September 24, 2003

EU Votes for S/W Patents [10:52 pm]

GrepLaw has summarized today’s EU vote: EU Says Yes to Software Patentability. Although the FFI’s WWW site indicates that it’s not quite so dire as the basic discussions sound: EU Parliament Votes for Real Limits on Patentability

In its plenary vote on the 24th of September, the European Parliament approved the proposed directive on “patentability of computer-implemented inventions” with amendments that clearly restate the non-patentability of programming and business logic, and uphold freedom of publication and interoperation.

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CloudShield - a bad idea [9:49 pm]

CloudShield gets raked over the coals by David Isenberg: Cloudshield — Scary at Layers Two through Eight.

Cory Doctorow’s comments are a hoot: CloudShield “improves” Internet by trapping it in telco amber

CloudShield is a company whose explicit mission is to break the end-to-end nature of the Internet by creating high-capaciity packet-filters that can allow the phone company to decide which of your bits are important and which ones are unimportant. So, for example, if you were a physicist who invented a new protocol called http and a new service that runs on top of it called the WWW, you wouldn’t be able to deploy it until you’d gotten all the CloudSheild filters to recognize your new system. Boy, that sounds like a real improvement to the Internet as we know it.

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I’m Ignorant [9:32 pm]

I don’t know who Anthony Hamilton is, but his new CD is a new experiment in copy protected music distribution using Windows Media formats, according to this Slashdot story: New Anti-Swap CDs Hit Shelves

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NYTimes on the Library Hotel/Dewey Lawsuit [7:09 pm]

Followup to my earlier post: Where Did Dewey File Those Law Books? [pdf]

Dewey copyrighted his system early on and set up a company, Forest Press, to sell it, although he often donated his system to needy libraries.

He never intended to get rich with his system, said Dr. Wayne Wiegand, a professor of library and information studies at Florida State University and the author of a Dewey biography. Dewey’s goal, instead, was to educate the masses.

Dr. Wiegand said many smaller libraries, including prison libraries, use the system today without paying.

In 1988, the Online Computer Library Center, a group created to help libraries share resources and costs, bought Forest Press and the Dewey Decimal System trademark. Periodically, the group, based in Dublin, Ohio, issues updates to the system and sells them to libraries at $375 for a full printed update. More than 200,000 libraries in 135 countries are licensed to use the system.

Some comments from Infinging Actions, speculating on why the hotel hasn’t just settled: Why Not Call it the “Hotel Dewey”?

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More on the RIAA lawsuit withdrawal [6:40 pm]

I guess it was a Boston Globe exclusive. Here’s what else is now available:

  • CNet News: RIAA’s case of mistaken identity?

    The trade association confirmed Wednesday that it had withdrawn its suit against a Boston-area senior citizen named Sarah Ward, who claimed that she could not possibly have been involved in the file-swapping incident attributed to her. Among other objections, Ward is a Macintosh computer user, and there is no Apple version of the Kazaa file-trading software she is supposed to have used, according to attorneys who have spoken to the woman.

    An RIAA spokeswoman said the group did not believe it had made a mistake in identifying the ISP account used by Ward, but that it was dismissing the case for now.

  • And Slashdot: RIAA Sues the Wrong Person Of the many comments, this one brings up something that has been left in the background lately:

    Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 11223 (201561) on Wednesday September 24, @11:11AM (#7044170)

    Note that Orrin Hatch wanted to give these people rights to blow up people’s computers. And how do you think the RIAA got her name from an IP in the first place? My guess is through a DMCA subpoena. This is Not Nice(TM).

It’ll be interesting to see what Donna’s got brewing.

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Maybe it’s something in the water [6:34 pm]

It looks like Ed Felten is losing his patience, too. (I know that my postings here have been more charged than I usually try to be). See how Ed expresses his rising concern: Story Time

Somehow, people who would see the fallacy clearly in the cancer story, seem to miss the same fallacy when the topic is copyright infringement. Technical problems cannot be solved by negotiation or by government decree; and trying to do so will only hold back the progress that might one day lead to a solution.

