Technology and Business Law Blog

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.”

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

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

Bloggers and Copyright

Fair use is one of the most debated areas in copyright law. Recently in the limelight was the Harry Potter’s Lexicon litigation in which Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project Defends RDR Books against Copyright Lawsuit Brought by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Other fair use cases have been litigated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) but the most recent fair use issue that grabbed the attention of people like me is the Associated Press (AP) sending DMCA take down copyright notices to blogger Roger Cadenhead of Doudge Retort.

According to AP it wants to “limit the amount of original content that gets copied” and the “use of content directly in the blog”. Blogging has become very popular since it allows anyone to put forth their point of view and share their thoughts out there and good blogs make interesting reading and creates a resource pool consisting of the community’s thought process.

Blogging and other journalistic pursuits thrive on the foundation of fair use based on voicing their opinion on other people’s literary creations. The trouble with fair use is that is overly broad and according to the Copyright Act of 1976, in determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. The nature of the copyrighted work;

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use defense and its application will vary greatly depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, since there are no set standards and courts decide whether a particular use is fair or not on a case by case basis.

EFF had put forth has set forth legal guidelines and blogger legal liability issues on their website, http://w2.eff.org/bloggers/lg/ and it is a good idea to get oneself familiarized with it while blogging.

In the world of blogging the copyright rules are minimally followed and on a particular day most popular blogs carry the same story and lot of the material is recirculated. The web is a bedrock of copyright infringement but interestingly if not for this one would not get to hear the different view points of people from various walks of life on the same subject matter. Copyright infringement makes journalism more alluring, vibrant, spiced up and interesting.

It does not matter how many DMCA’s takedown notices are sent or how many copyright infringement law suits are filed, now that the flood gates of the Internet have opened there is no going back or stopping of infringement over the Internet. The only solution is rewrite the copyright laws and accept the inevitable.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Copyright, Copyright Infringement | | 1 Comment

Social Networking’s End?

Social networking is one of the most popular market segments in terms of business and even from a consumer perspective. Almost everyday a new social networking site seems to pop up somewhere in the world and I receive requests on a regular basis to join one or the other and so what do I do — I don’t join any of them. I am worried about scattering my personal information all over the cyberspace and having it infiltrate and stored in places and in hands of people I wouldn’t it to be in.

Another reason is that once you are a member of all these various sites then it is hard to remember all the different passwords and logins and what information I gave out where. Third, but most important is that I am sheer lazy.

The popularity of social networking has a direct impact on the loss of privacy and in the U.S. the most popular sites are Facebook and MySpace and both of them allow  third party developers to set up different applications like playing poker, getting daily horoscopes and sending one another virtual cocktails and according to this article in Washington Post

But it is often difficult to tell when developers are breaking the rules by, for example, storing members’ data for more than 24 hours, said Adrienne Felt, who recently studied Facebook security at the University of Virginia.

She examined 150 of the most popular Facebook applications to find out how much data could be gathered. Her research, which was presented at a privacy conference last month, found that about 90 percent of the applications have unnecessary access to private data.

If developers and others whom the Facebook user does not know and did not intend to give out their information gets hold of it, there is no saying what the information is being used for.

I get a feeling that once this euphoria of online social networking cools down in about 5-7 years especially when people see that their private information has been misused one way or the other and it has an affects on their lives then people will revert back to good old fashioned getting to know one another on  a personal basis networking.

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Facebook, privacy, Social networking | , , , | 1 Comment

Absurd IP Infringement Claims

If you thought that the holding of the Belgian court that Google was infringing copyrights of  Copiepresse when it provided links to the newspaper articles and photos and asked to pay around $77.5 million as damages was absurd especially because the US courts would probably have taken a more lenient view, taking into consideration all the facts such as Google bringing in tons of traffic to the these newspapers and the newspaper consortium actually generating revenue in the process, then here is another absurd claim by a Singaporean company called Vuestar which states that it has the patent to link images from one website to another site, Method of locating web-pages by utilising visual images and so if anyone used these links then they will get sued by Vuestar.

May 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Bush blames India’s Prosperity for Rise of Food Prices In the U.S.

People like Bush are always looking for stupid reasons to justify their incompetence and point fingers elsewhere, even thousands of miles away… It is ridiculous to say that the food prices in the U.S. is rising because people in India are having a better standard of living and since they are eating better, it is affecting the ability of the Americans to eat their huge portions and continue with their colossal wastage of resources .

The US President George W Bush also vindicated remarks given by the Secretary of State; Condoleezza Rice a few days back on the rising food prices, blaming India and China, that improvement in dietary habits of Indian middle class has been responsible for rising food prices.

The US President George W Bush explained the reasons for rising food prices at a function in Maryland Heights in Missouri, on Friday said “Just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That’s bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population.”
”When you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food, and so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up” Bush added.

It is a well known fact that the people in the U.S. are the major consumers of the world and it is no different when it comes to food too. They are obese and unhealthy people who consume gluttonus amounts of super size portions and eat like there is no tomorrow. People around the world live on meager rationed food and in some countries like Haiti and Africa children eat mud cakes, even the so called poor in the U.S. have food banks and food stamps that allow them to have well stocked refrigerators. What Bush is implying is that people around the world should continue to suffer so that people in the U.S. can continue with life stlyes only most people can dream of in other parts of the world.

President Bush who is rich beyond a common man’s imagination is totally not in touch with reality and ignorant of the life styles of people around the world. Maybe he should advice the people in the U.S. not to waste so much food and cut down on the amount they eat, which will lower the costs of medical care and help everyone appreciate the meaning of not being “fatted”.

Also food prices continue to rise around the world, even in India people over there too find it real hard to keep up with the rise in food costs especially with no assistance programs like food banks, subsidies and food stamps. The so called “middle class” as Bush claims is facing the same plight that people in the U.S. are facing. Condoleezza Rice and Bush make these ridiculous statements and sound like they personally have experienced and witnessed the consumption patterns of the middle class in India.

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment