Runescape Copyright and CFAA Case Fails at Preliminary Injunction Stage, But Runescape is Not Down for the Count: Jagex v. Impulse Software

A decision in Jagex v. Impulse Software, issued by Massachusetts U.S. District Court Judge Gorton in August, has some interesting (albeit not nonobvious) lessons for software developers seeking to protect their websites from copying or reverse engineering.  The decision arises in the context of a preliminary injunction – a request by Jagex to provide it with legal relief at the outset of the case, before discovery or trial – so Jagex may yet prevail in this case, particularly since most of the reasons the court denied it relief that this stage can be corrected before the case progresses much further.

The plaintiff, Jagex operates an online role-playing game called “Runescape.”  Runescape is a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (MMORPG for short, but we’ll just call it “the game”).

Impulse offers online cheat tools – software that lets users advance through the levels of the game without actually playing the game. … Read the full article

Hey Dude, That Program’s Mine! Vernor v. Autodesk

by Lee Gesmer on September 17, 2010

Hey Dude, That Program’s Mine! Vernor v. Autodesk

You’re out cruising garage sales on a hot summer Sunday morning when you spot an unopened copy of AutoCAD sitting on a card table for $40 – 40 buckeroos for a program people spend $700 for new.  Yeah, it’s a couple of versions back, but you figure you can get $340 for it on eBay, and not break a sweat.  You buy it from the clearly clueless seller, and the next thing you know you’re watching bids come in at over $300.  Except that Autodesk, proud owner of this high-end computer aided design program, objects.  You don’t own that program, they say, we licensed it to the original seller, and she had no right to sell it, no right at all.  You are infringing our copyright by reselling the software, so take it off eBay right now, Autodesk’s lawyers insist in a hand delivered, “sign-here-to-acknowledge-receipt-sir” letter.  In the meantime, they’ve sent eBay a DMCA take-down notice and eBay has killed your sale.… Read the full article

Decision in Viacom v. YouTube: Dog Bites Man (Mark Cuban was wrong)

Despite all the hoopla, this week’s copyright decision in Viacom v. YouTube (link on Scribd) was predicatable – a decision in the opposition direction would have been a shocker.  Viacom accused YouTube (owned by Google) of massive copyright infringement.  The court dismissed the case on summary judgment in favor of YouTube.

Of course, there is no question that copyright infringement is taking place on YouTube every instant of the day.  The court noted that video is being uploaded to YouTube at the rate of 24 hours per minute.  My calculator tells me that this is over 12.6 million hours of video per year.  It’s no secret that people are uploading copyright material at a fantastic rate – a search of YouTube will find that almost any popular song can be located.  it’s a simple matter to download the clip (either video of just audio), and share it with friends or on peer-to-peer networks.  … Read the full article

Don’t Mess With Texas

by Lee Gesmer on May 14, 2010

Don’t Mess With Texas

I’ve written before about how generous juries in the federal courts in the Eastern District of Texas (EdTX) are to patent plaintiffs. (link).  After I wrote about this a year ago there was a feeling that this trend might be reversing itself. However, Johnson & Johnson’s $1.6 billion judgment against Abbott and i4i’s $200 million verdict against Microsoft last summer put an end to those thoughts.

So, when Apple, Sirius XM and others were recently sued for patent infringement in EdTX they quite naturally looked for a way out.  Massachusetts, they told the Texas district court, was a far better choice, particularly when you considered the fact that that the patent owner, a non-practicing entity, had set up a Texas company shortly before filing suit, and located its business in the offices of its Texas lawyers.

But, it’s not that easy.

After the EdTX trial court refused to transfer the case to Massachusetts, Apple and its co-defendants filed a “mandamus” with the Federal Circuit. … Read the full article