Monday, August 30, 2004

RNC pics, round two

So I decided to go to the anti-Bush march in New York and take pictures. I ended up staying through to the end because I was having a good time, the weather was nice, and it was so peaceful. The march on Sunday went as planned and was almost 100% peaceful. There were only about 250 arrests, which isn't bad considering the amount of people was likely over 250,000. Here is a gallery of my pics from the march.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Convention pics, round one.

Although it has nothing to do with IP or cyberlaw, I have decided to post whatever pics of NYC I happen to grab this week during the RNC. As you probably know the protests have already begun, with arrests being made of an AIDS awareness group on Thursday and of bicyclist/environmentalist protestors on Friday. There was also the crew that scaled a building to put up this sign and all these rooftop banners for conventioners flying in over the city.

Today there was a pro-life march and the usual commotion in Union Square. Here are links to my pics from today, I just happened upon these two events while out shopping ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conventioners arriving at hotel with army of police as escort.
Pro-choice march one, check out the "free speech zones."
Pro-choice march two, there was a congressman from Brooklyn/Queens speaking to the crowd. They claimed there was 20,000 marchers.
Pro-choice march three, from afar.
About a quarter-mile of cops and scooters in case the pro-choicers get out of control, there were also many in full riot gear.
Here are two shots of one of a pro-choice demonstrator (who I'd bet was also at the bicycle rally yesterday).
On to Union Square, on the right are "Zionists for peace" and to the left are anti-Bush protesters.
The protests in Union square have been ongoing daily for about two years, no kidding. These over-the-top guys have been out there the whole time, they just like to get people to argue with them I think.
This is a new Republican group I've seen in Union Square called "Communists for Kerry," similar to the "Billionaires for Bush" op-art street performance crew that's been in the news. They've got Lenin, Stalin, Che G., and others. Commies for Kerry is a Republican 527, but it's actually hard to tell, unlike with the Billionaires for Bush, who are more humorous and an obvious parody.
The cops and a blimp showed up to join the fun at Union Square too.


I suppose I'll go out to take pics of the massive protest tomorrow. It could get ugly though and I'm not up for that. Also, it's been really hot out, combine that with a quarter-million smelly protesters and I don't know how long I'll last.

Friday, August 27, 2004

VeriSign Site Finder lawsuit against ICANN dismissed, plus Euro DRM news

Two big cyberlaw stories today via Slashdot:

Things are poppin' over in Europe concerning DRM (digital rights management, the locks on music that keep you from playing it or copying it). Apparently French anti-fraud authorities are looking into certain DRM practices (including those by EMI) that render CDs unplayable on some systems. Articles here and here. Also, EC authorities are studying a proposed merger of Microsoft with a DRM company because they think it may allow Microsoft to dominate the DRM market in all of Europe. Slashdot post here.

Other very big news is that Internet domain name registry VeriSign's lawsuit against ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) concerning the Site Finder situation has been dismissed. Slashdot post here.

Does Paris' new logo trump Trump's new trademark?

The Smoking Gun has the goods on two new and riduculous trademark applications: Trump University (he'll teach you how to lose a billion, then make it back) and Paris Hilton's new princess logo.

I'm enjoying this trend of people combing through the PTO files to find out about bizarre trademark and patent applications, especially when they reveal things about company business plans and such. Anway, these are two good finds.

Thanks to Kevin of Tech Law Advisor for pointing these out.

Spike Lee wins cybersquatting case

Spike Lee won a cybersquatting case over the website (not work safe). The site had been registered by Mercedita Kyamko of the Philippines who registered the domain name in 1999. The site was being used to forward an Internet broswer to an asian porn site (it still does actually, but that will not last too long).

CNN article here.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Respect copyrights, goofy or effective?

Is this just funny, or will it work at all?

Check out the MPAA's new Respect Copyrights dot org. "You can click, but you can't hide." Pretty goofy. I'm not at all anti-copyright, but I think that this educational campaign may be a bit too lame to do much good.

Apparently an ad for Respect Copyrights is running before some films (although I have yet to see it). As could be expected an online anti-Respect Copyrights movement has begun already. See these great BoingBoing spots for more on that - one, two, three. See a parodic remix poster here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Induce Act blog plug

I want to remind readers that the Induce Act blog is still the place for one stop shopping for Induce Act info and links.

