Copycense Clippings 1.06
Despite the lack of sunshine, wind chill, and wintry mix, we keep it moving. Along with the return of guest editor Kim Hagedorn, this week’s Copycense Clippings returns with a technical and business analysis of Apple’s DRM scheme; J.K. Rowling putting a spell on eBay; a Texas company becoming this year’s NTP; and the danger of legislation that is introduced with cute acronyms as titles.
Article of the Week
RoughlyDrafted.com How FairPlay Works: Apple’s iTunes DRM Dilemma. Feb. 26, 2007. A lot has been said about Apple’s FairPlay copy protection software, but to our knowledge, this is one of the first articles that explains what the software does, how it does it, and the software’s broader implications on DRM and copy-protected digital content. Categories: Computers & Technology; DRM & Copy Protection; Music.
Quote of the Week
“When a politician introduces legislation with a cutesy acronym for a title, it’s always a good idea to double-check its contents.” ArsTechnica. FAIR USE Act Analysis: DMCA Reform Left on the Cutting Room Floor. Feb. 28, 2007.
To the best of our recollection, this (rather ridiculous) acronym trend began in 2001 with the hasty passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, which has been the source of much controversy. Ever since then, American lawmakers have been quick to sharpen their Scrabble skills in an attempt to curry initial positive press for newly introduced bills (We wonder how much time Congressional aides spend on crafting these pithy, acronym-friendly titles.)
As Ars points out, however, the more savvy the acronymed title, the closer one most scrutinize the bill for possible problem passages. We’ve not had a chance to study the FAIR USE Act (H.R.1201) (.pdf) but we note for the record that the legislation was introduced by a bipartisan team of Congressmen (Virginia Democratic Rick Boucher and California Republican John Doolittle), and that the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SLA, the American Library Association supports the legislation, while the RIAA opposes it. Seems like the lines are drawn as they always have been.
What is interesting about the Ars piece, however, is its criticism of the bill for focusing too much on overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in MGM v. Grokster (which held that the manufacturers that provide “file sharing” software can be held liable for others’ copyright infringement that is conducted while using that software) than overturning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Categories: DMCA; DRM; Legislation, Law and Regulation.
A Digital Annotated Concept Map of the Fundamentals of U.S. Copyright Law. Southwestern Law School professor Lionel S. Sobel has created an interesting, interactive way to quickly go through the various aspects of copyright law. Categories: Research.
- IPKat. Another Setback for Amazon 1-Click. Feb. 28, 2007. Amazon.com is continuing to patent its 1-Click e-commerce method after the European Patent Office refused their request due to the lack of solutions to technical problems. Amazon.com is expected to appeal the decision. Amazon.com holds U.S. Patent No. 5,960,411 for the 1-Click method, causing widespread furor about patent law’s inapplicability to computer software. Last spring, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office announced it would re-examine the 1-Click patent after a New Zealand inventor claimed the technology was based on a prior patent. Categories: Computers & Technology; International; Patent; Web & Online.
- Technology & Marketing Law Blog. Lycos Not Liable for Objectionable Message Board Posting – Universal Communication Systems v. Lycos. Feb. 28, 2007. A Florida court ruled (.pdf) in favor of defendant Lycos based upon a provision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that gives safe harbor to Web publishers in the event others post libelous or defamatory remarks. Plaintiff Universal Communication Systems brought action against Lycos stating that Lycos was encouraging users to engage in illegal behaviors and trademark infringement. Categories: Cases & Litigation; Trademark; Web & Online.
- Ellen Nakashima and Alec Klein. New Profiling Program Raises Privacy Concerns. WashingtonPost.com. Feb. 28, 2007. Again, beware the cutesy legislative titles. The Department of Homeland Security is testing a new data-mining program to locate terrorist activity. The Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE) program sifts through information about average Amercians looking at such things as hotel and flight reservations. ADVISE uses mathmatical algorithms to discover hidden relationships. Lawmakers (and, probably, citizens) are concerned that citizens’ privacy will be violated. We’re more concerned that little has been known about the program until now. Categories: Databases; Politics & Government; Privacy & Security.
- Technology & Marketing Law Blog. Search Engines Defeat “Must-Carry” Lawsuit–Langdon v. Google. Feb. 26, 2007. Courtesy of Silicon Valley Watcher, this Delaware decision (.pdf) analogizes search engines to newspapers, opining search engines have a First Amendment right to reject ads. Categories: Broadcasting & Journalism; Cases & Litigation; Web & Online.
- Boing Boing. USB Device Lets You Spy On Other’s PC Activity. Feb. 26, 2007. Snoopstick from CYBERsitter, a USB device, downloads hidden software when inserted into a Windows machine. The software allows the owner of the USB device to monitor the activities of the other machine from anywhere. Very disturbing! What has happened to trust and privacy? Categories: Computers & Technology; Privacy & Security; Tech & Devices.
