defending the right to innovate
Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.
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Fifteen minutes of fame. I think the Apple-Samsung craziness is starting to wake people up to what patents really are about.
Keegan Hamilton has a must-read article on the front cover of this week's L.A. Weekly (the largest alternative newspaper in the Southern California area).
There is nothing in it that regular followers to this site don't already know in its broad strokes, but its still well worth the time to read and get your blood boiling over how extortion artists have taken over the legal system in the IP wars.
The opening paragraphs:
The bad news arrived in John Doe 2,057's mailbox in May. His wife unsealed a thick envelope from Comcast and read a carefully worded message explaining that a company called Imperial Enterprises, Inc. had filed a lawsuit against him in Washington, D.C., federal court. He stood accused of having illegally downloaded a copyrighted film five months earlier, at precisely 6:03 a.m. on the morning of January 27. The name of the Imperial Enterprises movie he purportedly purloined wasn't mentioned until four pages later. Though printed in tiny italic font in a court filing, it practically leapt off the page: Tokyo Cougar Creampies.
Read the full thing here:
Via Eugene Volokh, a small excerpt from a judge's decision which seems to "get it" when it comes to copyright extortion:
Mattel asserted a copyright claim that was stunning in scope and unreasonable in the relief it requested. The claim imperiled free expression, competition, and the only serious competitor Mattel had faced in the fashion doll market in nearly 50 years. MGA's successful defense ensured that well-resourced plaintiffs cannot bend the law to suit their pecuniary interests. For these reasons, and pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505, the Court awards MGA $105,688,073.00 in attorneys' fees and $31,677,104.00 in costs.
Judge Carter's specific reasoning makes one want to jump for joy! -
Fee awards to copyright defendants serve a purpose loftier than mere compensation: rewarding a successful defense that "enrich[es] the general public through access to creative works." Fogerty, 510 U.S. at 527. The rationales that underlie copyright favor limitation. Defendants play an important role in "demacrat[ing]" [sic] the "boundaries of copyright law" by raising defenses predicated upon public access to creative works and the novel expression of ideas...
Read the full Mattel v. MGA decision here:
Mattel has had a notorious history of IP abuse:
Their legal affairs department could definitely use some re-education. Meanwhile, they payback is enjoyable in this instance.
Via Tim Hull at CourthouseNews.com:
A federal judge blasted Righthaven's copyright-collection business model in a ruling that says an Oregon nonprofit was justified through fair use to post an article by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Read the rest of the coverage on this story here:
The US Copyright Group is currently pursuing torrent users to recoup losses movie companies may have occurred. The damages sought are rather high, as expected, and they are asking thousands of users US$2500 so that the case can be dropped and not filed in court. Given the court costs in this US, this would be a sensible thing to do, unless those users somehow band together to share those costs.
Well, it turns out a lawyer has followed this train of thought and is now offering a legal kit for $19.95 that allows to fight against USCG. This is of course not at all what the latter intended, as it now itself has to go to court. The natural thing to do now is, of course, for USCG to sue this entrepreneurial lawyer who is causing it all these added costs, because it now has to deal with well informed defendants.
Details at the escapist.
"There are criminal enterprises out there prepared to use the law in ways that it was not intended."
Indeed. Hopefully, this will get even more people to start to contemplate the bigger picture here:
Fortune's Don't ice me, bro! When memes meet the marketplace relates the battle by Vodka peddler Smirnoff against fans of its Smirnoff Ice beverage. Apparently it had become popular with "Bros"--"a college-age person ... They like to hang out. A lot of them drink beer and wear backwards baseball caps. A lot of them drive SUVs and listen to Dave Matthews Band"--well, until Smirnoff sued them, I guess. Some frat-boy antics arose where these kids of privilege and no rhythm would "ice" each other--basically daring or challenging or pranking each other to drink a Smirnoff Ice. Then someone set up fan site brosicingbros.com, with pictures etc. of people "Icing" each other.
Good PR for Smirnoff, right? Well apparently Smirnoff didn't think so, so they threatened the site with a copyright and trademark lawsuit, so it was taken down. The case by Smirnoff is taken apart in Bros Icing Bros - A Case for Copyright Bullying by Overreacting Smirnoff Lawyers by legal non-profit called NewMediaRights, which heroically provides "free legal assistance to bloggers, journalists, and filmmakers getting bullied by companies into taking down their websites."
This reminds a bit of Ford Slaps Brand Enthusiasts, Returns Love With Legal Punch, AdRants, in which Ford Motor Company claimed it holds the rights to any image of a Ford vehicle, even if it's a picture you took of your own car.
For other IP horror stories, see The Patent, Copyright, Trademark, and Trade Secret Horror Files.
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