Friday, April 28, 2006

Creative Commons: 3, Collecting Agencies: 0

(Via Carolina Botero) Spanish courts have delivered the third ruling in favour of Creative Commons (more accurately, copyleft licences in general) and against collecting agencies. The Spanish music collecting agency, the SGAE, has just lost another case brought against a bar for not paying licence fees. The previous cases can be found in Spanish here and here.

The main point about the rulings is that the judges have been sceptical about the claim from the SGAE that they represent the musicians being played in the bars subject of the demands. In each of the cases, the respondents have provided evidence that they play music licensed through Creative Commons or other copyleft licences (I should point out that not all CC licences are copyleft).

It seems to me that the SGAE is in some problems, but in my opinion they are largely self-imposed. If you are going to sue entertainment locales in order to extract every drop of profit from royalties, you should at least make sure that they are playing music from bands that you represent.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Benkler book and interview

Christian Ahlert from Open Business has informed us that Yochai Benkler, professor of law at Yale, has given an interview to their website about his new book called The Wealth of Networks, which is online offered through a Creative Commons licence. Interestingly, the online version of the book online is in a wiki, so I guess that it can be edited by everyone. You can still buy the book or download the PDF.

This is innovative, and brave.

Update: For an interesting inside at how publishers make profit and loss decisions, see this enlightening blog entry.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Virtual PowerPoint

I was not present in the virtual presentation in Second Life by Mia Garlick (sorry, Mia Wombat). It was too early on Saturday morning my time, but it seems like it was a fun event. There is a report at the Creative Commons blog and another one here (including pictures of an unidentified alien).

I find the possibilities of using virtual environments to deliver presentations intriguing. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I will deliver a lecture today in a video-conference with Costa Rica to celebrate the World Intellectual Property Day, although I find the video-conference key-note format rather constraining. I like to get feedback from the audience, and I'm not sure if this is possible while faced with a camera and a screen. What would be the effect of going to Second Life and giving the presentation there?

Well, at least they haven't invented virtual tomatoes yet.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Daily Mail picnic

The Daily Mail picnic features sexy goats, crooked penguins and terrorist dogs intent on blow things up, all dancing to the catchy tunes of a singing sheep. It only lacks a singing llama.

Yes, the internet is the source of all evil known today, full of paedophiles, Nigerian generals and Spanish lotteries. Do as the sheep says and "stay in and read the Daily Mail". For those who don't know what the Daily Mail is like, have a look at Daily Mail Watch (full of comedic value).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Creative Commons: publishing paradigm?

(The author apologises in advance for the gratuitous use of the word "paradigm"). I have been looking at the use of Creative Commons by businesses for a video-conference that I'll be involved in this week. One of the most intriguing potential uses of CC is in to revolutionise the publishing industry. I am not talking of open access journals and blogging, but traditional book publishing.

Could publishers become a thing of the past? Have we all become our own publishers? There are people who are happy to forego the intermediaries and publish directly online using CC (Ariel Vercelli in Argentina has been doing just that). Others use CC and some form of traditional publishing, such as Cory Doctorow. Then there are places like that provide printing on demand, and are certainly compatible with CC.

While researching on this topic, I found a very astute comment from Neal Stephenson, who is one of my favourite writers. This is a 2004 interview in Slashdot. Talking about CC and whether new publishing models make season, Stephenson says:

"Publishing is a very ancient and crafty industry that existed and flourished before the idea of copyright even existed. When copyright came into existence, the publishing industry dealt with it and moved on. My suspicion is that everything that's been going on lately will amount to a sort of fire drill that will force publishing to scurry around and make some new arrangements so that they can get back to making money for themselves and for authors.

You can use the brick-and-mortar bookstore as a way to think about this. There was a time maybe five years ago when many people were questioning whether brick-and-mortar bookstores were going to survive the onslaught of online retailers. Now, if you take the narrow view that a bookstore is nothing more than a machine that swaps money for books, then it follows that there's no need for a physical store. But here we are five years later. Some bookstores have gone out of business, it's true. But there are big, beautiful bookstores all over the place, with sofas and coffee bars and author appearances and so on. Why? Because it turns out that a bookstore is a lot more than a machine that swaps money for books.

