Hip Hop Lyric Site Issued Take Down Notice By NMPA

Posted By: Ross Arkin


Bso_Glee_The_Music,_Volume_5--CDEver since the Sugar Hill Gang proclaimed “I said a hip, hop, the hippie – the hippie
to the hip hip-hop, and you don’t stop 
the rocking to the bang-bang, boogie say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie the beat.”, hip-hop fans have collectively often said: “What?”

Enter the function of the lyric site. Not just hip-hop fans but fans of music of every genre have often found themselves utterly confounded when it comes to certain lyrics. Before the advent of the internet, the most common way for people to settle lyric disputes was to simply check the hardcopy booklet that came with a retail version of an album, if the album did in fact come with such an insert. Before these inserts existed the only way to obtain a copy of the lyrics to a song was to purchase a song book or sheet music. Now, if anyone were to tell you that Jimmy Hendrix was singing about kissing a guy, you can pull up any number of websites dedicated to displaying the lyrics of songs and clarify what has been misheard. By some reports, five million people google the term “lyrics” every day. (Alex Pham, NMPA Targets Unlicensed Lyric Sites). However, it turns out that the unauthorized (read: unlicensed) display of copyrighted lyrics may be an infringing activity. Continue reading


Duke University has Sent You a Friend Request?!

Posted By: Ryan Bethell

facebookRecent surveys from U.S.News suggest that Universities are increasingly looking at Facebook, Linkden, and other social network profiles to help make admissions decisions. Using Facebook in admissions criteria may implicate certain obvious (government actors accessing private information) and non-obvious (admissions officers making fun of applicant essay topics online) privacy concerns, though these issues have been discussed at length elsewhere. A novel question exists, however, of whether or not a public University’s using Facebook to gain information about its applicants creates conflict between new laws banning race conscious admissions in public Universities. Assuming such bans survive the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, will examining a student’s Facebook page, and subsequently discovering their race, violate these statutes? If not, will universities be able to use Facebook to actuate their interest in preserving a diverse learning environment without directly “asking” about race? Continue reading

Patent Litigation, Coming to a Podcast Near You!

Posted By:  Ryan Bethell

Image by Yagraph

Image by Yagraph

Hot off the heels of an $8,000,000 settlement with apple over a patent covering “Downloadable Playlists,” Personal Audio, a digital audio company in Texas, has set its sights on popular podcast producers. Personal Audio has asserted a patent pertaining to cover “how audio files are organized and downloaded on the internet,” over several popular podcasts producers, including Adam Carolla, who owns Carolla Digital, and hosts the most downloaded podcast in the world, The Adam Carolla Show. Not to be intimidated, Carolla is deputizing his listeners to raise social awareness about patent trolls, and is preparing to crowd fund a robust legal defense. Personal Audio’s attorney, Richard Baker says “We’re putting our effort into the larger people because there’s a larger return there,” but will the company ultimately regret their decision to anger some of the loudest and most influential voices in on the internet?

Personal Audio isn’t doing anything drastically different than the other so called “patent trolls” (a term to describe patents holders that litigate on patents that they own but do not use) have been doing since 2002, but jurors and voters may respond more favorably to podcast personalities than they are the corporations that are normally defending these suits. Neel Chatterjee, former counsel for Mark Zuckerberg and Partner in charge of intellectual property at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, dropped by the Adam Carolla show on November 21 to discuss his thoughts on the case, as well the state of patent litigation generally. Continue reading

Attack of the Copyright Robots

Posted by:  Ryan Bethell

videoremovedIt should come as no surprise that large businesses such as Universal and Sony have a financial interest in protecting their intellectual property online. For the biggest stakeholders, this means policing thousands of instances of arguably copyrighted material ever day – a task that many companies prefer to automate. Companies need to be mindful of over policing, however, in light of Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which states that “any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section (1) that material or activity is infringing, or (2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer.” Further, some recent cases coming out of the ninth circuit suggest that it may become necessary for companies to examine whether or not a potentially infringing post are fair use before serving a takedown notice. However, determining whether or not material is fair use may be impossible for a computers, necessitating that companies augment their existing automated takedown procedures. If serving a takedown notice before considering whether allegedly infringing material is fair use is found to be misrepresentation, then companies will need to drastically overhaul how they police their content in or face potential liability.

Record and Movie industries – two of the biggest servers of takedown notices – are largely consolidated. The record industry, for example, is dominated by Sony and Universal, each having an over 30% share in US album and digital downloads. The sheer volume of material that these companies hold, and the web traffic that it can drive, necessitates that the companies act quickly in order to protect their investments. Online video streaming is big business: In 2012, “Call me Maybe” was streamed 120,000,000 times (it has since climbed to over 500,000,000 views), and Miley’s “Wrecking Ball” amassed over 300,000,000 since its release just this September. Copyright holders make money on advertising on the sites that host such videos, but unauthorized reposts divert this traffic. Accordingly, copyright holders seek to have infringing material removed quickly from the internet. Continue reading

Issues in Cloud Computing

Posted By: Robert McManimon


Image by Sam Johnston

Image by Sam Johnston

One of the modern inventions of the computer age has been the transition from localized storage to cloud computing. (http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1222&context=dltr). This trend takes advantage of the massive commercial storage banks and relatively high connection speeds now available that previously would have made such an outsourcing of data management unfeasible. However, this trend and all of its benefits has evolved alongside another trend: the rise of Electronic Discovery. The reliance upon off-site servers creates a series of new burdens and concerns for small-business owners that many may be unaware of.

Electronic Discovery refers to the laws governing the production of electronic materials for the purposes of litigation. ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_34). These materials are generally referred to as “Electronically Stored Information” (ESI). Historically, ESI has been stored on-site, in computers and servers that are localized, and with various other methods of storage available for the long term. ( Note: The Zublake cases discussed the various nuances to the different types of data storage traditionally used. They discuss tape-based storage as the primary mechanism for archiving of data. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zubulake_v._UBS_Warburg). When those files were required to be produced for the purposes of litigation, it was relatively easy to discern where they were located, what laws governed, and what steps to follow. Continue reading

Is Internet Access a Human Right?

Posted By: Robert McManimon

InternetThe modern international human rights regime is complex. There are, of course, codifications of binding agreements between states found in bilateral and multilateral treaties that discuss the various underpinnings of the legal regime. There are even rights and norms that have been accepted as binding international custom. Whether customary international law or the product of a treaty, these norms generally place a duty upon states. Often, this duty requires them to abstain from various types of behavior, or in rare cases places a burden upon them to facilitate the fulfillment of those norms for persons residing within their espace juridique. With the emergence of the internet, you have an increasing emphasis being placed upon its importance as a mechanism for national and international commerce and communication. The medium, with its unique transnational benefits and the ease with which it facilitates information exchange, has spurred a common and important question: Does the modern human rights regime protect access to the internet? And if not, should it? Continue reading

Droit de suite and the Internet

Posted by: Robert S. McManimon


197px-Copyright.svgIn our American system, we’ve grown accustomed to the first sale doctrine. (http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01854.htm). As we’ve seen, this notion has created a variety of issues for software companies, who have instead opted to license their work in order to maintain control over it and any future sale. Ironically though, this type of behavior is actually a somewhat nuanced response to prior attempts to restrict the first sale doctrine on behalf of those software companies. As such, it may well be that the software giants would prefer a more European solution, namely droit de suite. Continue reading

Where is Waldo.com? Problems of Personal Jurisdiction in Cyberspace

Posted By:  Jeremiah Chin

10349418One of the earliest litigation decisions is where to file a law suit. Usually the lawsuit happens where the plaintiff lives, or where the injury involved occurred. But when the harm arises from internet communications, how do courts determine the proper place to file a law suit? Tracking exactly where the injury occurred on the internet may seem like a pipe dream in a series of tubes, attempting to put a physical location on harms in virtual space.

On one level, the internet has many physical properties, from the individual computers that access the internet to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which maintain physical servers in different states. In a federal civil suit, a court must establish personal jurisdiction—or the power of the court to decide a case involving the named parties—in order to even reach the merits of the issue. Filing in the wrong forum may lead to an early dismissal if a court does not have specific or personal jurisdiction over a defendant. F.R.C.P. 12 (b) (2). Continue reading

E-Sovereignty: Internet Governance and National Boundaries

Posted by: Jeremiah Chin


icann_logo_0The Internet is praised for its ability to facilitate communication across physical boundaries, allowing people to instantaneously video chat, send e-mail or create websites that can be viewed around the world. Yet as this international communication medium expands, it raises important questions of governance in a digital age. Is cyberspace the final frontier for borders and boundaries that have traditionally defined sovereignty?

Although the Internet was born from a military project funded and controlled by the United States Federal Government, the United States has ceded almost all of its maintenance and regulatory powers to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In order for the internet to function, there must be some uniform means of coordinating the rapid exchange of information. ICANN acts as the locating service that allows computers to connect in a uniform way by coordinating the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) through a Domain Name System (DNS). The protocols managed by ICANN help you visit sites like Cyberbeartracks by allowing you to input cyberbeartracks.com rather than the complex numbers string that would otherwise lead you here. Although ICANN is now largely independent of United States controls and regulation, ICANN is still a non-profit corporation organized under United States laws, located in California.

After Edward Snowden began to leak information on the United States’ surveillance efforts, internet coordinators like ICANN and Nation-States called for a shift away from United States authority. Brazil, for example, has attempted to localize its citizen’s internet usage and data storage by requiring servers to be placed within the country. Previous proposals to have the United Nations take control of ICANN’s regulatory properties have failed. Both proposals call for decreased actual or apparent authority of the United States, but present serious pitfalls for the future of internet governance. Continue reading

Cybersquatting on Social Media

Posted By: Jeremiah Chin


twitterSocial media began as a way for people to interact across the internet, communicating with friends, family and new people in new ways. Companies have quickly caught on to the heavy use of social media, establishing their brand on Twitter, Facebook and other sites in order to create good will with fans, and ensure that their company is properly represented on the web. For new companies, or those who are simply late to the game, finding a good social media branding can become difficult as usernames may be already taken. Continue reading