Copyright of “Public Facts”: Craigslist v. PadMapper (updated)

Craigslist was meant for the common good, or as founder Craig Newmark puts it, “doing well by doing good”.  At least, that has been its announced mission since it began as an email distribution among friends. Craigslist kept its mantra through its rise to Silicon Valley stardom, snubbing multi-million dollar buyout offers and fighting attempts to monetize the site along the way.… Read more

Read More

MegaUpload – Where is my Data?

A not-insignificant consequence of the federal government’s move in January to shut down the popular file-sharing site MegaUpload is that customers are blocked from being able to access their files. First, some background. In January, the government charged that MegaUpload and its founder Kim Dotcom operated an organization dedicated to copyright infringement, or in other words operated for the purpose of a criminal enterprise.  The site provided a number of online services related to file storage and viewing, which (among other things) allowed users to download copyrighted material.  The government also claimed in its indictment that the site was also used for other criminal purposes including money laundering. Not surprisingly, the file-sharing activities caught the unpleased eye of prominent content ownership groups

Read More

Fair Use or Just Plain Stealing? “Transformative” Art in a Digital World

A recent New York Times article discussed the case of an artist was sued for copyright infringement after he created paintings and collages based on photographs without crediting or obtaining permission from the photographer. The artist, Richard Prince, based his works on photographs from a book about Rastafarians “to create the collages and a series of paintings based on [those photographs],” reported Randy Kennedy in the Times. Then ensued a discussion of the degree to which material must be transformed to fall under copyright law’s “fair use” protection, which would allow use of copyrighted material if, as the article explains, “the new thing ‘adds value to the original’ so that society as a whole is culturally enriched by it.”  (The reference is to a 1990 Harvard Law Review article by Federal Judge Pierre Leval.  I previously discussed fair use’s 4-prong analysis in the context of photographs and artwork, here and in mashups...

Read More

Podcast #10: BitTorrent Copyright Infringement: Trouble for DMCA?

http://www.mstreetlegal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/DMCA-Cast.mp3   Today, I discuss BitTorrents, and a particular case in California challenging the copyright validity of what one service provider is doing.  BitTorrent has been in the (copyright) news lately – and not surprisingly – after the movie studios set their sites on bringing down yet the latest iteration of file-sharing technology.… Read more

Read More

BitTorrent Copyright Infringement: Trouble for DMCA?

BitTorrent has been in the (copyright) news lately – and not surprisingly – after the movie studios set their sites on bringing down yet the latest iteration of file-sharing technology. 2 great background sources on what BitTorrent is and how it works can be found here and here.  In short terms, BitTorrent is a file sharing technology, different from Napster and its peer-to-peer progeny in that it draws down pieces of large data files from multiple computers – rather than single computer to single computer peer-to-peer – based on a “community” structure of participating individual users.  The two biggest distinctions are (1) no single source for the compiled total file contributes more than a very small portion of the total file and (2) the distributive structure finesses the constant file-sharing problem of large data transfers demanding large broadband resources. Why is bitTorrent in the (copyright) news? BitTorrent is in the news not simply because Netflix’ CEO stated...

Read More