Likewise, if you think of a publisher as a machine that makes copies of bits and sells them, then you're going to predict the elimination of publishers. But that's only the smallest part of what publishers actually do. This is not to say that electronic distribution via CC is just a fad, any more than online bookstores are a fad. They will keep on going in parallel, and all of this will get sorted out in time."
I usually run into the apparent dichotomy in people's minds: either proprietary or non-proprietary models will survive, some do not see room for co-existence.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Email addresses are not signatures

(via Out-Law) The England and Wales High Court has ruled that email addresses are not to be considered signatures (Metha v J Pereira Fernandes SA [2006] EWHC 813 (Ch)).

JPF is a Portuguese company that supplies bedding products, and supplied then to a British company called Bedcare Ltd. Bedcare failed to pay for the products it had received and were eventually involved in attempts to arrange for payment in early 2005. At that time, the Director of Bedcare Ltd., Mr Metha, asked a clerk to send an email to JPF's solicitors in order to arrange a repayment plan by providing a personal guarantee of £25,000 GBP. The email was not signed by Mr Metha, but it came from his email address, which is the one that had been used to communicate with the supplier so far in emails that had been adequately signed.

The question in this case rested in two parts. Was there a contract and was there a signature? Did the email constitute a personal guarantee to pay the promised amount if it was not sent directly by the guarantor? Was the email address enough to prove provenance and the will to enter into an obligation by sender? The case was initially heard by a District Judge in which it was determined that the email itself was the guarantee.

In the appeal, Judge Pelling QC found that the email was an offer, and therefore not a complete contract. With regards to the signature issue, it is good to remember that all of the UK jurisdictions consider all sorts of things as signatures, including rubber stamps, faxes, and even the printed name in a form. But n this case Mr Metha's name was not even included in the email, therefore not fulfilling the usual requirements for a signature. Was the email enough? Not according to the judge. The email would be analogous to a phone number, not a signature. He explains:

" seems to me that a party can sign a document [...] by using his full name or his last name prefixed by some or all of his initials or using his initials, and possibly by using a pseudonym or a combination of letters and numbers[...], providing always that whatever was used was inserted into the document in order to give, and with the intention of giving, authenticity to it.
[...] I have no doubt that if a party creates and sends an electronically created document then he will be treated as having signed it to the same extent that he would in law be treated as having signed a hard copy of the same document. The fact that the document is created electronically as opposed to as a hard copy can make no difference. However, that is not the issue in this case. Here the issue is whether the automatic insertion of a person's e mail address after the document has been transmitted by either the sending and/or receiving ISP constitutes a signature for the purposes of Section 4.
[...] To conclude that the automatic insertion of an e mail address in the circumstances I have described constituted a signature for the purposes of Section 4 would I think undermine or potentially undermine what I understand to be the Act's purpose, would be contrary to the underlying principle to be derived from the cases to which I have referred and would have widespread and wholly unintended legal and commercial effects."
A very sensible ruling in my opinion. It is clear that an email address may not be enough to prove the signature of a document, particularly because they are easily forged. It is easy to get an email address that looks like somebody else's, somebody could get for example. It is also easy to forge email addresses with access to an SMTP server.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Credit card companies liable for overseas purchases

(via OUT-Law) The English Court of Appeals has finally ruled in the long running case of the Office of Fair Trading v Lloyds TSB Bank & Others [2006] EWCA Civ 268. The dispute was initially brought by the OFT against several credit card comanies to make sure that they fulfilled their obligations under s75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act, which states that credit card suppliers can be sued by their customers in case of breach of contract or misrepresentation on the part of the supplier of goods and services for transactions between £100 and £30,000. This is an extremely useful tool because it allows consumers to make their claims against a company with which they already have a contractual relationship, instead of having to chase a merchant.

The dispute arose because credit institutions claimed that the provisions of s75 did not apply to international transactions. They argued that there was no contractual relationship between UK banks and overseas companies. The case was initially won by the UK card suppliers, [2004] EWHC 2600 (COMM), but the OFT appealed. The new ruling concludes:

"...we have reached the conclusion that section 75(1) does apply in cases where the supply transaction was entered into abroad. In our view the primary purpose of the section is to provide additional protection for debtors under credit agreements of the kinds to which it relates. One of the difficulties in the way of the banks' argument is that although under modern conditions card issuers do not, and for commercial reasons cannot, restrict the provision of credit to transactions entered into in this country, there is nothing in section 75(1) or (2) that provides for a distinction to be drawn between transactions entered into in this country and transactions entered into abroad, to say nothing of transactions entered into on the internet, the place of which may be quite difficult to determine."
This is interesting because it is a recognsition of the difficulty of drawing borders in a global e-commerce environment. A very sensible ruling in my opinion.

