Entries Tagged as 'Law'

MPAA gets fed a little bit of their own copyright medicine

MPAA had a toolkit that was based on Xubuntu. By Ubuntu’s license, you must share the source of derivative works (got to love GPL). Well, it seems like after calls and emails and lack of response, an Ubuntu developer did the “obnoxious behavior” of contacting the ISP that hosted the file had a DMCA takedown issue issued.
What’s interesting is that you would have thought an organization that has made their reputation known by enforcing copyright, did not in fact follow the same copyright procedures on the same. There has been a lot of other contraversy surrounding the development of this software as being misleading. Mantech International will probably be pushed to abide by these copyright notices but at the moment, it seems like the MPAA website has the link down.
Curious as to what this toolkit did? And why it raised a lot of privacy concerns until this little ironic twist happened? Take a look.

Texas school district tries to sue blogger parent

This just screams of people that listened to their attorneys and those that didn’t do their own homework. Currently, the allegations are that the parent committed libel on her blog citing sixteen different counts, where half of them are done by anonymous commenters.
Not including the obvious that governments can’t sue for libel which already has precedence set, there was one very obvious case in Dimeo vs Max (2006). In this case, there was a portion where anonymous commenters wrote some nasty things about Dimeo’s PR firm. But here lies the crux of it:

Dalzell concluded that the immunity applied to bar DiMeo’s libel claims because “Max did not create the anonymous posts. The posters authored them entirely on their own.”

Under the Communications Decency Act, Section 230 protects Internet providers (including bloggers) from libel. There is no action taken that wouldn’t stifle free speech. What’s also interesting is this part of it where Judge Dalzell cited ACLU vs. Reno (1996):

“Some of the dialogue on the Internet surely tests the limits of conventional discourse. Speech on the Internet can be unfiltered, unpolished, and unconventional, even emotionally charged, sexually explicit, and vulgar — in a word, ‘indecent’ in many communities. But we should expect such speech to occur in a medium in which citizens from all walks of life have a voice,” Dalzell wrote.

All of this doesn’t say that the parent did not commit libel, but from a case scenario, there is strong legal backing in an arena where other bloggers have fought and won. Setting precedence is key in the world of law, and the Texas school district (which is funding the suit with district funds) will have a tremendous PR issue chasing after this based purely on the fact that other parents might find it discouraging that district funding is being used in a lawsuit instead of promotion of education.

Blogger wins rights as journalist in court battle

A South Carolinian blogger has won for all bloggers due to the judge ruling against the plaintiff’s attorney due to abusive practices. What’s definitely interesting is this bit:

“It’s not the format it’s the content and intention that make text journalism / reporting.”

Meanwhile, this doesn’t mean that you cannot be sued for defamation. It also doesn’t mean that you are not bound by rules and can go off on this, that or the other thing. However, it does say that bloggers can act as journalists even though it’s a different medium, and are protected as such. Critical reporting does not equate to defamation in this case. And because of it, it sets an incredible precedence.

Sony anti-piracy chief says you steal if you copy one track. Period.

piracy.jpg Sony anti-piracy chief, Jennifer Pariser, says that if you copy one single track from any medium even if you bought it, you’re stealing
What’s interesting is that people have such short memories when it comes to hypocritical items that pertain to the same subject. You want a double standard? How about the lecture that Warner Music’s CEO gave to one of his kids almost a year ago because they were pirating music?
Let’s be fair now. If those in the RIAA want to chase people down for “theft” then justice must be served too right? Send one of those kids to the slammer along with the rest of the people. If that child only got a lecture then everyone else should only get that too. It’s amusing that people find it to be okay as long as it doesn’t pertain to them. Be consistent in my opinion.

Your rights to refuse to show receipts at stores

If you didn’t know this already, here’s a little tidbit of information for you. You know how certain electronic stores (such as Circuit City or Best Buy or others) ask to see your receipt and items? If you don’t show it, they have no legal right to detain you unless they suspect you of shoplifting. Then the search can only be done by a police officer. Even a police officer has no right to ask for your driver’s license (this is news to me) if you’re not driving a vehicle.

When a police officer arrived, Righi refused to hand over his driver’s license and the officer arrested him. Righi maintained police had no right to ask for a driver’s license from a person not driving a car, a contention backed up later by legal experts.

I’m no legal expert, but that’s in accordance to those that have a better background in law than myself that have participated in the discussions on this topic. Exceptions to the rule? Wholesale clubs have membership rules that require the receipt check.
Go figure that. Of course, unless you’re a super “rights” freak and you have to fight the man all the time, it’s probably easier to get on with your life by flashing that little piece of white paper.

US Chief of Copyright doesn’t even own a computer

copyrightoffice.jpg I thought this was incorrect, but it boggles the mind hat it’s what the article in CNET says. Marybeth Peters, the chief of the U.S. Copyright Office is a self-proclaimed luddite and doesn’t own a computer.

