Supreme Court to Decide Epic 10-Year Copyright Infringement Case

The “copyright lawsuit of the decade” is finally coming to a conclusion, as the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc.  The Court’s decision is immensely important to the computer software industry since the Court will decide if a software application programming interface (API) is protected by copyright. The Court may, for the first time in 25 years, address the copyright fair use doctrine by deciding if use of an API is a fair use. This case has a long and convoluted history, but it started in 2010 when Oracle sued Google, alleging that Google committed patent and copyright infringement by using Java application programming interface declarations in its Android platform. The patent claims were resolved, leaving the copyright infringement claim. After several rounds of decisions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that APIs were protected by copyright and that Google’s use of them did not constitute fair use. Google appealed to the Supreme Court seeking reversal of those decisions.

Continue reading “Supreme Court to Decide Epic 10-Year Copyright Infringement Case”

EU Data Protection Law to Impact Charitable Donations

Do you have customers in Europe? Are you a charity that receives donations from EU citizens? Do you send your newsletter to people in Europe? If any of these apply to you, you should be aware of changes to European privacy laws that will come into effect on May 18, 2018. That is the effective date of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which significantly broadens the geographic scope of European privacy laws to include individuals and businesses outside of the EU. Continue reading “EU Data Protection Law to Impact Charitable Donations”

Developing Open Source Software Not an Exempt Purpose

You may be familiar with open source software. If you are, you know it is software people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. Would efforts to develop open source software qualify as an exempt purpose under tax law? It’s not commercial and it benefits the public, right?

Not according to the IRS. Continue reading “Developing Open Source Software Not an Exempt Purpose”

New Top-Level Domains: Opportunity or Headache?

A recent explosion of new domain names could profoundly change the digital marketing strategies of businesses and organizations. The regulatory body that coordinates domain names is known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN). ICANN has approved hundreds of new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) that are starting to become available to the public. Some of the more well-known gTLDs that have been used for many years include .com, .org, or .edu. Examples of new gTLDs that have been approved for release are .blog, .business, .charity, .church, .shop, and .software. Continue reading “New Top-Level Domains: Opportunity or Headache?”

Organizations Should Create Appropriate Social Media Policies

The rapid growth in popularity of social media has left many business and nonprofit organizations unprepared to handle issues presented by this new form of communication.   Existing policies may not be adequate to address the novel issues involved.  We advise companies and organizations that use social media to implement social media policies that will address these concerns. Continue reading “Organizations Should Create Appropriate Social Media Policies”

Look Before You Click: Why You Should Read Open Source Software Licenses

The proliferation of open source software has significantly changed the legal framework of the software development field.  Software developers who use open source software in their products should be aware of these issues and ensure that they comply with the requirements of open source licenses.  Inattention to open source licenses could cause developers to disclose their proprietary source code to the public or expose them to liability for copyright infringement.  Complying with open source licenses has become an important issue because courts will likely enforce the terms of the licenses.  In a landmark case for open source software licenses, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that an open source software license was enforceable.  Jacobsen v. Katzer, 535 F.3d 1373, 1381-2 (Fed. Cir. 2008).  The court further held that violation of an open source license could constitute copyright infringement.  During the early years of open source software licensing, it was unclear if the licenses would be legally enforceable.  The Jacobsen case resolves this doubt.  In response to Jacobsen, software developers should exercise great care in using and complying with open source licenses. Continue reading “Look Before You Click: Why You Should Read Open Source Software Licenses”

Sales Tax Liability and Voluntary Disclosures

It is a common misconception that online sales are not subject to state sales taxes.  However, states may impose sales taxes on any sale, online or traditional, if the seller has nexus with the state.  Nexus can be a difficult legal doctrine to apply, so sellers should obtain a legal opinion to determine if they are subject to a state’s sales taxes.  Nexus usually entails a physical presence in the state, which can be as insignificant as sending independent sales representatives to the state. Continue reading “Sales Tax Liability and Voluntary Disclosures”

Liability Protections for online service providers under the DMCA and CDA

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provide significant liability protections for those who host interactive online media.  The cumulative protections provided by these two acts can potentially eliminate liability for copyright infringement and defamation. Continue reading “Liability Protections for online service providers under the DMCA and CDA”

Communication Tools and Employee Misuse

Law Offices of Kathryn M. Vanden Berk, LLC, October 15, 2004

If you are like most child welfare organizations, you have over the past few years created a large inventory of communications devices that you require your employees to use for work. These tools are so vital to efficient operations that we cannot get along without them. Unfortunately, improper personal use of these tools can lead to trouble (see box). An employer’s exposure for any of these uses is significant. They may jeopardize your reputation in the community, threaten your financial viability, and illegally disclose sensitive or confidential information. To try to prevent this from happening, you need to develop tough but fair approaches that will maintain your control over use of these devices while ensuring that they remain available to further your organization’s mission. Continue reading “Communication Tools and Employee Misuse”