By Harry Zhou
Harvard Law Professor Criticizes Google Book Settlement
On January 26, TechCrunch reported that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor and “free-culture advocate,” criticized Google’s settlement with the Authors Guild as a “path to insanity.” Lessig writes that the settlement extended the copyright law’s regulation on physical copies into the digital world, resulting in “a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed.” According to Lessig, providing copyright protection at the level of pages instead of at the level of books could make accessing digital books a complicated and “legally regulated event.” To prevent this outcome, Lessig argues that the “solution is a re-crafting of [the] law” that would favor protection of a work as a whole rather than protection of its constituent parts.
FCC Continues Probe of Wireless Carriers’ Early Termination Fees
MocoNews reported on January 26 that the Federal Communications Commission formalized its inquiries into how wireless carriers handle early termination fees by sending letters to Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The FCC states that the letters are intended to gather “facts and data on the consumer experience with wireless early termination fees.” Google, while not a carrier, charges an “Equipment Recovery Fee in connection with its offering of the Nexus One to customers who agree to a two-year contract with T-Mobile.” Industry trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association responded to the FCC’s inquiry by emphasizing that the fees “are part of the rate and rate structure that allows wireless carriers to, among other things, subsidize phone purchases.”
Chinese Search Engine Cleared of Music Piracy Charges
Wired.com reported on January 26 that Baidu, the leading search engine in China, was cleared of music piracy charges. Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner filed suit in a Beijing Court in early 2008, accusing Baidu of providing links directly to a large number of allegedly infringing song tracks hosted by third-party websites. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry expressed disappointment over the court’s ruling, stating that “the verdicts do not reflect the reality that both operators have built their music search businesses on the basis of facilitating mass copyright infringement, to the detriment of artists, producers and all those involved in China’s legitimate music market.”