A Legal Primer for Bloggers – Anonymity

23 10 2009

A Legal Primer for Bloggers, Part 4 – Anonymity

This post continues a series dealing specifically with the legal issues that bloggers should be thinking about.  Part 4, Anonymity, is especially timely, as Indianapolis-based Butler University has recently initiated a lawsuit against an anonymous blogger for making allegedly libelous and defamatory statements about school administrators on his blog, The True BU. The story is covered in detail at Inside Higher Ed. For a nice timeline of the buildup to the Butler lawsuit, see Brad Ward’s post over at SquaredPeg.

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Power.com Counterclaims Dismissed — Facebook v. Power Ventures

22 10 2009

[Post by Venkat]

Facebook and Power Ventures have been involved in a lawsuit over whether Power.com can allow its users to access user data on Facebook’s network. Facebook brought suit against Power.com asserting a slew of claims ranging from copyright infringement to violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Power.com brought a motion to dismiss, which the court denied.

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How does fair-use law work?

21 10 2009

Tim Wu at Slate

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Craigslist Isn’t Liable for Erotic Services Ads–Dart v. Craigslist

21 10 2009

By Eric Goldman

Dart v. Craigslist, Inc., 09 C 1385 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2009)

Yesterday, Judge John F. Grady of the Northern District of Illinois federal court dismissed Cook County Sheriff Dart’s lawsuit against Craigslist for user-posted advertisements in Craigslist’s erotic services/adult services category on 47 USC 230 grounds. This is hardly surprising, as I wrote in March that “this lawsuit is almost certainly preempted by 47 USC 230.” However, it was nice to see such a clean and decisive opinion–and a little ironic, as our law enforcement officials, who are supposed to enforce the laws rather than bypass them, got schooled in the limits of their legal authority.

With respect to the 230 analysis, the court characterizes Sheriff Dart’s claims as alleging that Craigslist negligently published the user-supplied ads.

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Licensing pact a big step towards fixing EU music stores

20 10 2009

Major members of the online music industry, including iTunes and Amazon, have signed an agreement with the European Commission to work towards more even and widespread music distribution across all of Europe. As part of the agreement, the music industry intends to do away with the limitations of the current licensing system so that music fans can have greater choice and clear usage rights, no matter where they are in Europe.

The agreement came after the fourth Roundtable on the Online Distribution of Music held Monday by Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Participants included Amazon, BEUC, EMI, iTunes, Nokia, PRS for Music, SACEM, STIM, and Universal. It was the first time the music industry has managed to agree on a common roadmap in Europe, which has been frustratingly segmented for years thanks to outdated licensing and rights practices in the EU.

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Google book digitization prompts the EU to rethink copyright

19 10 2009

The legal settlement that would sanctify Google’s book digitization efforts may be on hold, but that hasn’t stopped the sniping over digitization in general, and Google’s specific role in vending e-books. The Frankfurt Book Fair, a major publishing event, is playing host to the latest skirmishes over what role Google and other organizations should play in controlling access to digitized material.. . .

The Google book settlement was not well received within the EU, in part because of the same sorts of competition concerns that caused the US Department of Justice to weigh in against it. But Europeans had some distinct concerns, as Google has scanned copies of European works that reside in US Libraries, even though these were never licensed for US distribution

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Judge: ringtones aren’t performances, so no royalties

15 10 2009

If you have been blessing everyone around you with cell phone “performances” of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” rest assured that your cell phone provider won’t have to pay royalties on it. A federal court has ruled that ringtones played aloud in public are not infringing on the content owners’ copyrights because they don’t constitute a true performance. (In other news, children are still allowed to sing songs without paying royalties.)

Joking aside (actually, that’s less of a joke than you might think), the ringtone argument was made by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) earlier this year when it sued certain mobile carriers in the US in an attempt to force them to fork over royalties every time a customer’s ringtone is played.

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Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare

15 10 2009

This document is a code of best practices designed to help those preparing OpenCourseWare (OCW) to interpret and apply fair use under United States copyright law.
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EFF challenges Texas Instruments over calculator mods

13 10 2009

Texas Instruments has been making programmable calculators for longer than most companies have been making computers, and the company’s current line of calculators uses a chip—the Zilog Z80—that once appeared in personal computers. So it’s not surprising that a modding community has taken up the task of replacing the OS that runs the calculators. TI isn’t pleased by the modders’ efforts,

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100 years of Big Content fearing technology—in its own words

11 10 2009

It’s almost a truism in the tech world that copyright owners reflexively oppose new inventions that do (or might) disrupt existing business models. But how many techies actually know what rightsholders have said and written for the last hundred years on the subject?

The anxious rhetoric around new technology is really quite shocking in its vehemence, from claims that the player piano will destroy musical taste and the “national throat” to concerns that the VCR is like the “Boston strangler” to claims that only Hollywood’s premier content could make the DTV transition a success. Most of it turned out to be absurd hyperbole, but it’s interesting to see just how consistent the words and the fears remain across more than a century of innovation and a host of very different devices.

So here they are, in their own words—the copyright holders who demanded restrictions on player pianos, photocopiers, VCRs, home taping, DAT, MP3 players, Napster, the DVR, digital radio, and digital TV.

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