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Here’s a great idea that’s long overdue: If you own a digital copy of a movie or TV show, you should be able to lend it your friends. Just like you can do with a DVD.

And that’s what Streamnation, which launched today, said it is going to offer: A free locker service that lets people stream their pals’ videos.

Of course, the reason that idea is long overdue is that Hollywood hates that idea: If you can stream your friends’ copy of “Monsters University,” why would you buy it yourself?

Instead, when Hollywood does address digital storage and playback, it does it in ways that don’t make sense to regular humans – try explaining to your kids why they can only watch the copy of “Peter Pan” you bought from iTunes on your iPad, and not your wife’s iPhone, and gauge their reaction.

It’s telling that UltraViolet, the industry’s own attempt to create a locker system that works across multiple devices, has been a dud.

So if Streamnation CEO Jonathan Benassaya gets any traction at all, he can look forward to spending a lot of time with lawyers. Perhaps that’s already begun today.

Streamnation, by the way, used to be Plizy, a now-defunct “video discovery engine;” the old company raised $5.3M, and Benassaya said he has raised another $1.2 million since pivoting.

Benassaya, whose resume includes a stop at Deezer, the French streaming music service he co-founded, has certainly built Streamnation with a lawsuit in mind. It’s constructed using the same “private performance” legal architecture that supports Cablevision’s virtual DVR, which survived a Supreme Court challenge, and which Aereo is also trying to use in its court battle.

The idea in a nutshell: A customer uploads a video – either one they made themselves, or ripped from a DVD, or got… however … to Streamnation’s servers. Then they can stream it back anytime they want.

Streamnation doesn’t technically know what it’s holding on its servers. Instead, it asks users to label the videos they’ve stored – but with a nudge and a wink, it supplies artwork and metadata that go with well-known movies and TV shows.

All of which might fly if Streamnation stopped there, and kept the playback limited to the person who uploaded the file. After all, Amazon and Google launched music lockers that worked the same way, and initially did so without the permission of the music industry.

But Streamnation also allows users to designate a list of friends and family that can “check out” their library of videos, and stream those themselves, one at a time. The big idea here is that there’s only one version of a given video in use at any time: No copying, no downloads. See? No problem!

That sounds great to me, the person who is happy to pay for media but also happy to borrow stuff other people have paid for, with their permission.

But there’s no way Hollywood lets this go.

Space Marine - Games Workshop

When you hear the phrase “space marine”, you’d only guess that it’s related to Games Workshop if you’re familiar with the company’s Warhammer games. After all, space marines have been featured prominently in science fiction since the 1930s and well as in major releases including the movie Aliens, the Halo series, and even Quake. Now Games Workshop, the British company famous for their tabletop combat games, has decided to try and solidify their position as the sole owner of “Space Marines” by seeking legal action against authors who use the title.

While Games Workshop owns much of the Google search results for the title, it’s a science fiction trope that dates back decades. From Bob Olsen’s Captain Brink of the Space Marines in 1932 to the nameless space marine protagonist in the Doom series, the world is filled with references to the classic science fiction trope that has nothing to do with Games Workshop. The seemingly endless supply of creative effort that the Games Workshop team have put into their Adeptus Astartes characters, including dozens of books and in game stories, is by far the most impressive collection of Space Marine related material, but should that give them the right to own the trope altogether?

Space Marine

For a brief time Amazon had incorrectly removed Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth from their online store after receiving a DMCA takedown notice from Games Workshop. Since takedown notices have nothing to do with trademarks — which is the only claim Games Workshop has for the phrase — there was no legitmate reason for Amazon to honor the request. After a plea from the Hogarth, the book has returned to Amazon’s digital shelves.

In the US and the UK, the trademark that Games Workshop holds only applies to games and miniatures. In Europe, the trademark applies to printed materials on any kind, which still doesn’t apply to Hogarth’s book. It’s also worth pointing out that Spots the Space Marine is a story about a Mother that bakes cookies, and couldn’t possibly threaten the Games Workshop empire in any way.

It is unlikely that this is the last we hear of Games Workshop wielding their legal ownership of the space marine trademark. The company already fights regular battles online against companies who make off-brand miniatures that drastically undercut their steep pricing. As 3D printing becomes more popular, it seems only a matter of time before 3D models of popular miniatures find their way into makerspace websites for free. Hopefully their legal battles remain in the relevant areas after this incident, and the company stops trying to take control of the space marine trope.

“On January 23 the top-level decision-making body of the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) gave notice of a remand and a review of a preliminary ruling that found Samsung to infringe four Apple patents (in October),” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents.

“This results in a delay of the U.S. import ban Apple will win if the final ruling finds at least one violation (which is very likely in light of the preliminary finding of four),” Mueller reports. “Without the remand, the final decision would have come down on January 23. Late on Tuesday, Administrative Law Judge Thomas B. Pender entered a scheduling order. The new target date for the final decision is August 1, 2013, requiring the judge to make his remand initial determination (RID) no later than April 1, 2013.”

Mueller reports, “If the final ruling came down on August 1, 2013 and if the determination was an import ban, there would be a 60-day Presidential review period. The White House usually doesn’t veto such decisions. An import ban (possibly coming with a cease-and-desist order and a requirement to post bonds relating to goods imported during the review period) could then take affect at the beginning of October.”

