November 29, 2002
RIAA Forces CD Covers to Take Down All Audio Cover Art, the "world's largest CD cover site", announced on their site that the RIAA has forced them to remove all cover art for CD's. CD Covers is a "profit free organization that runs on voluntary basis" hosting covers for games, software, audio (formerly) and video products. It appears that they make the covers available for printing, as they also offer some special free formating software.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 02:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sklyarov Will Make the Trial

Update on two earlier bIPlog posts on Sklyarov not being given a visa to attend the landmark trial over the DMCA in US v. ElcomSoft - he reportedly has now been given a visa, so jury selection starts Monday in San Jose. The prosecution must prove "intentional criminal violation of the statute (DMCA)," according to Joseph Burton, ElcomSoft's attorney.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
FCC Comments Deadline

This is a big deal, IMHO, and worthy of a few minutes of all of our time. Public comments on a "Broadcast Flag" have been extended to Dec. 5. (Here is the link to a PDF of the FCC request for comments.)

There is time to tell the FCC how you feel. Why should you? From a posting on the pho list: "Hollywood and leading technology players have devised a plan that would only allow 'professionals' to have fully-functional devices for processing digital broadcast materials." In other words, "normal" people can't edit and build upon the video culture in which we are stewing. This is tantamount to taking away desktop publishing tools because they might be used illegally to pirate books. Think about it for a bit, then do something about it here, if it makes you angry.

Posted by John Battelle at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
"Undercooked and on the Web"

This NY Times article suggests that artists are more worried about the problems of fans downloading demo tapes or half finished works from the Internet verses piracy of copyrighted works. One band is System of a Down, whose latest album, "Steal This Album," is a title spoof Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book." The band is open about their thoughts regarding the leaker of the unfinished songs: "If I knew (who it was), then someone's head would be broken in," says Daron Malakian, the band's guitarist.

Serj Tankian, the band's singer, said: "I'll tell you, with this whole Internet thing, I have no problem with it. I like the fact that kids can download stuff and experience different kinds of music and check out new bands (See this NYTimes article on the kids latest efforts to keep the downloading alive and David Kushner's Rolling Stone piece on the failings of DRM). Even if finished material comes out two or three weeks ahead, it's no big deal to me. It's the trading of unfinished songs that bothers me."

Sounds like a band supporting the sharing of works over the Internet to me, a la Mr. Rogers in the Betamax case.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Censorship and Copyright

Columbia University's Journalism School a few days ago held a conference on free expression and the arts called The New Gatekeepers. A NY Times article reported on the conference discussion over the tension between copyright and censorship.

And Jed Rubenfeld in a Yale Law Journal article looks at the tensions between the First Amendment and Copyright in "The Freedom of Imagination: Copyright's Constitutionality." (PDF) He illustrates the point with examples such as The Wind Done Gone (he was counsel for the author) and the 1995 case where a former Church of Scientology member who posted some of their material on the internet as criticism, was then subject to a seven hour search by the police, assisted by a Church member, all in the name of copyright. He talks about the freedom to imagine, and whether copyright law is content based compared to speech restrictions based on content and viewpoint. "In the elaboration of these rules, the freedom of imagination ought to play the same role for copyright that the freedom of 'wide-open and robust debate' has played for libel."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 28, 2002
University Campuses A Key IP Battleground

The recording and movie industry believes that, in the post-Napster age, some of the most rampant abuses of their copyrighted material occurs on college campuses, where students have access to high-speed broadband systems that allow easy file-sharing over peer-to-peer networks. In a good summary of this issue, the Mercury News reported that the RIAA and other industry associations have urged leaders in higher education to monitor their students and impose restrictions on violators. As a result, in recent months, universities across the country have been reassessing their policies and issuing new rules regarding the use of university networks, including limiting such file-sharing by students and warning students of disciplinary action if they violate copyrights. Some went so far as to seize students' computers, like U.S. Naval Academy (see posting below), while some campuses are wary of student privacy and are trying to make it a student-led initiative to raise awareness of intellectual property and copyright infringements.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Striking Down The Copyright Extension Would Dramatically Increase Available Books

Larry Lessig from his blog, has a piece about an analysis done by Jason Schultz of Fish and Richardson and Deirdre Mulligan of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. They looked at what would happen to copy protected books if the 1976 extension for copyright were struck down. The upshot? Books in print, or 4% (9,240) of all books (300,446) published between 1927 and 1956 would be affected. The rest (291,206) are not in print, and would come available to anyone. "So it seems that were the 1976 retroactive extension struck down, the most significant impact of such a decision would not be a monumental loss of contracts or corporate mergers, but rather a dramatic increase in reading." Jason Schultz, who reran the numbers here, commented that they are even better for 1927-1946. The earlier the works, it would seem, the fewer are still available in print.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 26, 2002
$14k for a Hard Drive Full of Entertainment? Can I Sell It on Ebay to Pay the Bill?

The Danish Anti Pirat Gruppen (Anti Piracy Group) issued invoices of $14k to each of about 150 KaZaA and eDonkey users for illegally downloading copy-protected material. The DAPG went to court with screen shots of users' lists of shared files, in an effort to get their personal information from ISPs. Users were charged $16 per CD and $60 per movie, although this doesn't seem to take into account misnamed or bad files, or files the user owns through legitimately purchased CDs and DVDs.

Interesting, too, is the case last Spring in which KaZaA was ruled to be "perfectly legal" in a Danish court, regardless of whether some uses of it might be illegal.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Jurisdiction in DeCSS Cases Decided

The CA Supreme Court decided yesterday (Reuters) that Matt Pavlovich (who is an Eagle Scout, by the way, as one of his defense attorneys mentions) couldn't be sued in CA by the DVD Copy Control Association because he lives in Texas, and posted DVD decryption software, in violation of the DMCA, as a student in Indiana. Therefore CA courts do not have jurisdiction, although a suit could be brought elsewhere (

About 500 others living outside CA were also sued in CA for posting the same DeCSS code, which seems to be everywhere on the Internet at this point. One of the three judges was interested in having the cases brought in CA because of the movie industry's economic impact in the state, in a single combined forum, but ultimately decided there was not jurisdiction to do this either.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 25, 2002
IP in China Takes a Chill Pill

How strong would IP impact the domestic industries in better-off developing countries? Here's a good example: China's pharmaceutical industry faces a major structural shake-up after the State Drug Administration (SDA) adopted strong IP rules over the last two months.

The new rules, providing better IP protection for domestic and foreign drug makers, would stimulate the consolidation of the industry. Major mergers and acquisitions should be anticipated in the near future.

Posted by Ting Shi at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 24, 2002
Navy Court Martials and the RIAA

What do they have in common? You guessed it! Illegal downloading of IP.

From The Register: RIAA orders US Navy to surrender. The Navy confiscated 100 computers alleged to contain illegal music from midshipmen, because the RIAA "reached out" with letters to 2,300 colleges and universities, including Annapolis, asking educators to assist in stopping piracy of copy protected materials. Punishment for the midshipmen could include "court martial to loss of leave and other restrictions."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
KaZaA in Court to Decide Jurisdiction

Tomorrow, a Federal Court in LA will decide whether KaZaA distributor Sharman Networks, incorporated on the island of Vanuatu and doing business in Australia, can be legally pursued by Hollywood in the U.S. Sharman does no business in the US, but its peer-to-peer technology vendor, Blastoise (dba Joltid, and founded by Niklas Zennström, also a founder of Kazaa/FastTrack) is located in the U.S. If Sharman loses, their case may be added into the Streamcast and Grokster case, and might be an interesting comment on jurisdiction involving Internet business disputes.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
A Celebration of Disney Orgies and Bloodbaths

Planning to be in the Lower East Side between now and December 6th? If so, be sure to check out Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age, an exhibit celebrating fine art and musical creativity based on borrowed materials.

The show -- which features "murdered Disney characters, the Colonel Sanders mandala, a Texaco-laced doily, and more" -- reminds us that, had Warhol been born 30 years later, his Campbell's soup cans might never have seen a museum wall.

