: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Guitar tablature

Music publishers have taken up the copyright jihad in a similar manner to their recording industry brethren, threatening lawsuits against websites that host guitar tablature. From the NY Times –

The publishers, who share royalties with composers each time customers buy sheet music or books of guitar tablature, maintain that tablature postings, even inaccurate ones, are protected by copyright laws because the postings represent “derivative works” related to the original compositions, to use the industry jargon.

The publishers told the sites that if they did not remove the tablatures, they could face legal action or their Internet service providers would be pressured to shut down their sites. All of the sites have taken down their tabs voluntarily, but grudgingly.

Now the Music Industry Wants Guitarists to Stop Sharing

Two interesting things about this (1) music publishers you’re just finding out about this now? there’s an industry on the bleeding edge of technology… (2) wow, people really pay for that? Whatever happened to picking it out by ear?

Required reading for Patent Geeks

NYU law prof. Beth Simone Noveck has an excellent idea in the Peer to Patent proposal. The idea, as I understand it, is for the Patent office to allow peer review of patent applications in order to cope with the overload and provide a way for knowledgeable individuals to provide evidence of prior art, etc, via Wiki which is a type of website (see my own pathetically neglected wiki for an example) that allows community editing and annotation. Recent article in Fortune Magazine. Any UH patent geeks care to comment? They’re open.

Quizno’s commercial spoofs cease and desist letters

Quizno’s legal department just got its first screenwriting credit I think. Watch the New Smokehouse Beef Brisket commercial:

Video of New Smokehouse Beef Brisket

See the video Windows Media Player
See the video QuickTime
See the video iPod®
View more Quiznos TV Spots

US Copyright Code in Verse

Yes verse, as in poetry. Breathtaking in ambition and somehow triumphally devoid of useful application. I’m nonplussed.

Supreme Court Rethinks Obviousness

The Patently-O Patent Law Blog has a great analysis on the concept of obviousness that will be central in a patent case SCOTUS just agreed to hear – KSR v. Teleflex (Supreme Court 2006)

The doctrine of nonobviousness ensures that patent rights are not granted on inventions that are simply throw-away modifications of prior technology. Questions of obviousness are at play in virtually every patent case, in both proceedings before the USPTO and during infringement litigation.

Over the past twenty-five years, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has developed its nonobviousness doctrine using a motivation/suggestion/teaching test. According to the test, when various pieces of prior art each contain elements of an invention, the prior art can be combined together to invalidate a patent on the invention only when there is some motivation, suggestion, or teaching to combine the prior art.

KSR has asked the Supreme Court to rethink that approach and take a fresh look at the obviousness standard for patentability. The petition questions whether obviousness should require any proof of some suggestion or motivation to combine prior art references.

The EFF has taken a somewhat vigilante approach to attacking prior art in their patent busting campaign. I’ll be interested to see the approach the court takes, since my puny 1L understanding of the patent system is that it’s currently very susceptible to manipulation and exploitation. It’s also increasingly necessary as technology becomes cheaper and more easier to appropriate. Some safeguards are an economic necessity, but a lot hinges on getting it right. We’re entering an age when the ownership of patents is not an aid to doing business, it IS the business. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but the stakes are definitely higher.

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