Much more in the full article here.

The Aaron Swartz tragedy has unleashed an intense debate about computer “crime” and the US criminal justice system. Heavyweights like Lessig, Doctorow, Greenwald, Masnick, Wu and Kerr have all written with great passion about the case. But the one article that really resonated with me was written by the Harvard Business Review blogger James Allworth. Provocatively entitled “Aaron Swartz’s “crime” and the business of breaking the law”, Allworth compares Swartz’s “crime” with crimes committed by money launderers and deadly corporate criminals. As he told me, there appears to be a “systemic” problem with an American legal system in which an activist hacker like Swartz faced personal bankruptcy and 35 years in jail, while a healthcare executive guilty of bringing a product to market that killed innocent people only got 9 months in jail. It’s “extremely unfair” Allworth told me, arguing that the Swartz case proves that the American criminal justice system can be bought by powerful corporations.

So is Allworth right? Has the Swartz case exposed the flagrant unfairness of the legal system? And do we need an “Aaron’s Law” to, at least, ensure that the Swartz tragedy will never happen again?

“A Seoul court granted a request by Apple Inc. to delay a sales ban imposed on some iPhones and iPads after an August ruling that the U.S. company infringed on Samsung Electronics Co.’s patents,” Jun Yang reports for Bloomberg.

“The Seoul Central District Court last month accepted Apple’s request to stay the South Korea sales ban until after the company’s appeals of the Aug. 24 ruling conclude, Kim Mun Sung, a spokesman for the court, said by phone today,” Yang reports. “The court found in August that Apple and Samsung infringed on each other’s patents, and ordered the companies to stop selling some smartphones and tablet computers in South Korea and pay damages. Apple was ordered to stop selling the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Samsung’s check must’ve bounced.

“As the patent battle between Apple and Samsung continues to rumble on, we have been made privy to information that both companies have fought hard to keep a secret. Apple VPs Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall have already testified on the creation, sales and hardships of iPhone project, also providing some fresh insight into how highly Steve Jobs regarded patents registered by the company,” Matt Brian reports for TNW.

“NetworkWorld pored through comments made by Senior VP of iOS software Scott Forstall, where he explained the importance of Apple’s ‘381, ‘915 and ‘163 patents, which are all currently being asserted against Samsung in a Californian District Court,” Brian reports. “Forstall explained his delight at being able to create an iPhone that utilised pinch-to-zoom (the ‘163 patent on which he is listed as an inventor), he also detailed Steve Jobs’ close connection to Apple’s ‘381 patent – a technology that covers the “rubber band” (or inertial scrolling) effect that occurs when a user attempts to scroll past the end of a displayed document or webpage.”

Brian reports, “The Apple VP also underlined the importance of the feature to Steve Jobs: ‘Rubber banding is one of the sort of key things for the fluidity of the iPhone and – and all of iOS, and so I know it was one of the ones that Steve really cared about. I actually think that Android had not done rubber banding at some point and it was actually added later. So they actually went form sort of, you know, not yet copying and infringing to – to choosing to copy, which is sad and distasteful,’ Forstall added.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Samsung attorneys drew a bead on Apple’s claims about the uniqueness of its iPhone design Monday, with stronger counterclaims about preceding designs or ‘prior art,’ citing three patent applications that preceded the iPhone,” Charles Babcock reports for InformationWeek.

“Lead Samsung attorney Charles Verhoeven also highlighted some surprising differences between Samsung smartphones and the iPhone, differences that a key expert witness for Apple seemed unaware of. On the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, the rounded corners aren’t rounded equally, as the iPhone’s are, Verhoeven pointed out,” Babcock reports. “He asked key Apple witness Peter Bressler, an expert on industrial design, if he had noticed how much the top corners are a tighter curve than the bottom corners on the Galaxy. If part of a circle, the top corners would have a radius of 10 centimeters; the bottom, 13 centimeters, he said. ‘I couldn’t dispute your measurements,’ Bressler responded. ‘I haven’t measured the corners’ on the Galaxy, he testified.”

Babcock reports, “But he came closer to drawing blood when one of his detail questions about a Samsung design elicited an inadvertent or unexpected response from Bressler. In evaluating one Samsung design, he said he didn’t spend time inspecting and couldn’t explain the four buttons at the bottom of the phone’s face, a common element of Android design. ‘You’re not an expert in the (operational) functions of a smartphone? I thought I just heard you say that,’ Verhoeven said. ‘I’m an expert on the function of design patterns,’ said Bressler. Verhoeven: ‘Did you actually use any of those buttons?’ Bressler: ‘No, not as part of my understanding of the design of the phones.’ …Verhoeven charged that Bressler had reached his conclusions that Samsung infringes based on “a thin layer” of surface design-only analysis.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, Chuck, it’s called Trade Dress Infringement. It’s part of the reason why your client is being hauled into courts the world over, including the one in which you’re floundering. It’s SOP to attempt to discredit expert testimony, but Samsung’s shyster’s ability to do so is severely lacking. Hopefully the jury can see right through it, too.

Apple’s products came first, then Samsung’s:

Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Tab Trade Dress Infringement

Here’s what Google’s Android looked like before and after Apple’s iPhone:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone