That’s right, End User License Agreements (EULAs) don’t make any sense, even if you do read them. Not only to users, but apparently also to the software makers who write them, as Autodesk just found out in it’s lawsuit against Timothy Vernor. A federal court in the Western District of Washington rejected Autodesk’s claims that its software is licensed and not sold, which gives the (preliminary) green light for Vernor to sell his copies of AutoCAD on Ebay.
The heart of case is whether Autodesk’s EULA gives it the right restrict resales of its software. Autodesk claims this right because in its license it retains title to the “Software and accompanying material.” U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones disagreed. In his view Autodesk’s license is a grab bag of terms that individually support both Autodesk’s contention it is a license and Vernor’s position he can transfer his ownership to another person. Therefore, while Autodesk has a right to the software and accompanying material, Judge Jones concluded, it does not have the right to regain possession of the software and accompanying material.
Judge Jones’s ruling doesn’t end the case as Autodesk is expected to appeal. Further, Judge Jones gives software makers a way out: if the EULA is amended to include the right to demand the return of the software when the license expires, then software buyers would be unable to later transfer ownership. In which case it might be time to start reading those EULAs.
It appears that Google/YouTube’s Sgt. Shultz defense in it’s $1 billion copyright infringement case with Viacom might not fly. Apparently YouTube did know something as newly disclosed YouTube e-mails indicate that YouTube’s own managers knew and discussed the existence of unauthorized content on the site, and further did some of the uploading themselves. Oops!
Google’s key point of protection against Viacom’s action is the requirement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) that it was unaware of the uploading or existence of copyrighted material on its site, and when notified of such expeditiously act to remove it. Viacom and others have long been suspicious of Google’s “I know nothing” defense, and with the disclosure of these emails appear vindicated.
The revelation hasn’t left YouTube completely defenseless. It appears that Viacom’s employees were partly responsible for uploading Viacom’s copyrighted content onto YouTube. YouTube argues that if Viacom is doing the uploading how is it possible for YouTube to distinguish which material is kosher, and which isn’t. Viacom counters with The Wizard of Oz defense: “never mind that man behind the curtain,” maintaining that doesn’t really matter. It’s appears only a matter of time before the Chewbacca defense is trotted out.
By all indications, Windows 7 will be met with a much warmer reception than Vista was at launch, and the Redmond company has already started certifying PCs as "compatible with Windows 7." The logo will appear on machines that "have passed Microsoft designed tests for compatibility and reliability with Windows 7," but can consumers really trust this to be true after the Vista-capable fiasco?
According to court documents, Microsoft bowed to pressure from Intel and lowered requirements for its Vista Capable stickers at the last minute so that the chip maker's 915 chipset could be included. Consumers balked when they found out that some machines bearing Vista's logo were only powerful enough to run Vista Home Basic, which had been stripped of many of the features found on other versions of Vista.
Rest assured, Microsoft seems to have learned its lesson and has no intention of repeating the same mistake. In order to qualify for a Windows 7 sticker, the PC or gadget in question must "work with all versions of Windows 7," and that includes 64-bit versions, not just 32-bit. So say you purchase a machine bearing the Windows 7 logo and later decide to upgrade from Windows 7 Starter 32-bit to Ultimate 64-bit, you'll be able to do so, according to Microsoft's certification requirements.
The software giant also says that logo'd machines are checked for common issues and are less likely to crash, hang, or reboot unexpectedly.
When Amazon deleted digital copies of Orwell’s 1984 from Kindles, there was a public outcry. Two customers went further and filed a lawsuit against Amazon on September 25th. Now, there is already a settlement in the case. Amazon has agreed to pay the pair $150,000. The settlement may have come quickly in order to prevent a judge from certifying the case for class-action status.
Amazon admitted this summer that it remotely removed two Orwell novels from Kindles after finding out that the books were posted illegally. Affected customers were eventually compensated with a new digital copy of the book, and $30.
The terms of the settlement also stipulate that Amazon can only delete works from Kindles under certain circumstances. A book can only be deleted if a customer agrees to its removal, if a customer requests a refund, or the digital files are found to contain malicious code. So, is this a reasonable policy?
Every gamer’s favorite disbarred lawyer, Jack Thompson, has a new nemesis with which to do battle. This time Facebook is feeling the brunt of his legal threats. Thompson claims that the social networking company allowed defamatory postings about him to remain on the site. He is asking for an eye-popping $40 million in damages.
