Microsoft's legal battle against Canadian firm i4i has been a complete disaster from the very outset. Last August, Microsoft was ordered to pay i4i $290 million in damages by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas after certain versions of Word were found to be infringing on an XML-related patent held by the Canadian firm. The fine was accompanied by an injunction barring the sale of infringing versions of the popular word processing software.
All subsequent attempts to turn the tide also proved unsuccessful. Now, Microsoft has filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review the lower court's decision. This hasn't come as a huge surprise to i4i, which is confident that it will once again “prevail” over its storied rival.
The Supreme may take up a case revolving around the principal of the "innocent infringer" defense. This loophole is built into the Copyright Act and allows for an award of damages less than the $750 minimum. Whitney Harper was a teenager when she shared 37 songs on Limewire. She's now a college student and has been ordered to pay the RIAA $27,750, or $750 per track by a federal appeals court. That overturned a lower court ruling ordering damages of $200 per song, or $7400.
The lower court granted Harper the innocent infringer defense because she was under the age of 17 at the time of infringement. Harper claimed she didn't know what she was doing was illegal file sharing, saying she believed it to be like streaming internet radio. The appeals court said the special provisions did not apply because music CDs carry copyright notices. Harper's attorneys point out that digital files carry no such warning.
When the higher court increased the damages, the now older and wiser Harper decided to press her case with the Supreme Court. The high court still has yet to decide whether or not to accept the case. Where do you come down? Is $750 per song a reasonable damage amount here?
The US Supreme Court is going to be taking up the case of Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association, when it next meets in October. The case is centered around California's 2005 law that bans the sale or rental of mature rated games to minors. The law was ruled unconstitutional in 2007, but the state filed a Supreme Court appeal last year.
Historically, the legal system has taken a dim view of restrictions on violent content. Similar laws in Michigan, Washington, and Louisiana have been struck down as well. Governor Schwarzenegger has made it clear he still supports the law which he believes protects the well-being of children.
If the law is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court it's likely that the issue may finally be decided. Where do you come down? Should children be legally prohibited from buying or renting mature games?
In a legal back-and-forth between the Ontario Police Department in California and Sergeant Jeff Quon, the overarching privacy issues concerning technology have come into full view (once again).
Sgt. Jeff Quon sued the Ontario Police Department after his texting transcripts were read by his lieutenant. While the messages were sent to/from a department-issued pager (yep, pager), Sgt. Quon claims his fourth amendment rights were violated by the department.
A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Sgt. Quon saying that the lieutenant had made an informal policy change to view transcripts on accounts who didn’t pay their overage fees. In viewing Sgt. Quon’s transcripts, he violated his own policy and thus violated Sgt. Quon’s constitutional rights.
To take a step further, the Ontario Police Department petitioned the Supreme Court requesting the case to be overturned on the precedent that the lieutenant had no authority to overturn the department policy that all privacy is relinquished when using department equipment, including pagers.
Most companies force employees to sign IT Privacy restriction documents waiving all rights on company owned equipment. Do you think your privacy is violated if an IT guy snoops around your employer-issued computer?
Cablevision Systems, the 5th largest cable provider in the US, has endured a long legal battle against leading American TV programmers and providers, but now that its legal woes have finally ended, the company has the Supreme Court’s sanction to launch its network DVR system.