Posted by Maggie Law at 02:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 22, 2002
A DMCA Déjà Vu at Princeton?

Good thing for Alex Halderman ('03) that Ed Felten is on the faculty. The Princeton senior could use his professor's seasoned advice right about now on the perils of doing computer science research under the rule of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

On Monday, Halderman presented his junior paper, "Evaluating New Copy-Prevention Techniques for Audio CDs," at the 2002 ACM Workshop on Digital Rights Management -- an act that could be seen as a violation of the DMCA.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Smart DVD That Will Self-Destruct In 36 Hours?

Hollywood has taken another step in preventing manipulation of its content, CNN reported. As Q outfitted James Bond with the snazziest gadgets, the latest Bond flick, "Die Another Day," used Flexplay DVDs to show reporters scenes from the movie before it was released. But 36 hours after a reporter moves the disc from its package, the disc becomes nothing more than "a nice martini coaster", according to Q, who makes an appearance in the press materials. How does the disc actually work? Chemistry, is all the patent owner will tell you. The technology could empower software companies, as well as the music industry and Hollywood.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
DOE Pulls Plug on PubScience to Placate Private Interests has a story about the Department of Energy closing down PubScience, a research database with about 2 million documents. Some private companies complained successfully that there was some overlap of published documents, which the companies sell, since federal law prohibits the government from competing with private interests. At the opening of PubScience in 1999, the U. S. Secretary of Energy at the time, Bill Richardson said, "For science to rapidly advance at the frontiers, it must be open. And shared knowledge is the enabler of scientific progress."

However, since the DOE funds almost all the research, and publishers of documents can choose whether to make them available on PubScience, it seems odd that these companies are defining what is available by the DOE.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 21, 2002
Conservative to Supremes: Larry is Right

It ain't often you hear a conservative legal mind defending Larry Lessig's ideas, but bless him Richard Posner just did. This is the same fellow who mediated the Microsoft settlement. More on Posner here.

Posted by John Battelle at 04:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
DMCA Shuts Down Fatwallet's Use of Sale Data

Fatwallet, an online service that collects and compares sales prices from Walmart, Staples, Best Buy, and Target, has been told to stop by those retailers because the practice is in violation of the DMCA. "We don't think sales prices can be copyrighted, or that the DMCA was meant for this type of thing," said Tim Storm, Fatwallet's owner. "But it would cost us a heck of a lot of money to be right." He is complying with the request "as a business decision."

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
November 20, 2002
Universal Music Offering 99-Cent Songs Without Copying Restrictions

Universal Music Group has announced it will let people download individual songs for 99 cents and without the subscription fee or copying restrictions that are common at other music industry Web sites. The company will make 43,000 songs available, using Liquid Audio technology. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story on the decision, and here's Universal's press release.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Cockroaches, Jackasses, and Pirates

Peter Chernin, COO of NewsCorp and the current entertainment industry anti-piracy podium pounder, showed some guts yesterday when he spoke at Comdex, the IT industry's largest gathering. George Lucas made a cameo as well. The coverage was uneven, but the Hollywood Reporter piece linked to above has the most complete I've seen. In the piece Chernin says he's not against copying per se, and that tech and entertainment companies should work together. I read this as a good sign. I think all consumers want to do is what we have always done - lend copies to friends so they might be turned on by the content we found, cut and paste good bits and send them around, build new works on the works of others. This debate is extremely important to both industries, and I hope this signals a move toward compromise. Lucas called entertainment companies Cockroaches, and Chernin said speaking in front of thousands of geeks was akin to pulling a stunt on Jackass.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
"Progressive Actionable Intelligence"

EagleForce Associates, has teamed with Autonomy Corporation to develop critical IT infrastructure for the "Intelligence, Defense, and Security Markets."

EagleForce develops SECURAIR, a concept technology that profiles airport passengers and assigns each a "threat assessment score."

Autonomy has a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide information analysis technology connecting 200,000 employees across various agencies. Autonomy's technology will enable Poindexter's covert observers to use natural language to describe our movements as we send email, make credit card purchases, walk through airports and other public places, etc.

