Minefields and Timebombs: Glancing at Copyright

Net TV, Net Video, Video on Demand, MP3s ,peer to peer, streaming, decentralization of content, self-publishing tools, blogging, DRM, digital fingerprinting …all this convergence between entertainment, media and technology is changing the world.   It is also making Copyright Law issues like the rights of authors (creators), Fair Use, and distribution of content, increasingly relevant.  

copyright puzzleCopyright law, domestically and internationally (from Common Law, to the Copyright Act of 1976, to the Digital Millennium Act (DMCA), to the Berne Convention) is a complex patchwork of overlapping and frequently contradictory statutes.  Like many laws, the statutes have been woven together through countless legislative horse-trades in an ongoing effort to both anticipate and keep up with the way changing technologies do (and might) influence the rights and control of intellectual property.  Despite best efforts, the legislative process, even streamlined to its most efficient ideal, can’t begin to keep pace with the innovations of our digital age and changing communications technologies.  Much of Copyright law’s tenets were written before the digital age, and even those written recently, are hard pressed to keep up with the pace at which technology is changing.  

Navigating the laws can sometimes feel like walking through a minefield while blindfolded and on crutches.  As the ever observant Mark Twain once said of the subject:  “only one thing is impossible to God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook May 23, 1903).  Click to Read More

FTC Looking Deeper at Google/DoubleClick

With a purchase price of more than $3b a little regulatory scrutiny was to be expected for the pending DoubleClick and Google deal.  Yesterday the New York Times confirmed such scrutiny was ongoing, and official.  According to the article, the Federal Trade Commission (instead of the Justice Department) was conducting a review and had issued Google a Second Request which is a formal request for answers to a list of detailed questions.

The news or review, regardless of which agency administered it, was expected.  Google stated back in April when the deal was announced that they’d studied the anti-trust issues, expected regulatory scrutiny, and weren’t concerned. 

Given the stakes for the acquisition are high, and also the fact that, in this transaction, you have two companies coming together that each handle a tremendous volume of consumer behavior related information, a Second Request and a detailed review is not a shocker.

DoubleClick, which provides display advertising (video or graphic banners), displays its advertising across a wide range of independent web properties and through “cookies” has the capacity to track which sites a web surfer has visited. Google, in contrast, as the leading search engine, has the capacity to track what web searchers users have made. Google reportedly keeps that date for up to several years as well.  A combined company could pool this information and theoretically that could be problematic, so it warrants a check-up.

Realistically, however much privacy concerns irk and scare consumer watch groups, privacy concerns are not likely to do more than stimulate debate.  Both sites have clear privacy policies and neither is doing anything outside industry practice. Click to Read More

Ticketmaster vs. Stubhub

In a ticket industry cluttered with primary and secondary sales, pre-sales and resales, market heavyweights are increasingly worried about protecting their territory.  In effort to reassert its dominance, IAC’s Ticketmaster filed several lawsuits during the past week.

Most notable  of the suits was a complaint filed against eBay’s Stubhub. It was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Wednesday. That complaint alleges that Stubhub, an auction reseller of tickets, has repeatedly interfered with contracts that typically grant Ticketmaster exclusive rights to sell tickets for events to the general public. 

The complaints specific focuse is on actions relating to the Rowdy Frynds Tour for which Stubhub has advertised that it would offer front-row seats via auction for  up to 100 seats in the first 10 rows for all 20 show dates.   

According to Ticketmaster, these seats should not have been available to Stubhub.  Stubhub used improper tactics to gain access to the seats which contractually should have been part of Ticketmaster’s inventory. Click to Read More

Sarbane-Oxley: replay of my first blog writings

About a two years ago I made my first foray into the blogging world by way of few comments on Roger McNamee’s blog: The New Normal. At the time, Mr. McNamee was promoting his new book and writing regularly on the site. His observations and his reputation, led to some ongoing discussions that included the thoughts of a wide range of people, including some high-tech executives like Marc Andreeson and Jeremy Allaire (founder of Brightcove, which was just beginning).

I was intrigued and as a passing experiment wrote a reply to two of Roger’s posts, one on Sarbane Oxley where Roger’s speculated the law was influencing corporate earnings guidance, and the other a post of Roger’s about the direction Internet video. With just a toe-in-the-water of blogging, I wrote both pieces anonymously using only an email address (lookingglass@gmail.com) to identify myself.

My replies were an experiment, but after recently seeing what I wrote in some old files, for the sake of nostalgia, and to own what I originally wrote, I decided to reprint my posts as well as links to the original discussion here on Metue today and tomorrow.

Today, Sarbanes-Oxley issues from February 2005(tomorrow net video):

Click to Read More

A Legal, historical archive?

In 2003, following on the footsteps of years of dot com success, flashy TV ad campaigns,  and boom time excess, Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison, a major Silicon Valley law firm with a heavy focus on the technology industry and an 80 year history of practice,  imploded and shut down.  The liquidation ended up in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and what remained of the firm ended up at the disposition of Bankruptcy Court.

In August, 2006, the court authorized the Library of Congress’ National Digital Infrastructure Preservation Program to begin archiving Brobeck’s digital records which contain a significant volume of contracts, drafts, memos and documents crafted by Brobeck staff.  It was argued that material is historically significant.

From the website :  “even if research access to these records is decades away, preservation demands intervention now” and “the artifacts left in the wake of Brobeck – including digital materials documenting the operation of the partnership and the work it’s lawyers did on behalf of more than 10,000 clients – [contain] a wealth of historical information.”


Over the past five months news of the decision has slowly spread and unfavorable reactions have grown from a whisper to a grumble.    In December several articles and blogs referenced the Archive.

Click to Read More

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