NET(net), Inc.


This Week on The Web 2009-10-11 by jigordon

These are the discussions that happened around the web this week – maybe you already read about them, maybe you need to again.  Come join the party on twitter (follow me here and you’ll participate in the conversation live.)

I also realized that many of you might have no idea what you’re seeing below.  Sorry.  These are “tweets”, 140 maximum character messages sent via Twitter.  Within the Twitterverse individual users follow others and have followers (think of it like overlapping Venn diagram circles).  To read a tweet, you have to wade through a bit of jargon used to make the most of the 140 character limitation.  “RT” for example, is shorthand for “Re-tweet” and the @____ is the username of some other individual on Twitter.  Combined together, then, “RT @_____” means that someone else wrote a tweet that I found important and I now want to forward along to my followers.  The URL’s are then also shortened by shortening services like bit.ly to make the most of the character limitation, too.  Lastly, you might see “hash” identifiers “#______” which are ways to tag tweets of a particular flavor for easy searching later and “<” which means that I am commenting on what came before it.



This Week on The Web 2009-09-13 (my birthday edition) by jigordon

It happens to be my birthday weekend and between eating some great food, playing Guitar Hero with my wife and hanging with the family, these are the things that happened around the web this week – maybe you already read about them, maybe you need to again – there were some REALLY great discussions going on.  Come join the party on twitter (follow me here and you’ll join the conversation live.)

I also realized that many of you might have no idea what you’re seeing below.  Sorry.  These are “tweets”, 140 maximum character messages sent via Twitter.  Within the Twitterverse individual users follow others and have followers (think of it like overlapping Venn diagram circles).  To read a tweet, you have to wade through a bit of jargon used to make the most of the 140 character limitation.  “RT” for example, is shorthand for “Re-tweet” and the @____ is the username of some other individual on Twitter.  Combined together, then, “RT @_____” means that someone else wrote a tweet that I found important and I now want to forward along to my followers.  The URL’s are then also shortened by shortening services like bit.ly to make the most of the character limitation, too.  Lastly, you might see “hash” identifiers “#______” which are ways to tag tweets of a particular flavor for easy searching later and “<” which means that I am commenting on what came before it.



My Lego Love is Fast Fading by jigordon
August 28, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: copyright, current events, fun

I’ve loved Lego since I was a little kid.  I haven’t really counted, but I’m guessing I still have (in large crates in my garage) somewhere around 300+ Lego sets of varying size.  There’s something about allowing your creativity to roam that really interests me.  And as a company, the Lego Group has also been of keen interest from an intellectual property perspective ever since they started becoming sticklers about calling Lego blocks “Lego Bricks and Toys”.  But I think they’ve crossed the line recently with a “rejection” preventing the mock-rock group Spinal Tap from including a Lego-brick-based stop-motion video on their latest DVD.

I use the word rejection in quotes in the prior sentence because I don’t think that the Lego Group had any rights on which to make their claim.  Per the article, Lego Group claimed copyright over the figures themselves (known in Lego parlance as a “minifig”) whereas Spinal Tap’s IP lawyer clearly states that they weren’t intending to show the Lego Group’s logo or use the word Lego anywhere in the DVD.  Copyright protects written and visual works embodied in a tangible medium of expression.  So I’m trying to figure out how the Lego Group thinks that they have a copyright over the minifigs themselves.  I just don’t see it.  Even from a search at the US Copyright Office, what I see are a slew of Lego registrations over the various books, stories, videogames and logos.  I also see one deemed a “sculpture”, which I can only assume is a large version of one of the Lego minifig.  But then the copyright would only cover that sculpture itself – not necessarily every little conceivable permutation of Lego minifig made possible by the myriad tops, bottoms, heads, hair and accessories available.

But even assuming that Lego holds a copyright in the general design of a Lego minifig, would the use for this DVD not qualify as fair use?  I’m not sure it would – it’s parody, but not of Lego… it’s for profit… it “takes” the entire work.  OK.  Fair use is out.  (Which blows Spinal Tap’s attorney’s idea away, too.)

So if the minifig IS registered, yet is distributed 4 billion times (per their company profile)… without any kind of licensing document attached to it… by a company that zealously protects its intellectual property rights… leads me to believe that even the Lego Group knows that they’re on shaky ground.  [Interestingly enough, their company profile also tells the story about the company receiving a patent for their “Lego System” in 1958 – which would have long since expired.  In the US, usually (but not always), intellectual property is protected by only one type of protection.  You don’t get to gain a copyright after your patents run out.  Either it’s a tangible, useful good… or it’s a work of art.]

All in all, I think Spinal Tap gave up WAAAAAAYYYY too early on this one.  What’s next?  Do recording artists need the permission of their guitar manufacturers (which, btw, are covered by copyright by some designers) to play their guitars in their videos?  Of course not.  The guitar manufacturer still holds copyright – but they gave UP the right to restrict where it was played in order to sell the guitar.  Same is true for the Lego Group.

Anyone else wanna’ weigh in on this?



Lease by XKCD by jigordon
July 30, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: fun

Another fabulous comic by Randall Munroe:

lease



What You See is NOT Always What You Get by jigordon
July 9, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: communication, fun, process

Several months ago, I posted the backwards paragraph to demonstrate the immense power of the brain to fill in gaps or to make sense out of the nonsensical.  Understanding this brain functionality is important when you’re trying to communicate with others because of this difference between reality and perception.

But it’s not just words (the parietal lobe) but also the occipital lobe (colors and shapes) that can create this distortion.

So, what does all of this really have to do with contracts?  Well, besides communicating with others, the problem I’ve seen in the recent past has been an increase in the number of missing words in contract templates.  Now, I’m not talking about significant words – “liability” isn’t absent, for example.  It’s an article of speech – an “an”, “a”, “the”, etc – that’s forgotten… or a word improperly capitalized.  And your brain simply fills in the gap(s).

Of course, it might not be a big deal.  But can you see that there is a difference between “the Services” (with a defined term), a service, or a Service?  The Services could mean a group of behaviors, “a service” could simply be a single service component of the Services… or it could be a service separate and apart from any of the services.  Which means that “a Service” could be one of several behaviors, but not all of them.  The key here is learning to read in a different mode.  Similar to the difference in reading a contract compared to reading a fiction novel, copy editing is a completely different style designed to produce a different result.  Mastery of these different styles will help you become a better contract drafter and reviewer.



On the Fastrack, June 19, 2009 by jigordon
June 20, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: contract management, fun, process

I’ve mentioned before that there are a lot of great comics out today that, every once and awhile, touch on contracts and/or negotiation topics. On the Fastrack is another:

(Click on it to see it full-sized.)



Interesting Tidbits by jigordon
June 19, 2009, 9:32 am
Filed under: fun, law, SaaS

I’ve not done this before, but given that I just got off vacation and have an inbox that would scare most people, I thought a few tidbits of things passing my desk might be of interest to you:

The Ideological History of the Supreme Court of the United States

A White Paper on Insurance Coverage for Cyber Security Losses (e-mail required)

The Applicator on “Chiseling on Demand”

Thirty Interview Questions You Can’t Ask and Thirty Sneaky, Legal Alternatives to Get the Same Info (hat tip to D.C. Toedt)