It was great to be back on the show (I appeared on Episode 78 in September). Here's a little more information about some of the stories we discussed:
Groupon's April Fools' Joke
We started by discussing Groupon's "acquisition" of the intellectual property rights to April Fools' Day and related pranks.
Google's Patent of the Doodle
Amazon's Cloud Drive
Next, we discussed Amazon's announcement of Cloud Drive, a cloud-based music locker service which permits customers to store songs and play them on a variety of devices. Amazon announced the service without first acquiring new licenses for streaming music and the music industry threatened to sue.
Amazon has said that they do not need a license to store music on, and stream it from, Cloud Drive because the functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes. A number of intellectual property experts agree (though Denise disagrees and I'm not certain). However, it appears that Amazon is currently negotiating with record companies to obtain additional licenses. (By the way, at least one person is glad that Amazon has entered the fray.)
Time Warner's App Troubles
We then discussed Time Warner Cable's dispute with content providers over its new app which turns an iPad in a subscriber's home into another TV. As I said on the show, I believe this is all about advertising revenue and I'm confident a deal will be struck between the distributor and content providers.
The RIAA's Demand for All the Money in the World
The next topic was the RIAA's request for $75 trillion in damages against popular file-sharing site Limewire. The request seems ridiculous (even Dr. Evil-esque) but may have some foundation in existing law.
Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provides that a copyright owner may elect:
an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the Court considers just . . .
17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1).
Plaintiffs interpret this provision to permit a separate damage award from each unit of jointly and severally liable infringers while the Defendants contend that the Plaintiffs are only entitled to one statutory damages award per work infringed. Noting the absurdity of the result urged by the Plaintiffs, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York sided with the Defendants.
To place the absurdity of the damage award in context, the Court noted that the Plaintiffs were "suggesting an award that is 'more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877.'" Arista Records LLC, et al. v. Lime Group LLC, et al., 2011 WL 832172 (S.D. N.Y. March 10, 2011). Put another way, if $75 trillion in $1,000 dollar bills was stacked one on top of the other - not laid end to end, mind you - the stack would be more than 5,092 miles tall.
Righthaven Sues a Journalist for a Minute
We then discussed copyright trolling and the lawsuit Righthaven filed, and then dismissed, against a journalist for making fair use of a photograph.
Web Developers Shouldn't Help Develop Counterfeit Product Websites with "Copy Cat" in the Name
Section 230 Lesson Forthcoming
Then, we discussed the parents of Caroline Wimmer who sued Facebook for permitting a third party to publish a photograph of their murdered daughter. I think they are going to get a lesson in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
Three Big Pigs
We also discussed the legality of the satirical "mashup" of Angry Birds and Three Little Pigs music:
Technical problems prevented me from hearing the other panelists comments during the show, so I stuck with a safe (if not definitive) fair use analysis of the video.
Denise closed the show with some helpful Internet resources, like these ten things companies should know about intellectual property.