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November 16, 2004

Wippit Wants To Start A Fight [8:04 am]

Row brewing over peer-to-peer ads

Paul Myers, chief executive of Wippit - a peer to peer service which provides paid-for music downloads - believes it is time advertisers stopped providing ‘oxygen’ for companies that support illegal downloading.

“You may be surprised to know that current advertisers on the most popular peer to peer service eDonkey who now steadfastly support copyright theft with real cash money include Nat West, Vodafone, O2, First Direct, NTL, and Renault,” he said in an open letter to the British Phonographic Industry last month.

He urged people to follow his lead and ‘dump’ brands associated with companies such as eDonkey.

[...] The reality is that the millions of downloaders represent a very attractive audience.

“Advertisers probably pay a lot less for putting ads here than on more respected sites and they are reaching the perfect target audience,” he said.

“If you put the legality issues aside, not to advertise here would mean missing out on a valuable audience,” he [Jupiter's Mark Mulligan] added.

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Barrons/Dow Jones Settles [7:59 am]

Dow Jones Settles Defamation Lawsuit [pdf] [via TechDirt]

The case started after mining boss Joe Gutnick claimed that an October 2000 Barron’s magazine article had portrayed him as a schemer given to stock scams, money laundering and fraud. The article was also published online.

Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Dow Jones Newswires and several stock market indicators, argued that the case should have been heard in the United States, where libel rulings are regarded as more favorable to publishers, because the article originally was published there.

But in a landmark ruling in December 2002, the High Court of Australia unanimously ruled that the case could be heard in Gutnick’s home state of Victoria because people there could have read the article online.

Scholars said the decision the first by a nation’s top court to deal with alleged cross-border Internet defamation created a global precedent that could subject Internet publishers to lawsuits regardless of their geographical location.

[...] The settlement is not likely to affect the precedent already set, said University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who noted courts in the United Kingdom and Canada have already cited the Australian decision in asserting jurisdiction over other Internet defamation cases.

“The actual Gutnick dispute may be over, but its legacy will likely live on in the world of Internet law for many years to come,” Geist said.

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More on MS’ Moves Against X-Box Modders [7:47 am]

Microsoft Cracks Down on Xbox Changes [pdf]

Neil Smith, an intellectual property lawyer with Howard Rice in San Francisco, said there’s little legal risk in modifying a game system for relatively benign personal use, such as making players invulnerable.

But it is important to Microsoft to prevent such cheating on Xbox Live, where multiple players can take part in games. Ferroni said the goal is to make sure there’s a level playing field.

Smith, who has represented several video game companies, said users face greater legal risk - and companies have more leverage - if a person is modifying the system to play pirated or other unauthorized games. That’s especially true if the person is altering their system’s security codes or settings.

Microsoft says it has focused its legal efforts on those it believes are manufacturing pirated games or mass-producing Xbox modifications.

Smith said the legality of modifying other people’s technology remains hazy.

See also LawMeme’s Two Skirmishes in the DRM Wars: Half-Life 2 and Halo 2

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Videogame-Movie Convergence [7:40 am]

Half-Life 2’s Real Battle [pdf]

If the video game industry is beginning to rake in revenue that rivals the movie industry, it’s also beginning to accumulate Hollywood-like headaches.

Both industries have to worry about attracting star talent, containing rising production costs and stopping hackers who freely trade their products online. And, of course, there are the lawsuits. [...]

With such hullabaloo surrounding the game, Valve has put in place new security policies for Half-Life 2. For example, magazine reviewers who wanted to take an early look at the game have had to fly out to Valve’s Bellevue, Wash., headquarters to play it. (”It’s spectacular,” said Andy McNamara, editor-in-chief of Game Informer magazine, who made the trek.)

Despite such heavy security precautions, somewhere along the line, a free finished version of the game was leaked again.

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Speech from Overseas [7:31 am]

Bound but Gagged

For many years now, I have wanted to write my memoir - a book that would help correct Western stereotypes of Islam, especially the image of Muslim women as docile, forlorn creatures. Sixty-three percent of Iran’s university students and 43 percent of its salaried workers are women. I have wanted to tell the story of how women in Islamic countries, even one run by a theocratic regime as in Iran, can be active politically and professionally. It is my impression, based on the conversations I have had during my travels in the United States and Europe, that such a book would be a welcome addition to the debate about Islam and the West.

So I was surprised and angered when I learned that regulations in the United States make it nearly impossible for me to write a book for Americans. Despite federal laws that say that American trade embargoes may not restrict the free flow of information, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control continues to regulate the import of books from Iran, Cuba and other countries. In order to skirt the laws protecting the flow of information, the government prohibits publishing “materials not fully created and in existence.” Therefore, I could publish my memoir in the United States, but it would be illegal for an American literary agent, publisher, editor or translator to help me.

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“Wireless-ing” Philadelphia [7:22 am]

Philly has big plans for Wi-Fi

Between 8 and 16 Wi-Fi antennae will be needed per square mile in Philadelphia, depending on the topography and buildings in the area, according to the city. The plan is to connect these units and create a self-organizing and self-healing wireless mesh network. The city estimates the Wi-Fi network can be deployed for $40,000 to $60,000 per square mile, for a total cost of between $7 million and $10 million.

[...] According to Dianah Neff, the city’s CIO, Mayor John F. Street has three goals for the network: to vitalize neighborhood economies, to eliminate the digital divide and to bolster public safety.

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Lame Ducks Take Up Copyright Policy [7:15 am]

Of course this Congress is going to try to get one more lick in on the copyright front, even though we have 9 appropriations bills, the 9/11 Commission responses and the debt ceiling to raise - HR2391 - Senate May Ram Copyright Bill

The Senate might vote on HR2391, the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of “fair use” — the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay.

The bill lumps together several pending copyright bills including HR4077, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act, which would criminally punish a person who “infringes a copyright by … offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement.” Critics charge the vague language could apply to a person who uses the popular Apple iTunes music-sharing application.

The bill would also permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content — like a gory or sexually explicit scene — in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited. The proposed law also includes language from the Pirate Act (S2237), which would permit the Justice Department to file civil lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers.

Also under the proposed law, people who bring a video camera into a movie theater to make a copy of the film for distribution would be imprisoned for three years, fined or both.

Note that this bill also, once again, argues that my tax dollars should be used to pay the Attorney General to prosecute civil copyright infringement cases (§ 302)

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Testing the Limits [7:08 am]

Grokster teams with P2P radio

Beginning immediately, Grokster will offer its users a co-branded version of Mercora which allows people to search for and listen to music by specific artists. The service, called Grokster Radio, does not allow people to download tunes, but it lets users stream and listen to high-quality versions of specific songs–even music that is not available through download software like Apple Computer’s iTunes.

Because it is a streaming Web radio service, which pays copyright fees for every song that somebody listens to, Mercora executives say their service abides by the mandates of copyright law, even though it comes much closer to offering on-demand music than do most previous Webcasting services.

“We see Mercora as a new way to do the same thing we’ve always done, which is allow our consumers to sample music,” said Grokster owner Dan Rung.

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