Thursday, September 29, 2005

NYT OpEd in favor of Google Print Library Project

I hate to link an NYT article since they put them behind a pay-for archive after only a week. But here the NYT comes out in favor of the Google Library Project, which I also think would be a boon to authors, a great asset to readers, and would make the internet better generally. I'd have to do more research to determine whether I think the project involves any copyright infringement under the Copyright Act or whether it's fair use, however, offering consumers snippets of books or articles is clearly fair use. On the other hand, Google would be making full copies of many books by scanning them all into a massive database. I know that Amazon does something similar that allows consumers to search books, I wonder how if they obtained permission to do that.
What's causing all the fuss? Google has partnered with the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, the New York Public Library and Oxford University. Google will scan and index their library collections, so that when a reader searches Google Print for, say, "author's rights," the results point to books that contain that term. In a format that resembles its current Web search results, Google will show snippets (typically, fewer than three sentences of text from each page of each book) that include the search term, plus information about the book and where to find it. Google asserts that displaying this limited amount of content is protected by the "fair use" doctrine under United States copyright law; the Authors Guild claims that it is infringement, because the underlying search technology requires a digitized copy of the entire work.
A search engine for books will be revolutionary in its benefits. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors than copyright infringement, or even outright piracy. While publishers invest in each of their books, they depend on bestsellers to keep afloat. They typically throw their products into the market to see what sticks and cease supporting what doesn't, so an author has had just one chance to reach readers. Until now.
NYT OpEd -- Search and Rescue

Here's more info via the Trademark Blog:
Author's Guild Press Release re their class action suit against Goolge.
Google's Response.
EFF in favor of Google Print.
Prof Patry thinks Google needs permission.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ALA Banned Book Week

It's the American Library Association Banned Book Week.

Here's some links & info --

The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000

The Top 10 List of Most Frequently Challenged Books

The Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color, 1990-2000

"A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

Apparently most challenges are made by parents -- such as the parent in FL who recently challenged Cracking India, which I posted on here.

BitTorrent filesharing company gets $8.75M infusion

BitTorrent, the file-sharing program that is the latest thorn in IP owners' collective side, just got an infusion of $8.75 Million from capital investors. They're trying to make BitTorrent more legit and create ties to music and movie companies.

BitTorrent has avoided being sued for copyright infringement like Grokster/Kazaa because they've said from the beginning that the program was not intended for infringement purposes, the program does not protect the identity of users, and BotTorrent itself doesn't know the identity of users or what they're trading. The BitTorrent program is particularly good for sharing large files such as movies because it breaks the large files into small packages (the bits) and sends them one at a time. It also works faster for people who share alike, so being a bandwidth hog and not sharing what you have on your computer doesn't work so well, as it did with Grokster/Kazaa.

Here's from the article:

“The piracy business is not something anyone can make money on,” says Ashwin Navin, who co-founded BitTorrent with Bram Cohen. “We want to distribute paid and ad-supported content, using this technology.”

BitTorrent is the second-most-popular file-sharing program, with 33% market share, according to research firm CacheLogic, after eDonkey's 50% share. BitTorrent specializes in helping users nab huge files quickly.

Navin concedes that some users download movies without paying for them but says BitTorrent isn't the only technology that can be used illegitimately.


He says the company is meeting with movie studios and other copyright holders to negotiate use of BitTorrent to distribute content.

Here's the rest -- BitTorrent gets $8.75M from venture-capital firm: File-sharing service hopes to distribute Hollywood content

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Anna Nichole Smith's case to go to the Supreme Court -- $474 Million at stake!

Here's another random, non-intellectual property related post. But wow, the money involved makes it interesting enough!

Anna Nichole Smith's case regarding how much of her ex-hubby's estate she was entitled to is going to the US Supreme Court. The issue is a pretty bland procedural one, someting about when may federal courts hear claims that are also involved in a state probate proceeding.

[Anna Nichole Smith] stands to win as much as $474 million that a bankruptcy judge initially said she was entitled to. The case will be argued before the justices early next year. She has not gotten any money from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, an oil tycoon who married her in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. Marshall, one of Texas' wealthiest men, died in 1995.
The initial $474 million award was reduced to about $89 million, then thrown out altogether by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Well, we all know the 9th Circuit is the most often overturned circuit, that should make Smith feel good. Hey, maybe if she wins she'll have so much money that she could stop the pathetic reality shows and diet pill ads she's been doing! So basically, if she wins, we all win!