Tip of the day: If you have aUK credit card and you are booking a holiday abroad, use your credit card!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Charting the blogosphere

I am increasingly interested in network science and the possible legal implications of power laws, symmetry-breaking and other network phenomena. One area where the application of scale-free topologies can be experimented and measured is online through the complex mesh of blogs.

There have now been several studies on the replication of information throughout the blogosphere. Perhaps one of the less surprising results is that blogs display a power law, where a very small number of blogs make up the head of the blogosphere, while the rest of us inhabit the tail, a relationship that follows an increasing power distribution. Another study from HP Labs charts the flow of information through blogs as if it were a virus, and following the rate and nature of the infection. Interestingly, this analysis has determined that bloggers are largely plagiarists, and that big blogs recycle news (and entire paragraphs) from smaller and less-read sources. Damn you BoingBoing!

What does this all mean for the internet? One could argue that those of us who inhabit the long tail of small readership and occasional links (comparatively that is) should not even bother. As somebody once said, the vast number of blogs online means that the blogosphere is full of people shouting at walls. However, others believe that diversity is good, and that even if something is not clicked often, it does not mean that it is entirely futile, as the richness of the internet relies on the wealth of information and opinions out there.

Nevertheless, we live in a Technorati-oriented environment. Give me more links. Muahahahaha! (I need to work on that evil laugh).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Top Jobs: university professor 2nd

Money Magazine has declared that the 2nd best job in the United States is that of univeristy professor. Reasonably well paid, flexible hours, casual wear and low stress levels make this an appealing carreer choice.

Ok, where did I leave my passport?

UPDATE: The full list is:

1. Software Engineer
2. College professor
3. Financial adviser
4. Human Resources Manager
5. Physician assistant
6. Market research analyst
7. Computer IT analyst
8. Real Estate Appraiser
9. Pharmacist
10. Psychologist

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about rootkits...

... but were afraid to ask. I've just discovered, as site offering information and, controversially, source code to build your own rootkit. For those who do not know, a rootkit is software that is installed in a computer without the knowledge of the user, running hidden processes that vary from technological protection measures to more malign virus-like functions. Rootkits became infamous after Sony BMG used one as a DRM function in some music CDs.

With so much readily available information, some claim that this open source take on rootkits may be detrimental to internet security. I tend to agree that offering the source code for this type of technology may not be the best idea, but I believe that those who want to create rootkits will find the code no matter what.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Easter Bunny Hates You

It's been a slow news day in the IT and IP field, so I will perform a community service announcement. Now that Easter is over, beware the Easter Bunny!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The real cost of piracy

While the British music industry claims they have lost £1.1 billion in the last three years, media market resaerchers Jupiter media calculate that the figure is at most £290m. The problem is that the numbers do not add up. For example, the British music industry keeps claiming that there is a reduction in the market. Could it be that there is obviously a shift in consumer trends? Witness iTunes and the legitimate download sites. Then there is the fact that the entertainment market is much more competitive. Games and DVD sales keep going up, which indicates that people are spending their media money elsewhere.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Piracy sells

(via Furdlog) Two articles in the LA Times (here and here) help to further the case that piracy does not always translate into lost sales, it may very well end up in opening new markets and new customers.

The first case, and perhaps the most documented, is that of Microsoft. While the software industry spends millions of pounds every year fighting piracy, it is recognised that early widespread illegal copying helped Microsoft lock-in the software market, particularly with Windows and MS Office. This early advantage helped them to get ahead of the competition. Similarly, widespread piracy of MS products in developing countries have stopped the adoption of other operating systems, particularly free and open source software. Bill Gates commented in 1998:

"Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. And as long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."
The other case of "good" piracy is YouTube, the amazing phenomenon where people share all sorts of videos. Most of the content comes legally, but there are also streams from TV. Although a lot of the infringing content gets taken down, TV and movie executives are wondering if this is free advertisement for the young and hip techno-elite.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cyber-bullying case settled

The sad case of the 'Star Wars kid' in Canada has been settled out of court. A teenager in Quebec made a video where he emulated the double lightsabre famously wielded by Darth Maul. The video was released on the internet by three other students, labeled as the "Star Wars Kid". Needless to say, the video became a viral phenomenon, and generated a number of parodies. If you watch the videos, you will understand that Ghyslain Raza did not have a chance. After the video was released he was endlessly harassed by classmates at school, where they united in chanting "Star Wars Kid" every time he walked by.

