‘Blurred Lines’ on Their Minds, Songwriters Create Nervously

from NYTs It’s not easy to be a songwriter in the pop world these days. Listeners rarely see your name. For anything but a giant hit, royalties from streaming are infinitesimal — and big tech companies seem to want to keep it that way. And then there’s the shadow of “Blurred Lines.” Four years after the copyright trial over that No. 1 song — in which Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, its primary writers, were ordered to pay more than $5 million for copying Marvin Gaye’s disco-era hit “Got to Give It Up” — the case still looms over the […]

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Amazon Filed A Patent Application For Tech That Could Link You To Your Identity And Job

from Buzzfeed.News Amazon has filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for technology that could one day scan your face and identify who you are, use visual cues to figure out the kind of work you do, and potentially track you as you move around. The patent application, which was filed in August 2017 and made public on Thursday, offers insight into Amazon’s possible ambitions for Rekognition — the company’s powerful facial recognition tool that it has aggressively pitched to law enforcement agencies across the US. While a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean that Amazon plans to implement the […]

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Locast, a Free App Streaming Network TV, Would Love to Get Sued

From NYTs On the roof of a luxury building at the edge of Central Park, 585 feet above the concrete, a lawyer named David Goodfriend has attached a modest four-foot antenna that is a threat to the entire TV-industrial complex.  The device is there to soak up TV signals coursing through the air — content from NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS and CBS, including megahits like “This Is Us” and this Sunday’s broadcast of Super Bowl LIII. Once plucked from the ether, the content is piped through the internet and assembled into an app called Locast. It’s a streaming service, and […]

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A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing

from Wired ONE OF THE most ubiquitous features of the internet is the ability to link to content elsewhere. Everything is connected via billions of links and embeds to blogs, articles, and social media. But a federal judge’s ruling threatens that ecosystem. Katherine Forrest, a Southern District of New York judge, ruled Thursday that embedding a tweet containing an image in a webpage could be considered copyright infringement. The decision can be appealed, but if it stands and is adopted by other courts, it could change the way online publishing functions. Here’s what happened: In 2016 Justin Goldman took a […]

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Waymo: “We’re Bringing This Case Because Uber Is Cheating”

from ars technica In a packed courtroom on the first day of the blockbuster Waymo v. Uber trade secrets trial, both sides presented their opening arguments. Charles Verhoeven, Waymo’s top lawyer, said that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO from 2010 until mid-2017, was not playing fair in his company’s efforts to catch up with Waymo. “The evidence is going to show that Mr. Kalanick, the CEO at the time, made a decision that winning was more important than obeying the law,” he said. “He made a decision to cheat. Because for him, winning at all costs, no matter what, was his […]

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Patent ‘Trolls’ Recede as Threat to Innovation. Will Justices Change That?

from NYTs In August, real estate agents in Texas fended off a company’s demands for royalty payments for a feature of many websites: the ability to show prospective home buyers where local schools, parks and grocery stores are. Administrative law judges at the United States Patent and Trademark Office found that the patent claims were simply not valid. A few months before, in February, judges at the patent office put an end to “Project Paperless,” an attempt to extract royalties from small businesses using off-the-shelf scanners to scan documents to email. The litigants pressing for payment, the judges determined, had […]

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Judge Throws Out 57-Year-Old Copyright On “We Shall Overcome”

from ars technica A federal judge ruled (PDF) on Friday that the most famous verse of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” is not copyrighted. The ruling is a decisive, but still incomplete, win for the two plaintiffs. One of those plaintiffs is a charity group called the “We Shall Overcome Foundation” that’s making a movie about the song, and the other is Butler Films LLC, a company that paid $15,000 to license just several seconds of the song for the movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Plaintiff’s attorney Randall Newman hopes the two organizations will represent a class-action case composed of people who were charged royalties for using […]

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A Battle Rages For The Future Of The Web

from ars technica The W3C, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, looks set to standardise DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in browsers, a move that betrays the founding principles of the open Web. When Berners-Lee invented the Web, he gave it away. His employer at the time, CERN, licensed the patents royalty-free for anyone to use. An open architecture that supported the free flow of information for all made it what it is today. But that openness is under assault, and Berners-Lee’s support for standardising EME, a browser API that enables DRM (digital rights/restrictions management) for media playback, has provoked a raging battle within the […]

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Supreme Court Presses Apple And Samsung On The Value Of Design

from BuzzFeed Several Supreme Court justices challenged Samsung’s argument on Tuesday that the company should owe Apple less than $399 million for infringing on the design of the iPhone. Other justices, though, pressed Apple to show why its damages in the case should be connected to Samsung’s profits made from the entire phone — rather than just the part of its exterior that Samsung was found to have copied. The dispute between the warring phone companies revolves around the $399 million penalty Samsung was ordered to pay Apple, stemming from a lawsuit that began in 2011. A lower court found […]

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Patent Troll Virnetx Beats Apple Again, Awarded $302M In Facetime Damages

from ars technica An East Texas jury concluded late Friday that Apple must pay a patent troll $302.4 million in damages for infringing two patents connected to Apple’s FaceTime communication application. The verdict is the third in the long-running case in which two earlier verdicts were overturned—one on appeal and the other by the Tyler, Texas federal judge presiding over the 6-year-long litigation. The latest outcome is certain to renew the same legal arguments that were made in the earlier cases: Apple, for one, has maintained all along that the evidence doesn’t support infringement. VirnetX, as it did in the […]

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Filmmakers Fighting “Happy Birthday” Copyright Find Their “Smoking Gun”

from ars technica It’s been two years since filmmakers making a documentary about the song “Happy Birthday” filed a lawsuit claiming that the song shouldn’t be under copyright. Now, they have filed (PDF) what they say is “proverbial smoking-gun evidence” that should cause the judge to rule in their favor. The “smoking gun” is a 1927 version of the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, predating Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright by eight years. That 1927 songbook, along with other versions located through the plaintiffs’ investigations, “conclusively prove that any copyright that may have existed for the song itself… expired decades ago.” If the filmmakers’ lawyers are right, it could mean a quick route […]

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Here We Go Again 5 Key Questions for Patent Reform in 2015

from Gigaom Will the third time be the charm? In the last five years, Congress has twice tried to fix the country’s dysfunctional patent laws only to see those efforts founder at the hands of shrewd lobbying by reform opponents. Now, lawmakers are at it again, vowing to cut down the patent trolls who have made a mockery of a system that is supposed to promote innovation by instead turning it into a tool for economic extortion. Here’s a short look at the story so far, plus five factors that will determine if this year’s patent reform effort will fare […]

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Can The Privacy Revolution Prevail?

from Forbes How many of you were suckered by the Facebook privacy hoax and posted the scary note revoking Facebook’s rights to your pictures and data? Oops. Snopes has pointed out that Facebook never owned your data. The message is useless. You control who sees your information through Facebook privacy controls, but by agreeing to the site’s terms of use you are granting Facebook a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content you post.” But the number of people who’ve posted point to a very real phenomenon: the growing sensitivity of consumers to websites that share or sell […]

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Grappling With the ‘Culture of Free’ in Napster’s Aftermath

from NYTs Once upon a time, a new technology happened along. It was called radio. Soon enough, some people began plucking wireless transmissions out of the air for their own purposes. One clever young man in Washington figured out how to intercept messages that Navy units sent to one another. “He has represented himself to be at distant naval stations or at sea on warships equipped with wireless apparatus,” a magazine called Electrical World reported in 1907. Back then, this fellow’s actions were not unlawful. They amounted nonetheless to a form of piracy. As radio grew more sophisticated, so did […]

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