Monday, March 28, 2005

The NYT wieghs in on the Grokster case

There is a nicely measured op-ed in the NY Times today concerning the Grokster case, which will be heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow. With all the copyleft frenzy going on everywhere on the internet it is actually refreshing to read a middle-of-the-road piece. Of course, they don't really come to any conclusion about the case either, so maybe that's where such thoughts take you in thinking about highly contested cases. Despite all the online ranting, I don't really know if I'd say IP is "under assualt" as an concept or anything, not in any meaningful sense anyway - but the article does remind us that most of the copyleft IP proponents and bloggers are certainly considered radical to the extent that thier opinions on the matter are more or less disregarded by anyone with any true influence over IP law in the US. They get a mention but that's it. Who knows, maybe they really will change the perceptions of the general public on IP issues, but that doesn't mean they'll get very far in the courts or in Congress. We'll see.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: When David Steals Goliath's Music: "Grokster's supporters are justified in worrying that if the courts are too quick to rein in new technology, innovation can be stifled. They are also right to point out that copyright has sometimes been given too much protection, notably in the Copyright Term Extension Act, which gratuitously added 20 years to existing copyrights. But these concerns do not erase the continuing importance of intellectual property, which is unquestionably under assault.
Both the court and Congress should be sensitive to evolving technologies. But they should not let technology evolve in a way that deprives people who create of the ability to be paid for their work."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Yahoo! Creative Commons Search


Yahoo! Creative Commons Search

Saturday, March 19, 2005

CopyNight meetup

This is interesting - a meetup for copyright mavins. So far there are meetups planned for San Fran, DC, and New York for March 29th (the day of the Grokster arguments before the US Sup Ct).

Check it out - CopyNight

UPDATE: Myself, Kevin Heller, and Tim Marman will be there.

UPDATE2: Andrew Raff will be there.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Nintendo DS & World of Warcraft setting records

More videogame industry news -

World of Warcraft reaches 1.5 million subs - Joystiq -

The Nintendo DS is selling like crazy in Europe - 87,000 in the UK in the two days after launch.

Britain's McLibel case finally over, going since 1985

I missed this a month ago, but it seems that Brintain's McLibel case has mostly come to a close when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that they had not recieved a fair trial in Britain after McDonald's succesfully sued the two defendants (a postman and barmaid) for libel for passing out anti-McDonald's fliers. Britain's libel laws are notoriously harsh and favorable to plaintiffs, this is a case in which they were almost certainly abused. The ECHR also held that Britain should've provided for the defendants' legal defense. The case began in 1985.

The "McLibel Suit" has finally come to a close. The Court ruled in favor of activists Dave Morris and Helen Steel. The case was the longest-running in English legal history(!!!) and cost McDonald's over $16 million.
Jason Bourgeois - A Super-Sized Case

reactions to NARC

Here's a nice op-ed putting the legislative freak-out in perspective. Like the author says, the interactivity of video games has led to an increased urgency to the debate over violence in entertainment media, but the reality is that this debate has been played out for every type of new media ever to debut. He also points out that many recent killings or killers have had some connection to religion, but there is no move to lay any blame there despite the Bible's load of sex and violence. I think that's a tough comparison to make, but you can't deny that it is something that makes you say "hmmmm." If video games kill, what about the Bible? Perspectives CNET

Here are a few images from the new game NARC, which has decided to try and out-do Grand Theft Auto by allowing the character to take drugs as power-ups. Here's a post I did on this a day or so ago.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III Trailer

What is thy bidding my master?

Star Wars: Episode III Trailer

drug use in video games, here we go again...

Oh crap, wait until the legislators get a hold of this one...

The new game Narc will feature the ability to take drugs like crack and ecstasy as power ups.

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > Where a Puff of Marijuana Is the Ultimate Power-Up

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Legal Jobs Blog

Kevin of TechLawAdvisor fame is quick becoming a "Blawgfather." He's now got several sites going on, the latest addition of which is the TLA Legal Jobs Blog. If you're looking for work in the legal field check it out.

While we are on the topic of jobs, I finish law school in a few months and am actively seeking employment in IP law. I have a great resume and I'm obviously passionate about IP and cyberlaw issues. Anyone who is interested in checking out my resume please ask - ccohen[at] Also, any tips are welcome!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lessig and Valenti agree on one thing -

- that Creative Commons is good stuff. It's really taking off in places beyond just blogs. Check out this article with quotes from Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing and others for more - Yahoo! News - Creative Commons Is Rewriting Rules of Copyright

Monday, March 14, 2005

Gothamist - MTA Tells Store to F Off

Gothamist has picked up on an interesting IP issue - the NYC MTA (group that runs the subway and busses) is trying to assert their rights in subwayness against a local shop. They are suing a bagel shop called "F Line Bagels" in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. These are trademark claims based on the fact that the shop uses the name "F Line" and also that its interior was made to look like a subway station.

Seriously, there a sooo many places out there that bite on the NYC subway style. Are they paying licensing fees? I doubt it. What about...Subway the sandwich chain? They even have wallpaper featuring NYC landmarks and maps and all.

It doens't seem to me that the MTA has been pursuing these sorts of claims in the past. I don't really know though. I think this would be an interesting case if it ever went to trial and appeal. The defendant would probably have a fair shot at winning based on the fact that so many other shops and goods have diluted the subway MTA trademarks. Who knows.

The MTA is currently in serious financial trouble, so maybe this is part of the new business plan.

Gothamist: MTA Tells Store to F Off

Here's the article in the NY Post.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Gizoogle this blog

Check it out.

Chris Riznush Cohen - I post `bout IP & cyberlaw issues, tech nizzay n NYC. I am a law student at tha Benjamin N fo' sheezy. Cardozo Schoo` of Law (izzy in NYC. My email address is ccohen (at) gmail dot cizzay fizzle free ta drop me a line so i can get mah pimp on.

Gizoogle - Transizlatin' Page -

Blog freedom

Worth a read. - Lawmakers: Hands off Web logs - Mar 11, 2005

AOL's dodgy new Terms of Service for AIM

Think your conversations are private? Think again. According to their new TOS, AOL can use the info in your AIM conversations in any way they please.

AOL's Terms of Service Update for AIM Raises Eyebrows

Slashdot discussion

UPDATE: Kevin at TechLawAdvisor suggests getting Trillian to replace AIM. I don't know if that will help considering that the chat goes through the AIM network anyway, but it couldn't hurt since you are not exactly signing on to that AIM TOS. Anyway, I just got Triallian to give it a spin and I really like it. Go check it out. Thanks for the link Kevin!

Also, Kevin says to check out rob hyndman for more info. It's worth a read. The AIM TOS may not be as draconian as some reactionary bloggers think...or is it? [Insert creepy deep laughter here].

rapper C-Murder's lawyer helped him secretly record album while imprisoned

Is this an ethics violation? Apparently recording music and videos in prison wasn't specifically against the rules of the prison C-Murder is in. Anyway, the Sheriff is pissed off and thinking about reporting the attorney to the bar. I just think the whole story is sort of humurous.

ABA Report: JAILHOUSE RAP HAS SHERIFF SHOUTING: Lawyer Helped Murder Suspect Record his New Album

Russian MP3 site escapes through copyright loophole

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want to take advantage of cheap music from Russia, don't wait around 'cause it's only a matter of time before sites like get taken down. Apparently there are no provisions in the Russian version of the Copyright Act that cover digital files and therefore allofMP3 is in the clear for the moment - what they are doing would be illegal in the US, but isn't yet in Russia. The reality is that Russia is a member of the WTO and WIPO and as such is required to pull these sites by their international treaty obligations. The clock is ticking, do you hear it allofmp3?

Check out these articles for more:
BBC article - 'Legal okay' for Russian MP3 site - legal news and business guides - Russian MP3 site escapes through copyright loophole

City of Heroes gets some claims by Marvel against it dismissed

But none of the copyright infringement claims, the most important claims of the bunch, were dismissed. This is the case in which Marvel is suing the massively multiplayer game City of Heroes for allowing players to create characters that look similar to Marvel comic characters. Players of CoH have loads of character customization possibilities and some players have attempted to emulate their favorit Marvel characters. CoH is fighting for their right to allow such in-game conduct. It is notable that were the Induce Act to be passed this case would probably be open and shut for Marvel's victory. As it is now the result may well hinge on the language of the Supreme Court's opinion in the Grokster case, which will certainly be issued in time to affect this case.

Industry watchers are monitoring this lawsuit very closely, as the result could potentially have enormous effects on the video-game industry, particularly the burgeoning massively multiplayer market. Should the case be decided in Marvel's favor, it would mark the first time that a game publisher was held responsible for infringing material created by end-users with its tools. The result might be a reduction in amount of character customization allowed by end-users. The case may also have a chilling impact on the mod scene. Many popular online games that allow users to tinker with its code give rise to amateur teams creating works that could be considered copyright infringement.

PC: NCsoft Scores Partial Victory Over Marvel

Friday, March 11, 2005

Xbox 2 sneak peek

While we're on the topic of video games...the XBox2 is sounding pretty badass and will probably be here for Christmas.

"Microsoft is saving the official unveiling of the Xbox 2, codenamed Xenon, for the E3 show in May and the device could be on shop shelves by November. "
BBC NEWS | Technology | Game makers get Xbox 2 sneak peek

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Is there nothing better for legislators to do in Ill.?

"Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal to bar stores from selling violent and sexually explicit video games to children unanimously passed an Illinois House committee Wednesday, despite concerns that it might be unconstitutional."

Is that concern that the law may be unconstitutional because that same exact law has already been struck down in several other states? Seriously, make better use of your time legislators and let parents buy their kids whatever games they want to. They do have ratings on them you know. Ill. Moves Toward Banning Some Video Games

Here's some real info from the ESA on games, kid, and violence.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

things not looking up for Kazaa

"The assets of Sharman Networks, the maker of the Kazaa peer-to-peer software, have been frozen pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought against the software-maker by the recording industry."

More here - Wired News: Kazaa Assets Frozen in Australia:

Who owns baseball stats?

The MLB is looking to own player stats when they are used for profit - i.e. when used for fantasy sports. The case is CDM Distribution & Marketing v. MLB Advanced Media, No. 4:05CV 22MLM (E.D. Mo.).

Fantasy sports are a huge business in the US, pulling in $1 billion per year according to the article linked to below. The MLB wants a peice of that action via licensing fees. This is a comment that I do not quite understand:

"Jim Gallagher, senior vice president, corporate communications for MLB Advance Media, said that baseball officials are not claiming exclusive rights to player statistics. But if a company is trying to use those statistics as a means of financial gain, he said, then MLB has a legal right to demand a license for their use. 'Player statistics are in the public domain. We've never disputed that,' Gallagher said. 'But if you're going to use statistics in a game for profit, you need a license from us to do that. We own those statistics when they're used for commercial gain.'"

Is this information in the public domain or is it not? I have never heard of a trype of material that is in the PD unless used for profit. The MLB does note that convincing the court that they own a copyright in this data is an uphill battle. I would hate to see fantasy sports go down the drain because of a crazy ruling on ownership of pure information - luckily, it sounds like there's almost no prayer the MLB will get what they want here. For more check out the article. - Pro Sports: Technology Changes Rules of the Game

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