Over The Aereo
When Copyright's Wrong
The Aereo legal saga continues. Not content to wait for a decision regarding their ongoing lawsuit, the Hollywood Reporter reports that broadcasters want a preliminary injunction against Aereo and they want it now. That means they have to prove “a likelihood of success and the prospect of irreparable injury.” The tone of the legal proceedings, therefore, have taken on something of an apocalyptic cast.
Their argument goes that the company’s mere existence is enough to threaten broadcasters’ business model. From the tone of statements earlier this week, they’re about ready to go looking for Aereo’s plug if the judge doesn’t do something, anything, to take care of this. If Aereo gets away with their over-the-air workaround, cable and satellite distributors won’t be so willing to shell out for retransmission rights. And that means television may never be the same again. They do understand that sounds like a good thing, right?
Earlier this week, New York Magistrate Judge Gary Brown issued a landmark ruling in one of the many mass-BitTorrent lawsuits for copyright infringement, calling the lawsuit a “waste of judicial resources” for insufficient evidence to identify copyright infringers, reports TorrentFreak.
The copyright holders were launching their claims with just an IP address. The copyright holders use that IP address ask the courts for a subpoena, which they then use to ask Internet service providers to hand over personal details about alleged offenders.
Perhaps it’s public posturing in advance of its Wednesday launch, but Aereo couldn’t seem less bothered about the two copyright infringement lawsuits the startup is currently facing in the Southern District of New York. Case in point, yesterday afternoon Aereo filed a breezy counterclaim–not countersuit as reported elsewhere–against ABC, CBS, Disney, NBC, Universal, Telemundo, and more.
(If you’re playing catch-up with our coverage, here’s a quick primer: 1. For only $12/month, the Long Island City-based startup Aereo lets users live-stream and record broadcast TV to any mobile device. Because the startup also incorporates Hulu and Netflix and doesn’t require any additional devices or dongles, the IAC/Interactive-backed company makes cord-cutting even more of a reality. 2. Broadcasters no likey. On March 1st, two groups of broadcasters filed suit for copyright infringement.)
Two sets of New York-based broadcast TV stations filed complaints yesterday against Aereo, a new startup that streams live TV from major networks like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, and PBS, as well as other local channels to any mobile device. The lawsuits, which ask for injunctive relief and damages, argue that Aereo rebroadcasts their TV programming without licensing or consent. (The fact that Aereo, which launches March 14th, charges only $12/month probably doesn’t sit well with them either.)
As AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka explained, Aereo knew these copyright challenges were coming, which is partly why the company recently raised a sizable $20.5 million series A round led by IAC, with participation from existing investors like FirstMark Capital and First Round Capital. Aereo’s position is that its service is legal because the company issues every user their own (thumbnail-sized) antenna, stored in a local warehouse. By structuring it that way, they claim that it’s consumers accessing the content, not Aereo.
Zynga has been involved in an ongoing legal battle with Vostu, the king of social gaming in Brazil, which also has a big office here in New York. Zynga sued Vostu for copying it games, to which Vostu responded that Zynga had made its entire business off of copying people’s games. Touché.
With Zynga gearing up for an IPO, it was probably in everyone’s interest to get this settled and keep any doubts from investors minds. The company’s sent Betabeat a joint statement, “Zynga and Vostu have settled the copyright lawsuits and counterclaims against each other in the United States and Brazil. As part of the settlement, Vostu made a monetary payment to Zynga and made some changes to four of its games. The parties are pleased to have settled their disputes and to now put these matters behind them.”
Law and Order
There’s an interesting legal case brewing in San Francisco with potential legal ramifications for social mediaites. A federal judge in San Francisco this week refused to dismiss a lawsuit between a cellphone news site called PhoneDog (yes, there is a such a thing) and Noah Kravtiz, its former reporter.
When Mr. Kravitz, who tweeted under the handle @phonedog_noah, left his job, he changed his Twitter moniker to @noahkravitz and took the 17,000 Twitter followers he picked up while associated with PhoneDog with him. In response, PhoneDog issued a complaint arguing that both the password to the Twitter account the identity of followers were trade secrets.
The upstate New York man who claims to own 80 percent (sorry scratch that, 50 percent) of Facebook has decided to put streetfax.com, the domain at the center of his dispute with Mark Zuckerberg, up for sale.
Paul Ceglia hired Mr. Zuckerberg to work on the site when the latter was still at Harvard. According Read More
Pot Calling the Kettle
New York City-based Felix Investments is suing SecondMarket in the New York Supreme Court over a $2,475,000 deal for Facebook shares that never came to fruition. Felix began investing in Facebook back in 2009 through two funds named Facie Libre 1 and Facie Libre II–meaning face book in Latin–and did a brisk business with SecondMarket. Dealbook’s Evelyn Rusli recently described Felix investors as “not part of Silicon Valley’s elite” and “more comfortable navigating the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan than on tree-lined Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.” The suit is over a deal in January 2010 to buy 75,000 shares from Karl Voskuil, a Facebook software engineer, at $33 per share.
The Tao of Steve
From the department of glass houses and stones, social gaming giant Zynga is suing Vostu, the biggest social gaming company in Brazil.
Vostu was co-founded by Josh Kushner, one of New York’s most active angel investors, and, full disclosure, a backer of Betabeat.
Zynga writes that Vostu has copied, “all of our key product features, product strategy, branding, mission statement and employee benefits lock, stock and barrel.”
New York Publisher John T. Colby filed a lawsuit against Apple in federal court in Manhattan today for trademark infringement over the use of “iBooks.” Colby’s suit alleges that in 2006 and 2007, he purchased assets owned by another New York publisher, Bryon Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 hardcover and paperback books under the “ibooks” name starting in September 1999.
Apple does have a trademark on “IBOOK,” but according to the suit, it only applies to computers. (Apple once sold a PC known as the “iBook). Colby alleges that Apple didn’t use the term to apply e-books or a means of delivering e-books until the iPad debuted last year. If Apple starts applying it to e-books and apps, the suit says it will render Colby’s trademark worthless. But that’s not the only trademark suit Apple got smacked with this week.