“It does bring attention to certain activities that maybe aren’t so great,” said the self-proclaimed “Luddite,” who confessed she doesn’t even have a computer at home. “In hindsight, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”

This is plainly scary. It’s like having an Latin professor teach electronics and try to tell you what a race condition means. If anything, there sounds like there’s a serious problem with qualification in my personal opinion.
Why? Well, DMCA (of which she is speaking of in the article) talks about copyright dealing with…. go figure… computers. Just understanding the copyright doesn’t mean that you actually understand it, just like a motorcycle mechanic doesn’t necessarily know how to race a motorcycle. From a standpoint of a technology user, I find this as a gregarious error and one has to wonder if it’s not politically motivated. Why can’t governmental offices work like the GAO? Can you have a househusband make crème brûlée better than a dessert chef? Sure. But the odds aren’t in his favor.

Sales tax craziness

Recently purchased something online and they broke out the sales tax to state and county. Did you know there was a county sales tax? For items (non-real estate or vehicles).
I sure didn’t. So when I got hit by the break out, while purchasing something online, I was like: “What the…. What is this Forsyth County sales tax? Grrr..”
After several calls where both the county and city levels never heard of such thing, I was referred to the Department of Revenue (state level). Go figure that the sales tax that you pay on your receipt is a combination of both state and county level sales tax. Most vendors just don’t break it down for you. Forsyth County happens to be 2.5%.
Crazy isn’t it. I never knew about the break down. Apparently some people at the county and city level didn’t either. Good thing to know.

Viacom says that local blogger infringed on his own copyright

Christopher Knight, one of our own.
It seems like Viacom’s legal staff didn’t do due diligence, at least in my opinion. So long story short, Chris made a commercial for a Education Board position last year, that Viacom got a hold of (without permission) and made fun of it on one of their shows. Chris got a clip of the show that made fun of his commercial and posted it. Well apparently, he got served up a copyright infringement notice for content that was pretty much his own commercial?! Interesting.
I’m no attorney, but it sounds like a huge boo boo on behalf of Viacom. On top of that, The Knight Shift got Slashdotted. Heh. Gotta love the Internet.
Talk about a big oops.
Update (4:58PM): BoingBoing picked it up too. There is some commentary on how “fair use” should be used. This is where an attorney’s interpretation would come in since you can’t direct post other people’s copyrighted materials but with enough critique, it would have been probably okay. Many have pointed a finger saying that Knight should have done what other YouTubers have done in the past (which is critique the Web Junk 2.0 bit). Whatever happens, it’s still interesting that our little bit of the world is getting noticed on a bigger scale for a split second.

City of Asheville fines TNT over display of American flag

americanflag.png Usually, I praise Asheville on how their downtown is but I refrain from speaking of their politics since I don’t particularly care for how the city is managed. But this last Fourth of July, there was an incident that just perturbs the heck out of me.
TNT Fireworks has to my knowledge, always erected the American flag above their fireworks tents. Yet the City of Asheville is fining TNT for flying the American flag due to a sign ordinance that bans signs above any commercial structures including flags. $100 a day apparently.
What?!?!
What’s even more annoying is that this sign ordinance has been around since 1997 and they’re just now enforcing it against temporary commercial structures such as fireworks tents? Come on. That’s a symbol of the freedom we have and do fight for. The city states this comment:

“We ask that people display the flag respectfully.”

They believe that there might be a violation with federal guidelines of how the flag is displayed. Yet, there is nothing under US Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 that to my reading TNT has violated. If anything, they perhaps would be violating Section 6, if you deem a tent as a “building” of which that’s up to legal interpretation. Either way, in my eyes and many other Americans, it seems awfully ridiculous and makes the City of Asheville look terribly bad.
TNT is currently appealing the fine.

When police don’t like skateboarders…

While I don’t know what the law is about skateboarding in Hot Springs, Arkansas and if there was previous interaction with the police that these teens had going on that could have lead to their arrest, it’s interesting that the videographer actually didn’t do anything that I could tell as depicted as resisting arrest, battery, and some other charges that the officer was saying they violated.


I could be wrong, but I thought most people upon arrest were supposed to be read their Miranda rights? Maybe not. Maybe some police officer could shed some light on it. In any case, while the runner was definitely someone that shouldn’t have done what they did, and there seemed to be more than meets the eye since it was purely an anti-police message right from the start. But if you look at the video with objectivity, the police officer still seems to be quite aggressive towards the teens, especially the videographer since he seemed to be just standing around but protesting a little bit.
I’d love to hear the side of an attorney or police on if the actions were well within the bounds of the officer or if they seemed too aggressive. A copy of the police report would definitely be interesting too just to see what exactly the charges were against the teens and how they broke the law from law enforcement’s eyes.