Jack Thompson gained notoriety (or infamy, if you like) for his crusade against video games, which he referred to as “murder simulators.” This course of action angered many gamers, leading to public campaigns against the overzealous lawyer. He was eventually disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for his public legal misconduct.
In Thompson’s complaint he says the Facebook postings have caused "great harm and distress." Some Facebook groups bearing his name include “I Hate Jack Thompson” and “Jack Thompson never played Legend of Zelda.” As evidence of discrimination, Thompson cites Facebook’s decision to remove threats against President Obama, leaving anti-Thompson groups on the site. Anyone care to defend Thompson on this?
At first glance, you’d think Paltalk Holdings Inc. has a few loose screws rattling around in its head. After all, it recently declared legal war on a who’s-who list of big-name MMO developers: Blizzard (WoW), Turbine (Lord of the Rings Online), SOE (Everquest), NCSoft (Guild Wars, City of Heroes), Jagex (Runescape) – you name it. If you’re on top of the MMO world, Paltalk is trying to knock you down a peg or two. So, why would Paltalk risk getting torn to shreds by some of the fiercest lawyers in the videogame business? Easy – because the company already forced Microsoft to pony up an undisclosed sum with the very same lawsuit.
Paltalk holds a potent pair of patents that basically spell court-ordered doom for any massively multiplayer game publisher. These patents grant Paltalk providence over “sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment.” Sound like any MMO you’ve ever played before? Because it sounds like every MMO we’ve ever played before.
So, will this super team of MMO publishers – forced together by circumstance – be able to overcome Paltalk and its sidekick, Johnny Law? Really, we have no idea. Are there any lawyers in the audience who might be able to give us a more solid answer?
"Without prejudicing the ultimate determination of this case by the merits panel, the court determines based upon the motion papers submitted that Microsoft has met its burden to obtain a stay of the injunction," the court said.
After Judge Davis had granted the injunction to i41, Microsoft evinced fear that it could lead to "irreparable harm.” It most dreaded the fact that the injunction could keep the “centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months.” Dell and HP had also backed Microsoft in their respective amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court brief) filings.
Discovery still hasn’t commented on the entire issue, but many analysts have. Industry watchers are not too excited by the possibility of a Discovery-branded e-reader. "My initial reaction is that this could be a 'patent troll,' Phil Leigh, an analyst at Inside Digital Media, told the Washington Post.
A federal court in Northern California had ordered a cybersquatter, OnlineNIC, to pay $33.15 million in damages to Verizon in December, 2008. The award was made in a default judgment after OnlineNIC employees eluded all attempts to summon them to court. OnlineNIC had registered more than 600 domains that contained Verizon's name and trademarks. It earned money through ads hosted on these domains, which appeared to be associated with Verizon.
The cybersquatter finally appeared before the court in February 2009. It filed a motion to set aside the default judgment. The burden of OnlineNIC’s argument was that the damages awarded by the court gave an exaggerated account of the harm its activities had caused to Verizon. It claimed to have only earned a trivial sum of $1,468.60 in profit from the 663 Verizon-related domains at issue. On August 25, the court upheld the default order while dismissing OnlineNIC’s arguments.
"OnlineNIC's reference to its alleged profit fails to take any account of the damages suffered by Verizon in the form of a likelihood of confusion surrounding Verizon's marks and the diversion of internet traffic to websites selling rival products," Judge Jeremy Fogel wrote in his verdict, making it clear that harm caused to Verizon should not be confused with OnlineNIC’s profit.
Upholding i4i’s patent infringement claim against Microsoft, a US Federal court judge placed an injunction on Microsoft Word on August 11, 2009. Judge Leonard Davis ordered that Microsoft pay the Canadian company i4i $290 million in damages and stop the sale of Word in the US, within 60 days of the pronouncement of the order, until the dispute is fully resolved. Microsoft Word’s default file format Office Open XML is at the epicenter of Microsoft’s dispute with i4i. The XML-based file format infringes i4i’s US patent number 5787449.
“Microsoft and its distributors face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales. If left undisturbed, the district court’s injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months. The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs," the company’s filing reads. Although Microsoft can take corrective steps by disabling the XML feature, it will have to cough up a lot of money for that exercise.