Friday, August 19, 2005

Update on ClearPlay

I stumbled on this article in Slate and it seemed to contradict my point in one of my favorite posts. On reflection I realized that actually the two pieces actually harmonize quite well.

It did make me wonder whatever happened in the ClearPlay litigation. As the company's site describes it,
ClearPlay has developed a unique DVD parental control technology that enables users to skip and mute segments of movies that contain graphic violence, nudity, and profanity.

The seven major Hollywood movie studios, along with fifteen prominent film directors and the Directors Guild of America have joined their collective resources to sue ClearPlay in an attempt to strip American families from their right to use ClearPlay enhanced parental controls within the privacy of their homes.

Oddly enough, the timeline of the court case on that site ends in 2004. But judging from the firm's selection of news stories on another page of its website, the company evidently anticipated that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act may have made the litigation irrelevant.

Not that ClearPlay doesn't have other problems -- like a patent suit that's scaring off some partners. While it's one thing to edit the sludge that oozes out of Hollywood, editing your own press releases and website -- which make no mention of the progress of either the copyright litigation or the patent claims -- seem like less of a great idea in the long run.

So we did a little research on PACER. Turns out that the patent litigation is going full-bore, pay- for- your- lawyers'- kids'- braces,- college- and- medical- school- tuition patent litigation in the Southern District of Florida -- so much so that not only the ClearPlay website but the Nissim website fall far short of even alluding to the whole story. (See the extended entry on my blog for the docket report -- it doesn't format so great but you'll get the point down toward the bottom, if you like this sort of thing.) Nissim is represented by my old friend (from a case we worked on together -- not that he'd remember) Steven Pokotilow; I don't know the ClearPlay lawyers.

And the copyright litigation? Turns out it was dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction in light of the new legislation just two days ago, the court declining to issue an advisory opinion (essentially what ClearPlay was requesting), as federal courts are wont to do. Looks like ClearPlay was hoping for a little icing on its copyright cake, and maybe some attorneys' fees thrown in, in the copyright litigation (in the U.S. District of Colorado) considering what looks like a shellacking it seems to be receiving in the Florida patent case. But that was not to be.

As for me, I support their project, separate and apart from the legal issues -- the copyright issue now being moot (and my heart does not bleed for copyright owners here!), and the patent issue looking like a bloody mess. And it's not all bad for ClearPlay in the patent department. As long as the legal fees don't destroy the viability of the business, ClearPlay could be a company to watch.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Darknet for all within months?

Can lawsuits or a new push for legislation be a fix for an easy to use anonymous Darknet file-sharing program? I think it will take more than Grokster or the Induce Act to deal with this...

Software that will allow people to anonymously swap music and other files on the Internet could render copyrighting of songs and movies obsolete by year's end, a creator [of Freenet] said. A test version of the "darknet" software was made available on a Freenet Project website early Wednesday and a refined edition could soon be ready "for general consumption," Ian Clarke of Freenet told AFP. The software is intended to allow computer users worldwide to exchange files online in a way that hides them from industry investigators, vindictive politicians and others, Clarke said. Music recording industry goliaths have fought to crush such renegade file sharing, which they claim fosters piracy of copyrighted material by musicians. Darknet software has so far been treated as a tolerable bane by copyright defenders because programs have been difficult to use and limited to sharing between groups of no more than five or 10 computer users. "We've devised a way you can have a darknet with potentially millions of users," Clarke said. "We hope we will have something suitable for launch this side of Christmas."

And another thing...why are people/news articles still saying things like this: "Music recording industry goliaths have fought to crush such renegade file sharing, which they claim fosters piracy of copyrighted material by musicians." Is there still really a debate about whether file sharing fosters copyright infringement? Maybe I'm missing something. There have been questions about the extent to which widespread file sharing has hurt industry profits and to what extent file sharing benefits society as opposed to how badly it damages the music & film industries, but not about whether file sharing fosters piracy. That much seems pretty clear. Let's be a little more intellectually honest people, please.

Stealth online use by Christmas: software designers - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Likelihood of Confusion by Ron Coleman: Good News: I Saved a Lot of Money on Litigation

Looking for the Geico v. Google decision? Here it is.

UPDATE: I didn't exactly mean more litigation -- but I guess we shouldn't be surprised.