Pirate Bay Co-Founder Arrested in Cambodia

By | Intellectual Property | No Comments

With human trafficking, genocide, terrorism, etc., you have to wonder about the misplaced priorities that have targeted Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg for copyright infringement. Yes, the Cambodian government has arrested him with plans to extradite to Sweden so that prison time can be served.

What’s intriguing is that there’s no Swedish-Cambodian extradition treaty in place. Makes you wonder if a diplomatic carrot (bribe) was offered by the Swedes to bring this intellectual property rights menace to justice.

To be sure, protection of copyrights and other intellectual property is important. But in the grand scheme of things, this is hitting a fly with a sledge hammer…and ignoring the fact there are billions more pirates around the planet. It’s an example of silliness rather than copyright protection.

Internet Attorney: Website Intellectual Property Infringement

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

Based on what I’ve seen online as an Internet attorney, I have to ask…Is your website two tacos short of a Mexican combo platter?

Back in the Stone Ages when I attending law school, there was an important U.S. Supreme Court decision about “borrowing” that involved two local Mexican restaurants. Two Pesos essentially copied Taco Cabana. We’re talking everything from restaurant layout to colors to menu. Except for the names, the taco joints were pretty much identical (and decent cheap Tex-Mex too).

Taco Cabana successfully sued Two Pesos. By the time it was over, Taco Cabana owned Two Pesos.

What the heck does this have to do with your website?

The same type of copying occurs almost on a daily basis on the Internet. Competitors rip a website layout and even borrow a few photos to use on their own websites. Article writers and unethical copywriters “borrow” content.

Intentional or not, this is intellectual property theft. Once an Internet attorney gets involved, claims for copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement are common in these cases.

On March 8th, a Seattle-based online jewelry retailer sued a Brooklyn-based competitor, claiming that the competitor had improperly taken photos and other aspects of its website to use on a competing site. Regardless of the outcome, there’s a good chance both sides will spend over a $100K in legal fees. That’s in addition to any damages awarded or settlement.

Moral of the story? Make sure that you own the content on your site and have the legal right to use the images (such as stock photos, logos, and order buttons).

And just in case you’ve accidentally got infringing content on your site that you don’t know about, you’ll want to make sure that you include the right website legal documents, including a DMCA Notice. One of the best things about a DMCA Notice is that it makes it easier for the parties involved to resolve their differences instead of heading directly to court for a nasty expensive battle no one wants. As always, if you have any specific legal issues, talk with your Internet attorney.

Seth Godin Jumps the Shark

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

seth-godinFrom permission marketing fame to cyber greenmail shame, Seth Godin has finally jumped the shark. Spinning it as SEO reputation management is a kind way of describing this scam. What Godin has done is launched Brands in Public. Sounds innocent enough? Hardly.

Godin has put together hundreds of Squidoo pages for companies with major brands. A complimentary service? Done with permission? No. The aggregated content on these pages are determined by Godin/Squidoo…unless your company is willing to pay $400 per month in “greenmail” to control the content and spin it.

“If your brand wants to be in charge of developing this page, it will cost you $400 a month.” – Seth Godin

Because Squidoo pages rank high in the search engines, Godin is essentially telling these companies to fork over the money or have their online reputation interfered with by him because he’s using their keywords/brands to drive a lot of traffic to Squidoo.

From an ethical standpoint, there’s little separating what Godin is doing from cybersquatters who sit on domain names filled with the companies’ brands demanding unreasonable sums. Morally, it is similar to competitors  using the companies’ brands as keywords in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to drive traffic elsewhere. The main difference is the dollar amounts involved. Let’s say that 500 companies give in to Godin’s demands and fork over $4800 a year. That’s an additional $2.4 million in revenues generated simply using the “pay me or else” method of marketing.

Is this legal? I’m sure a few of the companies will be discussing the matter with their Internet and trademark attorneys.

Is it ethical? No.

I’m disappointed in Seth Godin.

You should be too.

Recommended Reading: Seth Godin Tries Out Brandjacking

Coupon Copyright Infringement Case Gets Legal Defense

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

dmca-foolI previously wrote about the absurd Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement lawsuit against John Stottlemire. Unfortunately for Stottlmire, the Coupons.com suit continues.

However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley have filed friend-of-court briefs on his behalf that argue in part that the DMCA does not apply to Stottlmire’s activities and that he is protected by the First Amendment. You can read more about it in David Kravets’ excellent post at Wired.com, “EFF and U.C. Berkeley Defend Accused Coupon Hacker in DMCA Suit.”

To recap, the DMCA is a bad law that was passed by Congress thanks to large campaign contributions (bribes?) by the Hollywood entertainment industry. Stottlemire is just the latest victim.

As noted by the photo of a court jester above, I wish this Read More

Copyright Infringement – Will DMCA Coupon Case Be Dismissed?

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

John Stottlemire has just struck back in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement case filed against him by Coupons, Inc. (coupons.com). Stottlemire is seeking dismissal of the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or summary judgment in the alternative. He’s also seeking Rule 11 sanctions against the other side.

You can read more about the case in my prior post: DMCA Infringement By Deleting Files On Your Computer?

The personal attacks one sees on Stottlemire are irrelevant.

The point that needs to be repeatedly made is that the DMCA is bad law, paid for with campaign contributions, and should be repealed immediately.

Stop RIAA. Stop MPAA. Stop the Inquisition.