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May 2020
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Twitter Making It Easier To Study The Public Discussions Around COVID-19

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There has been a lot of talk about how this moment in history is going to be remembered -- and as Professor Jay Rosen has been saying, a key part is going to be an effort by the many people who failed to respond properly to rewrite the history of everything that happened:

There is going to be a campaign to prevent Americans from understanding what happened within the Trump government during the critical months of January to April, 2020. Many times Donald Trump told the nation that it has nothing to worry about because he and his people have the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus well in hand. They did not. He misled the country about that.It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control, he told CNBC on January 22. We pretty much shut it down coming in from China, he told Sean Hannity on February 2. On February 24, Trump tweeted that the Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.He misled the country. This basic fact is so damning, the evidence for it so mountainous, and the mountain of evidence so public and so personally attached to Donald Trump that the only option is to create confusion about these events, and about the pandemic generally, in hopes that people give up and conclude that the public record does not speak clearly and everything is propaganda.
The battle over rewriting history is going to take many forms in many different ways -- and so it's good to see a company like Twitter making it easier for researchers to look at the actual history of the public conversation during these months.
To further support Twitter's ongoing efforts to protect the public conversation, and help people find authoritative health information around COVID-19, we're releasing a new endpoint into Twitter Developer Labs to enable approved developers and researchers to study the public conversation about COVID-19 in real-time.This is a unique dataset that covers many tens of millions of Tweets daily and offers insight into the evolving global public conversation surrounding an unprecedented crisis. Making this access available for free is one of the most unique and valuable things Twitter can do as the world comes together to protect our communities and seek answers to pressing challenges. 
It would be interesting to see if others (cough Facebook cough) would do the same thing as well. How the history of these times is written is going to be important in seeing how we deal with the next such crisis.

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posted at: 12:00am on 09-May-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Court Of Appeals Affirms Lower Court Tossing BS 'Comedians In Cars' Copyright Lawsuit

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Six months ago, which feels like roughly an eternity at this point, we discussed how Jerry Seinfeld and others won an absolutely ludicrous copyright suit filed against them by Christian Charles, a writer and director Seinfeld hired to help him create the pilot episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. What was so strange about the case is that this pilot had been created in 2012, whereas the lawsuit was only filed in 2018. That coincides with Seinfeld inking a lucrative deal with Netflix to stream his show.It's not the most well known aspect of copyright law, but there is, in fact, a statute of limitations for copyright claims and it's 3 years. The requirement in the statute is that the clock essentially starts running once someone who would bring a copyright claim has had their ownership of a work disputed publicly, or has been put on notice. Seinfeld argued that he told Charles he was employing him in a work-for-hire arrangement, which would satisfy that notice. His lawyers also pointed out that Charles goes completely uncredited in the pilot episode, which would further put him on notice. The court tossed the case based on the statute of limitations.For some reason, Charles appealed the ruling. Well, now the Court of Appeals has affirmed that lower ruling, which hopefully means we can all get back to not filing insane lawsuits, please.

We conclude that the district court was correct in granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, for substantially the same reasons that it set out in its well-reasoned opinion. The dispositive issue in this case is whether Charles’s alleged “contributions . . . qualify [him] as the author and therefore owner” of the copyrights to the show. Kwan, 634 F.3d at 229. Charles disputes that his claim centers on ownership. But that argument is seriously undermined by his statements in various filings throughout this litigation which consistently assert that ownership is a central question. Charles’s infringement claim is therefore time-barred because his ownership claim is time-barred. The district court identified two events described in the Second Amended Complaint that would have put a reasonably diligent plaintiff on notice that his ownership claims were disputed. First, in February 2012, Seinfeld rejected Charles’s request for backend compensation and made it clear that Charles’s involvement would be limited to a work-for-hire basis. See Gary Friedrich Enters., LLC v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 318 (2d Cir. 2013) (noting that a copyright ownership claim would accrue when the defendant first communicates to the plaintiff that the defendant considers the work to be a work-for-hire). Second, the show premiered in July 2012 without crediting Charles, at which point his ownership claim was publicly repudiated. See Kwan, 634 F.3d at 227. Either one of these developments was enough to place Charles on notice that his ownership claim was disputed and therefore this action, filed six years later, was brought too late.
And that should bring this all to a close, hopefully. This seems like a pretty clear attempt at a money grab by Charles once Seinfeld's show became a Netflix cash-cow. Unfortunately, time is a measurable thing and his lawsuit was very clearly late.

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posted at: 12:00am on 09-May-2020
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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