Posts Tagged Intellectual property

Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay Millions To Use Free Internet Materials | Techdirt



Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay Millions To Use Free Internet Materials

from the it’s-broken,-let’s-fix-it dept


Recently we wrote about how copyright rules designed for an analog age were causing problems when transposed without modification to the digital world. Here’s another example, this time from Australia, where the Brisbane Times’ site reports on an increasingly difficult situation in education as a result of outdated copyright approaches:

Schools spend almost [AU]$56 million [US$59 million] a year under a compulsory licence to copy material such as books and journals without permission from the copyright owner. But an unintended consequence of the licence means schools also pay millions for internet material that the website owners never intended to charge for

The problem is that there are strict rules that schools must follow when teachers duplicate material — rules that were designed for a world where practically every page copied had to be paid for. However, the inflexibilities of the scheme mean that these are now being applied even when teachers print or save freely-available materials from the Internet, or ask students to do the same for homework.

A “best estimate” for the scale of the problem is around $8 million, and as the Internet becomes an increasingly important resource for schools, things are only going to get worse:

These costs were likely to increase as the national broadband network was rolled out and might ”eventually become prohibitive”, [the National Copyright Unit’s director] said.

Fortunately, the Australian Law Reform Commission is holding an inquiry into copyright and the digital economy currently, so there is hope that its recommendations will include a radical overhaul of the compulsory licensing system for schools. Given copyright’s three-hundred-year-old machinery, it’s unlikely to be the only area that requires such action.

Outdated Compulsory Licensing Means Australian Schools Must Pay Millions To Use Free Internet Materials | Techdirt.


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Tougher Enforcement In Sweden Doesn’t Slow Down Public’s File Sharing | Techdirt

Tougher Enforcement In Sweden Doesn’t Slow Down Public’s File Sharing

from the of-course-not dept




For years we’ve argued over and over again that stricter enforcement does nothing to slow down or stop infringement. Often it does the opposite — either by making more people aware of the possibilities to infringe, or driving people further underground. The industry insists that it needs stricter enforcement on a bizarre and widely discredited theory that such strong enforcement is effective as an “education” technique. You hear this all the time from entertainment industry execs. They’re so bought into their infatuation with copyright, that they think the only possible reason why people don’t respect the law is that they haven’t been “educated” enough about it — and what better way to “educate” than to crack down hard?

Except, it never works. It never has and it never will. Increasing enforcement has never — not once — been shown to be an effective long term solution to stopping infringement. It doesappear to have short-term effects, as it makes people scatter from actions that are easily trackable, but within a few months (six seems to be about the consensus), file sharing activity tends to find a new path and get back to the same trajectory it was on before.

We’ve now got some more data to support this. A few years back, Sweden passed a very draconian and aggressive enforcement law known as IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive), which had the result of a temporary blip in file sharing that disappeared pretty quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share “heavily,” rather than in smaller amounts.


“We can safely say that the repressive legal developments in this field have very weak support in informal social control mechanisms of society”, says Mans Svensson, Ph.D. in judicial sociology, one of the researchers doing the study. “The social pressure is close to non-existent.”


So why is it that we keep seeing countries pass these kinds of laws? And why do entertainment industry lobbyists keep pushing for them when they’re so woefully ineffective in doing anything positive?

Tougher Enforcement In Sweden Doesn’t Slow Down Public’s File Sharing | Techdirt.

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BBC News – Facebook purchases IBM patents following Yahoo dispute

23 March 2012 

Facebook purchases  IBM patents following Yahoo dispute


Mark Zuckerberg

Yahoo’s lawsuit followed news that Mark Zuckerberg planned to float Facebook’s shares


Related Stories

·         Yahoo sues Facebook over patents

·         Facebook unveils plans to float

·         Yahoo board in another shake-up


Facebook has confirmed it has bought some of IBM’s intellectual property rights.

The social network would not provide further detail, but Bloomberg has reported that the deal involved 750 patents involving software, networking and other technologies.

It said that Facebook previously owned just 56 secured patents.

The move comes less than a fortnight after Yahoo launched a lawsuit against Facebook.

The web portal claimed that Mark Zuckerberg’s company’s “entire social network model” was based on its technology, and infringed its rights to innovations involved in messaging, privacy controls, advertising, customisation and social networking.

The Verge reported an unnamed source’s claim that at least some of the patents involved in this latest deal might have been licensed by IBM to Yahoo.

Facebook, IBM and Yahoo all declined to comment when asked to confirm this by the BBC.

Share sale

Facebook announced in February that it planned a $5bn (£3.2) initial public offering – the biggest such share sale by an internet firm.

Later that month, Yahoo first warned of a possible US patent lawsuit. It followed through on the threat on 12 March.

Analysts said it might be trying to replicate a tactic carried out in 2004 when Google settled another patent dispute by giving Yahoo shares issued in its flotation.

But one lawyer said that Facebook’s new acquisition might give it scope to resist a similar outcome.

