Announcing Our New Research Fellow, Christopher Nofal – by “admin”

Here at YLT, we’re aiming to be a program that is larger than just the set currently offered courses. To that end, we’re pleased to announce our first Research Fellow, Christopher Nofal.

Chris will be helping us with a bunch of projects, over the summer and for CPSC 183 in the fall. Look out for the first one, “Fair Use of the Week” coming very soon.

We’re thrilled to have Chris!

About Christopher Nofal

Christopher is a 2012 candidate for Juris Doctor at Northwestern University School of Law. His research looks at legal issues at the intersection of technology, philosophy, and innovation policy. A current focus of his work is whether the defense of “fair use” is real for netizens or a distant abstraction. He is writing an original work that extends the Capabilities Approach (Nussbaum et al) to the realm of copyright jurisprudence.

Chris is Executive Editor of the Northwestern Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. Prior to June 2011, he served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Virginia M. Kendall at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He has been examining computer hardware and software patent applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office since February 2007. Christopher received his Bachelor of Computer Engineering from the University of Florida in 2006. He has experience in microprocessor design, artificial intelligence theory, robotic programming, and composing digital music. He is an avid contributor to the Wikimedia project.

Chris can be found on the net at:

twitter: chrisnofal

Please give Chris a warm welcome!

For Sale: Your Secrets – by “Xiyi X”

How much information could a stalker–or future employer–find out about you?

This question is precisely what our project aimed to answer. An increasing number of websites are advertising themselves as “people search engines” (Spokeo), which aggregate personal information on the Internet “for personal security and to inform the decision-making process” (Intelius). Many concerns have been voiced about these sites threatening personal privacy and their potential to harm reputations with false information. We set out to determine exactly how much information we could gather about an average college student, as well as the accuracy and damage potential of the data.

We examined three data aggregation sites–Intelius, Spokeo, and PeopleSmart–which required a fee . The costs ranged from $1.95 for an Intelius People Search Report to a $29.95 PeopleSmart Background Report.

Even for only $1.95, the Intelius People Search Report was a rip-off. The only information on the report was address and possible relatives, and even then, the relatives’ names were wrong. Intelius also had the most difficult information removal policy, requiring faxed state-issued ID, which would take 4 to 6 weeks for removal. The shadiest portion of Intelius, though, occurred when purchasing the People Search Report. Mid-transaction, a page resembling a normal verification page popped up containing this section:

Would you really take the time, mid-transaction, to read this?

But it isn’t a verification page. Entering your e-mail in the box acts as your electronic signature, authorizing Intelius to sign you up for a third-party subscription service (about $24.95/month). The fine print is easy to gloss over, and the link to decline the offer is even easier to miss.

Spokeo, advertised as “not your grandma’s white pages,” sells “in-depth” reports on people using information compiled from the Internet. However, once you use the site, you quickly realize that the information is often inaccurate. It listed our test subject, Cece, as 37 years old! (She’s actually 20.) Most of the information that Spokeo provides can be found within five minutes using a search engine such as Google (with Google Street View)–certainly not worth the price of membership. Simple information such as age, address, and home value are all things that a stalker would know about you before conducting an online search, anyway.

Furthermore, Spokeo has a very interesting privacy policy. On their site, they list the instructions on how to remove your information from the site. These instructions, however, work for removing anyone’s information! We took down the listings of complete strangers without their knowledge and without having to provide any proof of identity whatsoever (Sorry, Robert Matakevich!).


Our most expensive purchase, the PeopleSmart Background Report for $29.95, was at least the most accurate report. There were no glaring errors in names, address, or age.  However, it still did not tell us any information which we had not already found via Intelius or Spokeo. The process for editing or removing information was also extremely simplistic, requiring no verification of identity before filling out an online form. All in all, it was extremely disappointing given the hefty price tag.

In addition to purchasing personal reports, we also examined our “online preferences” on eXelate and BlueKai, two data aggregation companies which sell user information (based on tracking cookies) to corporations. Although many of the results we obtained for ourselves were decently accurate, a number of topics listed under our interest profiles seemed entirely irrelevant (i.e. parenting). The good news, though, is that editing information or opting out is extremely straightforward and can be done instantly with a click of the mouse.

Overall, the information from personal data reports was woefully uninteresting–elementary at best, and laughably inaccurate at worst. Data report sites don’t live up to their promises of delivering really personal (or even accurate) information, seeking instead to benefit from naiveté and ignorance. They’re scams. So rest assured: Stalkers and employers gullible enough to buy into these sites will only hurt their wallets, not your reputation.

View the full project Powerpoint here.

