321 Studios' Web site is an interesting place to visit these days. On the heels of a first-round loss at trial court, the company is vowing to continue the fight. Meanwhile, in compliance with the judge's preliminary injunction, they are offering modified "RF" for ripper-free versions of their backup products.
They don't make quite such a show of it, but they've also removed the features that marked copied DVDs as copies and the features that prevented copied DVDs from being recopied. But hey, what's a little spite between mortal enemies?
In classic Cartel I-make-my-own-reality fashion, Jack "Boston Strangler" Valenti (isn't he gone yet?) redefines darkness as the standard:
"If you buy a DVD you have a copy. If you want a backup copy you buy another one."
Um, no, Jack. That's not a backup and you know it.Posted by dr. wex on February 29, 2004 04:37 PM
Copyfight, of course, is all over it, with links to many other blogs discussing this case and the issues of decryption, freedom, the DMCA, et cetera.Posted by david on February 27, 2004 09:25 PM
Interesting essay duel between Prof. Eli Noam and Prof. Richard Epstein.
Noam: ". . . [W]e need to recognise that the entire information sector - from music to newspapers to telecoms to internet to semiconductors and anything in-between - has become subject to a gigantic market failure in slow motion. . .
The main result of these factors is that prices for content, network distribution and equipment are collapsing across a broad front. It seems to have become difficult to charge anything for information products and services."
Epstein: " companies have to think hard about the way in which they choose to price. If the marginal cost of a phone call is close to zero, then donít charge for calls at the margin. Offer fixed packages that allow for unlimited calls at some set up fee. In other settings, it could be possible to charge more than marginal cost even though some consumers will be excluded, because the next entrant will also have to pay high fixed costs to enter the business, and thus will be reluctant to do so if he awaits a fate of marginal cost pricing only. . .
Nor should we think that the zero cost is always a bad thing. One reason why information is so cheap is that authors are so eager to reach their audiences that they will in effect forgo all cash income to do so. Indeed, in some cases they will pay positive sums (think only of the vanity press) to get people to read what they have to say. If so, then the low cost of reproduction brings new voices into the market place, which happily spells the end of the dominance of a few key players. There is no evidence that the recent onslaught of bloggers has proved to be transient or unstable even if they donít generate any or much revenue. The expanded set of opportunities is one positive feature about the current situation that has to be factored into the overall analysis."
Posted by david on February 27, 2004 09:37 AM
Update: Kevin Werbach thinks syndication is the answer.
Article on a jurisdictional ruling in a defamation case brought in Toronto against the Washington Post by a former UN official, over an article written while he was in Kenya, allegedly mismanaging an allegedly corrupt UN program there. After the plaintiff left Kenya (and long after the article was published) he settled in Canada, ultimately becoming a citizen there. Then he sued, natch.
The ruling (yep, you guessed it): The Canadian court has jurisdiction.
Scariest quote: [the WaPo] "should have reasonably foreseen that the story would follow the plaintiff wherever he resided."
My personal editorial two cents: We've already learned over the past few years that the jurisdiction of UN tribunals and the World Court (cough, cough) is everywhere and everyone all the time. I guess having a former UN official in the dock lent this Canadian court a bit of that kind of stretchy reasoning.Posted by david on February 19, 2004 08:33 AM
Writing about the Ellison decision (see immediately previous post) reminded me that we have not paid sufficient attention to the various other copyright related cases on the 9th Circuit's docket, such as MGM v. Grokster. But Copyfight is on the case. See this recent post.Posted by david on February 10, 2004 01:04 PM
In Ellison v. Robertson, the 9th Cir. clarifies threshold issues, holding that it is up to the jury to determine if a service provider (in this case AOL) meets the eligibility requirements of 17USCsec512(i). It is apparently a triable issue of fact (at least in the 9th circuit, so far) for the jury to determine if [the Service Provider] (1) adopt[s] a policy that provides for the termination
of service access for repeat copyright infringers in appropriate
circumstances; (2) implement[s] that policy in a
reasonable manner; and (3) inform[s] its subscribers of the policy.
Indeed, the Court adds that "[T]here is ample evidence in the
record that suggests that AOL did not have an effective notification
procedure in place at the time the alleged infringing
activities were taking place."
Long and short: it may not be as easy as previously thought for a service provider to assert the safe harbor provisions in defending against a contributory copyright infringement claim.