Here's an idea: The Department of Misinformation should partner with The Department of Homeland Security to produce a reality show based on all the aggregated content they are ripping from our daily interactions. Then we could see our tax dollars at work.

Posted by Ethan Eismann at 09:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
DMCA: Open for Comments

For a quick overview of current DMCA status, and a reminder that comments on its anti-circumvention clause are now being taken by the government, read Declan's piece today at CNET.

Posted by John Battelle at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 19, 2002
WiFi Sharing Advocated by Speakeasy

CEDBroadband profiles Speakeasy, who just started promoting "'neighborhood' sharing of broadband Internet connections via wireless access points." Not only is Speakeasy allowing this, but they are offering free, special equipment to make sharing more possible. In the past, many ISP's have barred this practice in their user agreements. CED's monthly also has a more general piece on WiFi sharing. This movement has been going on for years, with many different solutions considered.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
There Has Got To Be A Better Way. Right?

Every so often, it's worth the time to read a rant on why many find the DMCA so evil. The laws of unintended consequences, referred to often in the H'wood/SV debate, are well summarized here. I wonder what would have happened to our culture if, back in the early days of the printing press (or the early days of the Internet for that matter), text content were as "protected" as video and audio is now.

Posted by John Battelle at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Cyber Rights Fading Fast (Last One Out, Turn Off the Lights)

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that police do not need to be present to collect evidence from an Internet service provider. This case was about a man using email to engage in sexual conduct with minors; the police faxed the warrant to Yahoo. Having the police present is one of the checks and balances of the 4th Amendment warrant process that has been in place since the 1700s.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 18, 2002
"Akin to Swimming in a Shark Tank with a Nosebleed"

On the heels of two recent postings along this theme (11/17/02 and 11/16/02), the SF Chronicle published an article today about patents and their increasingly prodigious value to technology companies -- particularly during economic downturns.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 17, 2002
Medieval Mickey

According to Ananova, someone recently noticed that Mickey Mouse makes a cameo in a 700-year-old church fresco. What's a mega-multimedia conglomerate like the The Walt Disney Company to do?

Posted by Daniel C. Silverstein at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
Darknet's Future

At the Association for Computing Machinery conference workshop on DRM tomorrow, four (Microsoft) researchers give the scholarly take on Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution. Darknet is a collection of networks and technologies used to share digital content. Interesting points: the legal system can disable the current darknet systems, but as users become more sophisticated networkers, smaller more personally established networks will take over and DRM will be useless for tech-savvy pirates. Examples: think about IM-ing a DVD to a few people, or small world networks strung together to quickly diffuse content.

Their conclusion: "There seem to be no technical impediments to darknet-based peer-to-peer file sharing technologies growing in convenience, aggregate bandwidth and efficiency." Also, they believe strong DRM may be a disincentive to legal commerce as people worry about privacy issues, and movie pirating is less of a problem because rentals on or offline are so cheap and easy, in contrast to the current state of music.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
The Gift of Opportunity... or Clever Tax Evasion?

Patent donations have been gaining in popularity, particularly among large corporations, according to an article in today's NY Times. When companies earn patents on inventions they'll never use, who could question the obvious win-win proposition of transferring them to hungry research institutions in exchange for a tax write-off? Well, the IRS, of course, and not entirely without reason.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Terrorism and Copyright Piracy The Same?

Star Wars producer Rick McCallum is quoted in the Australian IT News as saying that copyright protection needs to be "as concentrated an international event as the war on terrorism." Funny, but I thought threats to personal safety took a higher priority than those to copyright protected works. He also claimed that 50% of music industry revenue had been lost to illegal file sharing, and the same would happen to the movie industry if they didn't stop it. The latest comScore study shows a 25% loss in music revenue over last year, and far less in previous years.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 16, 2002
Sydney Summit A Success?

It seems that a broad agreement has been struck at the world trade talks in Sydney that ensures cheap generic copies of patent-protected drugs can reach poor countries. Mark Vaile, Australia's Minister for Trade who hosted the meeting, hailed it as an outstanding success.