The press reports are not clear on the nature of the lawsuit, but I have read that it could have been about copyright infringement. After all, if Raza filmed the video, he owns the copyright and he has the exclusive right of reproduction and making it available to the public.

A warning then to the unaware: never video your Star Wars moves.

Patently MAD

I must admit that I just came across the Open Invention Network (OIN). This is a company created last year by IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. Its purpose is to act as a patent pool which will accumulate a number of software patents that will be cross-licensed to the members. The patents will also be "available on a royalty-free basis to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux operating system or certain Linux-related applications." OIN has acquired a good number of patents, including a valuable batch of e-commerce XML patents from Novell.

This is an impressive initiative that makes Linux and open source more secure against costly patent litigation. The software patent environment is increasingly looking like the Cold War, with companies accumulating patents as a deterrent from attack. OIN is just another weapon that ensures that the open source patent environment is in a state of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The first to shoot will be likely to unleash the mother of all patent litigations.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What's wrong with Oklahoma?

This is a story that has all the makings of a geek legend. A stupid bureaucrat in the city of Tuttle, Oklahoma, noticed that the website belonging to the city that he administers was missing. What was in its place? An Apache Server page. The bureaucrat freaked. Imagine what he must have thought when he saw the test page, "Them Indians are attacking our website!" What followed was an email to the providers of the server software, CentOS, a Linux distribution. The email exchange is presented in its entirety here, but there are some jewels of unintended comedic genius:
"Who gave you permission to invade my website and block me and anyone else from accessing it??? Please remove your software immediately before I report it to government officials!! I am the City Manager of Tuttle, Oklahoma."
Translation: I do not know anything, but I am a bureaucrat in Oklahoma, FEAR ME!
"Get this web site off my home page!!!!!
It is blocking access to my website!!!!~!"
Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.
"I do not want this software!!!! This is the City of Tuttle, Oklahoma. Get rid of this software!!!!!
Second notice!"
Translation: Feel my wrath! Contemplate your doom and despair!
"Unless this software is removed I will file a complaint with the FBI."
Translation: Homeland Security will be there right away to arrest you all filthy injuns.
"No one outside this building has complained about this problem."
Could it be that *GASP* nobody reads your page?
"You have officially been notified and given an opportunity to correct the situation without legal intervention. The rest is up to you!"
You can see at this point that he is finally getting the impression that something is not right. A memory of a thought may be stirring in his brain.
"I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation. Now, can you tell me how to remove "your software" that you acknowledge you provided free of charge? I consider this "hacking". I have no fear of the media, in fact I welcome this publicity."
Turning the computer on and off for 22 years does not qualify as "computer systems engineering".
"I am sorry that we had to go through the process and accusations to get the problem resolved. It could have been resolved a lot quicker if the initial correspondence with you provided the helpful information that was transmitted in the last messages. My initial contact with VIDIA disallowed any knowledge of creating the problem."
Translation: You are guilty of my stupidity. Make it stop.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Da Vinci Code ruling available

A comment in IPKat has a link to the ruling for Baigent v Random House [2006] EWHC 719 (Ch). I've browsed through it (a good way of spending a Friday night). It is not particularly surprising, the ruling specifies that The Da Vinci Code did not constitute substantial copying of Baigent and Leigh's book.

