Senator Ron Wyden was first to submit legislation on unlocking cell phones.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has recently become a hot topic in Congress. The renewed interest is the result of a “We the People” petition that successfully reached the required number of signatures to merit a response from the White House. The petition, titled “Make unlocking cell phones legal,” said, “We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal.” The White House fully agreed with the petition, responding, “It’s time to legalize cell phone unlocking,” and adding, “if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network.
Within days of the White House’s response, lawmakers were rushing to offer legislative fixes compatible with the petition. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was the first to introduce a bill, the Wireless Device Independence Act (S.467), which would create a permanent exemption for unlocking. Most recently, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced legislation, cosponsored by four other senators from both parties, that would reverse the Library of Congress’s decision and restore the exemption.
But many proponents of the original petition reacted negatively to these legislative proposals. Derek Khanna, for example, one of the most public advocates of cell phone unlocking, said of the legislation that “the worst … approach would be to simply reverse the decision of the Librarian of Congress and provide a temporary ‘exception’ for three years and let the Librarian rule on this again in three years.”
Jerk.com is one of those sites on the Internet that is the poster-child for everything wrong with the anonymity of Internet communications. Shrouded in the secrecy provided by the Internet, anonymous cowards become emboldened to say vile things and stoop to ridiculous lows — even publishing pictures of minors and asking the Internet community to vote on whether the minor is a jerk. That is the business Jerk.com is in, and they refuse to remove any profile that has been created regardless of the vile, anonymous comments that have been posted.
An earlier edition of the Jerk.com “REMOVE” page explained:
No one’s profile is ever removed because Jerk is based on searching free open internet searching databases and it’s not possible to remove things from the Internet. You can however use Jerk to manage your reputation and resolve disputes with people who you are in conflict with.
That obviously ridiculous and inaccurate statement of fact and law has been watered down now, but based on what I hear from those who feel aggrieved by Jerk.com suggests that their philosophy seems to continue to be that no one gets removed. Jerk.com almost seems to play the part of victim, suggesting that it is impossible to remove something from their servers. It is certainly possible for Jerk.com to remove a profile.
UPDATE: First, please realize that IPWatchdog is not in any way affiliated with Jerk.com. We are a blog reporting on intellectual property and Internet issues. Second, since this article was initially published Amazon.com has severed ties with Jerk.com. Third, if you wish to try and get removed please see Jerk.com: Who to Contact to Get Removed (published on IPWatchdog.com 1/18/2013).
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Jerk.com is perhaps the most abusive and offensive website on the Internet. In addition to encouraging the voting on whether people are jerks they allow the most vile commentary to be published. I can’t think of anything else to call this other than cyber bullying. Not only are they engaging in widespread harassment of unsuspecting, innocent and helpless individuals — INCLUDING CHILDREN — but they are also engaged in widespread copyright infringement.
I have never had more e-mail inquiries from a single article than I received from the article I wrote just 5 weeks ago titled Using U.S. Copyright Law to Get Removed from Jerk.com. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it easy to get copyrighted materials removed from the Internet because if a proper demand is made and there is no removal than the entity that hosts the infringing content is liable for the copyright infringement. Webhosting companies are immune from copyright infringement lawsuits if they promptly remove infringing material when notified. For reasons I cannot explain Jerk.com has not removed copyrighted material even after being properly notified. What is more curious is that Amazon.com is hosting the Jerk.com material on its servers, which means Amazon.com has opened itself up to extraordinary liability. I know there are people already investigating class action lawsuits against Jerk.com, and Amazon.com will of course be made a party for their failure to take action where the law requires action to be taken.
UPDATE: First, please realize that IPWatchdog is not in any way affiliated with Jerk.com. We are a blog reporting on intellectual property and Internet issues. Second, since this article was initially published Jerk.com has moved it hosting at least several times. Third, if you wish to try and get removed please see Jerk.com: Who to Contact to Get Removed (published on IPWatchdog.com 1/18/2013).
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Jerk.com is one of those sites on the Internet that is the poster-child for everything wrong with the Internet and the anonymous communications that are so commonplace. The Internet is the refuge for cowards that wouldn’t have the guts to approach someone and say what they really feel to their face. Shrouded in secrecy provided by the Internet anonymous cowards become emboldened to say vile things and stoop to ridiculous lows — even publishing pictures of young children and asking the Internet community to vote on whether the minor is a jerk.
