Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year, New Tech, New Battlegrounds

Hollywood Reporter Esq. takes a look at the technology and people likely to give content owners more than a few headaches in the new year. On the list, Jump TV, WiMAX, and DVD Jon.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hitting the Links

Two decisions regarding linking are making waves in recent days. First, there's an Australian court's holding that, at least in this particular fact pattern, linking to unauthorized MP3s is copyright infringement. If that got the usual suspects a bit riled up, Live Nation Motor Sports v. Davis won't ease their nerves any. Plaintiff is the presenter and promoter of the Supercross series of motorcycle events, and streams live audio webcasts of those events from its website. Defendant runs a Supercross fan website, at which he provided links to plaintiff's audio webcasts. Plaintiff alleged this activity constituted copyright infringement, and sought a preliminary injunction. On that count, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas held thusly:

Litigation over copyright protections for live internet webcasts have not made their way into controlling Fifth Circuit opinions (nor any other circuit court opinions that this court could find). Opinions addressing copyright protection for live television broadcasts, however, provide appropriate, analagous guidance in this case. In National Football League v. PrimeTime 24 Joint Venture, the Second Circuit upheld a permanent injunction against Defendant PrimeTime, which provided unauthorized satellite transmissions of the NFL's copyrighted weekly live broadcasts of football games to viewers in Canada. 211 F.3d 10 (2d Cir. 2000). PrimeTime had argued that "capturing or uplinking copyrighted material and transmitting it to a satellite does not constitute a public display or performance of that material." Id. at 12. The court rejected that argument by reviewing similar copyright infringement actions, as well as legislative history, and stated:

'We believe the most logical interpretation of the Copyright Act is to hold that a public performance or display includes each step in the process by which a protected work wends its way to its audience. Under that analysis, it is clear that PrimeTime's uplink transmission of signals captured in the United States is a step in the process by which NFL's protected work wends its way to a public audience. In short, PrimeTime publicly displayed or performed material in which the NFL owns the copyright. Because PrimeTime did not have authorization to make such public performance, PrimeTime infringed the NFL's copyright.(internal citations ommitted).'

The court believes Davis has tried to make a similar argument as PrimeTime by stating that he has an "affirmative defense" because he provides the "same audio webcast link freely distributed by ClearChannel." Similarly, the court finds that the unauthorized "link" to the live webcasts that Davis provides on his website would likely qualify as a copied display or performance of SFX's copyrightable material."(emphasis mine)
It should be noted that defendant's website, for obvious reasons, no longer contains the offending links (it does offer up all the docs filed in the case), and the holding doesn't address exactly how the links were presented or what a visitor saw when he clicked on a link. Let's leave aside for the moment the question of whether a link from one website to another ever needs to be "authorized." Does the link pop open defendant's proprietary player, or does it merely launch the stream as intended, in Windows Media Player? The court doesn't say, and so apparently doesn't believe such a distinction relevant. By way of example, here's a link to an archived Supercross webcast. As you can see, it opens and plays in Media Player. Am I copying the webcast? Am I publicly performing it? After all, the stream never crosses the server on which this site is hosted. For that matter, what about all those links to esteemed blogs over on the right of this webpage. Am I copying or publicly displaying the content of those blogs merely by providing you that link?

Update: "Deeply disturbing" says Prof. Patry. Evan Brown analogizes to Perfect 10.

Side note: Live Nation/SFX claims Supercross is the second most popular motorsport in the U.S., surpassed only by Nascar. Sunday Sunday Sunday, you'll pay for the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge, etc. etc.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Attributor's Infringement Finder

Attributor Corp has developed a tool, due to launch early next year, that will scan the web to find unauthorized uses of its clients' copyrighted materials. The article implies that the service, if successful, might allow content owners to ease up on protecting their assets through over-reliance on frustrating -- and often ineffective -- DRM measures. Also, "the company says it will have over 10 billion Web pages in its index before the end of this month." Heck, Google does that in its sleep. So why isn't this the latest Google Labs project? Oh, right.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Guide to IP Law in India

Excellent guide to IP law in India, compiled by Professor John Cavicchi of Pierce Law.


Friday, December 15, 2006

The Power of Law Firm Logos

Navigating branding and marketing after law firm mergers.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Content Licensing Services

Plagiarism Today has an informative post that compares various services that assist in monetizing content.


Google Patent Search

Google launches U.S. patent search functionality.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Blackjack v Blackberry

Via Engadget, word out of Korea is that RIM, maker of the Blackberry, has sued Samsung for trademark infringement in the United States over Samsung's new Blackjack smartphone.

Update: Cnet provides more detail. RIM is claiming false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark dilution.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gowers Report on the Economics of a Term Extension for Copyrights in Sound Recording in the UK

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property is much anticipated in the IP community. Here is a direct link to the Review of Economic Evidence Relating to the Extension of The Term of Copyright in Sound Recordings. Gowers concludes that the case for a copyright term extension for sound recordings is weak. The entire IP report is available here. Another highlight is a recommendation for a fast track trademark registration process for small businesses and expanded safe-harbors for copyright.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Indie Labels Deal With Album Leaks

It's not only the major labels that are concerned about pre-release leaks. I like the fake "security camera" tactic.

When another big Domino group, Arctic Monkeys, released their U.S. debut earlier this year, Gillespie decided to write journalists' names on advance copies to imply a watermark, even though there wasn't one. At least three other indie labels that spoke to Billboard anonymously have used the same tactic, mostly to avoid the expense.


Open Document Format and Microsoft's Lobbying Efforts in Massachusetts

Andy Updegrove has a very interesting post regarding lobbying efforts by Microsoft to counter the adoption of Open Document Format by Massachusetts.


Monday, December 04, 2006

William Patry Now Senior Copyright Counsel for Google

I'm usually so focued on his writing that I did not notice the change to William Patry's biographical information on his blog. It seems that Prof. Patry is now Senior Copyright Counsel for Google, Inc. Excellent hire, Google!


Injunctions and Damages Sought Against Books Containing Compilation of Jokes

Jay Leno and Rita Rudner, among others, are seeking damages and a permanent injunctions against Judy Brown's 19 books which are compilations of jokes by comedians including Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Rivers and Jerry Seinfeld. It would be interesting to know more facts. Who authored the jokes? Are the jokes entirely original?