Comcast must have thought no one would notice when, in 2007, the ISP began preferentially slowing or blocking BitTorrent packets on its network. Users quickly noticed that Comcast was up to something; an AP investigation confirmed their findings. Now a class-action that came from that incident has been settled with Comcast agreeing to pay $16 million.
Comcast had at first claimed that it had nothing to do with the slowdowns. Even when they were found out, the issue was explained as acceptable traffic management. The FCC didn’t see it that way, and Comcast was forced to reverse course. However, that didn’t stop the lawsuits from being filed.
The settlement in question certainly doesn’t mean Comcast is admitting any wrongdoing. A Comcast statement claims the settlement is intended to “avoid a potentially lengthy and distracting legal dispute that would serve no useful purpose." Parties to the class-action can expect a rather small share of the funds. Each valid claim will be paid a maximum of $16. It might not be a lot of money, but it is Comcast’s money.
After 17 months of litigation, a federal judge on Tuesday ordered Psystar to stop selling, distributing, copying, or creating derivative works of Mac OS X without prior authorization from Apple. Or in other words, it can no longer sell Mac clones.
The judge also placed a handful of other restrictions on Psystar, such as disallowing the company from intentionally inducing, aiding, assisting, abetting, or encouraging any other person or entity to infringe Apple's copyrighted Mac OS X software, Apple Insider reports.
Psystar has until midnight on December 31, 2009 to comply with the order, however it's not clear if the judge's statements also apply to the company's Rebel EFI software, a $50 app that allows some Intel-powered PCs to run Mac OS X 10.6. U.S. District Judge William Alsup intentionally avoided ruling on the software, noting only that Psystar's argument that it has a right to sell and distribute the software is weak.
"Whether such a defense would be successful on the merits, or face preclusion or other hurdles, this order cannot predict," Alsup said. "What is certain, however, is that until such a motion is brought, Psystar will be selling Rebel EFI at its peril, and risks finding itself in contempt if its new venture falls within the scope of the injunction."
You can rest soundly tonight knowing that the villain responsible for uploading the Wolverine movie a month before its theatrical release will probably serve time behind bars. That is, if the FBI has grabbed the right man.
The FBI early this morning arrested Gilberto Sanchez, 47, in Bronx, N.Y., and believe he's the cold hearted criminal who leaked the 20th Century Fox feature film to the Internet in April. By the time the flick made it to the silver screen a month later, it had already been watched about 4.1 million times, says BigChampagne, a market research firm for file-sharing networks.
According to the indictment, Sanchez uploaded the film to Megaupload.com under one of his online aliases, which include "theSkilled1" and "SkillyGilly." But what the indictment doesn't say is how Sanchez managed to get his hands on a working copy of the flim, even though the copy that was leaked was missing a bunch of computer-generated special effects.
It's unclear how much jail time and fines Sanchez would face if convicted, but according to CNet, a New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to copyright infringement charges for uploading the film "Hulk" a few weeks before its big screen debut was sentenced to six months house arrest and slapped with a $7,000 fine.
In an effort to protect its mainframe business and keep those dollars rolling in, IBM has been bad mouthing the compeition to its mainframe customers, and it will now have to defend some of those remarks in court. Neon Enterprise Software, a privately held company who makes a software tool called zPrime, has slapped IBM with a lawsuit accusing the company of unfair and unlawful competition.
The problem arose when IBM told its mainframe customers in a letter that "the use of zPrime will cause Neon's customers to become obligated -- contrary to IBM's original promises to customers that purchased SPs -- to pay software license fees for workloads shifted to SPs," Neon said in its lawsuit.
Neon denies the claim, further accusing IBM of selling additional SPs to customers only if they agree not to use Neon's products. So what did IBM have to say?
"Neon's software deliberately subverts the way IBM mainframe computers process data," IBM said. "This is akin to a homeowner tampering with his electrical meter to save money. IBM has invested billions of dollars in the mainframe this decade, and we vigorously protect our investment."
Neon is seeking damages and a permanent injunction to prevent IBM from making the same claims.
Who knows how much artificially inflated LCD panel pricing ended up costing consumers in the long run, but for Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO), the company's alleged involvement in the antitrust case brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice will cost it $220 million, the amount of the plea agreement.
