Displaying items by tag: Legal

73In the legal world there are always interesting things going on. This is even more true when you talk about the massive number of law suits that are brought against technology companies on a daily basis. Now, it is not the actual cases that are the truly interesting thing (although some of them are). No it is the rulings and how they shape the laws that are sometimes the most fun.

For example in a recent (and ridiculous) law suit brought against Apple by a woman who wanted $5,000 for every person that had their iPhone bricked by the IO4 update the judge set something of a legal precedent.  The woman (named Bianca Wofford) lost the suit, but she lost is because the judge ruled that Software was not a service or a good (as well as the fact that a free upgrade cannot be held to sale or lease laws). This point is very interesting and will play heavily in future litigation.

If software is not a service or a good what exactly is it? If on the one hand it is excluded from sale or lease laws then there is no possibility of theft as there is no monetary value to it and possess no real-world value. This little precedent might be interesting to watch in future copyright and IP based litigation. Now someone can argue that as software is not a good or service and it cannot be sold or leased (as anything that can, must be held to sale and lease laws) then there is no crime committed in the free and open use of any software available.

Of course I would not run out and start downloading all of the software out there as this legal loophole will quickly be sown up by the companies that are dependent on software-as-a-service revenue. It does illustrate something that is wrong with the legal system and technology in general though and ties in with the SOPA movement in a way that many might miss. What we have is a lack up a clear definition of the items that are in dispute. What IS software, what constitutes theft of un-real property? The laws on this are so vague that you could (under the current system) be guilty of IP theft for having a copyrighted work on display in a picture of you taken by someone else, or for a YouTube video that has music playing in the background on the radio.

Until the laws are defined (and right now it is in the interest of the media and software companies to have it vague) or the judges and lawmakers are educated in the way technology works the legal system will continue to be abused by corporations while the consumers are left holding the bag.  At least in this case a definition will need to be put in place as the current one is not beneficial to any company trying to sell their software.

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Published in Editorials
Friday, 11 November 2011 19:46

New SOPA act could by-pass Net Neutrality Laws

73There are times when I read about something on the Internet and I have to stop and wonder if the site reporting on the item has gotten something wrong. As an example I recently read about a new act called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). According to the article on TorrentFreak.com this new act will allow corporations the ability to shut down websites by submitting a complaint to the sites host. Now I thought that this sounded unlikely so I looked into the act and found out that it is even more disturbing that what TorrentFreak posted.

It turns out that the bill is a revision of one what was first presented in the Senate call the “Protect IP Act”. This revision was supposed to correct issues with that first bill and instead has only succeeded in extending them and making them more vague. For example in the bill it uses the verbiage that includes any site or “portion of” a site that is "dedicated to theft of U.S. property," this is a very broad category that has no clear definition. For example if someone posts a YouTube video with copyrighted music in the background, is that theft? What about a cover of a song where the music and lyrics were legally purchased?  These two “violations” could get the offending website cut off from payment provides (PayPal), advertisers (advertisers Google Adsense etc.), and get the site completely shut down.

To make matters worse the shutdown order would not go to the site owner, but directly to the Payment providers, advertisers, and ISPs for the host of the site (or if the owners host it themselves their ISP). The The ISPs, advertisers and payment providers must comply to the complaint or they face fines. The site owner does not get notification from the complaint, they just get shut down. To add insult to injury the site owner has limited rights to appeal the complaint before or after they have the rug pulled out from under them.  

This new legislation is an abomination and nothing more than an attempt to grant corporations (not just the media) license to shut down any site that offends them. To give you an example of what can happen if this bill is allowed to go through, let’s say that a site writes up an article criticizing a company for a product and uses images of the packaging or quotes from their website in the review. Under this new act that company who holds copyright over the logo’s and the wording on the website could send a complaint to the site’s host, advertisers and payment providers and get them locked out.  This type of heavy handed control over the internet is simply terrifying.

To combat this most of the consumer advocacy groups have challenged the bill and congress men and women from both sides of the fence have spoken out about this. There is also an American Censorship Day planned. The Fight For the Future Organization is asking web sites to post a snipet of code to their websites on November 16th the code will pop-up with a fake seizure notice that will explain the new bill and how each user can act to contact their congress person to try and get this bill stopped now.

We will be participating in this and urge all of you to help out with this as this act is about more than copyrighted content. It is about control of the content on the internet.

