Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
October 31, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 298.
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District Court Enjoins AOL in AMP Infringement Action
10/25. The U.S. District Court (CDCal) issued its Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction [PDF] in Playmedia Systems v. America Online. This is a copyright infringement action in which PlayMedia alleges that AOL's use of PlayMedia's AMP software infringes its copyright.
AMP decodes digital audio filed compressed in MP3 format. AOL asserted that it is licensed, through its acquisition of NullSoft, which had entered into a licensing agreement with PlayMedia. PlayMedia argued that AOL's use of AMP software exceeds the scope of this license. The District Court found that PlayMedia established probable success in proving that AOL is exceeding its license.
The order states that "America Online, its subsidiaries, ... are enjoined during the pendancy of this action, from (a) copying the AMP® computer software owned by Plaintiff PlayMedia Systems, Inc. or any derivative of the AMP® computer software including without limitation Nitrane (collectively "AMP®") into AOL 6.0 or any other computer software application other than Winamp; (b) creating derivative works based upon AMP® other than for use in conjunction with Winamp; (c) distributing AMP® with AOL 6.0 or any other computer software application other than Winamp; (d) purporting to license to any third party the right to copy, distribute or in any other manner use any version of AOL 6.0 that contains AMP®; and (e) permitting any user of AOL service from completing an online "session" on the AOL service without AMP® being removed from the user's copy of AOL 6.0 by means of an AOL online "live update." "
See, D.C. No. CV01-3506 AHM (Ex), Judge A. Howard Matz presiding.
9th Circuit Rules on Implied Licenses to Copy
10/30. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Foad v. MGA, a copyright case involving a project plan for a shopping center, which turned on the Appeals Court's interpretation of whether an implied license to copy existed.
Foad Consulting Group prepared a preliminary and revised plot plan for a proposed 45.5 acre shopping center in Arroyo Grande, California, pursuant to contracts with a developer, GenCom. GenCom then transferred its rights to develop the project to Claire Enterprises, which in turn, hired Musil Govan Azzalino (MGA), another architectural and engineering firm. MGA used and copied much of Foad's prior plans. Foad registered a copyright in its work.
Foad filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court (CDCal) against MGA alleging infringement of its copyright in the shopping center project plans that it had prepared. The District Court granted summary judgment to MGA. It based its decision upon the merger doctrine (i.e., that courts will not protect a copyrighted work from infringement if the idea underlying the copyrighted work can be expressed in only one way, lest there be a monopoly on the underlying idea). Foad appealed. MGA argued the merger doctrine and fair use on appeal. The Appeals Court affirmed, on grounds not raised by the parties -- implied license to copy.
The Appeals Court wrote that "The Copyright Act permits copyright holders to grant nonexclusive copyright licenses by implication. But whether a copyright holder has properly granted another a nonexclusive license by implication is a matter of state contract law, provided that the state law does not conflict with the Copyright Act or its underlying policies. In this case, the February 1996 contract granted GenCom an implied license to copy and adapt Foad's revised plot plan and to publish the resulting derivative work in aid of constructing the project for which it was designed."
While this is a copyright case, the opinion of the Appeals Court is largely a discussion of contract law. The Appeals Court stated the issue as follows: "Which law, state or federal, governs the creation of an implied, nonexclusive copyright license?" It concluded that "while federal law answers the threshold question of whether an implied, nonexclusive copyright license can be granted (it can), state law determines the contract question: whether a copyright holder has, in fact, granted such a license."
Judge Betty Fletcher wrote the opinion of the Appeals Court. An incensed Judge Alex Kozinski wrote a separate opinion in which he concurred in the result, but not the implied license analysis. He wrote that it is "dangerous" to base an opinion on an argument not raised by the parties. He also disputed the majority's analysis of contract law.
More News
10/30. The Copyright Office published a notice in the Federal Register regarding royalty payments for retransmission of over the air broadcast signals. The notice "directs all claimants to royalty fees collected under the section 119 statutory license in 2000 to submit comments as to whether a Phase I or Phase II controversy exists as to the distribution of those fees, and a Notice of Intention to Participate in a royalty distribution proceeding." Comments and Notices of Intention to Participate are due by November 29, 2001. Reply comments are due by December 31, 2001. See, 17 U.S.C. § 119. See also, Federal Register, October 30, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 210, at Pages 54789 - 54791.
10/29. The NTIA published in its web site the fall issue of the NTIA Spectrum News.
USTR Zoellick Addresses WTO Round and Tech
10/30. USTR Robert Zoellick gave a speech in Washington DC to the Council on Foreign Relations titled "The WTO and New Global Trade Negotiations: What's at Stake". He advocated a new round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, and addressed provisions regarding electronic commerce, information technology, and intellectual property rights.
E-Commerce. Zoellick stated that "The WTO rules also need to be updated to tap the potential of high tech innovations and e-commerce. Transactions over networks are providing enormous growth opportunities for any service that can reach customers electronically -- be it retailing, financial, information, or entertainment services. The opportunity for developing countries is vast -- providing them with new, more efficient means to reach global markets for products and services in which they have a competitive advantage."
Information Technology and Developing Nations. "One of our primary objectives in launching a new global negotiation is to use trade and openness to bring new opportunities and new hope to the poorest among us," said Zoellick. "The flagging fortunes of so many developing nations, coupled with the difficult economic times, underscores the importance of launching new global trade negotiations. The trade liberalization ushered in by the Uruguay Round highlights the potential of more trade for developing nations. In the six years following the round's completion, exports from developing nations grew by nearly $1 trillion, to a level of $2.4 trillion. Last year, developing countries exported $73 billion worth of information technology to the United States -- a 43 percent increase since 1996, the year before the multilateral Information Technology Agreement had been implemented."