I do all my IICA related postings there, as does Andrew Raff of IPTA Blog and Kevin Heller of Tech Law Advisor fame. Not a bad lot to be associated with!

Go, check it out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Spammers arrested, big deal.

So the big news is that a bunch of spammers have been rounded up for prosecution. This is a result of the CAN-SPAM Act. While this sounds terrific it is virtually meaningless. Why? Because spam, viruses, copyright crime, hacking, identity theft, and all the other digital difficulties that we believe must be fixed via US law are going overseas (just like other high tech jobs).

As punishments are meted out in the US for such things as spamming, foreign computer geeks look on with joy and wait their turn to make all that money. We could have the death penalty for spamming and it will still never stop it because the spam will just come from elsewhere. There will always be countries out there that are willing to protect digital baddies and act as data havens if there is money to be made, and there is. Lots of it.

NYT article here.

More on CAN-SPAM.

More former posts re spam -
first CAN-SPAM suit filed;
educate yourself about spam and viruses;
if you get spam blame yourself and go get educated on how to avoid it.

Congrats to JibJab!

The JibJab case is officially over via settlement, with full-on victory for the Jib Jab crew. As it turns out Ludlow, the company that threatened to sue JibJab over the use of the Woody Guthrie song "This Land is Our Land," no longer owned the copyright in the song anyway. The copyright expired in 1973, duh!

Well, that's what happens when you indiscriminately send out cease and desist letters. There go a bunch of royalties Ludlow has been collecting for years. You really would think that the supposed copyright "owner" would be the one tracking this sort of information, instead they'd rather let a defendant pay to do their work for them after attempting to chill their speech. Actually sending C&Ds indiscriminately probably works just fine since in 99 out of 100 cases like the JibJab one the defendant just gives up immediately because they can't afford to fight.

Well, chalk one up for the EFF and the public domain. As for Ludlow...get with the program guys.

Here's the EFF press release. Here is a WIRED story on the settlement.

Via The Importance of... & Seth Finkelstein

Some of my former JibJab related posts:
JibJab video: parody or satire? [original post stating that the video is satire, linked to on Slashdot, etc.]
JibJab video: am I to be labeled a flip-flopper? [follow-up post in which, due largely to new information, I entertain the idea that the JibJab video may actually be parody ]

Monday, August 23, 2004

It's a sad story for the defendants

Here is a sad article about how the series of RIAA lawsuits against uploaders is affecting real people. I don't have much of a problem with the lawsuits, except that I am sure there must be a better solution that wouldn't have destroyed the RIAA's public image (and the Induce Act isn't it).

Plank, recently married, refinanced his home for the money. "Apparently, they would be able to [garnish] my earnings for the rest of my life," Plank said. "For the amount I'm settling, this made sense. I didn't see any other way. They've got all the power in the world."

The campaign has also produced worries, even from one federal judge, that wealthy record companies could trample some of the 3,935 people across the country who have been sued since the first such cases were filed in September 2003. "I've never had a situation like this before, where there are powerful plaintiffs and powerful lawyers on one side and then a whole slew of ordinary folks on the other side," said U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner at a hearing in Boston. Dozens of such lawsuits have been filed in her court.
James McDonough of Hingham, Mass., said being sued was "very vexing, very frustrating and quite frankly very intimidating." He told Gertner, the Boston judge, that his 14-year-old twins might be responsible for the "heinous crime" of downloading music "in the privacy in our family room with their friends."
At least 807 Internet users have already settled their cases by paying roughly $3,000 each in fines and promising to delete their illegal song collections, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the largest labels.
In Milwaukee, Suheidy Roman, 25, said she couldn't afford a lawyer when her ex-boyfriend, Gary Kilps, told record companies that both of them had downloaded music on Roman's computer. Although she denies the accusation, Roman ignored legal papers sent to her home. A U.S. judge earlier this year granted a default judgment against her and Kilps, ordering each to pay more than $4,500.
I don't have any money for an attorney, let alone for any judgment against me." She said she is unemployed with two small children.
"It scares me," Plank said. "For anyone fighting any of these lawsuits - unless they have nothing to lose - the only thing to do is settle. You have no power against these people."

Ouch, that is scary, especially if you really can't afford to pay for the music in the first place. Article here.

