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  • Jun 27th, 2017 @ 7:49am

    My own experience with Zillow's legal dept

    I have a minor experience myself that suggests Zillow's legal department is a little over-reaching sometimes.

    Though I know their Zestimates are often wildly inaccurate [at least in my area] I've been using Zillow to get info on houses for years. When I set up my account using the email address "zillow@{MYDOMAINHERE}" because I run my own domain and that's what I often do when creating accounts on websites. Makes it easy to see who's selling their email address lists.

    So at one point I flagged a property mine because it was listed as 'for sale' when it wasn't, and in response I get an email from Zillow's Legal department that said:

    "... it recently came to our attention that you are using the trademark "Zillow" in your email address, zillow@{MYDOMAINHERE}. I need to ask you to stop using this email address.

    When people use "Zillow" on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace or otherwise in the real estate or mortgage space, it causes two problems: it confuses consumers about an affiliation with Zillow and it violates Zillow's intellectual property rights. Zillow is a registered trademark, and we have a duty to police its use.

    Consider this a polite request to change the email address, and not to use the Zillow name. Could you reply to confirm?

    Since they were at least polite about it, I politely responded that I wasn't using it commercially, nor in the 'real estate or mortgage space" and that my use fell well within the auspices of fair use, and that I would continue to use the address for my account.

    Thankfully I guess they decided I was right and never bothered me again.

  • Sep 23rd, 2015 @ 8:28am

    What if?

    So if I have this right, the lyrics and melody for "Good Morning to All" are in the public domain.

    Although they have failed to prove that they still have the rights, in theory having changed 2 words of the song from "Good Morning" to "Happy Birthday" was theoretically enough to qualify for a separate copyright on the lyrics as if it were a different song.

    So in theory, even if its found that WarnerChappel does hold copyright on "Happy Birthday to You", anyone could provide new lyrics that fit within this melody. Say perhaps:

    "Day of Birth Joy to you"

    And copyright it?

    Or perhaps release it as the most permissive Creative Commons license? And then any company could freely use the melody with those lyrics?

    Seems to me all these restaurants that tried to come up with their own stupid songs were doing things the hard way.

  • Sep 5th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    F*CK Wells Fargo

    When I was young I moved across the country. Not knowing any better, I put my money into a Wells Fargo. At some point later, AOL attempted to put charges through to my old bank which they were NOT authorized to do. Unbeknownst to me, I had been reported to Chex Systems for $32 in "over-draft" fees.

    Wells Fargo made me take my money out of their bank, telling me I could come back when it was fixed. I got AOL to admit fault, pay the fees, and got the records removed from Chex Systems [as if it had never happened]. When I went back to WF with my money, the manager spoke to me like I was a dirty hobo asking for a handout, and told me I was not allowed to have an account with Wells Fargo for seven years. All over $32 which I owed to SOMEONE ELSE, and which wasn't my fault.

    Yeah, as if I'd just be begging to give my money back to Wells Fargo ever again. So F*ck Wells Fargo. They will never, ever see a single dime of my money, ever.

  • Oct 28th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    (untitled comment)

    I don't know, this is a law that could have prevented the Justin Beiber phenomenon. That's a pretty strong argument in favor of it if you ask me. :)

    /sorry I just couldn't resist.

  • Apr 25th, 2010 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re:

    Thus far, the only response that's been given as an alternative to Netflix streaming is Youtube rentals. Except that these are not even in the same league.

    Netflix = $8.99/month - watch as many movies as you want
    Youtube = $0.99-$19.99/video - Even if every movie you want to watch is priced at $0.99 [highly unlikely], you can only watch 9 movies before you're spending more money. Most movies are probably in the $1.99-5.99 range. So you might get 3-4 movies in, if you're lucky.

    Sorry, they just don't compare. It's great that it's available as another option, I don't want a monopoly in this area. But as it stands now, Youtube does not provide a similar feature set.

  • Apr 25th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: DRM != BAD in all situations

    I guess I should ask then: What does the DRM on Netflix *rental* videos prevent that you would like to allow? Especially given that any such restrictions are made moot by the free availability of the film from your website?

    I know the money is not your primary goal, but do you deny that it would be nice to make some money as long as it doesn't conflict with your other, higher-priority goals?

    I have great respect for you in all of this. I'm glad you're making your film available as widely as possible. Given that this is [or appears to be to me] your primary goal, I'm sure it's a difficult decision to chose to eliminate a potential viewing opportunity for people.

    On the one hand I understand a dislike for DRM, and your decision CAN be a tool to help pressure companies to provide non-DRM options for content creators, which would certainly be a good thing.
    At the same time, if a large number of consumers are happy with a specific technical limitation, does it make sense to avoid providing your works via the delivery path they have chosen?

    It's a choice I'm glad I don't have to make, and I don't envy you in that respect.