Source TorrentFreak

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Published in News

3d-11I know that lot of people question that Apple is concerned about Samsung when the Korean Giant posts a down quarter despite increased phone sales. Well If you take a closer look at those reports you might notice that Samsung’s legal bills are getting quite high (think AMD here) due to the number of legal spats they are getting into with Apple (and a few other companies) over patents.  

So that that we understand where Samsung is and what is going on there then we are sure you will want to know who Apple’s next target is. In another time we might have considered Google as a likely target, but there is still too much between the companies to allow open warfare just yet. No, the next target on Apple’s list will be HTC. Not all that long ago HTC was almost unknown in the US and its handsets were bulky and unimaginative.  In the last few years, HTC has reinvented themselves and has released more than a few show stoppers. From the EVO 3D (the original EVO was something of a pig) through the Amaze 4G and right up to the Sensation. People are taking notice of HTC and buying their hardware. On top of the hardware is the popular SenseUI. This stylish skin for Android gives life to the basic ROM that Google ships out and to many people (myself included) it is a much cleaner UI than even Apple’s cherished iPhone.

It is all of this that enabled HTC to pull off a record setting $4.54 Billion (in US Dollars) quarter which is up 68% from the same quarter in 2010. Their net profit for the quarter was $625 Million (US Dollars). HTC also announced an increase in units shipped. For Q3 2011 they shipped 13.2 million units which is an increase of 93% over last same quarter 2010. So if you want to get an idea of who might be next on Apple’s hit list, just look at the figures above and then factor in HTC relatively weak patent portfolio and low cash reserves. It is an equation that we are sure has the Apple legal team salivating while looking for that one opening… maybe it will be slide to lock this time.

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Published in Editorials
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 22:52

Australians Going Online to get Their Tab Fix

samsung-galaxy-tab-10_1If you did not see this one coming then you are either deluding yourself or perhaps your just discovered this thing call the Internet. It seems that despite a temporary ban on Sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia sales are still booming. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the only ones that are being forced to comply with the ban are the local resellers. One of these Harvey Norman has let their displeasure known and have asked that both Samsung and Apple do something about it.

The problem is that Harvey Norman is looking to lose out on a possible $30 Million in retail sales because of this ban. This, coincidentally, is why Apple wants the ban in the first place. Oh they have put on a good show about their Intellectual Property being stolen and that the Tab 10.1 is a copycat product and many other items all of which were, unfortunately, bought by the judge presiding over the hearings.

This judge then issued a temporary ban on all sales of the Tab 10.1 in Australia. Technically this should mean online sellers that can ship there as well. However, as we have already mentioned this is not the case. According to several lawyers enforcing a complete ban especially one that is only temporary is near impossible and the amount of resources and money that it would take to track down every person that purchases one through the internet is simply not worth it. This loophole works in Samsung and the consumer’s favor even if it does lock out the local resellers.

While Apple has not made any comment on the situation yet they have made some of their usual threats to smaller online resellers some of which have stopped selling the offending tablet. Other and more larger online outlets have refused to be bullied and are still offering the popular iPad alternative for sale.

Our take on this is that Apple has such a culture of control they feel they have the right to shut out other companies even if they have to fudge the evidence or file knowingly invalid patents (ones either too broad, cover concepts, or the look and feel of something) by putting on some extra legal pressure. It really is time they discovered that consumers want what they want. Sometimes that is Apple and sometimes it is not. However, by trying to block competition and limit consumer choice we think that Apple could soon find the rather fickle market turning on them and finding way to get alternatives even if they are less than legal.

Source The Sydney Morning Herald

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Published in News
Monday, 12 September 2011 19:19

Another Copyright Lawyer Gets Fined

73It is certainly a sign of the apocalypse; common sense and actual intelligent thought is beginning to enter into the court system. A judge in Texas by the name of David Godbey has fined a lawyer for abusing this power. You see what happened was a lawyer by the name of Evan Stone had brought a suit against multiple suspected file sharers for allegedly sharing a German pornographic film. As it fairly typical in these cases the Stone thought he had an easy target. He asked Judge Godbey if he could have early discovery. Early Discovery is designed to allow for the suspect’s ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to be subpoenaed to get address information. Once the Lawyers have this they send out demand letters (they call them settlement letters) which claim the suspects must pay these fines or be brought to court.

