Google Walks a Fine Line on Copyright Infringement Issues

It is no secret that Google is pushing the boundaries of what is permitted under existing copyright law, and is willing to take some significant risk and expend significant financial resources in establishing its right to do so.  It is a little surprising then, to see Google/YouTube aggressively attacking TechCrunch for makeing a utility available for people to easily copy YouTube videos onto their hard drives, Ipods and similar devices for personal use, on the basis of contributory copyright infringement, among other things.  It would seem as though Google understands that YouTube has its own issues of contributory copyright infringement (it reportedly reserved in excess of $200 million to cover copyright infringement issues relating to the YouTube acquisition).  Yet YouTube, the business that is built on other people's copyrighted works, apparently does not want someone else doing the same.  Interesting.

Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 02:00PM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

The Technology Times, They Are A-Changin'

It will be interesting to see what the TechKnowledgy Landscape will look like in the coming months. With Democrats controlling the House and Senate, the mood in the technology community appears upbeat. MediaNews reports that Nancy Peolsi has committed to giving more attention to tech-sector issues, from renewing the research and development tax credit, to more direct investment in scientific research. With the Dems in power there is also a hope for more H-1B visas for tech workers, and Internet companies are expecting support on their push for network neutrality initiatives. 

Meanwhile, it seems as though the technology lobbyists are not so sure.  CNet reports that they are frantically pressing the republicans for last minute legislation to cover these very topics before the democrats take over.

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Posted on Friday, November 10, 2006 at 10:50AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Be Careful Picking that Domain Name

Speedofart.com anyone?  How about Penisland.net?  These are but a few of the unintentional bad domain names floating around out there these days.  We've all heard horror stories about some company painstakingly picking the perfect name for a product, only to find out that the term they so carefully chose actually means "goat boogers" in many of the countries where they intend to market their wares.  Well, a similar thing can happen with domain names.  Consider the first two listed, which are legitimate sites for Speed of Art and Pen Island respectively.  There are more. 

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Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 01:54PM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | Comments8 Comments | References2 References

The Ultimate Identity Theft Bibliography

Sabrina Pacifici has updated her Bibliography on Identity Theft.  This resource identifies hundreds of sources of information on the topic, including those available at the federal level, the state level, as well as selected law reviews, journal articles, and news stories.  If you ever have occasion to deal with the topic of identity theft, you will want to save a link to this tremendous resource.  
Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 01:03PM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

Unlimited Border Search of Laptop Contents OK'd Despite No Warrant or Probable Cause

Laptop Airport.jpgIn a case that raises a myriad of questions for corporate travelers with confidential or other sensitive information, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held uncatagorically that the contents of laptop computers may be searched at international borders without a search warrant and without any probable cause.  The case is U.S. v. Romm, and the search of the laptop in that case included a review of internet caches, and the forensic recovery of deleted files, all of which led to charges and a conviction unrelated to border or security issues. 

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Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at 10:01AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Victor's Little Secret is Not Safe with Congress

You may recall the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Moseley v. Victoria’s Secret.  That case began with Victoria’s Secret suing the proprietor of a sex toy shop called “Victor’s Little Secret.” (Actually, the name had been “Victor’s Secret” - it was changed in reaction to the initial demands from the Victoria’s Secret lawyers.)

The focus of the case was trademark dilution.  The issue was not that customers would be confused or mislead into thinking that Victoria’s Secret was now in the business of pushing sex toys and adult videos.  Instead, Victoria’s Secret claimed that due to the unsavory nature of  Victor’s shop, Victoria’s Secret’s otherwise pristine image might be tarnished simply because consumers would go through a thought process something like this: “Oh, look at that – Victor’s Little Secret, a shop for adult novelties – that is a play on Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie store – funny!” And from that point on, every time those consumers saw or thought of Victoria’s Secret, there would be this little voice in the back of their heads that said “remember that sex toy shop called Victor’s Little Secret – funny!”

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Posted on Monday, October 2, 2006 at 11:10AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

SaaS, Virtualization and Multi-Core Processors Catalysts for New Software Licensing Models

The subscription based software model is already mainstream, with 40% of software vendors reporting that they offer some form of subscription based offerings. However, the advent of SaaS (Software as a Service), multi-core processors, and virtualization (in effect creating "virtual machines" in a software environment were no hardware exists, thereby allowing many physical computers to be consolidated into a few servers that host the virtual machines), are causing both vendors and customers to rethink how they measure and charge for the right to use software.

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Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 03:54PM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

The Podcasting Legal Guide is Here

headphones.jpgBlogs and Podcasts raise a number of unique legal issues, particularly relating to copyright. This is because much of what is blogged or podcast consists of content copied from others to varying degrees. The folks at the Creative Commons have published an outstanding Legal Guide to Podcasting, that also serves as a decent primer for online copyright issues in general. Denise Howell has an interesting podcast interview with the author of the Guide that you can access here.

Photo courtesy of Rhys Bennett under Creative Commons license.

Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 09:33AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

Techno Tip - Getting Around the Private Domain Name Registration

Frequently, WHOIS searches on existing domain names are leading us to dead ends because of the proliferation of private domain name registrations such as those offered by Domains by Proxy and the Network Solutions private domain name service.  A subpoena to the registrar often triggers a private notice to the true domain owner allowing them time to attempt to quash the subpoena or move on to a new domain.  One potential end-run to this problem may be to file a complaint against the private registration service directly.  Assuming that there

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Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2006 at 09:15AM by Registered CommenterSteve Cosentino in | CommentsPost a Comment

Amazon Shelves Right of Publicity Claim

In a case that could have addressed unresolved issues about preemption under the Communications Decency Act and the nature of right of publicity as a IP claim, the Eleventh Circuit court instead crafted an interesting analogy that has the potential for future development in E-Commerce cases.  In Almeida v. Amazon.com, Inc., the plaintiff sued Amazon.com, alleging violation of the right of publicity where Amazon published a book cover on a product page that included plaintiff's photo.  Because there was doubt as to whether the original licensing rights were sufficient to cover the addition published, Almedia claimed that the use of the photograph was unauthorized.

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Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 at 10:12AM by Registered CommenterSteve Cosentino in | CommentsPost a Comment

Google Acts to Prevent Genericide

As predicted here in our earlier post, Google has gone on the offensive seeking to prevent Genericide by firing off letters to media organizations warning them against using the name Google as a verb. Check out this article in The Independent, or just google “google and generic” (oops, I wonder if I will get a letter).

Posted on Monday, August 14, 2006 at 10:11AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | Comments1 Comment

Software License Dispute Imprisons Parked Cars

robotic parking.jpgIn a textbook example of why it is important to carefully read and negotiate software license agreements, particularly those for mission-critical software applications, a robotic parking garage came to a grinding halt in Hoboken New Jersey last week, effectively imprisoning the several hundred cars that were parked there.

This situation had it all. The city was terminating its services contract with Robotic Parking, Inc. of Clearwater Florida, and intended to

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Posted on Saturday, August 12, 2006 at 03:15PM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

FCC Rules Implementing Junk Fax Prevention Act Now in Effect

The long awaited (or long dreaded) rules implementing the 2005 Junk Fax Prevention Act have gone into effect as of August 1, 2006.  Under the new rules, businesses can continue sending fax advertisements to people with whom they have an established business relationship (EBR), with some limitations, according to the Federal Communications Commission.  The FCC Summary is here.  Basically, the rules provide

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Posted on Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 11:40AM by Registered CommenterTim Feathers in | CommentsPost a Comment

Healthy Grade for Online User Agreements

In a recent 10th Circuit decision, Health Grades, Inc. v. Decatur Memorial Hospital, the court found abuse of discretion in a lower court's failure to entertain evidence of frequent website use and consent to an online user agreement when looking at the issue of personal jurisdiction.  This copyright case involved the hospital's refusal to pay license fees with respect to ranking information posted on the Health Grades site.  The information was subject to an online user agreement.  The 10th Circuit panel ruled that the lower court erred in dismissing the

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Posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 12:51PM by Registered CommenterSteve Cosentino in | CommentsPost a Comment

Googlebotics - New Technology and Fair Use

The recent decision by the California Central District Court in Perfect 10 v. Google, currently under appeal, illustrates the difficulty courts have in applying decades old copyright law to the current technical environment.  In the Perfect 10 case, an on-line purveyor of images of nude models sued Google for its practice of using thumbnails acquired by its Googlebot Web crawler and including them on image search results pages. 

Much of the discussion in the case focused on whether Google's use of the thumbnail photos constituted "Fair Use" under US Copyright law.  Prior decisions in Field v. Google and Kelly v. Arriba Soft, went Google's way on fair use issues.  The Perfect 10 court, however, in part granted a preliminary injunction against Google. 

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Posted on Thursday, July 27, 2006 at 09:04AM by Registered CommenterSteve Cosentino in | CommentsPost a Comment