And She’s Buying a Stairway … to copyright infringement?

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

Led Zeppelin has been sued several times over the years for copyright infringement, but the latest court action (discussed recently on NPR) pertains to the band’s iconic song, “Stairway to Heaven.”   Back in the ’60’s, Led Zeppelin opened for a band called Spirit.  Spirit recorded an instrumental entitled “Taurus,” (the Zodiac was a big deal in those days) written by the band’s guitarist in 1968.   The suit alleges that the opening of “Taurus” sounds an awful lot like the Zeppelin song that was played at the end of most of high school dances in the 70’s.  The shortened, “radio” version of the song ran 8 minutes, and the full length version ran 17 minutes. In order to prevail in a copyright infringement action, the plaintiff has to prove both ownership of a valid copyright for a work, and copying by the defendant of “original and constituent elements” of that work.  The second element, copying,  is  pretty subjective. The plaintiff needs to show both “access” to the original work and “similarity” between the original work and the allegedly infringing work.    Without proof of access, the two works must be “strikingly similar” in order for   access to be presumed.  But since Led Zeppelin clearly had access to “Taurus” and likely heard...

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Lawsuit Against Conan O’Brien Underscores 3 Fundamental Principles of Copyright and . . . One Very Big Surprise

Posted by on Aug 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Conan O’Brien is being sued by comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, who alleges that Conan copied into Mr. O’Brien’s monologues jokes Mr. Kaseberg had posted on Twitter.  Mr. Kaseberg sued, along with Mr. O’Brien, the production company for Conan, Time Warner Inc., the executive producer of Conan, its head writer, and other participants in Mr. O’Brien’s joke writing team. To get the jokes–so to speak–click on the complaint. One principle of copyright law this lawsuit highlights is that posting something on Twitter does not mean that the content of that post is in the “public domain” and free to copy.  Under Twitter’s Terms of Service, if you post content to Twitter, you do indeed give Twitter a license to the content post on Twitter, and you understand that you give permission to other Twitter users to retweet that content.  But that’s a far cry from expecting to see your content appear on a national TV show. The second principle of copyright law?  To show copyright infringement, it is insufficient that the expressive works are substantially similar. Yes, the copyright holder must show that the commercial broadcast use is substantially similar to the copyrighted work, but the copyright holder also must show a second element:  that the infringer had “access” to the copyrighted work.  In late-night...

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Aereo Case: Perhaps Biggest Tech Decision in the Last 30 Years

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

There is a lot at stake in the Aereo case.  Oral argument in the United State Supreme Court comes Tuesday, April 22, 2014, with a decision expected before the end of June.  Aereo Case:   Perhaps Biggest Tech Decision Since Betamax Aereo is among the most significant decisions in the area of technology since the 1984 Betamax decision on VCR technology.  Betamax videocassette recording was long ago eclipsed by VHS, and, in turn, VHS tape recording gave way to other ways to record, store, and play back TV content.  (We discussed here last August that broadcasters may rue the day they challenged Sony’s Betamax).  Betamax was the key decision that allows home users to “time-shift” content:  record it and watch it later.  TiVo and other forms of digital video recording rely on the legal precedent of the Betamax decision.  And Aereo’s arguments today start from the Betamax precedent that allows users to record TV content. Primer on Aereo’s Technology:  Miniature Antennas and Server Space to Store Content For a monthly fee, Aereo allows individual households to rent a tiny antenna and a DVR/storage space near the location in their area where the free over-the-air TV broadcast can be easily captured.  Each antenna connects to the user’s DVR-like storage.   The...

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Beware “Cryptolocker” Malware; Buy More Harddrives

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

Very nasty malware has surfaced that encrypts your documents so you cannot read them.  This “ransomware” then offers to decrypt your documents for approximately US$300.  In its most virulent form, the Cryptolocker malware encrypts documents on any drive mapped to your network and then sets a 72 or 100-hour time-limit on the private key you can purchase that is  necessary to decrypt your documents.  Payment to the cretins who authored this malware is by MoneyPak or Bitcoin. The Cryptolocker software is easily removed, but your documents remain encrypted . . .  unless you pay.  Normal anti-security software will not necessarily block Cryptolocker.  Most often, the recipient receives what appears to be a .pdf file, but  that “pdf” is really an executable file to launch Cryptolocker.  Click on the .pdf, and you start the process of encrypting your own documents What to do?  Storing a backup of your documents on a harddrive mapped to your network does not work.  Cryptolocker is reported to encrypt documents stored on any connected drive.  One option to get your documents back is to pay the ransom.  That ransom  may increase to US $2300 after the 72-hour deadline passes.  Another option is be sure your files are backed up periodically to a harddrive that is...

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Making Windows 8 Great: Review of Third Party Applications that Fix What Windows 8 Broke

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Many Windows users like Windows 8 for what it does for battery efficiency and security.  But a vocal segment of users detests the radical changes Windows 8 made to the basic layout of Windows 7: Window 8 launched to the Windows 8 Start Page (not the desktop) The Start Button was removed in Windows 8. The Start Menu  is gone. Windows 8 applications take up the entire screen and cannot be re-sized.  (This is euphemistically called “immersive apps”). The October 2013 launch of Windows 8.1 fixed items 1 and 2.  With Windows 8.1, you have the option to launch directly to the desktop.  And there is a nominal Start Button that toggles to the so-called “tileworld” as David Pogue coined the phrase.   But, even with Windows 8.1, you are left without a Start Menu or the ability to re-size Windows 8 apps into, well, . . . windows. The Windows 8 UX (or user experience) can make even small things a headache.  For example, you have to remember where the power button is located, and then that power button is several clicks to get there.  So, even turning off the computer becomes more of a chore. Third Party Apps to Mimic Windows 7 But there are myriad 3d party...

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Article on Early-Stage and Middle-Market Companies Developing Patent Strategy: Walls and Missiles

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

Joe Jennings of Drakes Bay and Noel Whitely of Ladera Consulting have an article on the IAM Blog on early-stage and middle-market companies developing a patent strategy. The article argues that companies need to develop or acquire patents that read on their current or planned adversaries’ products: “From an offensive perspective, then, the most valuable patents are those that can be efficiently asserted against important products of anticipated...

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