Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Etc.
I lived the life of Dilbert when I was in the Air Force. Once while I was away on a business trip, our office cubicles were rearranged, but nobody was managing the project. When I returned from my trip, my cubicle was gone, and I had to convert a storage area into my new office (after hours, “borrowing” pieces of cubicles from around the office to construct mine). So this Dilbert strip resonated with me. Frame 1: Dilbert thinks, “I’ve been away from work so long. I wonder if anything has changed. Frame 2: Pointy-haired boss to Dilbert, “You weren’t here when we moved to new cubicles so your coworkers picked one for you.” Frame 3: Dilbert sitting in new cubicle, which is attached sideways to the outside of the building.
It’s sometimes hard not to get discouraged about the sideways cubicles that we all experience in life. When Major League Baseball (MLB) sues fantasy leagues over the ownership of facts (fail) and MLB sues minor league teams over trademarked names (PR fail). When laptops are searched at US borders without cause (4th Amendment fail). When Telcos are handed blanket immunity for illegal wiretapping (epic fail). When William Patry ends his copyright blog because copyright law is too depressing (an understandable decision) but then makes the inexplicable Orwellian decision to delete his blog entries (fail). See also my 1999 article Death On The Internet (Or What Would Orwell Do?).
Again and again, the classic mistake is made: pursuing a short-term policy that benefits only a select few at the expense of a long-term policy that could benefit many. It’s why hybrid car policies can lead to more traffic and pollution. Every politician and business leader should be forced to read and understand Economics in One Lesson. Lack of understanding of basic economics leads to stupid laws and stupid business decisions. Like the demand by American Airlines (which backfired) for preferential treatment from Kayak, one of its biggest sources of business. Like the decision by the MBTA (Boston’s subway) to raise prices due to decreasing revenues.
If automobile dealerships ran their business like the MBTA, they’d say, “Well, sales are down, and we need the revenue, so we’ve decided to double the prices on all SUVs.” Sales plummet, head scratching ensues. For exhibit F (for fail) I present the MBTA suing to prevent MIT students from presenting about the flaws in the MBTA’s payment system. (Hint to MBTA: fix your payment system.) In the same way, the music industry has spent the last decade digging itself into a DRM hole that it is just now starting to dig itself out of. (Hint to the music industry: your customers don’t want DRM-encumbered anything.)
But it’s not all bad news, so I’m not throwing in the blogging towel just yet: Windows XP got extended until 2010! I’m not alone in rejecting Windows Vista, and now I’ve got some more time to plan my transition to a post-XP (non-Vista) world.
So here are the stories that represent meaningful trends in law, technology, baseball, and music.
Michael A. Bartley Joins Clock Tower Law Group
We’re pleased to welcome Michael A. Bartley (Mike) to the Clock Tower Law Group family. Mike comes to us via Franklin Pierce Law Center, where he received both JD and LLM degrees, and Harvard University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in computer science. Before starting law school, Mike was a lead software developer for video security products at Biscom while also running his own company that simulated sports games based on artificial intelligence algorithms (Mage Sports). While at Pierce Law, Mike was the managing editor for the law journal IDEA: The Intellectual Property Law Review and also interned for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Welcome Mike!
Clock Tower Law Group’s clients range in size from a sole proprietor to a publicly traded company. Here’s what some of them are up to.
Kayak Enhanced For iPhone, iPod Touch, And Other Mobile Devices (2008-03-20)
Searching for hotels and flights from your iPhone (or other device) just got a lot easier.
R.I.P. Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (2008-03-26)
A federal court struck down New York State’s Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, a first-of-its-kind law that took effect on Jan. 1. The law allowed the state to levy fines against airlines who failed to provide fresh water, working toilets, fresh air, and electricity to passengers trapped on planes during lengthy runway delays.
OurStage Artists Get A Bigger Stage (2008-03-28)
OurStage, an online talent community where fans vote for the best upcoming music and video artists, has forged a partnership with AOL.
Baseball Hotel Packages (2008-03-31)
If you like baseball, then you’ll like these baseball-themed travel packages.
Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Goes Live With Comrex ACCESS (2008-04-08)
Rays broadcasters Andy Freed and Dave Wills were all set to do their “Hot Stove Show: Countdown to Opening Day” live from the local eatery. But just moments prior to the broadcast, panic ensued when the ISDN line dropped and wouldn’t reconnect! Luckily, ACCESS was running and ready to go.
SiteSpect Announces Mobile Content Testing And Optimization Solution (2008-04-17)
SiteSpect unveils new Mobile Web Optimization functionality within its patent-pending multivariate and A/B testing solution used by the world’s most successful online businesses.
FantasicToe Launches (2008-04-24)
Fantastic Toe is the web community that lets you organize and showcase your shoe collection. You can now upload photos of your shoes, categorize them however you’d like, and browse and vote on other members’ shoes and collections.
BzzAgent Launches GoodBzz, Pro Bono Word-of-Mouth For Nonprofits (2008-05-03)
The inaugural campaign is with The Canaan Foundation, which has launched a sister site, 1000computers.org. The foundation gathers used computers for donation to schools across Cameroon and Kenya.
Kayak Wins Webby For Best Travel Site (2008-05-06)
Discover hidden fees, find hotels, find flights, and more at Kayak.com. See also the 2008 Webware 100. And if you want to know why consumers need a service like Kayak, it’s because “airline service” has become an oxymoron. Baggage charges anyone? At least Alaskan Airlines is still innovating. As is Ryanair’s business class.
1000 Steps Closer to Curing MS (2008-05-06)
Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis has collected one thousand blood and data samples, which will be part of the largest openly accessible, multi-disciplinary repository ever assembled for use in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research.
Brad Feld Runs Marathons For Accelerated Cure Project (2008-06-17)
Venture capitalist/blogger/super hero Brad Feld has pledged to raise $100,000 by running 50 marathons in 50 states before he turns 50 (12/01/2015).
BzzAgent Featured On Good Morning America (2008-07-07)
About great places for moms to get free products online.
codesnap Launches (2008-07-11)
codesnap is a new website to allow code buyers to quickly find coders to build small projects. A posting costs you just $5, and then completion of a typical project will be $100 or so. Your posting will be seen by hundreds of coders, who will then complete your job usually within a few days. Buyers, this is also a good recruiting tool: meet coders and quickly evaluate them via your small project.
Network Solutions And ICANN Both Sued For Allowing Domain Front Running (2008-02-26)
Do you trust your domain name registrar not to steal your domain name? If not, then you should consider registering new domain names outright instead of searching for their availability at your registrar.
Reinventing Patent Law (2008-02-27)
The February 2008 issue of the ABA Journal has a very good article about patent law entitled “Reinventing Patent Law.” In the article, the author, Steve Seidenberg, notes that all three branches of the US government are changing (or have changed) patent laws in ways that negatively impact the rights of patent owners.
Spork Patent (2008-02-28)
Spork = spoon + fork. And it saved the airlines millions of dollars.
Business Method Patents Coming Under New Scrutiny (2008-03-03)
Major League Baseball Bullying Amateur Baseball In Trademark Shakedown (2008-03-13)
Michael Masnick writes: “MLB now thinks that it has total control over any team that has a name similar to Major League team, despite the fact that no one is going to confuse the Chatham A’s with the Oakland A’s or the Harwich Mariners with the Seattle Mariners. This would appear to be yet another abuse of trademark, and hopefully the Cape Cod League finds a lawyer who can explain to Major League Baseball the moron in a hurry test to prove that there’s no trademark violation.”
Do Patents Stimulate R&D Investment and Promote Growth? (2008-03-13)
James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer have authored a new book presenting a careful empirical analysis of whether patent rights encourage innovation. Their conclusion: for the most part, today’s patent system does not achieve its stated goal.
Wal-Mart’s Trademarked Smiley Face Turned Upside Down; Parody Isn’t A Trademark Violation (2008-03-24)
A federal judge in Atlanta has rejected a claim by Wal-Mart that parody t-shirts and bumper stickers sold at CafePress.com using the phrases “walocaust,” and “wal-qaeda,” violate its trademark. See also coverage by Bill Heinze.
Dell vs Florida Registrars (2008-03-26)
Jay Westerdal writes: “Three Florida Registrars were named in a lawsuit by Dell on November 16th: BelgiumDomains, CapitolDomains, and DomainDoorman…. [A]ccording to our internal data, those three registrars are responsible for 72.5% of all domain tasting in the last 6 months.” The downside of this lawsuit is that if you’re trying to recover a cybersquatted domain name registered with one of these registrars, then your domain is trapped at that registrar until this lawsuit is resolved.
Calculating When A Patent Expires (2008-03-26)
April Fools’ Day Less Fun This Year (2008-04-01)
I didn’t even post anything on ParodyLaw.com. But I did like the fact that Google was in on the rickrolling. Oh yeah, the Muppets Rickrolled video is great. The Molten Core World of Warcraft parody was also pretty good. And the BBC’s flying penguins. OK, maybe this April Fools’ Day wasn’t half bad.
New DHS Strategy On Real ID: We’ll Just Pretend Everyone Implemented It (2008-04-03)
Maine was the first state to reject Real ID. Every state should. Now DHS has equated “communication” with “compliance” and is pretending that all states who have merely communicated with DHS are now in compliance. “Unreal ID” would be a better name.
Who’s The Evil Empire In The Battle Over Who Owns The Rights To Storm Trooper Costumes? (2008-04-08)
This lawsuit over Star Wars costume designs reminds me of a case I read in law school about the different between intellectual property and its embodiments. See Stevens v. Gladding, 58 U.S. 447 (1854), where the court held that the purchaser of copper printing plates did not have the right to make maps therefrom.
Two New Sites Simplify Life After Death (2008-04-08)
Robert Ambrogi writes: “eDivvyup is an online auction site specifically designed to help surviving family members divide and distribute the deceased’s personal property…. iGoodbye.com offers a way to leave critical financial and personal information to heirs without having to give it to them while you are still around.”
Stephen King Slams Attempt To Ban Violent Videogames (2008-04-09)
Stephen King says: “What makes me crazy is when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents. The results of that are usually disastrous…. What really makes me insane is how eager politicians are to use the pop culture as a whipping boy. It’s easy for them, even sort of fun, because the pop-cult always hollers nice and loud. Also, it allows legislators to ignore the elephants in the living room.”
2007 Wiretap Report (2008-05-06)
With the economy in shambles, it’s nice to see that not everything is trending down. Wiretaps were up 20% in 2007!
Prevent Domain Theft (2008-05-09)
DomainTools is the best site for researching domain names. Their new Registrant Alert system allows you to monitor domain records for newly added or deleted text. This can help prevent domain name theft (among other things). Try your own email address for free. See also Domain Name Buying Tips.
Techdirt Declares The GPL Dead (2008-05-09)
Actually, that’s not at all what Techdirt said, but people hear what they want to hear (read the comments in the original post). The truth is that the GPL seems to be less in the news these days.
Boing Boing’s Wonderful Policies (2008-05-14)
A simple and short copyright and linking policy for your reading pleasure.
Hershey’s, Muffin Pans, and Naked Licensing (2008-05-20)
A fun discussion of why it’s important to control your trademarks.
USPTO Stops Issuing Patents In One Art Group (2008-06-12)
According to PLI, one Art Group at the USPTO has not issued a patent in over two years and has a (presumably unwritten) policy of not issuing any more patents.
USPTO Remains Clueless About Trademark Specimens (2008-07-02)
After reading Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decisions about acceptable specimens, you’ll get the distinct impression that the trademark laws were written in 1947 (which they were) when goods were sold in stores for purchase by consumers. The Trademark Act desperately needs to be updated to reflect the reality that today’s goods and services are offered via catalogs and websites and sold via the phone and websites. Anybody looking at this catalog page can clearly see (1) what the product is and (2) what the trademark is, but the specimens was rejected. Here’s another example. Welcome to 1947.
USPTO Sews FUD About Patent Outsourcing To India (2008-07-23)
Dennis Crouch hit the nail on the head when he said, “The PTO ‘leadership’ supports anything that makes applying for patents more expensive, in order to reduce the number of patents. End of story.” See also PLI’s summary of patent outsourcing and my article Reinventing Patent Law.
Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: Blu-ray Wins (2008-02-16)
CBS.com Streams Full Episodes Of Star Trek (2008-02-22)
The Economics Of Free Isn’t Good Or Bad – It’s Simply What Happens (2008-02-27)
Michael Masnick writes, “Asking if economics is good or bad is like asking if physics is good or bad. Sure, gravity sucks for those who want to fly, but it’s simply a force that is. The same is true with the economics associated with infinite goods that force a price to free.” Yes, I am a firm believer in the reality of free. And gravity. And Economics in One Lesson.
YouTube Coming To TiVo (2008-03-13)
Hulu Launches (2008-03-13)
The good news is that consumers in the U.S. can go to Hulu.com to watch a large selection of hit TV shows, movies, clips, and more in high-quality, anytime, for free. The bad news is that they have to be U.S. consumers and they have to go to Hulu.com to watch.
LinkedIn Company Profiles Gone Wild (2008-03-21)
Ross Mayfield says: “LinkedIn launched Company Profiles today…. The profiles are trademarked brands that have been created not by the company, but by individuals. In part by employees, in part by past employees. Brand Managers will have to get used to the role employees have in brand definition.”
Forvo Pronounces Foreign Words (2008-04-03)
Forvo’s goal is to have “all the words in the world pronounced” – or at least words in 23 languages.
Political Blogs Spread More Link Love Than Tech Blogs (2008-04-03)
The visuals in this study are cool, but the findings (that political blogs interlink more than tech blogs) are unsurprising. With politics (unlike technology), talk is the product. More links, more product.
People Overestimate The Value Of Content; Underestimate The Value Of A Service That Makes It Useful (2008-04-14)
Somehow this reminds me of the IP vs. embodiments issue discussed earlier. This is a great read about the value of content (low) vs. the value of content services (high).
VideoDrive Adds Multiple Movie File Format To iTunes (2008-04-29)
VideoDrive makes it easy to add videos in multiple formats (including MPG, MPEG, MP4, AVI, WMV, SWF, M4V, M2V, FLV, WMA, MKV, ASF, DIVX, XVID, and YouTube video) to iTunes without converting them or losing quality. This is a good example a story that doesn’t make sense to most people. When I was in the Air Force (late 1980s – early 1990s), I was pushing for Macs as a better alternative to PCs. I gave a demo to the Colonel in charge of computer acquisitions about how you could create a document on PC in WordPerfect 5.1, save it to a 3.5-inch floppy disc, put the floppy disc into a SuperDrive-equipped Macintosh, and edit the same file in the Mac version or WordPerfect. When I reached my “ta-da” moment about the Zen of interoperability, the Colonel responded, “Why wouldn’t I be able to do that?” Why indeed. Computers should just work with each other. File formats should just be portable from application to application, computer to computer. And so on.
Google Reader Gets Social, Launches ‘Share With Note’ Feature (2008-05-05)
Winner: Google. Loser: hosted blogs. See also coverage of Google Reader by TechCrunch.
Microsoft Decides Not To Acquire Yahoo (2008-05-06)
Will this be a great decision or a historical footnote? Time will tell.
TimeTube = YouTube + Timelines (2008-05-12)
A mashup that creates a timeline of YouTube video based on your keywords.
Ideas Are Easy, Execution Is Difficult (2008-05-15)
From the time-to-understand-the-difference department comes another great article from Techdirt about the value of ideas. See also Content vs. Services (not their title, but the main point).
Google Provides Ad Network to Yahoo! (2008-06-12)
Game over. See also We’re Entering An Era Where Companies Will Fall Into Two Categories: Those That Build Massive Proprietary Databases And Those That Rent Them and Google Launches Wikipedia-Killer Knol. But Google broke its patent database by adding watermarks, proving that Google doesn’t always get it right.
Wii Outsells XBox 360 (2008-07-19)
Not a fad, a game-changing game console.
Apple’s Market Cap Exceeds Google’s (2008-08-14)
Next up: Microsoft.
Can Anyone Be A Major League Pitcher? (2008-02-25)
What do Josh Becket, Brad Feld, and MIT have in common? Not much, really, but I needed good link bait for this one. It’s a good read.
Sox Visit White House (2008-02-27)
Or why baseball players shouldn’t wear suits.
Quote Of The Season (2008-02-29)
“Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is. This is a Yankee country,” said Hank Steinbrenner. The Sox responded by making Hank a member of Red Sox Nation. Bwah ha ha!
Best Game Ever (2008-04-07)
Mudcats vs. Lugnuts, Hermosa Beach, California.
Bill Buckner’s Welcome Back Ovation At Fenway Park (2008-04-09)
By John Brian Quinn.
Red Sox vs. Yankees: Construction Edition (2008-04-11)
A construction worker (who is also a Red Sox fan) buried a David Ortiz jersey in concrete under the new Yankee Stadium. Yankee fan construction workers dug it up, the shirt was auctioned off for charity, and it sold for $175K.
My new favorite microsite.
Celtics Win 17th Championship (2008-06-18)
Yes, it’s a good time to be a Boston sports fan, whether it’s the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, or Boston Red Sox. OK, the Boston Bruins still haven’t won in a generation.
Curt Schilling To Have Season-Ending (Career-Ending?) Shoulder Surgery (2008-06-20)
Some have already written their goodbyes to Schilling. Schilling himself said that “the pendulum is swinging very heavily in the direction of it just being over.”
All-Star MVP JD Drew Powers AL To Victory (2008-07-16)
Too bad the Yankees fans booed non-pinstriped players.
Red Sox First Half Report Card (2008-07-17)
Is The American Idol Prize Worth It? (2008-02-22)
Augie De Blieck writes, “The thing that gets me is that the show lives in an age that’s quickly fading. The recording industry is broken, and now all the kids are competing for a recording contract with a company that relies on a distribution system that’s shrinking and can barely afford its own expenses. It’s a system that rewards the artist for performing and selling their own t-shirts, though I’m sure that’s all covered by the contract for the recording company to do it.”
Food Court Musical (2008-03-09)
Can I have a napkin, please?
R.E.M. Puts New Album Online Via iLike (2008-03-13)
Life In A Northern Town (2008-03-18)
I love this song. This is a pretty cool cover of it (by Sugarland).
Stuff White People Like: Music Piracy (2008-03-30)
“White people have always been renowned for having ridiculously large music collections. So when file sharing gave white people a chance to acquire all the music they ever wanted, it felt as though it was an earned right and not a privilege.” Via Staring At Strangers.
Apple passes Wal-Mart, Number 1 In US Music Sales (2008-04-03)
Apple now controls 19% of retail music sales, against Wal-Mart’s 15% and number three Best Buy’s 13%.
Amazon & iTunes Sell Music on YouTube (2008-04-04)
Microsoft Pulls The Plug On PlaysForSure DRM Servers (2008-04-23)
Told you so. See also Thank You for Not Playing, Yahoo’s DRM mistake, and how Yahoo owned up to its DRM mistake.
Paula Abdul Hears One Song, Judges Two (2008-04-30)
American Idol conspiracy theorists delight.
Again & Again by The Bird And The Bee (2008-05-10)
I challenge you to not watch this music video, which is set on a Mac desktop.
Rocker David Cook Wins American Idol 7 (2008-05-21)
But with the brand watered down (7 years times 4 finalist = 28 artists), can David Cook manage more than 15 minutes of fame (plus or minus 9 months)?
New Napster Looks A Lot Like Old Napster, Launches DRM-Free Store (2008-05-30)
So does Rhapsody. Audiobook publishers are also abandoning DRM. Give customers a product they want, and they will pay for it. Simple.
5 Billion Songs Downloaded via iTunes (2008-06-19)
The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data (2007-09-29)
An oldie but a goodie. I’ve used this line several times. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you’ll like it too.
Andy Kaufman Lives: In UR Conf Calls (2008-02-19 )
T-Shirts: Hello My Name Is Inigo Montoya (2008-02-20)
The Horrors Of The Lowercase L (2008-02-25)
Greatest Street Name Ever (2008-02-28)
At least if you’re a fan of lolcats.
Why the Push-Up Belongs in Your Fitness Routine (2008-03-14)
I do 30 push-ups each morning. I could probably do 60.
We Hates It, We Hates It Forever (2008-03-18)
Why a short wrong answer is sometimes better than a long right one.
K T.Hanks Bai (2008-03-20)
Maps Of Moon Walks By Neil Armstrong And Buzz Aldrin (2008-03-25)
It Turns Out Plenty Of People Reply To DoNotReply.com (2008-03-26)
Truth is stranger than fiction.
The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time (2008-04-07)
Like genealogy? Go to EllisIsland.org and enter your surname. Fascinating.
Only In America (2008-04-25)
America has 5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners.
The Eric Conspiracy on LinkedIn (2008-04-28)
No discussion needed, Bruce.
The 50 Greatest Commercial Parodies Ever (2008-05-06)
Including many from Saturday Night Live.
Garfield Minus Garfield Is Hilarious (2008-05-12)
Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb. Plus there’s now a Garfield Minus Garfield book deal. Here’s the funniest Garfield Minus Garfield ever.
Noblematch Connects Creative Types With Nonprofits (2008-05-16)
For example, someone who can paint a desert scene like Bob Ross.
Percentage Of Google Chart That Resembles Pac-Man (2008-05-25)
Entertainment Weekly Picks 100 New Classic Movies (2008-06-20)
The Website Is Down (2008-06-26)
Books That Changed Your Life (2008-07-01)
Bush Defeats Carter, Nixon, Hoover (2008-07-04)
In terms of the Dow Jones index returns by U.S. president since Herbert Hoover obtained office in 1929. (Bush is in 11th place out of 14.) See also graph of U.S. war spending. Not politics, economic reality.