New Zealand judge: FBI must release more evidence to Kim Dotcom

16 08 2012

In an appellate judicial ruling at the New Zealand High Court, a judge ruled Thursday that the FBI must allow Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now-shuttered Megaupload site, to see more evidence against him in his extradition case to the United States. The ruling marks a significant blow to the American efforts to get Dotcom extradited to the US.

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EA Faces Uphill Battle in Its Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Zynga (Partial Forbes Cross-Post)

13 08 2012

By Eric Goldman

Electronic Arts Inc. v. Zynga Inc., 3:12-cv-04099 (N.D. Cal. complaint filed Aug. 3, 2012).

Last Friday, Electronic Arts ($EA) sued Zynga ($ZNGA) for copyright infringement. EA alleges that Zynga’s “The Ville” game takes too much of EA’s “Sims Social” game.

The lawsuit is interesting for a number of reasons.  First, it’s always interesting to see two major Silicon Valley companies clash in court.  (I know Zynga is located in SoMa–“South of Market Street” in San Francisco–but close enough).  It’s even more interesting to see big game manufacturers square off, something that happens relatively rarely.  Second, the case raises interesting–and difficult-to-resolve–substantive questions about copyright law.  Third, game developers copy each other’s ideas all the time, meaning that if the case reaches a final adjudication rather than settling, it might set a vitally important precedent for the entire industry.

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How YouTube lets content companies “claim” NASA Mars videos

13 08 2012

Lon Seidman knew he wasn’t going to get rich from his three-hour video discussion of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars. The local media entrepreneur did a live Google+ Hangout about the event and posted the resulting video to YouTube, expecting it would earn him a few bucks and attract some new readers to his site, CT Tech Junkie. During the discussion, Seidman played a number of NASA videos about the Curiosity mission. He knew he was on safe ground because works of the federal government are automatically in the public domain.

So he was surprised to find that no fewer than five other media organizations (mostly television stations, including some from overseas) had “claimed” the content of his video through YouTube’s Content ID system.

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Helicopters, guns, attack dogs: New video shows raid on Dotcom home

13 08 2012

With New Zealand authorities trying to overturn a ruling that a raid of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s mansion was illegal, new footage has surfaced showing police storming the home with helicopters, semiautomatic weapons, and attack dogs, despite the fact that police admitted Dotcom posed a “low risk.”

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Google to drop search rankings of sites with many takedown notices

13 08 2012
In a Friday morning blog post, Google said it will change its search algorithm next week to take into account “the number of valid copyright removal notices” it receives for any site. High rates of removal notices are likely to drop a site down in the search results, which Google says “should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”

The new move appears to be a nod in the direction of rightsholders, most notably the MPAA and RIAA. The latter trade group, meanwhile, has argued previously that Google isn’t doing enough to remove possibly infringing links.

On its website, the RIAA called the new move a “potentially significant announcement.”

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Maxis and Electronic Arts sue Zynga over The Ville

8 08 2012

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for Zynga, whose less-than-stellar earnings report last Friday was quickly followed by allegations of insider trading by no fewer than five different law firms. Now, Electronic Arts and Maxis are piling on, suing Zynga over The Ville‘s similarities to EA’s own The Sims Social.

EA believes that Zynga copied The Sims Social‘s game design, graphics, and other elements to such an extent that “the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable,” said Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw in a press release posted over at Joystiq. Bradshaw also wants to protect the “creative teams who feel that their hard work and imaginations have been ripped off” by the alleged copying.

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Video Embedding Site Isn’t a Contributory Copyright Infringer, But Sideloading Could Be Direct Infringement–Flava Works v. myVidster

8 08 2012

By Eric Goldman

Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter, No. 11-3190 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2012). Prior blog post on district court ruling.

myVidster is a “social bookmarking” website that allows users to link to videos hosted elsewhere on the Internet and thereby embed the videos in myVidster’s user interface. Today, myVidster scored a big win at the Seventh Circuit, which held that it had not committed contributory infringement by allowing users to embed infringing videos via myVidster. It’s hard to state just how amazing this ruling was for myVidster, because myVidster’s principal, Gunter, often refused to honor takedown notices (on the dicey premise that anything posted somewhere elsewhere on the Internet was freely linkable) and thus presumptively failed to qualify for the 17 USC 512(d) safe harbor. Normally, when a website fails to honor takedown notices, judges come down hard on the website—just like the district court did in this case.

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Leaked: US proposal on copyright’s limits

8 08 2012

Late Friday, a few short paragraphs of text were leaked that revealed something of the terms on fair use being negotiated in secret by the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a treaty currently being negotiated by nine Pacific Rim countries seeking to establish a new free-trade agreement on many issues, including intellectual property. The next negotiating round is set for early September in Leesburg, Virginia.

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As Curiosity touches down on Mars, video is taken down from YouTube

8 08 2012

The NASA Curiosity team had to overcome many obstacles to land their robot safely on the surface of the Red Planet. But one obstacle they were probably not expecting to encounter was an accusation of copyright infringement.

The American space agency has been posting videos related to the Curiosity mission on its official YouTube page. But the Motherboard blog noticed that one of the videos had disappeared. In its place was the message “This video contains content from Scripps Local News, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

NASA is a federal agency, and by law, works of the federal government are in the public domain. And in any event, it’s hard to see how Scripps could own footage of NASA scientists celebrating Curiosity’s successful landing in their own control room. So NASA complained to YouTube, and the video was restored within a few hours.

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Amazon decides it actually does need licenses for music

1 08 2012

It has been over a year since Amazon.com introduced its Cloud Player—a personal music storage and playback service connected to a user’s Amazon account. Only today, though, did Amazon announce that it entered into licensing agreements with “Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and more than 150 independent distributors, aggregators, and music publishers,” and has made a new scan-and-match service available to Amazon customers.

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