Obama's Greatest Hits

First it was a box of DVDs for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which the London Daily Mail called "about as exciting as a pair of socks." Then, on Wednesday, President Barack Obama presented the Royal Couple with an iPod, filled with pictures of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the U.S. and...show tunes.

The Queen's gift hasn't gotten as much grief as the Region 1 DVDs, but it has brought up an interesting question, not of taste, but of legality. A great post at the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been making the blog rounds these past two days. A taster below:

You know your copyright laws are broken when there is no easy answer to this question.

Traditionally, it has been the job of the "first sale" doctrine to enable gift giving—that's the provision of copyright law that entitles the owner of a CD, book, or other copyrighted work, to give it away...notwithstanding the copyright owner's exclusive right of distribution.

In the digital era, however, first sale has been under siege, with copyright owners...arguing that it has no place in a world where "ownership" has been replaced by "licenses" and hand-to-hand exchanges have been replaced by computer-mediated exchanges that necessarily make copies....

If [Obama] simply purchased a "greatest hits" CD of show tunes and given it to the Queen, the first sale doctrine would have taken care of it. But because digital technology is involved here, suddenly it's a legal quagmire...

First, let's imagine that the President (or his staff) bought the 40 show tunes from the iTunes music store. Do you "own" the music that you buy from iTunes?...Copyright owners have consistently argued in court that many digital products...are "licensed," not "owned," and therefore you're not entitled to resell them or give them away.

Second, even if the first sale doctrine applies to iTunes downloads, what about the additional copies made on the iPod?...President Obama's staff made an additional copy onto the Queen's intended iPod. How are those copies excused? The iTunes terms of service say that downloads are "only for personal, noncommercial use." Is giving a copy to a head of state a "personal" use? Seems more like a "diplomatic use," doesn't it? So copyright owners could argue that the copy on the iPod was not authorized, because it was beyond the scope of the iTunes "license." And according to the typical rightsholder argument, any use beyond the scope of the "license" is a copyright infringement.

Read the whole thing here.

All the Reason copyright and intellectual property coverage you can shake a license at, here. Reason's open letter to Obama about his participation and acceptance of other illegal activities.

High Five: Above the Law, Threat Level, et. al.

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  • ||

    Copyright owners have consistently argued in court that many digital products ...are "licensed," not "owned," and therefore you're not entitled to resell them or give them away.


    So I broke the very same IP laws I support - what do you want to do about it?

  • ||

    This whole conundrum with I.P. just serves to indicate how absurdly ridiculous this faux property right has become.

    Property cannot be non-rivalrous, by concept.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Okay, whoever is doing the Obama comments is . . . well . . . kinda scaring me. Presidents basically do say that in a mind numbing round about way.

  • ||

    I want live coverage of RIAA goons breaking down the door of the White House, and confiscating all the hard drives.

  • ||

    Obama should resign for infringing the most sacred of American laws, the Copyright Act. Of course, since Biden is a known plagiarizer and probably an infringer, too, he must resign, as well.

    Let me introduce the world to. . .President Pelosi!

  • kinnath||

    Copyright owners have consistently argued in court that many digital products ...are "licensed," not "owned," . . .

    And they are. That's what the license says when you execute your transaction. If you don't like the terms of the sale, then don't buy.

    And that's why I still have CD's and not an iPod.

  • Mike M.||

    Heh, so the Queen of England now has two iPods, and I have none.

    Next I almost expect to hear she Twitters and has a page on Facebook.

  • ||

    I'm fairly certain, Nancy stole those eyebrows. Arrest her as well!

  • max hats||

    Good article on how utterly ludicrous IP law is these days.

  • max hats||


    And that's why I still have CD's and not an iPod.



    Hate to shill, but -

    Both emusic and amazonmp3.com offer completely DRM-free, legitimate digital music purchases. DRM is a deal-breaker for me too. I pay to buy music, not rent it.

  • kinnath||

    Both emusic and amazonmp3.com offer completely DRM-free, legitimate digital music purchases.

    Yup. The second reason I don't buy downloads is quality. I can play CD's in stereo systems. If I want portability I can rip the CD's and set the compression quality to whatever I want. {by the way, that is absolutely fair use regardless of what the fuckwads in the music biz say}

  • ||

    It's too bad that Apple isn't one of those companies run by one or more ultra-conservatives, because it might then sue Obama. Heh, heh.

    Same thing in reverse if a Republican were in office. We need a high-profile smackdown on IP. And I'm one of the few around here who thinks IP laws are a good thing--except for the fact that they are currently set all the way up to '11'.

  • jasno||

    So they bought some songs on itunes, copied them to an ipod, and gave the ipod away? Unless they deleted the originals from the computer they used, I'm pretty sure they broke not only the spirit but the letter of the law.