The ruling by Peter Smith contains noteworthy analysis of the state of the art of the originality test in UK copyright law. It is stressed that originality does not equal novelty, and therefore original works may be based on other works in a non-substantial part. A case that has been heavily cited in the new ruling is Ravenscroft v Herbert [1980] RPC 193. This is a case where writer James Herbert copied substantial parts of another book. The main difference with the Da Vinci Code is that the copying could not be considered substantial in any significant manner. However, the claimants argued that the copying was substantial because their "central themes" had been used by Brown. Mr Smith rubbishes the central themes conclusion:

"Nevertheless for the Claimants case to have any credibility the Central Theme has to be found in HBHG at the first stage before one even comes to consider whether Mr Brown copied it or even substantially copied it because that is the medium through which it is asserted that HBHG itself has been substantially copied. The fact that the Claimants had difficulty formulating their own Central Theme which was allegedly always in their minds when they wrote HBHG is incredible. I can forgive the obvious blunder of missing the Grail out of the first 19 but there are limits to forgiveness."
Well said!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dan Brown wins 'Code' case

The BBC is reporting that Dan Brown has won the preposterous case brought by writers Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, in which many plot ideas from The Da Vinci Code are based. The claimants argued that Brown had stolen several of their key ideas and had used them in his book.

The fact that The Da Vinci Code had some ideas from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail has never been disputed. What Baigent and Leigh seemed to be arguing is that you could not base fiction on their ideas. Well, the fact that their book was based on shoddy research, forged documents and more recycled ideas, should come into play. Ideas do not spring out of thin air, we are all influenced by other's thoughts and premises. I look forward to reading the ruling.

Brown reacted like this: "After devoting so much time and energy to this case, I'm eager to get back to writing my new novel."

Nice plug for his next book.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Macrossan: New software patent case

Lawyer Simon Hart has sent me this very interesting email, and has allowed its reproduction:

I was involved in the recently decided Macrossan case [2006] EWHC 705 (Ch) before the High Court in England which I believe will be of interest to intellectual property lawyers and anyone who follows UK patent law. (A link to a report of the case is: )

The decision of Mr Justice Mann, handed down on 3rd April 2006, appears to have significant implications for software patenting in the UK. The case concerned the patentability of an automated method of producing the documents necessary to incorporate a company. The system has been deployed on the internet since May 2003 at

A Patent Office Hearing Officer had rejected the patent application in March 2005, relying on all three of the commonly raised exclusions in the context of software patents, namely, the mental act exclusion, the computer program exclusion and the business method exclusion. Mr Macrossan sought to counter all three exclusions and also raised an allegation of ‘apprehended bias’ against the Patent Office Hearing Officer. The bias allegation was based upon an alleged secret submission made to the Hearing Officer by the Patent Office examiner and was also based upon a Patent Office internet publication (still appearing at ). The internet publication refers to the Patent Office’s “ … strong tradition of rejecting patent applications for software … “ and goes on to say that “… this tough approach has ensured that only patents with a ‘high presumption of validity’ are granted.”.

The Court ruled against Mr Macrossan on two of the three exclusions and also on the bias point. Interestingly however, the Court ruled in Mr Macrossan’s favour on the ‘business method’ exclusion point.

The Patent Office has, for years, been relying on the business method exclusion to assist it in denying all manner of patent applications, for example –
  • a method for facilitating online payment transactions between participants in a network based transaction facility (eBay case BL O/314/04),
  • an automated food ordering system for cafeterias (Fujitsu case Applic. No. 9912296.2),
  • a web-based on-line user interface for enabling a customer to custom configure a computer system (Dell USA’s case),
  • an automated reminder and actioning system for use in a patent attorney’s office (Venner case BL O/106/04), and
  • an automated system for machine translation of a foreign language communication (Wordlingo case BL O/110/04).
But the Court in Macrossan’s case accepted Mr Macrossan’s argument that the business method exclusion does not apply to ‘partial methods’ of doing business. Mr Macrossan argued that the business method exclusion was directed to entire methods of doing business, such as a method of running a particular franchise business. He drew a parallel with the telephone, submitting that a telephone, assuming for the argument that it was a new invention, would hardly be excluded from patentability merely because it may be used in business. It is merely a ‘tool’ for use in business, rather than an entire business method. The Court accepted these arguments and ruled against the Patent Office on this point.

The bias point has rarely, if ever, been considered previously in the context of a Patent Office Hearing and unfortunately the judgment only partly clarifies the law on this point. Mr Justice Mann at one point said “ … I do not consider that the full bias rule, as such, applies to a hearing of this nature.”. It is apparent from this remark that His Honour thought the rule has at least some application, but unfortunately His Honour did not elaborate. In the final analysis, the Court found that the rule against apprehended bias did not assist Mr Macrossan on the facts of the case. One is left wondering as to the precise scope of rule’s operation, as the case for apprehended bias in the Macrossan case seemed quite strong.

