August 2006

Noncompete Agreements. Plaintiffs seeking to enforce noncompete agreements by means of preliminary injunctions have been up against it as of late. In Payson’s Trucking v. Yeskevicz (pdf file) Judge Peter Agnes denied the plaintiff’s motion, which was brought against a contracting party (as opposed to an employee), on the grounds (among others) that the agreement was too vague as to its geographic reach and in the identification of the plaintiff’s actual customers.

In Merchant Business Solutions v. Arst (pdf file) Judge Richard Connon denied a preliminary injunction against a former sales employee on the grounds that the geographical limits were too broad and that the plaintiff was seeking protection from ordinary competition (among other reasons). Both cases are worth reviewing, since the impression one takes away is that the pendulum has swung (yet again) in the direction away from enforcement of these agreements. A plaintiff simply needs better facts than the parties had here in order to obtain a preliminary injunction to enforce a noncompete agreement.… Read the full article

First, Google wants to digitize every book ever written.

Now, YouTube wants to make available, for free, every music video ever created:

YouTube, which sprung out of nowhere a year ago to now claim over 100 millions views a day, is negotiating for rights to post current and archive music videos on its site, and said any commercial model it decides on will offer the videos free.

“What we really want to do is in six to 12 months, maybe 18 months, to have every music video ever created up on YouTube,” co-founder Steve Chen told Reuters. “We’re trying to bring in as much of this content as we can on to the site.” (continued)

Right. When will Westlaw or Lexis step up and make every law case ever decided available for free? Now that would be worth getting excited about.… Read the full article

Of iPods, Lock-Ins and the DMCA

by Lee Gesmer on August 15, 2006

As an ambivalent owner of an Apple iPod I’ve given a lot of thought to the fact that songs I download from Apple’s iTunes will not play on a portable device other than an Apple iPod. If I want to play my iTunes music collection on another manufacturer’s MP3 player, today or five years from now, I’ll be unable to play the tunes downloaded from iTunes. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prevents competitors from reverse engineering the protection Apple embeds in these files, and therefore Apple has, in effect, a government enabled lock-in.

The only legal way around this restriction requires users to burn the iTunes songs to a CD and then import (rip) them back into iTunes as MP3 files. This eliminates Apple’s digital rights management (DRM) and “frees” these tunes, but what a hassle and disincentive to buy music from iTunes. Do I do this? Yes. Do I like it?… Read the full article

An Update on Google Book Search

by Lee Gesmer on August 14, 2006

University of California joins in.

The University of California is joining Google’s book-scanning project, throwing the weight of another 100 academic libraries behind an ambitious venture that’s under legal attack for alleged copyright infringement.

Link here for full story. For an earlier and in depth discussion of this issue click here.… Read the full article