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Orphan works copyright law controversy: Don’t panic!
July 20, 2015 | 9:30 am

It seemed important to lead with those two words, in large, friendly headline letters, based on the breathless “everybody panic!” takes that have been spreading around this matter lately. I’ve seen them popping up in my Facebook friends lists, and otherwise sensible people have been taken in—to the point where one of them ended up having to post a retraction after they read a more balanced take on the legislation involved. So let’s look at what’s going on. In June, the Registrar of Copyrights issued a 234-page report (PDF) on the problem of orphan works. Here’s a shorter article...

Appeals court upholds Cote’s Apple anti-trust verdict and settlement
June 30, 2015 | 11:50 am

Only last month, the 2nd Circuit appeals court said that anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich could continue to monitor Apple in a ruling on Apple’s appeal of Judge Cote’s refusal to dismiss him. Today, the same appeals court issued a similar ruling on Cote’s original verdict, which found Apple guilty of price-fixing and imposed the anti-trust monitor via injunction in the first place. The ruling was 2:1, with Judge Debra Ann Livingston writing for the majority, finding Cote’s decision was correct and the injunction was “lawful and consistent with preventing future anticompetitive harms.” Dissenting was Judge Dennis Jacobs, who oddly enough last time...

European Commission opens anti-trust probe into Amazon ‘most-favored nation’ policy
June 11, 2015 | 1:54 pm

That pesky most-favored nation clause in e-book contracts is rearing its head again, this time in Europe. The European Commission has announced it is opening an anti-trust investigation into Amazon’s practice of requiring notice when e-books sold on Amazon were sold more cheaply somewhere else so that it could price-match them there. EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said: "Amazon has developed a successful business that offers consumers a comprehensive service, including for e-books. Our investigation does not call that into question. However, it is my duty to make sure that Amazon's arrangements with publishers are not harmful...

Typo settles with Blackberry, stops making phone keyboards
June 2, 2015 | 6:20 pm

Don’t mess with Blackberry, even if you’re Ryan Seacrest. That’s the lesson Typo seems to have learned. After a lawsuit and an injunction, the company has reached a settlement with BlackBerry to stop selling its Blackberry-like smartphone Bluetooth thumb keyboards. It can still make keyboards for tablets, but its entire original raison d’être—to make a more useful smartphone keyboard—is now completely off the table. This seems like a pity for people who prefer the thumb keyboard style that’s so hard to find on non-BlackBerry touchscreen smartphones these days, but it can hardly be disputed that Typo made some pretty...

Apple anti-trust monitor can stay on, appeals court rules
May 28, 2015 | 1:37 pm

My, the squabbles between Apple and the e-book anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich have been going on for a long time, haven’t they? I can’t even keep track of how many shots and volleys have been fired back and forth. The latest news out of the case involves the appeal of Judge Cote’s decision not to disqualify Bromwich. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reverse Cote’s decision, so Bromwich stays on. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs found that some of Bromwich’s behavior (such as submitting an affidavit in conjunction with the plaintiffs’ legal brief) might be a little sketchy,...

Progress, Innovation and Regulation
April 22, 2015 | 12:25 pm

uberOne of the threats every emerging innovation seems to face this days is...well, it's being a threat. The status quo can be a comfortable place for those who are within its bubble, and when something comes along to challenge it, there is a trend to try and regulate it away. Whether it's Old-School Authors vs Amazon, Cable Television vs Netflix or Old-School Music vs iTunes, every time a new technology, app, business model or idea comes along, someone tries to squash it. Today's exhibit: Uber. The lift-sharing service is currently facing a lawsuit asserting that is violated the Americans with Disabilities...

Gen Con, other businesses displeased with new Indiana religious freedom law
March 26, 2015 | 2:36 pm

protestAs I’ve said before, Gen Con’s reputation as the largest gaming convention in North America eclipses its status as one of the largest writing conventions in North America, offering guidance on all aspects of writing and publishing. On Monday, March 23, Gen Con’s CEO sent a letter (PDF) to Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence, warning that a controversial religious freedom bill he was about to sign into law would affect Gen Con’s decision whether to stay in Indianapolis past the expiration of its contract in 2020. This morning, Governor Pence signed that bill. I covered the particulars in a post...

Wall Street Journal blasts Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich for overcharging, malfeasance
February 18, 2015 | 7:13 am

Well, there goes the Wall Street Journal again. In a paywalled opinion piece (just Google “All Along the Apple Watchtower” to read it), the Journal once again takes aim at Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich. The editorial complains, among other things, of Bromwich’s $1,100 per hour fee being too high, that he’s ranging farther afield than his mandate should allow, that he’s in bed with the Justice Department, and, of course, that he’s a close personal friend of Judge Cote. It really is a piece of work. For example, giving Bromwich’s rates in isolation, and the $2.35...

Appeals court judges ask probing questions in Apple e-book anti-trial case
December 16, 2014 | 7:56 pm

Yesterday, the appeals court heard testimony from Apple and the Department of Justice relating to the e-book anti-trust trial appeal. To my surprise, two of the three judges seemed amenable toward Apple’s point of view. They expressed concern over why the publisher collusion was such a bad thing when it was for the sake of stopping monopolist Amazon, and hinted that Judge Cote might have erred when she ruled that Apple’s behavior constituted a pro se anti-trust violation—a violation so obvious that it doesn’t need the “rule of reason” test applied to it. Apple attorney Theodore Boutros asked for...

Apple music DRM case wraps up with final witness
December 14, 2014 | 11:07 am

The Apple iTunes DRM case proceeds apace. After finding a replacement plaintiff to supplant those who were found not to have bought iPods during the required time period, the case moved forward, hearing reluctant testimony from a former iTunes engineer who worked on blocking the interoperability of competitors’ music DRM with iPods. (The engineer basically rehashed the same arguments Apple’s made all along: Apple had to lock out competitors because the music labels demanded it.) This was the case’s last witness; it will go to jury deliberations next week. As I’ve said before, this case could potentially have profound...

Judge Cote rules DRM removal for fair use is not copyright infringement
December 10, 2014 | 8:52 pm

The Apple anti-trust case continues to have some interesting fallout. The EFF today issued a press release concerning Judge Denise Cote last month dismissing some charges in a related case, trumpeting that Cote had ruled that stripping DRM for fair use purposes is legal. I’ve read the 20-page opinion, and I’m not so sure. Here’s what I know. The case pertains to Abbey House, the operator of the “BooksOnBoard” e-book store. In March, 2014, Abbey House (and two other defunct e-book store operators) filed suit against Apple and the Agency Five alleging that their implementation of agency pricing...

Connor Cochran rebuts Internet troll’s allegations over Conlan Press product delays
December 8, 2014 | 10:13 pm

connorUpdate: Cochran has determined the responsible party is not his former employee after all; said employee has contacted Cochran in such a way as to convince Cochran it wasn't him, and apologized for his prior behavior. Cochran reports that more evidence has emerged about who the responsible party actually is, and he has provided that information to his lawyers and instructed them to "go after him to the fullest extent of the law. It’s never easy to have to deal with trolls, and Connor Cochran, publisher of Conlan Press, best known for publishing works of Peter S. Beagle including The Last...

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