I’ve written often about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which protects “interactive computer services” as follows:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker or any information provided by another information content provider

And –

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be liable on account of —

(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected �

Put simply, this law allows web site operators to avoid liability for certain types of publications on their sites by people outside their control, and to police their sites as they wish. The most obvious example is any kind of bulletin or message board that allows comments by members of the public.… Read the full article

I quote from on September 28th:

Cuban, co-founder of HDNet and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, also said YouTube would eventually be “sued into oblivion” because of copyright violations.

“They are just breaking the law,” Cuban told a group of advertisers in New York. “The only reason it hasn’t been sued yet is because there is nobody with big money to sue.”

* * *

Cuban said “anyone who buys that (YouTube) is a moron” because of potential lawsuits from copyright violations.

“There is a reason they haven’t yet gone public, they haven’t sold. It’s because they are going to be toasted,” said Cuban, who has sold start-ups to Yahoo and CompuServe.

The outspoken (to put it mildly) Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Chairman of HDTV cable network has repeated this message loudly and often, both before and after Google’s $1.6 billion purchase offer to YouTube.… Read the full article

Of iPods, Lock-Ins and the DMCA

by Lee Gesmer on August 15, 2006

As an ambivalent owner of an Apple iPod I’ve given a lot of thought to the fact that songs I download from Apple’s iTunes will not play on a portable device other than an Apple iPod. If I want to play my iTunes music collection on another manufacturer’s MP3 player, today or five years from now, I’ll be unable to play the tunes downloaded from iTunes. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prevents competitors from reverse engineering the protection Apple embeds in these files, and therefore Apple has, in effect, a government enabled lock-in.

The only legal way around this restriction requires users to burn the iTunes songs to a CD and then import (rip) them back into iTunes as MP3 files. This eliminates Apple’s digital rights management (DRM) and “frees” these tunes, but what a hassle and disincentive to buy music from iTunes. Do I do this? Yes. Do I like it?… Read the full article

One of the risks of sending a legal demand letter to someone in the Internet age is that they will post it on the web and ridicule you. That’s what happened when the Baker & McKenzie law firm sent the very popular web site Boing Boing a letter warning it not to broadcast the World Cup competition, and containing the ominous threat that it would have its “agents actively monitor your website and others to identify unlawful activity.” Boing Boing published the letter here. (The letter is an image, so you may have to print it to read it).

Is a preemptive strike like this legally effective? Almost certainly it is not, except as a warning to the web site owner itself not to publish video or audio from the Cup. However, no sane, established web site owner would do so even without such a warning, since the site owner would risk significant damages (and particularly “statutory” damages – aka punitive damages) of up to $150,000 per infringement ).… Read the full article