2006 in Review

How is it already the end of December? On a personal note, I am glad to say that I met my major goals for this year– it sucked less than 2005. And that applies to blogging, as well. While I’m not winning any awards over here, I managed to get name-dropped in the NY Times, which at least gave me something to talk about at my high school reunion. That was only one of a few interesting posts. Here are the topics I discussed and some of the best posts:

Communications Law Issues

Indecency Regulation

Some of these include more than superficial analysis. A rarity for this blog.

Internet Discrimination and Network Neutrality Regulation

Copyright

Information Literacy

Trademark and Reality TV

Did any other site on the web have more comprehensive coverage of the Supernova trademark lawsuit? If not, I’m not sure that’s something to be proud of.

Miscellany

Virtual Worlds

I’m late to the party on the property and virtual worlds party, but it’s an interesting topic:

What’s Next?

So, what’s on the horizon for next year? My goal is to integrate blogging and music better along with my professional life. I’m not yet quite sure how that plays out on this blog or in my life. As I intended to do last year, but managed only in unrealized fits and starts, I suspect that it involves taking these topics beyond the blog, probably by writing scholarly articles intended for a real publication or participating better in real life activities here in the city (particularly as far as teaching information literacy issues). The problem, of course, is doing it in a way that doesn’t result in scattering myself even thinner across more unrelated activities.

Scary Technology and Virtual Taxes

Eriq Gardner , The Hollywood Reporter, Esq: High-Tech, High Anxiety: Innovations Likely to Rattle Nerves: “It doesn’t take long for a hot new technology to become the talk of Hollywood. Witness YouTube: Lawyers in the entertainment community hardly had time to register their copyright complaints before the company was sold to Google for $1.65 billion in October.”
The Washington Post has an article introducing readers to the law and property implications of virtual virtual worlds: Where Real Money Meets Virtual Reality, The Jury Is Still Out: “As virtual worlds proliferate across the Web, software designers and lawyers are straining to define property rights in this emerging digital realm. The debate over these rights extends far beyond the early computer games that pioneered virtual reality into the new frontiers of commerce.”

Deep Linking to Webcasts

In Live Nation Motor Sports, Inc. v. Davis, a federal district judge in Texas ruled that deep-linking to streaming media is copyright infringement. The plaintiff streams webcasts of its racing events via its web site. The defendant was providing links to these streams from his web site.
The court finds that “the unauthorized ‘link’ to the live webcasts that Davis provides on his website would likely qualify as a copied display or performance of SFX’s copyrightable material.”
William Patry Gentlemen Stop Your Linking (includes full text of the opinion): “This is a deeply disturbing opinion.”
Declan McCullagh, News.com: Supercross Opinion Leaves Many Open Questions: “Sometimes, when your case isn’t particularly strong, it may be better to employ a vagueness strategy and hope the court won’t notice (or won’t want to get bogged down in the details). This might be especially effective when your opponent is representing him/herself. Not having seen the rest of the record, I don’t know for sure if that’s what happened here, but I suspect this is the case because the opinion, as Patry points out, leaves so many factual questions open.”

CBS gets (back) into the record business

It’s apparently cheaper for a television network to run a record label than to license recordings.
Variety reports: CBS spins digital record label: “CBS will launch a digital record label in January, signing artists with the goal of breaking them via television show placement, iTunes and the Eye web’s broadband channel. CBS Records will be launched primarily utilizing the existing infrastructure of CBS Entertainment and CBS Interactive. It will operate as a newly created unit within the entertainment division based in Los Angeles. The label will debut with three artists — Boston rock act Senor Happy; Will Dailey, a John Mayer-ish singer-songwriter, also from Boston; and P.J. Olsson, an established indie-rock artist — and is looking to sign another five acts in the first year.”
With music licensing costs increasing and the costs of recording and distributing albums dropping, it may make more sense to sign an artist to a recording contract instead of paying a license fee for placing a song into a television show (particularly a recurring use, such as for a theme song.)
Television shows are now distributed across multiple platforms– broadcast, cable, DVD, video on demand, iTunes, Xbox, streaming on the web– and more. From the perspective of the studios, it may make more sense to just buy the recordings instead of licensing particular uses. This way, the studio sees a piece of the record sales generated by the promotional value of a television placement.