Wikipedia to represent the future of free culture. Wikipedia Entry
  • A&M Records v. Napster

    A&M Records v. Napster
    This Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision ruled against peer-to-peer file sharing company Napster and in favor of various RIAA member companies. It set the precedent that peer-to-peer sharing platforms can be held liable for both forms of indirect copyright infringment: contributory and vicarious. Case Documents
  • Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin

    Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin
    This Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision ruled that Alice Randall's novel with parodies Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind" is considered a fair use rather the infringing derivative work. Case Documents
  • Eldred v. Ashcroft

    Eldred v. Ashcroft
    In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was constitutional. Legal scholar and co-founder of Creative Commons Larry Lessig was lead counsel for the plaintiff. The plaintiff's argument asserted that the CTEA violated the copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution, First Amendement rights, and the doctrine of public trust. Case Documents
  • RIAA v. The People

    RIAA v. The People
    The Recording Industry Artists of America filed 261 lawsuits against peer-to-peer file sharing music fans. In terms of the copyright war, we can see this as a decisive moment in which the industry drew battle lines against consumers. While most of the suit were settled out of court, the RIAA's scare tactics sent a message to would-be file-swappers. EFF Article
  • The Pirate Bay launches

    The Pirate Bay launches
    This self-proclaimed "world's most resilient BitTorrent site" was started by an anti-copyright organization in Sweden. The site is one of the most visible advocates of piracy as it is both incredibly popular and highly controversial. Despite ongoing legal battles, it remains in operation today. Official Website
  • MPAA v. The People

    MPAA v. The People
    Throughout 2004, various companies that are members of the Motion Pictures Association of America began to file lawsuits against peer-to-peer file sharing movie fans. This wave of litigation marks the MPAA's move to follow the RIAA's lead in increasing their efforts to clamp down on unauthorized file sharing. EFF Article
  • Grey Tuesday

    Grey Tuesday
    This protest took place upon the release of Danger Mouse's "The Grey Album", a mashup of The Beatles' white album and Jay-Z's "The Black Album". In response to EMI's threats to prevent distribution of the album, supporters of Danger Mouse and the fair use claim that it is legal for artists to create works via sampling made copies of "The Grey Album" available for download on various wesbites. MTV Article
  • Family Entertainment and Copyright Act

    Family Entertainment and Copyright Act
    The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act consists of two subparts: the Artist's Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005. While the former increases penalties for copyright infringement, the latter permits the development of technology to "sanitize" potentially offensive DVD content.
  • MGM v. Grokster

    MGM v. Grokster
    This Supreme Court decision ruled that MGM Studios (and other entertainment companites) could sue Grokster (and other peer-to-peer file sharing companies) for inducing copyright infringement. Case Documents
  • Google buys YouTube

    Google buys YouTube
    Shortly after YouTube was launched, in February 2005, Google bought it for $1.65 billlion. Both Google and YouTube have come under fire from the copyright industries for direct and indirect copyright infringement. Recently, YouTube has become the cite of many battles between corporate copyright holders and individual content creators. MSNBC Article
  • Lazy Sunday airs on SNL

    Lazy Sunday airs on SNL
    As soon as this Saturday Night Live Digital Short aired on NBC, fans began to post copies of it on websites, such as YouTube. NBC Universal immediately stepped in to have the unauthorized copies removed, despite the fact that the video had gone viral and the show was receiving a lot of attention because of the popularity of the copies and the responses to the original video. NY Times Article
  • Lenz v. Universal

    Lenz v. Universal
    The latest decision in the ongoing case ruled in favor of the plaintiff, who argues that her YouTube video does not infringe upon the copyright Universal holds for Prince's "Let's Go Crazy". This case is a good example of the complexities we encounter at the intersection of copyright law, fair use defense, cultural aprropriation, and online video-sharing. EFF Article