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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Copyright and My Smilin' Face

September 11, 2008

Being a Dr. Dobb's editor finally got me a break. For reasons that don't really matter here, the other night I went to Kinkos to photocopy a page in Dr. Dobb's Journal. But when I went to the counter to explain exactly what I needed, the clerk said "sorry, no can do."

Due to copyright laws, he said, Kinkos couldn't photocopy pages from a magazine without permission from the publisher or editor. "Next," he said, to the person in line behind me.

Not accepting the bum's rush, I flipped to page 6 of the issue in hand, and pointed to my photo. "Is this good enough?" I asked with a smirk. "You have my permission to photocopy this page." He look at the photo, looked at me, he looked at the photo again, and the next thing I knew I was 21 cents lighter, but had the photocopy I wanted in hand.

In the future, however, my photo in the magazine might not be enough to turn the trick, thanks to the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008  (EIPA) which has been approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, moving SB 3325 to the full Senate.

If passed into law, EIPA will make sweeping changes to U.S. copyright laws, including making it possible for the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute civil cases of copyright infringement on behalf of content owners. Currently, content owners fight their alleged infringement legal battles in civil court. With EIPA, the government will fight those battles for them. SB 3325 would also increase penalties for counterfeiting, create a federal copyright czar to coordinate IP enforcement, and make it possible for the government to seize of property used to violate copyrights and trademarks. This would mean, for instance, that if your ISP has alleged infringing content on a server that hosts your website, the Feds could seize that server, your legal content be damned.

From now on I'm carrying a copy of Dr. Dobb's Journal every place I go -- and I suggest you do likewise.

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