QuoteThe Supreme Court has finally ruled on the constitutionality of the California law (Brown v. EMA) that would have banned the sale of violent video games to minors.
The court struck down the law 7-2 using the First Amendment as the reasoning. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, with Justices Thomas and Breyer in dissent.
"The act does not comport with the First Amendment," opens the opinion's syllabus. "Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And 'the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary' with a new and different communication medium."
QuoteThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill yesterday that would make illegal streaming of copyrighted content a felony.
The bill, known as the Commercial Felony Streaming Act, addresses what some lawmakers are calling a loophole in current copyright-infringement laws. It is currently a felony to download or upload copyrighted content, but streaming is not expressly prohibited. This bill would add that streaming copyrighted content would also be a punishable offense.
If the bill is eventually passed by lawmakers, it would allow for infringers streaming content for commercial purposes to be sentenced to up to five years in prison. According to the bill's text, infringers will be charged when "the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works."
QuoteThe Spanish police said Friday that they had arrested three suspected computer hackers in connection with recent cyberattacks on Sony’s PlayStation Network as well as corporate and government Web sites around the world.
The arrests have dismantled the local leadership of the shadowy international network of computer hackers known as Anonymous, which has claimed responsibility for a wide variety of attacks, the National Police said in a statement.
(further)Sony has estimated that the hacker attacks will cost it at least 14 billion yen, or $173 million, in damages, including information technology spending, legal costs, lower sales and free offers to lure back customers.
QuoteAccording to the documents, LG said it holds two patents that it believes Sony violates in the PlayStation 3 related to the way a Blu-ray player reproduces data from a Blu-ray disc. The company cited another patent that covers the "reproduction of multiple data streams" by way of multiple camera angles. LG also said Sony violates a patent it holds on the display of text subtitles on Blu-ray.
LG's decision to take aim at Sony follows a complaint filed by Sony with the ITC in late December. In that complaint, Sony said that LG violates patents it holds for mobile phones. The company asked the ITC to bar LG from selling its mobile phones in the United States.
QuoteApple Inc. is challenging a jury verdict last week in which the computer maker was ordered to pay as much as $625.5 million to Mirror Worlds LLC for infringing patents related to how documents are displayed digitally.
Apple asked U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis for an emergency stay of the Oct. 1 verdict, saying there are outstanding issues on two of the three patents. Apple said patent owner Mirror Worlds would also be “triple dipping” if it were able to collect $208.5 million on each of the patents.
QuoteAfter years of litigation, the District Court of Utah late yesterday ruled that Novell, not the SCO Group, owns the copyrights to the Unix operating system.
The long-running case began in 2003 when the company sued IBM, claiming that Linux is an unauthorized subset of Unix, and that SCO had true ownership of Unix and UnixWare Technology after Novell’s sale of part of its Unix business to SCO’s predecessor, the Santa Cruz Organization, in 1995. Novell joined the case after the IBM suit, claiming it did not sell the intellectual property rights to the Santa Cruz Organization. Novell began registering copyrights to Unix after that, and SCO sued Novell in 2004.
QuoteA person familiar with the legislative planning said the biometric data would likely be either fingerprints or a scan of the veins in the top of the hand. It would be required of all workers, including teenagers, but would be phased in, with current workers needing to obtain the card only when they next changed jobs, the person said.
The card requirement also would be phased in among employers, beginning with industries that typically rely on illegal-immigrant labor.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't have a position on the proposal, but it is concerned that employers would find it expensive and complicated to properly check the biometrics.
Mr. Schumer said employers would be able to buy a scanner to check the IDs for as much as $800. Small employers, he said, could take their applicants to a government office to like the Department of Motor Vehicles and have their hands scanned there.
QuoteApple today filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
QuoteComcast said Wednesday afternoon that it hasn't changed its policy. An executive who spoke at the same conference as Cicconi told the audience that the company has sent 2 million notices on behalf of content owners. A company representative said the company has no plans to test "a so-called 'three-strikes-and-you're-out' policy."
But music industry sources told CNET that Comcast has agreed to cooperate with the RIAA in other ways.
