October 2006 Archives

The next MySpace?

Today, the AP reports that MySpace is licensing technology from Gracenote to prevent users from uploading third-party copyrighted music: MySpace Music Move.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that teens are already over MySpace and ready to move on to the next big thing. In Teens' Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year.

As someone who uses MySpace as a music discovery site, I'd love to see something that combines the streaming music and social networking aspects of MySpace with better playlist creation features.

If you go to a MySpace music page and enjoy the first track, you have to then click on each subsequent track in order to listen. Instead, imagine a service where you can queue up a playlist of all of the tracks posted by all the musicians who are your friends and listen through. Or, you can create a playlist of one of your friend's musician friends or on all of the musicians connected to you within 2 degrees. Add in podcast-type delivery and notification of updated songlists, and you've got a great music discovery service. Throw in a way to convert listening into purchases and you've got a winning service right there.

Let's see who is already doing this.

Last.fm is probably the most popular music recommendation service, but it looks more to peer recommendations than to explicit social connections. Pandora looks at qualities of the music, rather than the social aspect.

Mog is a music-focused social networking site, but it seems to only lean in the direction of playlisting. For example, here's David Lowery on Mog.

MyStrands combines listening histories and peer recommendations. They seem to be doing a lot with recommendation technology and look worth taking a closer look at...

Quick Links

WSJ Law Blog: Jimi Hendrix Steals the Show At Intellectual Property Auction: "Whoever bought this bought themselves the right to be a litigant.”

Google offers a handy guide on how to non-generically verbify the Google mark. Yes, that last sentence is really in English. Really. Do you "Google?": "While we're pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let's face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we'd like to make clear that you should please only use "Google" when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services."

Here's the archive of the sessions from the Future of Music Conference.

Public Knowledge: Copyright Office delays triennial DMCA ruling: "The US Copyright Office has delayed its ruling in the triennial rulemaking to determine exemptions to the DMCA’s ban on circumventing technological protection measures, instead extending the current set of exemptions for the near future."

Reuters: MySpace to Block Illegal Use of Copyrighted Music: "News Corp.'s MySpace.com on Monday said it had licensed a new technology to stop users from posting unauthorized copyrighted music on the social networking Web site and oust frequent violators of its policy."

David Giacalone, Self-Help Law Blog: whaddayaknow about Fair Use and Copyright?: "The e-publication that caught my eye proclaims at the foot of each article (even when it copies someone else’s press release verbatim without attribution) that no reproduction of any sort is allowed because the 'This article is copyright protected and Fair Use is not applicable.' The site’s SideBar has a similar warning against any reproduction 'in accordance with Fair Use of copyright.'"
Also from Giacalone, some additional thoughts on copy permission and copyfraud.

Gnarls Barkley goes to court

The Hollywood Reporter, Esq: Gnarls Barkley Seeks Court Order on Song Authorship: "In a complaint filed Oct. 17, Brian 'Danger Mouse' Burton and Thomas 'Cee-Lo' Callaway are asking the U.S. District Court to determine they are the sole songwriters for their copyrighted works, including 'Crazy,' 'Necromancer,' 'Go-Go Gadget Gospel,' 'Just a Thought' and 'Transformer,' all of which are featured on their successful album 'St. Elsewhere.'"

NY Sun: Proposed Attorney Advertising Rules Could Place Restrictions on Web Logs "The proposed rules, announced in June, are intended to protect consumers from misleading advertisements and to sanction unseemly and aggressive forms of advertising such as the solicitation of plaintiffs in the wake of major disasters.Among other things, the rules would require attorneys to submit advertisements for review by a court disciplinary committee."

Julie Hilden, Findlaw's Writ: Are Lawyers' Blogs Protected by the First Amendment? "It would be a grave mistake, however, for bars to begin equating blogs with advertisements, and treating them the same. Rules regulating attorney advertising are pernicious and elitist to begin with; they shouldn't be expanded. And characterizing blogs as merely advertising for the attorney who writes them is so reductive as to be absurd."

Calling Elvis's Ringtone

The Copyright Office ruled that ringtones-- including monophonic versions-- are subject to the section 115 statutory license: In re: Mechanical and Digital Phonorecord Digital Delivery Rate Adjustment Proceeding.

The short result:
Labels (RIAA) = :)
Publishers (NMPA) = :(

Billboard: Compulsory Licenses Cover Ringtones: "The Copyright Office has decided that compositions used for ringtones may be subject to a compulsory license. The decision is a victory for record labels that want to offer ringtone operators the master rights and publishing rights as one package."

