Friday, August 30, 2013

Best Response Ever to a Cease-and-Desist Letter?

Apparently the American Bankers Association (ABA) thinks it owns the copyright in federal bank routing numbers.  These are the numbers that appear on the bottom and sometimes the top right of checks that identify the check writer's bank

The ABA sent a cease-and-desist letter to Greg Thatcher, whose web site listed and indexed the routing numbers, and demanded that he take down the numbers. (After a 1991 Supreme Court decision, most competent copyright lawyers would never even have made such a claim, but never mind.)

Mr. Thatcher obtained pro bono counsel to represent him.  That lawyer, Andrew Delaney, wrote one of the best responses to a cease-and-desist letter ever.  On the merits, the letter points out that (1) things like routing numbers aren't subject to copyright protection, (2) since the numbers were published without a copyright notice starting in 1911, any copyright would be lost for numbers published during the time the 1909 Copyright Act applied, and (3) Thatcher's use of the numbers would be fair use anyway.

But the best part is the humor in the letter.  Especially the footnotes.  Such as footnote 7:  "And we went to law school, which just illustrates how gullible we are."  And then there's the closing offer to accept service of process on behalf of Thatcher:
If you do feel it's necessary to sue our client, we are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and we have lollipops for people who serve process.  So if you do file a complaint and send someone over with a summons, please have them wear something with a bit of purple . . . we all like purple.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Mathematician, a Physicist, an Engineer, a Computer Scientist, and an Economist Attempt to Split a Check

A mathematician, a physicist, an engineer, a computer scientist, and an economist attempt to split a check.  Nobody looks good, but perhaps the economist gets the worst of this story:
Economist: Let’s each write down the amount we’re willing to put in, then auction off the remainder at some point on the contract curve.

Physicist: Huh?

Mathematician: Like most economics, that’s just gibberish with the word “auction” in it.

"3 Reasons Why Every News Story Should Be About Ducks"

Cracked has a great article, "3 Reasons Why Every News Story Should Be About Ducks."  As the story says, "Yes, duck news is the perfect news."  We already knew that.  Here are the reasons:

     #3. Ducks Are the Roombas of the Animal Kingdom
     #2. Ducks Drain Humans All of Dignity
     #1. Duck News Represents an Ideal World

The explanations are worth reading -- they include some great stories about ducks.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Interesting TED Talk on Some Problems With IP Law

Here is an interesting TED talk on some problems with IP law.  It starts out by singing "Happy Birthday to You."  Don't sing along, though, you might get into trouble.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Opening Round Briefs in Second Viacom v. YouTube Appeal

The long-running saga of Viacom v. YouTube continues.  As you may remember, Viacom v. YouTube involves the liability of user-generated content (UGC) websites such as YouTube when their users post allegedly infringing content, and specifically how UGC sites can defend such liability using the "safe harbor" of the DMCA, 17 U.S.C. §512.  In June 2010, the district court granted summary judgment to YouTube on its safe harbor defense.  In April 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed much of the district court's reasoning, but remanded the case for further fact finding.  In April 2013, the district court again granted summary judgment to YouTube, and Viacom appealed yet again.

Viacom has now filed its opening brief.  Groklaw has a discussion of that brief here.  In addition, six amicus briefs have been filed in support of Viacom:

Groklaw's discussion of those amicus briefs is here.

YouTube's opposition brief is due on October 25, 2013.