Lucent sues Microsoft. Again.

Lucent sued Microsoft a couple of years ago over their U.S. patent 5,227,878 for a method for "Adaptive coding and decoding of frames and fields of video". The first case was thrown out in 2005 because the patent contained a typo. This was corrected and now Lucent is at it again suing Microsoft for technology contained in the Xbox 360.

The technology is beyond me, but it seems like the claim is for a coding and decoding algorithm that converts high-quality video at smaller bit rates without loss of quality. Yet another low qualityUSPTO patent? Who would have guessed?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Netflix sues Blockbuster

My recent interest in software patents have made me an observer of the U.S. patent system. You know that there is a problem when somebody can patent DVD rental and sue its competitors. This is what happens in the case of popular web-only DVD rental service Netflix, which has sued Blockbuster over one of its patents protecting their rental service. Netflix owns U.S. patent 7,024,381 , which protects an "Approach for renting items to customers". The abstract reads:

According to a computer-implemented approach for renting items to customers, customers specify what items to rent using item selection criteria separate from deciding when to receive the specified items. According to the approach, customers provide item selection criteria to a provider provides the items indicated by the item selection criteria to customer over a delivery channel. The provider may be either centralized or distributed depending upon the requirements of a particular application. A "Max Out" approach allows up to a specified number of items to be rented simultaneously to customers. A "Max Turns" approach allows up to a specified number of item exchanges to occur during a specified period of time. The "Max Out" and "Max Turns" approaches may be used together or separately with a variety of subscription methodologies.
Netflix also owns patent 6,966,484, for "Mailing and response envelope". I kid you not. The abstract reads:
A mailing and response envelope for conveying an item from a sender to a recipient and back is disclosed. The envelope comprises a base panel, a sender address panel, and a recipient address panel. The sender address panel is affixed to the base panel by an adhesive region. The sender address panel and adhesive region define a pocket sized to accept an item. The adhesive region extends laterally on the base panel in an amount selected to ensure that a postal cancellation is not applied to an area overlying the item. The recipient address panel is joined to the base panel by a detachable joint. In this configuration, a fragile item may be conveyed from the sender to the recipient and from the recipient back to the sender without damage to the item.
Has the patent system come to this? It has in the United States. Business method patents are in my opinion the death of the patent system, they protect the minutiae of progress and innovation, and turn the marketplace into a bickering schoolyard of spoiled kids shouting "this is mine" and "I saw it first". The purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation. Patents like the one mentioned above do anything but that. You can get an idea for adding a minor twist to something that already exists, and claim that you are a real innovator.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

China protects virtual property

Courts in the Guangdong province of China have upheld a ruling against Yan Yifan, a 20 ear-old man accused of stealing passwords for a Chinese MMORPG and entering into the accounts to steal online currency and equipment that has only a virtual existence.

Yan received a $620 USD fine as it was considered by the judge that the actions amounted to theft of goods that had real value to players. There had been considerable time and effort spent on the creation of the goods. Yan would steal gold and items and sell them on one of the many virtual good sites.

It is clear that passwords and accounts have certain level of protection, but I am curious if a UK court would return a similar ruling. Should virtual property receive protection?

Monday, April 03, 2006

April's Fools roundup

Some pretty good gags this year. IPKat reported that WIPO is about to launch a probe... into space. Wired had a collection of old classics (did you know that dihydrogen monoxide can kill?). Harry Potter fan websites The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet merged after their editors got married at Edinburgh Castle. The resulting site was The Leaky Mug. Some gaming magazine announced Halo 3 and got gamers hearts racing. The Economist claimed that you could buy your own pet dragon.

Google continued with its tradition as one of the best online pranksters with the release of Google Romance. According to the press release, "Google Romance users who find one another via Soulmate Search™ may then select the Contextual Dating option, which offers an all-expenses-paid romantic evening in exchange for viewing contextually relevant advertising throughout the course of the users' date (learn more). " And you'll live happily, and contextually, ever after.

There is a full list at Wikipedia.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Artist tops charts without a single CD sale

I believe this is probably the first artist who will top the music charts without having a single CD sale in his name. Gnarls Barkley will probably top the UK charts today with a single that has not been released physically, and is only available as a download.

I guess this is just more evidence that the music market has moved on and that dowloads are now a very real part of the market.