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Aretha Franklin sues satire site over viral fake news story
April 17, 2014 | 4:09 am

aretha-21If you spend much time on social media, you’ve seen those stories show up in your friend feed—a satirical piece that someone assumed was true. Sometimes it’s easy to catch, if it comes from a known satire site like The Onion or Duffelblog (though Duffelblog may not be as familiar to people who don’t have a lot of ex-military social media friends). But if it’s an unfamiliar site, the stories can sometimes seem believable enough that you believe them yourself for a bit. (It’s especially common around April Fools Day, but thanks to sites like this, it’s now...

In Google Books appeal, Authors Guild decries Google’s impact on Amazon sales
April 12, 2014 | 6:12 am

The Authors Guild is appealing Google’s November fair use win in its Google Book scanning case. The Guild says that Google is “yanking readers out of online bookstores” and stifling online bookstore competition with its digitized books. "Google emptied the shelves of libraries and delivered truckloads of printed books to scanning centers, where the books were converted into digital format," the Guild's lawyers said. They wrote that the library project was designed to lure potential book purchasers away from online retailers like Amazon.com and drive them to Google. Wait, what? ...

NewEgg butts another patent troll off the bridge
April 3, 2014 | 5:50 pm

neweggWhen I ordered my clattery new Cherry MX Brown-springed mechanical keyboard at NewEgg, and it arrived yesterday, I wasn’t thinking of NewEgg’s tireless efforts when it comes to fighting patent trolls. But perhaps I should have been. Ars Technica reports on their latest victory, against a company called Macrosolve which claimed to have patented the ability to use questionnaires in a mobile app. Although it had formerly actually produced real products, Macrosolve at this point is merely a patent troll making a hand-to-mouth living shaking down companies for settlements and immediately paying them out to cover legal fees...

Judge Cote certifies consumer suits for class action in Apple antitrust case
March 29, 2014 | 7:45 am

Calling it a “paradigmatic antitrust class action,” Judge Denise Cote has granted class-action certification to the consumers whose suit against Apple makes up one third of the intricate bundle of cases she is presiding over in the Apple antitrust trial. (The other two thirds are, of course, the actions brought by the Department of Justice and the state attorneys general.) She also denied Apple’s request to disregard the plaintiff’s damage expert, and threw out the opinions of the experts Apple had consulted in regard to damages. Not many surprises there for anyone who’s been following the trial so far. ...

Court finds in favor of HarperCollins over ‘Julie of the Wolves’ backlist e-book rights
March 18, 2014 | 11:47 am

We covered the HarperCollins vs. Open Road case a few months ago, over e-book editions of the late Jean C. George’s novel Julie of the Wolves. George signed a contract with Open Road to publish the e-book editions, arguing that there was no way her original 1971 contract with HC could cover e-books because they hadn’t even been invented yet. However, Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly reports that the district judge in the case has ruled in HarperCollins’s favor, finding HC’s interpretation of the contractual language convincing. The case came about when George wanted to publish an e-book edition...

Apple anti-trust plaintiffs want summary judgment on damages, trial to stay where it is
March 10, 2014 | 1:04 pm

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly has details on the plaintiffs’ latest filings in the Apple anti-trust case. In brief, the attorneys argue that Judge Cote has enough evidence to decide on Apple’s damages in summary judgment, without needing a trial. It’s already a well-established fact that consumers were harmed; the only question is how much the damages should be, and most experts, including Apple’s own, tend to come pretty close to the same figure on those. They also reject Apple’s request to separate the trials and move them back to their original venues. It’s too late in the game...

Commercial drone use apparently legal in US after all…for now
March 7, 2014 | 6:09 am

Amazon Delivery Drones Remember that story I wrote the other day about the FAA’s restrictions against commercial use of drones? Motherboard reports that a federal judge has dismissed the FAA’s first (and only) case against someone making commercial use of a drone. 29-year-old Raphael Pirker, fined for filming a commercial at the University of Virginia, contended that the FAA has never actually issued any binding regulations restricting commercial use of drones, and the judge agreed. Though the FAA issued a policy notice in 2007 ostensibly making them illegal, the notice was only advisory and not actually legally...

New developments in Apple anti-trust trial: Apple accuses Judge Cote of bias; economists file amicus brief
March 6, 2014 | 4:22 pm

Here’s a twofer of Apple anti-trust suit stories. First, from Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly comes the news that a February 21 Apple filing opposing summary judgment in the damages phase has been made public, and it’s pretty clear the gloves are off. Apple is outright accusing Judge Cote of bias, claiming that statements she made in the order denying the antitrust monitor stay suggest she’s already decided what the damages should be. I wish I could find the filing; it doesn’t seem to be in PACER. I’d love to read it for myself. I’m pretty sure this...

Apple files opening brief in e-book anti-trust trial appeal
February 26, 2014 | 7:12 pm

Ars Technica reports that Apple has filed a 75-page opening brief in its appeal of Judge Cote’s decision finding it guilty of engaging in a conspiracy with the publishers to help raise prices. The Ars article has a reasonable summary of Apple’s arguments. Fundamentally, many of them are the same arguments that lost it the case in trial court: it just negotiated the most favorable contract for itself, and couldn’t be blamed for what the publishers, busy little bees that they are, imposed on other retailers. It acted to increase competition by making it possible for new players...

Apple files motion to move anti-trust damages trials to California, Texas
February 25, 2014 | 9:53 am

Looks like Apple is doing whatever it can to flee from Judge Cote. Andrew Albanese reports at Publishers Weekly that Apple has filed a motion to split the state and class-action agency pricing lawsuits away from the Department of Justice trial and move them to districts in northern California and west Texas, respectively. It argues that they had only been consolidated for the purposes of pre-trial activity only, and now that said activity is over, they should get to move back to the districts where they had been filed. (I checked PACER but didn’t find any of these filings there...

Judge Cote assigns anti-trust monitor mediator, warns Apple against withholding documents
February 21, 2014 | 3:46 pm

The Apple anti-trust affair proceeds apace. In the wake of the appeals court decision allowing the monitor’s work to go ahead, Andrew Albanese reports at Publishers Weekly, Judge Cote has assigned a magistrate judge to act as a first-line mediator to resolve any disputes between Apple and anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich, subject to appeal to her. (It’s the same magistrate, Michael Dolinger, who was also assigned to arbitrate the matter of Bromwich’s fee, so apparently his brief has been widened.) Cote also told Apple it needs to go ahead and fork over all the documents Bromwich requested by February 26th....

Appeals court denies Apple request to stay anti-trust monitor
February 11, 2014 | 11:23 am

The appeals court has issued its ruling on Apple’s request to have the anti-trust monitor stayed in the e-book price-fixing anti-trust trial. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple’s appeal has been denied. That being said, the appeals court did issue what it saw as instructions “narrowing” the monitor’s focus. The monitor is, the court said, supposed to make sure Apple has an anti-trust compliance program in place and that employees are being taught about what it means and how it works. He is not supposed to rummage around looking for violations of anti-trust or other laws. In the two-page document (PDF), court...