Proud Member of the “Rakofsky 74″
Rakofsky badge (by Amy Derby ©)
Recent Posts
Subscribe via email


Technology 4 Lives

Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Category

Alleged Trademark Infringement After Dark

(Just go ahead and assume this whole post is NSFW.)

Americans love basketball. Maybe not as much as football, and I have no idea where baseball fits in anymore, but they love basketball. When the Miami Heat faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it inspired a couple of Miami fans to do their part to support the team and its loyal fans. Also, they are both porn stars.

Miami Heat fans celebrated in late June, as Lebron James and company brought home the 2012 NBA title after beating the OKC Thunder in five games. While many of the city’s fans rejoiced because it was the Miami’s first championship since 2006, others were ecstatic because two porn stars promised fellatio to fans if the team won.

A pair of porn stars, Sara Jay and Angelina Castro, initially made the offer to fans during the Finals, and when Miami actually won, they’ve begun revealing plans to give a “free BJ” to all their Twitter followers.

Days after the Finals ended, the duo launched a new website to make good on their promise, TeamBJNBA.com. There, fans/followers are given all the details to collect.

The Team BJ NBA includes several stipulations, such as having a “talent” STD test completed and must consent to being filmed during event, which appears to be a BJ marathon set to take place in Miami in early August.

There’s some information about how they’ll select people, which appears to be based on how long people have been paying members of their websites (membership does have its privileges). There’s also a Twitter account. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

The Oatmeal redefines legal badassery

This is how you do it.

1. Create a brilliant web comic with thousands of fans.

2. Keep tabs on unauthorized redistribution of your own intellectual property on the web.

3. Identify websites that profit from unauthorized, unattributed copies of your work. Contact them regarding the copyright infringement.

4. When the infringement doesn’t stop, write a factual, sourced, entertaining blog post detailing the activities of one of said websites. Get the website to remove your stuff.

5. Wait about a year.

6. Receive a letter alleging defamation against said website from a lawyer whose main claim to fame is litigation over a porn site (not that there is anything wrong with that), demanding an unreasonable settlement.

7. Remain calm.

8. Respond with wit and sarcasm, remaining calm and clearly outlining a counteroffer.

9. Raise the demanded settlement amount online in sixty-four minutes.

10. Continue raising orders of magnitude more than the originally demanded amount.

11. Sit back and allow the world to marvel at your epic pwnage.

Share

Netflix is not what you might think it is

Netflix envelope

There is no need to stomp all over symbolic representations of Netflix's management

The internet was all abuzz yesterday with news of Netflix’s creation of a super PAC, called FLIXPAC, allegedly set up to promote SOPA/PIPA-type legislation.

Except it isn’t true, at least according to Netflix. Netflix is not supporting SOPA et al, it says.

You see, internet, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Politico ran a piece on April 5 with the not-terribly-earth-shattering headline “Netflix forms PAC.” It takes about thirty seconds to see that the article makes no mention whatsoever of any specific policy positions taken by said PAC. It doesn’t even call it a “super” PAC.

Fast-forward to April 9, when RT publishes “Netflix creates pro-SOPA super-PAC?” Note the use of the question mark. The article is a masterpiece of hedging:

As US lawmakers consider anti-piracy legislation, they may have found an ally in Netflix. The streaming content giant has created its own super PAC, raising claims that it will support anti-piracy measures in Washington to promote SOPA-like laws.

(Emphasis added) See the problem? It continues:

Hollywood and record industry support didn’t help Congress get SOPA and PIPA to pass the House and Senate, but now they may have a new accomplice in their continuing fight to try and push for anti-piracy legislation.

(Emphasis added) Keep reading…

The newly established agency may be able to endorse politicians by way of stuffing their pockets, which could influence even more congressmen to condone increasingly controversial bills considered in the House and Senate. Congressional records would seem to support this possibility, as they show that the lobbying expenses of Netflix rose from $20,000 in 2009 to $500,000 in 2011.

The most notorious of those bills – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – is thought to have found initial support with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who reportedly expressed solidarity with SOPA’s ultimate goals in a letter to the Chamber of Commerce. However, once internet resistance to SOPA grew, Netflix hastily backtracked, insisting that the company has been “neutral” on the issue right from the start.

