Author: Sean Goodman

FTC steps up regulation of apps aimed at kids

The FTC has amended the 1998 Child Online Privacy Protection Act to include provisions making it illegal via a mobile app to knowingly collect geolocation, photographs and videos from minors younger than 13 without a parent or guardian’s permission. The Biederman Blog recently reported on FTC concerns about inadequate protections for child privacy with apps for kids. Now there’s more clarity on the regulatory front for technology, entertainment and media companies on what’s permissible with these child-oriented products. The story has generated headlines, and rightfully, so considering parental concerns about their kids’ protection and the lucrative nature of apps for kids. While Hollywood has huge interest in the app biz — and even though the giants in the business  may covet the revenue, traffic and eyeballs, including and especially for kids — the industry doesn’t fund development: small start-ups carry through much of the hard, early slog and they must  demonstrate to major players a level of proficiency before they get snapped up as the next cool. Problem is they lack resources that are second-nature to studios to deal with legal and other concerns in the development phase. So developers are bristling at the feds moves to protect kids. Might the new regulations undercut app development for kids? Or is this small hurdle that developers can overcome with clever code? A recent Associated Press story reports on a devloper who considered innovating his 99...

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Cyber savvy kids may dial up new legal woes

When federal watchdogs growled recently about privacy concerns for children and their parents over youngsters’ widespread use of nosy mobile apps, were there shamed or red faces all around Hollywood over this issue and the legal concerns it could raise? Should be, because underlying the U.S. regulators’ blast at app-makers was this reality: The entertainment industry has launched aggressively into creating, promoting and, potentially, profiting from kids’ mobile apps. So for entertainment counsel who are keeping up with the blitzkrieg changes in the bleed between their clients’ businesses, technology and societal change, it’s worth a little dig — especially in the midst of this holiday gift-giving season — into the matter of privacy and kids forays into apps, cyberspace and more. For evidence about the industry’s involvement, look no further than how media serving the business (notably Variety and the outfit known as iKids) both have launched and attracted notable attendance at summits-conferences on mobile apps and entertainment. Evidence: the list of folks who flocked to a NYC session this fall, all industry veeps … While mobile apps may be wondrous, the Federal Trade Commission’s report,  “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” wags a finger at app developers, distributors and interested third parties, pointedly saying grownups fail to adequately protect kids’ privacy when youngsters tap, tap, tap on these 21st century technologies. The FTC wants parental consent before children...

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Links on legal griddle in Europe’s high court

Well, hot links aren’t just a topic for food blogging: The disputes over sites that hyperlink to others that may be infringing have now been put before high judicial authorities in Europe. The Court of Justice of the European Union has received a request for a preliminary ruling from a Swedish court, the Svea hovrätt, concerning linking, a practice of embedding hyperlinks in websites to other sites with infringing material. The pending Swedish case, Nils Svensson, Sten Sjögren, Madelaine Sahlman, Pia Gadd v Retreiver Sverige AB (Case C-466/12),  concerns a third party subscription search engine linking to infringing material.  The request to the CJEU asks four questions which are simplified here courtesy of the 1709 Blog: 1. Does linking constitute communication to the public?; 2. Does it matter if the website being linked to imposes restrictions on access on its users? (It’s unclear from the questions what these restrictions on access are in this case, however they are likely to be the website’s T&Cs or paywalls requiring subscription.); 3. Should there be a legal distinction between linking and framing?; 4. Can a Member State expand the meaning of “communication to the public” to cover more than is set out at Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive? In the United States, the oracular Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court Court of Appeals wrote in a ruling in Augustthat linking doesn’t constitute infringement. More on that and the opinion can...

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Start of copyright alert system stalls into 2013

A national Copyright Alert System had a planned debut for Nov. 28 but it was postponed due to delays related to Superstorm Sandy, officials say. The Center for Copyright Information, with members including the Motion Picture Association of America and major Internet service providers AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon,  seeks to deter copyright infringement in the U.S. by educating the public. The center now says participating net providers won’t activate the alert system until next year. Under center policy, aimed at combatting online piracy and specifically BitTorrent pirates, content owners must notify a participating net service provider when there appears to be infringement by a specific computer; the ISP in turn identifies the subscriber account using the IP address. Copyright holders and service providers, of course, don’t always see eye to eye on infringement, as evidenced by ISPs withholding personal information of alleged BitTorrent pirates. Torrentfreak.com reports that, in many cases, the person who pays for an account is not who shares copyrighted material; the subscriber, though, is who gets sued for infringement. Verizon objects to subpoenas granted by courts for information about subscribers based upon breach of privacy rights of its customers. ISPs may even profit from peer-to-peer traffic reports  Gigaom.com. As part of a “six strikes” anti-piracy program, the center calls for increasingly severe alerts sent by the service provider to persistent online pirates. In the progressive strikes against...

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Opening salvos in fight over net radio royalties

Congress has started its hearings on the Internet Radio Fairness Act (a bill to put Internet radio services in the same rate-setting system as satellite and cable radio), with testimony before a committee on intellectual property, competition and the Internet.  Internet radio performance royalty rates are too high or low, depending on who’s commenting and the argument is at full bore among the parties. Proponents of raising net royalty performance rates — musicians and their performing rights societies including SoundExchange — turned out at the hearing to oppose the longstanding exemption granted the National Association of Broadcasters from paying sound recording performance royalties. While radio broadcasters pay royalties for the musical composition, there is is no royalty paid to performers of the sound recording for terrestrial radio play.  Terrestrial broadcasters obtained the exemption years ago, arguing that labels benefit from the free publicity derived from radio play — album sales increase, thereby compensating the sound recording performers or labels. But artists and performers argue the exemption unfairly denies them their full paycheck because it doesn’t make sense in today’s music business where net radio stations pay sound recording performance royalties and other countries have broad requirements for performance royalties. Artists want their fair share from performances of their musical works and sound recordings on not just broadcast radio, but also net plays.  They oppose the rates outlined in the bill and...

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