Fan Copies Entire Harry Potter Book by Hand

Uh oh. Sounds like something that could get you sued for copyright infringement! A girl in Moldova spent a month copying the latest Harry Potter book out by hand, now that's a serious fan.

Sandra Luchian, 15, from Moldova, borrowed a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from a friend and wrote down the story word for word. The book isn't available to buy in Moldova, and her family couldn't afford to get the book sent over from the UK. So Sandra filled five notebooks with Harry's latest wizard adventures so she could add the book to her collection.
The Beeb -- Potter fan copies out whole book

I know this is random but I just heard this girl interviewed on The World (an NPR show). I've written to The World to request the girl's address so that I could send her a new copy of the book, plus perhaps the final Harry Potter book when it comes out. Hopefully they can provide it (although I do suspect they'll get a zillion such requests). I'll let you know what happens, hopefully they'll respond in two days or so.

***Update -- The World, which a BBC show on NPR, is going to forward the book to Ms. Luchian for me along with a note from me. Thanks to the Beeb for helping me to help her!

***Update 10/20/05 -- Sandra got the book and wrote me. Very cool! :)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogging Guide for Cyber-Dissidents

Here is a free down-loadable guide on blogging for all you cyber-dissidents out there. It even includes a section on how to blog anonymously. By Reporters Without Borders.

Via Boing Boing via Copyfight.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Are Online Logo Companies Getting Their Trademark Infringement On?

Are & committing trademark infringement? Bad Design Kills has several examples of logos these companies provide side-by-side with extremely similar famous marks. See the side-by-side logo pics here.

My understanding is that LogoWorks & InstaLogo allow customers to design a logo (presumably for their own companies) based on designs provided by the logo company. If the logo companies are selling customers infringing logos, they could be exposing themselves and their customers to infringement suits. Not too smooth, they may want to tweak that business model.

Via Boing Boing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Central Fla. Mom Says Assigned School Novel Is Porn

Yeah lady, ban the book. I'm sure your 17 year old High School Junior 11th grade daughter knows nothing about sex and this book might really twist her fragile mind. In the meantime, the girl is probably off watching MTV, playing Grand Theft Auto, and having to sneak out of the house to hang out with her friends (which could include, ohmygawd...BOYS!!). I bet her daughter has been thoroughly embarrassed by this episode of her mother trying to censor books for the entire school district. And another thing, when will people figure out that trying to get books banned or censor things only gets it all the more attention. Kids will now want to read this book even more - mission accomplished as they say.

A mother of an 11th grade student in Deland filed a formal complaint Tuesday claiming a book her daughter was assigned to read by her literature teacher is pornography. Vikki Reed said a 1992 novel, "Cracking India" by Bapsi Sihwal, given to her daughter to read by a Deland High School teacher is not suitable for students and should be banned. The novel details historic events in India in the 1940s through the eyes of a young girl. However, Reed says it discusses oral sex and should not be assigned to students.
Here's the article: - News - Central Fla. Mom Says Assigned School Novel Is Porn

Here's a link to the book on Amazon: Cracking India

Here's a link to what I am assuming are the offending pages: the offending pages would include 172-3. So it's a bit graphic and wierd in that it involves cousins, but hello people...this isn't elementary school. Presumably someone about to finish HS is mature enough for this?

Angry Patients Vent Online, Doctors Sue to Silence Them

An interesting article re Doctors suing patients for libel when they say not-so-nice things about their treatment or bedside manners onine. There have been several suit against patients who've created websites complaining about Lasik surgery in particular. It seems that the Doctors have been winning many of these legal fights, but not all. And now there are anonymous doctor rating sites online. One of the anonymous sites, NDDB (National Doctor Database), actually replies to the WSJ article. Here's some other Doctor rating sites: DrOogle; RateMDs; & DocFind.

Get that, actually being able to find out about a doctor before you go see him or her. - As Angry Patients Vent Online, Doctors Sue to Silence Them

Thursday, September 15, 2005

9th Circ: Pledge With "Under God" Bit Is Unconstitutional

The plaintiff, Michael A. Newdow (the same as the last case to reach the SCOTUS), seeks to have the pledge changed back to its original form when said by children in school. The original pledge lacked any reference to God, as above.

