Hey, It’s *Their* Movie!

Motion Picture Studios File Suit To Stop Ripping of DVDS to Portable Video Players

In Paramount Pictures v. Load ‘N Go Video, the motion picture studios have brought legal action against a small company that has loaded DVDs onto personal video players for its customers. Specifically, according to the lawsuit, Load ‘N Go Video sells DVDs and iPods to its customers, and loads the DVDs onto the iPods for customers who purchase both. The motion picture studios assert that this practice violates the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

[…] The key point for Load ‘N Go Video will be that its customers purchased both the DVDs and the portable video players. Thus, Load ‘N Go Video simply has saved the customers the time and hassle of themselves loading the content they paid for on the portable video players they also purchased.

Taking the motion picture studios’ argument to its extreme, a buyer on his own could be subject to legal liability for at home ripping purchased DVDs onto a purchased portable video player without first seeking permission or purchasing the content again for specific use on the portable video player. One wonders whether a court would embrace such an argument taken to its extreme.

Developments in Google’s BookSearch Fight

Yahoo Rebuffs Google on Digital Books

Yahoo has rebuffed Google’s attempt to learn more about its efforts to create digital copies of books, dealing Google another setback as it prepares to fight a copyright infringement suit.

In rejecting Google’s request, Yahoo adopted the same stance taken last month by the Internet retailer Amazon.com, and called Google’s request a brazen attempt to pry into its trade secrets.

Google says it believes it can defend its plans to provide online access to millions of library books by obtaining more details about similar projects involving rivals.

Joke Book Suit

Copyright in jokes? Leno fails to see the humor in joke bookspdf

Leno and NBC Studios filed a federal court lawsuit Wednesday to stop comedy teacher Judy Brown from publishing his punch lines in her books, which are largely compilations of jokes uttered by Leno and other comedians, including Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Lucille Ball and Tim Allen.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, said that Brown and her publishers have turned out nearly two dozen such joke books.

“Brown is no ‘author,’ ” the lawsuit chides. “She is simply packaging the original copyrighted work of [the plaintiffs], drawing and profiting from a well of creativity that is not her own.”

Barney Parody Site Suit

Happy ending? Suit over Barney parody is settledpdf

Lyons Partnership sent four threatening letters to a New York musicologist and computer repair technician who created a parody website that suggests Barney’s affable public persona masks a secret double life. An image on the site depicts what the cute and cuddly Barney might look like offstage — with horns, sharp teeth, a pentagram and the devilish number 666 emblazoned on his chest.

Lyons last week dropped its claims against Frankel after he fought back with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The technology advocacy group assisted Frankel in filing a lawsuit accusing Barney’s creators of using its copyrights and trademarks to curb free speech.

Chilling Effects links to articles; EFF’s page on the suit; Frankel’s revised WWW page

The Atlantic TNRO on Second Life

Should the government regulate virtual reality? (sorry, registration required)

With fist fights and muggings breaking out after the release of Sony’s PlayStation III, it’s clear that video games aren’t just for kids any more. But even the PlayStation is child’s play for the 1.4 million players in “Second Life,” a virtual-reality universe that is fast becoming one of the hottest places online. Not only do they spend the bulk of their free time logged onto it (one-third spend more hours a day in it than out), but a large subset even turns a sizeable profit, in some cases enough to live on. One “Second Life” entrepreneur, a German-Chinese woman named Ailin Graf, makes an estimated $150,000 a year buying and developing “Second Life” real estate–virtual land that is in reality nothing more than ones and zeroes. Real-world companies are getting involved, as well: For a price, players can outfit their virtual selves (called “avatars”) in American Apparel clothing, buy tricked-out Toyota Scions, and slip on a pair of digital Reeboks.

[…] [A]s “Second Life” grows in size and popularity, and as the links between “first” and “second life” strengthen, another question looms: At what point does it truly stop being a game and become an extension of the real world–and thus subject to real world government intervention?


Web Tool Said to Offer Way Past the Government Censor

The program, called psiphon (pronounced “SY-fon”), will be released on Dec. 1 in response to growing Internet censorship that is pushing citizens in restrictive countries to pursue more elaborate and sophisticated programs to gain access to Western news sites, blogs and other censored material.

“The problem is growing exponentially,” said Ronald Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which designed psiphon. “What might have started as censorship of pornography and Western news organizations has expanded to include blogging sites, religious sites, health information sites and many others.”

Psiphon is downloaded by a person in an uncensored country (psiphon.civisec.org), turning that person’s computer into an access point. Someone in a restricted-access country can then log into that computer through an encrypted connection and using it as a proxy, gain access to censored sites. The program’s designers say there is no evidence on the user’s computer of having viewed censored material once they erase their Internet history after each use. The software is part of a broader effort to live up to the initial hopes human rights activists had that the Internet would provide unprecedented freedom of expression for those living in restrictive countries.

Rockabye Baby! Another Demographic

Rock for Children

[W]hen his father recently unwrapped a new CD of ’80s British alternative rock reimagined expressly for babies, Casey was indifferent. As “Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of the Cure” played on the stereo, he kicked fitfully in his bouncy seat. He appeared not to recognize the wordless glockenspiel-and-vibraphone rendition of the Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” Within seconds he spit up.

His parents, though, liked what they heard.

“This is hilarious,” said his mother, Pam Leto, a music publicist who works with bands like My Morning Jacket and Eagles of Death Metal.

“It’s actually really soothing,” said her husband, Dave Leto, the tattooed drummer for the indie rock band Rye Coalition.

It was the kind of reaction — hook the parents, never mind the kid — that Lisa Roth was looking for when she founded Baby Rock, the Los Angeles label behind the kiddie Cure album and lullaby tributes to Metallica, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, Tool and Coldplay released this year.

Crossing the eDivide

Internet Extends Reach Of Bangladeshi Villagers

Before February, analysts said, only 370,000 Bangladeshis had access to the Internet. But now millions of villagers have access to information and services that had been available only by walking or taking long and expensive bus rides, or were beyond their reach altogether.

People now download job applications and music, see school exam results, check news and crop prices, make inexpensive Internet phone calls or use Web cameras to see relatives. Students from villages with few books now have access to online dictionaries and encyclopedias.

“We could not imagine where this technology has taken us in such a short time,” said Mufizur Rahman, 48, a grocery shop owner in Charkhai, a town of about 40,000 people whose streets are filled with colorful three-wheeled bicycle rickshaws, and where there are almost no cars.

“For the First World, this is minor,” he said. “But this is a big thing for us.”

The Sarasota eVoting Failure

An Electronic Canary

[I]f anyone still needs evidence that all electronic systems should provide verifiable paper trails so real ballots are available in the event of a recount, let them go to Sarasota.

If the courts punt, Congress, which has a right to judge the credentials of its members, should get to the bottom of this. It may be asking the impossible, but Democrats and Republicans should not make this a fight about which party picks up one more seat. Instead, they should conduct a joint inquest into this contest to provide a basis for bipartisan legislation creating national standards for improving our voting systems.

S.W.I.F.T. Violated EU Privacy Dictates

Panel Says Bank Group, Aiding U.S., Broke Law

A report by an EU panel released Thursday said the bank data transfer agency SWIFT broke European privacy laws by handing over personal data to U.S. authorities for use in anti-terror investigations.

The Belgian-based company, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, “committed violations of data protection laws” by secretly transferring data to the United States, without properly informing Belgian authorities, the EU’s data protection panel said.