They Scream For Court Stream

Fourteen news agencies have filed a brief urging a federal appeals court judge to allow the streaming of a peer-to-peer lawsuit case.

The RIAA is suing Boston University grad student Joel Tenenbaum for copyright infringement. The lawsuit attracted national press coverage when Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson began representing Tenenbaum. A longtime critic of the recording industry’s legal efforts to stop P2P infringement by suing individuals, Nesson originally requested that the court stream its proceedings.

The RIAA tried to block the proposed streaming, saying it would go against federal guidelines for cameras in the courtroom as well as make it difficult for a fair trial.

Although the judge originally dismissed the RIAA’s objections, the trade organization successfully pushed back the date the streaming was to take place by objecting to the way the proceedings would be streamed.

As originally proposed by Nesson, the proceedings would be transmitted to Harvard’s Berkman Center For Internet and Society, after which, it would be streamed to the world.

U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner originally green-lighted the stream, which was supposed to take place Jan. 22, but delayed it until Feb. 24 after the RIAA pointed out that Nesson ran the Berkman Center For Internet and Society, thus raising “basic issues of fairness.”

The judge eventually decided the RIAA is welcome to the same transmission the Berkman Center will receive, and it may stream the proceedings under the same conditions the Center agreed to, which is to run the complete proceedings unedited.

The news organizations filing the brief supporting the streaming are Associated Press, The New York Times, Courtroom Television Network, Dow Jones & Co., Gannett Co. Inc., The Hearst Corp., NPR, NBC Universal, Incisive Media, Radio-Television News Directors Association, The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press, E.W. Scripps Co., Tribune Co. and Washington Post Digital.

“It is hard to imagine a hearing more deserving of public scrutiny through the same technological medium that is at the heart of this litigation,” the news organizations said in their brief to the appeals court.


Playing With Fire

It’s not every day an artist is forced to drop a song from an album that’s already in stores. Especially a hit album.
But that’s what Lil’ Wayne is doing. The hip-hop star is dropping “Play With Fire” from his album, Tha Carter III.
It’s all because of that ol’ devil known as copyright infringement.

It started last year when Abkco Music, the publishers for The Rolling Stones’ song, “Play With Fire,” filed an infringement suit against Lil’ Wayne, his producer, record label and music publisher over Wayne’s “Playing With Fire,” which incorporated, without permission, the song’s melody and lyrics, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Usually, at this point, legal beagles from both sides would get together to hash out a settlement, so that Wayne could keep the song, and the Stones could make a little money from Lil’ Wayne CD sales.

But this isn’t your usual copyright infringement lawsuit. The Journal reports Abkco was going to grant Wayne permission to use the song, but backed out after learning the rapper’s track would include lyrics the publisher considered “explicit, sexist and offensive.”

Plus, Abkco execs didn’t learn the song was included on Tha Carter III until they read reviews of the CD. Needless to say, they were not thrilled.

Under the settlement, not only will Wayne remove the song from future shipments of Tha Carter III, but he has also pulled it from online music services like iTunes and Amazon MP3. Of course, that doesn’t do anything about the almost 2 million copies Nielsen SoundScan says sold in the U.S. Nor does it affect the 42,000 digital downloads the track received through online services.

What’s remarkable about the outcome is that most publishers would have preferred a settlement where the song stayed on the album, and the publishers would get paid for the use of the track. But Abkco president Jody Klein told the Journal that money wasn’t the deciding factor.

“The lawsuit was not about money,” Klein said. “It was about protecting the written works of our songwriters.”


Super Porn

Television viewers in Tucson, Ariz., got more than football and Springsteen while watching the Super Bowl. They also got some skin, and we’re not talking pigskin.

Sports fans watching Larry Fitzgerald score a dramatic touchdown in the fourth quarter were probably staring at their TV screens in disbelief when the action switched from the play on the field to a play in a bedroom.
As in porn. Specifically, full-frontal male nudity.

The Arizona Republic reports only Comcast cable subscribers saw the clip. At press time, Comcast said it was investigating what the company called an “isolated, malicious act.”

However, the company still hadn’t pinpointed exactly how the porn got mixed up with the Super Bowl telecast.

Meanwhile, the cable company is offering $10 credits to any of its customers who might have felt “impacted” by the naughty scenes.

“We were, like, in shock,” said Alice Soto, who watched the game with her 11-year-old daughter and 80-year-old mother.

The clip originated on adult pay-per-view channel Shorteez, one of the adult PPVs offered by Comcast in that market. A second clip showed about 10 seconds of end credits for another adult PPV – Club Jenna.

“The Super Bowl is a family viewing event and [Sunday] night was even more special here in Arizona as we were all cheering for the Cardinals,” a Comcast spokeswoman, Kelle Maslyn, said in a statement.

“While this credit won’t change what happened, we hope that it will demonstrate to our customers, and to the Tucson community, how seriously we are taking this situation.”

Maslyn also said the company has “some leads” it will pursue “until we come to a resolution.”