But don't forget, "[t]he 9th Circuit is the most overturned appeals court in the country and is considered by legal scholars to be the most liberal" (from 2002 WaPo article about when a 9th Circ judge made a very similar ruling re the pledge).

I'm betting it's overturned, anyone willing to put money on it?

WaPo article - Judge: School Pledge Is Unconstitutional

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Update on censorship of the Katrina clean-up: it's still happening

This is a follow up to this post I did a few days ago (comment on the attempt of the US Gov't to censor the NO body clean-up). It had seemed that the gov't had given up on trying to keep reporters from letting us know what's going on down there after a court issued a temporary restraining order. It seems that some of the people on the ground there don't care about the TRO too much.

Here's a SFGate gallery pic and article from yesterday - "As bodies recovered, reporters are told 'no photos, no stories'"

Here's a bit of the article:

Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state.

"No photos. No stories," said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret.

On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims. But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed.
Via Boing Boing.

First prosecution using Family Entertainment Act filed in CA


US Attorney's are serious about snagging bootleggers. I just can't image that these kids get much of a rush from sneaking a camera into a theater, filming the movie, and then hooking up their friends on the warez sites. They certainly aren't getting paid enough to make the risk worthwhile. The busted face a litany of charges, shockingly massive fines, up to 5 years of prison time, and lose all their computer equipment. Ouch.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California has charged Curtis Salisbury, a 19-year-old from St. Charles, Missouri, with violating the new law in a five-count indictment. The prosecution of Mr. Salisbury, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, is part of a continuing investigation known as Operation Copycat, which so far supposedly has resulted in the execution of over 40 searches across the country.

Specifically, Mr. Salisbury is alleged to have used [a camcorder] to copy the movies "The Perfect Man"...and "Bewitched"... Copies of these movies then allegedly were distributed on a computer network via "warez" sites that offer pirated movies, games and software. The indictment also asserts that Mr. Salisbury illegally downloaded the movie "Madagascar" and the software programs "Sony Sound Forge V8.0," Adobe "Premier Pro V7," and Adobe "Premier Pro V1.5 Proper."
The indictment charges Mr. Salisbury with conspiracy – two counts of copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network – and two counts of unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition network. Included in the indictment is a criminal forfeiture and destruction provision designed to ensure forfeiture and destruction of recording equipment and unauthorized copies of films. The statutory penalties for violations of the new law can be as high as five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater, a three-year period of supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment.
Via USA Today Article: "Family Entertainment Act yields its first prosecution" by Eric J. Sinrod.

*** Not an actual picture of Curtis Salisbury, the accused. According to the site I found this pic on via a random Google Image search for "videotaping," this fellow's name is "Hunky Bear" and he's filming his "fellow marchers." Ok.

New Google Blog Search


Google Blog Search

From the help page:

Can I search for entire blogs or individual posts?

You can use Blog Search to find either specific posts or entire blogs. The main search results always return links to posts. However, when there are entire blogs that seem to be a good match for your query, these will appear in a short list just above the main search results.

Fat Albert dot Org domain name dispute resolved in favor of Bill Cosby

A WIPO arbitrator awarded FatAlbert.Org to Bill Cosby (there's some strange story on the site at the moment). Like in the majority of such UDRP proceedings, the defendant never replied to Cosby's complaint.

Arbitrators for the World Intellectual Property Organization ordered the transfer of to Cosby, who had complained it was being used in bad faith to divert visitors to a commercial search engine and a Web site selling sexually explicit products.
Bill Cosby Wins Fight Over Domain Name - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

ECJ Judge: "Picasso 'reduced to a piece of merchandise' by his heirs"

Advocate General Dámaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer of the European Court of Justice laid the smack down on the heirs of the famous artist Picasso. At issue was whether DaimlerChrysler could use the trademark "Picaro" for one of their new cars. The judges tend to follow the findings of the Advocate Generals (80% of the time according to the article).

Mr Ruiz-Jarabo was rather less complimentary about the artist's heirs [than about Picasso himself] - his children Claude, Paloma and Maya, and his grandchildren Marina and Bernard Picasso - who brought the case.
He went on: "It is sad to note that the most outstanding, mythic figure of the 20th century, a piece of the common heritage of humanity, has been reduced to a piece of merchandise."