Jerk.com isn’t the worst website on the Internet by a long shot, but the arrogance with which the site is operated and the flagrant disregard for copyright law is astounding. It seems that anyone can anonymously post a picture of anyone else on Jerk.com, including pictures of young children, and then the voting begins with respect to whether that person is a jerk. All of this is done without the knowledge, permission or consent of the individual, or parents of young children. Once published, anonymous and sometimes vile comments are accepted and posted. Talk about cyberbullying! Disgusting!
According to the United States Chamber of Commerce “rogue web sites that steal America’s innovative and creative products attract more than 53 billion visits a year and threaten more than 19 million American jobs.” NY Times Letter, November 18, 2011. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to matter much to those who believe they ought to be entitled to take, use, copy and distribute things that they legally do not own. We live in the age of entitlement.
All you have to do is look around at the various “Occupy this” or “Occupy that” groups that pitch tents and live rent free for months right in the heart of a once thriving business district. For crying out loud these “Occupy” people don’t even pay for permits like government makes the rest of us law abiding citizens do. There is an alarming double standard growing in the United States and frankly it is rather disgusting if you ask me. Whether you want to believe it or not, billions of dollars every year are lost as the result of theft of intellectual property.
The digital age is upon us and there is no turning back. People all over the world are becoming increasingly connected via the global telecommunications network that we call the Internet. Perhaps the best, and certainly the most cited, definition of the Internet can be found in the now famous district court decision in American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F.Supp. 824, 830-31 (E.D. Pa. 1996), which defines the Internet as follows: “The Internet is not a physical or tangible entity, but rather a giant network which interconnects innumerable smaller groups of linked computer networks. It is thus a network of networks.”
This network of networks connects people from far away places as if they are in the next room. The Internet has revolutionized communications and the way we live, making virtual friends online that we are likely to never even meet; namely, those from far away locations that we share similar interests with and connect with via LinkedIn, befriend on Facebook or those we play fantasy sports in the same ESPN league. But for all the good and enjoyable that comes from the Internet there are ever present downsides. Loss of privacy, being constantly tethered to a machine or device and, of course, the crimes that become so much easier to perpetrate.
It seems that two or three times a week I am sending a DMCA take down notice to a website hosting company to complain about the blatant and willful copyright infringement certain customers of theirs are engaging in. They will literally cut and paste entire articles without as much as changing a single word. Copyright infringement is rampant on the Internet and if you are creating original content you must do something to inform yourself about what others are doing and take appropriate and immediate steps to get copyright infringers to stop.
By now you would expect that virtually everyone knows that you cannot cut and paste the work of others onto your website without their permission, but I am not sure that is the case. Whenever I talk to people about copyright law and the copyright infringement we deal with they ask “so they just copied your work without any link back to you?” In some cases I can answer that question “yes,” but in other cases the answer is “no.” It is amazing to me that people can actually think they can copy the work of others if only they provide a citations or link back.
The theft of intellectual property rights enabled by the Internet is growing to alarming rates. The primary concerns are digital piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods, and even medicines. For example, see Counterfeiting Costs US Businesses $200 Billion Annually and US Trade Representative Issues Annual Report on Global IP Rights. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves and try and pretend that the lack of respect for intellectual property rights is limited to those who seek to share movies, music or make a buck selling knock-off products. Everyone who produces original content on the Internet is at risk of having that content stolen; simply cut and pasted onto some other website or blog. Even if it is not passed off as original content and you do get “credit” the copyist is using your work for their own benefit. They are stealing eyeballs, diverting traffic and likely costing you money. At the very least, they are free riding, which is a hard pill to swallow.
On July 23, 2008, the United States Patent & Trademark Office published an interesting notice in the Federal Register reminding patent attorneys and patent agents that there appears to be widespread and open violations of the Export Administration Regulations within the industry. Shortly after the aforementioned Federal Register Notice was published I wrote, rather naively in hindsight, that this announcement “should signal an end to the $2.2 billion per year patent outsourcing to India.” See USPTO Ends Patent Outsourcing to India.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened. It seems more and more patent outsourcing is occurring, despite the fact that it is against the law, which seems to bother no one; that is no one other than those in the industry that are losing their jobs to the shoddy work provided by outsourcing companies in India. But what of the ethical concerns? What about the conflict of interest nightmares that India presents? What about the lack of respect for intellectual property rights? Everything seems to be fine and dandy, and likely will remain so right up until things are neither fine nor dandy, but by then it will be too late.
