Posted on July 27, 2009 in IP by Brian RoweComments Off

The Public Index Amici Several New York Law School students, led by Professor James Grimmelmann, started a Goggle Book Settlement site worth checking out: The Public Index. The site includes the basics of the settlement, the briefs filed thus far, and a good list of related blog posts form academics and librarians, but what makes this site stand out is the wiki style Google Book Settlement amici brief. Anyone is allowed to edit or contribute to this brief,
Here is a little more from the site:

The Public Index, a site to study and discuss the proposed Google Book
Search settlement. Here, you can browse and annotate the proposed
settlement, section-by-section. Just use the table of contents or the
search box at the right to get started. In addition, you can:

* Study our reading room of lawsuit documents
* Join the conversation in our forums
* Draft an amicus brief to the court on the wiki

The Public Index is a project of the Public-Interest Book Search
Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New
York Law School. We are a group of professors, students, and
volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and
settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion.
The Public Index is a site for people from all points of view to learn
from each other about the settlement and join together to make their
voices heard in the public debate.

The innovative students are: Benjamin Burge, Stephanie Figueroa, Leanne Gabinelli, Cynthia Grady, Dominic Mauro, Marc Miller, Deva Roberts, and Andrew Smith. The site was funded through a Microsoft Grant.

Posted on July 20, 2009 in American University, Fair Use by Brian RoweComments Off

“People are just scared to use fair use… I was scared to use it… lawyers would scare me they would say this does qualify as fair use but I would not use this.” – Byron Hurt, Film Maker

This video reminded me of working in the legal arts clinic my last semester of law school.  Many of the artists that would come to the clinic were doing creative projects that included some fair use or even a lot of fair use.  I wanted to give advice that their work was likely fair use and thus protected 1st Amendment speech, the advice given was often much more pessimistic and even once painfully crushing to the artist.  These are smaller artist that want to spend their days creating, not trying to clear rights on transformative works from rights holder that will not even return their calls. As a lawyers you are trained to minimize risk, which unfortunately is interpreted as avoiding fair use all together. American’s Center for Social Media is trying to change this norm by helping communities create or document their best practices related to fair use and enable artist to use their free speech rights.

Posted on July 17, 2009 in Google by Brian RoweComments Off


Here in DC there is a lot of talk going on related to the Google Book Settlement. I am most concerned about competition, orphaned works and copyright licensing of works under copyright. Although every time I talk to someone about the settlement privacy comes up. The settlement could make Google an online library of sorts that is not constrained by privacy laws that libraries embrace. This Tuesday, Alexander Macgillivray, Deputy General Counsel at Google and soon to be General Counsel at Twitter, spoke at Knowledge Ecology International and pointed out that the settlement does not cover privacy at all. His justification for this was that rights holders, authors, and publishers, are not the correct people to write a privacy policy with. This caused quite a rise out of EPIC’s Executive Director Marc Rotenberg who I respect as one of the leaders in protecting privacy. I happen to agree with Alex here that the privacy discussion needs to happen with users and privacy rights orgs not with book publishers. Although I think EPIC’s fears are not unfounded without some law or the settlement keeping google and other users of the registry in check how can we ensure privacy.  I think the answer is legislation not the settlement but I do not see this as likely before the settlement goes into effect.

For those people that want to get the best information out on privacy and the settlement check out Epics coverage:

B. The Settlement Rarely Addresses Privacy Explicitly

The Google Book Search Settlement, as a general rule, fails to explicitly address privacy. The only reference to privacy in the entire settlement states that all data provided to Google by members of the Settlement Class “shall be subject to a Registry privacy policy.” (§ 6.6(vi)). However, this portion of the settlement does not specify the details of this policy. Additionally, this clause only addresses the privacy of rightsholder data. While the contemplated privacy policy could potentially provide privacy protections to authors’ and publishers’ personally identifiable information (PII), these protections are by no means guaranteed. The mere existence of a privacy policy does not guarantee privacy protections. The settlement also does not specify that any privacy protections will govern consumers’ or library patrons’ PII. Despite this, the settlement contemplates large-scale consumer usage of the Google Book Search through both its consumer purchase option and its institutional subscription feature.

Read more at EPIC’s coverage of the google book settlement.

Posted on July 15, 2009 in IP by Brian RoweComments Off

Guinness World Records here demonstrates the exact wrong way to use trademarks:

Here is Fail Blogs great response:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is in response to an email FAIL Blog received from an attorney representing Guinness World Records Limited.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thanks for writing us an email regarding the “Record Breaking Fail”. Unfortunately, douchebaggy cyber-bullying emails will only bring upon you more shame on your house. I am also resisting the urge to write this email in ALL CAPS.

I believe it is the duty of FAIL Blog(TM) to call out organizations when they encourage the public to do such things as “Break the record” for the “Most Individuals Killed In A Terrorist Act”. We firmly believe that our publication of your fail is protected under the concepts of fair use, commentary and non-trademark use. Please RTFM and we welcome you to teh interwebs.

Since we at FAIL Blog(TM) don’t have a legal defense department, we have complied with your request to remove the trademarked term and logo from the original image. We have used the “naughty bits filter” on the image to secure your naughty, naughty, trademark assertions. However, we have posted your email so that our audience can see why we had to remove the name of the failer from the image. I hope that this is the outcome you have expected as now NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW THAT GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS LIMITED HAS FAILED.

The full legal response can be read here: