Who’s at Fault? Read the Fine Print to Make Sure You’re Not at Risk

from NYTs If the old printer at his golf club had not been replaced, Ray Mantle probably would not have realized that he and his friends had been signing a liability waiver that could expose them to expensive litigation and damages. Mr. Mantle, a retired New York lawyer whose specialty was intellectual property, said he had noticed something on the back of the receipt for a golf cart rental at his club, Queen’s Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., that alarmed him. Appearing clearly in black ink on white paper, thanks to the new printer, was an agreement […]

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‘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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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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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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Waymo vs. Uber: Unsealed Court Documents Reveal Damning Evidence

from The Verge The due diligence report that Uber fought so hard to keep from being used in its legal battle with Waymo and Alphabet was made public on Monday — and it’s easy to see why Uber resisted as hard as it did. The document, prepared by cybersecurity firm Stroz Friedberg as part of Uber’s acquisition of self-driving trucking startup Otto, describes a thorough forensic review of personal devices belonging to five people at Otto, including the much-embattled Anthony Levandowski, who earlier this year attempted to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid turning over documents in the case. The […]

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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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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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Should You Be Able to Patent a Human Gene?

from TED A decade ago, US law said human genes were patentable — which meant patent holders had the right to stop anyone from sequencing, testing or even looking at a patented gene. Troubled by the way this law both harmed patients and created a barrier to biomedical innovation, Tania Simoncelli and her colleagues at the ACLU challenged it. In this riveting talk, hear the story of how they took a case everybody told them they would lose all the way to the Supreme Court. More here.

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At Kodak, Clinging to a Future Beyond Film

from NYTs Of the roughly 200 buildings that once stood on the 1,300-acre campus of Eastman Kodak’s business park in Rochester, 80 have been demolished and 59 others sold off. Terry Taber, bespectacled, 60, and a loyal Kodak employee of 34 years, still works in one of the remaining Kodak structures, rubble from demolition not far from its doors. Mr. Taber oversees research and development at Kodak. Many people might be surprised to know that Kodak is still in business at all, much less employing someone in the hopeful-sounding enterprise of developing new technology ideas. But if the film company, […]

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What’s Wrong With the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Ruling

from NYTs Here’s how songs, especially hip-hop and R&B songs, are made today : the framework is built in the studio by a producer, working on some combination of keyboard, drum machine, sampler and computer program. Songwriters contribute topline melodies and conceptual ideas, and sometimes all the words. Generally speaking, at the moment of creation, there is no sheet music, no notation that’s meant to guide musicians. On Tuesday, a federal jury in Los Angeles concluded that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, the performer and primary songwriter-producer of the 2013 pop hit “Blurred Lines,” committed copyright infringement by using elements […]

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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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