Oracle BSODs Google Over Java Code Copyright Protection

Oracle owns the Java language computer source code.  The Application Programing Interfaces (API) contained in the source code consist of declaring code (headers, short statements) and implementing code (instructions for carrying out the declared function).  Google copied the Java declaring code verbatim (7,000 lines) and replicated (imitated, but didn’t copy verbatim) the overall structure, sequence and organization (SSO) of 37 Java API packages, but wrote its own implementing code for use in its Android mobile device platform. 

Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement.  Google argued that copyright does not protect the portions of the Java source code it copied.  The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages are entitled to copyright protection.”  (Opinion pdf page 17).  Although there are other issues in this case, this post discusses only the Federal Circuit’s copyrightability analysis.

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Raging Bull Copyright Owner KO’s Film Studios

The Copyright Act statute of limitations is 3 years.  (17 U.S.C. §507(b)).  The statute of limitation is rolling, in that each new infringement starts a new statute of limitations period running.  The copyright term for works created after 1922 and before January 1, 1978 is 95 years.  Laches is an equitable doctrine that prevents the plaintiff from recovering when the plaintiff has unreasonably delayed in filing suit, resulting in undue hardship to the defendant.  Does laches entirely prevent a copyright owner from claiming copyright infringement when the copyright term has not expired?

No, is the U.S. Supreme Court’s answer to this question.  Paula Petrella, the copyright owner of the 1963 screen play upon which the movie Raging Bull is based, filed suit for copyright infringement against MGM and others.  MGM argued that laches entirely precluded Petrella’s copyright infringement claim against it and the other defendants.  The district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with MGM and the other defendants.  The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded.  I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision.  What is the purpose of our lengthy copyright term if the copyright owner can’t enforce the copyright throughout the entire term?

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Authors’ Case Against Harlequin for Abysmal E-Book Royalties Moves Forward

My post Harlequin Authors File E-Book Class Action Case Against Harlequin Over “Who’s the Publisher?” describes Harlequin authors’ class action complaint against Harlequin and its Swiss registered companies.  Harlequin authors received 3 or 4 percent of the cover price of e-books, when they thought they should be receiving more than 50 percent of the cover price.  The amended complaint claimed breach of contract under agency, assignment and alter ego theories.  The amended complaint also alleged that the license fees paid by Harlequin Enterprises to Harlequin Switzerland did not comply with the terms of the publishing agreements signed by the authors.  The authors’ royalties were calculated based on the amount paid by Harlequin Enterprises to Harlequin Switzerland.

The district court granted the Harlequin companies’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for all claims.  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision regarding the authors’ claims for breach of contract under agency, assignment and alter ego theories.  The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling on the authors’ allegation that the license fees paid by Harlequin Enterprises to Harlequin Switzerland did not comply with the terms of the publishing agreements signed by the authors. 

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Domain Name Seller Pushes the Envelope Too Far

Domain name purchase negotiations went seriously awry here.  SelectHealth, Inc., is a Utah corporation and health insurance provider.  James E. Risinger is a Texas resident.  Risinger owned the domain name www.selecthealth.com.  SelectHealth contacted Risinger about purchasing the domain name and entered into negotiations with Risinger.  Risinger copied SelectHealth’s website, www.selecthealth.org, and pasted it into the www.selecthealth.com website.  Risinger then added a registration survey and email capability to the www.selecthealth.com website.  Over 1,200 emails and 637 registrations were collected by Risinger, who then turned this information over to SelectHealth, apparently in an effort to drive up the domain name’s purchase price. 

SelectHealth sued Risinger in federal district court in Utah, alleging that Risinger caused confusion by misappropriating Select Health’s copyrighted material, trade names, trade dress and trademarks and that SelectHealth suffered damages.  The district court denied Risinger’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.  SelectHealth’s copyright infringement claim provided enough allegation of injury to SelectHealth to prevent Risinger’s motion to dismiss from being granted.

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