Linking should infringe?

Judge Posner (of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the USA) writing extra-judicially on his blog has stirred up a maelstron in the blogosphere with a typically  thoughtful and provocative post contending that linking to websites should be copyright infringement. (At the time of writing, there are only 211 comments!)

Less contentiously (at least in terms of blogosphere reaction), Prof Becker’s reaction is that newspapers are doomed:

That the Internet is a more efficient provider of news and opinion than newspapers is seen in the fact that hardly anyone under age 40 now reads papers. Readership is also declining among older persons ….

Although the printed newspaper industry is doomed, and will be missed by those of us that remember newspapers in their heyday, they are being replaced by good substitutes in the form of blogs, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, online news gathering by various groups, including newspapers, and other electronic forms of communication. People in democracies will continue to have access to independent and often quite accurate, reports on events in their own countries and most other parts of the world.

from The Social Cost of the Decline of Newspapers? Becker

Marty Schwimmer rounds up some of the reaction to Judge Posner.

Judge Posner has seized on what is widely seen as a crisis in the newspaper industry. That crisis has led Rupert Murdoch and Associated Press, in particular, to start waging a public relations war against Google. The difficulty is, if they really don’t want the links (and all the incoming traffic), they can block them quite simply.

Read Danny Sullivan’s thoughtful expose of the threadbare nature of these Emperors’ clothes: esp. here and here.

(ps Of course, here in Australia, you do have to be careful you are not linking to websites that contain infringing content themselves – Cooper v Universal.)

Google’s trade mark policy

Yesterday (in the USA) Google’s new trade mark policy and complaint procedure came into force.

All the details here.

Australia is still in the regions where both text and keywords are monitored.

Lid dip @TrademarkBlog (aka Marty Schwimmer)

Terms of Service Tracker

The blogosphere ‘lit up’ and Facebookers (?) went on the rampage when it emerged that Facebook was unilaterally changing its terms of use (and not telling anyone) – Facebook: All Your Stuff is Ours, Even if You Quit.

Jonathon Bailey at Plagiarism Today looks at the EFF’s new TOSBack so you can keep up to date with how your service provider is “shifting the goalposts”.

Google, for example, amongst other things insidiously changed “Terms of Service for Blogger.com” to “Blogger Terms of Service”. (Vote of thanks to whichever Supreme Being I’m following today that I don’t use Blogger!)

All joking aside (and remembering the outrage at Facebook – hope Twitter doesn’t own all my tweets?), this could be a very practical tool.

p.s. Facebook did allow its outraged users to set up a community on Facebook to campaign against the change.

Googling it …

From the blogsite:

We started with a set of tough questions:

  • Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?
  • Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?
  • What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers’ current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms? 

After months holed up in a conference room in the Sydney office … And now, after more than two years of expanding our ideas … Today we’re giving developers an early preview of 

Google Wave

Wave

Lid dip @joshgans; Where Tim O’Reilly sees it fitting in (via @dhowell via Dennis Kennedy via Shelley Powers). Mashable here and here.

“All of a sudden we realized we were in the auction business.”

The Annual Meeting of the American Economics Association tries to work out how Google works or how AdWords changed the world:

here

A tidbit:

During the question-and-answer period, a man wearing a camel-colored corduroy blazer raises his hand. “Let me understand this,” he begins, half skeptical, half unsure. “You say that an auction happens every time a search takes place? That would mean millions of times a day!”

Varian smiles. “Millions,” he says, “is actually quite an understatement.”

Lid dip @joshgans

wolfing it down, er, up

Wolfram Alpha, a new search engine that attempts to answer questions, not “just” provide a list of potentially relevant websites.

According to the website:

You enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and growing collection of data to compute the answer. 

Perhaps rather more sexily, ask it what the answer to life, the universe and everything?

The Daily Telegraph has a video.

Lid dip, Joshua Gans (try his other examples).

Google’s sale of keywords could be trade mark use

Well, strictly speaking, the 2nd Circuit in the USA has held that Google’s sale of keywords may be use in commerce.

Rescuecom had sued Google for trademark infringement by selling advertisements (sponsored links) triggered by Rescuecom’s trademark. The District Court had dismissed the claim on the grounds that Google’s conduct was not use in commerce. So now it goes back to the District Court.

Of course, Google’s conduct, if were done in Australia or transacted with a business located in Australia, would be in trade or commerce for the purposes of the Trade Practices Act. In context, however, the nearest analogue under our law is whether or not the conduct might be “use as a trade mark” (in the sense of using the sign in the course of trade) for the purposes of s 120 of the Trade Marks Act.

Professor Goldman considers the ramifications under US law (and the distinguishing of WhenU) here.

Domain names and regulatory requirements

If the (US) FDA requires you to include information about the risks of using your drug and Google’s AdSense has a 95 character limit, what do you do?

Prof. Manara explores how companies, particularly pharmaceutical companies, are using domain names to ensure that their online presence doesn’t contravene regulatory requirements such as FDA requirements to include information about risks in materials advertising drugs.

Blogger (Google) and the DMCA

Plagiarism Today considers Google’s new Blogger contact form for DMCA notfications here.

Adwords and Keywords

Prof. Gans over at CoreEcon takes issue with Eric Clemons’ paper in which Prof. Clemons appears to be arguing that Google’s business model – using sponsored links and paid advertising triggered by keywords and the like – is based on misdirection.

Now, if Prof. Clemons were right, that could be a reason for contending that the use of trade marks in keywords etc. is (at least) misleading or deceptive conduct. But, as noted, Prof. Gans puts a very big question mark over this.

Now, neither of the Professors is dealing with the legal arguments, but I do wonder why people would click on (keep clicking on) Google’s sponsored links on the scale which they apparently do if the sponsored links etc. were in fact misdirecting them.

Whatever happened to the case which the ACCC brought against Google here? 

IPKat overlooks the work in progress in the EU here.