Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Alan L. Durham, University of Alabama School of Law, has published "Consumer Modification of Copyrighted Works," in volume 81 of the Indiana Law Journal. Here is the abstract.
Much existing scholarship focuses on the rights of authors to modify copyrighted works; this article explores of the rights of consumers. Advances in technology are providing consumers new opportunities to alter copyrighted works for their private enjoyment. The recent dispute involving the ClearPlay technology for skipping offensive content in DVDs demonstrates how important, and how controversial, the clash of interests between authors and consumers may be. In this article, I consider the state of the law on consumer modifications and the arguments, both economic and non-economic, for expanding or restricting the freedom of consumers. A distinction can be drawn between modifications performed on behalf of consumers and modifications performed by consumers, perhaps using tools supplied by others. I conclude by advocating a “safe harbor” for certain modifications performed by consumers for their own use.
Download the entire article from SSRN here.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Media/Professional Insurance, a company that specializes in offering coverage to media and internet clients, has decided to offer a program to documentary filmmakers that would enable them to rely on the "fair use" doctrine for the clips they use in their work but still obtain insurance coverage. Media/Professional and Stanford University Law School's Fair Use Project developed the idea of such coverage together. Read more here in an article from Variety (also available through LEXIS) or here in an article from the Hollywood Reporter.
Check out the February 2007 issue of the Harvard Law Review: the Developments in the Law section focuses on the Law of Media. Full text is available here. The students provide excellent coverage of a variety of topics ranging from whether bloggers should be able to avail themselves of the shield law to criminal prosecution of the press for the act of publishing to when HIPAA may be used to prevent publication. Thanks to second year Alex Boni-Saenz for the information about this extremely interesting HLR issue.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Tim Wu, Columbia Law School, has published "Wireless Net Neutrality: Cellular Carterfone on Mobile Networks" as New America Foundation Wireless Future Program Working Paper No. 17. Here is the abstract.
Over the next decade, regulators will spend increasing time on the conflicts between the private interests of the wireless industry and the public's interest in the best uses of its spectrum. This report examines the practices of the wireless industry with an eye toward understanding their influence on innovation and consumer welfare.
This report finds a mixed picture. The wireless industry, over the last decade, has succeeded in bringing wireless telephony at competitive prices to the American public. Yet at the same time we also find the wireless carriers aggressively controlling product design and innovation in the equipment and application markets, to the detriment of consumers. Their policies, in the wired world, would be considered outrageous, in some cases illegal, and in some cases simply misguided.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.
James Grimmelmann, Yale Law School Information Society Project, has published "The Structure of Search Engine Law," via SSRN. Here is the abstract.
This article will provide a road map to the legal issues posed by Internet search engines. It will indicate what questions we must consider when thinking about search engines, and it will detail the interconnections among those questions. It will not endorse any particular normative framework for search. Nor will it recommend who should regulate search. Instead, it will provide the necessary foundation for informed decision-making, by whatever regulator and whatever its normative approach.
Part I will explain how modern search engines function and describe the business environment within which they operate. Part II, the heart of the article, will present a descriptive analysis of the legal struggles over search, showing how questions of search policy, many of which have long been latent in different fields of Internet law, are increasingly confronting lawyers, courts, and regulators. Part III will then show, with five examples, how taking a broad view of search yields otherwise unavailable insights into pressing controversies. This is not to say that the end result must be a body of search-specific law, only to note that failing to consider the larger forces at work in search is antithetical to sensible policy-making.
Download the entire paper here.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
The FCC may fine Univision an amazing amount of money for trying to disguise programming more suited for adults as "educational programming" that complies with the Children's Television Act, the New York Times reports. FCC Chair Kevin Martin supports the notion of such a fine, which he believes the network merits for presenting telenovelas such as Complices al Rescate (Friends to the Rescue) and other shows as children's programming in order to discharge its responsibilities under the statute. Apparently, in order to secure a buyout deal, Univision has agreed to the fine, subject to a vote by the FCC Commissioners. Read more in a story in the Houston Chronicle.
Friday, February 23, 2007
From an FCC Press Release
CHAIRMAN KEVIN J. MARTIN ANNOUNCES HIS INTENTION TO APPOINT DEREK POARCH PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU CHIEF
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced his intention to appoint Derek Poarch, a North Carolina police chief, as the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief. Chief Poarch, a native of Lenoir, N.C., is presently the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his new role, Chief Poarch will oversee the bureau responsible for FCC activities pertaining to public safety, homeland security, emergency management and disaster preparedness.
