Archive for June 2008

Licensing online quotations – link roundup

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by Nancy Sims, MTTLR Blog editor

In early June, news site the Drudge Retort received DMCA takedown notices from the Associated Press, for several pieces containing 39- to 79-word quotations from AP articles . Although the AP quickly backed off on their DMCA threat, they had previously published a pricing structure (screenshot from June 19, above) for blog quotations of their articles, with costs of $12.50 for as little as 5 words. Bloggers are crying “foul”, claiming fair use and “hot news” privileges.

MTTLRblog will update this post as the conversation continues. We welcome your comments and link suggestions.

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June 19th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

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Pwning your life

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by Nancy Sims, MTTLR Blog editor

“Void your warranty, violate a user agreement, fry a circuit, blow a fuse, poke your eye out…”

So exhorts a t-shirt on sale from Make magazine. They also sell shirts with slogans like “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it“, and “Permission to play“. Make is not remotely a unique phenomenon – Instructables, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, and a host of other sites provide how-tos and what-ifs for the growing population of hardware modders and hackers. Make’s sister publication, Craft, and sites like Etsy, and Craft Mafia, demonstrate that the sensibility isn’t limited purely to hardware. It’s remix culture applied to real-world, physical objects, and it’s a growing phenomenon.

Hacking, remixing, modifying – whatever you call it, messing with technology, even physical objects you own, raises a host of legal issues. First of all, just opening the case of most tech objects voids the warranty. It may also void other user agreements, and as more of the technology in our daily lives requires ongoing relationships with service providers, that can be a real problem. Physical or software hacks may also violate anti-hacking laws in various jurisdictions.

The DMCA’s Anti-Circumvention provisions may open tech remixers to civil or criminal liability if they bypass “access control devices” or “technological protection measures” to explore or modify their devices. While there is currently an administrative exception that allows individuals to modify cellphones to ensure compatibility with various service providers, the exception doesn’t cover telling other people how to make the same modifications. Similar worries about the “no telling people how to circumvent, either” provisions delayed publication of the book “Hacking the XBox”.

And yet, the community of hackers and modders continues to expand. The revolutionary, compelling, or just plain entertaining products that the maker/crafter/modder cultures produce, make it difficult to see how anyone could want to rein them in. A (very) few highlights:

To get a sense of the philosophies/worldviews of makers, hackers, crafters, and modders, take a look at:

Explore the history of hacking:

So, what do you think? What are your favorite hacks and mods? What legal issues do you see?

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June 14th, 2008 at 8:38 am

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New formats for the MTTLR Blog

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To all our loyal readers:

As you may have realized, this blog is run by students from the University of Michigan Law School, specifically, the staff of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review. We have been focusing our attention on lengthy posts with detailed substantive analysis, and are proud of the content and quality we have produced.

However, maintaining regular in-depth posting throughout the calendar year while still accommodating our members’ demanding school schedules has proven a bit challenging. Over this summer, we will be experimenting with some different post formats: short analyses of emerging technologies, link roundups on technology law topics, and a number of other styles. We will also continue with the longer, in-depth posts we have produced in the past. It is our hope that by mixing formats, we will be able to produce more content on a more regular schedule.

Please feel free to comment on this or other posts, as we experiment over the next few months!

Thanks,
-Nancy Sims-
MTTLR Blog Editor

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June 9th, 2008 at 8:34 am

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