Warming Up to User-Generated Content — Are mashups legal?

June 10, 2008

News: I’ve been revising my latest article titled “Warming Up to User-Generated Content.”  It’s all about Web 3.0, cloud computing, and mashups.  Oh, and I almost forgot, it’s about copyright law, too!

You can download a draft of the article by clicking here.  Below is my latest Abstract for the piece:

Conventional views of copyright law almost always operate from the “top down.”  Copyrights are understood as static and fixed from the Copyright Act.  Under this view, copyright holders are at the center of the copyright universe and exercise considerable control over their exclusive rights, with the expectation that others seek prior permission for all uses of copyrighted works outside of a fair use.  Though pervasive, this conventional view of copyright is wrong.  The Copyright Act is riddled with gray areas and gaps, many of which persist over time because so few copyright cases are ever filed and the majority of those filed are not resolved through a judgment.  In these many gray areas, a “top down” approach simply does not work.  Instead, informal copyright practices effectively serve as important gap-fillers in our copyright system, operating from the bottom up. 


The tremendous growth of user-generated content (UGC) on the Web provides a compelling example of this widespread phenomenon.  The informal practices associated with UGC make manifest three significant features of our copyright system that have escaped the attention of legal scholars: (i) our copyright system could not function without informal copyright practices; (ii) collectively, users wield far more power in influencing the shape of copyright law than is commonly perceived; and (iii) uncertainty in formal copyright law can lead to the phenomenon of “warming,” in which—unlike chilling—users are emboldened to make unauthorized uses of copyrighted works based on seeing what appears to be an increasingly accepted practice.  Although the warming phenomenon has been completely ignored in prior copyright scholarship, warming serves as a powerful counterforce to the chilling of speech, even where copyright law is uncertain.        

Judge orders “fire in the hole” pranksters to apologize on YouTube

June 10, 2008

News:  My buddy Doug Berman has already blogged about this interesting story involving YouTube and criminal sentencing.  Two teenagers in Florida pulled a “fire in the hole” prank at a Taco Bell.  Basically, the kids went through the drive-thru and then, before leaving, threw a soda at the employee through the window, yelling “fire in the hole.”  The boys captured the prank on video and posted it on YouTube.

Well, the Taco Bell employee did some great detective work on YouTube and then located the boys on MySpace and then called their mothers.  According to the news report, “as part of their sentence, the teens had to write, film, and post their video apology on YouTube, as well as pay $30 to clean the restaurant and serve 100 hours of community service.”

The Taco Bell employee said that she wants a face-to-face apology, however.

Here’s the apology:

Eric Schmidt speaks about cloud computing, innovation, + future of Internet at Ecnomic Club of Washington

June 10, 2008

News:  Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke about the Future of the Internet before the Economic Club of Washington.  For a press account, click here.  I will link to the video once it’s up.

John McCain’s electoral strategy against Obama via PowerPoint (really Mac Keynote) on YouTube

June 10, 2008

Campaign Manager Rick Davis posted this strategy PowerPoint on YouTube.  Slick presentation.

Stephen Colbert gives advice to 2008 graduates

June 10, 2008

Hilarious!  Video click here.