Tag Archives: legal

Sugary Smash Chronicle: Thoughts on King.com’s trademark brouhaha

The recent approval by the EU of King.com’s trademark on the words of their own title “Candy Crush Saga” for use in game and app titles, and the resulting flurry of infringement allegations, is of particular interest to me. Not as a CCSaga player, although I am one. (Level 491, used to comment on my levelup posts with helpful advice for other players, have accidentally spent real money but never won a level by using purchased powerups.) Not because I think it’s ridiculous, although I do. Not because I’m outraged about one more case of the big guy going after the little guy (“All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land” excepted and notwithstanding), although I am. Not because I think CCSaga has used underhanded tricks to winkle money out of its players, or because I dislike the deliberate manipulation of addiction mechanisms by game developers, or because I resent the social gaming model for making participation as much a responsibility to your friends as a pastime for yourself. All relevant and true, but the real reason I’m following this story is that I’ve been involved with King.com since before CCSaga existed. I know where it came from, I’ve been watching its evolution, and I’m interested to see what this episode does for (or to) the company as a whole. Continue reading

Links: Freedom and Security

The CBLDF has issued a press released detailing the victory in the Gordon Lee case. This was the case in which a comic book store in Rome, Georgia, as part of a 2004 Halloween promotion, was handing out free comics left over from that year’s Free Comic Book Day. Among over 2,000 comics, they accidentally included a copy of Alternative Comics #2, which included a story about Picasso which included him running around his studio in the nude. And they accidentally gave it to a kid. The parents wouldn’t accept an apology, and pressed charges instead. The DA has been determined to make an example out of him, pushing grossly overinflated charges including felonies that would have given him prison time. 3½ years, 3 trial dates, a mistrial for prosecutorial misconduct, and $100,000 in defense costs later, the Rome DA finally agreed to drop the case in exchange for a written letter of apology — which is exactly what the store owner had offered in the first place.

Cookie Security in WordPress 2.5. The latest version of the blogging software has a feature that can make it harder for attackers to grab your login sessions. It involves setting a pass phrase in wp-config.php, one which you’ll never have to remember, but which will be unique to your site. You have to copy the SECRET_KEY section from wp-config-sample.php and add in your passphrase…or you can generate a random code at http://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.0/ (be sure to put it in the middle of the file!)

The Internet Storm Center writes on Hundreds of Thousands of SQL Injections — all websites that have been hacked to host various sorts of malware.

Legality Links

Organization for Transformative Works – dedicated to protecting the expression of fan fiction, fan art, etc. (via Naomi Novik)

Open Standards, One Web, and Opera – Just why are standards important, anyway? (via Opera Watch)

Speaking of Opera, their EU antitrust complaint against Microsoft has been making waves. Responses at CSS3.info, Web Standards Project, Slashdot (edit: more Slashdot), Asa Dotzler, Opera Watch, plus a Q&A w/ Haarvard. My take: Good luck on unbundling, but if they can force Microsoft to catch up with the rest of the market in terms of standards support, I’m all for it.

Nissan vs. Nissan. On my way to work I saw a bumper sticker on an XTerra that said “In support of our freedom, it’s my last Nissan.” Huh? There was clearly a web address below it, but it was too small to read at that distance. So I looked up the phrase, and apparently there’s been a long-running dispute over the domain name nissan.com, between a small computer business named after its founder, Uzi Nissan, and the Nissan car company. The dispute was eventually resolved (correctly, IMO, since he has a legit reason to use the name) in favor of the little guy. On the other hand, I don’t see why the site makes such a big deal about Nissan’s “French Connection” to Renault.

Copyright law: All ficced up

We were having a discussion last night about the specifics of copyright law on derivative works, sparked by a ridiculous flamewar discussion thread on fan-made music videos. While it’s generally known that posting fanfic and fanart is illegal, we were speculating on when exactly these creations become violations of the law. Is it when you distribute the work? When you show it to a stranger, whether they get a copy or not? When you show it to your spouse? Turns out that unless you have specific permission from the copyright holder to use the specific work involved, it’s not legal to create fanart or fic at all, whether you show it to anyone or not.

This runs up against a belief of mine that I’ve termed “the Six-Year-Old Doctrine:” if, in order to fully enforce a law, authorities would need to prosecute a fair number of unwitting six-year-olds, that law is in need of changing. With respect to copyright and derivative works, every first-grader who draws a picture of Dora the Explorer or Barney or Bugs Bunny is technically in violation of copyright law. Realistically, no one is going to issue C&D letters to a classful of fans, or sue their parents for damages. Sadly, the owners of the depicted property do have that right.

Copyright law is quite black and white, but feels incredibly gray. And no wonder, with the fineness of the dividing lines between legal and illegal. Continue reading

OK, now I’m confused.

Round 1: A judge rules that the FTC does not have the authority to enforce the Do-Not-Call list, so Congress (who has the power to give the FTC that authority) passes a law explicitly granting it to the FTC. So far so good. Checks and balances are working as they’re supposed to.

Round 2: Another judge rules that the list is unconstitutional because it discriminates against commercial calls. Never mind that that traditionally, commercial speech does not have the same protections as personal, political, and other forms of speech. (Consider truth-in-advertising laws.)

The way I see it, there are two obvious solutions: Either appeal the ruling (which is inevitable) or comply with it by removing the loopholes for charities and political campaigns. Which would probably get them in more first amendment trouble.

So today, the FCC has said they will enforce the list right on schedule. OK, it’s something I wouldn’t have thought of… mainly because it doesn’t seem like it would solve the problem.

Now, I hate getting calls from telemarketers, but I just don’t see how shuffling the list to another agency resolves the problem of constitutionality. I’ve only skimmed the ruling [previously available from the court’s website] (it’s 34 pages and I’m at work, it’s not as if I can read the whole thing right now!), but it seems pretty clear on the point that (as the judge sees it) it’s the federal government that can’t enforce the list in its present form, not the FTC specifically.