Why do so many people miss this point? That’s a topic for a later posting.

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Some More Data on the Verisign TypoSquat [6:30 pm]

From A blog doesn’t need a clever name: apparently, Omniture is out there checking who you are, how you make typos and where you go to. Fun (not!)

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Jenny Describes Grass Roots Activity [6:21 pm]

I really enjoyed this: Sharing Mixes of Non-RIAA Songs - Open Studio’s SONG STORM — "Dedicated to replenishing our precious Public Domain"

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Universal’s CD Pricing [6:18 pm]

From the Washington Post: Sticker Price Scrapped for Universal CDs. What sort of contractual arrangement do you suppose the last paragraph of this quote is talking about?

Less than a month after Universal Music Group said it would try to lure music buyers back to stores by placing $12.98 stickers on most of its compact discs, the company acknowledged yesterday that it would not specify a price, bowing to pressure from major retailers such as Best Buy.

Instead, Universal Music — the largest of the music industry’s five big companies and home to acts such as Nelly and U2 — will put stickers on CDs saying they are priced lower without stating a price, though Universal Music believes that retailers will price them near $13.

[...] Most retailers opposed the $12.98 sticker for a number of reasons. One was that if retailers put a higher sticker price on a CD that already has a $12.98 MSRP on it, the retailer could suffer from customer enmity. Other less-obvious objections were raised, said Universal sources, such as retailers saying they might be able to price such CDs for less than $12.98.

Universal’s top three retail customers are Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target.

The big five music firms — Universal, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, BMG Entertainment and EMI — say they do not discuss pricing with retailers before such plans are implemented, to avoid the appearance of collusion. Last October, the five companies paid $143 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging CD price fixing in the 1990s, though the companies did not admit guilt.

Although some objected to receiving CDs with $12.98 stickers on them, almost all of Universal’s top 30 retailers agreed to the company’s shelf-space demands by the Sept. 19 deadline, company sources said.

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Some LawMeme postings [6:07 pm]

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A copyright culture clash - Israeli style [5:53 pm]

Israeli Music Industry to Get Tough on Downloaders

Copyright infringement is also rampant in Israel, even off-line.

“Israel is a modern hell for anything that has to deal with Internet and copyright,” said Braun, who is also the owner and managing director of Tel Aviv-based Helicon Records.

[...] “On the one hand, you have people who think they deserve to get things for free and have a philosophy of not being a sucker, and on the other hand this is a haven for early adapters to technology, so the combination makes it a real nightmare,” he said.

The recording industry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York last Thursday against the Tel Aviv-based file-sharing network iMesh, which is registered in the U.S. state of Delaware.

The suit against iMesh, the third-largest song-swapping network on the Web after KaZaa and Morpheus, sought damages and an injunction.

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Love This Title [5:46 pm]

Not to mention the irony: The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Turning the tables on record labels, makers of the most popular Internet song-swapping network are suing entertainment companies for copyright infringement.

Sharman Networks, the company behind the Kazaa file-sharing software, filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the entertainment companies of using unauthorized versions of its software in their efforts to root out users. Entertainment companies have offered bogus versions of copyright works and sent online warning messages to users.

Sharman said the companies used Kazaa Lite, an ad-less replica of its software, to get onto the network. The lawsuit also claims efforts to combat piracy on Kazaa violated terms for using the network.

Sharman’s lawsuit also revives its previous allegation that the entertainment companies violated antitrust laws by stopping Sharman and its partner from distributing authorized copies of music and movies through Kazaa.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson rejected those claims in July but last week allowed Sharman to try again. Sharman is incorporated in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu with main offices in Sydney, Australia.

The Recording Industry Association of America called Sharman’s “newfound admiration for the importance of copyright law” ironic and “self-serving.”

All I can say is "pot:kettle:black"

Slashdot: Kazaa Sues Record Labels

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Database Piracy? [2:14 pm]

And, no, they don’t mean making copies of Oracle. Putting a Stop to Database Piracy.

