Roundup for the week of 12/07/2009

Some key stories we’re watching for the week are below.  Let us know if you have anything you’d like an ‘exclusive’ for the tek community.

Terms of (Ab)use: Are Terms of Service Enforceable?

Announcement by Ed Bayley

“In the first of a series of white papers on Terms of Service (TOS) issues, EFF today released The Clicks That Bind: Ways Users “Agree” to Online Terms of Service. The paper aims to answer a fundamental question: when do these ubiquitous TOS agreements actually become binding contracts? We discuss how courts have reacted to efforts by service providers to enforce TOS, and suggest best practices for service providers to follow in presenting terms to a user and for seeking his or her agreement to them.”

The antics of lawyers combing over the Internet and its patrons can only mean great things for the legal profession and trouble for the tech community and the general public.  Assumptions, contradictions and nuanced generalizations are the norm when it comes to ‘regulation’ of anything Internet.  I suspect many of us will be six feet under ground, or blowing in the wind, when any of these are decided.  In the meantime, get your story straight.  Make sure you do the old CYA when it comes to TOS for any transactions on your site.

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Here is one of my favorite stories of the year.  George Lucas who lives just over yonder and some decent mountain ranges from Berkeley here, when faced with what a lot of spoiled rich types with his sort of fame would melt into fake puke splatters, Ol’ George Lucas used his brains and for that we give him a big thumbs up.  Check this out:

Jedi Lawyer Uses Mind Tricks to Watch Over Star Wars Empire

“Managing the Star Wars brand is an essential element of Anderman’s job. He tries to encourage devotees’ enthusiasm while protecting the Lucas brands.

Anderman cited an example of how the general counsel of “a company at the intersection of entertainment and technology” explores the boundaries of trademark and copyright law. Last year, Stephen Colbert presented the Star Wars Green Screen Challenge. The contest centered around homemade digital movies featuring the comedian using a Jedi light saber. The situation arose after footage of Colbert jumping around with a light saber found its way onto the Internet. Rather than having the legal department intervene and shut down the Colbert video, Lucasfilm and Comedy Central agreed to launch the contest. The winner was “a random guy from Ohio,” whose entry defeated the effort of “George L. from Marin County,” actually George Lucas, Anderman said.

“In determining “what is fair use and what is fan use,” Anderman and his team turned what could have been treated as a case of infringement into a positive public-relations event, he said.”

Wow, spectacular as usual George!  Now how about agreeing to take over California governor’s office next.  We understand the job is open and the natives are restless.


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