Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

How Are They So Bad At This?

Ars has the story of the impending lawsuit over Time Warner’s iPad app:

Time Warner Cable is taking the dispute over its live-TV-streaming iPad app to court. The company has filed a request for declaratory judgment, asking the judge to rule that the cable giant has the rights to stream content to any of its subscribers’ devices, whether it’s a TV set or an iPad. Viacom, in turn, also filed its own lawsuit against Time Warner, arguing that the two companies never agreed to such rights.

“[W]e are very confident in our rights to distribute our programmers’ feeds over our cable distribution infrastructure to any digital device within our customer’s home. And some of our programming partners have taken the position that our interpretation is wrong,” Time Warner’s director of digital communications Jeff Simmermon wrote on the company blog.

“To be completely clear: this is not a hostile lawsuit… We’re at an impasse with a handful of network owners, and we need an impartial third party to referee the situation and confirm that our interpretation is correct.”

I don’t think I fully understand how licenses for showing content on an iPad are different from licenses for showing it on a computer or on a TV. I get that networks are squeezing every last penny out of their investments, but this is kind of silly. Instead of stomping on innovation every time it rears its head, why not let Time Warner run their iPad trial ballon for a year? Then Viacom just counts those iPad eyeballs (iBalls?) when negotiating rates next year, and presto! Extra money.

I fail to see what Viacom or anyone else stands to gain by trying to shut this down. Do they not understand you get to make money off of that-thar internet thing? You won’t, if you continually pretend people aren’t watching your content on their internet machines; not if when a company more legitimate than StreamzPalace.eu puts your content on the hottest consumer device in the world, you cry ‘foul’ instead of trying to get a cut; not if your first reaction to “our potential viewer base just shot up by millions” is to trot out the lawyers.

Seriously, Viacom. Is it that you don’t have a digital strategy, or is it that you don’t think this whole “digital” thing is worth strategizing for? Either way, you need nerds. I’m more affordable than whoever’s giving you crap advice.

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Did LimeWire Really Kill The Music Industry?

As you will recall, Judge Kimba Wood ordered LimeWire to shutdown last October after finding the file-sharing service liable for copyright infringement and inducement to commit copyright infringement.  An estimated three billion songs per month were downloaded through LimeWire and the music industry wants the now defunct company to pay upwards of $75 trillion in damages.

Music industry analysts thought that they could breath a sigh of relief in the post-LimeWire world—that music piracy would slowly decline—however, new studies show that file-sharing is still on the rise. So, did LimeWire really kill the CD (sale)? Have former P2P users finally monetize their music habits?

Read the rest at For the Rechord: Did LimeWire Really Kill The Music Industry?.

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That Just Seems Gratuitous

Paul Krugman on Representative Paul Ryan:

The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.

I don’t attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance. I think it’s possible that Representative Ryan’s belief in the economic stimulation provided by tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans is influenced by his net worth, estimated to be from $590,000 up to $2.4 million.

Trickle-down economics is wonderful for the folks at the top.

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Sleepless With the Fishes

From Wired Science, Insomniac Cavefish May Hold Clues to Human Sleep Disorders:

To verify that the fish were indeed sleeping, the researchers also explored what happened when they deprived the fish of sleep. They put the fish on top of a Vortex mixer set to its gentlest setting and had it vibrate for 10 seconds out of every minute, all night long. The next day, fish of all four species were far less active.

Scientists fuck with fish; film at 11.

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This is My Surprised Face

Movie Studios Sue Streaming Movie Site Zediva via Wired.com’s Epicenter:

Zediva.com, which officially launched in mid-March, rents new release movies without permission from the studios, by letting its customers rent a DVD player and disk from afar. Only one person can rent a given disk at a time. That, the company argues, puts it in the same legal bucket as a traditional video rental store.

Zediva’s wrong, of course. Renting a movie and taking it home with you to watch on TV is a private performance that is protected by something called the First Sale Doctrine. Renting a movie and watching it in the video store is a public performance, which is one of the exclusive rights the copyright holders (movie studios) retains.

The First Sale Doctrine gives the purchaser of a copyrighted work some rights to enjoy the work, based on good old common sense. For instance, think of the difference between Starbucks selling you a movie on DVD, and Starbucks installing a flatscreen in the bathroom and charging admission to watch a movie.

Even if the movie studio didn’t intend to give me the right to watch the DVD, they sold Starbucks a DVD, and when Starbucks sells me that DVD, I’ve acquired that right under the First Sale Doctrine.

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Perspective

I’m happy to hear that the spirit of compromise is alive and well in Congress, but NPR brings up a good point.

Photo credit: NPR Money

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