I spend a lot of time speaking about privacy and data security.  When storing data, we often mention “hashing”.  It is a difficult concept to explain, but I think this video does it well.


 This post originally appeared on Law.com.

I am back with more updates related to digital media law.  The key development in April was the U.S. Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on the legality of the Aereo service.

Aereo is a service that lets users license individual antennas in their local markets and the makes the feed of free, over-the-air channels, recordable and available on various devices. Aereo claims that it is simply allowing users to do what they can legally do with their own antennas.  The broadcasters claim this is a re-broadcast.  The main issue is whether a company “publicly performs a copyrighted television program when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the Internet.”

In advance of the Supreme Court consideration, Aereo launched a website at www.protectmyantenna.org to influence public opinion.

Here are some key articles on the topic.

Katelyn Polantz, Law Firms Eye Business Boon If Aereo Wins in High Court, National Law Journal, April 22, 2014.

Jeff John Roberts, Aereo at the Supreme Court: a guide to the biggest TV case in 30 years (and where to learn more), GogaOM, April 22, 2014.

Farhad Manjoof, The Cloud Industry Needs Aereo to Win. But Consumers Need Something Better, The New York Times, April 24, 2014.

This post originally appeared on Law.com.

As a digital media lawyer, it often frustrates me when people confuse the Internet and the World Wide Web in legal agreements.  They are not the same thing!  There was recently a great article on Motherboard summing up some of the differences.  As that article explains,  the Internet is the network — it is made up of the systems and protocols that let computers and other networks communicate with each other.

The Internet is much older than the World Wide Web (which just turned 25 years old), having its roots in military research and education institutions.  The World Wide Web is a graphical interface of pages that use the Internet as a back-end platform and is just a small part of the Internet.  This is the part of the Internet you access through a web browser and search on Google.  The World Wide Web uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

There are other consumer facing uses of the Internet platform, varying from e-mail, to voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) telephones, to instant messaging.

These are some very basic suggested definitions.  These should be expanded and modified for each particular agreement.  Please use the comments to suggest ideas.

Internet” means the decentralized, public, global, network of computers and other electronic devices delivering IP-based signals.

Internet Protocol” or “IP” is a protocol used for communicating data through packets across a network of computers.

World Wide Web” means the part of the Internet accessed through a graphical user interface, typically as websites through web browser software.

This post originally appeared on Law.com.

I read a lot about digital media development, specifically legal topics.  Each month, I will share some top developments with and provide links to resources with more information.

Purchases in Kids Apps.  A class action suit was filed against Google.  Class members claim that it is too easy for kids to spend money with in-app purchases on Android devices.

Cecilia Kang, Google, learning little from Apple debacle, gets hit with its own kids app lawsuit, Washington Post, March 11, 2014.

Popcorn Time & Torrents. Popcorn Time launched a service that enables users to easily stream video torrents.  These torrents are most often pirated content, which was already available.  Popcorn Time removed the need to be tech savvy, opening up viewing for all!

Yannick Lejaxq, Popcorn Time Is Just Like Netflix, Except Everything Is Pirated, Motherboard, March 10, 2014.

Netflix and Comcast Make a Deal & Net Neutrality.  Netflix recently made a deal for direct access to Comcast’s network.  This bypassed the more traditional relationship of paying a third party CDN (content delivery network) such as Akamai or Level 3 for the service.  While many in the press have misunderstood the difference between transit and neutrality issue, Netflix now argues that such arrangements wouldn’t be necessary if strong net neutrality regulations were in place.  Others argue that major bandwidth users should bear more cost.

Stacey Higginbotham, Hey FCC, Netflix thinks peering should be a net neutrality issue too, GigaOM, March 20, 2014.

Peter Kafka, Netflix Says It Really Didn’t Want to Cut That Traffic Deal With Comcast, re/code, March 20, 2014.

Tim Fernholz and David Yanofsky, How the internet works, and why it’s impossible to know what makes your Netflix slow, Quartz, March 21, 2014.

Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality, Netflix Blog, March 20, 2014.

Microsoft & Privacy.  Microsoft searched a the personal email of a blogger who used its hotmail service.  The blogger threatened to leak and sell pre-release versions of Windows.  Microsoft asserted that this search was covered by its terms of use.

Mihaita Bamburic, Microsoft: Going through your private emails is like searching ‘ourselves’, beta news, March 21, 2014.

Stay tuned for updates in April!  Please comment if you would like me to post a more in depth analysis for any of the topics above.

Newspaper by Computer

January 16th, 2014 | Posted by SethDMC in Media | Newspapers - (0 Comments)

Check out this video from the early 1980s about getting your “newspaper by computer.”  My favorite part is the end: “…it takes over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper over the phone and with an hourly use charge of five dollars the new tele-paper won’t be much competition for the twenty cent street edition.”  Oh how times have changed!

1981 primitive Internet report on KRON


I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 4 of my outline on the topic.

a. Detailed Specifications

i. Mobile Platform Decisions. The publisher needs to decide whether to build for different platforms simultaneously or sequentially.

ii. Social Integration. Think ahead what types of social network integration will be used.  Options include logins, social sharing and use of social graph.

iii. Hosting & Live Operations.

