Oct 032011

I blogged recently about a few hoops that service providers have to jump through to be entitled to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor from being sued for copyright material their users post.  One of those requirements was that the service provider had to name an agent to receive DMCA takedown requests and tell the Copyright Office who that was. That was 1998, and the Copyright Office then put out some interim regulations about [...]

Sep 292011
Avoiding Class-Actions in Terms of Service

There’s been a lot of discussion in the past few months about services that use their terms of service to avoid class action lawsuits. It all started when,  in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the US Supreme Court ruled a service’s Terms of Service could require disputes to be resolved in arbitration without the ability to arbitrate as a class. This overturned a rule that had existed in California, which found such provisions unconscionable, and thus [...]

Sep 212011
Changes a-Comin' for Children's Privacy

This past Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission issued proposed changes to its rules implementing COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). COPPA prevents service providers from collecting, using or disclosing personal information of children under 13 years old without their parents’ consent. While many of the changes only clarify the existing rules, there are five main places which might impact smaller service providers: 1.  Broadening the amount of information protected The proposed rules would classify [...]

Sep 122011
What should be in your Terms of Service?

The LexisNexis Legal Business Community Blog has a post about important things to put in a website’s terms of use. The author breaks down provisions into a few specific categories: (1) clarifying ownership of intellectual property, (2) the operator’s liability for what others post, and (3) limiting the operator’s liability. I recommend the post, but he misses a few important provisions: DMCA Notices. The Digitial Millennium Copyright Act grants website owners some immunity from suits [...]

Sep 062011
DMCA Technicalities

Most technical folks in the US have some passing familiarity with the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   The basic idea is that if you have an website and somebody, without your knowledge,  posts something to the site that infringes some third party’s copyright, then you won’t be liable for having the content on your website, so long as you remove the material when its owner asks you to. There are, however, [...]

Jul 262011
Consenting to Cookies in the EU

In 2009, the EU passed a new directive, effective May 25, 2011, with the purpose of preventing web service providers from inserting cookies into their users’ browsers without first providing “clear and comprehensive information” about how the cookies would be used and then obtaining the user’s consent. But, what does it mean to consent? What, exactly, does a service provider have to do? Luckily (or not), the EU has a Working Party that, in a [...]

Jul 132011
Series AA Financing Documents for NC Corporations

The Y Combinator, an incubator in Silicon Valley, publishes a set of documents for use in the first financing round of early-stage companies.  The documents provide a fairly simple and well-understood set of terms for a financing, centering on a “non-participating” liquidation preference — if the company is sold or liquidated, the investors have to choose between getting their money back (or at least as much of it back as is left) or sharing with [...]

Jul 082011
Copyright in Fonts?

The font foundry P22 is suing Universal Studios for using its Cezanne font on a bunch of Harry Potter-branded T-shirts and other merchandise. The complaint lists three causes of action: copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and breach of contract. The complaint asks for three main things. First, there’s a request for an injunction preventing Universal from using the Cezanne font and from making or selling any new products that contain the font. Second, destruction of all [...]

Jul 072011
More on Dropbox Terms of Service

Once again, Dropbox has updated their Terms of Service to address concerns that they were trying to claim ownership of its users files. They never were, but now they’re specifically saying so. I was especially pleased that they phrased the license approximately how I suggested, by dropping reference to the specific Section 106 rights. However, now they’ve opened up a new can of worms for themselves surrounding when they can disclose it. Here’s what their [...]

Jul 062011

The latest IEEE Software has an article on Client-Shared Source, where a software publisher will grant its customers access to its source code, with the idea that the customers would contribute to the code itself. The idea of sharing source code with selected customers is not particularly new–it’s actually fairly common with Operating Systems (see, for example, Microsoft’s program).  But, Client-Shared Source goes beyond simply allowing customers to see the code — it also allows [...]