Google has apparently filed three patents relating to free wi-fi.
Techdirt has a nice posting about the liability of wireless access point owners for illegal or infringing conduct carried out by other people accessing the Internet through their access point. Seems that some individuals may be purposely leaving their access point open (in other words, leaving encryption turned off) so that they could (1) cast doubt that infringing activity conducted using their Internet connection was conducted by them and (2) assert the benefit of “common carrier” defenses available to ISPs and other telecom companies for infringing content transferred over their network. Could it be that we’ll all end up with free wi-fi everywhere we go because people open up their wi-fi routers in the belief that it will help protect them from lawsuits filed by the recording industry? Of course, sharing or reselling Internet connectivity may be a breach of a user’s terms of service from their upstream ISP. But that may or may not be determinative of the potential defense. In any event, an interesting argument.
One of Linksys’ most successful products has been WRT54G/GS/GL. Some would say this is because the router (well, at least the original versions and the current GL version) software was based on open source and a large community of third party developers has been developing new applications for the box. Two popular sources of replacement firmware for the WRT54 have been OpenWRT and Sveasoft. However, the two are now engaged in a fight and OpenWRT (whose software is licensed under the GNU General Public License) recently terminated Sveasoft’s license to use any component of OpenWRT.
A US court has issued a preliminary injunction against Google in respect of its creation and display of thumbnails in its image search service. The court found that such action likely breaches the copyright in the original full-sized images and would not likely fall within any fair use exception. The plaintiff is a company called Perfect 10 – which produces a magazine and website featuring nude models (OK, its not sex but including the word in the title increases interest in the post). Apparently, by accessing the Google service using a mobile phone, users can save a copy of the thumbnail image to their phone, in competition to a commercial subscription service offered by Perfect 10.
Continue reading Google, Sex and Intellectual Property Rights
Walt Disney, Time Warner and three other major film makers are suing Samsung Electronics over a DVD player (DVD-HD841) that was discontinued over a year ago. Apparently the DVD’s copy protection mechanism (region encoding and HDCP bypassing) could be circumvented by hackers by entering certain codes using a remote control.
From Spotlighting News
Techdirt has a posting about another situation where someone is trying to use the DCMA for a purpose other than what it was intended (to prohibit breaking security mechanisms that were put in place to protect copyrighted content such as music and movies). The latest example is a company called Tracfone that sells subsidized pre-paid cell phones that is apparently using the DCMA to sue another company that is unlocking its phones. See EFF for the full story. A copy of the complaint, in PDF, is available here.
The IP Counsel Blog has a posting about running auctions for patent prosecution work. According to the posting, this technique was successfully used by Tyco International Ltd. which held an e-auction to find the lowest law firm bidders for its business – further details in In How Low Would They Go? appearing in this month’s IP Law & Business (although I couldn’t find the article).
The World Association of Newspapers (a Paris-based group which represents 18,000 newspapers) is reportedly considering suing search engines in respect of their use of headlines and photos from Web publishers without permission or payment. This presumably is not based upon the indexing of publisher sites for use in providing results in response to search requests, but likely relates to the use of limited excepts of publisher content in news aggregation services. According to ZDnet, Agence France-Presse has already filed suit against Google, alleging that Google News offers its photos and stories without permission.