Tech law GEEK


Judges Rule File-sharing Software Legal

The 9th Circuit opinion affirms a lower court ruling that the creators of file-sharing software applications cannot be held liable for illegal actions by their users. Specifically:
we conclude that the defendants are not liable for
contributory and vicarious copyright infringement

Vicarious liability for your customer's actions who could be anywhere in the world... I'd hate to see the actuarial calculations for an insurance policy to protect against that.

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and now the Redacted MSJ

Tuxrocks posted the IBM Redacted Motion for Partial Summary Judgment related to the Copyright Infringement counterclaim in the SCO case. The essence of which is based on SCO's repudiation of the terms of the GPL/LGPL, thereby terminating its rights.
By its breaches of the GPL and LGPL, SCO has forfeited any protection against claims of copyright infringement that it may have enjoyed by virtue of the GPL or LGPL.
--- IBM's MSJ p.22

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Groklaw posted IBM's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed last friday. The MSJ speaks only on the Breach of Contract claims in the pending case.
SCO also asserts claims against IBM for copyright infringement, unfair competition and tortious interference. These claims are not at issue in this motion (although SCO's copyright claim depends in part on its contract claims).
-- IBM Motion for Partial Summary Judgement, n.1

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Gateway expands its retail channel

As eWeek reported yesterday, Gateway will be enhancing its retail sales game - letting CompUSA handle some of its customer contact. The overhead costs of handling its country stores met their inevitable demise earlier this year, as I predicted a few years ago (only I was a bit more pessimistic on how soon it would happen, as usual).
The acquisition of eMachines has made Gateway the third-largest PC maker in the United States, behind Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Recognizing the advantage competitors have in utilizing already established retail channels, Gateway has added CompUSA as another retailer to pitch its wares. Just think how much $$ they would have saved if they listened to me a few years ago...

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The buzz on BW's OSS Soup fly

BusinessWeek's tech columnist, Stephen Wildstrom, opines on the current state of uncertainty surrounding Linux's possible IP right infringements:
How does software owned by everyone and by no one survive in a world where copyrights and patents shape the legal landscape?

Of course, the Open Source Risk Management report of 283 possible patent infringements has made organizations wary of stepping into legal quicksand.
What's worse, even legal experts are hard pressed to make any definitive statement whether a derivative work is indeed a derivative work under the GPL.
The truth is we don't really know, and there are reasonable arguments on both sides
---Jay Michaelson, co-founder of software company Wasabi Systems and a lawyer and a programmer

Of course, the simplest solution would be to drop the GPL for some other licensing scheme that doesn't raise more questions than it answers. At least that's Wildstrom's solution. I won't hold my breath.

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That certain something

CNET's Executive Editor, Charles Cooper, laid out the flame bait in last Friday's perspective:
There's a certain something about this particular company that pushes certain folks over the edge.

I can vouch for that. And I'm still amazed at how much productivity is lost by groups dominated by MS haters. Perhaps it is one of the sociological phenomena in cyberspace that intrigues me so much.

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Lawyer Credentials

I had an interesting debate this morning about the significance of a lawyer's previous work experience in providing quality advice. Specifically, whether one need participate in an Open Source Software development project in order to have more insightful analysis or commentary on the relevant legal issues. I likened it to a criminal law expert expected to have a rap sheet of his own in order to understand the underlying legal issues, but that apparently wasn't very persuasive. I certainly would rather deal with an attorney knowledgeable in my line of business, but does that necessarily mean they need to have run a business like mine before giving reliable legal advice?

I'll ponder that...

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ExamSoft and the Honor Code

My law school requires Exam Soft as the anti-cheating technology solution for computer test-takers. Of course, some students think that, by virtue of the Honor Code, students will self-monitor. I'd be surprised if half the students even know what the Honor Code says. My suggestion to faculty: if you insist on a closed book exam, don't leave any easy opportunities for students to stray. I believe most students are trustworthy, but you never know who is under a lot of pressure (whether self-imposed or external) . After all, you're teaching future lawyers - people who are being trained to get their clients out of any predicament. It's difficult to prosecute a case even if you have some brave witnesses willing to suffer the repercussions of reporting. Don't count on it. Make it easier on everyone and don't give people an easy chance to cheat in the first place.

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This is the start of what I hope to be an enjoyable and useful blogging experience for all of us.

I'm going to attempt to maintain posts in Yahoogroups at for those who prefer that format. We'll see if that turns out to be manageable in the long-run or not.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided solely for educational and informational purposes, and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by communications with me. If you do require legal advice, I encourage you to consult an attorney who is actively engaged in the practice of law and who is admitted to the bar in your jurisdiction.

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