“If Facebook has bought patents that IBM had already licensed to Yahoo it could tilt things in their favour,” said Ilya Kazi from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

“It would certainly strengthen Facebook’s negotiating hand. Depending on the sale terms they could terminate the licenses which could put Yahoo in a difficult position.”

 BBC News – Facebook purchases IBM patent following Yahoo dispute.

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Facebook asserts trademark on word “book” in new user agreement

Facebook asserts trademark on word “book” in new user agreement

By Jon Brodkin | Published a day ago

Facebook asserts trademark on word "book" in new user agreement

Facebook has trademarks on its name and many variations of it—including the letter “F”. The company is expanding its claim over the word “book”.


Facebook is trying to expand its trademark rights over the word “book” by adding the claim to a newly revised version of its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” the agreement all users implicitly consent to by using or accessing Facebook.

You may recall that Facebook has launched multiple lawsuits against websites incorporating the word “book” into their names. Facebook, as far as we can tell, doesn’t have a registered trademark on “book.” But trademark rights can be asserted based on use of a term, even if the trademark isn’t registered, and adding the claim to Facebook’s user agreement could boost the company’s standing in future lawsuits filed against sites that use the word.

“Unregistered marks are quite common in the US,” University of Minnesota Law Professor William McGeveran told Ars. “Rights arise from use, not registration (though registration does give you some other advantages). That’s how Facebook can try to claim ‘book.'” If you see a ™ next to a name, that indicates an unregistered, claimed trademark, whereas an R in a circle signifies a registered one, McGeveran notes.

So, what exactly is Facebook changing? If you view the current Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, you’ll find this sentence:

“You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Wall and 32665), or any confusingly similar marks, without our written permission.”

If you’re wondering, 32665 is the number allowing Facebook users to update their pages through text message. The newly revised user agreement reads as follows (emphasis ours):

“You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.”

Not accepting the terms isn’t really an option for anyone with a Facebook account. “By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement,” the document says.

Facebook gobbles up trademarks on variations of its name

A search of the trademark database maintained by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows Facebook with 73 active trademarks, many of them covering different uses of the words “Facebook” and “like.” Other registered trademarks cover the letter “F,” “Face,” “FB,” the number “0” with a period, “F8,” “Facebook Developer Garage,” “Wall,” “Facepile,” “,” “Facebook for good,” “Friendfeed,” Facebook Insights,” “Facebook Pages,” and “Facebook Ads.”

“Book” doesn’t appear on the US list. In November 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that Facebook was successful in trademarking “Face,” but might have a tougher time gaining rights to the word “book.” A company called myEworkBook filed an application to get the “Book” trademark in the US, but abandoned the application in February 2012 after an unfavorable decision by the trademark review board.

Facebook has a pending trademark application on “book” listed in the European Union’s trademark database, but the current status is “application opposed” with “likelihood of confusion” listed as the reason for opposition. There are already numerous European trademark claims over “book,” but in different contexts than the social media one claimed by Facebook.

Status of lawsuits Facebook filed against other “books”

We contacted Facebook yesterday afternoon, and haven’t heard back from the company. Facebook has had mixed results when asserting trademark rights over “book” in court. Facebook’s lawsuit against “Teachbook” isstill pending. Facebook settled a suit it filed against Lamebook, allowing the parody site to continue operating. Facebook gained control of a porn site domain called “” A travel site called Placebook changed its name in 2010, choosing not to fight—no surprise given the large expense of litigation.

“Maybe I was being naïve, but I thought I could convince the lawyers at Facebook that our site was totally impossible to confuse with theirs,” the Placebook site owner wrote in a blog.

How the new user agreement helps Facebook assert the trademark

Clearly, Facebook wasn’t shy about asserting trademark rights on “book” before today. But updating its user agreement gives the company added ammunition in litigation. The updated Statement of Rights and Obligations hasn’t taken effect yet, but a comment period expired yesterday.

“They hope that by putting it in TOS (terms of service) they can improve the enforceability of their asserted trademark rights,” McGeveran said.

The “book” addition to the user agreement isn’t as strong as a registered trademark or copyright, but provides extra protection, says intellectual property attorney Denis Ticak of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. The difference is that instead of extending to anyone who infringes upon the trademark, the user agreement covers only people who actually use Facebook—which, of course, is a substantial percentage of the population of Earth.

“Adding that term merely changes the agreement we all become a party to when we accept the terms of service/use the site/etc.,” Ticak told Ars. “So, it offers some layer of protection against use of ‘book’ in, say, a company or website name. But, it only extends to those who accept the statement of rights and responsibilities.’ Let’s say you go out and create ‘Brodkinbook.’ Whether or not they have a registered trademark on ‘book,’ since you in all likelihood use Facebook and so have accepted that contract, they can arguably prevent you from using that name on the site.”

 Facebook asserts trademark on word “book” in new user agreement.

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