We hit this story a bit late, but it is definitely of interest as regards the developing law of intellectual property (and here, also privacy) in the digital age. We continue to point out by cases such as these that current laws concerning copyrights, patents and trademarks are far out of line with reality, and, in the modern digital age, tend to award absolutely unjustifiable windfall profits running into billions of dollars to clever people who are merely riding the stream of ongoing and easily forseeable developments, skillfully manipulating obvious ideas and discoveries preceded in prior art and often even merely doing a good job of implementing state of the art. Facebook is a good example of this.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg tried to get 02138 to take down damaging information about him and the origins of Facebook from the Internet, but at the end of the year 2007 lost that takedown claim against 02138, a magazine featuring Harvard graduates.
As written by Richard Bradley at the 02138mag.com website concerning their victory over Facebook:
“I’m delighted to announce that Judge Douglas Woodlock of Federal District Court in Boston has ruled in favor of 02138 in Facebook’s attempt to win an emergency injunction against the magazine and force 02138 to take down documents from the ConnectU v. Facebook trial. The transcript of the judge’s ruling will be released tomorrow, and since I’m in Mexico I don’t have a complete sense of what happened in court. But I’m told that the judge agreed with our arguments that posting the documents helped show what our article, “Poking Facebook,” was based upon, thus promoting greater public knowledge both about journalism and about Facebook.
Again, since my understanding of the decision is based largely on e-mails and quick phone calls, including one from the bow of a boat headed to the reefs of Cozumel, I should say that further and more specific details will emerge soon. I’ll post ’em as soon as I’ve got ’em. (The post below, titled “Breaking News,” was not actually written by yours truly.)
But here is the larger point: This is a victory for 02138, yes. I’m delighted and relieved that the judge decided as he did. But beyond that, this is a victory for the ability of the American press to do its job with some assurance of constitutional protections, even when a $15 billion company brings its legal guns to bear on you, forcing you into court 36 hours after notifying you of its discontent.
We’re working on the next issue of 02138 now. I hope that there won’t be anything in it that lands us in court again. But if there is, and if we believe that we were right to publish it, we’ll fight it again.
Thank you for your interest and support.“
See the Facebook Files for the documents in question.
All Things Digital : Boomtown (Kara Swisher) wrote that it was a well-deserved loss for Facebook.
Follow the process of the still ongoing ConnectU v. Facebook trial at Justia.com, a lawsuit which seeks to resolve the question of whether Mark Zuckerberg is merely the last link in a process of development of the Facebook social networking software that – at least at Harvard – first began with ConnectU founders Tyler Winklevoss, Divya Narendra, and Cameron Winklevoss (photo linked from 02138mag.com):
From what we have seen of the facts, we think the ultimate result in this case will be to divide up the pie, and, in our opinion, the more the pie is divided up, the better for the common weal ….
Either that, and/or we need a new tax structure whereby these kinds of windfall intellectual property profits are taxed to 95% (or more). That still leaves a good chunk of 5% (or less) – and still plenty enough – for the founders of companies like these, which do nothing more than skillfully manipulate obvious and forseeable ideas, as based on prior art and/or state of the art in the digital world.
There is no societal reason to permit great accumulations of windfall wealth to fall into the hands of persons who may not in large part be competent to handle that wealth for the good of society, and who should thus not have that wealth – for it is the legal system, and not the idea or its implementation, which determines how wealth is “created” or “distributed”. THAT is something that the lawmakers must learn to understand – and which must be communicated to the citizens.