This time around, Strumpf looks at the relationship between the stock price of producers, and when illicit copies of movies hit the file-sharing sites. The thesis is that if investors considered a Torrent of Transformers: Age of Extinction represented a greater risk for DreamWorks than the quality of the movie, it would be reflected in the share price.In the more academic language Strumpf uses: “forward-looking markets can be used to establish the unobserved counter-factual of how movie revenues would change on any possible file sharing release date, particularly those prior to the theatrical premier.
An interesting observation in the paper is that “one consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue”, suggesting that “free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property”.
Overall, however, “The estimates indicate that the displacement effect is quite small, both on a movie-level and in aggregate” – in other words, no, BitTorrent isn’t what’s destroying Hollywood.
You take an idea that’s not all that original and implement it on a computer. For that, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday, you don’t deserve a patent.Seeking to do its part to trim the proliferation of software patents, the high court nevertheless tread carefully to avoid ensnaring too many legitimate business patents along the way.The case had attracted legions of lawyers on both sides to the high court’s chamber in March, as well as hundreds of pages of briefs from the likes of Google, Microsoft and IBM. Many had urged a solution similar to what the justices sought to devise Thursday: a reduction in flimsy patents without affecting the deserving ones.The specific patent in question uses a computer to safeguard complex financial transactions, largely among banks. The program is intended to reduce the risk that one party can’t hold up its end of the deal.Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the entire court, ruled that the third-party settlement concept is an ‘abstract idea,” and using a computer to implement it “cannot transform a patent-ineligible abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”
When Santa Barbara startup FindTheBest (FTB) was sued by a patent troll called Lumen View last year, it vowed to fight back rather than pay up the $50,000 licensing fee Lumen was asking for. Company CEO Kevin O’Connor made it personal, pledging $1 million of his own money to fight the legal battle.
Once FindTheBest pursued the case, the company dismantled the troll in short order. In November, the judge invalidated Lumen’s patent, finding it was nothing more than a description of computer-oriented “matchmaking.”
At that point, FindTheBest had spent about $200,000 on its legal fight—not to mention the productivity lost in hundreds of work hours spent by top executives on the lawsuit, and three all-company meetings.
Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled (PDF) that it’s Lumen View, not FindTheBest, that should have to pay those expenses. In a first-of-its-kind implementation of new fee-shifting rules mandated by the Supreme Court, US District Judge Denise Cote found that the Lumen View lawsuit was a “prototypical exceptional case.”
A federal appeals court on Friday reversed a federal judge’s ruling that Oracle’s Java API’s were not protected by copyright.
The debacle started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted.
“Because we conclude that the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection, we reverse the district court’s copyrightability determination with instructions to reinstate the jury’s infringement finding as to the 37 Java packages,” the US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday.
Google, which said it was exploring its legal options, decried Friday’s ruling. The Mountain View, CA-based media giant said the decision “sets a damaging precedent for computer science and software development.”
If this ruling stands, it will significantly damage the ability to develop software in the US and any country that honors US copyrights.
For starters, reverse engineering as a practice is dead. Any clean-room reimplementation is no longer possible since the interfaces themselves are copyrighted. Alternative implementations, drop-in replacements, etc., are gone without the express consent of the API copyright holder.
Developing software is about to get impossible.
It’s become fairly clear that the TPP agreement is in trouble these days (for a variety of reasons). And it appears that President Obama is losing his cool concerning the agreement and its critics. In a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, President Obama lashed out at TPP critics, calling them “conspiracy theorists” whose criticism “reflects lack of knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations.” Oh really?
Um. You know why those complaining may “lack knowledge of what is going on in the negotiations”? Perhaps it’s because the USTR — a part of the Obama White House — has insisted that the entire negotiations take place in complete secrecy with no transparency at all. If President Obama doesn’t want conspiracy theories about the agreement, and wishes that its critics were more informed about the negotiations, he can change that today by instructing the USTR to release its negotiating positions and promise to make all future negotiating positions public.
Sony is warning shareholders to expect poor financial results for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. The electronics giant previously expected to pull in an operating income of 80 billion yen ($782 million) over the financial year, but is today adjusting that figure down to just 26 billion yen ($254 million).
The second charge is due to what Sony calls “demand for physical media contracting faster than anticipated,” especially in Europe.
