April 23, 2021

Archives for September 2002

Fritz's Hit List #5

Today on Fritz’s Hit List: the Sony Aibo robot dog.

This product, which sends, receives, and digitally processes audio, qualifies for regulation as a “digital media device” under the Hollings CBDTPA. If the CBDTPA passes, any newly manufactured Aibos will have to incorporate government-approved copy restriction technology.

Fight piracy – regulate robot pets!

NYT: Software Diverts Referral Commissions

Today’s NYT discusses software that horns in on referral commissions (like those from Amazon’s affiliates program) meant for others.

Based on the article’s description, it looks like the software lurks quietly, waiting until the user’s browser is going to place an order that could generate a commission. Then the software inserts its distributor’s ID into the request, so as to capture the commission. Apparently the software even puts its own ID in place of another party’s ID, meaning that it captures commissions “meant” for others.

This software comes bundled into programs that a user downloads for free. The user “consents” to the commission-grabbing software’s behavior via vague language inserted into the enclosing product’s click-through agreement.

This seems like a pretty slimy thing to do. Maybe the lawyers out there can tell us whether it’s legal.

Godwin Article on the "Right to Tinker"

Mike Godwin has a new article at law.com on “the right to tinker.” He mentions my upcoming book on the topic. (Thanks, Mike.)