3 Count: The Broke Millionaire

When a person dies penniless, but their estate is worth millions...

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1: Trial Focuses on Google’s Past Efforts to License Java Software

First off today, Jack Nicas at the Wall Street Journal reports that, as the Google/Oracle lawsuit slowly picks up speed, the initial focus has been on Google’s earlier attempts to license Java for its Android mobile operating system and whether that means Google felt it needed a license to move forward.

The lawsuit pits Oracle against Google (or rather, its parent company Alphabet) over the latter’s implementation of Java in Android. According to Google, they complete rewrote the implementation of the language and only used the same APIs to ensure compatibility. That prompted Oracle to sue and the original jury was unable to reach a verdict on the issue of fair use. After a series of appeals, which affirmed the copyrightability of APIs, the case is back at the lower court for a retrial on the fair use issues.

There, Oracle has said that, in 2006, Google discussed a $28 million, five-year licensing deal for Java with Sun Microsystems, the then-owner. Oracle believes that Google felt it needed a license but decided, after it was unable to reach a deal, to risk creating their own implementation.

2: Official: Settlement Over Photographer Vivian Maier’s Estate Must Stay Secret

Next up today, Jason Meisner at the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cook County public administrator has said that a settlement is likely impending in the case of photographer Vivian Maier but that the details of the settlement must be kept secret as other negotiations may be impacted.

Maier, who died in 2009 at 83, lived most of her life in Chicago where she worked as a nanny but dabbled in amateur photography. Shortly before her death, due to unpaid storage fees, a man by the name of John Maloof bought her storage unit and acquired about 90 percent of her negatives. However, thanks to exposure from Maloof and others, her work is now highly sought after but, while the copyright resides with the Maier estate, the physical works are in the hands of Maloof and other buyers.

Virginia copyright attorney David Deal tracked down Maier’s heirs (she left no will) and struck a deal with at least one of them to surrender the rights to Maier’s work. However, continued uncertainty about the copyright halted several exhibitions of Maier’s work, prompting a push to settle. Now, with the deal, Maloof plans on developing more of Maier’s work but the terms of the settlement are to remain secret as negotiations are ongoing with others who have bought or otherwise obtained negatives of Maier’s work.

3: ASCAP Pays $1.75 Million to Settle Justice Department Probe

Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle a Department of Justice investigation into its practices.

ASCAP, along with its leading competitor, BMI, are performing rights organizations that grant licenses to publicly perform music compositions. However, ASCAP and BMI operate under consent decrees by the Department of Justice that limit the ways in which they can do business to avoid them abusing their market position.

In 2013 song publishers attempted to revoke their digital music rights from ASCAP amid a royalty fight with Pandora. The court ruled that ASCAP had to give Pandora the license but the Department of Justice began investigating, alleging that its board members colluded illegally and that they were giving advance payments to publishers in exchange for exclusive rights. The payment settles the investigation though ASCAP does not admit any wrongdoing.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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