Once again, time to rally the troops — Matt Lavallee, owner of MATTL.COM, has been served with a cease and desist letter by the Mattel, Inc., the toy company — apparently, they don’t like his domain name. From what I can tell from their website, the proper email address to send your concerns to about this is service@mattel.com. (As with almost everything worth talking about these days, there’s a MetaFilter thread just starting about this.)

Now, for a bit of metacontent. First: sadly, Alice is drifting away. It’s been fun reading Strange Brew; it’s a log I’ll miss. Second: Dan has spiffed up the backend of BrainLog with a full database and comment system; it looks great, so go there, now.

And in quasi-metacontent, array is gone as well, apparently in response to the entire WinerLog brouhaha. A thread on MetaFilter has begun about it.

Good for you, Jim. And thank you for the compliment — I am humbled. And lastly, very nice Conversant site. I keep meaning to play with my free site more; maybe this whole blowup is a big message that I should start now.

Napster has lost its ISP safe harbor defense in the RIAA’s lawsuit against the service, apparently because they don’t enforce any policy of copyright protection, and possibly because they allow known pirates and they stand to benefit financially from copyright infringement.

Of all places, CNet News has a decent article about the fact that in many states, your medical records don’t legally belong to you. This is somewhat scary — if you are dissatisfied and leave your doctor, in some states, that doctor can refuse to turn over your records to your new healthcare provider. Thankfully, New York is a state where patients do have the right of access.

Apparently, some parents still believe that tanning is good for their kids. 24% of parents who were surveyed have never applied sunscreen to their kids. Come on, people — the current thinking is that all it takes is a few major sunburns to plant the seeds of skin cancer!

In celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 10th birthday, the Washington Post has a beautiful slideshow and movie of some of its best images. Amazingly, the Hubble has returned nearly 300,000 observations, and has resulted in over 2,500 scientific papers — it’s definitely a science project gone right.

Network Magazine emailed me about their current survey of network, data, and Internet providers. The survey asks for a lot of personal information, including your email address, and they have absolutely no privacy statement of any kind anywhere that I can find. Sort of shocking for a company that is integrally involved with security in the information age.

Hee hee — Number of Linux Distributions Surpasses Number of Users. (I don’t know why I have never come across BBspot before.) Other gems from their recent archives: Microsoft Purchases Evil From Satan, Oracle Experiencing Major Growth In Larry Ellison’s Ego.


In a previous thread Dave Winer asked what one should do as a CEO when one user complains that another user of ETP is using his images. From a strictly legal point of view I think an excerpt from a report I wrote last year may be of interest: (note that the liability question is not relevant in this case but was in context of the report)


The new Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) limits liability of online service providers for copyright infringements in those situations which are potentially the most worrisome. Namely, that a user of the computer system would infringe on copyright and open the service provider to legal jeopardy. In order be protected by the new law, however, a number of administrative actions have to be taken.

The service provider, in order not to be held liable, must do the following:

1) The service provider must register with the U.S. Copyright office a person who will serve as an agent who will be responsible for receiving notices of copyright infringement.

2) The agent must also be listed on the online service.

3) The service provider acts according to the “notice and take down” provision of the DMCA (see below) when infringement is reported or when the service provider becomes aware of infringement.

4) The service provider provides all users with a notice that accurately describes and promotes compliance with copyright laws.

5) The service provider adopts, reasonably implements, and informs all users of a policy that states that repeat infringers will have their access terminated.

In addition, in order not to be held liable, the service provider must not know that infringing material is present on the system and must not gain financially from the presence of the infringing material. The DMCA also makes clear that the service provider does not need to monitor its service for copyright infringement.

The “notice and take down” provision of the DMCA specifies a procedure that must be taken in case a copyright owner or an agent of the copyright owner complains about a case of copyright infringement.

1) The complaint has to be made in writing to the registered agent of the service provider.

2) The service provider’s agent then has to take action to immediately remove or block access to the infringing material. Note that a determination of actual infringement is not to be made by the agent.

3) The agent has to immediately notify the affected user of the system of the action.

4) The user may respond in writing to the agent with a counter notification.

5) The agent must forward a copy of the counter notification to the copyright holder who made the complaint.

6) If the copyright owner does not respond in 10 business days, the institution must restore the material or access to the material.

7) If the copyright owner responds in 10 business days with a notification that the copyright owner has filed a court order to restrain the user from infringing, then the material or access to the material is not restored.


While I am not a lawyer, it seems to me that the law protects copyright in so far as the copyright owner is willing to take legal action. It is not up to the service provider to enforce copyright. If my interpretation is correct, Dave should have removed the images when the original designer complained, but restored the images if the original designer would be unwilling to file a lawsuit (assuming that the person that altered the images would challenge the removal).

Leos Kral

• Posted by: Leos Kral on May 9, 2000, 6:56 AM
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