- Jack Malvern. Potter Author Sues eBay Over Pirate Book. TimesOnline.co.uk. Feb. 26, 2007. J.K. Rowlings throws pixie dust on the India outlet of eBay, which was enjoined from selling illegal copies of her work. This poses a problem for eBay because if they successfully remove illegal copies of Harry Potter books, other authors and publishers could demand the same treatment. But if eBay’s removal efforts are unsuccessful, the company could be held in contempt of court. Category: Books; Infringement; Web & Online.
- Marguerite Reardon. Skype Petitions FCC for Open Cellular Access. News.com. Feb. 22, 2007. The cellular lobby likely will use every ounce of power to ensure that Skype and other VoIP providers never will be able to access their networks. Categories: Law, Legislation & Regulation; Tech & Devices; Web & Online.
- Louise Story. Google in Content Deal With Media Companies. The New York Times. Feb. 26, 2007. It must kill Big Content that they feel compelled to do business with Google, instead of just suing away the competitive and technological challenges the company poses. Categories: Broadcasting & Journalism; Film; Multimedia; Music; Web & Online.
- Martyn Williams. Apple, Samsung, Sandisk Sued Over MP3. InfoWorld. Feb. 26, 2007. That was the sound of the other shoe dropping after Texas MP3 Technologies won a $1.3 billion judgment last week over Microsoft. We wonder if the defendant companies will go the same pansy route that Blackberry-maker RIM took in its patent infringement battle with NTP. (RIM whined to Congress to intervene.) Surely, the amount of iPods on Capitol Hill rivals the number of Blackberry devices. Categories: Cases & Litigation; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Patents.
- ZDNet Education. Copyright Infringement By Your Students Is Your Problem. Feb. 26, 2007. Before we read this article, we assumed it was another press release disguised as a “news story,” and planted by the RIAA, Association of American Publishers, or similar Big Content outfit. It seems not to be. Instead, the author identifies himself as an IT official at Indiana University. We would agree with the article’s central premise: higher education seems to dole out few and light penalties when it comes to allegedly illegal file sharing. We also agree that framing the activity as a potential security threat is a better way to present this issue to students than presenting the activity as an ethical or legal problem. Categories: Cases & Litigation; Education; File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Privacy & Security.
- Greg Sandoval. BitTorrent to Open Digital Media Store. News.com. Feb. 23, 2007. We find it odd how most news outlets (including News.com) have framed this story. The angle they have reported is BitTorrent’s evolution from rogue outfit to upstanding citizen, almost like watching Michael Corleone move the family from strong-arm protection rackets in the Bowery to receiving a medal of the Order of St. Sebastian. We see it differently. How about framing this story as Big Content having wasted so much of their (and other people’s) time and money on lawsuits, only to end up where they could have — and should have — years ago: using peer-to-peer technologies as a distribution network for their own content? Categories: File Sharing, P2P & Downloads; Multimedia.
- Michael Geist. U.S. Copyright Lobby Out-of-Touch. BBC News. Feb. 20, 2007. Razor sharp Michael Geist discusses the International Intellectual Property Association’s annual intellectual property report and how it forms the basis of the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 report to Congress. Categories: International; Law, Legislation & Regulation; Politics & Government.
- Graeme Wearden. U.K. Government Rejects Calls for DRM Ban. News.com. Feb. 20, 2007. We used to think that public outrage would cause policy change. Perhaps this is no longer the case, or maybe this outrage wasn’t vociferous enough. In any event, we continue to be sure that until governments use data from sources other than global copyright holder groups, the core debate about intellectual property will not change much. Categories: DRM & Copy Protection; International; Law, Legislation & Regulation; Politics & Government.
- Security Fix. Microsoft to Tighten Anti-Piracy Noose in Vista. Feb. 20, 2007. The WashingtonPost.com‘s Brian Krebs explains the economics behind Microsoft’s hard line anti-copying stance concerning the new Vista operating system. Categories: Business & Commerce; Computers & Technology; DRM & Copy Protection.
- Edvard Pettersson. Disney Loses Court Ruling Over Winnie the Pooh Rights. Bloomberg.com. Feb. 16, 2007. A very juicy story about a procedural ruling that allows the owners of the Winnie the Pooh character to sue Disney; the plaintiffs reportedly are seeking up to $2 billion in damages. Categories: Cases & Litigation; Images, Art & Photos; Licensing & Permissions.
- James Inverne. Masterpieces Or Fakes? The Joyce Hatto Scandal. Gramophone. Feb. 15, 2007. William Barrington-Coupe, the husband of the late Joyce Hatto, has conceded to releasing other’s music under his wife’s name. His plagarism was discovered when an iTunes user went to download one of Hatto’s CDs and the pianist was listed as someone completely different.(Hatto died last year of cancer.) Other such examples have emerged. It appears that digital manipulation was used in an attempt to conceal the origins of one of the tracks. Categories: DRM & Copy Protection; Infringement; Music.
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