Thursday, March 29, 2012

Porn Industry Wins Another Copyright Victory

I mentioned earlier about the $4 Million default judgment entered against the PornVisit.com site for the unauthorized streaming of some porn movies. That's real money. Well, it happened again. This time, Corbin Fisher and Titan Media secured a summary judgment victory against GLBT Ltd. for copyright infringement. For those of you who are unfamiliar with legal buzzwords, summary judgment in a copyright case is a pretty big deal. Ordinarily, copyright infringement is a fact question, which means a jury needs to decide it. But in this case, it appears the principals behind GLBT just took off and left the country when it started looking bad for them.
Porn Industry Wins Another Copyright SuitThe case was originally filed in 2010. Since that time, GLBT fired their original lawyers and started moving all their assets offshore. Then they just turned their backs on the U.S. justice system and started ignoring all the legal filings. Judges don't like that. They really don't like that.
So here's the bottom line. Channel One Releasing, Corbin Fisher and Titan Media sued GLBT for unauthorized streaming of gay porn. GLBT fought a little bit but lost a preliminary injunction hearing, then just abandoned ship. So the judge threw the book at them, big time. What does this say? The last person you want to be against you is the federal judge.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oracle Forced To Drop Software Patents To Pursue Software Copyrights

Recall that Oracle sued Google for both copyright infringement and patent infringement based, allegedly, on Google's use of the JAVA technology in the Android phone operating system. At the time that suit was filed, I'm certain the thinking was that those Oracle software patents would be the strongest part of the case. That's what everyone thinks: software patents are supposed to be how companies protect their software, right?
Oracle Drops Software Patents For Software CopyrightsWell, that used to be true. As far as I can tell, judicial activism and toothless legislation have evicerated whatever value software patents used to have. These days, software patent claims are more noted for their failures than their victories. Even when software patent cases win they lose. In short, software patents are a thing of the past.
Oracle seems to be smacked right in the face with that dose of reality. After suing Google, Oracle's software patents have been systematically deconstructed until, essentially, nothing remains. Earlier this year, Oracle asked the judge to just separate out its patent case from the software copyright case to speed up trial. Oracle asked that it be allowed to purse its patent case separately. Recently, the judge denied that request and forced Oracle to choose: patents or copyrights, but not both, at least not if Oracle wants a trial anytime in the near future.
Yesterday, Oracle faced today's reality and made the hard decision. Oracle asked the judge to drop its patent case against Google for good. And why not? Oracle has had huge success enforcing its copyrights against competitors. The software patents in this case have been a distraction, not an advantage.
Are software copyrights the right way to protect all software? Probably not. But copyrights should definitely be taken into consideration when formulating your software protection strategy. And with all the emphasis being place on stronger copyright law, and weaker patent laws, perhaps you should be speaking with your copyright lawyer first, rather than last.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Copyright Versus Patent: Let's Get It On!

Let's Get It On!
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I often comment on the emerging use of copyright law over patent law to protect software. In fact, I will tell anyone who'll listen that I think software copyrights should be the preferred mechanism for protecting your software over patents. But even I could not foresee this: copyright lawyers taking on patent lawyers head to head in the ultimate legal octagon.
That's right. A group of copyright owners has sued quite a few patent lawyers for submitting so-called prior art references to the Patent Office during the prosecution of patents. Understand that the law requires those patent owners (and their clients) to submit copies of those references to the Patent Office or risk having their patents invalidated. And the Patent Office even issued its own internal memorandum concluding that such submissions are fair use. Still, John Wiley claims that those patent lawyers need an additional license to make the copies that were submitted to the Patent Office.
Now, I don't have a dog in this race, but I will say that I can't possibly see how this is not fair use. Actually, I probably do have a dog in this race since I still do a fair amount of patent prosecution. But still, I don't see how this case ends any other way. I mean the law requires that these copies be submitted. Literally none of the fair use factors cuts in favor of the copyright owner on this. It seems like just a big ole shake down to me. But it is really fun to watch.
For a more in depth analysis of the claims and issues, head over to the Patently-O website and read more.