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First off today, James Niccolai at PCWorld reports that ahead of a new trial in the over the Java programming language, Oracle is asking for $9.3 billion in damages from Google for its use of elements from the language in its Android mobile operating system.
The lawsuit began six years ago when Oracle, owners of Java, sued Google claiming that Google copied portions of it when building Android. Google, however, claimed it only copied the APIs, or the instructions that applications use when interfacing with the device. Google claimed that APIs were merely factual and not protected by copyright but, while the lower court agreed, the appeals court overturned it.
That has kicked the matter back to the lower court, where previously the jury was split on whether or not the copying of APIs was a fair use. That sets the stage for a new trial and, with it, a demand for damages from Oracle. According to their damages expert, they deserve $475 million in actual damages and $8.8 billion in Google’s profits based on what it’s made off of Android. Google fought back against the report saying that it “ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages” and seeks billions for only a fraction of a percent of all of Android’s code.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the people behind Axanar, the Star Trek fan film sued by Paramount and CBS for copyright infringement, have responded to an amended complaint and are calling into question both the timing of the lawsuit and the copyrightability of Vulcans.
The lawsuit began after the producers of Axanar secured over $1 million in crowdsourced funding. Despite a long history of tolerating fan creations, Paramount and CBS sued the film for copyright infringement. The defendants originally claimed that the lawsuit did not make it clear what exactly was being infringed and how, prompting Paramount to file an amended complaint that highlighted over 50 examples of what they considered infringement. Now the producers of Axanar are challenging those claims in a response.
According to the response, the lawsuit itself is premature as the film has not been produced and Paramount has not been able to show that a script has even been written. The response also claims that many of Paramounts alleged infringements are not copyrightable. For example, the term Vulcan has been in use since Roman mythology and the iconic Vulcan ears are similar to other characters, including the vampire Nosferatu. The response also claims the Klingon language is an idea or system, thus not copyrightable. A scheduling conference is set for May.
Finally today, Jason Koebler at Motherboard reports that efforts by the Wikimedia Organization and Facebook to bring free, but limited, Internet access to many countries has met with an unexpected problem: Piracy.
Both Facebook and Wikimedia have partnered with Internet service providers, to provide users in poorer countries access to their sites (and some other basic services) for free. Though the service restricts the sites free users can access, some users in Angola have found ways to share pirated content, either through private Facebook groups or uploading files to Wikipedia articles.
Both Wikimedia and Facebook have said that they are addressing the issue, with Wikimedia saying it is working on automated tools for detecting misuse. However, this has caused controversy and is seen by many as an attempt to enforce rules from other countries on Angolan users, who have significantly more relaxed copyright laws.