Technology and Business Law Blog

Oh Harry Potter/ Hari Puttur!

There we go again, this time Warner Bros is filing a suit against the release of the Bollywood film “Hari Puttur” because when pronounced in American or British English accent it sounds like “Harry Potter”. This is so ridiculous and shows clear ignorance, intolerance and unwillingnessto open up to different languages and cultures of the world.

‘Hari’ is a very common name in India and means God, and in Punjabi puttur means son, so “Hari puttur” could mean either the son of God or the son of a man named Hari. When said with an Indian or Punjabi accent it no way sounds like “Harry Potter”. Please Warner Bros don’t exhibit your ignorance, intolerance and desperation by filing legal suits in India, they will be thrown out. The movie Hari Puttur doesn’t have anything common to the movie “Harry Potter”.  J.K. Rowling should spend her time writing books and not filing law suits all over the world. She has a law suit in the U.S. which is defended by the Stanford law school ‘Fair Use’ project.

Last year there was another law suit filed in India stating that the pandal or structure for a Durga puja celebration was similar to the Hogwarts building in the film Harry Potter, but the courts in India dismissed the law suit.

August 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Recent IP and Technoloy Law Happenings

Here are some interesting recent happenings both in the U.S. and in India on IP and technology law.

The litigation that was on for a while and made interesting reading is the battle between the fashion icons Barbie v. Bratz and the more long standing and mature co ntender Barbie wins $100 million in a copyright infringement law suit. The side issue in the matter was breach of contract because Mattel the maker of Barbie filed a law suit against MGA Entertainment the maker of Bratz stating that the design for Bratz was taken from Barbie while the designer worked with Mattel.

Now, the greatest cyber criminal in the world is an Indian and has allegedly helped a criminal gang steal identities of an estimated eight million people in a hacking raid that could ultimately net more than 2.8 billion pounds in illegal funds.

More on cyber crimes, malicious software, the worm, called Koobface, turns compromised computers into “zombie” machines that can be used in other types of online attacks.

In India, criminal proceeding against eBay India under section 85 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 for an alleged sale of an obscene video clip showing two Delhi students was halted by the Supreme Court.

What do “hacktivists” do? They scrutinize a new weapon of international warfare: cyber attacks.

The Indian government has drafted new company law. The law permits to recognize e-mail as a valid piece of evidence. Also the government at various levels are trying to harmonize related legislations like Information Technology Act and Evidence Act on the subject, so as to avoid regulatory overlaps. Even as the company law awaits amendments to this effect, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) feels corporate e-mails could be crucial evidence in cartel investigations.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Take Down Notices Don’t Work

In spite of all the DMCA take down notices sent to YouTube, copyright infringement continues to grow on the site and the infringed material stays for a while before it is taken down and during that time it is viewed by a large number of people across the world. The take down notices have not really had an impact on reducing copyright infringement and has not reduced piracy.

Smaller artists have been promoting their songs etc, via YouTube and it has served as a good advertising platform, so the larger media companies have joined the bandwagon and follow the saying, if you cannot beat them, join them.

Large Media companies have finally woken up and realized that they cannot fight the postings on YouTube and now let the infringing material stay on the Youtube site and have decided to use it as advertising material. That is good thinking to save money, energy and time and surely creating goodwill and promoting the posted material. Curt Marvis, the president of digital media at Lionsgate Entertainment, said  “We don’t want to condone people taking our intellectual property and using it without our permission,” “But we also don’t like the idea of keeping fans of our products from being able to engage with our content.” he said. “For the most part, people who are uploading videos are fans of our movies. They’re not trying to be evil pirates, and they’re not trying to get revenue from it.”

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Copyright Infringement, DMCA, YouTube | | Leave a comment

Cyberlaw is Being Tested in Indian Courts

A business based in India is suing Google India (which was used as a blogging platform by a blogger) for hosting material that the plaintiff found to be defamatory and stated in its petition that a series of articles that amounted to a ‘hate campaign’ against the company were posted on Google’s blogging site with a title ‘Toxic Writer’ between January and February.

Cyberlaw is a new area of law that is still in its infancy all over the world and India is no exception. A case of this nature is for the first time being litigated and the court’s decision will set a precedent for similar cases to follow. The courts have to weigh this carefully before forming a judgement.

In the U.S. bloggers have the same constitutional protections as mainstream media and the First Amendment rights of free speech are zelously protected. According to EFF, First Amendment protections for publications are strong and can help you defend against unwarranted legal threats. If one receives a notice of a subpoena and they wish to retain their anonymity, they can file a motion to quash (drop) the subpoena. Many courts have required the subpoenaing party to show a compelling need for the information that outweighs the speakers’ constitutional rights to free speech and privacy.

Investigations by the Mumbai police’s cyber crime cell police could not make a break through as Google’s India office refused to co-operate.

August 16, 2008 Posted by | cyberlaw, Defamation, Free Speech, Google, India | 3 Comments

Sharing Media Content Without Infringing Copyright

If you cannot fight them then join them and if you can make money in the process nothing can beat that. A company called Digital Containers (www.digitalcontainers.com) introduced a new software that allows content owners to share, store and distribute copyrighted material over the Internet without losing control while providing monetization and metrics to the content owners.