Patry: Ringtone Ruling "Since the amount paid for ringtones may be substantially less than the free market rate, the cost to consumers may go down as to payments to music publishers decrease. I imagine not just RIAA, but celllphone providers are rejoicing."

Let's Go: Virtual Worlds

Reuters opened a virtual bureau in Second Life today.

The NY Times reports: The Reporter Is Real, but the World He Covers Isn’t: "Mr. Pasick, a Reuters technology reporter who was formerly earthbound with the news agency, is heading up Reuters’ first virtual news bureau inside the online role-playing game Second Life. While many independent journalists and bloggers have published inside such virtual worlds, Reuters is the first established news agency to dispatch a full-time reporter to do so."

Among the early stories is one on the Central Bank of Second Life:

Earlier this year, Julian Dibbell released a book about his attempt to earn a living selling virtual goods in Ultima Online: Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. The book grew out of a blog.

And going back to the title of this post-- is anyone publishing guidebooks for virtual worlds, ala Let's Go, Time Out or the Rough Guide? Wired magazine created one for Second Life in the October 2006 issue. If not, um, here's the book pitch: a travel guide to Second Life.

$1.65 billion of reverse confusion

Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, whose website lives at Utube.com has been deluged with YouTube seekers since the Google purchase.

$1.65 billion of reverse confusion

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Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment, whose website lives at Utube.com has been deluged with YouTube seekers since the Google purchase.

PBS looks at neutrality

On PBS, Bill Moyers looks at net neutrality, The Net at Risk: "The future of the Internet is up for grabs. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effectively eliminated net neutrality rules, which ensured that every content creator on the Internet-from big-time media concerns to backroom bloggers-had equal opportunity to make their voice heard. Now, large and powerful corporations are lobbying Washington to turn the World Wide Web into what critics call a "toll road," threatening the equitability that has come to define global democracy's newest forum. Yet the public knows little about what's happening behind closed doors on Capitol Hill."

Educating fair use

Brett Frischmann: Taking Back Educational Fair Use: "Educational fair use is shrinking. By virtue of significant improvements in the administration of copyright licensing and persistent pressure by publishers and copyright owners to license virtually all uses of works, many educators have been corralled into seeking permission and paying for licenses through institutions such as the Copyright Clearance Center. To make matters worse, there is a circular feedback loop in fair use analysis that ties fair use to market effects (or market failure) such that the availability of licensing revenues undercuts arguments for fair use and gradually leads to its demise."

Previously: Thoughts on Fair Use

The facts

James Grimmelman delves into the details of the facts that led to Google v. Parker, 422 F. Supp. 2d 492 (E.D. Pa. 2006). A Little Lawsuit Backstory: "In short, this was not a suit against Google because Google seemed like a rich defendant. It was not a suit trying to stop search engine caching. It was a highly personal dispute that spilled out of USENET and is more about ego, reputation, and attribution than about any more rarified legal matters."

Trademark Dilution Act

The Trademark Dilution Act was signed into lawMoseley v. V. Secret Catalogue, Inc. that in order to prevail on a trademark dilution claim, the plaintiff must establish the existence of actual dilution, not simply the likelihood of dilution. But the bill reshapes trademark dilution law

Eric Goldman, Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006: "Ostensibly, this law was intended to overturn the Moseley case's requirement that plaintiffs show 'actual dilution' instead of a 'likelihood of dilution.' However, the act morphed into an omnibus dilution revision effort that reshapes dilution law on a number of fronts. The result is a mixed bag--there is a little good news mixed in with the bad."

Attorney(s) at Kaye Scholer: The Trademark Dilution Revision Act of 2006: A Major Overhaul of Federal Trademark Dilution Law: "On October 6, 2006, the President signed the Trademark Dilution Revision Act ("TDRA"), a significant revision of federal trademark law intended to clarify and amend the scope of protection afforded to "famous" marks under Section 43(c) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(c). While it addresses and resolves a number of issues that have arisen since the introduction of dilution protection to federal law in 1995, the TDRA, nonetheless, has the potential to create numerous other issues, thereby making it likely that dilution will remain a controversial and evolving aspect of trademark law for many years to come."

