"Michael Robertson, a pioneer in the digital music business who has repeatedly clashed with record companies over legal issues, was found liable this week for $41 million in a long-running federal copyright infringement suit. Mr. Robertson’s latest conflict with the music industry was over MP3tunes, a company he founded in 2005 and shut down two years ago. MP3tunes let its users back up digital music files on remote services on the Internet — an early version of the so-called cloud lockers that technology giants like Apple and Google offer as part of their standard suite of digital music offerings... During the MP3tunes trial, Mr. Robertson said that the company canceled the accounts of users who abused the locker system. In a statement on Thursday, he accused the music industry of suing his company “to send a message to others not to partner with us or to emulate our business,” and criticized the system of statutory damages for copyright infringement, which led to charges of up to $100,000 per song. “I’m still holding out hope that the legal system will end up at the right place,” Mr. Robertson added. “Sometimes it takes a while with new technologies.”"
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Ben Sisario, New York Times; Digital Music Pioneer Is Found Liable in Copyright Suit:
Sam Roberts, New York Times; Seeking a Town on the Border of Fiction and Reality:
"Last week, a reporter for The New York Times noticed a mention on Twitter about fake towns, which mapmakers would invent to guard against copyright infringement. An Internet search turned up Agloe and the Google map, complete with the driving directions. Agloe was a mapmaker’s creation. “It wasn’t uncommon for cartographers to put something fictitious so if they spotted another work with it they knew it was lifted,” said William Spicer, the president of Maps.com. Among those countless copyright traps, Agloe achieved a rare distinction: The name stuck. As early as the 1930s, a fishing lodge named Agloe opened nearby (which later helped Rand McNally successfully claim in a lawsuit that the Agloe on its own map had not been copied from Socony’s)."
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tamar Lewin, New York Times; Ex-Yale President to Join Online Education Venture:
"Richard C. Levin, who stepped down as president of Yale University in June, will next month become the chief executive of Coursera, a California-based provider of online academic courses... Mr. Levin, who has been an adviser to Coursera since January, has been experimenting with online education for years, beginning in 2000 in a partnership with Stanford and Oxford. In 2007, he started Open Yale Courses to make dozens of classes taught by Yale professors available without cost. “The main thing we will work on is to establish this model so our partner universities feel that offering large-scale MOOCs is an important part of their mission that helps faculty expand their reach, and benefits the world,” Mr. Levin said. Mr. Levin, who has extensive experience in China, will also work on expanding Coursera’s presence there. Already, he said, China is the second-biggest source of Coursera enrollment, after the United States."
Emily Heil, Washington Post; Steven Tyler tells Congress to walk his way on copyright:
"Onstage, with a view of the Capitol in the background, Tyler capped off a few days of lobbying with renditions of hits like “Cryin’” and “Dream On,” to a crowd of suits who looked like they were reliving their high-school days. The musician spent his visit to Washington meeting with members of Congress to talk about stronger protection for songwriters in the copyright system, including against having their work used, willy-nilly, in samples or mashups by other artists. Tyler insisted in an interview before the show that he just wants to be a passionate voice in Washington for songwriters — not just the “rich rock stars” like him. “Hopefully, I can touch them, like a modern-day Will Rogers,” he says, evoking the folksy actor-turned advocate of the 1920s and ’30s. “He’d stand up and speak and everyone would listen.”"
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times; Congress should bring copyright law into the 21st century:
"Congress updated copyright law in 1998 to address the nation's shift from analog devices and packaged goods — think turntables and vinyl records — to computers and e-commerce. Unfortunately, the law it wrote has proved to be a better fit for a dial-up era dominated by America Online, not broadband and the World Wide Web. The tools the law created to protect songs, movies, pictures and books from piracy have been no match for the rampant global bootlegging that new technologies have unleashed. At the same time, innovative entrepreneurs eager to help consumers create, store or share content online complain that the law left too much uncertainty over whether they could be held liable when their users violate copyrights. These are valid complaints, but Congress isn't likely to address them any time soon because there's no consensus among copyright holders and tech companies on how to rewrite the law. The only help from Washington at the moment is a new effort led by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to broker a deal between the tech and copyright industries on voluntary measures to reduce piracy. Although it won't be easy for them to agree, there are steps both sides could take to make the existing system work better."
Joan E. Solsman, CNet; Google, Viacom settle outmoded YouTube copyright suit:
"Google and Viacom have settled their seven-year copyright lawsuit, a nearly forgotten fight in which the central conflict has largely become an anachronism. Viacom, the parent company of such television networks as MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, sued Google shortly after the search giant's acquisition of YouTube. It claimed the sharing platform for user-generated videos hosted thousands of unauthorized clips. Google and Viacom putting the conflict to rest reflects how much the attitude toward online video has changed for traditional content companies, from one of protective wariness to one of essential opportunity. It also reflects how YouTube, over the course of many years, has improved its control over its platform, enabling it to work more beneficially with those traditional content creators. In a brief joint statement Tuesday, Google and Viacom said they resolved the suit, without disclosing any terms of the settlement."