While he conceded that the family of the artist had "a legitimate interest" in defending the name, he denounced its "immoderate use for commercial ends".
The family licensed the name to Citroen for use on its Xsara model, which bears a facsimile of his signature.
Invoking the name of "universal cultural heritage", he argued that society had a general interest in "preserving the name of great artists from insatiable mercantile greed, to keep their works from being wrecked by banality".
Telegraph article here - Picasso 'reduced to a piece of merchandise' by his heirs

Here's an article about this in Forbes as well.

Security Counterfeit Intelligence Report released -- some very interesting counterfeiting statistics

According to Gieschen Consultancy's DOPIP (Document, Product and Intellectual Property) Security Counterfeit Intelligence group reports as published on the site:

The top 10 countries reporting incidents of intellectual property violations:

1. USA, 158 incidents, $119 Million (USD) seizures and losses.
2. India, 51 incidents, $2.6 Million.
3. UK, 31 Incidents, $27.7 Million.
4. Philippines, 17 incidents, $16.0 Million.
5. Canada, 16 incidents, $2.3 Million.
6. Malaysia, 12 incidents.
7. China, 11 Incidents, $5.0 Million.
8. Italy, 7 Incidents, $7.4 Million.
9. Malta, 9 Incidents, $2.5 Million.
10. Nigeria, 7 incidents.

The top 20 countries pursuing all forms of counterfeiting and pirate activity (documents, identification and intellectual property):

1. USA, 745 incidents, $222 Million (USD) seizures and losses.
2. India, 229 incidents, $15.0 Million.
3. UK, 136 incidents, $41 Million.
4. Malaysia, 63 incidents, $8.5 Million.
5. Canada, 50 incidents, $80.0 Million.
6. Philippines, 37 incidents, $3.0 Trillion.
7. Australia, 34 incidents, $3.3 Million.
8. China, 31 incidents, $70.0 Million.
9. Japan, 31 incidents, $4.4 Million.
10. South Africa, 28 incidents, $21.3 Million.
11. Pakistan, 19 incidents.
12. Russia, 16 incidents, $124 Million.
13. Italy, 15 incidents, $25.0 Million.
14. Malta, 13 incidents, $2.5 Million.
15. Thailand, 10 incidents, $2.4 Million.
16. Ireland, 10 incidents.
17. Nigeria, 10 incidents.
18. Czech Republic, 9 incidents.
19. Indonesia, 8 incidents, $6.0 Million.
20. Bangladesh, 8 incidents, $1.3 Million.

The most popular items to counterfeit:

1. Financial Instruments, 661 incidents worth $3.0 Trillion seizures and losses.
2. Entertainment & Software, 312 incidents worth $185 Million.
3. Identification, 286 incidents worth $88.8 Million.
4. Other Documents, 128 incidents worth $7.7 Million.
5. Clothing & Accessories, 114 incidents worth $163 Million.
6. Drugs & Medical, 43 incidents worth $13.9 Million.
7. Food & Alcohol, 31 incidents worth $8.5 Million.
8. Industrial Goods & Supplies, 25 incidents worth $14.0 Million.
9. Cigarettes & Tobacco Products, 22 incidents worth $108 Million.
10. Computer Equipment & Supplies, 16 incidents worth $9.3 Million.
11. Electronic Equipment & Supplies, 15 incidents worth $27 Million.
12. Other Goods, 11 incidents worth $123 Million.
13. Jewelry & Watches, 10 incidents worth $5.7 Million.
14. Perfume & Cosmetics, 8 incidents worth $2.5 Million.
15. Toys, 5 incidents worth $4.7 Million.

