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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...

Tarantino suit of Gawker over link to leaked script may be capitalizing on Streisand Effect
February 3, 2014 | 12:40 pm

tarantinoQuentin Tarantino got so upset that someone leaked a copy of the script for his next movie, The Hateful Eight, online that he announced he would not be making that movie after all. He got further upset when he found out that celebrity/tech news site Gawker’s “Defamer” blog actually linked to file locker sites where the script could be downloaded. So, he is now suing Gawker. Tarantino’s suit claims that Gawker itself posted the leaked script to those sites, which Gawker editor John Cook insists is false. In the end, the suit comes down to “contributory copyright infringement”—the same...

Department of Justice files objection to temporary Apple antitrust monitor stay
January 24, 2014 | 9:18 pm

The filing doesn’t seem to be on PACER yet, and I haven’t been able to find any other link to the filing, but in keeping with the declared deadline of close of business Friday, the Department of Justice has filed its opposition to Apple getting a temporary stay of the anti-trust monitor. CNET and the Wall Street Journal have the coverage and some quotes from the filing. CNET: "In any event, the district court did not exceed its authority in ordering an external monitor for Apple or abuse its discretion in declining to disqualify the...

French ‘Three Strikes’ law fails to cut piracy
January 23, 2014 | 7:32 pm

Remember that French “three strikes” law, Hadopi? Ars Technica reports that a recent study has shown that it has had no significant effect in getting people to stop downloading content illicitly.  In the survey of 2,000 French Internet users, 37.6% admitted to illicit downloading. Those who knew about the Hadopi monitoring were no less likely to download illicitly, though there was a slight (but “insignificant”) decrease in the intensity of their downloading. (And the people who knew it was monitoring thought it was monitoring more than it really was!) There was a slight bump in sales, but that was considered...

Publishing should create ‘new ecosystem’—but can it?
January 22, 2014 | 3:04 pm

What is the answer to allow publishers to compete in the new world of the Internet on their own terms? On Futurebook, author Jeff Norton proposes that the publishing industry should do what the airline industry did in creating Orbitz, or the broadcast TV industry did in creating Hulu: create their own “arms-length new [venture] to offer credible and compelling services to consumers.” He writes: It strikes me that since the major publishers are facing a dominant digital player, there's an opportunity to form a new, arm's length e-reading ecosystem complete with site, device, and apps. ...

Appeals court issues temporary stay of Apple antitrust monitorship pending hearing the appeal
January 21, 2014 | 4:39 pm

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals just issued a temporary stay (PDF) of the antitrust monitorship over Apple pending further review by a three-judge panel. As I understand it, this isn’t really a full victory for Apple so much as it is a standard part of the process of appeal; they’re staying the monitorship only until they can hear the appeal in full. At that point they will decide whether it gets a permanent stay. There’s really not more to report than that right now. Even news sources like the New York Times simply follow it up with a...

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...

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR
January 18, 2014 | 2:14 am

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because “time shifting,” recording a program off the air to watch it later, was fair use, and thus the VCR had substantial non-infringing purposes. Ars Technica has a feature article looking at the context of the decision in greater detail. This decision is crucial to...

Opinion filing details Judge Cote’s rationale for denying stay of Apple monitor
January 17, 2014 | 1:31 pm

Ever try to give a cat a bath? That’s the experience Judge Cote seems to be having trying to get Apple to play nice with its court-appointed antitrust monitor. She finally filed her opinion (PDF) on the decision she issued concerning Apple’s move for a stay and removal of Michael Bromwich yesterday. Computer problems at her court had prevented it from being filed earlier (PDF). The decision weighs in at a whopping 64 pages. As with her original decision in the matter, Judge Cote clearly didn’t want to leave anything to chance in the appeal. Over the course...

Judge Cote denies Apple request for stay and removal of Bromwich as monitor
January 14, 2014 | 10:17 am

Well, that went about as expected. Judge Cote made her ruling yesterday turning down Apple’s request for a stay of, and preferably the dismissal of, its court-appointed anti-trust monitor, Michael Bromwich. She hasn’t issued her opinion yet; I’ll keep checking throughout the day to see when it appears and update the story accordingly. [Update: Rather than update this post, I wrote a whole new one about it.] Reuters has a fairly sparse writeup, but Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly comes through with considerably more detail. The judge essentially demolished Apple’s arguments, noting that Bromwich’s actions were indeed in...

Yelp ordered to reveal identity of seven anonymous reviewers
January 11, 2014 | 4:21 pm

yelplogoA Virginia appeals court has sided with the trial court below it in ruling that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven anonymous reviewers who posted negative comments about a carpet cleaning service. The owner of the service, Joe Hadeed, believed that these users were not actually customers of his service (which would violate Yelp’s terms of service), and indeed they could all be one person with multiple sock-puppet accounts (despite Yelp’s slogan of “Real People. Real Reviews”), so he had his attorneys issue a subpoena requesting their names. The court said that, while users have first-amendment rights to...