  • Service Level Agreement (“SLA”).  If the app will have elements hosted online, will the publisher host them or the have the developer handle them?  If the developer is responsible, there needs to be an SLA with penalties for downtime.
  • Operations Services.  Will the app be static or consistently developed?

iv. Analytics. Publisher should look at free analytics providers, but these don’t receive customer support and may include developer’s analytics as part of larger “industry-wide” studies for re-sale.  Publisher may be better paying for higher service levels that keep analytics private.

v. Ad Server Integration.  If the app will contain advertising, publisher should think about ad placement ahead of time and the types of ads that will be served (banner, video) and whether publisher will sell ads directly or want to use an ad network.


I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 3 of my outline on the topic.

a. Expertise and Reputation

i. Expertise. Look for a developer who has successfully developed similar app types.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel, but make sure to address intellectual property ownership of the things based on the developer’s pre-existing materials.

ii. Reputation. Look for a developer who has a positive reputation for working with clients to meet their needs.  Also, the publisher should do some level of diligence on the financial state of the developer.  If the developer is on shaky ground, make sure to address what happens if key personnel leave the developer or it ceases operations.

b. Cost Model

i. Development Fee. The developer may work on a fixed fee or time and materials basis.  It is important to scope this out in detail.

ii. Revenue Share. Some of the better developers, particularly for game apps, will require a revenue share from the app.  The publisher needs to determine what costs will be recouped before the revenue share is paid and how long it continues for.

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 2 of my outline on the topic.

a. Business Model

i. Free. Apps are often available for free, with advertising.  The publisher should think about ad types and ad insertion technology.  There may also be a free version of a paid app.

ii. Paid. Apps are often available for a discrete one-time charge.  The publisher should think about pricing in context with other apps so as not to discourage purchases.  The developer may also move the price to make the app available at a discount to encourage app discovery.  The publisher should be conscious of the different app store arrangements and how the pricing can be controlled by the app store under some.

iii. Freemium. Many apps have a basic functionality/content available for free and then allow users to make purchases of other functionality/content in the app.

  • Payments. The additional content/functionality may be available for purchase on a per item basis, a bundle of items, or a subscription.  It is important to address ownership rights within the app’s terms of use and specifically address what happens if the publisher ceases development and distribution of the app.
  • Offers.  Sometimes, the additional content/functionality is also available if the user signs up for a certain number of offers, watches video or takes a certain action.  It is important to understand the terms of each offer provider and ensure that the offer provider complies with the applicable platform rules.

b.      Regulatory Concerns

i. Data Collection and Privacy. The publisher should determine what data it needs to collect and why it needs it.  Collecting unnecessary data creates more risk, so limit the collection of personally identifiable information (“PII”).  The publisher should also restrict access to people who need in and, ensure that there is proper technical protection and a plan in the event of a breach.

ii. Geo-tracking.  Geo-data is now considered PII in many circumstances.  The publisher should only collect use it to the extent that it is necessary for the app to perform as intended.

iii. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).   There is a whole additional set of regulations for apps targeted at, or likely to attract, children under age 13.  Check out the FTC’s FAQs online: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/Complying-with-COPPA-Frequently-Asked-Questions

I will be presenting on mobile app development at the Practising Law Institute (PLI) Technotainment Conference on October 5, 2013.  This is part 1 of my outline on the topic.


  • Publisher” means the person or company that will own and distribute the app.  It is often the holder of intellectual property that will be used to brand the app.
  • Developer” means the person or company engaged by the Publisher to technically build the app.  It is usually a professional developer that develops apps for multiple publishers.

a.      Reason for the App

i. Marketing. Is the purpose of the App to market another piece of intellectual property, like a television show, movie, car, sport?  If so, the publisher needs to make sure that is has acquired all rights in the underlying property necessary to distribute and exploit the app.

ii. Engagement. Is the purpose of the App to engage fans of something more in that thing?  The publisher should make sure this is aligned with other marketing efforts, specifically social media.  Make sure that any sweepstakes or contests comply with the rules of the applicable distribution platforms.

iii. Revenue. Is the purpose of the App to generate revenue? For apps to market television shows and movies, the producer and talent often have rights to a share of revenue, so the publisher should make sure to check the relevant agreements and appropriately account for the revenue.

b.      App Type

i. Game.

  • Casual. Casual games are easy to pick up with little instruction.  It is important to make sure the game doesn’t violate the intellectual property of previous games, by cloning their mechanics and elements.
  • Social. Social games leverage the social graph (e.g., Facebook, Apple Game Center) to compete against friends.  It is important to comply with the rules of the applicable social networks.  The publisher needs to make sure that the integration with the social network follows the license terms for the Application Programming Interface (“API”).Synchronous. Play against friends playing at the same time.
  • Asynchronous. Play against friends taking turns.

ii. Utility. These apps may leverage information collected by the device, like locations.  It is important to comply with platform rules and privacy/data security laws/regulations.  Only collect information (e.g., geo-location data and device ID) that is necessary for the app to provide the desired function.

iii. Informational. These apps provide information on a specific topic.  It is important to have all of the proper rights and clearances for articles and images.

Don’t Take Your iPad to the Beach

September 2nd, 2013 | Posted by SethDMC in Gadgets | iPad - (0 Comments)

As the summer draws to a close, this one resonated with me.  I no longer have a paperback book, or a stack of magazines. Everything is on my iPad!