But non-governmental health and aid groups like Oxfam International and Medecins Sans Frontieres immediately criticized the plan. They said the arrangement would make poor countries "unacceptably dependent on the political will" of rich nations.

Posted by Ting Shi at 06:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Internet Radio Gets Royalty Reprieve

Congress gave some relief to small Internet radio stations on Friday, approving legislation to suspend music royalty payments for a month until the stations can work out the details of a proposed discounted rate with musicians and record companies. The Associated Press has a summary story on the passage of the bill, and Reuters has more on the reaction of the smaller stations. But for really in-depth coverage, go to Kurt Hanson's Radio and Internet Newsletter

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Safe Haven for Kids

The House of Representatives unanimously approved the Dot-Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act (pdf), which its proponents say will help protect kids from porn and sexual predators. It now moves to the President's desk.

Posted by Ethan Eismann at 09:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
What's In A Stone?

For years, The Rolling Stones had bassist Bill Wyman. And for years, Rolling Stone the magazine has had journalist Bill Wyman. Now, according to The Beeb, Wyman the journo has received a cease-and-desist letter from the band's lawyer, warning him about "a seriously misleading and, arguably, an intentional, unauthorized exploitation of our client's name, goodwill and publicity value." The punch line is that Wyman the musician was born William George Perks and changed his name to Wyman in 1964. Wyman the journalist was born with the name in 1961. Is it telling that this is the second time in a week the Rolling Stones have been fingered at bIPlog over an arguably ham-fisted IP issue?

Posted by Scot Hacker at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Hunting Bounty for the Geekset

Not as much fun as Tia Carrere in a push up bra, or Star Wars Bounty Hunter but close. At least for the guys imagining themselves out hunting bounty. But it's real and anyone can do it. offers up bounties for hunting the winning information in a prior art documentation contest, to refute patent cases they and their clients believe are worth fighting. A $10,000 reward is offered for the first evidence that does so in the areas of biotech, computers and mechanical patents.

Apparently Federal Circuit judges are split on whether to expand or contract patent law. PanIP's suits, against little companies, for infringing on their E-Commerce patents for automating web sales, which may be a precursor to going after Amazon and eBay are a good example. The patents are for a computerized system of selecting goods and processing transactions, which sounds suspiciously like all eCommerce. Red Herring talks about far-reaching patents and the PTO process.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 15, 2002
The Music Industry: For Overnight Relief, try a High Powered Enema

On the pho list I came across this Financial Times piece. If you want a well-crafted piece on why the music business is broken, read this. I think the best takeaway (of many) is the author's assertion that the music industry is failing its customers due to it's monolithic and rather short sighted obsession with speed (quick hits) over development. Hence, the piece argues, they prevent the next Elvis, Grunge, or Stones from ever being developed. Lyor Cohen (chief of Island/Def Jam, the most profitable label in the largest record company in the world) points out in this piece: "This industry needs a high-powered enema."

Posted by John Battelle at 05:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Are Music Companies Really Getting the Message?

In the latest indication the music industry finally seems to responding to consumer demands for more personalized music, a couple of new deals have been announced to increase the number of individual songs that can be downloaded and burned onto a CD. The San Francisco Chronicle has a story about the new efforts.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 03:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Opposition to Music Industry Push for Campus Surveillance

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has written a letter critical of music industry efforts to get college campuses to monitor student use of file trading services.

The EPIC letter, sent to college and university presidents, warns that such monitoring is "incompatible with intellectual freedom" and would have a chilling effect on creativity. PC World also has a story on the letter.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
W3C Still Gets It

After a brief brush with insanity, the W3C came to its senses and decided that enshrining patented technologies in open standards is a bad idea. This by way of Slashdot.

This kind of near miss is an unsettling reminder of just how fragile the open architecture that made the net possible really is.

Posted by Daniel C. Silverstein at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
No Fly List Comes Online

Yesterday James Dempsy of the Center for Democracy and Technology talked at Boalt Hall, asking whether our government is gaining increased security by trading civil liberties post 9/11 with changes the Homeland Security Act (closer to being passed) makes to our system. He also asked whether the checks and balances are in place to monitor what security agencies do. One point he made is that there is no public oversight for the process of making lists of people the goverment is tracking.

Salon has a story about a "do not fly" list with 1,000 people prohibited from flying at all, and another group that gets searched every time. When people question the searches, here is the response: "The computer spit you out," ... the agent (said). "I don't know why, and I don't have time to talk to you about it." In addition, the Transportation Security Administration admits it has no guidelines for putting people on the list, or taking them off. NBC also has a story about John Thomas having problems flying because he shares the name of a man on the FBI's ten most wanted list. The man on the FBI list was arrested 9 months before, but the name still appears on the No Fly List.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Flow My News, Google Said

In his article "This MS Antitrust story was created by a computer program", Andrew Orlowski raises the age-old question, 'How do you know that what you are experiencing is really real?'

As the information infrastructure that supports the creation of new(s) ideas becomes increasingly smarter and more automated, are we moving nearer to the end of journalism?

Who owns an auto-generated news article anyway?

Posted by Ethan Eismann at 07:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
Web Browsing as Criminal Behavior?

A Swedish technology company, Intentia, filed a complaint against Reuters for hacking into their website and obtaining the company's financial report. The catch is that Reuters did not bypass any security measures. They simply typed in a URL and viewed the financial report from one of Intentia's publicly available web pages. Intentia argued that this web page was "private" because there was no explicit link to it. Reuters countered that anything accessible on a public website, whether or not it's linked to, is undoubtedly public. Why all the confusion? One computer science professor, Edward Felten, suggests that website owners clarify the difference between public and private information by protecting private information with a password.

Posted by Lisa Wang at 01:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 14, 2002
Your Personal IP, Soon To Be Govt. Property

I'm no huge fan of William Safire, so when I find myself nodding in agreement, I know something big is up. Read this piece on the impact of the Homeland Security Act. If left unamended, it gives extraordinary powers of electronic information gathering to our government, and in particular a new office headed by John Poindexter, the same fellow who brought us Iran/Contra. Essentially, the Hooverian fantasy of a "mega-database" tracking every citizen is funded in this bill. The only comfort: so far, the government has been famously inept in the IT integration department.

Posted by John Battelle at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 13, 2002
Filtering Google

Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School are studying filtering, done voluntarily by Google and others. So far they have a list of 113 censored sites that don't show up on searches, mostly in Germany and France. There is a lot of the expected facist stuff, but also The Chinese Consultation Network, filtered from GR and FR versions of Google. Zittrain and Edleman are taking submissions.

CNET, the Crimson and the NY Times have all mentioned the study. Here is the Chilling Effects list of cease and desist letters to Google.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

The US Copyright Office is going to start taking comments on November 19th on the new exceptions to the anti-circumvention clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Here's the DMCA Comment Submission Form.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
This Week in Sydney: TRIPS Revisited

Affordable access to life-saving medicines for poor countries will sit high on the global economic agenda for the next two days (Nov. 14-15) as trade ministers from 25 WTO member countries are having a high-level meeting in Sydney, Australia.

At the heart of the issue is how to relax the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) rules to allow developing countries without drug-making industries to get cheap generic imports from other countries. The U.S., headquarters for much of the world's pharmaceutical industry, has floated a proposal to do this, but it comes with strict criteria.

Posted by Ting Shi at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Eolas Suit with MS Might Kill IE

Mike Doyle of Eolas Technology Inc., which holds a patent on embedding plug-ins, applets, scriptlets, or ActiveX Controls into Web pages, is suing Microsoft, and says he won't settle. He wants MS to stop using the technology altogether. This comes from a Cringley column that quotes Doyle as saying that no one would make the investment in a serious web-OS with a browser as the interface if MS Internet Explorer (using plug-in support) is the competition. But he believes the whole market could open up if he is successful. If MS loses, it may kill their browser.

