Sampling and Sound Recordings: The De Minimis Defense

10 09 2010

Dear Rich: I’m a music publisher and I read Newton v. Diamond in which the Beastie Boys were able to sample a flute recording without getting permission from the composer. Does this case really say conclusively that a master rights holder can license the recording of a composition and be compensated for it, while a de minimis use of the composition contained in that same master recording can be sampled for free?

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No, you don’t own it: Court upholds EULAs, threatens digital resale

10 09 2010

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today ruled (PDF) on a long-standing case involving used software on eBay, and it came to an important decision: if a company says you don’t have the right to resell a program, you don’t have that right. Could this mean the end of the resale market for all digital content? Yup. But the court says it had no choice.

The case is Vernor v. Autodesk,

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Vegas, Baby! Ruling a Possible Boon to ‘Copyright-Troll’ Suits

3 09 2010

In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about this outfit called Righthaven, a sort of online copyright enforcer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The enterprise won a key ruling in a Nevada federal court on Thursday.

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Runescape Publisher Denied Preliminary Injunction Against Maker of Auto-Player Software — Jagex Ltd. v. Impulse Software

2 09 2010

[Post by Venkat]

Jagex Ltd. v. Impulse Software, et al., Case No. 10-10216-NMG (D. Mass.) (Aug. 16, 2010)

Jagex operates “Runescape,” a popular and free online role-playing game. The game has over 130 million accounts, and users spend a significant amount of time “rising through the levels of the game”:

as of October, 2009, the three highest-ranking players had each spent an average of approximately 20,000 hours [!] involved in a game, e.g., 50 hours per week for almost eight years.

Impulse (along with the individual defendants) operate websites offering “cheat” tools – i.e., software that allows users to advance their characters without actually playing the game. Defendants’ software downloads a copy of Runescape and “uses a process called ‘reflection’ to examine the game’s internal operation which is normally hidden from users.” The software then “plays the game for its owner while she is away from her computer.”

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Obama administration: “Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft”

31 08 2010

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke went to Nashville yesterday to address a symposium on intellectual property enforcement, and he threw down the gauntlet: the Obama administration will find, board, and scuttle digital pirate ships, and the SS Copyright is going to get a new coat of armored plating.

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Studios sue ad shop for pirate sites

27 08 2010

Movie studios are extending their efforts to take down sites that offer pirated material, with a new lawsuit targeting an advertising company that provides services to such sites. Warner Bros. and Disney have teamed up to sue Triton Media, accusing the company of both contributory and induced copyright infringement because Triton helps to keep the sites alive by providing them with advertising and referral income.

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MPEG LA counters Google WebM with permanent royalty moratorium

26 08 2010

The MPEG Licensing Association—the group responsible for handling the necessary patent licensing for use of MPEG video codec standards—has announced that it will not charge royalties for AVC/H.264 encoded video that is made available to view via the Internet for free. The group earlier this year had extended its limited moratorium on licensing fees for free Internet video until the end of 2015.



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Michele Boldrin, “Against Intellectual Property” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2009/05/18

22 08 2010

Copyright and patent play in incentives for investments, but may go too far in deterring parallel developments.

Michele Boldrin of Washington University in St. Louis talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about intellectual property and Boldrin’s book, co-written with David Levine, Against Intellectual Property.

Boldrin argues that copyright and patent are used by the politically powerful to maintain monopoly profits.

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Supreme Court told P2P users can be “innocent infringers”

20 08 2010

Two prominent lawyers in the fight against RIAA P2P lawsuits have taken their battle to the Supreme Court. Today, Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson and “Recording Industry vs. the People” blogger/lawyer Ray Beckerman joined with a few other law professors to ask the Supreme Court not to gut copyright law’s “innocent infringer” defense.

The case concerns a woman named Whitney Harper. Several years ago, when she was a teenaged cheerleader, Harper downloaded music using P2P networks. She was caught by MediaSentry, which investigated file-sharing for the major music labels, but she claimed to be an “innocent infringer” under US copyright law, saying that in her early teen years she had thought P2P use to be just like listening to free music on the radio. That defense, accepted by the judge in her case, reduced the statutory minimum damages against Harper from $750 per song down to just $200.

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Oracle sues Google over use of Java in Android

12 08 2010

In a tersely worded press release, Oracle announced that it was suing Google for patent and copyright infringement over its use of the Java programming language for Android development. Neither the press release nor the complaint filed in the US District Court for Northern California go into any significant detail.

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