The Electronic Frontier Foundation teamed with the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic on Law, Technology and Public Policy at Boalt Hall and unearthed through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests a fascinating window into how the government uses social networking sites to gather evidence in cases – EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites.
Amazingly enough, the IRS seems to be a the forefront in terms of ethical policies:
Generally, you are allowed to review information from publicly accessible, unrestricted websites. Unrestricted websites do not require further action to gain access, such as entering your email address or registering. In civil matters, employees cannot misrepresent their identities, even on the lnternet. You cannot obtain information from websites by registering using fictitious identities.
Another presentation Obtaining and Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites (.pdf) by the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, provides an interesting comparison of the practical ramifications of privacy and retention policies on digital evidence gathering.
The EFF’s Social Networking Monitoring project site will continue to post information which may well be worth monitoring for any lawyer with an interest in the area or clients that might be affected.
In an interesting ruling, a British court has apparently ruled that Pink Floyd can enforce a clause in their contract to prevent their record company, EMI from selling individual tracks apart from the whole album.
As part of a broader lawsuit over royalty payments, Andrew Morritt, chancellor of the U.K. High Court, ruled Thursday that Pink Floyd’s 1999 contract with its record label, EMI Group Ltd., prohibits EMI from selling the band’s work in any configuration other than the original without the band’s permission. The contract dates from before the advent of digital music, when the arrival of online music retailers like Apple Inc.’s iTunes gave consumers the ability to pluck individual tracks without buying the whole album.
EMI argued in court this week that the 1999 contract language only applied to physical albums or CDs, not downloads. Pink Floyd’s attorneys said the band wanted its work sold online only as complete albums, not as individual tracks.
On Thursday, according to the Associated Press, Sir Andrew sided with the band and ruled that EMI is “not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than the complete original album without Pink Floyd’s consent.” He ordered EMI to pay the band’s legal costs.
To a certain extent it’s reminiscent of another famous case involving artistic expression and editing by Monty Python in Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., 538 F.2d 14 (2d Cir. 1976), in which the court held that unauthorized editing of underlying script by television network of licensed from its owner would constitute infringement of copyright in underlying work similar to any other use of work that exceeds license granted by proprietor of copyright. As a matter of contract and copyright then, there seems to be respect for context as an element of artistic integrity. It makes me wonder how far an artist might be able to take this concept. Could I mandate a particular bitrate? A file format other than mp3 that doesn’t degrade the sound quality? I don’t see why not. Could reach further down the distribution channel and dictate how the consumer listened to my music? It’s a tougher sell, but if I put a notice that listening to my album is an agreement not to listen to it on anything but Bose surround sound system why shouldn’t my artistic integrity carry the same force?
Rob Cottingham’s Noise to Signal