“Public safety is one of the Commission’s and my top priorities, and I am very pleased that Chief Poarch, who is a highly accomplished and nationally respected law enforcement officer, has agreed to head our bureau,” Chairman Martin said.
Chief Poarch assumed the position of Director of Public Safety at UNC-Chapel Hill on September 14, 1998. In this position, Chief Poarch commands a department of approximately 300 full and part-time employees providing police, security, emergency communications, parking and transportation services to a university community of 45,000 persons that has more than a million visitors each year.
UNC’s public safety department is one of only 30 college and university public safety agencies in the country that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.
Read the original press release here.
The Guardian reports that more government regulation of junk food advertising may be on the way in the wake of Ofcom's new TV rules aimed at protecting children from the effects of what it has defined as less than nutritional goodies. Health minister Caroline Flint says, "We now look to the Committee of Advertising Practice to put in place similar rules for other media such as cinema, magazines and the internet." Read more in a Guardian article here. Read Ofcom's statement on the television advertising of food and drink products to children here.
Abdel-Karim Nabil Suleiman has received a four year prison sentence for "insulting Islam" and other content, the result of posts on his blog last year. Read more about the case and about other crackdowns on bloggers and media criticism of the government here in a Guardian article.
The media reports that prosecutors have charged Salvador Nunez with copyright infringement for uploading a copy of the film Flushed Away to the Internet. Mr. Nunez is reported to have obtained the film from his sister, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Read more here. The San Jose Mercury News has some additional information here. The Academy sends copies of Oscar-nominated films ("screeners") in advance to voting members so that they can make their selections. Screeners are encoded and can be traced to the Academy members who originally received them.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Conrad Black is back in court, but this time he's the plaintiff, and he is suing over Tom Bower's biography of him, which he alleges is"vindictive, high-handed, contemptuous, sadistic, pathologically mendacious and malicious". Lord Black, who is under indictment in the U.S., claims the book damages his good name. Mr. Bower's publisher is HarperCollins. Read more here in the Guardian and here in the Globe and Mail.
The Guardian examines how a lone hacker was able to doom the next generation of DVD encryption: AACS (Advanced Access Content System) and cost the movie industry millions in just days. What, if anything, can Hollywood do to protect the content of DVDs? Is encryption a viable approach to protect rights? Read more here.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Ernest Zundel, the German citizen who lived in both Canada and the United States between the late 1950s and 2005, before Canada deported him to Germany, and published his views challenging the reality of the Holocaust in print and on a website over the years, has received a five year prison sentence from a German court for various crimes including incitement to racial hatred. Read more in a CBC story here. Several countries in the EU in addition to Germany have laws forbidding the denial of the existence of the Holocaust including Austria, Belgium, and France.
Wendy Seltzer, a visiting professor at Brooklyn Law School, posted a short bit of the recent Super Bowl on YouTube (the part where the NFL says the entire broadcast is copyrighted and for the private use of its audience) in order to illustrate "how far copyright claimants exaggerate their rights." YouTube then sent her a takedown notice. She responded with her own request for reinstatement of the clip, and is waiting for YouTube's answer. She blogs the situation here at Legal Tags and has gotten several interesting comments since. The Chronicle of Higher Education has taken notice here.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The dispute over where Anna Nicole Smith should be interred is being covered live by the media on MSNBC. Howard K. Stern's attorney has just introduced footage from Entertainment Tonight over the objections of the attorney for Ms. Smith's mother, who asked whether she would be allowed to introduce her own videos, and whether this footage was unaltered. The judge said something to the effect that he knew "how these things worked" and instructed Mr. Stern's attorney to continue. The footage is intended to provide evidence about Ms. Smith's relationship with her mother shortly before the celebrity's death. The media, which has covered the Anna Nicole Smith saga with such eagerness, is now part of the story.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Bloomberg.com reports that Sirius Satellite Radio plans to acquire XM Satellite Radio for more than 4.5 billion dollars. The companies will require an OK from federal regulators to complete such a merger. Read more about the plan here. Rumors have been floating about a get-together between the radio rivals for several weeks.