March 2008 Quick Links, Part II

By Eric Goldman

Copyright

* A lot of action on whether “making available” a file in a P2P share directory is copyright infringement, including Elektra v. Barker and London-Sire v. Doe. Patry summarizes the action.

* Ticketmaster L.L.C. v. RMG Technologies, Inc., 2008 WL 649788 (C.D. Cal. March 10, 2008). Copyright misuse is not an independent cause of action; it’s only a defense. HT Evan Brown.

* A student asked me a good Q that I couldn’t answer. Given that copyright work transfers are subject to the risk of a non-waivable termination of transfer 35-40 years after the transfer, how do companies account for that risk on their financial statements?

* A man whose Youtube video was taken down by lawyers for Van Morrison strikes back with a new video: “The Lawyers Pulled My Video Down.”

Trademark

* The Utah governor signed SB 151, the repeal of the Utah Trademark Protection Act.

* Wilson v. Yahoo! UK Ltd., No. 1HC 710/07, Feb. 20, 2008. A UK court says that buying the broad-matched keyword “spicy” does not constitute an actionable use in commerce of the trademark “Mr. Spicy.” In response, Google liberalized its keyword policy in the UK and Ireland to match its US and Canada policy.

* Vulcan Golf, LLC v. Google Inc., 2008 WL 818346 (N.D. Ill. March 20, 2008). This is another interesting development that I just didn’t have time to blog (see my earlier post when the lawsuit was filed). In a lengthy opinion, the district court rejected most of the significant motions to dismiss, saying that she wanted to let the case develop. Ironically, she also complained about the workload in the case–perhaps this is obvious, but granting some motions to dismiss would help clear your docket queue! Unfortunately, most of the opinion isn’t insightful because so many issues were reserved for further development. Perhaps the most interesting discussion relates to the “use in commerce” question, and the court rejected a motion to dismiss on that basis: “The plaintiffs have alleged that Sedo and the other Parking Defendants transacted in and improperly profited from domain names that are deceptively similar to the plaintiffs’ trademarks. Such statements sufficiently allege the “use” of a domain name to allow the infringement claims against Sedo and Oversee to move forward on this issue.” Some other commentary on the case: Sarah Bird and David Fish.

* American Airlines loves Google (except for the part where it’s suing Google). HT Search Engine Land.

State Regulation of the Internet

* Some state legislators are becoming privacy entrepreneurs about behavioral targeting. Venkat does a recap. But Zachary Rodgers points out that some of the operative provisions track NAI’s self-regulatory guidelines. More angst about deep packet inspection by IAPs.

* Ewert v. eBay, Inc., 5:07-cv-02198-RMW (N.D. Cal. March 31, 2008). eBay isn’t an “auctioneer” or an “auction company” as defined by California’s Auction Act.

* The Tennessee legislature is considering a goofy response to the Hannah Montana ticket furor.

* Ken Magill at Direct wrote an article entitled “Psychotic Law Clowns in Utah at it Again.” A highlight: “Whenever I think of Utah’s state legislature, I envision a room full of Jack-in-the-Boxes straight out of a never-made Twilight Zone episode. Every fall, when it’s time for the next legislative session, their cranks begin to turn, a chorus of “Pop Goes the Weasel” begins, and on the note for “pop” the lids fly open and dozens of psychotic clown heads spring out of the boxes chanting: “New Internet Law! New Internet Law!””

Other Stuff

* The Economist: The Battle for Wikipedia’s Soul. “To create a new article on Wikipedia and be sure that it will survive, you need to be able to write a “deletionist-proof” entry and ensure that you have enough online backing (such as Google matches) to convince the increasingly picky Wikipedia people of its importance. This raises the threshold for writing articles so high that very few people actually do it. Many who are excited about contributing to the site end up on the “Missing Wikipedians” page: a constantly updated list of those who have decided to stop contributing. It serves as a reminder that frustration at having work removed prompts many people to abandon the project.” See a similar article in the NY Times Review of Books.

* FTC busts Goal Financial for inadequate security practices.

* The DOJ is busting people who click on a link that purportedly offered child porn, prosecuting them for attempted downloading of child porn.

* Orin Kerr, “Criminal Law in Virtual Worlds,” University of Chicago Legal Forum (forthcoming). Orin sensibly argues against virtual world exceptionalism with respect to criminalizing activities in virtual worlds.

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