March 5, 2007

HR.1201 [4:08 pm]

The Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act of 2007′

To amend title 17, United States Code, to promote innovation, to encourage the introduction of new technology, to enhance library preservation efforts, and to protect the fair use rights of consumers, and for other purposes.

[...]

(b) Extension of Determinations of Librarian of Congress- Section 1201(a)(1) of title 17, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(G) The prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to–

`(i) an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of making a compilation of portions of audiovisual works in the collection of a library or archives for educational use in a classroom by an instructor;

`(ii) an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of enabling a person to skip past or to avoid commercial or personally objectionable content in an audiovisual work;

`(iii) an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of enabling a person to transmit a work over a home or personal network, except that this exemption does not apply to the circumvention of a technological measure to the extent that it prevents uploading of the work to the Internet for mass, indiscriminate redistribution;

`(iv) an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of gaining access to one or more works in the public domain that are included in a compilation consisting primarily of works in the public domain;

`(v) an act of circumvention that is carried out to gain access to a work of substantial public interest solely for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, or research; or

`(vi) an act of circumvention that is carried out solely for the purpose of enabling a library or archives meeting the requirements of section 108(a)(2), with respect to works included in its collection, to preserve or secure a copy or to replace a copy that is damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen.’.

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Location Services and Shopping [8:56 am]

A Richer Trip to the Mall, Guided by Text Messages

Technology companies like NearbyNow of Los Altos, Calif., and GPShopper in New York have introduced mobile Internet applications that allow shoppers to use their cellphones and PDAs to search the inventory and prices at the local mall, save them wasted steps and, sometimes, turn up last-minute bargains and promotions.

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A Look At Innovation and IPR [8:54 am]

Patent Fights Are a Legacy of MP3’s Tangled Origins

Microsoft says it was doing the right thing: paying a German rights holder $16 million to license the MP3 audio format, the foundation of the digital music boom. Then an American jury ruled that Microsoft had failed to pay another MP3 patent holder, and slapped it with a $1.52 billion judgment.

But the MP3 toll gates do not end there.

The confusion stems from the number of companies and institutions — including Thomson, Royal Philips Electronics and AT&T (through Bell Labs, now part of Alcatel-Lucent) — that worked to create the MP3 standard almost two decades ago. The patent claims of those and others are increasingly being backed up by aggressive enforcement efforts, including lawsuits and even seizures of music players by customs authorities.

[...] “A common misunderstanding is that Fraunhofer invented MP3,” said John M. Desmarais, the lead lawyer in the Microsoft case for Alcatel-Lucent, which is based in Paris. Though Fraunhofer was involved in the research that led to the MP3 standard issued in 1993, he said, “Bell Labs had already developed the fundamental technology” in the mid-1980s, “before Fraunhofer even came on the scene.”

He added that “I don’t mean to downplay other contributions of other companies.” Many other companies’ ideas were also incorporated into the final MP3 standard, Mr. Desmarais said, but that standard was largely based on work done at Bell Labs before it ever began collaborating with Fraunhofer.

“MP3 has a lot of parts to it,” and “two of the key parts are owned by Bell Laboratories,” he said, but “that doesn’t mean that other people don’t have an ownership interest.”

[...] For those confused about where to turn to obtain an MP3 license for a new device or piece of software, [the chairman of the MPEG group, Leonardo Chiariglione,] offers little solace. “The rule is that the MPEG working group is not allowed to consider patent issues in our technical work, so there is nothing I can do about it,” he said, “even though I consider the situation in general not positive for the wide adoption of the standard, which is what I have been working on.”

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