The top brands counterfeited:

Cigarettes & Tobacco Products

1. Marlboro.
2. Newport.

Clothing & Accessories

1. Louis Vuitton.
2. Nike.
3. Gucci.
4. Adidas.
5. Burberry.

Computer Equipment & Supplies

1. Canon.
2. HP.
3. Oki.
4. AMD.
5. Epson.

Drugs & Medical

1. Viagra.
2. Cialis.
3. Durex.
4. Lipitor.

Electronic Equipment & Supplies

1. Sony.
2. Bosch.
3. Duracell.

Entertainment & Software (including game software)

1. Microsoft.
2. Sony.
3. Adobe.
4. Autodesk.
5. Macromedia.

Automobiles & Parts

1. BMW.
2. GM.
3. Honda.
4. Toyota.

Jewelry & Watches

1. Chanel.
2. Rolex.

Golf Equipment & Supplies

1. Titleist.
2. Callaway.

The largest area of growth has occurred in intellectual property theft which accounts for 23% of all incidents such as pirated works (copyright infringement) and fake goods (trademark infringement). Given the magnitude of the problem, more than 355 brand and copyright owners choose to track down the counterfeiters, build cases for prosecution, and assist law enforcement personel in raids. Due to the significant resources used in these investigations it is not surprising that they yield significant seizures of goods, 40 million items in the first half of 2005, and detail descriptions of the operations past sales, 802 million items sold valued at $210 Million.

The market for counterfeit and pirated goods is also increasing as a result of the Internet which provides a number of advantages over traditional sales and distribution channels.
A raid of the entire area of Canel street (New York), Silk Alley (China), Newark Market (UK), or Luzhniki market (Russia) can search 20 - 50 vendors, large and small in a matter of hours, yielding Millions in counterfeit goods. Unfortunately, the ability to investigate and raid a number of vendors in cyberspace is more difficult and costly." Article Here: Pirate Brands Cost $210 Million in 2005: Counterfeit & Piracy Report

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A comment on the attempt of the US Gov't to censor the NO body clean-up

You know, I don't like to get into politics here, but when it comes to media censorship of events of public interest, I have something to say.

Judge Ellison: good call on issuing the temporary restraining order against the gov't enforcing their announced 'zero access' policy for media coverage of the Katrina clean up, particularly the body retrieval.

First it's 'no pictures of the coffins of dead soldiers returning from Iraq' and now it's 'no photos of the Katrina bodies.' How about this instead: we let the media cover these situations in a way that they and their viewers deem tasteful. This is certainly preferable to having the administration censoring things that reflect badly on them.

The attempts at censoring media coverage inevitably creates the appearance that the administration has something to hide and as though they lack confidence in the ability of the media to cover, and the public to view, these images in a fair manner. Frankly, after the handling of the Katrina situation I'm not surprised that the gov't is scrambling, but attempts at censorship of public events just creates news in itself that, in turn, makes the gov't look worse. Surely Karl Rove, the mastermind of Bush's marketing team, knows this.

No matter what team you root for, Republicans or Democrats, this sort of activity should really irk you. Whether you prefer Fox News or PBS, you sure as hell should want the independent media making choices about what is news rather than having the gov't picking what can and cannot be shown to you.

Government censorship is disagreeable in any situation. - U.S. won't ban media from New Orleans searches - Sep 10, 2005

Taiwanese P2P Corp goes down in flames

The Taiwanese courts have shut down Taiwan's biggest P2P operator, Kuro. They also fined and jailed the heads of the company for 2-3 years each!

Taipei Times - Kuro bosses guilty of IPR violations
Taiwan court convicts music sharing service Kuro |

Thursday, September 01, 2005

RIAA still plugging away

I really haven't been paying much attention to this because it just seems routine now that the RIAA sues music uploaders every month. But it's still going on, along with a new development -

754 lawsuits this time, all over the U.S. Meanhwile, a woman targeted by the RIAA is suing Comcast, her ISP, for revealing her identity.
Via TheDigitalMusicWeblog.

An interesting development in the RIAA file-sharing lawsuits, which Cardozo Professor Justin Hughes has written up as financially self-sustaining (in a law review article that doesn't appear to be available free online), is that there is now one woman challenging an RIAA lawsuit. This is a first.

Her lawyer claims he can and will defend other RIAA suits as well (he has a blog here too). If even a few defendants challenge the RIAA, it would quicky change the RIAA's legal efforts against music uploaders from self-sustaining to very costly. In addition, this is very dangerous for the RIAA because once they lose one of these cases on a "someone else put the music on my computer" defense, then it'll basically open that (totally legitimate) defense up to all RIAA defendants.

Via Boing Boing.

By the way, I keep saying "uploaders" because that's who is actually sued by the RIAA. Those who make the music available to downloaders, not downloaders themselves. If you didn't know that already you deserve a smack. (See part 3 of this article, or here, if you don't believe me.)

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