February 23, 2012
AFTRA Members Okay Agreement With Networks
From the Hollywood Reporter: AFTRA members have overwhelmingly okayed a contract with the four major networks that covers daytime programming, unscripted (reality) shows, and late night tv. Among the provisions--a two percent wage increase. The agreement runs for nearly three years. More here.
Another Issue of the IP Law Book Review
The latest issue of the IP Law Book Review here.
February 22, 2012
Blocking Web Sites: The View From Finland
Marcus Norrgård, Hanken School of Economics, has published Blocking Web Sites – Experiences from Finland. Here is the abstract.
The article presents and discusses 'injunctions to discontinue,' i.e. injunctions against Internet Access Providers blocking access to websites in cases of alleged copyright infringements, from the point of view of Finnish legislation and case law (for example IFPI v. Elisa (concerning blocking access to The Pirate Bay).
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
The Flap Over That App
From the New York Times: yet another controversy over who owns your data. This time the flap is over the app, or rather, the contact information stored in the app in your smartphone. Some apps routinely collect this information, and developers do not divulge to users that their apps are doing so. Some social media sites and distributors, such as Google, insist on user consent before the app developers can move forward. Apple has consistently said it requires user consent but complaints, and now a Congressional inquiry, indicates that some Apple-available apps have been collecting this data without user knowledge. Apple's has now clarified its position: it will now require apps that track such data to get user consent before doing so. The FTC has also stepped in, saying Apple and Google must let parents know more fully what information their apps are collecting about children.
What Now For Philip Falcone's LightSquared?
Sun Journalists Allege News Corporation's Cooperation With Inquiry a Violation of Human Rights
From the Guardian: Some Sun reporters are preparing a human rights complaint over the paper's disclosure of information to law enforcement that the employees believe compromised sources. The employees have approached the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to assist them and to hire Sir Geoffrey Robertson, the noted barrister, to represent them. The reporters assert that the disclosures resulted in the arrest of Sun journalists earlier this year. Sir Geoffrey has written that journalists must "fight for their rights" in the wake of the internal inquiry.
Free Music Downloads and CD Music Purchases
George Robert Barker, Centre for Law and Economics, ANU College of Law, has published Assessing the Economic Impact of Copyright Law: Evidence of the Effect of Free Music Downloads on the Purchase of Music CDs. Here is the abstract.
This report examines data on the effects of Internet peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing activities on music purchasing which was obtained from a survey commissioned by Industry Canada. The survey was designed to inform Industry Canada's policy development work and ultimately therefore support better policy decisions regarding the copyright law in Canada. In order to support its policy decisions regarding the copyright regime in Canada, Industry Canada commissioned a survey by Decima Research in 2006 which was designed to measure the extent to which peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing activities act as substitutes or complements to music purchases. Given this purpose the Decima survey asked respondents to comment on their behaviour in the absence of P2P file-sharing, as follows:
Considering the songs that you downloaded for free through P2P networks during 2005
a) what % would you have purchased at paid music sites if they were not available through P2P
b) what % would you have purchased as part of a music CD if they were not available through P2P
After analyzing the answers to this question, I report on two key findings:
1. three out of every four respondents said that if P2P were not available they would have purchased some or all of the music which they downloaded; and
2. almost two-thirds of the hardcore P2P downloaders (those who indicated in the survey that they only acquired music by P2P) said they would have purchased one-third of the tracks they downloaded if the songs were not available on P2P network. This is estimated to amount to an average additional expense of $168 per person, adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars in extra revenue for the music industry per year from this group alone.
This analysis of survey data then suggests that P2P downloads have strong negative effects on legitimate music purchases and that P2P downloading acts as a substitute for legitimate music purchases. One might reasonably infer from this analysis that stronger copyright laws would substantially increase music purchases and music industry sales revenues and, by implication, increase artist income, industry employment, economic growth and government tax revenues in Canada. My analysis not only focuses on an important survey question which to date has not been analysed by the researchers hired by Industry Canada, it also contradicts the results of the original analysis of the data commissioned by Industry Canada, first published on Industry Canada's website in a 2007 report entitled, Don’t blame the P2P file-sharers: the impact of free music downloads on the purchase of music CDs in Canada, and then subsequently republished with changes by the authors in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics in 201'3. (sic).
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Michael L. Rustad, Suffolk University Law School, has published Copyrights in Cyberspace: A Roundup of Recent Cases, at 12 Suffolk University Journal of High Technology Law 106 (2011). Here is the abstract.
Decades from now, we will remember 2010 for the BP oil spill and the year 2011 because of a slow recovery from the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nevertheless, it is reasonably certain that intellectual property (IP) lawyers will still remember some of the remarkable copyright cases included in this roundup of cyberspace-related cases. For the past two decades, copyright law has been accommodating to the digital age. While the World Wide Web did not become part of mainstream American culture until the mid-1990s, the widespread use of the Internet dramatically changed the course of copyright law.
The World Wide Web continues to enable copyright infringement on a scale unfathomable in the 1980s and 1990s. In October 2011, the U.S. Copyright Office released its strategic plan that prioritized its activities for the next two years. One Copyright Office priority is the "feasibility and facilitation of the mass digitization of books, outside the context of Google’s private effort." Google Book Search already enables users around the world to access millions of books from the world’s finest libraries at the click of a mouse. Among the U.S. Copyright Office’s call for legislative action is to find new ways to deter "rogue websites" that enable widespread copyright infringement of copyrighted works, "particularly motion pictures, television programs, books, and software." Another legislative priority is to ramp up "criminal penalties for unauthorized online streaming of content." The U.S. Copyright Office also calls for "amending federal law to give librarians and archivists more support in their efforts to deal with digital content." The priority of restraining widespread infringement on the Internet is a top priority for copyright owners around the world. This Article is a roundup of how Internet-related cases decided in the past two years continue to reshape the contours of copyright law.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
February 19, 2012
Pat Buchanan No Longer a Commentator at MSNBC
MSNBC has terminated commentator Pat Buchanan's collaboration with the network, several months after putting him on suspension. Network president Phil Griffin seemed to want to distance himself and MSNBC from Mr. Buchanan's latest book, Suicide of a Super Power, which has received criticism from some quarters. There's much coverage on the net: here's a selection from the Christian Science Monitor and UPI; reaction from the Root, BBC, the Telegraph, and Mr. Buchanan himself.
The Public Spectrum and the Payroll Tax Cut
Congress is looking at auctioning off part of the public airwaves to fund the payroll tax cut and some unemployment benefits. Some of the money raised should go to provide a network for first responders. Story here from the New York Times. Other coverage here from the Washington Post.