Well… if the choice is between stuff like netflix or your Apple TV starting a movie in seconds, or loading a disc and waiting through minutes of unstoppable legal threats, trailers and disclaimers just to get to the main menu…
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying “…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…” I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, “Sweet!” are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for “likelihood of confusion” (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in “An open letter on intellectual property” posted on your website which states, “We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.”
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
The work at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on adding DRM to HTML5 is one of the most disturbing developments in the recent history of technology. The W3C’s mailing lists have been full of controversy about this ever since the decision was announced.
Most recently, a thread in the restricted media list asked about the requirements for DRM from the studios — who have pushed for DRM, largely through their partner Netflix — and discoverd that these requirements are secret.
It’s hard to overstate how weird this is.
Last fall, we noted that the City of London Police, who had just set up a special “intellectual property crime unit” which appeared to be taking orders directly from Hollywood, had issued bizarre orders to registrars, based on no court order or ruling, that they hand over domain names to the police, point them to a splash page that advertised Hollywood-approved businesses, and block the transfer of those domains to anyone else. A bunch of registrars actually did this, despite the lack of a court order or ruling of any kind. Just because the City of London Police said so. The only registrar who apparently resisted was EasyDNS, who pointed out that there’s such a thing called due process. Furthermore, EasyDNS pointed out that the registrars who complied with the order almost certainly violated ICANN policies for registrars, which has a very specific set of conditions under which a registrar can freeze a whois record, none of which include “because some Hollywood-controlled police force says so.”
The owners of at least one of the frozen domains sought to then (smartly) move the domain to EasyDNS, who would actually protect them. EasyDNS went to Verisign with a “request for enforcement” against the registrar who froze the whois, the incredibly misnamed “Public Domain Registry.” For reasons that make no sense at all, Verisign responded with a “no decision.”
EasyDNS appealed that ruling, and finally after all of that, the National Arbitration Forum has pointed out exactly what EasyDNS said from the very beginning: Public Domain Registry cannot freeze the domain:
No court order has been issued which would prohibit the transfer of the domain names at issue from the Registrar of Record to the Gaining Registrar. Therefore, there is nothing in the Transfer Policy which authorizes the Registrar of Record to refuse to transfer the domain names.
On Practical Machinst, there’s a fascinating thread about the manufacturer’s lockdown on a high-priced, high-end Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40 CNC mill. The person who started the thread owns the machine outright, but has discovered that if he moves it at all, a GPS and gyro sensor package in the machine automatically shuts it down and will not allow it to restart until they receive a manufacturer’s unlock code.
Effectively, this means that machinists’ shops can’t rearrange their very expensive, very large tools to improve their workflow from job to job without getting permission from the manufacturer (which can take a month!), even if their own the gear.
For the last couple of years TorrentFreak has run semi-regular articles on the efforts of GoldenEye International, an adult movie outfit affiliated with the Ben Dover porn brand and one that realized there’s money to be made from the bullying game.
Just like most other trolls their business model is simple. Send threatening letters to ISP account holders telling them that they have been caught watching some pretty embarrassingly titled movies and inform them that paying a cash settlement is the only way to remedy the situation.
One young man told us that his parents had gone crazy when his father, as the bill payer, had been accused of downloading porn. Trying to protect himself against the wrath of his wife, the finger of blame naturally got pointed by the father at his son who in turn contacted us, desperate for a solution to clear his name. Another told us how his mother could no longer cope after receiving a third letter asking for money despite her innocence.
In cases like these where we believe that people have been wrongly accused we are more than happy to help. Throughout the year we corresponded with a couple of dozen individuals, half a dozen or so on a regular basis, in order to keep pace with their cases.
And guess what?
Of those who stuck in their heels, stood by their principles and refused to pay, GoldenEye stopped threatening 100% of them. After the initial three or four letters bounced back and forth, the company backed off, a characteristic of most bullies when they realize their intended victim is refusing to become one.
As a result, today these people are able to enjoy Christmas with their families. Rather than finding themselves £500 in the hole in order to finance GoldenEye’s Christmas party or Ben Dover’s festive lunch, that money is being spent were it should be.
“The final letter GoldenEye sent said that they were going to review my case and then make a decision on whether they were going to proceed or not. At that point I started to understand what was going on finally,” says ‘John’, a recipient of a £500 threat letter.
