March 13, 2009
Anti-Counterfeiting Treaty a Matter of National Security?
The Obama administration has designated the draft text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement as classified in the interest of national security. What? Read about it in CNET and be very afraid.
March 11, 2009
Utah Legislating Against Ad Words
Utah doesn't like the idea that Google can sell a competitor's name as a search word. The legislature is considering a bill to discourage the practice. It allows a Utah company to get an injunction in state court if they feel their trademarks are being used in bad faith, like Google using it to sell ads for competitors. Poor babies. It's passed one house already. Read the details in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Update: Lawsuit Against Real Over DVD Software
What's going on with that lawsuit the studios have filed against RealNetworks over DVD copying software? Bob Barr (former congressman from Georgia and presidential candidate) wants to tell you. Read it here.
Wisconsin Sports Association Doesn't Like Newspaper Coverage of Games
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is suing Gannett for covering its games. The charge involves one of Gannett's Wisconsin newspapers for streaming a playoff game on the Internet last year. The WIAA claims that it owns every possible depiction or description of its member's games. That position gets lots of criticism. More in Editor and Publisher.
Turn Off a Host of Features in Windows 7
The Engineering Windows 7 blog identifies any number of features that may be turned off in Windows 7, including Internet Explorer 8. The code doesn't disappear, but it becomes inaccessible to the OS. This may affect the EU's investigation in whether Microsoft has abused a dominant position by including Internet Explorer in Windows. The entry with the details comes from March 6th. The blog is here.
Google Will Target Ads Based on (Gasp!) Behavior
Google will start a program that targets people's behavior when determining ad content. The idea scares some people, but in some respects it comes as no surprise that Google's finally doing this. They are an ad company, after all.
More from Computerworld.
March 9, 2009
Defamation Case Over Email is Troubling
There is an opinion involving defamation via an email message released last month by the First Circuit Court of Appeals that is raising some eyebrows. The concepts of truth as an absolute defense took a hit when the Court decided that a 1902 Massachusetts law allowed a suit to go forward because the plaintiff might be able to show actual malice even though the statements were truthful.
The facts are straightforward. Staples fired one of it's employees for allegedly padding an expense account. Staples also sent an email to other employees naming the individual and the reasons for separation. This, Staples said, was meant as an example of conduct that would not be allowed. The individual sued because he felt humiliated by the email. Even though the content of the email was true, a jury could find malice in the dissemination of the statement.
The Internet reaches everywhere, including Massachusetts. Any potential plaintiff coming from that state could conceivably overcome the harshness of truth if the defendant was ill motivated, whatever that means. And that's the problem. There's currently petitions for an en banc rehearing.
The case is Noonan v. Staples, docket 07-2159 (2/13/09) and it is available on the First Circuit's opinion page. The site requires some navigation to get there from the main page.
Commentary is in the Boston Globe. [MG]
Cook County Sheriff Sues Craigslist
Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, IL, has civilly sued Craigslist over the Internet site's Erotic Listings. The suit seems a bit unusual as there is no indication that Dart is planning to run for higher office. Dart believes that Craigslist facilitates and profits from prostitution. Craigslist has tried to work with Dart's office long before the suit was filed. It has also worked with various state attorneys general to cooperate on plans to catch child pornographers and human traffickers using the site. Despite the arrests of individuals who use Craigslist for illegal purposes, Dart's position is that Craigslist should shut down the Erotic Services section of the site. Nothing less will do.
Craigslist intends to fight the suit, saying federal law protects it from suits over content posted by users. In essence, they are saying that the sheriff should go after the violators. Not every offer of erotic services is illegal, even though they may offend some. Federal courts have protected web sites in other circumstances where people have done terrible things to each other. Tom Dart may find out that his status as sheriff doesn't change that.
More in PC Magazine. [MG]