Now this tactic is really is not much better than using the court system as a collection agency. In fact in another case a Judge actually made that comparison when he asked for a listing of all of the money a leading attorney had recently made in file sharing suits. However, while the lawyer in that case only committed basic contempt of court Evan Stone did a little more. Despite Judge Godbey’s refusal to allow him early discovery Stone went ahead and did it anyway.  What happened was that Judge Godbey had asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen to represent the accused as he was concerned that they had none and did not even know that a case had been brought against them. The problem is that when the EFF looked into it they found things were not as they should have been.

They found out that Verizon had already given out the information to Stone and Stone in turn had had sent out “settlement” letters to an unknown number of people in this case. Judge Godbey then fined Stone $10,000 claiming that he had “grossly abused his subpoena power”. Personally I think that Evan Stone should be disbarred for his behavior. Perhaps if these lawyers had to face the consequences of their abuse of the law they would think twice about it. I also have a feeling that if we look closely enough we will find out that Stone sent out his Subpoenas to the suspect’s ISPs well before he ever asked for permission.  

Source Fudzilla
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Published in News
Saturday, 10 September 2011 22:23

AT&T Repsonds to the DOJ Suit with a lot of nothing

ATTWe have said before that Big Corporations in legal battles often sound like little kids on the playground. We yesterday AT&T replied to the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trust suit intended to prevent the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T with an argument that can be best described as Nuh-Uh!
The real response countered that the DOJ just did not understand how much the consumer (pronounce that AT&T) would benefit from this merger.  In fact the actual wording was “(The) complaint similarly fails to depict accurately the state of competition in mobile telecommunications today, the dynamic nature of the wireless industry, or the pro-competitive and pro-consumer impact of this transaction”.

Personally I think the DOJ hit the nail on the head when they stated that allowing AT&T to control 63% of the nation-wide market and ALL of the GSM traffic in the US is both anti-completion and severely anti-consumer. AT&T further states that they need TY-Mobile to prevent spectrum issues (AT&T has more of the spectrum that any other company as it is).  AT&T continues to want to look at things on a local level where there are numerous local competitors, but on a national scale those local companies sink into the word work where only four remain open.

Additional arguments by AT&T claim that T-Mobile is in financial trouble and blocking the merger will not help them and in turn hurt their customers. In short the response was not a response as it brought no new information to the table and only makes the very childlike proclamation of “You Don’t Get it”.
Further proof of this can be found in an e-mail that was sent with the response stating that AT&T will work with the DOJ to address their concerns with this merger.  We have previously talked about what type of concessions AT&T might have to make to get by the DOJ’s objections, but with a new suit filed by Sprint it might not be up to the DOJ any more….

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Published in News
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 23:33

Update on the AT&T-T-Mobile Merger

ATTNow it is time for the AT&T&T-Mobile news. It seems that competitor Sprint has opted to file a lawsuit in opposition to the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. This really should surprise no one as Sprint has never agreed with the deal in the first place. The suit filed by Sprint covers the same ground that the one filed by the DOJ does. You know the drill; it is bad for consumers, removed choice from the market and creates a douopoly (which sounds like a fun board game). Of course AT&T was quick to issue a statement saying that Sprint is only looking out for themselves (No kidding, really?) and that they are no concerned with consumers and how much they will benefit from this merger (of course they never really detail those benefits).  Pretty much Sprint said AT&T was a big bully and AT&T said “Nuh-Uh!” it really is like watching kids argue on the playground.

Other reports suggest that AT&T might not be worried because if the revisions cost them more than 20% of the original deal, then they might get some money off the price tag for T-Mobile. It things hit 40% of the original sticker price then AT&T can walk owning only 3 Billion to T-Mobile for their troubles. So really AT&T is not going to be worried they are in something of a win-win. Sure the merger is their goal (and they will lobby for it), but they still have lots of options. I really wonder what the outcome of this all will be, but I do hope that someone up there in Washington has some common sense and can see just how bad for consumers a deal like this could be.

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Published in News

17Well, well, well. It looks like a single judge in the US is finally asking the right questions and perhaps coming to the same conclusions that many in the press and the consumer advocate sector have understood for some time. What is the conclusion? Just the simple fact that the MPAA and the RIAA have been using the US Judicial System as nothing more than a collection agency.  The Judge in question is Judge Bernard Zimmerman of the Northern District of California. While looking over a case that was filed there (On The Cheap, LLC vs Does 1-5011) Judge Zimmerman began to feel that this blanket BitTorrent suit might be little more than a nice fishing expedition for some easy money.  

