Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

NH Woman Fights RIAA

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Someday we will look back on the actions of RIAA and the rest of the music industry and laugh, or maybe cry.  For now, however, we will have to continue hearing stories like this:

The woman, Mavis Roy of Hudson, has called on legal clinics at the state’s only law school to represent her as she fights the charges in federal court this year.

The lawsuit brought by UMG Recordings, Interscope Records, Motown Record Co., and BMG Music alleges that Roy violated copyright infringement laws by downloading and distributing 218 audio files on April 24, 2007.

Roy’s defense team questions how that could be when she did not have a computer in her house at the time in question.

Why RIAA is allowed to behave in this manner is confounding.  Nearly every suit they bring reeks of intimidation and weak evidence.  Not only that, but going after grown women for allegedly downloads a few songs from a pirated source is simply not going to help save an industry that is built on a collection of obsolete business models.

(via)

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RIAA Trying to Hide Actions in Court

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RIAA, the group perhaps most singly responsible for turning music fans against the major labels, is currently suing a young man who is being defended, in part, by a Harvard professor.

In an attempt to shed some light on the absurd arguments RIAA uses to make their case, the defendants requested that the court allow the trial to be webcast live.

Tenenbaum’s attorneys had sought the Webcast, arguing that streaming the hearing would allow the public to effectively attend the trial. The record industry opposed the request on the grounds that the publicity could prejudice a potential jury pool.

Gertner last week discounted the RIAA’s arguments, noting that the organization repeatedly said it sued non-commercial file swappers in order to generate publicity that would dissuade others from sharing music. Her order authorized the Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society to host the streams.(via)

Now the trial has been delayed as RIAA appeals this decision.

Let’s review, shall we.  RIAA claims that these trials should be a warning and deterent to other file-sharers but they don’t want anyone to actually be able to watch the trial.  That makes a ton of sense.

If the major labels want any chance to survive in the digital age they need to reign in RIAA and start treating their potential customers as partners instead of pirates.

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DRM Bites Publisher and Readers in the Ass

I love this story via BoingBoing‘s resident awesome guy Cory Doctrow about a publisher who locked up their ebooks with DRM, limiting how their customers could interact with the book they thought they had bought.

Unfortunately, the company that handeld the DRM has gone out of business and taken the license keys with them.  This has led to the following F*ck-You from the publisher to their customers:

However, as noted above, other formats are delivered through third party aggregators. We do not have legal control of those third party servers. If those third party servers “go dark” for one reason or another, we have no way to continue delivering those files.

Yup, once again proving why any company who uses DRM cares less about their customers than they do about over-protecting their market-share.

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UK Makes Pointless Show of Force Against DVD Piracy

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TorrentFreak has word on a big plan to rid London of a horrible scourge:

“Touted as the biggest ever anti-piracy collaboration, the MPA and several major anti-piracy groups have announced that by the time the 2012 Olympics begin, they will have made London “a fake-free zone”. This impossible mission to stamp out DVD piracy was launched by Intellectual Property Minister, David Lammy.”

Is it just me, or does this sound like an enormous waste of time and resources? Isn’t there real crime in London?  How about making the city murder-free by 2012? Or how about a “felony-free zone?”

It upsets me to see how much of our tax money (both here in the US and around the world) is wasted on “stamping out DVD piracy” – not only is it completely ineffective but any small benefit achieved is only enjoyed by the major movie studios who will continue to use it all as an excuse to raise ticket prices.

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3D Printing On Demand – The Future Is Now!

I’ve mentioned 3D printers before and now, thanks to Make, here are a couple of videos that begin to show some of the potential to come.

Not only are 3D printers quickly becoming an affordable reality but the opportunities that they represent almost boggle the brain – and I don’t even want to think about how this will effect things like patent law!  What happens when I can “print” my own version of a product instead of going to buy it from the original maker?

Here is one of the videos (go to Make to see the other – I like to give credit and views where they are due!)

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Emily the Strange, Wishbones and the Endless Complications of Copyright, Patents and Property

Two very interesting posts that explore the difficulties and challenges faced by all of us as we try to contend with the issues of copyrights, patents and intellectual property.

First, over on BoingBoing (a site that continues to devote serious time and attention to these sorts of things) has the curious case of Emily the Strange. Emily is a drawing that became something of an iconic logo on all sorts of stuff one might buy at Hot Topic if one were a disaffected suburban teen.  Well, it turns out the drawing, that the artist claimed to be original, is clearly a extremely minor adaptation of a pre-existing work.  Here are the two images so you can judge for yourself:

Picture from BoingBoing

Picture from BoingBoing

The left is the original from the 1978 children’s book “Nate the Great Goes Undercover, by Marc Simont.  The one on the right was “originally” produced in 1991 by Rob Reger.

The question is what does Marc now deserve in return for Rob’s obvious reuse of his original work without consent or compensation.

Now, one could argue that Marc had already gotten his due from the book and the art contained within.  He never thought to take the image and place it into a comletely new context, thus reigniting it’s monetary value.  That’s what Rob did.  Rob’s big mistake was not the idea of repurposing some cool art from the 70’s but that he claimed it was his own and did not both to credit or compensate the original artist.

So far, I can find no official response to this “discovery” by either party but it will be interesting to see if any legal action is taken, and if so, what the courts find.

Clearly, Marc should be compensated in some way, but how much is a far more complex question.

The second story falls under the complications of copyright infringement – something I am learning more about while reading James Boyle’s insanely great book “The Publc Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind.”

According to TechDirt (another killer site for following these kinds of issues) a man successfully sued Sears after he sent them a prototype for a plastic, reusable wishbone and then discovered Sears was selling a similar item from a different manufactured.  As TechDirt points out:

“The lawsuit was over copyright infringement claims only, and Sears made two good points that should have prevailed, in our opinion. First, you can’t copyright something occurring in nature — such as a wishbone. Second, the wishbones that Sears ordered were in different colors and sizes than the ones supplied by the original company.  And, in fact, that’s exactly how competition should work. Sears pushed another manufacturer to innovate, designing different (and, in their opinion, better) wishbones. That’s competition and that’s how innovation works.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As we move deeper and deeper into the digital age and reproduction and distribution become cheaper and easier – um, have you seen the 3D printers?! – there will be some major choices to be made to balance the free flow of ideas with the need to compensate those doing the thinking.


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Dear Barack Obama, Please Kill RIAA

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RIAA’s CEO – Ew!

A couple months into the new acedemic year and one thing is clear – RIAA wants to sue the crap out of college kids for listening to music.

Every day it seems there is some new story about how RIAA is trying to force colleges and universities to share info about what their students are downloading and sharing so that RIAA can then assault their students with criminal charges, court dates and mammouth lawyer fees that can often result in students being forced to drop out of school altogether.

Considering that there is no real proof that music piracy has a direct impact on the profits of labels and that there are real problems facing America perhaps it is time to reign in RIAA and stop them from screwing up the lives of people who have done little more than click on a link.

Please, Presendent-elect Obama, call these people in and tell them to stop the unnecessary abuse.

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