Friday, December 11, 2009
Golf legend Tiger Woods has gotten an injunction from an English court prohibiting publication of nude photographs in the media, assuming such photographs exist. His lawyers are not admitting that such pictures do exist, nor under what circumstances they might have been snapped. Here's more from CNN World News. Here's a link to a letter from Mr. Woods' attorneys and a copy of the injunction issued by the Court (courtesy of TMZ.com).
Judge Tells Jon Gosselin To Stop Making Media Appearances, Making Comments About "Jon & Kate Plus 8"
Granting the preliminary injunction that TLC requested in the matter, a judge has told Jon Gosselin to cease making media appearances unless they are unpaid and must stop making public comments about the show without permission. Mr. Gosselin was not in the courtroom for the hearing. The case goes to trial in the spring. Read more here.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
One goal of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) is to provide all Americans with access to affordable broadband services, particularly to those Americans living in rural markets where demand and cost conditions do not favor network deployment. At the same time, there is growing support for regulations that may effectively force network operators to “invest their way out” of congestion rather than manage traffic to improve network efficiency and quality. In this BULLETIN, we demonstrate that such rules are likely to affect disproportionately networks located in rural areas or smaller networks in urban markets given the cost disadvantages faced by such firms. Since these markets are a central target of both the ARRA’s stimulus funding and required National Broadband Plan, the imposition of strong “network management” provisions are likely to result in lower quality service and less availability in rural areas and potentially reduce competition in urban areas, as well as to reduce the effectiveness of stimulus grants and other subsidies. Further, we present some evidence indicating an elastic response of subsidy levels to increases in costs resulting from such regulations; specifically, a 1% increase in deployment costs arising from regulation increases the subsidy required for ubiquitous coverage by nearly 2%. Accordingly, policymakers seeking to expand quickly and efficiently broadband availability in rural markets should carefully and explicitly compare the benefits and costs from network management regulatory mandates, with a particular eye on disproportionate effects across market types.
In this essay prepared in celebration of Judge Frank Easterbrook’s 25th year on the bench, I focus on what copyright students learn from him. Three of his dozen or so copyright opinions turn up repeatedly in copyright casebooks: Nash v. CBS, Inc.; Lee v. A.R.T. Co.; and ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg. This is a surprising success rate for a judge from the copyright-starved 7th Circuit. Judge Easterbrook has an eye for fundamental questions, writes opinions that are brief while treating issues fully and has a distinctively lively Easterbrookian style, one that he preserves by refusing to outsource his opinions to his clerks.
Nash poses a key conceptual question: if only one person believes something to be a fact, is it a copyright fact? We confront the idiosyncratic fact, that is a claim of fact that may be believed by only one person and by no one else. Nash is casebook-worthy alone because of the factual situation it encompasses, as it is the law-school hypo come alive. The opinion nails down a key conceptual boundary question for copyright: copyright facts and actual facts may have little to do with each other.
Lee answers the age-old question: what does glue do? Annie Lee created postcards of her original art. A.R.T. Co. glued postcards to tiles and sold them. In doing so, does A.R.T. violate Lee’s exclusive right to make derivative works as set forth in Section 106(2)? Lee is a refreshingly brief opinion, little more than five columns in F3d, yet, like Nash, it poses in simple fashion a basic question about the operation of copyright. Boundary cases are particularly important because legal analysis frequently builds off of what is taken as given: if x is right, then y must follow. Lee does exactly that for derivative works, an area of increasing importance for copyright.
Finally. ProCD is one of Easterbrook’s best-known decisions, studied by contract students and copyright students alike. ProCD is the opinion that the copyright casebooks love to hate. Easterbrook validates the contract that limits the subsequent use of the ProCD database and wrestles with the tricky question of the interaction between copyright and contract.
Student learn to pay close attention to the text of the copyright statute and to appreciate how that text operates in critical boundary settings. The opinions are written with a distinctive élan, with a little bit of law and economics thrown in, though less than you might expect given Frank’s deep academic roots. Students should understand that the business of deciding cases is a different one than of engaging in an abstract academic inquiry. Easterbrook on copyright is somehow a work of interest, fun and yet discipline all at the same time.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Several female law students were the subject of derogatory comments on AutoAdmit.com, a message board about law school admissions. When one of the women asked the website administrator to remove certain comments, the administrator posted her request, prompting further attacks. An undergraduate student’s rape was revealed on a gossip site, JuicyCampus.com, where posters engaged in a cruel session of “blame the victim.” Another student on that site was falsely identified, by name, as being a stalker, bi-polar, and suicidal. When officials at her university asked JuicyCampus.com to remove the most egregious posts, the company refused. These recent cases have brought the vexing problem of cyber harassment to the public’s attention. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, websites are not liable as publishers for the content on their sites so long as they are not involved in its creation. Accordingly, much of the relevant scholarship has focused on repealing Section 230 or imposing liability upon posters. The immunity that website sponsors have as publishers should not mean that they have no obligation whatsoever for the activity on their website. Website sponsor - the entities that own the domain name and control the activity on a website - have a proprietary interest in their websites. Accordingly, they should be subject to the same standard of conduct as other proprietors.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Carol Loeb Schloss writes about her years-long battle with the Joyce estate, and the assistance she received from Lawrence Lessig and the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society's Fair Use Project, and others. While she eventually won her lawsuit, she has concerns about the rights of other scholars. Says Professor Schloss in part.
[M]y legal victory obscures several major questions that should concern every humanities scholar on American college campuses. What role should colleges play in protecting their faculty in potential copyright disputes? Why should copyrights, when they are generated by faculty members, be excluded from university risk-management policies? Why does a special Fair Use Project like the one at Stanford have to exist at all? The underlying lack of protections exposed by this case indicates that humanities scholars throughout the country would benefit from a restructuring of university risk management.
Monday, December 7, 2009
In creating "Jersey Shore" and "Find My Family" reality tv types seem to have crossed some lines. And we thought there weren't any more lines to be crossed. MTV, which is premiering "Jersey Shore," has already run into trouble with advertiser Domino's Pizza and groups representing Italian-Americans. And ABC's "Find My Family," a show about adoptees in search of their biological roots, seems to have run into what looks like a buzzsaw of complaints from adoption advocates. Read more in a New York Times article by Edward Wyatt.
From the New York Times, on the GE/Comcast deal over NBC/Universal:
With technology changing Americans’ media experience at breakneck speed, it might seem quaint to worry about the merger of an old-style cable company with a beleaguered broadcast TV company. But there is much to be concerned about in Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBC and its sister company Universal Studios.
The pairing of the nation’s largest cable company with one of the leading television broadcasters, which also owns several popular cable networks, could limit choices and raise prices for viewers and advertisers. As they evaluate the proposed merger, antitrust and communications watchdog agencies should also consider the risks to the emerging business of delivering video entertainment over the Internet — the main competitive threat to cable TV.
Sunday, December 6, 2009