Ok, so we all know that Larry Ellison from Oracle decided to try and sue Google for patent and copyright infringement. They claimed that Google stole copied their code and used it to cut development corners while creating Android. After a long trial with a Judge that turned out to be a developer himself, the just came back with a decision that Google did infringe on the APIs, but really did not know if they were covered under copyright or not. This left that up to the judge in the case and as Judge William Alsup has done before he showed that he had a much better grasp on what was going on than the lawyers in the case. He put it very simply:
“In sum, Google and the public were and remain free to write their own implementations to carry out exactly the same functions of all methods in question, using exactly the same method specifications and names,"
Google hailed the decision as the only possible one that could have happened if you were not crazy:
“the court's decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It's a good day for collaboration and innovation."
Oracle said that by not allowing the names, phrases and other smaller items in programing to be copyrighted it will make protecting IP harder. Well considering that copying code wholesale or an entire application could still be actionable we are not sure what Oracle is getting at…
Next up is a rather funny item that ties in with a recent article on the number of takedown notices that Google processes. It seems that even though Google processes close to 1.2 Million requests per month (with over 500,000 from Microsoft alone) the Recording Industry Artists of America do not feel that is enough. What the RIAA wants is to be able to spam Google with an unlimited number of automated requests and flood their system. They would also like Google to maintain a permanent block on repeat “infringers” “if “take down” does not mean “keep down,” then Google’s limitations merely perpetuate the fraud wrought on copyright owners by those who game the system under the DMCA.”
This comes from a blog post on RIAA’s website by The Executive Vice President, Anti-Piracy Brad Buckles. He seems to feel that it is Google’s responsibility to deal with Piracy and that they are just not doing enough. Buckles even claims that Google has placed artificial limitations on copyright holders preventing them from not only asking for content to be taken down, but simply finding it. Now,… let’s think about this. Microsoft as a single copyright holder submitted 540,000 take down requests in a single month. RIAA and their representatives were a small percentage of the remaining requests. How is it that Microsoft can submit so many, but the RIAA cannot?
What is much more likely is that RIAA and their lawyers are actually flooding the system with baseless requests. We have already watched as RIAA and the MPAA have sent takedown notices to legitimate sites and in a couple of cases sent takedown notices for content they did not even own! It is no wonder that Google says they have to verify that each request is real which takes time and effort to do (but is the right thing to do). After reading Buckles’ rant it really sounds more like he would like an automatic system where the RIAA could simply remove the links they do not want up instead of working with Google to do it the right way round. This is why they want laws like SOPA and PIPA. It removes the burden of proof and due process. All they have to do is accuse someone and it is done. No proof needed.
One of my favorite lines of the rant is “Let’s give copyright owners the ability to access all the pages on a site and take down all the infringing links, and then let’s rationally discuss how to categorize the sites”
You can read the full rant on RIAA’s Blog
Lastly as Google is being investigated for antitrust in the EU (and in the US) they are preparing their “he’s doing it too!” offensive defense for both Nokia and Microsoft. They have filed a complaint in the EU stating that Microsoft encouraged Nokia to sell of a very large patent portfolio through a third party company. In 2011 a company by the name of Mosaid acquired Core Wireless Licensing. This company had a patent portfolio of about 400 families that equaled to around 2000 actual patents and applications all originally filed by Nokia. Around 1200 of these patents have been declared essential to communications standards (GSM, UMTS/WCDMA etc). Mosiad does not actually produce anything that relates to these devices but now owns the rights to them and can license them out.
Google is claiming that Microsoft and Nokia may have made agreements with Mosaid to allow them a “pass” while charging competing phone manufacturers extra. This would artificially drive up the costs of Android phones making the Nokia/Microsoft (Facebook?) offerings more attractive to consumers.
“Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices,“
Of course this could all be an attempt to derail the existing complaints that Microsoft, Apple and others have thrown at Google over their search , advertising and indexing practices. It is an interesting accusation and one that we expect to see HTC, Samsung, LG and more jump on as Microsoft prepares to launch their Windows Phone 8 OS alongside Windows 8 and Windows RT. With Nokia the leading (and preferred) manufacturer a Microsoft/Nokia agreement could be bad for a lot of people.
So that wraps things up for the Google news (at least the interesting stuff) for today. We will be sure to keep our eyes on all of this and let you know of anything interesting that happens with it.
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