“GoldenEye are a company who just send letters to people to try and threaten and bully them into paying money, but do not take it any further. It was just like a game of poker to me as they were bluffing all the time so I played the game and won as I didn’t back down to their demands.”
Canada-based telecom Nortel went bankrupt in 2009 and sold its biggest asset—a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of technologies—at an auction in 2011.
Google bid for the patents, but it didn’t get them. Instead, the patents went to a group of competitors—Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony—operating under the name “Rockstar Bidco.” The companies together bid the shocking sum of $4.5 billion.
Patent insiders knew that the Nortel portfolio was the patent equivalent of a nuclear stockpile: dangerous in the wrong hands, and a bit scary even if held by a “responsible” party.
This afternoon, that stockpile was finally used for what pretty much everyone suspected it would be used for—launching an all-out patent attack on Google and Android. The smartphone patent wars have been underway for a few years now, and the eight lawsuits filed in federal court today by Rockstar Consortium mean that the conflict just hit DEFCON 1.
Google probably knew this was coming. When it lost out in the Nortel auction, the company’s top lawyer, David Drummond, complained that the Microsoft-Apple patent alliance was part of a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.” Google’s failure to get patents in the Nortel auction was seen as one of the driving factors in its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in 2011.
Rockstar, meanwhile, was pretty unapologetic about embracing the “patent troll” business model. Most trolls, of course, aren’t holding thousands of patents from a seminal technology company. When the company was profiled by Wired last year, about 25 of its 32 employees were former Nortel employees.
The suits filed today are against Google and seven companies that make Android smartphones: Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. The case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, long considered a district friendly to patent plaintiffs.
Starbucks has filed a lawsuit against a Bangkok-based coffee stall owner in a dispute over its logo.
The US firm says the green-and-white “Starbung” emblem used by 43-year-old Damrong Maslae – which features a man in a skullcap pouring coffee and holding up a victory sign – infringes on its intellectual property rights. It is suing Maslae and his brother Damras, with whom he operates the stall, for 300,000 baht (£6,000).
Maslae, a father of six who has been serving coffee for 15 years, told the Guardian that his logo was created by a design-savvy friend and inspired not by the US firm but by Maslae’s religion, Islam.
“My logo is halal and has a moon and a star, and is green for the colour of Islam,” said Maslae, better known by customers as Bung. “Starbucks has insisted I take out the green and the words star and coffee. I can’t do that.”
The new Obamacare website Healthcare.gov has had its fair share of problems over the past weeks, and the trouble continues.
While using open-source software is fine, the makers of Healthcare.gov decided to blatantly remove all references to its owners or the original copyright license.
In other words, they simply took the open-source software and are passing it off as their own, a clear violation of the GPL v2 and BSD (3-point) licenses DataTables uses.
There’s widespread consensus that the best cosplayers at this year’s Dragoncon were the people who dressed up in bodysuits patterned after the notoriously bizarre institutional carpet at the Atlanta Marriott hotel, one of the event’s venues. But when one of the cosplayers offered to supply carpet-camo to other attendees, Couristan Inc (the company that designed the carpet) sent them a legal threat.
Most business owners sued by patent trolls don’t talk about it to anyone other than their lawyer; a typical response is to cross one’s fingers and hope the problem goes away. It won’t, of course. Often they do the next best thing—hope it will go away for as little money as possible.
FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’Connor, who also cofounded online ad giant DoubleClick, decided several weeks ago he would talk about it—publicly, and often. O’Connor wrote to tech sites like PandoDaily telling them of his determination to “slaughter” the troll, the “scum of the earth.” And in August, he pledged $1 million of his own money to fight the troll that went after his company.
copyright-brandedWhen the printing press hit Europe, royalty and clergy panicked.
All of a sudden, they had lost the gatekeeper position of determining what culture and knowledge was available to the masses, and by extension, lost control of the political discourse of their time.
At the time, different regimes reacted differently to the threat. France reacted by banning book shops altogether and banning the use of the printing press under penalty of death. The ban was utterly ineffective. (Yes, you read that right: the penalty for unauthorized copying has been escalated as far as the death penalty, still without effect.)
On the other side of the British Channel, Mary I had inherited a Protestant England from her father, who had converted the entire country from Catholicism just in order to divorce her mother (and moved on to marry a half-dozen other women in sequence). Mary wasn’t very happy with the treatment of her mother and had been raised a Catholic; she saw it as her duty to convert England back to Catholicism, no matter the cost in blood.
She took the throne from her cousin in 1553 and started a crackdown on political dissidents that still to this day earns her the nickname “Bloody Mary”. In the time, there was no difference between political and religious dissent – it was a war of power, superficially over Catholicism or Protestantism. Over 280 dissenters were burned alive on Mary I’s orders as a warning to others.
In this environment, she sought a further means to suppress free speech and political dissent. Seeing how France’s death penalty against the printing press had failed miserably, she instead opted for an unholy alliance between capital and the crown. Mary I handed out a printing monopoly on May 4, 1557 to the London Company of Stationers. In return for a lucrative monopoly of printing everything in England, the company would agree to not print anything the Crown’s censors deemed politically insubordinate.
The scheme worked to suppress dissent and free thought, and censorship was successfully introduced. The monopoly was called copyright, the word from an internal registry with the London Company of Stationers. Thus, the unholy alliance of the copyright monopoly was forged in the blood of political dissent.
Nederlandse aanbieders van e-books gaan klanteninformatie doorspelen aan stichting Brein, waaneer de organisatie daar om vraagt.
Mocht iemand bijvoorbeeld een recent e-book met watermerk verspreiden, krijgt Brein in het vervolg klantgegevens doorgespeeld van de aanbieder van het e-book. Dat meldt Tweakers.
Translation: in the Netherlands eBook sellers will pass on client information to the dutch version of RIAA/MPAA in case an eBook with a watermark is being distributed on pirate sites.
Read it for yourself on Google Translate
So now if you lose your eBook reader with all its content, you not just have to buy a new device, you also run the risk of a lawsuit because the finder shares its contents on piratebay.
Yet another instance where it is better not to buy the product at all.
Oh, one of those common “please take down our copyrighted content or prepare to be sued” mistakes. We’ve all made those. I’m pretty sure the only “error” was underestimating the pushback.
So, all’s well that ends well, I guess, except for that fact that Comcast’s “error” nearly took a site offline and gets to walk away from the experience unscathed. And because it made it through with little more than some public embarrassement, it won’t learn a damn thing.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today filed suit against an Australian record company for misusing copyright law to remove a lecture by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig from YouTube. With co-counsel Jones Day, EFF is asking a federal judge in Massachusetts to rule that the video is lawful fair use, to stop Liberation Music from making further legal threats, and to award damages.
“The rise of extremist enforcement tactics makes it increasingly difficult for creators to use the freedoms copyright law gives them,” Lessig said. “I have the opportunity, with the help of EFF, to challenge this particular attack. I am hopeful the precedent this case will set will help others avoid such a need to fight.”
Copyright law allows for the fair use of works for purposes such as criticism, comment, teaching, and scholarship. Professor Lessig’s use of the “Lisztomania” clips in his lecture was a classic example of fair use and was not copyright infringement.
Earlier this year, Liberation Music, which claims to own the license to the Phoenix song, began the process to block the video through YouTube’s copyright infringement system. After the company submitted a DMCA takedown notice, Lessig filed a counter-notice that asserted the clips were fair use. After Liberation Music threatened to sue Lessig, he retracted the notice. But Lessig did not concede this issue. Instead, he enlisted EFF’s help to take Liberation Music to court.
“There’s a long and sorry history of content owners abusing copyright to take down fair uses, but this one is particularly shocking,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “Based on nothing more than a few clips illustrating Internet creativity, Liberation Music took down an entire lecture by one of the leading experts in the world on copyright and fair use. This kind of abuse has to stop.”
Ah, Jacques Nazaire. You may recall some of our previous posts about Nazaire, a local lawyer in Georgia who was handling some Prenda/AF Holdings cases in that neck of the woods. He’s the lawyer who advertises his willingness to appear in court for you via Craigslist, and also argued that Judge Otis Wright’s order out in California exposing Prenda’s scam was inapplicable in Georgia because California recognizes gay marriage. He also tried to argue that it shouldn’t be used because… something totally incomprehensible about hackers having nothing to do with the case at all.
That case has continued and there was a hearing back in January that didn’t go particularly well for Nazaire. Andrew Norton attended and wrote about it. Anyway, the latest in the case is that Nazaire is asking the court to seal all future filings in the case, mainly because the comments here on Techdirt, along with a few other blogs, have been really really mean about Nazaire. The main purpose of the filing is to try to stop the discovery efforts opened up by the defendant in the case, Rajesh Patel, represented by Blair Chintella, as they’re seeking attorneys’ fees from Nazaire and Prenda — and, as part of that, are trying to do detailed discovery to reveal more about the Prenda scam. Nazaire throws a bunch of excuses at the wall for why this shouldn’t be allowed. But the request to seal the records is much more interesting to us:
Additionally, the Plaintiff is respectfully requesting that any future filings in this case may be filed under seal. This case has generated much unneeded attention on the internet. Please see Exhibits N-S. While the writers listed in exhibits N-S have the right to post these articles, unfortunately, these articles and blogs have created an embarrassment, misleading characterizations and perhaps an unsafe environment for plaintiff’s counsel and third parties. As such, plaintiff is respectfully requesting that all future filings be permitted to be made under seal.
Plaintiff 1) understands that the articles attached hereto have not been authenticated and apologizes to this Court for the same. In such a short notice of time, it is difficult to authenticate these press releases and postings; however, a search on any search engine will prove these articles and postings to be real; and 2) Plaintiff is not criticizing the authors of the press releases and postings and realizes that the attached postings were meant to be humorous and not spiteful; nevertheless, those not familiar with this case may misinterpret said postings. This may lead to anger by those not quite familiar with the case but yet familiar with the captions. As such, it may be best for the court to allow sealing further filings (which may include addresses and personal information of the parties and counsels herein).
So what are exhibits N-S? They’re just printouts of the comments pages (not the actual posts) from posts on Techdirt, Popehat and FightCopyrightTrolls. It also includes a press release from the opposing attorney Chintella, as well as Norton’s writeup of the July 2nd hearing. In other words, just the kind of public participation that should be had around legal issues happening in a court of law. But because some of you folks here were a bit snarky, Nazaire wants to hide significant parts of the rest of the case from you.
Evidence is stacking up that Prenda Law has been operating a honeypot in order to lure Internet users into downloading copyrighted material. A subpoena just returned by Comcast confirms that a Pirate Bay user called “Sharkmp4″ is directly linked to the infamous anti-piracy law firm. The case is controversial in many ways, not least because The Pirate Bay actively helped to expose the copyright troll in question.
copyright troll honeypotAs the poster child for copyright trolls, Prenda Law has been running into all sorts of trouble lately.
In June, Prenda and its boss John Steele were accused of running a “honeypot” based on an expert report authored by Delvan Neville, whose company specializes in monitoring BitTorrent users.
The report hinted that the law firm was seeding the very files they claimed to protect, and found that many of the torrents detailed in Prenda lawsuits originate from a user on The Pirate Bay called ‘Sharkmp4′.
The Swedish Pirate Party has celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Pirate Bay torrent website by reporting the country’s strongly anti-piracy IT minister, Anna-Karin Hatt, to the police for infringing online copyright laws on several occasions.
“When not even the Swedish IT Minister complies with copyright law online, one can hardly expect ordinary Internet users to feel compelled to follow such an outdated law,” he said.
Wester does not believe that the complaint will result in any consequences for Hatt, as it’s “just ‘ordinary’ Swedes who risk being sentenced to heavy fines and damages for the same thing the minister has done.”
One year ago today, NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on the surface of Mars and began studying the planet. The rover may be lonely out there on its first birthday, but it won’t go entirely without celebration: NASA has repurposed Curiosity’s soil analysis system to play the tune of “Happy Birthday to You” out loud for all of Mars to hear.
Though the analysis system doesn’t include a loudspeaker, it does include a motor that can loudly vibrate at very specific frequencies. Normally, the motor is used to help move soil through the analysis system, but it’s been modified for the day to produce the exact frequencies that make up “Happy Birthday.” Such a performance of the ubiquitous jingle would usually require a license from Warner Music, but the recording group is likely to have trouble collecting any royalties on Mars.