UPDATE: Stephen Nipper of Invent Blog fame notes in an email to me that although more people can relate to these people who have been sued because of music downloads, the situation is at least as bad for those sued for hacking their DirecTV cards by purchasing a widely available "unlooper." Here are a couple of pages about the DirecTV situation: and Thanks Stephen!!!

Another intellectual property LL.M. program

Peter Yu, a Cardozo graduate and IP professor has gone on to Michigan State University where, according to this press release, he has stated up a new IP LL.M. program.

The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City is considered to be among the top 5 schools in the country for intellectual property law. Cardozo also offers an LL.M. in IP and also has the widely respected and oldest student edited entertainment law journal around. If Cardozo does anything right, it's IP.

By the way, Cardozo is number 7 in alternative dispute resolution (negotiation) as well. It looks as though Cardozo will jump into a first tier position among all law schools within a year or two, they are currently ranked 55th, but with recent campus renovations, etc. they'll probably jump into the top 40. That's pretty good for a school that's only 25 years old! Here's an article about Cardozo in the rankings. (Yeah, yeah, "rankings aren't a good way to tell anything about a law school," whatever.)

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Students go to Mexico to copy textbooks plus textbook cost rant

Texas college students are buying textbooks, copying them in Mexico, then returning them.

South Texas college students looking to save money are heading to Mexico to copy their textbooks before returning them for a refund. Jules Frapart, general manager of the Book Bee in Brownsville, said students commonly buy books from him, copy them in Matamoros, Mexico, and return them.

Apparently an entire 300 page textbook can be copied and bound in Mexico for only $13.00. That's much cheaper than the $100 that students are charged for the texts . Houston Chronicle article here.

Being in law school, I have paid out at least $400 per semester for books (often more). What really pisses me off is that the publishers constantly put out these "new editions" in order to keep students from buying used texts. Typically the new editions are very slightly modified from the former edition, a simple additional pamphlet would do. Students do not know what the difference is so they just buy the new version. This forces students to pay out more, and keeps other students from getting a little bit of their money back on old books.

Just because - see 6th edition Contracts here, 10th edition Torts here, and 9th edition Evidence here. They are all nearly $100 and professors typically require supplemental books as well. Not only that but a horn book, commercial outline or other study aides for a final exam can easily run another $30. I have certainly paid out over $200 for certain classes just on books and study materials.

Here is a former post about how book publishers would like to remove people's right to sell used books at all (first sale doctrine). Publishers claim that used book stores are the "Napster of books."

UPDATE: Here's another post about students pirating textbooks online.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Citywide wireless in NYC soon!

You'd think that NYC would have one of the best cell networks in the country. But walking in NYC can sometimes be like walking at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, signals get blocked. There are dead spots all over the city. But...

New York City is on the verge of going fully wireless, according to a deal being finalised this month between authorities and a group of six technology companies.

In exchange for being able to mount up to 18,000 new lamp post-based antennas, to strengthen coverage around the five boroughs, the companies will pay the city government around $25m each year.

Somehow the BBC also found two of the three people in the city who are more concerned about the radiation from the antennas than better reception. Freakin' hippies. Personally, I'm more concerned with how much it is going to cost me to have WiFi access anywhere in the city, Bryant Park style.

There is already one patch of midtown Manhattan that provides an ideal glimpse of what a more wireless-friendly New York will be like. Bryant Park has been providing a free service to any laptop user who wants access for many months now. People come from all over the city to log-on and work in the sunshine, and naturally, everyone I spoke to welcomed the idea of extending this kind of coverage.

We certainly do welcome it. Cell phone and WiFi users alike (which is pretty much all of us) will soon have reason to rejoice!

BBC article here.

JibJab, are we finally done with you?

Ernest at The Importance of and Mary Hodder of Napsterization believe that the JibJab copyright controversy over the use of the song "This Land is our Land" has been settled in favor of JibJab. The EFF, JibJab's representation, will neither confirm nor deny the rumor. Congrats to the JibJab guys for sticking it out (if it's all true that is).

My former JibJab related posts:
JibJab video: parody or satire? [original post stating that the video is satire, linked to on Slashdot, etc.]
JibJab video: am I to be labeled a flip-flopper? [follow-up post in which, due largely to new information, I entertain the idea that the JibJab video may actually be parody ]

Friday, August 20, 2004

Grokster case with full-on HTML action

Tech Law Advisor has the METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER v. GROKSTER case with linky goodness. Thanks Kevin!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The EFF has won the Grokster case!!!

