A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC

Apple v. Samsung: Some Perspective on One Beeill-yun Dollars!

Dr. Evil Returns!

Almost immediately after the jury in the Apple v. Samsung patent/trade-dress case returned its verdict, the twitterverse was buzzing with Dr. Evil jokes. Try as you might, but you couldn’t say, “$1 billion” without either cracking up, or doing Dr. Evil’s little pinky thing.* Try it. You just can’t.**

* Huh, it looks like he actually says, “$100 billion.”

** As a means of counteracting the Dr. Evil thing, I tried doing it with a Carl Sagan impersonation—bill-yuns and bill-yuns of years ago—but it didn’t feel right.

I did my best to ignore the case while the trial was going on—there’s only so much a guy can take—but when I heard last Friday that the jury was about to return its verdict, I couldn’t resist the siren call of The Verge’s liveblogging. At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal, until I realized my brain was reducing every monetary figure by a magnitude—a defense mechanism against insanity, I think. And when you totaled it all up, yup, it was Dr. Evil time.

I’ve been asked about the verdict a lot at CoderFaire over the weekend, and Monday I was interviewed about it by the Nashville Business…

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Copyright Protection of APIs after Oracle v. Google: Poppin a Whelan

Part VI: Everything That’s Old Is New Again (but it’s Still Overruled)

Last time, we examined Oracle’s strategy to overcome certain doom under the abstract-filter-compare test: pull back and look at the big picture. In other words, don’t focus on the line-by-line computer code, but look at the Java API as a whole—how the “methods” (individual programs that comprise the API) are organized and named.

The problem was that, even with the change in perspective, Oracle had serious problems under the abstract-filter-compare test because one of the things you’re supposed to filter out is expression required for interoperability or compatibility. As it turns out, the way the Java API was organized had everything to do with interoperability and compatibility. If you grant copyright to the way the API is organized internally, you’d interfere with the ability of programmers to program in Java, or, really, for anyone to use Java.

So Oracle needed a new test. And it turns out, if you go back far enough, you’ll find a test for determining infringement of copyright in software that is much friendlier to Oracle. It is from decision known as Whelan. But first, a short history lesson.

Computer software has been explicitly protected by the…

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ReDigi Finale: Comparing Apples to Amazons (Part 20 in Our Online Music Services Series)

And Other Loose Ends.

This is going to be (I hope) the last post about the ReDigi situation, at least for a while. I’ll admit I got distracted by the RIAA’s little missive to ReDigi. I want to sum up and wrap up. First, the summing:

The Three Legal Obstacles to a Digital First-Sale Right

Looking over the five (!) previous posts about ReDigi, we see three obstacles to its legality:

Do the consumers who wish to sell their digital singles actually own, or merely license, the music files? That’s what Vernor helps us answer, as discussed here.
Is the First-Sale Doctrine limited to the same physical item that was the subject of the “first sale”? I discuss this question here and here.
By what right can ReDigi make the temporary, intermediate copies necessary to transfer the song file? I discuss this issue here and here.

So. There. Now, let’s tie up a few loose ends.

What About Amazon?

When I first discussed whether ReDigi’s system could comply with Vernor (to answer the question of whether the potential sellers “own” the digital downloads), I focused exclusively on the iTunes Store license agreement. I did so because (1) iTunes by far the most popular source of legal digital downloads,…

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ReDigi: A Digital Secondary Market (Part 15 of Our Online Music Services Series)

Can ReDigi Take Advantage of the First Sale Doctrine?

When I first contemplated this Online Music Services Series, I decided not to discuss Apple’s iTunes Store service or similar services because (1) they weren’t new, and (2) the relevant law was pretty boring. While it’s true that the U.S. Supreme Court recently let stand a lower-court ruling that downloading songs from iTunes-like services does not constitute a “public performance,” hardly anyone was surprised by the result.* When you download a song from iTunes, Apple is making a copy of the song file and sending it to you–it’s your own copy, which you can play whenever you want. This is different from streaming services in which multiple users receive the streams of music derived from the same “single master” but which they don’t get to keep.

* ASCAP sued because, although its case was a long-shot, the amount of money at stake made it worth the effort. ASCAP is charged with collecting royalties for public performances on behalf of songwriters, so if downloads were public performances… 

ReDigi and the Creation of a Digital Secondary Market

But, then along comes ReDigi, a twist on the iTunes Store model that (1) is brand new,…

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On the Death of Steve Jobs: A Visionary (Sort of) for Our Times

Why I’ve Admired Steve Jobs Since 1980

When Steve Jobs passed away last week, it felt almost (but not quite) like a death in the family. It’s a little hard to explain why. Sure, I’ve been using Apple products since around 1980 (I can’t remember the exact year my dad bought us an Apple II+). But I’ve been using Microsoft products for almost as long, and I doubt I’ll feel the same about Bill Gates’ death (I won’t feel *happy* either). And sure, Jobs was a kind of a rock star, but I’ve always been immune to that sort of charisma. And sure, he grew up, like me in a ranch-style house in a middle class neighborhood in Mountain View (or, in Jobs’ case, an unincorporated part of Santa Clara County that was, for all intents and purposes, Mountain View), but so did a lot of other people with whom I share no connection.

Naturally, I tried to console myself by reading other people’s reactions to Jobs’ death, particularly in Twitter feeds. There were a few dominant themes: that he was an innovator, that he was a rebel, that he just designed good products–and a few to the effect that he…

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