In October 2011, an online marketplace for reselling pre-owned digital music emerged. The founders of this online marketplace aptly named it ReDigi. In January 2012, ReDigi was promptly sued by Capitol Records for copyright infringement. Despite reassurances from ReDigi that its software required users to delete copies of the music before being allowed to sell it to another user, the court did not consider that safeguard relevant. The court found that the copyright holder’s reproduction right was being infringed regardless. This paper examines the intersection of the law and science in copyright law. Specifically, it presents a technical way of looking at the reproduction right by explaining how digital files are stored in data storage devices and transferred over the Internet by electromagnetic signals. Ultimately, this elucidation undermines the reasoning used by the court to reach its conclusion. While ReDigi modified its software implementation to skirt any further reproduction right problems, this paper suggests ReDigi should not have had to be so obedient.
3-D Printing Your Way down the Garden Path: 3-D Printers, the Copyrightization of Patents, and a Method for Manufacturers to Avoid the Entertainment Industry’s Fate
What happens when a home user can scan and print a physical item, or download plans to print a physical item from the Internet, as easily as he or she can rip and share a song or movie? With home 3-D printers on the horizon, the question will begin to ring louder. Manufacturers of tangible goods should heed lessons learned about infringement of music, movies and books when these 3-D printers arrive in homes across the country. A key lesson learned from peer-to-peer file sharing of digital content is that once a technological monopoly (being the only one who can efficiently produce an item) on a protected item falls, the legal monopoly of intellectual property law is insufficient to protect property rights. Once efficient and inexpensive 3-D printers arrive, businesses can (1) shift to a market or bifurcated model in pricing goods, (2) seek to persuade people not to misuse intellectual property for moral reasons, (3) seek to use the judicial and legislative systems to (temporarily) slow sharing of protected designs, or (4) fade away. This article argues that the third solution (using the courts and legislatures to protect the legal monopoly once the technological monopoly is lost) sets a price on violations while removing any moral disincentive, and that only a combination of the first two methods—moral persuasion and market model pricing—will in fact protect tangible goods manufacturers from catastrophic losses.
FOSS (free/open source software) is a growing player in the end-user market,
as evidenced by the popularity of everything from Wordpress to Firefox. One of its key appeals to developers is the egalitarian nature of its “access for everyone” model, which allows everyday users to develop and share tweaks that make the program more useful to them. In executing these goals, however, developers can often get lost in the world of legalese surrounding available FOSS licenses. Often, developers choose a license without a full understanding of its contents, or even attempt to draft their own. One of the biggest risks in the wording of a license is that of the “condition”/“covenant” dichotomy. Incorrectly worded, a covenant-based license runs the risk of foreclosing copyright-based remedies and limiting the scope of arguments available when a user breaches a program’s license. In approaching the choice of which license to apply to a new program, then, both developers and their attorneys should be aware of the critical importance of its choice of words.
The dawning of the information age, coupled with a greater understanding of the value of intellectual property, has increased the quantity of proprietary information businesses choose to keep as trade secrets. An often-underappreciated cost of trade secrets is the effect they have on the employment relationship – they frequently result in employers and employees involving themselves in convoluted legal and contractual relationships beyond their own expectations or comprehension. Further complicating the matter is the Economic Espionage Act (“EEA”), which increases the stakes of employer-employee conflict by criminalizing the misappropriation of trade secrets. This note provides a primer to help both employers and employees deal with the specific issues trade secrets frequently create in the employment relationship, first by outlining the current status of trade secrecy law, then by examining how the EEA is changing the trade secrecy landscape, and finally by providing a practical summary of best practices.
In 2010, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, who combined to form Live Nation Entertainment. This paper revisits the Department’s antitrust analysis from its merger investigation in light of recent trends in the live music industry. It explores alternative theories of antitrust scrutiny that the Department either did not emphasize or omitted discussion of. Finally, it concludes that the merger posed a more significant threat to competition than the Department acknowledged, and that the remedies the Department imposed as conditions on the merger were insufficient to preserve effective competition in the relevant markets. The Department missed a tremendous opportunity to establish long-term competition in the nascent market for vertically integrated services. Artists, competing service providers, and ultimately consumers are worse off for it.
This Article shows how the maturing technology of three-dimensional printing can be used to construct an enforceable open hardware license. Open hardware lacks the legal tools which allow the easy implementation of enforceable open source software licenses. As such, existing licenses cannot successfully implement open hardware principles. The author proposes the “Three-Dimensional Printing Open License” (the “TDPL”). The TDPL draws on the unique characteristics of three-dimensional printing to construct a license that incorporates enforceable documentation, attribution and copyleft provisions. As the technology of three dimensional printing improves and is gradually integrated into a broad range of industries, the scope of the license’s application will increase.
Does copyright law protect graffiti? Preserving graffiti art and protecting it against unauthorized reproductions are growing concerns in the art scene. This article argues that copyright law should cover graffiti works because copyright should be neutral towards works created by illegal means. Because copyright should only be concerned with protecting expression, material transgressions related to the physical embodiment of an artistic work should not exclude the work from copyright protection. This is true even under an incentive-based copyright system, such as the one established by the United States Copyright Act. Illegal graffiti works are creative acts that fit within the scope of promoting “the progress of Science and Useful Arts,” as stated in the United States Constitution. Moreover, protecting graffiti may incentivize graffiti artists to create more legal works. This article analyzes the challenges that artists face when enforcing their rights in their graffiti, both under the Copyright Act and the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA).
In July 2011, a consortium of major content providers and Internet service providers announced their intention to implement the Copyright Alert System, a graduated response plan aimed at stemming online copyright infringement by individual users. While other commentators have examined the rise of these systems abroad and certain potential issues with the implementation of such measures in the United States, little has been said about the antitrust implications of a private system of copyright enforcement. This article recounts the history of online infringement leading up to the Copyright Alert System and then analyzes the system from the perspective of antitrust law, taking the position that the system announced raises significant antitrust concerns. The article concludes with recommendations for improving the current system to protect the rights of consumers.
In recent years, politicians, academics, and industry professionals have argued vehemently that copyright protection should extend to cover fashion designs, which are currently excluded under the “useful articles” doctrine. Copyright in the United States is built on economic principles and aims to incentivize innovation. After reviewing the legislative history and other arguments made by proponents of fashion copyright, a different picture emerges: supporters of fashion copyright view fashion as “art” and feel a sense of harm when it is cheaply or slavishly copied. Even if designers feel no economic harm from the copying of their creations, they are morally harmed by it. Perhaps then moral rights law, not copyright, provides the appropriate theoretical framework in which to analyze the extension of further protections to fashion design.
Work as Weapon, Author as Target: Why Parodies That Target Authors (Not Just Their Works) Should Be Fair Uses
In April 2011, comedic musician “Weird Al” Yankovic sought Lady Gaga’s permission to release his song “Perform This Way,” a spoof on Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” that parodied the artist herself, rather than the original work. But did he even need Gaga’s permission to borrow from her hit song? Courts have only recently begun to consider whether to treat these “author parodies” more like traditional parodies, satires, or something else entirely. The Supreme Court and the circuit courts have yet to address the issue, and the few district courts that have weighed in have propounded opposite holdings. Given the prevalence of author parodies such as “Perform This Way” in popular culture, how the law eventually decides to view these distinctive works will have significant implications for authors and appropriators alike. This article presents both an economic and legal argument for privileging author parodies in a fashion similar to parodies of a work.