Now, here’s where a critique of “old Europe”makes some sense, unlike most of those emanating from Washington, DC. Whether this proposed bill actually is targeted at “database piracy” as defined in the text remains to be seen.

At issue is the theft and misuse of data published online. One such case involved the online auction site eBay and Bidder’s Edge, a shopping bot that collected information on what was being auctioned anywhere online, along with the prices auctioned items were fetching. Bidder’s Edge would then publish the data in one central location. eBay filed suit in 1999 to stop Bidder’s Edge from ransacking its auction listings, but the bot shop went out of business before an injunction could take effect.

The current version of the bill to stop such pilfering differs from previous bills in that it steers clear of the intellectual property issues that have mired those past bills. Past bills would have allowed database producers to prevent people from using information in a database or from extracting information from a database. Such an approach riled opponents such as research institutions, who saw it as an attempt to grab the property rights for naked facts.

In contrast, the current bill concerns itself with data misappropriation and doesn’t cover the use or extraction of information, according to Keith Kupferschmid, vice president for Intellectual Property Policy and Enforcement at the Software and Information Industry Association, in Washington. Kupferschmid testified in favor of the bill at Tuesday’s hearing.

“We’re hoping we can use it to prevent database piracy, where somebody takes somebody else’s database, slaps their name on it and then goes into competition with the original database producer,” Kupferschmid told eWEEK in an interview. “We’re not trying to pursue libraries or research institutions. That was one of the concerns of the opponents—[previous bills] would have covered use of database data. If you can prevent somebody from extracting or using information, I can see where that would raise concerns.”

Here’s the announcement from the House Judiciary Committee’s WWW page, with links to the testimony:

September 23, 2003 - Joint Legislative hearing on H.R. ____, the “Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act of 2003.”

Witness List, David Carson, Thomas Donohue, Keith Kupferschmid, William Wulf

The Bill’s not on Thomas yet.

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Mary’s Tip [1:57 pm]

… came from this coverage of a talk at Boalt yesterday by Fred von Lohmann. Her coverage, including clarification of the role of the fair use doctrine when discussing P2P filesharing, can be found here: File Sharing 411.

(Sorry to keep dropping in and out today, but things are really busy for me — I’ll eventually catch up, but not until I finish a couple of lectures <G>)

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Oh-oh [9:47 am]

This certainly livened up my wait for car service this morning: Recording industry withdraws suit: Mistaken identity raises questions on legal strategy [pdf]. I’m sure I’ll be adding more to links to this entry.

Reading the article, it’s hard to imagine how the RIAA is going to spin this other than a pure error. And the privacy remedies open to this sculptor should really rev things up.

The recording industry has withdrawn a lawsuit against a Newbury woman because it falsely accused her of illegally sharing music — possibly the first case of mistaken identity in the battle against Internet file-traders.

[...] “When the RIAA announced they were going on this litigation crusade, we knew there was going to be someone like Sarah Ward,” said Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group in San Francisco that has advised Ward and others sued by the music industry. “And we think were will be more.”

The lawsuit claimed that Ward had illegally shared more than 2,000 songs through Kazaa and threatened to hold her liable for up to $150,000 for each song. The plaintiffs were Sony Music, BMG, Virgin, Interscope, Atlantic, Warner Brothers, and Arista.

Among the songs she was accused of sharing: “I’m a Thug,” by the rapper Trick Daddy.

But Ward, 66, is a “computer neophyte” who never installed file-sharing software, let alone downloaded hard-core rap about baggy jeans and gold teeth, according to letters sent to the recording industry’s agents by her lawyer, Jeffrey Beeler.

Other defendants have blamed their children for using file-sharing software, but Ward has no children living with her, Beeler said.

Moreover, Ward uses a Macintosh computer at home. Kazaa runs only on Windows-based personal computers.

Mary Hodder sent me a heads-up e-mail last night - here are her much earlier postings: Sooner or Later… and RIAA Withdraws Suit - Ooops

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