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Posts by steveramaley

Federal Court Rules that First Sale Doctrine Does Not Apply to Digital Music Resale

Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of record label Capitol Records LLC in its dispute against Redigi Inc., a facilitator of online music resale.  The Court held that Redigi violated the Copyright Act when it facilitated the sale of used digital music files, even though Redigi’s program ensured that seller’s copies are deleted upon sale.

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Another Lesson Learned: Instagram Quickly Backtracks After Angering Its Users

This week, users of Instagram scored a victory with the company’s management over a plan to amend Instagram’s terms of service that would allow the third-party use of users’ photos without their permission or any form of compensation.  This change, which was scheduled to take effect in mid January, caused an uproar among Instagram’s user base.

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Internal Revenue Service Preparing to Wield “Fiery Sword of Tax Audits” against Diablo III Gamers

We’ve reported before on how technology oftentimes outpaces the law.  But for the millions of people currently playing Diablo III™, Activision’s and Blizzard’s newest release, the opposite has occurred.  Here we have older income tax laws catching up to technology in new, unexpected ways.  In short, there is a serious likelihood that millions of online gamers are about to incur some federal income tax liability, and the vast majority of them seem not to know it yet.  Whether you are a gamer yourself or whether you think gamers need a dose of reality, this post has something for you.

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Mobile GPS Technology Allows Smart Phone Game Apps to Cross Realism—Maybe Even Criminal—Barriers

Mobile GPS technology has recently spawned the development of smart phone games that blur the line between the game world and the real word by utilizing a user’s real-time location as part of a game’s competitive strategy.  However, when one such game—Drugs Lords—allowed virtual drug dealing, Apple cracked down (no pun intended) to ban the app from sale on the AppStore. Read more

NFL Player’s Tweets Teach a Lesson in Contract Performance

By now we all know at least one friend who has tweeted or posted something to Facebook without considering whether it will offend people.  Ok… so, by “friend,” I mean we’ve all done it. Hopefully, your gaffe caused—at most—a few snickers, face-palms, or awkward conversations.  For Steelers’ running back Rashad Mendenhall, his emotional tweet caused him to lose a multimillion dollar endorsement deal.  Read more

Congress to Consider Radically Different Approaches in Cybersecurity Standoff

The House of Representatives has plans to focus on cybersecurity in the coming weeks and, as a result, is slated to consider at least two bills that have gained substantial traction out of committee.  These bills carve out exceptions to privacy laws to allow private companies to disclose “cyber threat intelligence” to the government.  The need for such a law is proclaimed by political officials and private entities alike. Current privacy laws—such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act or the Privacy Act—provide an all-important shield against disclosure of private information but often have the consequence of hamstringing efforts to identify and prevent cyber threats.  Read more

House (Mis)fires First Shot in Battle over Employer Access to Facebook Passwords

While at least one Senator is drafting a bill to stop the “unreasonable invasion of privacy” resulting from employer access to your Facebook page, the House has rejected a similar proposal from Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter.  The measure would have prevented employers from collecting Facebook user names and passwords as a condition of employment.  The law was added as an amendment to the FCC Reform Act Bill, but was shot down 236-184. Republican opposition spelled disaster for the amendment, though it’s not clear whether House Republicans were genuinely opposed to the legislation or simply did not want to address the matter as part of the FCC Bill (which incidentally, they passed later that day).

As this blog has reported previously, Facebook is vehemently opposed to employers gaining access to employee pages. However, presumably because Facebook lacks the legal and technical capacity to stop the practice, Facebook (and its user base) has been ratcheting up the pressure on Congress to do something.

Given the attention on this issue, it’s practically certain that these measures will be reintroduced in future legislation. We’ll no doubt be blogging about these developments, so check back with us for updates as this saga unfolds.


A Piece of “Pi” Topped with a Dollop of Copyright Clarity

What is copyrightable: the idea or the execution of the idea?  One case just gave us the answer.

Rarely do copyright cases provide clear lessons, but last week a case out of Oregon did just that by elucidating an oft-misunderstood principle of copyright law—the “idea-expression dichotomy.” This is the rule that a copyright protects the expression of an idea, but not the idea itself.

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