    Thus far it appears that you've been dealing with Netflix through at least two layers of intermediaries. Hopefully someone from Netflix will see this article, recognize the dilemma you are facing and can contact you directly to help work towards providing a DRM free option for you and other filmmakers. I will be sending Netflix some feedback on my account regarding this. It may not make as strong a statement as cancelling my account, but even without that "threat", enough feedback should hopefully make it clear to them that this is something consumers want.

  • Apr 25th, 2010 @ 7:03am

    DRM != BAD in all situations

    People seem to be going overboard with the anti-DRM sentiments.

    While DRM is absolutely untenable for purchased media and should simply go away, DRM for *rented* media is acceptable as long as the DRM is not be too onerous on the consumer. Only requiring a common browser plugin, as Netflix does, is reasonable. I'd like to see it available for alternate OSes, but it is still reasonable.

    Personally, I refuse to *purchase* any media which is laden with DRM. As I said it is unreasonable and untenable for media companies to expect to control how I consume my *purchased* media.

    At the same time, it is perfectly reasonable to allow for DRM on *rented* media. If their streaming media were DRM-free, it would be extremely tempting to pay for a couple months of Netflix and just download all the movies I wanted. Perhaps once a year pay for a month and download all the new movies I want, for $9. Yes, I understand that it is possible to rip the Netflix streams. But it is not easy to do and requires software from untrusted sources.

    I am perfectly happy to pay Netflix a monthly fee to access streaming movies, even though they have DRM. With the exception of not being able to access the movies in Linux [at this time], Netflix has been very good about making sure their streaming movies are accessible from a large variety of devices. I can watch them through my Xbox360, through my PS3, through my Wii, through any of my dual-boot computers, and soon I expect to be able to watch them through my phone. I can watch ANY movie which Netflix streams at ANY time, as many times as I want. I go into this with a full understanding that I am *renting* access to a large and increasing library of movies and that if I stop paying, I cease to have access.

    I am also happy to pay Rhapsody a monthly fee for access to their vast library of music, even though that music is restricted with DRM. I can listen to any of the millions of songs on Rhapsody from ANY computer with a web browser, even in Linux. I can copy my rented music to my mp3 player and only have to sync it once every two weeks. I can stream any of those millions of songs to my phone, anywhere theres a Wi-Fi, 3G or Edge network. Soon I'll even be able to store that music on my phone to listen even if there is no signal.

    On the few occasions I choose to purchase digital media, I have never paid money for a DRM encumbered copy, and I never will. But I could never afford to purchase all the music I like to listen to, or all the movies I'd like to watch. It would cost me hundreds of dollars a month. Paying $15/mo (Rhapsody) and $9/mo (Netflix) for access to almost any music or movie I could ever want is a killer deal, and I'm willing to accept the DRM in this case.

    Yes, I would PREFER if these companies would provide the same services without DRM. And I think they SHOULD allow content creators to have the ability choose not to have any DRM on their creations. But I also understand the added technical overhead of adding another path in their process. Hopefully if enough content creators request this, they will start allowing it. Since Netflix has a strict "no banner" policy [which is fine as they seem to be enforcing it consistently], perhaps for your next film you can put at the end [or beginning] of the credits a message telling viewers where they can obtain a free copy of your movie.

    Obviously this movie is your creation, and you are perfectly free to choose not to accept a particular distribution path. But the rabid anti-DRM stance some people have is simply an extreme reaction which ignores the reality of business, and like it or not, media is big business.

    You are also perfectly free to start your own streaming media rental company which doesn't use DRM in any situation.

    I'm glad you are providing free access to your film, and I hope more content creators start to choose the path you have chosen. But I personally would be more likely to end up watching it if it were available via the methods I've chosen to consume media [Netflix streaming in this case]. As it is, even though I want to watch your film, and even though I've known for a long time that it is available for free, I have not yet seen it. It is simply not convenient for me to track down the site you have it available, download it, and convert it to a DVD, or transfer it to my media sharing in order to watch it as I typically watch movies. If I had to individually track down each movie I want to watch, and deal with whatever codec each movie was distributed in, I'd watch a lot fewer films.
    If it were available via Netflix streaming, it would fall within my daily routine of adding movies to my queue to watch. As a bonus, you'd actually get paid for it. I know I can add it to my physical DVD queue [and probably will eventually], but I'm an 'instant gratification' kind of guy. :) At this point probably 95% of my Netflix viewing is of streamed movies. In the last year I've only gone through about 4 physical DVDs from Netflix.

    I know this is just anecdotal 'data' from one person. But my point is that reducing the avenues by which your film is available goes against what I presume is your reason for making the film in the first place; having people watch it.

    Sorry this ended up a LOT longer than I originally intended. Hopefully you understand the point I'm trying to make. Instead of avoiding all DRM at all costs, try to take into account what might be a reasonable reason for allowing DRM when making your decisions.