    And, really, an ipod for the queen of england? Are the obama daughter's in charge of selecting the gifts? Or are they having a hard time finding anything of value that's still made in the usa?

  • High Every Body||

    "Obama's Greatest Hits"

    What about his bowing to a foreign king? Or do I just have that story wrong.

  • kinnath||

    And I'm one of the few around here who thinks IP laws are a good thing--except for the fact that they are currently set all the way up to '11'.

    I have been a hard core supportor of IP, and have also stated that the laws on the books today are a fucking disaster and actually damage the long-term viability of strong IP rights.

  • JP||

    What do heads of state actually do with these gifts, anyway?

  • High Every Body||

    What do heads of state actually do with these gifts, anyway?

    The documentry of the inner workings of the Pentagon, "No Way Out", has the answer that you seek.

  • ||

    I wonder if the next gift he gives to someone is one of those plates with his picture on it.

  • High Every Body||

    I wonder if the next gift he gives to someone is one of those plates with his picture on it.

    Easter is coming soon. Not sure if that is work safe. Your employment may vary.

  • ||

    I'll assume it's NSFW, but I'm sure they're delicious.

  • ||

    "And they are. That's what the license says when you execute your transaction. If you don't like the terms of the sale, then don't buy."

    I think you're a little late on your "don't buy" advice. I think people have been "not buying" for years now.

  • Jerry||

    I'm fairly certain, Nancy stole those eyebrows. Arrest her as well!


    Everytime one takes a picture of Pelosi, you have to pay royalty fees to her plastic surgeon.

  • The Chad||

    She will never, ever touch that iPod again anyways, so what's the dif? I bet it's already collecting dust

  • ||

    I wonder if we are actively trying to annoy the Brits, or this is just incompetence / cluelessness.

    I assume the latter, but you never know.

  • E. N. Tropy, esq||

    You only rent your music, no matter what medium it's on.

    Soon enough, those electrons will be my bitch.

  • ||

    I'm fairly certain, Nancy stole those eyebrows. Arrest her as well!

    No, no, she's just the Mrs. Potato Head of the Congress. "I'm going to put on my 'righteous indignation' eyebrows on as soon as I get through using my 'shocked, but concerned' eyebrows. You don't want to make me get out my 'stern scolding' eyebrows, now do you?"

  • creech||

    What, they couldn't have sent some flunky out to PetSmart to buy some kibbles for the corgis?

  • ||

    """"In the digital era, however, first sale has been under siege, with copyright owners...arguing that it has no place in a world where "ownership" has been replaced by "licenses" and hand-to-hand exchanges have been replaced by computer-mediated exchanges that necessarily make copies...."""

    First, a computer-mediated exchange does not necessarily make copies, there is something called cut and paste. You can move the file from one device to another.

    Buying something and giving it away is not the same as copying something and giving that away. Buying an album to give to a friend is different than buying an album, copying it, and giving the copy to a friend.

    If you bought an IPOD and downloaded it with songs you bought on itunes and gave that away, first sale stands. It's about giving away what you bought, not copied. First sale would not cover you if you copied your ipod and gave that way becuase you are still keeping what you bought.

    """You only rent your music, no matter what medium it's on.

    Soon enough, those electrons will be my bitch"""

    You don't really rent it either, there is no monthly fee when buying a CD. You own the CD, not the music on it. And watch out, those electrons can gang up on you, then you will be their bitch.

  • B||

    Just when you thought this president couldn't be more of an incompetent joke...

  • Lamar||

    "Buying an album to give to a friend is different than buying an album, copying it, and giving the copy to a friend."

    Can I copy an old record and give the resulting CD to a friend?

  • ||

    "So they bought some songs on itunes, copied them to an ipod, and gave the ipod away?"

    Not necessarily, if it was an iPod Touch. They could have, and probably did, download the songs from iTunes directly onto the iPod. Thus, no copies would have been made.

  • economist||

    "Let me introduce the world to. . .President Pelosi!"

    Don't scare me like that!

    *shudders*

    I almost lost my dinner there.

  • economist||

    To Hell with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama and Joe Biden and their stimulus bill! To hell with all of it!

  • economist||

    meerdahl,
    I assume that this is an attempt to alienate the Brits so that Obama can neutralize opposition from neocons.

    "See, I can alienate foreign nations, too!"

  • economist||

    And yes, I'"m drunk. Whta the hell are youging to do about it.!?

  • ||

    I prefer DRM free high quality CD rip torrents.

  • buy wow gold||

    Lol, this is the first time I've read about the copyright of iPod given by Pres. Obama and it's really amusing on how the author analyzed the situation. You rock man! I thought Pres. has just no taste and now he's breaking the law? lmao ;P

  • ||

    So, the U.S. Pres. bought an iPod in the States, loaded it with songs, and gave it to the U.K.'s monarch. Would American or British IP law apply?

    Kevin

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