— Cece Xie ’13, Emily Yin ’13, Daniel Frascella ’12

The Numerator – by “Daniel P”

How to Navigate the project:

1. Read this: project sheet and Spectrum template

2. Download the Numerator here: Numerator

To run the Numerator on a Mac:

1. Drag to the desktop and uncompress it

2. Click Numerator.command

If that doesn’t work:

1. Open the “terminal” application

2. type “cd desktop” and push enter

3. type “cd Numerator” and push enter

4. type “cd bin” and push enter

5. type “java NumeratorGUI” and push enter


To run the Numerator on Windows

1. Drag to the desktop and uncompress it

2. Click Numerator.bat




Choreographic Copyright – by “Jennifer W”

Choreographic works were not recognized as copyrightable until the Copyright Act of 1976. Although many choreographers have taken the opportunity to register their works in the thirty-five years since then, many have not and for this reason and the nature of the dance community, few cases have come to the court on this subject; leaving little precedence for future cases to rely on.

But given that registrations are on the rise, it stands to reason that the complications of choreographic works need more investigation in order to predict future case outcomes. Therefore, after reviewing Horgan v. MacMillan, Inc. and many articles covering that case, we’ve put together a short video about choreographic copyright and the way in which photography may or may not infringe on such works.

Using video and still screenshots from the dance movie Center Stage, we compile a few examples of photography based on choreography and ask you to decide what you think might be infringement.

After studying the video and photographs, if you believe that photography could plausibly infringe on copyright, ask yourself what other example could be created to show photography crossing the line.


Jennifer W. & Kendall W.

Video from which screenshots were taken:
Center Stage

Music on YouTube – by “Adam P”

Given the recent emergence of YouTube as a major channel of expression for musical artists, we decided to film a short Q&A documentary on one of Yale’s own YouTube celebrities – Kurt Schneider and Jake Bruene. Initially brought together by a short-film project called College Musical, the group rose to fame through the Michael Jackson Medley, performed by Sam Tsui and written by Schneider, which currently has 25 million views. These YouTube artists have continued to collaborate on many other works, including College Musical the Movie, which just premiered last Sunday, May 1, at the Yale Whitney Humanities Center. With nearly 1 million subscribers, KurtHugoSchneider is currently the fifth most popular channel on YouTube. Here’s a quick look at their thoughts on YouTube as a medium of musical expression.

The film was made by Daniel Ayele, Daniel Esannason, Lynn Wang, and Adam Payne.

Special thanks to Jake Bruene, Kurt Schneider, and TJ Smith.

Yale Pwnership? – by “Misbah U”

How much does Yale Pwn you?

We wondered how Yale, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard’s intellectual property policies have affected the process of launching a start-up as an undergrad at these schools, and we wanted to know how students have had to negotiate with their school’s tech transfer offices on the terms of IP rights ownership, licensing, and royalty sharing.

After talking with several students & start ups at each of these universities, what we found is that most student start-ups simply avoid the tech transfer offices. In general, the IP policies are not well publicized, but most students who are trying to launch a venture have the foresight to investigate the policy and then operate outside of its bounds.

In the process, we created a short video that seeks to give you a glimpse into how much students know about intellectual property policies (specifically, Yale’s patent and copyright policies) and what misconceptions they may have surrounding student start ups.

Please do visit for more on what the policies are on paper versus reality and concepts established by students concerning them.

-Misbah Uraizee, Anna Doud, Camille Chambers, & Charles Amoako

Censorship in the Digital Age – by “Nathan B”


For my final project for CPSC 184, I created an infographic exploring internet censorship around the world. I used information supplied primarily by Reporters Without Borders, a free speech advocacy group which monitors freedom of expression worldwide. They publish an annual list of “internet enemies” detailing the actions of the internet’s most aggressive censors and discussing trends in online freedom.

I chose to create an infographic because, first, I believe existing infographics on the subject failed to use the medium to its fullest potential and, second, there are many poorly-understood parts of the issue which could be better explained using visual communication. For that reason, I chose to make the centerpiece of the infographic a diagram depicting different ways of circumventing government censorship of the internet. In order to make the, I not only had to research the different ways online communities have found to evade censors (e.g. anonymizers like Tor and proxy servers), but also designed the glyphs used by hand and went through several iterations of the diagram before arriving at the final product.

Additionally, I examined the different kinds of websites governments try to censor and, perhaps most importantly, how they actually go about blocking access. Some particularly interesting findings were the Russian government’s abuse of anti-piracy laws to seize the computers of opposition groups (thanks to Grace for finding that one) and Western IT companies’ willingness to not only follow censorship laws, but to even provide oppressive governments with technology and information which they could use to attack dissidents.

Check out the full infographic by clicking the thumbnail below and be sure to tell your friends about it (especially if your friends live under freedom-hating regimes).

Uploaded with

PS- if anyone can find me a more permanent host for the infographic, please let me know (free image-hosting websites don’t tend to like 1200×2000 pixel, 1.75 MB jpegs).