Perfect 10, Inc., the former publisher of Perfect 10 Magazine, is back at it with Google over whether Google’s display of certain images of scantily clad women infringes the copyrights owned by Perfect 10. Perfect 10 created and sold pictures of nude models through a now defunct print magazine, and now creates and sells pictures through a password-protected subscription website. Simultaneous actions are pending in both United States and Canada, each with recent rulings over the last two weeks, with a ruling in Canada on July 18, 2010, and a ruling on Google’s motion for summary judgment in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on July 26, 2010.
On July 18, 2010, Perfect 10 announced that the Canadian Federal Court denied Google’s attempt to dismiss Perfect 10’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Google in Canada. “We are heartened by this ruling,” said Dr. Norm Zada, President of Perfect 10 and a former professor at Stanford and Columbia Universities. “The court rejected Google’s argument that Perfect 10 could not sue Google in Canada because Perfect 10 was in litigation against Google in the United States,” said Zada. “Perfect 10’s case against Google in the United States has been going on for almost six years,” Zada added.
Last week Dow Jones & Company filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that Briefing.com is misappropriating headlines and articles content. According to the complaint filed, Dow Jones Newswires is a family of electronically-delivered proprietary news services that provide paid subscribers with a constantly-updating feed of breaking news and financial and business information. The complaint goes on to explain that Briefing.com, without permission from Dow Jones and without compensating it, systematically copies verbatim or nearly verbatim substantial portions of Dow Jones’ copyrighted articles from the Newswire service and distributes them in competition with Dow Jones to Briefing.com subscribers and to other vendors. The complaint alleges that in some cases the republication and distribution occurs within a minute or two after the article is published by Dow Jones. In just one two-week period, Briefing.com copied a substantial portion of at least 100 articles and republished more than 70 headlines within three minutes of the initial publication on Dow Jones Newswires. Dow Jones alleges that this conduct violates Dow Jones’ copyrights and also amounts to “hot news” misappropriation.
Every once in a while we do an Internet search to find out what is out there quoting to IPWatchdog.com or me personally. We also try and make sure that others are not infringing upon our works by republishing our content without permission. It is flattering in one sense to have people want to steal your stuff and copy it without permission, but that is, of course, copyright infringement. I authorize some republication, but not much any more. Search engines, particularly Google, punish websites for identical content being on multiple websites. That has been and to some extent still is a tell-tale sign to Google that you are trying to manipulate their search rankings via other than preferred means. So the republication, particularly when not authorized, is something that I do not tolerate. I have even started sending out DMCA takedown notices as appropriate. See Sample DMCA Take Down Letter.
It just came to my attention earlier today that someone had copied an entire article from IPWatchdog.com and posted it to their own website last week. How is it possible that anyone doesn’t realize that you just cannot do that? More likely, it is known that you cannot do that but people do it figuring they won’t get caught. One of the most frequent questions I would get from my former law students was “how do you ever learn that someone is infringing”" or “how would you ever know what someone it thinking?” For those areas of law where motive matters, luckily those who are malicious also tend to be rather stupid. While they don’t necessarily need to tell you they fired you because you are African American, female or disabled, so many people revel in their own bigotry (and stupidity) and just cannot help themselves. That is a special kind of hate, when you cut your nose off to spite your own face. In the intellectual property context it frequently isn’t as easy to spot infringement unless you are vigilant, search and survey what is out there at any given time.
The recording industry has scored gold in its court battle withUsenet, which advertises itself as a massive online file sharing community. See: Arista Records v. Usenet, 07 Civ. 8822 (S.D.N.Y. June 30, 2009) The case, filed back in 2007, pitted the record companies against Usenet, with the recording industry alleging widespread infringement of copyrighted recordings through downloading over the Usenet network and Judge Harold Baer agreed, finding Usenet guilty of direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
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