A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

By Dorothy Du

Song Wins Contest to Circumvent “Happy Birthday to You” Copyright

For those unaware, the song “Happy Birthday to You” remains under copyright until 2030. The copyright, as Bloomberg Law and Gizmodo report, has been owned by Time Warner since 1998, and the corporation has made more than $2 million per year from licensing the song. Professor Robert Brauneis of George Washington University Law School says the copyright over the song is weak, as Slate explains, “due to lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and failure to file a proper renewal.” WFMU, an independent radio station in New Jersey, through its podsafe online music library Free Music Archive, decided to do something about it. Rather than challenge the copyright through a lawsuit, WFMU held a contest to replace the song with “a melody that children can sing without fear of being served.” The winner, “It’s Your Birthday!” by Monk Turner and Fascinoma, was selected by such judges as Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan. Not everyone, including Above The Law, is confident the song will accomplish its goal of replacing the original, however.

Privacy Concerns to Temper Excitement over Google Glass

Since April 2012, tech aficionados have been eagerly awaiting the latest news about Project Glass, Google’s project to create an “augmented reality” system. Google Glass comprises glasses-like headgear on which audio and visual information can be transmitted to and from a wearer, as Wired explains. A Google patent filed in April 2011 reveals that different embodiments of the device can utilize display lens or even a laser to display images directly on the user’s retina. According to First Post, Google Glass is supposed to perform much of the same functions as a smartphone, but without the hassle of a handheld device. Google has just opened up the project, giving U.S.-based developers until February 27 to apply to be a “Glass Explorer,” explains iProgrammer. However, with Google Glass comes some serious legal issues that have not yet received much attention. If it proliferates, Google Glass could run amok of distracted driver laws and creates privacy concerns over hidden cameras in places from locker rooms to board meetings, says Investors.com. CounterPunch has also expressed concern that the government and corporations may abuse the technology to get ahold of a “veritable gold mine of information.”

3-D Printing Gets Shout-Out in State of Union, but Copyright Concerns Growing

3-D printing is still in its infancy, but it is no longer merely an innovator’s dream. President Obama mentioned 3-D printing in the State of the Union less than two weeks ago as a potential way to bring manufacturing back to the United States. As NPR explains, however, the emerging technology may be significantly hindered by intellectual property disputes. A Note by Davis Doherty, a Harvard Journal of Law and Technology alumnus, has highlighted the potential for 3-D printing to run afoul of patent law by making it easy for the public to replicate designs that may infringe an existing patent on an unprecedented scale. NPR’s story focuses on copyright, stating that the problem arises from the fact that people are sharing their designs on websites like Makerbot’s Thingiverse, designs that are frequently protected by copyright. Moulinsart, the owner of the “Tintin” franchise, recently served Thingiverse with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, with which it complied. This follows Thingiverse’s first takedown notice back in 2011, reported on by Ars Technica, which prompted Thingiverse to add copyright language to its Terms of Use.

 

Posted On Feb - 25 - 2013 1 Comment

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