Feb 062013


In all, Retraction Watch published 22 stories on the implosion of Pottis career. In fact, three of the top four Google results for his name all point to the Retraction Watch blog the fourth is his Wikipedia entry. Despite the widespread attention to his misbehavior, Potti managed to get a position at the University of North Dakota where he worked earlier in his career. Meanwhile, he hired a reputation management company, which dutifully went about creating websites with glowing things to say about the doctor.

This morning, however, 10 of the Retraction Watch posts vanished. An e-mail Oransky received explained why: an individual from “Utter [sic] Pradesh” named Narendra Chatwal claimed to be a senior editor at NewsBulet.In, “a famous news firm in India.” Chatwal said the site only publishes work that is “individually researched by our reporters,” yet duplicates of some of the sites material appeared on Retraction Watch. Therefore, to protect his copyright, he asked that the WordPress host pull the material. It complied.

There are a large number of reasons to doubt this story. As Oransky told Ars, “WhoIs says the offending site didnt exist until after wed posted nine of the allegedly plagiarized posts.” And he noted one of the commenters at the site pointed out one of the supposedly plagiarized pieces visible on the News Bullet site refers to “Ivan’s Reuters colleagues.” The style of writing and format of the stories in question should also be very familiar to regular Retraction Watch readers.

A quick look at a number of other posts on the site also shows Chatawals claims of original reporting are bogus. Simple Google searches show sentences of the material appear at a variety of other outlets. See, for example, this story, which is apparently a direct copy of a Indo Asian News Service article.

This is the latest in a long line of spurious DMCA takedowns, but its the first that Oransky and Marcus have dealt with Oransky said theyve had a single cease-and-desist letter about a copyrighted image

MORE:  Site plagiarizes blog posts, then files DMCA takedown on originals | Ars Technica.




Jan 042013


A newly published patent application filed by Sony outlines a content protection system that would use small RFID chips embedded on game discs to prevent used games from being played on its systems, all without requiring an online connection. Filed in September and still awaiting approval from the US Patent Office, the patent application for an “electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus” describes a system “that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets.”

Used game sales continue to be a major concern for many big-name publishers and developers, who see the practice as a drain on the revenue they earn from selling new software. Sony’s patent explicitly points out that suppressing the used game market will “[support] the redistribution of part of proceeds from sales of the electronic content to the developers.”

The used-game blocking method described in the patent involves a “radiofrequency tag” and a type of programmable ROM chip that are paired with each game disc and can communicate wirelessly with the game system.

MORE:  Examining Sony’s Internet-free method for blocking used game sales | Ars Technica.




Aug 052012

A federal appeals court has decisively rejected a legal theory that would have placed anyone who embeds a third-party video on her website in legal jeopardy. In a Thursday decision, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the “video bookmarking” site myVidster was not liable to the gay porn producer Flava Works if users embedded copies of Flava videos on myVidster.

Judge Posner’s reasoning is interesting. He argues that when you view an infringing video on a site such as YouTube, no one—not you, not YouTube, and not the guy who uploaded the infringing video—is violating copyright’s reproduction or distribution rights. And since simply viewing an infringing copy of a video isn’t copyright infringement, he says, myVidster can’t be secondarily liable for that infringement.

Viewing an infringing video online may lead to a violation of copyright’s public performance right, Posner goes on, but here the law is murky. The judge called on Congress to help clarify exactly how copyright law should apply in the age of Internet video.

And if even one of copyright’s most respected jurists is confused, it’s a clear sign that copyright law needs work.

Embedding is not infringement

Flava Works sued myVidster because users kept adding links to Flava videos to the myVidster site. myVidster is a “video bookmarking” site that automatically embeds bookmarked videos on its site and surrounds them with ads. To the untrained eye, it looks like myVidster itself serves up the infringing copies of the videos. Based on that perception, the trial court judge ruled that myVister was directly infringing Flava’s copyrights and granted a preliminary injunction.

Of course, if embedding is direct infringement, then anyone who embeds a video without first researching its copyright status is at risk of being a direct infringer. That would put a damper on the practice of embedding, which has made the Web a more convenient and interactive place.

