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House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi
June 2, 2014 | 4:54 pm

We’ve covered the history of efforts to implement resale of digital goods before (more than once, in fact), and there’s been quite a discussion of why it would be a bad idea. Now it’s Congress’s turn to talk about it. Today a House subcommittee held a hearing concerning first sale and how it related to digital items. InfoDocket has links to the prepared remarks of a number of the attendees, as well as the opening statement by Representative Bob Goodlatte. Noting the importance of the first sale doctrine, Goodlatte said Although some legal doctrines...

Apple anti-trust plaintiffs want summary judgment on damages, trial to stay where it is
March 10, 2014 | 1:04 pm

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly has details on the plaintiffs’ latest filings in the Apple anti-trust case. In brief, the attorneys argue that Judge Cote has enough evidence to decide on Apple’s damages in summary judgment, without needing a trial. It’s already a well-established fact that consumers were harmed; the only question is how much the damages should be, and most experts, including Apple’s own, tend to come pretty close to the same figure on those. They also reject Apple’s request to separate the trials and move them back to their original venues. It’s too late in the game...

SFWA to participate in Copyright Office orphan works roundtables
March 9, 2014 | 5:42 pm

The SFWA actually can do some useful things when it’s not getting embroiled in scandals. A press release on its web site notes that former SFWA President Michael Capobianco will be attending some US Copyright Office roundtables on the problem of orphan works on March 10th and 11th. The problem posed by orphan works is becoming more obvious the longer copyright lasts. However, the SFWA suggests that the problems may not be as severe as some copyright reform advocates claim. The SFWA’s full position on the orphan works matter is laid out in a white paper (PDF) that it...

Commercial drone use apparently legal in US after all…for now
March 7, 2014 | 6:09 am

Amazon Delivery Drones Remember that story I wrote the other day about the FAA’s restrictions against commercial use of drones? Motherboard reports that a federal judge has dismissed the FAA’s first (and only) case against someone making commercial use of a drone. 29-year-old Raphael Pirker, fined for filming a commercial at the University of Virginia, contended that the FAA has never actually issued any binding regulations restricting commercial use of drones, and the judge agreed. Though the FAA issued a policy notice in 2007 ostensibly making them illegal, the notice was only advisory and not actually legally...

Apple files opening brief in e-book anti-trust trial appeal
February 26, 2014 | 7:12 pm

Ars Technica reports that Apple has filed a 75-page opening brief in its appeal of Judge Cote’s decision finding it guilty of engaging in a conspiracy with the publishers to help raise prices. The Ars article has a reasonable summary of Apple’s arguments. Fundamentally, many of them are the same arguments that lost it the case in trial court: it just negotiated the most favorable contract for itself, and couldn’t be blamed for what the publishers, busy little bees that they are, imposed on other retailers. It acted to increase competition by making it possible for new players...

FAA failure to keep up with commercial drone use could prevent innovation
February 25, 2014 | 5:59 pm

drone delivery At the risk of droning on, it seems like there has been a lot of news involving drones lately. We covered Amazon’s announcement of package delivery (someday) via drones, and some responses to it. Clearly, drone services could fill the middle range between snail-mail delivery and electronic downloading: a physical good that reaches you quickly. And that is not even considering the other potential uses, such as aerial photography. But that is in the nebulous future. What about now? Well, the problem with drone use right now is that commercial drone use is technically illegal—the...

Judge Cote assigns anti-trust monitor mediator, warns Apple against withholding documents
February 21, 2014 | 3:46 pm

The Apple anti-trust affair proceeds apace. In the wake of the appeals court decision allowing the monitor’s work to go ahead, Andrew Albanese reports at Publishers Weekly, Judge Cote has assigned a magistrate judge to act as a first-line mediator to resolve any disputes between Apple and anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich, subject to appeal to her. (It’s the same magistrate, Michael Dolinger, who was also assigned to arbitrate the matter of Bromwich’s fee, so apparently his brief has been widened.) Cote also told Apple it needs to go ahead and fork over all the documents Bromwich requested by February 26th....

What you should know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership
February 21, 2014 | 1:27 pm

freetradepanelWe’ve mentioned the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty in passing, but in case you’re wanting to find out more about these treaties and why they might not be such a good thing in general, you might want to take a closer look at this. I’ve run across a great explanation in the form of a 27-page online comic book that explains exactly what trade agreements in general are supposed to do, what they actually end up doing, and what we know about the TPP. The biggest problem with these treaties is that they basically override nations’ laws—but unlike those...

Appeals court denies Apple request to stay anti-trust monitor
February 11, 2014 | 11:23 am

The appeals court has issued its ruling on Apple’s request to have the anti-trust monitor stayed in the e-book price-fixing anti-trust trial. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple’s appeal has been denied. That being said, the appeals court did issue what it saw as instructions “narrowing” the monitor’s focus. The monitor is, the court said, supposed to make sure Apple has an anti-trust compliance program in place and that employees are being taught about what it means and how it works. He is not supposed to rummage around looking for violations of anti-trust or other laws. In the two-page document (PDF), court...

Appeals court exhibits healthy skepticism about all sides of Apple antitrust monitorship dispute
February 4, 2014 | 6:33 pm

One of the things that bemuses me about the Apple antitrust trial is the polarization you get from observers of the case. It seems like everyone (including, admittedly, me) either believes Amazon is a saint and Apple and the publishers are the devil, or vice versa. Nowhere is that more clear than in the coverage of the hearing today on whether to stay the external compliance monitorship. Depending on who you read, either “Apple gain[ed] no sympathy” at the hearing (WSJ, paywalled; get around it with Google News) or “The odds are in Apple’s favor today” (Fortune, with Apple partisan...

Apple antitrust plaintiffs ask for $840 million in damages
February 3, 2014 | 3:43 pm

The Apple e-book case proceeds apace. The class plaintiffs filed a brief asking for summary judgment of damages and putting forward their estimate of the final damage to consumers as being between $231 and $280 million—18.1% of the revenue taken in from e-books during the period in question. With the treble damages, that means Apple could be on the hook for as much as $840 million altogether. Apple has, of course, objected to the estimate, and seeks to bar the testimony of Stanford economist Roger Noll who came up with it. Though, as plaintiffs’ lawyer Steve Berman pointed...

Wearing Google Glass to a movie theater leads to interrogation by federal agents
January 21, 2014 | 2:23 pm

google-glass-prescription-lenses-900-80Here’s an article that points out a problem that will only become more common as wearables do. A member of the Google Glass program had prescription lenses on his Glass, and wore them everywhere as his regular glasses. He didn’t have any other prescription glasses, so he wore them to a movie, with the Google Glass part turned off. He’d been to an AMC theater with the Glass three times, but this particular time (watching the new Jack Ryan movie, no less) a federal agent came in, plucked the glasses off his head, and proceeded to accuse him of...