US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled yesterday that the lawsuit filed by Kali Kanongataa must be thrown out, after the American Broadcasting Company and other defendants filed motions arguing that their use of the clips was covered by “fair use.”
Kaplan’s reasoning wasn’t included in his written order. Minutes from yesterday’s court hearing aren’t yet available. But ABC’s argument in favor of fair use is on the public record, and Kaplan presumably accepted some or all of that argument.
The new materials, dubbed “Something Can Be Done! Guide,” provides a step-by-step guide for victims. It provides concrete measures that they can take, including evidence preservation, copyright registration, restraining orders, and takedown requests to Internet companies—many of which don’t require the often-costly services of a lawyer. (Without My Consent’s efforts are reminiscent of Nolo, a decades-old do-it-yourself legal publisher.)
But Oracle isn’t backing down. Late Friday, the company appealed the high-profile verdict to a federal appeals court.
This is the latest stage of a seemingly never-ending legal battle over intellectual property that began in 2010. The conflict has meandered through two federal trials, in addition to multiple trips to the appellate courts and to the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, February 1st, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (N.D. Tex.) entered a case verdict which orders virtual reality developer Oculus VR to pay $500 million to Rockville, MD-based interactive computing firm ZeniMax Media Inc. The verdict is the latest activity in a case involving allegations of copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation levied against Oculus, now a subsidiary of social media giant Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) of Menlo Park, CA.
So what about the ZeniMax v. Facebook case? While you read many reports that make fantastical claims, it is important to remember that software copyright has been accepted and understood by the legal community as well as any law can be. Software copyrights have been formally codified since 1980, though copyrights on written works have been accepted since the founding of our nation. Nonliteral infringement is a long-standing and universally accepted result of copyright law and a legitimate reason for finding software copyright infringement. Was the verdict in this case correct? That is a different question entirely separate from whether software can be copyrighted and whether the legal theories were sound, but without facts to the contrary, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that the jury made a correct decision.