Author: JeannyTsoi

To censor or not? Sen. Franken riles critics

According to Techdirt, it is quite a surprise that Sen. Al Franken, a well-known believer of “internet freedom,” now supports censoring the internet via the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA). This act is an internet censorship bill that attempts to prevent copyright infringement. Essentially, “if infringement is ‘central’ to the purpose of the site,” it would be place on “a blacklist of censored domains.” Hence, hosting websites such as MediaFire and Rapidshare may be gone. On the other hand, this bill is criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for the enormous collateral damage it may have on the cyberspace. Potentially, it may also target non-infringing contents, such as “sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy.” If this bill passes, Youtube and many other “legitimate” online service providers could disappear off the web. Further, “this act would allow the Attorney General to censor sites even when no court has found they have infringed copyright or any other law.” Franken, a Minnestota Dem, seems to think otherwise, though he “has spoken out repeatedly against attempts to limit speech on the internet.” According to an interview with Ars Technica, Franken thinks censoring the internet is acceptable after all because he does not think the entertainment world “should have to adapt to the changing internet”: The other side of this, of course, is that this...

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A quality issue in far-flung file-sharing cases

The issue of intellectual property protection isn’t exclusively American and a pair of recent cases — in Denmark and Argentina — indicate that judges, as always, can apply their own interesting spins to key matters, offering some ideas, particularly on the quality of file-shared copies and the compensation due to aggrieved parties, that plaintiffs and defendants in U.S. litigation might or might not see as Yankee Doodle dandy. The Court of Kolding (in Denmark) has ruled that Jonas Laeborg, the administrator of EliteBit BitTorrent tracker, is liable for copyright infringement by file-sharing. He was ordered to pay $18,500 to the rights-holders, who had sought $300,000. The compensation was reduced, due to Laeborg’s circumstances: He’s 19 and a poor student. Given his finances, or perhaps despite them, the court struggled to assess the rights-holders’ due, with the judge noting a key reason for this dilemma, “since he could not assess the quality of the movies being offered via EliteBits, he found it difficult to know how much compensation to award the movie companies.” The implication of his statement: rights-holders may be entitled to less compensation if the qualityof the infringing copy is low. Lawyers for rights-holders typically argue that their clients deserve more,  because distribution of their product (a movie) in poor quality will affect its sales and reputation. Translation: if audiences view a cam-pirated movie, they may feel more negative about it...

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Better loophole next time, ivi

It has become more difficult to regulate cyberspace as the internet advances. Entertainment companies are growing nervous about TV shows being posted online without their permission. As a result, they have pushed for a “ new censorship law to block any site that points people to such video content.” In response, ivi, a Seattle-based company, filed suit to “get a declaratory judgment of non-infringement,” which would allow it to stream TV shows online legally. According to a recent Memorandum and Order from the court, ivi argued that it does not have to comply with rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and needs only to pay $100 a year to the Copyright Registration Office for a Section 111 compulsory license. Public Knowledge. Section 111 “was designed to make it easier for cable stations to rebroadcast network TV.” Techdirt. On Feb. 22, 2011, federal judge Naomi Buchwald held that  ivi’s legal arguments are no-no’s. Ivi is not seeking to take advantage of only one loophole, but two, Buchwald said, noting she does not appreciate ivi’s double-loophole game: ivi declared that it “is a cable system for purposes of the Copyright Act, and thus may take advantage of the compulsory license, but that it is not a cable system for purposes of the Communications Act, and thus it need not comply with the requirements of that Act and the rules of...

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Google, finally, steps in — but why?

In May, 2010, a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles issued a permanent injunction against isoHunt as a result of its court battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), ordering isoHunt to censor the site’s search engine “based on a list of thousands of keywords provided by the MPAA, or cease its operations entirely in the U.S.” TorrentFreak. Gary Fung, owner of isoHunt, filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He argues that isoHunt is “just like Google – a neutral search engine – and hopes the court will decide that the keyword filter is needless censorship.” TorrentFreak. Google has been silent throughout the battle between MPAA and isoHunt  — until now. Google has decided to file an amicus curiae brief with the appellate court because if the injunction holds up, “Google may face similar censorship threats.” TorrentFreak. On its face, Google seems to be taking isoHunt’s side. In reality, Google is helping no one but itself. In fact, Google agrees with the District Court’s conclusion that isoHunt is guilty of copyright infringement because there is plenty of evidence that shows that isoHunt encouraged its users to download copyrighted materials. However, Google is worried about the District Court’s reasoning that led to the conclusion because it might “upset the careful balance between copyright protection and technological innovation struck by the Supreme Court and Congress.”...

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2 sink claws into DreamWorks’ ‘Panda’

Artist Jayme Gordon has filed a complaint against DreamWorks in Massachusetts, claiming that its film, “Kung Fu Panda,” infringed his copyrighted works. His works were collectively titled “Kung Fu Panda Power ” and were registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2000. THR, Esq. Gordon argues that DreamWorks not only copied the title of his work, but also the characters. Simultaneously, DreamWorks is fighting another lawsuit brought by a writer named Terence Dunn. He claims to have discussed the story of a “spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear” with DreamWorks executives on the phone in November, 2001. Gordon’s lawsuit, filed on Feb. 16, is a bit more complicated. According to the complaint, Gordon submitted his works to The Walt Disney Co. in the late 1980s or early 1990s. He was later invited to a meeting with then-chairman Michael Eisner. At the time of the meeting, Jeffrey Katzenberg was employed by Disney and Eisner was his superior. In 1994, Katzenberg left Disney and formed DreamWorks Studios with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Gordon claims that he sent his work to DreamWorks in the late 1990s, but DreamWorks rejected it. The argument is that DreamWorks had access to Gordon’s work; hence DreamWorks may be guilty of copyright infringement if the works are substantially similar. Besides monetary damages, Gordon is demanding “an acknowledgment of authorship on both Kung Fu Panda and its forthchoming sequel, scheduled for...

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