Mar 302012
Preserving your IP

Here’s a question somebody recently posted to, which should strike fear into the heart of every startup founder: [. . . ] Since I am the lead developer, and since I have never signed anything relinquishing my ownership of the code, if I just left the company would probably fail. Since I don’t wish this upon them, I would like to find afair way to leave.What is the best approach for me to leave without [...]

Jan 182012

President Obama and various members of Congress have recently intimated that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would not pass until one of its more controversial provisions is removed. That’s all well and good, but SOPA is still an awful bill. SOPA is intended to fight piracy of both copyrighted works (like music and movies) and physical goods (like face Gucci purses) by going after the websites and other internet services that make these goods [...]

Sep 062011
DMCA Technicalities

Most technical folks in the US have some passing familiarity with the notice-and-takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   The basic idea is that if you have an website and somebody, without your knowledge,  posts something to the site that infringes some third party’s copyright, then you won’t be liable for having the content on your website, so long as you remove the material when its owner asks you to. There are, however, [...]

Jul 082011
Copyright in Fonts?

The font foundry P22 is suing Universal Studios for using its Cezanne font on a bunch of Harry Potter-branded T-shirts and other merchandise. The complaint lists three causes of action: copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and breach of contract. The complaint asks for three main things. First, there’s a request for an injunction preventing Universal from using the Cezanne font and from making or selling any new products that contain the font. Second, destruction of all [...]

Mar 312011
Superman and Software

In 1938, two teenage boys created the original Man of Steel and sold him off for a mere $130.  Sixty-one years later, in 1999, the heirs of one of those boys told Warner Brothers (who had acquired Superman in the intervening years) that they were taking Superman back, along with Lois Lane, Kryptonite and much of the Superman universe, effective January 1, 2013. Warner Brothers fought tooth-and-nail, but the heirs won. And now those heirs [...]

Jan 092011

I previously blogged about UMG v. Augusto, where UMG was left with being unable to enforce its restrictions against reselling its promotional CDs.  At the end of my blog post, I mentioned that sending unsolicited copies of software to people might allow them to resell them on places like eBay.  But, another recent decision (by the same court), Vernor v. Autodesk, actually came to the opposite conclusion — Vernor could not resell copies of an [...]

Jan 052011

In the last of a trio of cases that impact license agreements, the 9th Circuit just released its opinion in UMG v. Augusto.  (The other two cases were MDY v. Bliizzard, which I blogged about here, and Vernor v. Autodesk).   The case is interesting to copyright nerds like me, but (with one exception), not that useful to software publishers.  That one exception?  If you’re a software publisher, don’t just randomly send copies of your [...]

Jan 042011

When does violating the terms of a software license make you liable for copyright infringement, and when are you only liable for breach of contract?   That was one question before the 9th Circuit in MDY v. Blizzard, a case it just decided about the software license on World of Warcraft. The general rule has been that if a user acts “outside the scope” of the license, then he infringes the copyright, but if he only [...]