QuoteFor AMD, the 2001 Intel agreement allows it to manufacture chips using Intel's X86 design and rely on chip foundries for up to 20 percent of their total manufacturing capacity. Intel, meanwhile, receives royalties from AMD, under the deal. The companies, despite their heated legal battles over antitrust matters, have had a long-standing patent and licensing relationship, going back to 1976. But this latest turn of events could result in a change in that relationship. AMD, in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, said Intel sent it a letter that alleges AMD: Committed a material breach of the Cross License through the creation of the company's Global Foundries joint venture and purports to terminate the company's rights and licenses under the cross license in 60 days if the alleged breach has not been corrected.
QuoteThere you go, folks. Reductio ad absurdum: a company is a machine, or at least analogous to one, kinda sorta like one. Therefore any process or method they come up with to do business would be patentable, presumably, in that universe. Well. Could someone please patent what Wall Street just did to the economy, and then refuse to license the "invention", so as to prevent those dudes from ever doing it again? Or just patent flaming greed, will you, somebody? Do the rest of us a favor and get it off the table or at least constrained.
The court rejected that claim about a company being analogous to a machine, but Justice Pauline Newman, while agreeing with the majority, nevertheless argued that it's good for the economy to have business methods patents, so we shouldn't go too far in limiting them. *Too far*?!
QuotePsystar, in its amended complaint, accuses Apple of copyright misuse, as well as unfair competition violations based on its alleged copyright misuse. Judge Alsup, in citing a previous case--Practice Management Information Corp v. American Medical Association--notes in his order:
Copyright misuse does not invalidate a copyright, but precludes its enforcement during the period of misuse." Practice Management, 121 F.3d at 520 n.9. Moreover, "a defendant in a copyright infringement suit need not prove an antitrust violation to prevail on a copyright misuse defense." Id. at 521.
While Judge Alsup found in Psystar's favor by allowing the company to continue its counterclaim with a misuse of copyright argument, the Mac clone maker failed to win on all of its arguments. He denied Psystar's motion to amend its claim that Apple's conduct with respect to its intellectual property is "unfair," threatening or harming competition.
QuoteThe Bush administration has taken a dim view of Internet regulations in the form of Net neutrality rules, warning last year that they could "inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation, and diminish consumer welfare, and there is reason to believe that the kinds of broad marketplace restrictions proposed in the name of 'neutrality' would do just that, with respect to the Internet." A report from the Federal Trade Commission reached the same conclusion in 2007. In addition, a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the absence of Net neutrality laws or similar federally mandated regulations has spurred telecommunications companies to invest heavily in infrastructure, and changing the rules "would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, investment, and innovation." Now, perhaps extensive Net neutrality regulations are wise. But enough people seem to have honest, deep-seated reservations about them to justify a sincere discussion of costs and benefits--rather than having the requirements stealthily injected into what supposed to be an emergency save-the-economy bill scheduled for a floor vote within a week or so.
QuoteNonetheless, last summer Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a law that gives the U.S. attorney general the power to immunize telecom companies from lawsuits that accuse them of conducting unlawful spying at the bequest of the U.S. government.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Carl Nichols told Walker that the proper decision was to toss out the lawsuits and not second guess the Bush administration.
Nonsense, said Cindy Cohn, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for the rights of Internet users. EFF has brought a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on behalf of customers and accuses AT&T of turning over communication records to the National Security Agency. On Tuesday, Cohn and the EFF asked Walker to throw out the federal statute and to tell Congress to start over.
QuoteToyota Claims Ownership of Fan Wallpapers
Toyota, one of the biggest car companies in the world, is often a name synonymous with quality. There is even a philosophy of doing business, called “The Toyota Way", which emphasizes that the right result will come from the right process, and that solving the root problems brings the organization the greatest benefit.
This ‘Way’ is probably not communicated to its lawyers in great detail, which is why Desktopnexus, a site that provides desktop backgrounds, has been contacted by them. In perhaps one of the most wildly arrogant demands in DMCA history, Toyota’s lawyers are demanding the withdrawal of all wallpapers that feature a Toyota, Scion, or Lexus. The site’s owner, Harry Maugans contacted Toyota to clarify. He was told that all images featuring Toyota vehicles should be removed, even images with copyright belonging to others.
Speaking to TorrentFreak, Maugans said: "Their lawyer, Garrett Biggs, told us that if we wanted them to specifically identify their images, we would have to pay for them to do so." Maugans also said he was afraid it would come to a lawsuit, fearing the attrition effect that is so common now in copyright disputes. Toyota, with cash assets of over $23Billion can surely afford to spin out the legal costs in an attempt to bankrupt the site, the same strategy that is often used to ‘encourage‘ a settlement in RIAA cases.
QuoteThe bad news for Robertson is the judge allowed EMI, one of the four largest recording companies, to continue to pursue the copyright claims against MP3tunes, court documents show. The case, filed last November in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was brought by 14 record companies and music publishers affiliated with EMI. MP3tunes enables users to store music in the so-called cloud. The company's 150,000 customers upload their music into "lockers." They can then access the tunes from nearly any Web-enabled device. EMI argues that MP3tunes doesn't have authorization to exploit the company's music this way. A representative from EMI couldn't be reached for comment late Wednesday evening.
QuoteThe groups, which represent record labels, music publishers, songwriters, and music Web sites, say their proposal would resolve what has been a source of strife between the music industry and Web sites that offer on-demand streaming services.
Under the agreement, sites like Napster and Imeem would have to begin paying royalties of about 10.5 percent of revenue. Download services like Amazon MP3 and iTunes already pay such fees. And online radio sites saw a major royalty hike last year. Pandora, one such site, may be on the brink of going out of business due to that rate increase, according to its founder, Tim Westergren.
The organizations involved were the Digital Media Association, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the National Music Publishers Association, Recording Industry Association of America, and the Songwriters Guild of America.
QuoteOver a period of twelve hours, between this Thursday night and Friday morning, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology. Clips included footage of Australian and German news reports about Scientology, A Message to Anonymous/Scientology , and footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting. Many accounts were suspended by YouTube in response to multiple allegations of copyright infringement.
YouTube users responded with DMCA counter-notices. At this time, many of the suspended channels have been reinstated and many of the videos are back up. Whether or not American Rights Counsel, LLC represents the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is unclear, but this would not be the first time that the Church of Scientology has used the DMCA to silence Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology DMCA complaints shut down the YouTube channel of critic Mark Bunker in June, 2008. Bunker’s account, XenuTV, was also among the channels shut down in this latest flurry of takedown notices.
QuoteThe backstory on the case involved, Blueport v. United States, borders on the absurd. It started when Sergeant Mark Davenport went to work in the group within the US Air Force that ran its manpower database. Finding the existing system inefficient, Davenport requested training in computer programming so that he could improve it; the request was denied. Showing the sort of personal initiative that only gets people into trouble, Davenport then taught himself the needed skills and went to work redesigning the system.
Although Davenport did his development on a personal system at home, he began to bring beta versions of his code in for testing, and eventually started distributing his improved system within his unit, giving the software a timed expiration. A demonstration to higher-ups led to a recommendation for his immediate promotion, but that was followed by demands that the code for his software be turned over to the USAF.
Davenport responded by selling his code to Blueport, which attempted to negotiate a license with the Air Force, which responded by hiring a company to hack the compiled version by deleting the code that enforced the expiration date. Blueport then sued, citing copyright law and the DMCA.
QuoteBut the court also addressed the DMCA claims made by Blueport, and its decision here is quite striking. "The DMCA itself contains no express waiver of sovereign immunity," the judge wrote, "Indeed, the substantive prohibitions of the DMCA refer to individual persons, not the Government." Thus, because sovereign immunity is not explicitly eliminated, and the phrasing of the statute does not mention organizations, the DMCA cannot be applied to the US government, even in cases where the more general immunity to copyright claims does not apply.
It appears that Congress took a "do as we say, not as we need to do" approach to strengthening digital copyrights.
QuoteI'm currently engaged in a legal disagreement with the Associated Press, which claims that Drudge Retort users linking to its stories are violating its copyright and committing "'hot news' misappropriation under New York state law." An AP attorney filed six Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown requests this week demanding the removal of blog entries and another for a user comment.
