The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has a lot of issues, and one of them is the almost instantaneous way in which content can be removed from the web if a copyright holder thinks it's in violation - it's a pretty classic example of "guilty until proven innocent." That double-edged sword is swinging back at Qualcomm today: the company issued an apology to developers after forcing popular code repository GitHub to remove over 100 repos for violation of copyright.
You might have noticed something missing from the Play Store in the last few days. One-click theming app Themer Beta by MyColorScreen was pulled from Google Play late on February 2nd due to a copyright complaint from Apple. When it will return is not clear, but it's probably not going to be immediate.
Quick, what's the most hated company in mobile gaming today? If you answered EA, Zynga, or Gamevil, well, you might be right. But the answer I was looking for was "King," creator of Candy Crush Saga and two of the most ridiculous copyright stories in recent memory. After the company trademarked the word "Candy" in all applications for video games and apparel, a few cheeky developers decided to risk the wrath of King's lawyers and release candy-themed apps on iOS and Android.
In October of 2012, the Library of Congress elected not to renew DMCA exemptions that explicitly allow end users to unlock their cell phones at will, thus ending a six year tradition. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. The quest to do something about it began almost immediately. And by "almost immediately" I mean "nearly three months later and at almost the very last minute."
Still, regardless of when the outrage gained steam, the fact is it did.
On Monday of this week, Apollo - the default music player in Cyanogenmod - was released to the Play Store in both free and paid variants. As of yesterday, just four days after its release, both versions of the app have been pulled due to alleged copyright infringement.
Andrew Neal, the app's creator, took to his Google+ page to let users know what happened:
This may not be strictly Android-related news, but it's safe to say that what Google does to search results is relevant to our readers' interests, no? Today, Google announced via its Inside Search blog that the company will start including the volume of valid copyright removal notices as a factor in determining how high or low a site ranks in its search results. Translation: pirate sites won't be removed entirely, but they'll start ranking lower than legitimate sites.
We're hearing via The Verge that Judge William Alsup has just handed down his decision on the copyrightability of Oracle's 37 Java API's, asserted by Oracle as having been infringed by Google in the Android operating system. This is probably the most important issue of the entire case. While a jury decided that Google did infringe Oracle's APIs as asserted by Oracle, that decision hinged on the assumption that the APIs were in fact copyrightable in the way Oracle had insisted they were.
Google and Oracle have been going at it for weeks now over both patent and copyright infringement claims made by the latter company. At least one issue is settled, though, as the jury on the case has decided that Google did not infringe any of Oracle's patents with Android. This is only a small part of Oracle's assault on Google. The larger issue is on the matter of copyright infringement, but at least on the patent issue, Google seems to be in the clear.
You've probably already read headlines in the last hour or two proclaiming that Google has "lost" its copyright case against Oracle, and in the strictest sense of the word, it has. Google lost on a number of counts, including the most important one, question one in the jury instructions. It also lost on a count involving nine lines of code that have long-since been removed from Android.
The first question, though, asked the jurors whether Google's use of 37 Java API packages, taken as a group, constituted an infringement of Oracle's copyrighted works.
This a cause I think we can all get behind. Back in 2010, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress issued a rulemaking statement exempting smartphones and DVDs from reverse engineering laws under the DMCA. Previously, companies like Apple had used these provisions to threaten criminal prosecution (as well as civil action) against those who "jailbroke" (rooted) devices such as the iPhone (or iPad). The exemption to these penalties put in place by the Copyright Office extended to the "jailbreaking" (or, as we know it in the Android community, rooting) of all smartphones (it also extends to things like bootloader unlocking).