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First off today, Jon Fingas at Engadget reports that Niantic, the company behind the Pokemon Go and Ingress video games for mobile phones, has filed a lawsuit against members of Global++ over their alleged creation of a hacked version of their games.
The lawsuit targets the reported leader of the group, Ryan Hunt, and a YouTube promoter named Alen Hundur. There are also 20 anonymous members that Niantic hopes to identify as the lawsuit moves forward. According to Niantic, Global++ created an unauthorized derivative of the game when they made a version of it that enabled players to cheat.
Global++ has not responded to the lawsuit but the organization has taken down both its website and Discord servers. In a statement it said that it was shutting down “indefinitely” to honor “legal obligations.”
Next up today, L.M. Sixel at the Houston Chronicle reports that the Court of Appeals for the First District in Texas has handed down a significant win to the University of Texas ruling that the infringement of a photograph was not “taking” of his property under the state constitution and, as such, the university cannot be sued.
The case was filed two years ago by photographer Jim Olive who claimed that the University of Houston used an arial photograph that he took without his permission to promote their business school. When he approached them about the use, the school immediately removed the photograph but refused to pay Olive’s $41,000 demand, instead only offering $2,500.
Olive sued but, since the university is state-run it could not be sued in federal court (a separate case on that topic may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court). According to Olive, the decision makes it basically impossible for creators to sue universities and other state institutions for misusing their work, making it functionally legal for state organizations to infringe.
Finally today, Thomas Claburn at The Register reports that former attorney Paul Hansmeier has been sentenced to 14 years for his role in the Prenda Law scam.
Hansmeier and his partner John Steele ran an operation where they would target individuals downloading pornographic films on BitTorrent. They would obtain the IP address of the suspected infringer, file a lawsuit to get the account owner’s information and then threaten the alleged infringer directly. However, they would not disclose that they were actually the owners of the films, a fact hidden through the use of shell companies, companies that were often created using stolen identities.
Hansmeier originally faced nearly 20 charges but ended up pleading guilty to just conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The duo allegedly earned more than $3 million from the scheme. Steele, on the other hand, has also pleaded guilty but is due to be sentenced next month. He is hoping for a reduced sentence due to his cooperation.