The Retort is a community site comparable in function to Digg, Reddit and Mixx. The 8,500 users of the site contribute blog entries of their own authorship and links to interesting news articles on the web, which appear immediately on the site. None of the six entries challenged by AP, which include two that I posted myself, contains the full text of an AP story or anything close to it. They reproduce short excerpts of the articles -- ranging in length from 33 to 79 words -- and five of the six have a user-created headline.
QuoteLawmakers are seeking to address cyberbullying with new legislation because there's currently no specific law on the books that deals with it. A fairly new federal cyberstalking law might address such acts, according to Aftab, but no one has been prosecuted under it yet. The proposed federal law would make it illegal to use electronic means to "coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress."
When signed, the Missouri state law will update existing regulations on harassment and stalking to include instances of those acts over the Internet, text message, or other electronic device. It will make cyberbullying punishable by up to four years in jail.
QuoteAccording to the RIAA, evidence presented in the case showed that he received payment from the leader of the group in return for this work. "For the first time ever, a criminal online music piracy case went to trial, and the jury rendered a swift and unanimous verdict," said Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the RIAA's anti-piracy division. "The crimes committed here -- as well as the harm to the music community -- are severe, and so are the consequences.
QuoteAs part of VeriSign’s (VRSN) 2001 purchase of eNic Corporation (operator of the .CC registry) the company became the owner of a patent application, which has now been granted on March 4th of this year under patent number 7,337,910 b2. While the original patent application, at the time written by eNic’s CEO Brian Cartmell and eNic’s CTO Jothan Frakes, was used in order to resolve and offer non-existent domain names for registration, it would also cover Verisign’s Sitefinder application, implemented in September of 2003, causing any unregistered .COM/.NET domain to resolve to a parked page. VeriSign, was ordered by ICANN to cease the practice shortly after they introduced it.
QuoteAs you may be aware, the major record label EMI has sued MP3tunes, claiming our service is illegal. You can read about the case here. Much is at stake - if you don't have the right to store your own music online then you won't have the right to store ebooks, videos and other digital products as well. The notion of ownership in the 21st century will evaporate. The idea of ownership is important to me and I want to make sure I have that right and my kids do too.
Quote"The New Jersey Supreme Court is the first in the nation to recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy when using the internet anonymously," said Trenton-based attorney Grayson Barber, who represented six privacy rights organizations as a friend of the court. "'I think this reflects the reality that most people do expect a measure of privacy when they are using the internet anonymously."
The unanimous seven-member court held that police do have the right to seek a user's private information when investigating a crime involving a computer, but must follow legal procedures. The court said authorities do not have to warn a suspect that they have a grand jury subpoena to obtain the information.
QuoteIn short, the Court invalidated the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act as unconstitutional, thus ruling that a State, employee of a State (acting within his or her official capacity) or instrumentality of a State cannot be held liable for copyright infringement.
Minow: Do all state employees have immunity for copyright infringement?
Pink: No. The Court's ruling only applies to state employees acting within their "official capcity." This gets a little tricky because a state official who has acted in violation of federal law will be stripped of his or her "official" character and will not be immune to suit under the 11th Amendment. Thus, for example, in the Marketing case, plaintiff may not seek damages against the professor in his official capacity as that it would violate the state’s sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment, but the professor likely would be "stripped of his official or representative character" and would be "subjected in his person to the consequences of his individual conduct" if plaintiff can show that the professor violated plaintiff’s federally protected copyright. In other words, a state employee will be subjected to suit in his or her individual capacity even though he or she had been acting as an agent of the State if it is shown that the employee's conduct was ultra vires his or her delegated authority, e.g. by violating a federal law.
QuoteThe charter and legal framework for an office within the Homeland Security Department that would use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The future of this program is likely to come up Wednesday when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff goes to Capitol Hill to talk about his department's spending plan. Last fall, senior Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee asked the department to put the program on hold until there was a clear legal framework of how the program would operate. This request came during an ongoing debate over the rules governing eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists inside the United States.
QuoteThe bill also would hang an unspoken threat over the heads of university administrators. In response to concerns that potential penalties for universities could include a loss of federal student aid funding, the MPAA's top lawyer in Washington said that federal funds should be at risk when copyright infringement happens on campus networks. Moreover, earlier versions of "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention" proposals nakedly sought to make schools that received numerous copyright infringement notices subject to review by the US Secretary of Education.