Under terms of the agreement, CMO will pay the fine in installments over a period of five years. In addition to forking over $220 million, the panel maker has also agreed to cooperate with the DOJ's ongoing investigation
Allegations of price fixing in the LCD industry have received a fair amount of attention the past couple of years. In 2008, several LCD makers were charged with artificially inflating panel prices, which ultimately led to LG, Sharp, and Chungwa agreeing to plead guilty and pay a total of $585 million in fines. And more recently, Nokia called shenanigans on Samsung, LG, AU Optronics, and other LCD manufacturers, all of which Nokia is suing for allegedly colluding to fix prices.
Upholding the law and agreeing with the law in principal are two different things, and sometimes they conflict. Just ask District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, who approved a $675,000 fine against a Boston student for illegal file sharing, but made clear that she was concerned about the fairness of current copyright laws, TGDaily reports.
The judge took issue with the "astronomical" penalties available to music companies, and though she ultimately ruled in their favor, she offered up some legal advice that may be applicable to the next file sharer who lands in court.
"The Court was prepared to consider a more expansive fair use argument than other courts have credited - perhaps one supported by facts specific to this individual and this unique period of rapid technological change," Gertner said in her ruling. But she went on to say that the defense took it too far by attempting to apply fair use to pretty much any circumstance.
Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student, was found guilty earlier this year of illegally sharing 800 copyrighted songs and ordered to pay $22,500 for each. The law actually allows for up to $150,000 per track.
The two Kansas-area men -- Christopher Myers, 40, and Timothy Weatherly, 27 -- are facing a single count of conspiracy, 30 counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, and a single count of trafficking counterfeit labels, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
Legal documents allege that Myers and Weatherly would buy counterfeit Cisco-branded hardware built in China and Hong Kong, slap counterfeit labels on it, and then packet it in counterfeit Cisco boxes. They would even include counterfeit Cisco manuals, according to the Attorney General's Office in Kansas.
The two men may have netted about $1 million from their alleged fraudulent activities. If convicted, they would each face five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charges, and an additional 10 years and $2 million fine on each trafficking count., eWeek.com reports.
For obvious reasons, Microsoft has never held a soft spot for software pirates, and according to TGDaily, the Redmond company has opened fire with a number of lawsuits aimed at companies allegedly distributing counterfeit software.
The cases are pretty widespread, including one against Kiev Camera USA and Mikhail Fourman, an individual accused of selling illegal software in Atlanta, Georgia and on the Internet.
Similar cases have been filed against BC Tech Gear, Dallas Computer Parts, The Computer Shop (aka mycomputerlady.net), Seifelden Electronics, Royal Distribution, and Viosoftware Corporation, TGDaily reports.
In addition to going on a legal rampage, Microsoft has also just launched an education and enforcement campaign in over 70 countries. Microsoft claims over 150,000 voluntary reports have come in over the past two years from victims who unknowingly purchased counterfeit software, which Microsoft says often comes "riddled with viruses or malware."
More info here. Oh, and pat yourself on the back if you identified the disc on the right as the counterfeit.
The LCD price fixing shenanigans continue, at least according to Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker who has filed suit against Samsung, LG, AU Optronics, and other LCD manufacturers over allegedly colluding to fix prices, Bloomberg reports.
Filed on November 25, the lawsuit is based on both federal and state antitrust claims and makes essentially the same arguments as AT&T did last month when it filed a suit in the same court, also against LCD manufacturers. According to Nokia, Samsung and more than six other LCD makers conspired to raise the price of displays.
"The liquid-crystal displays were incorporated into Nokia mobile wireless handsets," according to the complaint. The conspiracy "artificially inflated the price of liquid crystal displays ultimately incorporated into LCD products purchased by Nokia, causing Nokia to pay higher prices."
Each of the suits direct the court's attention to a U.S. Justice Department investigation of display price fixing. Hitachi, who pleaded guilty in March in the inquiry, is one of the defendants named in Nokia's suit, but not AT&T's.
There have been a number of data flubs in the past year that serve to underscore the risks associated with cloud computing. For Microsoft, they've also presented an opportunity to add to its patent portfolio. Specifically, the software giant has a filed a patent that appears to cover moving data to a new cloud under a number of scenarios. These include situations in which the existing service has failed, the provider has gone out of business, or if the user is able to find a better deal elsewhere.
In the filing, Microsoft outlines an architecture that involves executor, detection, organizer, and summary components that will receive and verify notices that a cloud service is going to be terminated, find the applicable data and service, prioritize it all, and finally give a summary, The Register reports.
Microsoft's well-timed filing coincides with increasing concerns over the need to make applications portable, as well as data between different clouds.