Quote of the Day - Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win
Trying to Stop Streaming VideoIt's a battleground out there. Here are the players: Bob Berman, counsel for Acacia Media Technologies Corporation in one foxhole, and the Electronic Frontier Corporation and the American Council on Education in the other.
The issue? A patent for streaming media.
Acacia claims it owns (i.e. bought) the patent, and 48 colleges and universities use streaming media to deliver classes to the masses. Acacia initially went after adult entertainment sites (provide your own link here - I wouldn't dare to presume). However, in a preliminary ruling in Acacia's dispute with adult entertainment sites last month, a federal judge ruled that several terms in Acacia's patents were indefinite, a verdict that could weaken potential Acacia cases against other streaming video users.
Here's Dennis Crouch's take on it in the Patently Obvious blog.
The schools are crying foul, claiming that they don't have enough money to pay every patent holder that comes along. Berman, on the other hand, claims that "many colleges have patented technologies that their research departments have gotten issued," he said. "On the one hand, they like the revenue they make from their patents. On the other hand, they're saying we should allow them to ignore ours."
ACE and EFF have advised the schools not to pay. Acacia says it will sue.
Any bets on who picks up the gauntlet first?
Rhett Rolls Over In His GraveLate last month MIPTC covered movie filtering. It's now taken a step further.
The House Judiciary Committee just approved movie filtering legislation.
It's on to the full House from here, and then later, on to the Senate if it passes the House. Family organizations are solidly behind the Family Movie Act. Free speech advocates are against it.
Conventional Wisdom indicates that approval is forthcoming. Sabrina has some great links on the subject.
Imagine scenes you're used to. "Frankly, my dear [Scarlett], I don't give a bleep."
It's a brave new world out there.
Blame McDonald's? Try Blaming Your ForkAdmittedly, I used to be overweight. Ok, fat. All right, obese. Within a couple of points of diabetes.
I've admitted to it before. Back in September. Good news, though, I've lost 25 pounds. Off to a good start. Just a few more (say another 25+ to go).
But, as you know from looking around, I'm not the only one. And, there a lot of Plaintiff's lawyers who try to help overweight people blame others. Like McDonald's. And, to prove their point, they sue. But as we've already seen, obesity cases get dismissed.
After all, does the responsibility lie with the people that sell us the food, like McDonald's, or the people that put the food in our mouths? (As a side note here, I guess this argument is not much different than the argument over guns and criminals). If they can't sue McDonald's does that mean they next try to sue the farmers?
It appears that Illinois has the solution. No more lawsuits against a restaurant for injury resulting from weight gain, obesity or any other related health condition. Well, that ought to put the responsibility back where it belongs.
Right on our fork.
But not to worry. The government has seen to it that obesity can be covered by Medicare. At least that takes care of those eligible for that coverage. What about the rest of us?
Never fear. Congress is about to pass the "Cheeseburger Bill." No, not Bill Clinton, who loved chili cheeseburgers.
It's the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act.
Raise your fork, and support your Congressperson.
Form Over Function Wins AgainYou've always wondered, so here it is: mannequin heads can be copyrighted.
There it is. To be copyrightable, the heads can't be useful. How's that for a conundrum?
Actually, the court decided that the case turned on the issue of whether the heads were sculpture or not. The heads took 18 months to design, and had the "hungry look" of a runway model.
Presumably, this look was designed to make the mannequins more attractive, and it apparently worked. So well, in fact, that the defendant in the case was accused of violating the copyright on the "hungry look" mannequins. The defendant responded with the allegation that the copyright on those mannequins was invalid, arguing that mannequins were not copyrightable because they were useful, not a type of artwork.
Thus, the debate over usefulness or sculpture.
Always nice to know that beauty wins out over function.
Maybe It Doesn't Flow DownhillCalifornia and Vermont have the same problem, but have chosen different ways to deal with it.
California has elected to propose a new law, and Vermont has elected to burn it for energy.
We're talking manure here.
In California, the manure releases ammonia, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter (aka dust). In Vermont, it probably does the same thing, but rather than regulate it, Vermont intends to produce more energy.
Interesting approaches to the same problem. No one's asked me, but I like Vermont's choice.
Drop Any Calls Lately? Blame Your NeighborhoodYou buy a nice house, live in a nice neighborhood, and life is wonderful.
You get some cell phone coverage at your house, but it's not the best. You complain to your carrier, and maybe they put in a nearby cell phone site.
Not everyone's happy though, there in mild-mannered suburbia.
Lately, there's been a lot of static over the location of cell phone sites.
The battle cry is NIMBY. There are others, however, who like the idea.
Whatever side you fall on, there are those that claim the RF signal is bad for our health. From at least this writer's perspective, the jury's out.
The more immediate issue seems to be the view of cell phone towers dotting the landscape. Cell phone companies understandably want more towers, we all want better cell phone coverage, but not everyone likes the way towers look. That means complaints to the government, and of course litigation.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors denied MetroPCS' application for a new cell phone site, and not to be dissuaded, MetroPCS sued, claiming discrimination. The case, MetroPCS Inc. v. City and County of San Francisco, is pending before the 9th Circuit. We'll keep an eye out for you.
Meanwhile, as Jimmy Buffet says, "If the phone doesn't ring, it's me."
How to Hire a Lawyer?Here's an idea. Lawyers for Less (can you spot the typo in step #3?). Yep, an online service designed to get a market quote for you if you need legal services. It's a variant of the not-so-popular Prepaid legal service where you give the company your money every month, and when you need legal help, a lawyer will write a letter for you, among other things.
I guess these services have their place, but they've done little to change the industry as a whole. Mostly, they're lawyer advertisements.
The trouble comes, though, when you need more than the quote or the prepaid service is designed to cover. Then you have to pay the going rate.
Then where are you?
Live, From Las Vegas, It's the BlogOver the last few days, this blog has been coming to you live from Las Vegas, and in particular the Bellagio hotel. Today, for the first time, I've been able to go wireless, thanks to Bellagio Business Services Manager LeCheyva Smith, and several of Bellagio's highly qualified internet technicians, and specifically Greg, who took the time to convert fiber optic signal to my wireless router (yes, I carry one with me).
My compliments to the whole team. They went above and beyond the call of duty to help out just one of their guests. It's a rarity to find one person at a hotel that will help, let alone five. Bellagio should give this team a raise.
Thanks guys! It's working great.