(Emphasis added) I think you get the idea.

This is why it is important to read an online article carefully and check the linked sources. In the case of the RT article, there are no linked sources. They don’t even link to the Politico article. That says something.

The one verifiable claim made anywhere in the quoted text, other than the simple (and innocuous by itself) fact of Netflix’s increased lobbying budget, is the CEO’s purported support of “SOPA’s ultimate goals.” Yes, Hastings did apparently send a letter expressing support for the goal of stopping internet piracy. Not to get too far from the original point of this post, but of course he would support stopping internet piracy. He makes money in part by selling streaming video. And stopping online piracy is not an inherently unworthy goal (wait for it…)

The problem with SOPA is that it goes too far and is ripe for abuse by overzealous content owners and prosecutors. It isn’t SOPA’s goals that are problematic (well, that’s arguable, but I’m generalizing), so much as SOPA’s methods.

After much public outcry, Hastings reversed any sort of overt support he might have implied for SOPA. That was a good business move. The public clearly does not care for SOPA, and Netflix has been near-catastrophically tone-deaf to the public’s needs in the recent past.

RT issued a correction of sorts earlier today.

The point here is that SOPA is bad news, but suggesting ill intent around every corner does not help the overall cause of developing a system of online copyright protection that actually makes sense. Netflix and Reed Hastings may actually love the crap out of SOPA, and this really is a ploy to help push it through Congress–but this sentence is pulled directly out of my butt, as there is no evidence of this whatsoever. So far.

I’m halfway through season 1 of both “The Wire” and “Mad Men,” so I’m glad I don’t have to give up Netflix. Yet.

Side note to Netflix: You dodged a bullet in September with your idiotic Qwikster plan. Just know that American consumers are watching you, and do not trust you. Lucky for you that you offer a good service people love. But then, Blackberry once had fifty percent of the smartphone market, and look at them now. Tread carefully.

(h/t abaldwin360)

Photo credit: Photo by author.

Share

Music in the cloud

Cloud or con trail, Cranborne, DorsetToday I decided to avail myself of some of South by Southwest‘s CLE offerings. Since I have some interest in internet law, including issues like cloud security, I was very interested in “Gimme Shelter from the Storm Clouds.” This was advertised as a panel looking at “the disruption caused by some new cloud-based services and how this disruption is affecting existing industries.” That’s not exactly what they talked about. The panel consisted of two lawyers and the owner of mp3tunes, a “music locker” service.

Let’s just say there were fireworks.

Copyright law allows people to keep “ephemeral phonorecords,” meaning digital copies of music you own, i.e. ripped copies of your own CD’s. It gets tricky when you start sharing that music with others, and it gets really tricky when you upload that music to the internet. A major issue for the cloud is whether a license is required for every digital copy of a song. There does not seem to be a consensus on this question–if there is, it was not in evidence today. It’s still a pretty good question.

Who has the burden of establishing whether a given track infringes a copyright? The law basically says that the copyright holder has that burden, but they argue that the service provider has the most readily available information on the upload itself. On the other hand, the service provider does not have the resources to review every possible license a file could have. The technology is advancing far, far faster than the law can possibly pace.

A few years ago, mp3tunes reportedly received a copyright takedown notice after it linked to a song on the SXSW website. This was, according to the speaker, just a link to the page where the song was posted. I asked how that could possibly be infringement, and he told me that it was an attempt by the copyright holder to intimidate him, or something along those lines. I find the argument interesting given that one website linking to another is pretty much the foundation of the internet, without which SEO wouldn’t even be possible. The question of whether linking to copyrighted material, especially deep linking to specific files, is infringement is still somewhat of an open question.

They talked about the MegaUpload case at length. On the one hand, the federal government arrested a large number of people for copyright infringement–not normally a criminal matter per se–and seized all of their assets with little to no due process. On the other hand, a comparison was made to a RICO prosecution. I’m not as familiar with the case as I should be, so I guess this will lead to more posts.

Photo credit: Cloud or con trail, Cranborne, Dorset, copyright Clive Perrin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Share