Fair use in the digital house of mirrors

Defenses against copyright trolls.

Written by Ryan E. Long Monday, August 28 2017

In today's highly digitized world, copyright infringement actions, among others, are often brought against alleged infringers using information culled from Internet service provider addresses. While fair use defenses may exist against such suits, particularly when one is doing a music mash up, a preliminary question is whether the initial source evidence is accurate. 


Leaks, geeks, & reporters

Leaking is generally illegal, but what about reverse engineering secrets or reporting leaks?

Written by Ryan E. Long Thursday, March 23 2017

The recent spat of Washington D.C. leaks is "unusually active," according to FBI Director Mr. James Comey. Even if the leaks are as normal as they are in an allergic nose dealing with New Orleans spring pollen, what are the legal and ethical issues in leaking such confidential information, unknowingly reverse engineering it, or in publishing the leaks?


Gossip can be fun, but also unlawful?

First Amendment media protection is broad, not infinite.

Written by Ryan E. Long Thursday, February 23 2017

Recently, New York Times reporter Mr. Jacob Bernstein was overheard at a party calling Mrs. Melania Trump a "hooker." Although he subsequently apologized, the legal question is what legal liability, if any, does either he or The New York Times have for his statement? In these times of fast and loose media stories, the question is timely for media professionals and consumers of news.


FBI v. Apple -- can doesn't mean should obey.

FBI's right to evidence needs to be balanced against Apple's intellectual property and Constitutional rights.

Written by Ryan E. Long Friday, February 19 2016

The FBI investigates a grizzly murder. You are a bank president. The murderer stored his phone book in your bank's safety deposit box, the code for which is encrypted with copyrighted proprietary software, before he committed the murder. The FBI demands that you provide it with the master code for the box, which can be used to unlock other boxes, too. You can give the FBI the code, but should you? Apple CEO Tim Cook is asking himself the same question, his answer is rightly "no."


Grandma's going to jail for digital trespassing?

New anti-circumvention provisions of copyright law should be amended to make clear there is no digital trespass.

Written by Ryan E. Long Tuesday, February 09 2016

"No digital trespassing! Violators will be sued. Survivors will be sued again!" Ever seen that sign? Not likely. That's because, technically, there is no law against digital trespassing per se. This occurs when your grandma's new universal remote control climbs over, figuratively speaking, the encryption security fence on copyrighted content, such as the software to her old garage opener, so as to enable communication between the new control and old garage door opener. And yet some copyright owners want to hold your grandma civilly or even criminally liable under federal law for such trespassing. Allowing them to bust grandma would be an unwise expansion of their copyright monopoly. 

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