MySpace Quietly Won Goofy 230 Ruling in September–Riggs v. MySpace

30 11 2009

By Eric Goldman

Riggs v. MySpace, Inc., 2:09-cv-03073-GHK-CT (C.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2009)

This case has received some modest attention throughout its history (including a quick mention here when the court upheld MySpace’s user agreement), but the district court’s dismissal of the case appears to have been completely overlooked.

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Verizon to Notify Customers of Possible Copyright Infringement

20 11 2009

According to a recent announcement from Verizon Communications Company, the company will begin issuing “copyright notices” to customers accused of illegally downloading copyrighted material from the Internet. The notices will be sent on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and will be delivered by email or automated voice messaging. The notice, which other ISPs have also forwarded from the RIAA to customers upon the RIAA’s request, is expected to inform customers that they have been accused of illegal music sharing and advise them to delete the music they distribute.

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The Google-Books Settlement: A Lawsuit Ripe for . . . Congress?

17 11 2009

The deadlock over the Google books settlement moved a little late last week when Google agreed to relinquish some control over the fate of so-called orphan works. Click here for the Recorder story.

Before we unpack the news, let’s provide a little background.

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Federal Judge Orders BlueBeat.com to Stop Selling Beatles Songs

10 11 2009

The works of most every major recording artist are now legally available for download. That is, however, except for those of The Beatles. Thus, it came as quite a surprise when, on October 30, the music sharing website BlueBeat.com began offering 25-cent downloads of Beatles music.

The record label EMI, which owns the rights to Beatles recordings, quickly brought suit against BlueBeat alleging copyright infringement; and last Thursday a federal judge ordered BlueBeat to stop selling songs by the Beatles and other artists.

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The ACTA Internet provisions: DMCA goes worldwide

8 11 2009

That warm flood of outrage through the veins is addicting—but it also runs the danger of being addictive, and of being too easy. As the news broke this week about the “Internet provisions” in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), it didn’t take long for the outrage to emerge.

For instance, the popular blog Boing Boing (we love you, Cory!) announced that, under the proposed ACTA provisions being drafted by the US, “ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn’t infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.”

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The Limits of First Sale Doctrine

8 11 2009

One clear message of intellectual property law is that mere possession, or even ownership, of a product or a copy does not vitiate the rights-owner’s interest in and right to control use or disposition of the product or copy. First sale doctrine carves out a very limited exception to this.

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Law Professor Sues Over ‘Above the Law’ Blog Posts–Jones v. Minkin

3 11 2009

By Eric Goldman

Jones v. Minkin, 1:09-cv-23256-MGC (S.D. Fla. complaint filed Oct. 27, 2009). The Above the Law blog post on the lawsuit with links to the posts in question.

Given its history of provocative and occasionally aggressive blog posts, it’s actually a little surprising that popular law blog Above the Law has not been sued before. A blogger’s life is inherently filled with peril. We bet our houses with every blog post, and eventually the law of large numbers starts working against us. The risks are even greater for bloggers covering legal topics. By definition, we routinely cover people who are prepared to mix it up in court. As a result, it’s almost inevitable that blawgers who keep at it long enough will get sued eventually.

The plaintiff in this case is University of Miami law professor D. Marvin Jones, who in 2007 was improperly detained by police for possibly racist reasons. This prompted a series of blog posts on Above the Law that included an unflattering cartoon and unfavorable characterizations. Jones now claims that the blog posts put him in a false light, invaded his privacy and constituted copyright infringement because the blog posts used the photo from his university profile page. Although the complaint uses the word “defamation” earlier in the pleading, no defamation claim was alleged. For these violations, Jones asks for tens of millions of dollars to right the alleged wrongs.
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Treading the Line: Fair & Derivative Uses

30 10 2009

On Friday, October 23, the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law held its annual symposium. This year’s symposium was entitled Drawing Lines in the Digital Age: Copyright, Fair Use, and Derivative Works. The symposium covered a variety of topics related to digital copyright, but the focus was on exploring the intersection of fair and derivative uses of copyrighted works. This issue was tackled head on by our first panel, and described briefly below.

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EFF opens the “Takedown Hall of Shame”

27 10 2009

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a big fan of naming and shaming. When it launched its patent-busting project a few years back, the activist group put up a “Wanted by EFF marshals” poster; eight of the ten patents on the list have already been narrowed, invalidated, or reexamined.

So when it wanted to highlight the overzealous use of DMCA takedown notices on the Web, the EFF went a similar route with its new “Takedown Hall of Shame.”

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Posting as Implied License

24 10 2009

Merely posting a work online does not relinquish all rights. As in other environments, merely placing property in public does not release property rights. The Internet context, however, may indicate that some actions with respect to the work are implicitly permitted.

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