With this in mind the Judge asked the lead Attorney Ira M. Siegal to reveal how much he has made from threats made through the court system. Mr. Seigel failed to respond on time and then refused to respond with the information requested by the Judge (a move that would get most thrown in jail for contempt). Instead Mr. Siegel chose to bash the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a couple of others for good measure.

But more than just the monetary issue at hand Judge Zimmerman also felt that there was a jurisdictional issue. You see Mr. Siegal and the Plaintiff are both based in Southern California, yet chose to file the suit in Northern California. This would seem to be very odd, however Mr. Siegel feels that due to the way BitTorrents work, if you are in a swarm then you are under national jurisdiction. Judge Zimmerman appears to feel differently.
Now the question is what will Judge Zimmerman do? If he dismisses the case based on failure to respond then the cycle will continue. This is very likely what Mr. Siegel would like to have happen. It would remove the scrutiny from him for a while and then allow him to pick up where he left off. If Judge Zimmerman finds him in contempt, fines him and then tosses him in jail along with a nice complaint to the Bar things could be very different. It could set precedence in these cases and in some perhaps even allow for further appeals.  We hope that since Judge Zimmerman was smart enough to recognize the scam in the first place he will see the second one and take the appropriate actions.  Let’s face it most of these suits are nothing more than extortion with the US Court system’s approval and while it is perfectly reasonable to protect Intellectual Property it is not right by any means to abuse the system the way the MPAA and RIAA have done.

Source TorrentFreak
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Published in News
Friday, 02 September 2011 19:45

Did Apple Investigators Pose as Police?

73A man in Bernal Heights might have had his home searched by Apple Employees who were masquerading as police. According to SFWeekly Sergio Calderón is the person whose home was searched. Calderón’s story, if true, is extremely concerning and raises questions about what Apple will do to get its way.

Calderón says that in July six people (four men and two women) wearing badges showed up at his door saying they were from the San Francisco Police Department. The “Police” claimed they had traced the phone to Calderón’s home via GPS and also asked him if he had been to Cava 22 (the site where the phone was believed to have been lost).

Apparently the “police” also threatened to call INS on Calderón’s family (even though Calderón is an American Citizen and his visiting family members are all here legally). One of the investigators even offered a $300 reward for the return of the phone (which Calderón says he knows nothing about). The thing that makes things even more odd about this story is that one of the “police” who called himself Tony gave Calderón a plain card with a phone number on it. Calderón gave this number to SFWeekly who called it and found that it was a phone number to Apple. This number was answered by a man named Anthony Colon who is currently employed by Apple and a Senior Investigator.

As the plot thickens the SFPD first said they had no knowledge of any search at that location, but now are saying they did assist Apple in searching a house in July.

SFWeekly has more information including the linked-in and facebook pages for “Tony”. This one will be interesting to follow up on, if Apple really did misrepresent themselves it is very concerning as it shows they are willing to stop at nothing to get what they want (regardless of what laws they break). Plus when you add this to the falsified evidence Apple presented in the EU we have to wonder about how concerned they are with the consumer…

Source SFWeekly

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Published in News
Saturday, 20 August 2011 14:47

Apple caught using more misleading evidence

screenshot-page-28Ok, I could not let this one pass. After hearing about the first instance of inaccurate evidence presented by Apple in court. I honestly thought that occurrence might have been nothing more that old images or an accident involving someone trying to fit both pictures in the same space. However, now we hear about another case where Apple has done exactly the same thing. This time the case in question is in the Netherlands where Apple is trying to get a permanent ban AND a recall of all Galaxy Smart Phones and tablets.

At this point it seems that Apple is willing to lie, cheat and maybe even steal to get what they want (market dominance). I certainly hope that the courts hold Apple responsible on both counts. It is very clear that Apple feels it is above the law in the US where they have led a charmed life with the Patent office and the US International Trade Commission. Now they are taking this to the EU where they managed to get an ex-parte, non-hearing preliminary ban on the Tab 10.1 with inaccurate images as evidence. Thankfully, as of this writing the ban has been lifted (citing jurisdiction issues) in all countries in the EU except Germany. With mounting proof of falsified (or at least wildly inaccurate) visual evidence being used by Apple we would certainly hope these injunction requests are dropped for good and Apple required to face the consequences of their actions.


Source ITWorld.
Picture credit WebWereld.

Published in News
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