January 2004 Archives

Netscape, Playboy settle

Netscape, Playboy settle search trademark case

Netscape settled a 5-year-old lawsuit brought by Playboy Enterprises, a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the Web company could be held liable for the unauthorized use of trademarks in search engine ads.

Going to Europe

NY Times: Online Music Industry Is Focusing on Europe

Europe is the next battlefield for portable digital music, with its eager consumer market and attractive demographics, but complex cross-border legal and financial obstacles are delaying the entry of the biggest names, including Apple Computer.

Reuters: Apple's ITunes European debut held up by red tape

Spam Law Generates Confusion

Wired News: Spam Law Generates Confusion and, so far, fails to curtail spam.

Still downloading after all these years

IFPI: music industry's internet strategy is 'turning the corner'

The anti-piracy campaign also appears to have dented internet piracy levels worldwide. After doubling to one billion files between 2002 and the start of 2003, the number of files illegally on the internet at any one time has fallen over the last nine months by 20% to 800 million in January 2004.

Pepsi will give away 100 million iTunes downloads in February. USA Today reports: Pepsi ads wink at music downloading

The Anti-Feist

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved HR 3261, the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act by a 16-7 vote. In 1999, a similar bill, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act, H.R. 354 (106th Congress) was introduced in committee, but never made it to the floor. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) is the sponsor of this new bill and was the sponsor of the 1999 bill, as well.

This bill would share characteristics of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament of of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, which grants compilers of databases a sui generis rightagainst extraction. See Art. 7.1:

Member States shall provide for a right for the maker of a database which shows that there has been qualitatively and/or quantitatively a substantial investment in either the obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents to prevent extraction and/or re-utilization of the whole or of a substantial part, evaluated qualitatively and/or quantitatively, of the contents of that database.

News.com: Tech firms fail to squelch database bill

The proposal, backed by big database companies such as Reed Elsevier and Thomson, would extend to databases the same kind of protection that copyrighted works such as music, literature and movies currently enjoy. Its supporters say that such protection is necessary to stop rivals from extracting information from proprietary databases like Reed Elsevier's LexisNexis service instead of going through the far more expensive process of compiling it themselves.

Copyfight: The Coming of the Anti-Feist (whose clever title I stole abridged.)

Tech Law Advisor: Preemption and the Constitution be damned

US Chamber of Commerce urges House to oppose H.R. 3261 "Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act"

See also: Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991).

For a recent discussion of database extraction and copyright, see Assesment Technologies of WI, LLC v. WIREdata, Inc. (7th Cir. 2003), and Proprietary Database, Public Data and Copyright

Trends in Fraud and ID Theft

The FTC released a report yesterday on National and State Trends in Fraud & Identity Theft, based on data from Consumer Sentinel and Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse.

For the fourth year in a row, identity theft topped the list, accounting for 42 percent of the complaints lodged in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. The FTC received more than half a million complaints in 2003, up from 404,000 in 2002, and Internet-related complaints accounted for 55 percent of all fraud reports, up from 45 percent in 2002."

(via beSpacific)

Deregulation shuts out snoops

NY Times: Easing of Internet Regulations Challenges Surveillance Efforts

The Federal Communications Commission's efforts to reduce regulations over some Internet services have come under intense criticism from officials at law enforcement agencies who say that their ability to monitor terrorists and other criminal suspects electronically is threatened.

Insecure Internet Voting

The Federal Voting Assistance Program promises to allow citizens living overseas to "Vote Using the Internet in 2004!":

Are you a Uniformed Services member or dependent? Are you a U.S. citizen living overseas?

In 2004, you can take part in an exciting new initiative called SERVE (Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment), which will let eligible U.S. citizens vote from any Windows-based computer with Internet access, anywhere in the world!

A new report, A Security Analysis of the Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, finds that SERVE is "vulnerable to a variety of well-known cyber attacks (insider attacks, denial of service attacks, spoofing, automated vote buying, viral attacks on voter PCs, etc.), any one of which could be catastrophic." While the system uses a certain level of encryption and security, the report's authors argue that "E-commerce grade security is not good enough for elections."

And, by the way, SERVE has all the same flaws that other e-voting systems have: they are "especially vulnerable to various forms of insider (programmer) attacks" and lack verifiable audit trails.

NY Times: Report Says Internet Voting System Is Too Insecure to Use

Update, Jan. 23, Washington Post: Pentagon's Online Voting Program: Chat with Avi Rubin

More File Sharing Suits

The RIAA filed more lawsuits against suspected p2p file sharers, again.

