May 2013

Does Second Circuit Decision Determine Copyright Legality of Aereo "Antenna-Farm" System Nationwide?

Aereo captures over-the-air television broadcasts and streams them to Aereo subscribers over the Internet. While the broadcasters claim this is copyright infringement (unauthorized public performance), Aereo has created an “antenna-farm” system designed to avoid allegations that its rebroadcast is a public performance under U.S. copyright law. CBS Broadcasting and other broadcasters brought suit for copyright infringement in federal court in New York.  However, Aereo convinced both the federal district court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that Aereo does not violate copyrights in the broadcasts. (Aereo shows “how it works” here).

Aereo rolled out its first implementation in New York, and the Second Circuit “test case” was decided there. Now, Aereo plans to launch its service in 22 cities before year end. Boston is scheduled to launch on May 30th. Apart from the legalities of the underlying copyright claim, this raises the question whether the broadcasters can re-challenge the Aereo service as it launches in new locations outside the Second Circuit (which is comprised of New York, Connecticut and Vermont).… Read the full article

“Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” is Yahoo!, of course. And, its lawyers should be embarrassed by Yahoo!’s inability to create enforceable online Terms of Service (TOS).

The issue arose in Ajemian v. Yahoo!, decided by the Massachusetts Appeals Court on May 7, 2013. In this case the plaintiffs were the administrators of a decedent’s estate. They wanted access to the decedent’s email account to let his friends know of his death and memorial service, and later to locate assets of his estate. Yahoo! refused to provide the online password, and the administrators filed suit in Massachusetts to compel access.

Yahoo!, in turn, argued the suit should have been brought in California and, in any event, it was too late. These arguments were based on Yahoo!’s terms of service which provide, in part, as follows:

You and Yahoo agree to submit to the personal and exclusive jurisdiction of the courts located within the county of Santa Clara, California….

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For Lawyers Turned Video-Porn Mass Copyright Plaintiffs, Litigation May Not Pay

I didn’t think I’d have a chance to write another “what were they thinking” post only two weeks after the last one. But, here goes ….

I’ve written about Bittorrent swarm mass copyright suits in the past, but Monday’s decision by California federal district court judge Otis D. Wright tops everything that has come before. A lot of people have followed this case and similar cases filed by so-called “Prenda Law”Ingenuity 13 v. John Doe. In other words, the plaintiffs in this case have made a lot of people mad.*

*Techdirt is at or near the top of this lengthy list.

The Ingenuity 13 case has been dismissed, but on Tuesday the judge issued a withering sanctions decision in the case. Here is some of what he had to say.

The opening paragraph of the opinion sets the stage for the indictment that follows:

Plaintiffs have outmaneuvered the legal system.

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Professor William Fisher's edX "CopyrightX" MOOC

Let me begin with the bottom line: this was a excellent course. If Professor Fisher offered another course (such as trademark or Internet law, two areas identified on his online bio), I would not hesitate to take it or audit it.

Background

edX is a collaboration formed by Harvard and MIT to produce “Massive Online Open Courses,” or “MOOCs.”  (I will use the phrase “online courses” as well as “MOOC”). edX is something of a latecomer to the still-new world of MOOCs. The leaders to date (with the most courses), are Coursera and Udacity. However, there are many “smaller” and legacy offerings. (See 750 1300 Free Online Courses From Top Universities). My impression is that until edX, Coursera and Udacity arrived, most online courses were nothing more than hit-or-miss video recordings of classroom lectures. They were not produced with an online audience in mind, and often suffered from poor production quality.… Read the full article