Here’s why isoHunt deserved to die — “Critics warned that the vagueness of [the Grokster] rule would open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits against technology innovators. But that hasn’t happened for a simple reason: It’s easy to avoid running afoul of the inducement standard. If an entrepreneur is sincerely not trying to profit from infringement, then she won’t encourage her customers to infringe, and so plaintiffs won’t be able to find evidence of her doing so. In contrast, the court found clear evidence that isoHunt was trying to profit from infringement. For example, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that for a time, ‘isoHunt prominently featured a list of ‘Box Office Movies,’ containing the 20 highest-grossing movies then playing in U.S. theaters. When a user clicked on a listed title, she would be invited to ‘upload [a] torrent’ file for that movie.’ Since the top-grossing movies are almost always copyrighted, this feature shows clear evidence of infringing intent.”
My Art Was Stolen for Profit (and How You Can Help) — Independent artist Lisa Congdon writes of her discovery that wholesaler Cody Foster appears to have “blatant[ly]” copied her artwork. Says Congdon, “In the world of art & illustration, you can use the artwork of artists on your products as long as you ask permission, sign a licensing agreement with the artist, and agree to compensate them. I sell my images to companies all the time, companies who ask my permission and compensate me for my intellectual property. In this case, I was never contacted, asked permission or paid. That is called copying. It’s also called stealing.”
Is unauthorized online copying theft and does it hurt creators? — Canadian attorney Barry Sookman points to an interesting case that addresses a subject that is vigorously debated online. It’s an interesting case: essentially, Party A engages in copying a database compiled by Party B without permission. Party B posts angry messages about Party A online, accusing Party A of being a “thief” and of stealing the database. A sues B for defamation. Truth is a defense to defamation. So the court had to consider whether the characterization of unauthorized copying as theft is true or false. it concluded that it was true. “To a lay person such as Henry, ‘theft’ can also mean the wrongful act of taking the property of another person without permission. The data Henry had collected could be reasonably understood as her property—she had collected it, and it was her work in compiling it that gave it value. She did not give Tamburo permission to copy it and sell access to it. Although Henry might not be able to successfully sue Tamburo for using her data in this way, the gist of her statements was true: he took the data without her permission.”
Musicians: Don’t Let Google Hijack Your Brand With “Shared Endorsements” — The announcement this week that Google will start using user photos and likenesses in advertising raised a stir. Fortunately, at the moment, it appears that Google users can opt out of becoming unpaid shills (though how long Google will allow that is unclear). Probably a good idea for not just musicians, but any creators and small businesses who use Google to promote their work.
You are a soldier in Google’s Cold War with Facebook for social dominance — Web.Tech.Law takes a closer look at why Google has made the above-mentioned move.
The Walking Dead: Season 4 Begins — If, like me, you were excited to see the return of AMC’s zombie drama last Sunday, you might enjoy this look at the creation of the music for the season premiere from Bear McCreary, who regularly blogs, in depth, about his creative process. Fascinating stuff.
Tollbooths and Newsstands on the Information Superhighway — Brad Greenberg has posted a draft of an interesting forthcoming essay. “The Internet has made it easier than ever before to stay informed on current events — and without ever needing to pick up, let alone pay for, a newspaper. But recent litigation and legislation in the United States and Europe have challenged the cost-free flow of such information. The opposition to these recent legal developments is rooted in a belief that stronger intellectual property protections result in higher tolls, which, in turn, price many consumers out of accessing and using the information. But overlooked has been an existential consideration: information-gathering is expensive, and absent efficient tolls there will be far less information to access at all, regardless of cost. The United States Supreme Court recognized this principle in Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises as it applies more narrowly to whether copyright law inhibits free expression. Identifying the particular importance of incentives for newsgatherers, this Essay extends the Harper & Row rationale beyond its copyright mooring. In light of the continued withering corps of professional newsgatherers, these legal developments actually could enhance the exchange of information and ideas to the extent they preserve incentives for news publishers. This Essay proffers that copyright expansions actually can increase access and thereby serve important copyright and First Amendment values.”