William McGeveran, Info/Law, Trademark Dilution Revision Act Becomes Law: "The dilution concept has long been criticized for separating a trademark claim from its conceptual moorings: in theory, the principal interest protected by trademark law has been to prevent consumers from being confused. But that theory has been highly attenuated for a long time, so maybe it is better to admit that trademark law now protects big companies’ brand names for their own sake."

Copy-protecting food and pets

In Food and Wine Magazine, Pete Wells looks at chefs securing copyright and patent protection for their culinary creations: New Era of the Recipe Burglar: "Copyrighting recipes may be the most radical idea to hit the food world since the invention of the menu. Such a system would apply to all chefs, not just those in the avant-garde; to qualify for a copyright, a dish would have to be original, but it wouldn’t have to redefine the very notion of food."

On her blog, Wendy Seltzer reports on pets that come with restrictive purchase agreements: Coming Soon: Kitten with a EULA?

Weezer to Bud: Say It Ain't So

Weezer Alleges Miller Violated Trademarks, Right of Publicity: "The rock group Weezer has sued Miller Brewing Co. for allegedly using the band's name without permission to sell beer in advertisements featured in three issues of Rolling Stone magazine two years ago."

Democracy, Shmerocracy

Ariel J. Feldman, J. Alex Halderman, and Edward W. Felten, Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy: Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine: "Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities — a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab. Mitigating these threats will require changes to the voting machine's hardware and software and the adoption of more rigorous election procedures."

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, Rolling Stone: Will The Next Election Be Hacked?: "The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it all too apparent to most Americans that our electoral system is broken. And private-sector entrepreneurs were quick to offer a fix: Touch-screen voting machines, promised the industry and its lobbyists, would make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Congress, always ready with funds for needy industries, swiftly authorized $3.9 billion to upgrade the nation's election systems - with much of the money devoted to installing electronic voting machines in each of America's 180,000 precincts. But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better."

Just for one day

The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.: Hand Mangling on NBC's 'Heroes' Leads to Trademark Claim

The maker of a garbage disposal device depicted shredding a character's hand on the pilot episode of the NBC series "Heroes" has sued the studio for trademark infringement and defamation stemming from the broadcast.

The seven-count complaint, filed Monday in federal court in St. Louis on behalf of Emerson Electric Co., manufacturer of the In-Sink-Erator garbage disposal, alleges the show "implies an incorrect and dangerous design for a food waste disposer" and paints the device "in an unsavory light, irreparably tarnishing the product, Emerson's In-Sink-Erator trademarks, and the associated goodwill."

The NY Post reports: Heroes cuts: "NBC officials said they did not think there were any legal problems with the show, but will change the offending scene anyway."

Second Life

Scholars have been thinking seriously about the legal and social implications of virtual worlds for a number of years. Because virtual worlds allow for nearly complete abstraction from society, they are a wonderful environment for theorists. Now these virtual world issues are beginning to break into the mainstream.

Ilya Vedrashko, Games Brands Play: "This paper suggests advertisers should experiment with in-game advertising to gain skills that could become vital in the near future. It compiles, arranges and analyzes the existing body of academic and industry knowledge on advertising and product placement in computer game environments. The medium’s characteristics are compared to other channels’ in terms of their attractiveness to marketers, and the business environment is analyzed to offer recommendations on the relative advantages of in-game advertising. The paper also contains a brief historical review of in-game advertising, and descriptions of currently available and emerging advertising formats."

Henry Jenkins, Experimenting with Brands in Second Life: "We might think of Second Life as a platform for thought experiments -- a place where we can test ideas that might not be ready for prime time, where we can experiment with new ways of being on both a personal and communal level. If you can think it, you can build it on Second Life, and so far, if you build it, they will come."

Terra Nova: Second Life: "There's apparently all this enthusiasm about Second Life today, as opposed to other VWs, in the mass media and among the digerati."

MIT Advertising Lab: Two Ad Agencies Announce Second Life Branches: "Following hot on the heels of Adidas, which recently became one of the first global brands to create a presence in the online virtual reality world, Leo Burnett has now set up shop in Second Life with a virtual agency - the Leo Ideas Hub. The idea is to create a global creative community where creative ideas can be shared and briefs honed. It's a neat alternative to the usual company intranet and gives Burnett the option to leverage any commercial opportunities that might come out of the Second Life economy."

This month's Wired magazine has a long feature on Second Life (which is not yet online) which discusses the Second Life economy and culture.

Last night, South Park's residents visited the World of Warcraft: