Now that I'm settled into a new city and found a job I have finally had time to launch my passion ever since the high school years -- a means for independent artist to acquire needed legal help in terms of intellectual property, contract review, or other entertainment law related matters. All work is done on my free time (nights & weekends) and is geared toward those bands and artists who have legal issues/questions that arise and are unable to afford or seek the proper legal assistance. Having grown up playing music and being really into the business of it I was shocked to see just how many artists were taken advantage of, or weren't able to seek legal assistance when issues arose or contracts were signed. I'll take questions, review contracts, and numerous other tasks that your band may not have considered going to a lawyer for due to the costs. I try to handle on a first come first serve basis, but if you have a pressing matter let me know and I'll see if there's something I can do in the time restraint.
I'm also seeking comments on what overall legal issues anyone as musicians, or industry folks would like a clearer explanation of or analysis of for future articles/walk-thru's that will make it on the website eventually - that will answer questions before they come in basically.
That's all I've got, the webpage also covers industry news/events/artists.
*Figured I would post this here because the patent under count 7 could have implications to the music industry, especially if Yahoo! has more targets in mind other than Facebook to get money from (as mentioned at the end of this post) and also in case anyone wanted a breakdown of this lawsuit*
Today Yahoo! filed a lawsuit against Facebook claiming patent infringement. At issue are ten patents, as follows: U.S. Patent No. 6,907,566; U.S. Patent No. 7,100,111; U.S. Patent No. 7,373,599; U.S. Patent No. 7,668,861; U.S. Patent No. 7,269,590; U.S. Patent No. 7,599,935; U.S. Patent No. 7,454,509; U.S. Patent No. 5,983,227; U.S. Patent No. 7,747,648; and U.S. Patent No. 7,406,501.
The whole complaint can be viewed on my personal website, and probably all over the web by now. I will just be going through the claims Yahoo! makes in connection to each patent, stating what part of Facebook is allegedly infringing on the given patent, and providing some text from the patent.
The underlying language of all the claims is as follows. “Yahoo! claims that Facebook has been infringing the patents by “making, selling, and/or offering to sell in the U.S., or importing into the U.S., products or processes that practice the inventions claimed.”
Infringement of Yahoo!’s Advertising Patents (Counts 1-4)
Count 1: Infringement of the ‘566 Patent (6,907,566)
This claim specifically calls out Facebook Ads.
The ‘566 patent is described as “a method and system for placement of graphical objects on a page to optimize the occurrence of an event associated with such objects.”
Count 2: Infringement of the ‘111 Patent (7,100,111)
This count also calls out Facebook Ads. The ‘111 patent is a divisional of the ‘566, which explains the similarity of the claims and patents themselves for anyone who just saw the similar pictures and language.
Count 3: Infringement of the ‘599 Patent (7,373,599)
More of the same as stated in the first two claims. It calls out Facebook Ads specifically and the ‘599 patent is a divisional of the ‘566.
Count 4: Infringement of the ‘861 Patent (7,668,861)
This count also calls out Facebook Ads but the patent is not a part of the ‘566 family this time.
The ‘861 patent states “a system and method are disclosed for classifying a user interaction on a network.”
Infringement of Yahoo!’s Privacy Patents (Counts 5-6)
Count 5: Infringement of the ‘590 Patent (7,269,590)
Targeted here are the Facebook Privacy Controls.
The ‘590 patent states “a method, apparatus, and system are directed towards managing a view of a social network user’s personal information based, in part, on user-defined criteria.”
Count 6: Infringement of the ‘935 Patent (7,599,935)
Also targeted here are the Facebook Privacy Controls.
The field of art of the patent states “the present invention relates to managing display of content, and more particularly to a method and system for enabling a user to preview content as it would be seen by another social network user.”
Infringement of Yahoo!’s Customization Patents (Counts 7-8)
Count 7: Infringement of the ‘509 Patent (7,454,509)
The target is now Facebook’s News Feed.
The 509’ patent provides for “a method for entertaining individuals according to a community having similar tastes. Information derived from user accounts form the basis of a community and collateral preferences allow other subscribing individuals to enjoy the benefit of wider-ranging tastes according to the preferences expressed by the other members of the community. Additionally, assuming that individuals sharing one preference in common may be likely to share others, the present method allows those who choose to listen to the “fan station” the ability to enjoy similar music or other data streams according to preferences expressed by the fan community as a whole.
Count 8: Infringement of the ‘227 Patent (5,983,227)
In addition to also targeting the Facebook News Feed, this claim mentions the Facebook Wall.
Under background of the invention, for the ‘227 patent, it states “the present invention relates to the field of customized information presentation. More specifically, one embodiment of the invention provides a custom page server which can quickly serve custom pages and is scalable to handle many users simultaneously.”
Infringement of Yahoo!’s Social Network Patent (Count 9)
Count 9: Infringement of the ‘648 Patent (7,747,648)
Targeted in this count are Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups.
The ‘648 patent states the following in the first paragraph in summary of the invention:
“Embodiments of the present invention provide systems and methods for information retrieval and communication using a world model. The world model is made up of interrelated entity models, where each entity model corresponds to an entity (or abstraction) in the real world, such as a person, place, business, other tangible thing, community, event, or thought. Each entity model provides a communication channel via which a user can contact a manager (a real-world person) responsible for that entity model. Entity models also advantageously provide feedback information, enabling users to easily share their experiences and opinions of the corresponding real-world entity.”
Infringement of Yahoo!’s Messaging Patent (Count 10)
Count 10: Infringement of the ‘501 Patent (7,406,501)
The obvious target here is Facebook Messages
The basic description of the patent is as follows: “Systems and methods allowing an instant messaging user to exchange messages with an e-mail user.”
My Quick Take:
Being a huge fan of music and all the innovation taking place in the industry, count 7 scares me the most, and should scare other music start-ups like Pandora, Spotify, and Turntable.fm, to name a few. The title of the patent at issue (‘509) is “Online Playback System With Community Bias” and deals with internet radio, and appears to have been geared toward something called LAUNCHcast. The claims seem to be written broad enough that Yahoo!’s lawyers feel confident they can apply this to the News Feed. If Yahoo! is going to challenge Facebook on this matter, and actually cares about protecting their invention more than just the money Facebook has to offer, then it seems highly probable that the formentioned companies may want to either prepare defenses for a possible suit, or look to band together with Facebook on challenging this particular patent.
All of the patents, while extremely technical, also appear to have many elements in the claims that are just begging to be challenged on basis of obviousness, specifically the ‘501 patent, in my opinion. The filing of the application was in March of 2003, long predating this was an application called ICQ (which dates back to sometime around 1996) which allowed users to communicate in real time (instant messenger fashion) and with offline users (something an application like AOL IM would not let you do at the time). I forget if those offline messages went to e-mail or not, but it certainly raises a question of obviousness. Also, on this patent, Google seems to come into question as a possible defendant, as Google Chat users can send messages to offline users that show up in their e-mail, under a chat tab.
The other thing to note is that it will be interesting to see how Facebook responds. I’m not sure what is in their portfolio of patents, but I venture to guess there is something there that Yahoo! could be claimed to be infringing.
Lastly, it’s no secret Yahoo! has been fading as of late. The term “patent troll” is a thrown around by many bloggers and others reporting on companies that hoard patents for the sole purpose of suing. If these claims turn out to be without merit Yahoo! is in danger of gaining a lot of bad press and being compared to a patent troll with this lawsuit, which they certainly don’t need.
Yesterday (1/27/11) tickets went on sale for three Bruce Springsteen shows in New York and New Jersey. Ticketmaster was the website to purchase tickets at, but numerous fans received error messages and could not receive tickets. Tickets for these shows can be found on eBay, Stubhub, and other secondary broker sites for hundreds of dollars more than face value. This has resulted in Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D., N.J.) promising to reintroduce the “BOSS Act” (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing). Full text of the bill can be viewed HERE. In general, it would prohibit the purchase of tickets by brokers for the first 48 hours of the primary sale, along with requiring more reporting by the ticket seller on how many tickets are available, the distribution of all the tickets, and some additional restrictions on secondary brokers and employees or other “insiders” who may acquire tickets.
The music industry has been slow to adjust to the age of the internet. What could have been a cash cow now and for years to come for the music industry has become it’s biggest fear (as evident by the overwhelming support from music industry executives and the RIAA in the battle for SOPA and PIPA).
While the BOSS Act doesn’t directly address these intellectual property issues, it does address another issue — what exactly is the business acumen of these label executives? These tickets are going for hundreds of dollars more on resell and, most importantly, people are buying them. If the labels are going to make extreme claims of how piracy effects them (I don’t doubt that piracy hurts the artists and labels, but some of the claims made by the RIAA seem far reaching) they should realize the opportunity to make more money on ticket sales when it exists. They are undervaluing their product by hundreds of dollars and that is their prerogative. It’s also their choice to use Ticketmaster as opposed to another ticketing service or another means that assures the tickets end up in the fan’s hands and not a broker.
Sure, the BOSS Act is supposed to be a way to protect the consumers and ensure they get tickets at a fair price but it’s hard for me to feel bad for the fan when it is the label putting them in this situation, and they don’t ever seem to care about the fan. Representative Pascrell’s insistence on reintroducing this Act only goes to show how the music industry, in large part, has failed to adjust from 2009 to now (the bill was originally introduced in 2009, due to another failure by Ticketmaster in selling Springsteen tickets). If the music industry truly cared about the fans this would have been fixed by each individual label, Ticketmaster, and everyone involved in the ticketing process.
There are numerous options that could have led to more fans getting tickets for this show, or any other shows where this has been an issue. First, why not reserve more tickets for a set presale, where the fans provide the label with their e-mail address, and in return get a user specific link to purchase up to 5 or so tickets? The label gets an e-mail to add to their list, and they make sure these particular fans won’t be complaining about not being able to receive a ticket. Second, make the face value of the tickets reflective of what they are actually worth. If fans are going to pay more money than you are charging, it’s time to raise the price. You’re only encouraging these secondary ticket brokers to purchase mass quantities of tickets when you charge under what the customer perceives as the fair market value. These are just a couple of ideas to solve the problem without enacting legislation that shouldn’t be needed in the first place.
I personally would be much more interested in seeing an antitrust investigation launched against Live Nation & Ticketmaster than seeing Congress waste their time on this Act, when there are far more important matters to take up.
Recently there was a discussion was started regarding people's favorite EPs (extended play). I thought this was an interesting topic to ponder, as well as a great way to listen to some of my music catalog that I hadn't in some time. I have decided to post my list of favorite EPs below, in no particular order, for those who would like to try some new bands out. And yes, I did get a little carried away... There are just so many good EPs it turns out. Most of these EPs were released before a full length (LP) and really got me interested in the particular band, others were just a supplement to an already impressive catalog of releases. I'm sure I have left out numerous EPs that I also enjoyed, these are just some of the first that came to mind. (There are links to the EPs on Spotify where available, just click on the album name)