November 3, 2007
"The Family Guy" Sued For Copyright Infringement
FindLaw's Julie Hilden writes about yet another lawsuit filed against "The Family Guy", this time for its use of "When You Wish Upon a Star". The show's writers replaced the original lyrics with words may suggest anti-Semitism, and we're off and running to the courthouse. Read Ms. Hilden's analysis of this suit here.
Student Press Law Center Appoints New Executive Director
The Student Press Law Center today named Frank Daniel LoMonte as its new executive director. He succeeds Mark Goodman, who will leave the SPLC at the end of the year to become Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University.
Indian Judge Dismisses Rowling Lawsuit
A Delhi court has dismissed J. K. Rowling's lawsuit against the people who organized a religious event and included a replica of Harry Potter's alma mater, Hogwarts Academy. She had alleged copyright infringement. Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul told the event organizers that their right to use the castle was time-limited and they were not to use Ms. Rowling's characters without permission. Read more here.
Negotiator Attempts to Avert WGA Strike Set for Monday
The Hollywood Reporter reports today that a federal negotiator is attempting to get both sides to the table to continue talks to avert the Writers Guild strike set for Monday, November 5th. Read more here (subscription may be required) and here.
November 2, 2007
Writers Guild on Strike
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike--for the first time since 1988--over royalties and the sure sense writers do not command the same kind of power that directors, actors and producers do in Hollywood. Writers want more of a share of the income stream from DVDs and the results of online technology. Audiences will first notice the effects on shows that rely on a daily influx of writing talent--late night talk shows, for example. Read more here in an article by AP writer Gary Gentile.
October 30, 2007
Regulation of Network Neutrality
Rob Frieden, College of Communications, Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University, has published "The Costs and Benefits of Separating Wireless Telephone Service From Handset Sales and Imposing Network Neutrality Obligations." Here is the abstract.
Wireless operators in the United States qualify for streamlined regulation when providing telecommunications services and even less government oversight when providing information services, entertainment and electronic publishing. Congressional legislation, real or perceived competition and regulator discomfort with ventures that provide both regulated and largely unregulated services contribute to the view that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has no significant regulatory mandate to safeguard the public interest. Such a hands off approach made sense when cellular radiotelephone carriers primarily offered voice and text messaging services in a marketplace with six or more facilities-based competitors in most metropolitan areas.
However the wireless industry has become significantly more concentrated even as wireless networking increasingly serves as a key medium for accessing a broad array of information, communications and entertainment (“ICE”) services. As wireless ventures plan and install next generation networks (“NGNs”), these carriers expect to offer a diverse array of ICE services, including Internet access, free from common carrier regulatory responsibilities that nominally still apply to telecommunications services. Wireless carrier managers reject the need for governments to ensure consumers safeguards such as nondiscriminatory access and separating the sale of radiotelephone handsets from carrier services.
This paper will examine the costs and benefits of government-imposed wireless network neutrality rules with an eye toward examining the lawfulness and need for such safeguards. Because wireless carriers package subsidized handset sales often with a blend of ICE services and consumers welcome the opportunity to use and replace increasingly sophisticated handsets, the FCC has refrained from ordering handset unbundling. But for other services, such as cable television, the Commission has pursued public safeguards that attempt to allow consumers the opportunity to access only desired content using least cost equipment options.
The paper concludes that the rising importance of wireless networking for most ICE services and growing consumer disenchantment with carrier-imposed restrictions on handset versatility and wireless network access will trigger closer regulatory scrutiny of the public interest benefits accruing from wireless network neutrality.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.
Another Look at IP Piracy in China
Aaron Schwabach, Thomas Jefferson Law School, has published "Intellectual Property Piracy: Perception and Reality in China, the United States, and Elsewhere," in Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, Vol. 2, 2007-08. Here is the abstract.
This article is intended as a counterpoint to the all-too-frequent portrayal of China as the world's leading violator of intellectual property rights. In fact, by many measures, China, taken as a whole, is not the leading violator. Some measures show China as the leading violator only because they are aggregates, and do not take into account China's size. When figures are adjusted for population, China's rates of intellectual property violation are lower than those of many other countries, including the United States.
The article first looks at examples of the current round of political and media China-bashing. It then examines figures on international movie piracy provided by the Motion Picture Association (the international counterpart of the Motion Picture Association of America) and compares those figures to the populations of the countries involved. It concludes that the problem of movie piracy is more severe in the U.S. than in China, possibly because of greater broadband access, and more severe still in other countries, including France, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Download the article from SSRN here.
October 29, 2007
Vonage, Verizon Reach Settlement
Vonage and Verizon have announced a settlement in their patent dispute. Vonage will pay a maximum of $120 million, perhaps less, depending on the outcome of a rehearing of an appeal requested in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Read more here in a Vonage press release.
FCC Nixes Monopoly Cable Contracts for Apartments Buildings
The Federal Communications Commission is getting ready to announce a new rule that would end cable monopolies for apartment buildings, giving options for renters to choose other cable providers or satellite companies. Read more here in a New York Times article published today.