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.
Before you read any further, go read and take note of this petition. You may want to sign it (I did), but context will help in reading this blog post. In case you’ve been studying really, really hard for the Bar Exam, or were suffering from a surprise case of “dead” over the last week, you inevitably heard that the process of “unlocking” cell phones, previously legal, is now illegal because of government fiat. For those who may not have understood or thought to ask, “unlocking” is not the same as “jailbreaking.” In a nutshell, jailbreaking involves making it possible for a device to run code either from sources the manufacturer did not intend the device to be able to use or to run code the manufacturer did not intend it to be able to run (though most people talk about Apple IOS devices, Sony, for example, will note that other devices can also be “jailbroken”). Unlocking, however, involves making it possible for a device intended for use on one wireless network to be used on a different network – wireless devices sold by a particular wireless company are generally, but not always, sold programmed so that they can only use that company’s network.
Regular readers of Internetbizlaw and the Centre Knowledge blog know that I am pro technology consumer, and very cynical about the “graying” of property rights. I am not going to spend a lot of time in this post discussing the “right and wrong” of legalizing unlocking, or not, but everyone should understand a few facts:
It is inevitable in the lifespan of any company, it will receive bad reviews online. While the source of those negative reviews can be from competitors or trolls, most often those reviews come from legitimate customers with gripes. Casey Movers did numerous other businesses a favor and offered a lesson on what happens when you address a legitimate online review that is negative the wrong way.
Sometimes stating the obvious is necessary – like in the photo attached to this post (which I took while traveling in Australia this past winter). People ask why in society we need disclaimers preventing behavior that would seem obvious and unnecessary to 99.999999% of the population. The next time someone complains about unnecessary disclaimers to me, I will point them to this post about the online and now legal saga between FunnyJunk.com (Funny Junk) , TheOatmeal.com (The Oatmeal), and attorney Charles Carreon (who, according to Arstechnica.com, is a self-proclaimed “counsel to the good and the good looking“). I guess homely evil-doers need not apply. Yes, I’m talking to you Kim Jong-un.
To many, lawyers have a sketchy reputation. Just recently, we’ve had lawyers as prostitutes [insert lawyer joke here], lawyers planting drugs on an elementary school volunteer, and possibly even as murderers. Now we have lawyers suing charities. Wonderful.
How did we get to a lawyer suing charities including the American Cancer Society (especially one with a storied and successful career)? Read more below.
On Wednesday, in another big setback for companies fighting computer-related fraud, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York threw out the conviction of a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. computer programmer. After a December 2010 conviction for stealing a secret high-frequency trading computer code from Goldman Sachs, Sergey Aleynikov served 11 months of an eight-year prison term. In the decision released Wednesday, the 2nd Circuit Court cited that the taking of source code was not a crime under a 1996 law that makes it illegal to steal trade secrets as the code did not qualify as stolen goods. In the decision, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote for the unanimous three judge panel: “We decline to stretch or update statutory words of plain and ordinary meaning in order to better accommodate the digital age.” Read more
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.
Grooveshark, a music-sharing site, is now on the wrong end of a lawsuit on November 18th filed by Universal Music Group, which contends that the site has posted more than 100,000 pirated songs. The lawsuit points to executives at Grooveshark as having personally uploaded much of the copyrighted content: Universal Music says it found evidence that Samuel Tarantino, Grooveshark’s CEO, uploaded at least 1,791 copyrighted songs and Benjamin Westermann-Clark, a VP for the company, is accused of uploading more than 4,600 pirated songs. Read more