June 2011 Quick Links, Part 1 (Copyright & Trademark Edition)

By Eric Goldman


* Good news: the US government is funding alternative networks that dissidents can use to communicate when the Internet is censored by repressive regimes. Bad news: the US government is teaching the rest of the world how to censor the Internet through DHS domain name seizures and COICA/PROTECT IP Act. Maybe the US-funded alternative networks will help out those censored by the US government?

* Speaking of which, the EFF and Mark Lemley are fighting back against the DHS ICE domain name seizures. The EFF has more on the topic.

* Warner Bros. settled the Hangover 2/Mike Tyson tattoo lawsuit. Prior blog post.

* We don’t have too many publicly announced settlement amounts for Righthaven. The latest: Righthaven settled with the US Marijuana Party for $1k. It’s hard to see a profitable business model in that.

* Righthaven’s dwindling inventory of cases: it filed 25 in March, 2 in April, 9 in May and ZERO in June.

* Are major US IAPs about to voluntarily implement a graduated response program?

* Murphy v. Millennium Radio (3rd Circuit June 14, 2011). Cropping the “gutter credit” from a photo violates 17 USC 1202.

* Friedman v. Guetta. Photographer gets summary judgment against an artist who copied photos from the Internet and remixed them.

* Jonathan Basamanowicz and Martin Bouchard, Overcoming the Warez Paradox: Online Piracy Groups and Situational Crime Prevention, Policy & Internet, Vol. 3, Iss. 2, Article 5 (2011). Abstract:

US federal law enforcement operations occurring between 2001 and 2005 attempted to disrupt the online piracy scene, targeting copyright piracy rings known as ‘warez groups’. Previous work on warez groups has demonstrated a paradoxical situation where attempts to curtail warez group activities through policing and advancements in DRM only further encourage such groups to crack and distribute content. This study collected data on 93 convictions from these policing operations to construct a crime script of these groups’ motivations and modus operandi in the release process. The results confirm previous findings that attempts to disrupt the activities of warez groups are counterproductive. To avoid the paradox, this study suggests that industry account for the motivations and modus operandi of these groups by creating DRM technologies which allow un-cracked content to seep through the testing step of the script, thereby placing a group’s ability to obtain prestige at risk. Law enforcement should focus on apprehending crackers, as they are the most significant step in the release process.

See my complementary article, The Challenges of Regulating Warez Trading, from 2005.

Trademarks and Domain Names

* I’m not 100% sure what happened when ICANN approved the rollout of new gTLDs, but I’m pretty sure a lot of lawyers are going to find it lucrative for them.

* Scooter Store, Inc. v. Spinlife.com, LLC, 2011 WL 2160462 (S.D. Ohio June 1, 2011). Court allows a litigant to obtain discovery on its opponent’s keyword ad buys. As I blogged in 2007, I’m surprised we don’t see those discovery requests more frequently.

* Best Buy is chasing lots of folks to enforce its “Geek Squad” trademark. A prior blog post on other trademark litigation involving “geek.”

* GoForIt Entertainment, LLC v. DigiMedia.com L.P., 2011 WL 2516163 (N.D. Tex. Jun 23, 2011). Plaintiff’s theory that third-level domains were “domain names” for ACPA purposes did not justify awarding attorneys’ fees as an “exceptional” case. Prior blog post.

* Lens.com v. 1-800 Contacts complaint. An antitrust lawsuit predicated on 1-800 Contacts’ overzealous TM enforcement efforts (what some might call trademark bullying). Wendy Davis’ writeup. Prior blog posts on the 1-800 Contacts v. Lens.com litigation (1, 2).

* ISystems v. Spark Networks, Ltd., 2011 WL 2342523 (5th Cir. June 13, 2011). The dating website Jdate’s efforts to obtain jdate.net through a UDRP was not reverse domain name hijacking.

* Video from the March STLR Symposium panel on Emerging Issues of Secondary Liability in Trademark Law.

* Evan Williams: Five Reasons Domains Are Getting Less Important.