The Motion Picture Association of America, of course, was thrilled with this initial result. But as Google and Facebook pointed out in an amicus brief late last year, the lower court’s decision was inconsistent with the relevant precedents.

MORE:  MPAA “embedding is infringement” theory rejected by court | Ars Technica.


Oct 112011

The standard line that Digital Rights Management (DRM) functions as a bulwark against online music piracy is being challenged by a trio of economists from Rice and Duke Universities. Their game theory research sides with a growing sentiment that DRM technologies which restrict music file copying and moving sometimes encourage illegal file sharing instead.

“In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” contends one of the researchers, Dinahy Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”

The paper in question is titled “Music Downloads and the Flip Side of Digital Rights Management Protection.”

Under certain conditions, “we find that eliminating DRM restrictions can lead to an increase in sales of legal downloads, a decrease in sales of traditional CDs, and a decrease in piracy,” conclude marketing scholars Vernik and Devavrat Purohit and Preyas Desai of Duke. “This is in stark contrast to the view that removing DRM will unconditionally increase the level of piracy.”

via A game we all win: Dumping DRM can increase sales while reducing piracy.

Sep 282011

In the last year, newspaper copyright troll Righthaven has brought its dubious lawsuits in two states: Nevada and Colorado. (Update: a lawyer in South Carolina says Righthaven filed a single case there as well.) With a new ruling today from a Colorado federal judge overseeing all of Righthaven’s cases there, courts in both states have now told Righthaven to take a hike—and to pay court costs before it goes.

Righthaven’s business model has been based largely on suing small-time bloggers and forum posters who have copied articles or photos from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post. When threatened with a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, many of these users decided to settle for a few thousand dollars instead. It turns out they needn’t have done so, however; Righthaven never had the right to sue them in the first place.

via Righthaven copyright suits tossed in Colorado, too.

Aug 242011



Art is about freedom of expression, and it sometimes results in controversial pieces that challenge the social norms or intentionally push the boundaries of decency for one reason or another. But does there ever come a point when artwork crosses the line? A 1TB external hard drive sitting on a white pedestal at the Art 404 gallery begs that very question, the one you have to ask when someone crams $5 million worth of illegally downloaded software into a storage device and calls it art.

via Maximum PC | Dude Downloads $5 Million of Stolen Software to 1TB Hard Drive for Art Exhibit.

Aug 222011



It didn’t escape their notice that South Park aired on Comedy Central, which was owned by Viacom, the massive media conglomerate which was suing YouTube for $1 billion dollars over… displaying Viacom content without payment. “It is unreasonable for those same corporations to treat the Internet as a bottomless well from which it [sic] can endlessly draw content without permission, payment, or even acknowledgment of the original artists,” said Brownmark in a press release (PDF) announcing the litigation. “Brownmark Films is taking a stand against these corporations’ continued reliance on double-standards, a decision made all the more difficult by Brownmark Films’ respect for South Park and its brand of humor.”

South Park had licensed the music and lyrics, but had paid nothing to the guys who created the video, even though that video was clearly the basis for the one in the episode. Was this copyright infringement? Brownmark said yes; South Park claimed that it was a fair use parody of the whole viral video phenomenon.

via How “What What (In the Butt)” unintentionally bolstered “fair use”.


Jul 172011

A Las Vegas federal judge has sanctioned copyright troll Righthaven to the tune of $5,000 for making misrepresentations to the court.U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt of Nevada last month ordered Righthaven to explain why Hunt should not sanction it for trying to “manufacture standing.” .pdf

via Judge Fines Righthaven $5,000 | Threat Level | Wired.com.

Jul 112011

On Friday, Judge Jordan threw out the direct infringement charge. The courts have long held that a finding of direct infringement requires a “volitional act” by the infringer. Jordan ruled that it was Hotfile’s users—not Hotfile itself—that decided which files to submit. And therefore, Hotfile cannot be guilty of direct copyright infringement.

On the other hand, the judge refused to throw out the secondary liability charge. The case will now proceed to determine whether Hotfile is, in fact, guilty of inducing its users to infringe copyright.

via Judge rules “locker” site is not direct copyright infringer.

..internal..: Is a bookseller responsible for plagiarists?