Last week Russia introduced its brand new anti-piracy law that will see sites blocked at the ISP level if they fail to respond swiftly to copyright complaints.
The law, which critics say is overbroad and likely to cause collateral damage, is opposed by big companies such as Google, local search engine Yandex, Internet resources such as Wikipedia and thousands of website operators and users.
But just as protests including last week’s blackout by 1,700 sites subside, a more unconventional front is opening up.
Later today pirate activists in five regions – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Khabarovsk – will submit documents to begin the process of having their church officially recognized by the authorities.
If that all goes to plan in a few years time Russia will have its own Church Kopimizma, but for the faithful there are important issues to be dealt with right now.
As soon as the papers are filed the church’s founders will file a lawsuit against the anti-piracy legislation that came into force August 1. They will do this on the basis that the law, which restricts copying and sharing, is an insult to Kopimists.
But according to lawyer Victor Naumov, separation of religion and state in Russia means that it’s unlikely that the complaint will achieve much, although an appeal could be made to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
In a first of its kind ruling a federal court in California has thrown out a case against 2,919 alleged movie pirates. The case was initiated by the Swiss-based company Contra Piracy who obtained the “enforcement rights” for the 50 Cent movie All Things Fall Apart. The judge ruled that since Contra Piracy’s only intention was to obtain quick settlements “under threat of embarrassing and expensive litigation,” they had no standing to pursue their copyright action in court.
There is, though, an interesting lesson here. Software patent applications are of uniformly poor quality. They are remarkably easy to find prior art for. Ask Patents can be used to block them with very little work. And this kind of individual destruction of one software patent application at a time might start to make a dent in the mountain of bad patents getting granted.
My dream is that when big companies hear about how friggin’ easy it is to block a patent application, they’ll use Ask Patents to start messing with their competitors. How cool would it be if Apple, Samsung, Oracle and Google got into a Mexican Standoff on Ask Patents? If each of those companies had three or four engineers dedicating a few hours every day to picking off their competitors’ applications, the number of granted patents to those companies would grind to a halt. Wouldn’t that be something!
Got 15 minutes? Go to Ask Patents right now, and see if one of these RFPAs covers a topic you know something about, and post any examples you can find. They’re hidden in plain view; most of the prior art you need for software patents can be found on Google. Happy hunting!
Did you hear the one about the world’s most infamous music file-sharer being asked to publicly extol the virtues of the Recording Industry Association of America’s anti-piracy platform?
The RIAA is suggesting Jammie Thomas-Rasset do just that. In exchange, the recording studios’ lobbying and litigation arm would reduce a $222,000 jury verdict the Supreme Court let stand in May — her punishment for sharing 24 songs on the now-defunct file-sharing service Kazaa.
However, the 36-year-old mother of four and the nation’s first file-sharer to challenge a Recording Industry Association of America lawsuit, said she would rather go bankrupt.
The move subtitle fansite undertexter.se, literally meaning subtitles.se, is a site where people contribute their own translations of movies. This lets people who aren’t good at the original language of a movie or cartoon put those fanmade subtitles – fansubs – on top of the movie or cartoon. Fansubbing is a thriving culture which usually provides better-than-professional subtitles for new episodes with less than 24 hours of turnaround (whereas the providers of the original cartoon or movie can easily take six months or more).
What’s remarkable about this raid is that the copyright industry has decided to do a full-out raid against something that is entirely fan-made. It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art. The copyright industry in Sweden has previously asserted threateningly that the dialog of a movie would be covered by the copyright monopoly, and that any fan translation – even for free – would be a violation of that monopoly. Still, going all-out with a police raid backed by the copyright industry’s enforcement arm in Sweden is a clear escalation of violence.
As a songwriter Pandora paid me $16.89* for 1,159,000 play of “Low” last quarter. Less than I make from a single T-shirt sale. Okay that’s a slight exaggeration. That’s only the premium multi-color long sleeve shirts and that’s only at venues that don’t take commission. But still.
Soon you will be hearing from Pandora how they need Congress to change the way royalties are calculated so that they can pay much much less to songwriters and performers. For you civilians webcasting rates are “compulsory” rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not “opt out” of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn’t pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts–a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a “compulsory” but may as well be). This is already a government mandated subsidy from songwriters and artists to Silicon Valley. Pandora wants to make it even worse.