The company provides ‘super distribution’ of online content for sharing digital media between consumers. According to the Washington Post article the way it works is that: Digital Containers works with media companies to “package” pieces of content, like an episode of “Lost,” in a container with an encrypted seal. As it’s passed from person to person, each new viewer that “unzips” the container agrees to either watch a few ads, or pay a few bucks, in exchange for getting premium content. When that viewer passes the container to another user, that person also starts a “relationship” with the media company that produced it. You may have to tell the company how old you are, or whether you’re male or female, which then helps to sell ads. Or, if you happen to share a lot of Jonas Brothers‘ songs with friends, Disney may want to give you a reward or incentive for spreading the music and helping to build the brand.

According to the company the way it handles the copyright issues are it legally licenses media from the copyright holders and therfore gains their permission to distribute their digital media, and then they digitally protect each copyrighted media file with copyright protection software or Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is the umbrella term referring to any of the several technologies used to enforce pre-defined policies controlling access to software, music, movies or other digital data. It distributes content by utilizing the different channels of the Internet like search engines, p2p, the web, RSS, blogs, social networks, IPTV, mobile etc and provides consumers with rich media experienc.

So unlike lots of other sites, their’s is not a website and it is a perfectly legal network marketing style distribution channel to share content.

August 15, 2008 Posted by | Copyright, Technology | | 1 Comment

Artistic License Terms- Copyright Infringement

In Jacobsen v. Katzer, the appellant brought an action against the appellees for copyright infringement for not following the terms of the Artistic License while copying and incorporating materials from it’s website.

The District court had stated that open source Artistic License created an “intentionally broad” non-exclusive license which is unlimited in scope and thus did not create liablity for copyright infringement. The appellete court’s analysis was otherwise stating that the Artistic License and other open source licenses cannot be randomly copied and modified without following the terms set forth in the license.

In this case the Artistic License required that changes to the computer code be tracked so that downstream users know what part of the computer code is the original code created by the copyright holder and what part has been newly added and altered by another collaborator. The appellate court stated that a user who downloaded the JMRI copyrighted material is authorized to make modifications and to distribute the materials “provided that” the user follows the restrictive terms of the Artistic License.

The crux of the appeal was that whether the terms of the Artistic License are just actionable under breach of contract based on covenants or if they were breach of conditions enforceable under copyright infringement. The court held that the term “provided that” denotes a condition and under copyright law the conditions under an Artistic License are enforceable. and so the Artistic License terms were conditions enforcable copyright conditions.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Contract, Copyright Infringement, Licensing | | Leave a comment

Technology and the Fourth Amendment

Technology has made our lives magical and a fantasy. Not too many years ago, to communicate with others we wrote letters (real paper snail mail ones), before going somewhere we called people to get directions and poured over paper maps, when we missed an exit in the freeway we pulled over at a gas station and asked for directions or used the coin operated public telephones and we also minded our own businesses, did not invade into people’s privacy and followed established legal procedures to prosecute people.

Although technology has brought flexibility and convenience it has not reduced crime and in fact crime is getting more sophisticated and we have to now deal with the traditional and the technology related crimes. One of these technology crimes happens by invading our privacy and getting hold of our personal information. On the flip side technology is also being used by the enforcement authorities to track down and keep the crime rate down.

The issue that then arises is the conflict between use of technology and traditional principles of law laid down in the Constitution. One of the most common area of conflict arises in the area of the Fourth Amendment which relates to right to privacy. The text of the Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

According to Wikipedia, the Fourth Amendment specifies that any warrant must be judicially sanctioned for a search or an arrest, in order for such a warrant to be considered reasonable. Warrants must be supported by probable cause and be limited in scope according to specific information supplied by a person (usually a peace officer) who has sworn by it and is therefore accountable to the issuing court.

This safeguards the citizens rights against the enforcement officials stepping over the line, following procedures established by law and not being persecuted under any pretext.

Across the country, police are using GPS devices to snare thieves, drug dealers, sexual predators and killers, often without a warrant or court order. Privacy advocates said tracking suspects electronically constitutes illegal search and seizure, violating Fourth Amendment rights of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, and is another step toward George Orwell’s Big Brother society. Read here.

Craig Fraser, director of management services for the Police Executive Research Forum, said tracking technology’s new capabilities might eventually require legal adjustments.

“The issue is whether the more sophisticated tools are doing the same things we used to do or are creating a different set of legal circumstances,” he said.

It is true that technology is helping the enforcement officials catch offenders of the law and cuts down on the resources utilized but on the other hand what about the citizens invasion of privacy and how does one decide in what circumstances it is OK to cross the line and not follow established procedures. Privacy has been greatly affected by the advancement in technology and the new challenge is figuring out how to use technology without the government breathing over our necks and also other entities and individuals misusing our personal information.

The solution is to use common sense by not putting out personal information out in the open and courts restricting the governments use of technology without following procedures.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | privacy, Technology | , , | Leave a comment