AP: More Suits Filed Vs. Music Downloaders

Music lawyers filed the newest cases against "John Doe" defendants — identified only by their numeric Internet protocol addresses — and expected to work through the courts to learn their names and where they live. All the defendants were customers of one of four Internet providers.

RIAA: New Wave of Record Industry Lawsuits Brought Against 532 Illegal File Sharers: "Our campaign against illegal file sharers is not missing a beat,"

EFF: Recording Industry Announces Lawsuits Against Music Sharers

Prof. Solum: Lawsuits and Copynorms

Round thermostats

Seventh Circuit denies a preliminary injunction and allows Eco Manufacturing to sell round thermostats, although Honeywell owns a trademark in round theormostats, in Eco Manufacturing v. Honeywell, 03-2704 (7th Circuit Dec 31, 2003).

(via The Trademark Blog)

Do the Bartman

Secrecy as a campaign issue

Wired News: Secrecy Suddenly a Campaign Issue 

But in the last week, on the eve of the formal start of the 2004 elections, two Democratic contenders took time to talk about a topic that's usually reserved for spooks, conspiracy theorists and a couple of policy geeks: how the government keeps its secrets. There's a faint, but real, possibility that this most opaque of subjects could become a full-blown issue in the presidential campaign.

Microsoft v. Mike Rowe Soft

Website row pits B.C. teen against Microsoft

It took a while for Microsoft to come after Mike Rowe Soft, but on Nov. 19, Rowe got an e-mail from law firm Smart & Biggar, claiming he was infringing copyright and demanding that he transfer his domain name to Microsoft.

Infringing copyright? This sounds like trademark and cybersquatting claims, not copyright.

News.com: Rights issue dogs CD protection

At issue are "double session" CDs that include two versions of each song on a disc, formatted for playback on different kinds of devices. The most widely distributed type are copy-protected discs that prevent CD tracks from being copied to a hard drive, but that also include a digital version of the songs, often in Microsoft's Windows Media format, that can be transferred to a computer or portable digital music player.

Music publishers and songwriters, who are entitled to payments of a few cents for every copy of a song sold, contend that since these double-format discs hold two copies of songs, they should be paid for both copies. They've been negotiating with record labels for months, but already hundreds of millions of discs have been released around the world, raising the possibility of huge back payments.

Enrest Miller sums up: "Of course, the irony of engaging in blatant copyright infringement in order to reduce copyright infringement is off the charts."

Blame Canada

David Fraser writes the Canadian Privacy Law blog

As of January 1, 2004, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA or the PIPED Act) began to apply to every organization that collects, uses and discloses personal information in the course of commercial activities in Canada, except in those provinces that have legislation that deemed to be substantially similar. At the moment, only Quebec's law has been deemed to be substantially similar. PIPEDA has been around for a little while; it began to apply to "federal works, undertakings and businesses" on January 1, 2001. Though it isn't exactly new, many of its principles remain untested and many key terms are not satisfyingly defined.

Digital Cops

Information Society Project @ Yale presents Digital Cops in Virtual Environment - CyberCrime and Digital Law Enforcement Conference

This ground-breaking conference will bring together policy makers, security experts, law enforcement personnel, social activists and academics to discuss the emerging phenomena of cybercrime and law enforcement. The conference will question both the efficacy of fighting cybercrime and the civil liberties implications arising from innovations in law enforcement methods of operation.

Speakers at the conference will include Michael Froomkin, Jennifer Granick, Stephen Kline, Orin Kerr, John Podesta, Marc Rotenberg and Daniel J Solove.

Today's links

Here are some links of interest, sans commentary:

NY Times: Students' Data on Web, and N.Y.U. on Defensive

News.com: Feds seek wiretap access via VoIP

EFF: EFF Secures Protection for ReplayTV Clients

"Skipping commercials is not illegal and neither is sending television shows from your home to your office, as one of our clients does," said EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "We're pleased that we were able to protect our clients against unjustifiable copyright claims for exercising their fair use rights."

NY Times: Power Players: Big Names Are Jumping Into the Crowded Online Music Field. "Business is booming, and the business stinks."

NY Times: Fund Planned to Defend users of Linux

Wired News: Fax.com Still Dodging Legal Slaps 

News.com: Congressional leaders promise action on tech: "We can't be writing legislation that gives holders of certain types of intellectual property special rights...We can't carve out special legislation to give special powers to certain types of content."

AP: Adobe Helped Gov't Fight Counterfeiting

AP: Supreme Court Stays Out Comic Book Hockey Fight Denies cert. in McFarlane v. Twist More from Martin Schwimmer at Trademark blog.