TRIPS and Pharmaceutical Patents. Zoellick stated that "the Bush Administration is implementing a flexible policy on intellectual property as it relates to medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and other pandemics. This flexibility ... enables countries and companies to help deal with this tragic pandemic by encouraging low-cost access to critical medicines. At the same time, the preservation of intellectual property rules ensures incentives to develop medicines and biotechnology that can help us cure and treat diseases that have plagued humankind since our origin. I recognize that some of the least developed countries in the WTO find it difficult to fully comply with the pharmaceutical patent rules governing world trade. In response to these difficulties, the United States has proposed granting the least developed countries a 10-year extension, to 2016, to come into full compliance with all pharmaceutical related patent obligations under the TRIPs agreement."
Japan. After delivering his prepared speech, Zoellick said that he is "extremely disappointed" by Japan's lack of effort in building support for launch of a WTO round of negotiations. See, State Department release.
President Bush Issues Directive on Student Visas
10/29. President Bush issued his Homeland Security Presidential Directive-2, which pertains to "Combating Terrorism Through Immigration Policies". The purpose of the directive is to diminish abuse of student visas by aliens in the U.S. It also addresses the use of databases, merging of databases, and data mining, to identify potential terrorists.
The Directive states that the U.S. "benefits greatly from international students who study in our country. The United States Government shall continue to foster and support international students." However, the "Government shall implement measures to end the abuse of student visas and prohibit certain international students from receiving education and training in sensitive areas, including areas of study with direct application to the development and use of weapons of mass destruction."
Database Technology. The Directive also instructs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to "make recommendations about the use of advanced technology to help enforce United States immigration laws, to implement United States immigration programs, to facilitate the rapid identification of aliens who are suspected of engaging in or supporting terrorist activity, to deny them access to the United States, and to recommend ways in which existing government databases can be best utilized to maximize the ability of the government to detect, identify, locate, and apprehend potential terrorists in the United States."
The Directive continues that "Databases from all appropriate Federal agencies, state and local governments, and commercial databases should be included in this review. The utility of advanced data mining software should also be addressed. To the extent that there may be legal barriers to such data sharing, the Director of the OSTP shall submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget proposed legislative remedies."
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Wednesday, Oct 31
10:00 AM. The House will meet. It may take up the Aviation Security Improvement Act and the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2002.
9:30 - 10:30 AM. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chairman of the House Science Committee, will moderate a "webchat" with representatives of companies that address computer security. The participants will include John Conlin (COO of Vericept), Peter Tippett (Chief Technologist of TruSecure Corp.), Bob Brennan (CEO of Connected Corp.), Randy Sandone (CEO of Argus Systems Group), Buky Carmeli (Ch/CEO of SpearHead Security Technologies), Joe Magee (Chief Security Officer at Top Layer Networks, Inc.). The discussion will cover existing security and protection technologies, and steps federal government and industry are taking to ensure critical systems are protected. See, online registration page.
10:00 AM. The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to mark up several bills, including HR 556, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act. See, release. Location: Room 2128, Rayburn Building.
POSTPONED. 10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet will hold a hearing titled "An Examination of How the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Uses Federal Funds for National Public Television Programming." Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
Thursday, Nov 1
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold first session of a two day workshop to discuss the development of cryptographic key management guidance for federal government applications. Location: Administration Building (Bldg. 101), Lecture Room A, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD. See, notice in Federal Register.
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument in MCI WorldCom v. FCC, No. 00-1406. Judges Edwards, Williams and Randolph will preside. Location: 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.
10:00 AM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet is scheduled to hold a legislative hearing on HR 2417, the Dot Kids Domain Name Act of 2001. Location: Room 2123, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled an executive business meeting. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
11:00 AM. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of legislation regarding the problems of illegal gambling and to update gambling statutes to keep pace with new technologies. Location: Room 2226, Rayburn Building.
2:00 - 4:00 PM. The U.S. International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold a meeting regarding preparations for the 2002 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC). See, notice in Federal Register, October 17, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 201, Page 52825. Location: State Department, Room 1408.
2:00 PM. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearings to examine infrastructure security, chemical site security, and economic recovery. Location: Room 406, Dirksen Building.
2:30 PM. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Arden Bement to be Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will preside. Location: Room 253, Russell Building.
4:00 PM. The Cato Institute will host a forum on the book Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America. The speaker will be Jesse Walker (author) and Tom Hazlett (American Enterprise Institute). Reception to follow. See, Cato notice. Location: The Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC.
Friday, Nov 2
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will hold second session of a two day workshop to discuss the development of cryptographic key management guidance for federal government applications. Location: Administration Building (Bldg. 101), Lecture Room A, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD. See, notice in Federal Register.
9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral argument in COMSAT v. FCC, No. 00-1458. Judges Edwards, Williams and Randolph will preside. Location: 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC.
9:30 AM. The Center for Digital Democracy will hold a press conference titled "The Future of the Internet". For more information, contact Jeffrey Chester at 202 232-2234. Location: First Amendment Room, National Press Club.
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Wireless Telecommunications Practice Committee will host a luncheon titled "Secondary Markets: FCC Initiatives on Promoting the Lease of Spectrum." The speaker will be William Kunze, Chief of the Commercial Wireless Division. The price to attend is $15. RSVP to Wendy Parish no later than Tuesday, October 30. Location: Sidley & Austin, 1501 K Street, NW, Rm 6-E, Washington DC.