* LawLawLaw 2005-08-17

News and Commentary about Law, Technology, and their Intersection.

* Google Stuff: Google Getting More Evil?

If Google were purchased by Apple, would your opinion of the company change? What if Google were purchased by Microsoft? Americans love an underdog (go Rocky!) and root for the underdog until the underdog is the bloated incumbent (boo Rocky 5!). It’s a familiar tale. Start-up Microsoft takes on the IBM Goliath, wins, and becomes the Microsoft Goliath. Start-up Google takes on Yahoo, wins, and becomes — what? Non-evil? Evil? As Google becomes bigger, it is going to have to try harder to be perceived as non-evil. If history is any guide, it will not succeed.

Google Print Goes Live (2005-05-27)
“Google opened the door to its online library late Thursday with the launch of a book-specific search page. Print.Google.Com makes official the search goliath’s project to digitize the world’s books. But the launch drew backlash from the Association of American University Presses, in the form of an open letter focusing on Google Library, a service that went live in December.”

Google’s Polite and Human Take Down Notice (2005-06-09)
An example of Google trying to be non-evil.

Laura Quilter on Google Print: Don’t Embrace Limits to Fair Use (2005-08-16)
“Google decided last week to hit the pause button on its ambitious Google Print library project to allow publishers to opt-out of scanning. The decision has sparked considerable debate, both about the copyright questions the project raises and Google’s strategy for dealing with them. Here, Laura Quilter offers an especially compelling and thoughtful response, arguing that Google should move forward…”

* Grokster Stuff: A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Opinions about the importance and meaning of Grokster vary widely. It is instructive to read articles written before, during (i.e. the week the decision was handed down), and after the Grokster decision. Wall Street didn’t seem to care about the decision, and now the entertainment industry is pretending that it won Grokster. For some reason, “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” comes to mind. But I’d rather not cast the entertainment industry as Jedi knights. Perhaps it’s a Sith mind trick that they’re trying to pull. Must … resist … mind tricks!

I’ll opine in more detail about Grokster (the P2P/copyright case that the Supreme Court ruled on in June) in the September 2005 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine (which will also be posted on lawlawlaw.com), but suffice it to say that I don’t think the decision decided much. When neither side clearly wins or loses, who wins?

1) Before Grokster

Grokster Reader’s Guide (2005-06-25)

2) During Grokster

The Decision (2005-06-27)

Ruling won’t slow file swapping, experts say (2005-06-27)
“The Supreme Court may have dealt file-swapping companies a blow on Monday, but its decision is unlikely to put a damper on the illegal sharing of music and other media online anytime soon, industry experts say.”

The Patry Copyright Blog: The Court Punts (2005-06-27)
“I view the Court as having punted: they decided mainly an issue that wasn’t in front of them (inducement) and didn’t decide the one that was, the effect of Sony in the Internet era.”

Susan Crawford: The Supremes Got Grokster Just Right (2005-06-27)
“Today’s Grokster opinion is a victory for content AND for technology.”

What Wall Street Tells Us About Grokster (2005-06-28)
“No one on Wall Street thought that this decision would impact the music business at all.”

No Pot of Gold in Court Ruling for the Studios (2005-06-28)
“The court’s unanimous decision against Grokster and StreamCast Networks, the developer of the Morpheus file-swapping system, means companies that intentionally encourage copyright infringement can be held liable.”

3) After Grokster

Remedying ‘Grokster’ (2005-07-25)
“Asked to clarify the reach of copyright law’s existing secondary liability doctrines, however, the Court instead announced a new doctrine for copyright: inducement…. [T]he trouble is the continued uncertainty surrounding the traditional copyright doctrines of contributory infringement and vicarious liability.”

Entertainment Industry Pretending to Have Won Grokster Case (2005-08-03)
“[W]hen P2P technologies continue to exist and be popular, we can expect calls for legislation to control the scourge of ‘illegitimacy.'”

* Uncool Stuff (or The Search For Intelligent Life)

Logo Trends 2005 (2005-04-01)
This is actually quite an entertaining article about the year’s trends in logo design. Of course, I look at the world through IP glasses, so when I saw all the cool logos, I wondered how many of them were registered as trademarks. The answer is not many, and that’s uncool. Registration is a lot less expensive that having to change your logo, which you may have to do if your logo is confusingly similar to another company’s registered trademark.

A Photo finish for Copyright’s Unintended Consequences (2005-06-07)
Kodak’s Ofoto online photo printing service and Wal-Mart both prevented amateur photographers from printing their own photos because they looked like professional photos. Open source photo album software project Gallery has to remove EZPrints from its software, because both EZPrints and Gallery were sued by a professional photographer for profiting from users printing low-resolution (and presumably unauthorized) copies of the photographer’s photos.

Websites Invade Your Privacy to Charge You More (2005-06-07)
“[W]ebsites examine the web data you automatically shed (cookies, IP address, etc.) so [that] they can charge you a different price for a product or service depending on your ‘identity’ and shopping habits.”

Piracy-check mandatory for Windows add-ons (2005-07-25)
“From now on, customers looking to get the latest add-ons to Windows will have to verify that their copy of the operating system is legit.”

U.S. Copyright Office Considers IE-Only Site (2005-08-11)
“[T]he US Copyright Office is soliciting comments on a proposal to create a Web service for prospective copyright owners that would support only Internet Explorer (IE).”

* Cool Stuff

Fortunately, there is generally more cool stuff (gadgets, software, websites, trends) than uncool stuff.

How to set up multiple homepages in Firefox (2005-05-25)
You can click on the “home” button and open multiple tabbed windows in Firefox.

USB thumb drive projects (2005-06-20)
“Turn your pluggable keychain disk into a portable arcade, boot disk, web browser, email encrypter, network drive, media player or word processor.”

Download of the Day: iTunes 4.9 with podcasting (2005-06-28)
iTunes 4.9 allows you to browse, find, sample, and subscribe to thousands of free podcasts – audio content (such as radio shows) delivered over the Internet to your computer – then sync them to your iPod.

NVu 1.0 released (2005-06-28)
“A complete Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver.” It’s also open source.

Web Content by and for the Masses (2005-06-29)
This article discusses how user-generated content (including games, video, and weblogs) is changing the way people think about – and businesses react to – the constantly changing web.

Opera to support BitTorrent (2005-07-06)
“Norwegian web browser Opera has become the first web browser to offer built-in support for the popular peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent. Currently available as a technology preview on the Opera FTP server, version 8.0.2 adds the ability to seed and download BitTorrent files.”

Sports Groupie (2005-07-30)
“‘Sports Groupie’… lets you pick your favorite sports team, shows you their schedule, and lets you choose an away game to then find you the cheapest airfare and hotels.”

* Fun and Funny Stuff

NaDa 0.5 (2003-02-13)
“Most products we see on the market want to increase our productivity, organize our screen joyfully or make wonders with our sound card, but NaDa does nothing. This is a revolutionary whole new approach, a concept far beyond what you usually expect from the software industry. Download it and forget it.”

Apple’s iPod Flea (2005-06-29)
A spoof video advertisement for a product called the iPod Flea.

How to make pizza (2005-07-05)

How To Do Pen Tricks (2005-08-12)
When I was at MIT, I was fascinated by watching people do pen tricks. About 20 years ago, I practiced every day for a month and successfully developed what has become quite an annoying habit (so I’m told).

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