Here is some information on what must be proved by a patent holder to win a suit.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
November 12, 2002
OK, how about "Victor's *Dirty* Little Secret"?

"Secret's generic, it's descriptive. Victoria should be able to have a secret. Victor should be able to have a secret. George, Bob, Judy, Mary...."

So reasoned Victor Moseley from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Moseley is the owner of a mom & pop lingerie/sex shop in Elizabethtown, KY. NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports (doing her always-entertaining impersonations of playfully bantering justices) that the Court heard arguments today challenging the limits of the Federal Trademark Dilution Act of 1995.

Posted by Maggie Law at 10:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
I Love My TiVo, Now I Must Sue It

Late last week, SonicBlue and TiVo wisely decided to stop suing each other and focus their energies on building the PVR marketplace and fending off Hollywood's attempts to stop their products' most compelling features. If media and entertainment execs are any indication, PVRs are a hot item. Most of those I know personally have one, and they all agree that once you own one, you'll never go back.

Posted by John Battelle at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
DVD copying made easy

Robert Moore and his 321 Studios are offering DVD copying, according to CNN. Since 2001, his company has sold 100,000 copies of DVD Copy Plus, which allows people to copy DVDs onto CDs. But the latest, DVD X Copy, just released, unlocks the deCSS system. When Moore found out in March that his products might violate the DMCA, he preemptivly sued 9 major studios, so that he and his customers could retain the right to back up their DVD copies, which then cannot be reduped and have watermarking.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
November 11, 2002
Hollywood Ventures Online to Avoid Being Napsterized

Movielink, the Hollywood movie industry's answer to the file sharing networks that have undermined the music business, has officially launched, with 170 titles priced from $1.99 to $4.99. They include "A Beautiful Mind" and "Harry Potter," as well as many classic films, according to an Associated Press story.

But don't expect to be able to start a VCR-style film collection. Movies at the Web site can only be downloaded for viewing on a computer for 24 hours, after which they expire. It's another example of how digital technology can be used simultaneously to expand access to content while also restricting ownership rights.

Posted by Paul Grabowicz at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
DVD play back filtering

The Director's Guild of America has brought a countersuit against several companies that make DVD playback software because the DGA doesn't like the way they play their material (the original suit involved ClearPlay, Movie Mask and Family Shield companies suing 15 directors because they wouldn't allow their films to be used this way). ClearPlay, et. al. don't actually alter the DVD, just the play back so that parents can control their children's viewing of a movie. "They are taking films and using technology to alter them without permission from either their directors or their copyright holders," says DGA President Martha Coolidge. It's understandable that artists would not like new technologies that are able to automatically alter copyrighted artistic expression. And yet it's also clear that people want an easy way to filter their own viewing at times. But the ClearPlay creators are making filtering decisions in the architecture of the code, which might invisibly takes away the choice from the viewer.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Lo-Fi Piracy

Go to a concert... say, the Rolling Stones. Your friend couldn't get tickets, so you use your cell phone to call her from the show and let the tinny, distant music pour through the phone holes, spilling out of of the venue and into your friend's ear. Is that piracy? According to this post to a Rolling Stones mailing list, security guards are telling concert-goers to either cancel their calls or lose their phones for copyright violations.

Question: Would anyone really want a copy of a concert bootlegged via phone? I'd rather listen to pink noise.

Posted by Scot Hacker at 12:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Media Encryption Across the Atlantic

Both BMG and EMI are apparently planning not only on protecting all their music with encryption, they don't care if you can't play it on your player. BMG even developed a website to promote copy protection (at least its pretty). This doesn't seem like a very good way to do business, but when you have such a large share of the media market, I guess it doesn't matter. Just ask Microsoft.

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 12:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 08, 2002
Barbie Heads Ruled Transformation and Parody...

...and therefore, fair use. Mattel lost a trademark infringement case against Susanne Pitt ( -- now-defunct) who was taking Barbie heads, attaching them to a body dressed, as she described, in "'Lederhosen-style' Bavarian bondage dress and a helmet in rubber with a PVC-mask and a waspie," and putting them into a sexually explicit setting on the website. The dolls were then offered for sale. The judge ruled that the design transformed rather than supplanted the original work and accepted Pitt's letter in self-defense which stated the dolls were a parody. To the court's knowledge there was no line of S&M Barbie, so there was no similary to an existing product.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 07, 2002
When is Something Plagiarism?

Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar wrote "Max and the Cats" (1981) about a Jewish youth who survives a shipwreck and shares his life boat with a panther. Yann Martel just won the Man Booker Prize for his novel, "Life of Pi," about an Indian youth who survives a shipwreck and shares his lifeboat with a tiger. Martel does say in his book that he was inspired by the earlier work by Scliar, and in the article says that he read a review of Sclair's novel but there is some mystery around his memory of it. Scliar responds in a NY Times article that "an idea is intellectual property" saying he wasn't consulted before the Pi book was published.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 06, 2002
What will be the next DVD format?

When China's export of DVD players to the U.S. and Europe markets totaled more than 10 million in 2001, a group of different DVD (Digital Video Disc) technology holders fumed, collectively starting a battle to force Chinese manufacturers to pay royalties. As they argued, Chinese manufacturers have been ducking the fee of proprietary technologies and therefore would be able to drive a DVD player's price to as low as $70 at retail. Though the consumers benefit from cheap goods, multinationals like Sony, Philips and AOL Time Warner (who hold patents on DVD format), and laboratories like Dolby Laboratory and MPEG-LA (who hold patents on Dolby Digital Audio and MPEG-2 Video) claim to be the victims.

Posted by Feiwen Rong at 07:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
November 05, 2002
Pooh Copyright Ownership Up in the Air

Disney is fighting Stephen Slesinger Inc. over rights to Winnie the Pooh, using the 1998 copyright law (Sonny Bono strikes again!) that allows heirs of copyrighted works to reclaim the rights within two years of giving notice to existing owners. This is the latest turn in the battle between Disney and Slesinger over rights to Pooh. Slesinger, which bought the rights from the estate of Pooh creator A.A. Milne in 1929 and then licensed them to Disney in 1961, claims Disney didn’t pay all the royalties owed on the characters.

Now Disney says the heirs to the Milne and Shepard (Pooh's Illustrator) estates came to it wanting to make a deal to get the character rights back and reassign them in full to Disney. Slesinger thinks this use of the copyright law is just a way to get around the issues at hand: that Disney owes Slesinger money and doesn't want to end the Pooh gravy train.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
November 04, 2002
If you can't beat 'em....

Media, music and software companies large and small are beginning to see peer-to-peer technologies like KaZaA as more than just a nuisance. As the NY Times reports, Altnet (profit from peers!) has begun helping these companies target specific audiences by placing movie trailers, sample songs and trial games at the top of search results in services like KaZaA. Promoted products include Microsoft's Windows Media Player and AtomShockwave's PhotoJam software, as well as small local bands seeing this as a way of getting their music heard.

Posted by Stephanie Hornung at 11:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
Harry Potter Wins an Easy Battle Against Chinese Pirates

The Times of London reported that J.K.Rowling won an easy copyright case against a Chinese publishing house that churned out several fake Harry Potter books (with the goofy names of Harry Potter and Leopard Walk up to Dragon, Harry Potter and the Golden Turtle, and Harry Potter and the Crystal Vase). The Chengdu-based publishing house didn't put up with any fight at all, I guess because they felt the fate was already sealed...

Posted by Ting Shi at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Survey says:

Online Music Sales Tumble. But the question is how did comScore do the survey and how much does it reflect the recession verses a reduction of sales due to free downloading music. Detailed study methods were not published online, just the general comScore model (see below for their statement). If the study is correct, then P2P file sharing may be having an adverse effect on music sales and this may be taken into account by judges in pending cases and by lawmakers pressured by the RIAA, etc. However, could this be a reflection of consumers' desire to pay for a reasonably priced song, easily, simply, using an alterative business model not yet in place by the music industry, instead of the old CD model?

Check out the survey itself to find out about what comScore reports (summarized below).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)