Hollywood had sued Grokster claiming that they were liable for infringement because they did not set up their software to make it easier to keep people from using it to infringe copyrights. The Grokster ruling just reinforces and restates the courts adherence to the old Betamax doctrine - that a company is not liable if consumers use their devices to infringe if the device also has substantial noninfringing uses.

The media groups that sued Grokster hoped to weaken the Betamax doctrine by seeking a ruling that P2P nets should be forced to design their nets so that they can be easily policed (policing software is a bad idea).

Here is the judge's opinion, here is the EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann's oral appellate argument.

Boing Boing is very excited about the opinion and has typed up a few important paragraphs, so go there for the abridged version.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ambush marketing of the Olympics

As could be expected, companies that did not monetarily support the Olympic Games are nonetheless using the imagery and goodwill of the games to market their products. This is known as "ambush marketing" and is meant to associate the goods of the advertiser with the Games (or whatever else) even though the advertiser is not actually a donor.

The Canadian Olympic Committee is accusing advertisers of running "ambush" marketing campaigns during the CBC's Olympic broadcast and is considering legal action.
Several advertisers, including the TSX, have agreed to modify their ads to assuage the COC. Like many other ads not authorized by the COC, the TSX spot uses athletic themes to refer indirectly to the Games, but stops short of using
the Olympic trademark or the Olympic rings.
Article here.

Past post on ambush marketing during the "Friend's" finale and the Superbowl, etc.

Gaming on the the big screen

Using movie theaters for Halo tournaments, sweeeeeet.

(That's a ridiculously fun first person shooter video game, if you don't know.)

Via Engadget.

Free Apple iPod or the better Dell DJ?

There's been plenty of chatter about the free scheme, in particulr this article in WIRED. My understanding is that they do in fact give you a free iPod...if you can go out and get a bunch of your friends to sign up for new credit cards and such (and don't mind giving them your personal info). If you want an iPod and can't afford the ridiculous price check it out, even Kevin over at Tech Law Advisor is getting in on the action. Here's Gizmodo's link to a referer site that can help you beat the free system.

My advice: if you're making a choice between the two and paying, go with the Dell DJ. They're better and cheaper - longer battery life, $100 bucks less, and with the addition of DudeBox ($25) a massively superior drag and drop Windows Explorer style computer interface.

More on my Dell DJ vs. Apple iPod thoughts can be found here. For the record, I had an iPod (which I hated) and recently got a DJ (which I really like so far), a full review of the DJ is in the works.

Internet vs. internet

WIRED unilaterally decides to downgrade the word "Internet" to the word "internet" from now on. I must admit I always though it strange that "Internet" should be capitalized, but now I'm used to it...make up your minds media people!

Vacation over...

I had a nice trip to Florida, luckily leaving right before the big hurricane. I took an extra week off from the Internet after I returned due to a bit o' the old blogger burnout. But hey, how can you stay away for long? Anyway, it looks like the news has been fairly light so I don't think I missed too much.

Here's a fun bit about one of my favorite recording artists, Bjork. She's got a new album coming out at the end of the month, titled Medulla. The New York Times Magazine has some samples of the new songs as well as a little Bjork fashion spread, which can be viewed from here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The unreleased game Doom 3 leaked onto P2P nets

Doom 3 was released today for PC and Xbox. It has been highly anticipated and is certainly going to be one of the biggest games of the year. The hype has been incredible and the creator of the game, id Software, has been claiming that typical computers of the moment can hardly even be used to play the game at it's highest graphical settings (i.e. the graphics are eye-popping). Kids everywhere are running out to get more RAM and a new video card just so they can play this one.

The original Doom (and Wolfenstein 3D) essentially invented the first person shooter (FPS) game genre, one of the most popular types of games today. About Doom 3 the BBC says:
"From the cinema quality visuals and the incredible 5.1 sound, to the terrifying atmosphere and hyper-realistic environments, the whole game screams 'interactive horror film'."
I've seen screenshots and it does look fantastic. Unfortunately for id Software the game has somehow already been leaked and is available for download online. This weekend people downloaded the game at a ferocious rate, likely cutting into sales of the game:

Copies of the game on file-sharing networks and newsgroups are being downloaded by thousands of people. The cost to the game's makers, id Software, could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost sales. The sci-fi horror title has been four years in the making...
Developing a game like it can cost game developers like id Software in the region of $15m (£8.3m) to $20m (£11.1m). Its release is the gaming equivalent of the third film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the US, the game is expected to retail for $54.99 and is expected to sell in the millions.
At one point on Sunday, more than 50,000 copies of the game, which weighs in at more than 1.5 gigabytes, were being downloaded. Translated in lost sales, this amounts to $2.7m (£1.5m), if all these people instead bought the game.
"Whereas in the case of Doom 3, it almost certainly won't prevent the game being a massive seller, it will still cost both the publishers and developers of the game millions of dollars in lost revenue, an outcome that can only serve to harm future game development on the PC," [Matt Pierce, publisher of the computer games magazine, PC Gamer] told BBC News Online.

The publisher of Doom 3 is Activision. This is a real shame for id Software and everyone involved in bringing Doom 3 to the market. Hopefully they'll nail whoever leaked the code.

It's also stuff like this that arms proponents of the INDUCE Act (IICA) to the teeth with anecdotes about how content producers are the victims of technology. Thanks leaker, I hope you get something worthwhile out the deal (like a huge fine and a criminal record).

Monday, August 02, 2004

Canadian copyright cops crack down on dentists

Watch out Dentists, here come the copyright cops! The music industry in Canada is cracking down on professionals in Canada who play music in their offices. In the US the copyright law is also such that playing music in an office may be a "public performance" that the business should have to pay for.

Similar copyright laws exist in the United States. Some dentists, doctors and law offices choose to use background music services like Muzak or DMX Music, which take care of the licensing drudgery via subscription fees. Those who opt to play their own iPods, CDs, records or tapes are required to pay the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; Broadcast Music Inc., or BMI; and SESAC, a performing-rights organization. These organizations represent songwriters, composers and publishers. Because these groups represent different copyright owners, professionals who play their own music in their offices must pay fees to some or all of the organizations.

Music played through headsets worn by patients may be considered public performance, too, since multiple patients use the headsets throughout the day, according to Jerry Bailey, a spokesman for BMI. If the office is particularly small, they may be exempt from paying fees for radio.

Not too cool.

JibJab has sued for declaratory judgment

Yes, I realize that at this point I am just part of the echo chamber when I note that JibJab has sued for a declaratory judgment that they are allowed to present their parody/satire. Hopefully the EFF will prove my original theory that the JibJab presentation is a satire wrong.

"University of Georgia" trademark dispute, is there anything to it?

There's been chat recently concerning whether or not the University of Georgia (the Bulldogs) may lose their trademark in their name. There have been long running difficulties between UGA's board of regents and UGA's main fundraising group (the University of Georgia Foundation, UGF) that originally began over UGA president Michael Adams' decision not to renew the contract of popular athletic director and former head football coach Vince Dooley.

Apparently UGA officials neglected to renew the trademark to the name "University of Georgia" in 1997, and the trademark was applied for by the University of Georgia Foundation (UGF), who now claims rights to use of the name on all sports paraphernalia and educational services.

Recently, the UGA has attempted to completely sever ties with the UGF. Newspapers have reported that this trademark issue has created a snag in the attempt to drop UGF, now that the UGF may have rights to use the UGA trademark. Perhaps the negotiation between the parties just got a little more interesting and heated.

Some basic trademark law is that trademarks are obtained by use, not by registration, so there is basically no chance that UGA could be denied the right to use the name they have been using for over 200 years. Letting a registration lapse does not constitute abandonment of the trademark.

The U. of Miami law prof. Michael Froomkin, of and ICANN Watch fame, has commented on the topic (in an email that's been posted online?). He doesn't think there is much to the whole trademark controversy. He points out that state universities operate under the state's sovereign immunity and can infringe on intellectual property in general without worrying so much as a private enterprise about the consequences. Froomkin points out that the UGF's actions could result in a situation in which the UGA can't keep the UGF from using the UGA mark, therefore they would both get to use it.

Perhaps this trademark issue will actually push the battling groups back together. The fact is if the University of Georgia changed it's name the UGA mark would be worthless to everyone involved anyway, therefore neither party would have much to gain by pushing the issue, even if there is any meat to it, which there does not appear to be.

Articles here and here. Froomkin discussion here. More on the history of the University of GA here. Thanks to The Good Doctor for pointing this out.

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