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Today in court Google won out over Viacom’s $1 Billion lawsuit, essentially showing that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement.

Viacom had sued YouTube over copyright infringement relating to the many video clips of various Viacom owned programming posted to the video sharing site. While Google has won a “motion for summary judgment” Viacom can still appeal if they choose to do so.

You can read more about this win over at the Official Google Blog and also at Search Engine Land.

This time of year, there are often few big stories to report on, but that does not mean there isn’t some interesting search engine news happening out in the world!

It seems that there is no escaping the legal system for any of our leading search engines these days as all three, Google, Yahoo, and MSN, are the defendants in a few new cases: Read more…

Monday, November 24th, 2008

DivX Files Lawsuit Against Yahoo

DivXAs if Yahoo doesn’t have enough financial troubles. San Diego based DivX is suing Yahoo for $25 million in damages. Allegedly Yahoo had breached an advertising agreement with DivX accounting for more than 20% of their revenue. Read more…

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Google Book Search Settlement

Google Book SearchGoogle has now made one big step forward in its initiative to have out-of-print books online. Tuesday, Judge John Sprizzo approved a lawsuit settlement between Google and numerous authors and publishers to the tune of $125 million. This money will be placed in a fund to go to copyright holders and will allow Google the rights to placing out-of-print material online. Read more…

Is there no end to lawsuits against Google? On Tuesday Judah Klausner, an inventor from San Francisco, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google, Verizon, LG, Citrix Systems, Comverse Technology, and Embarq.

Klausner’s company, Klausner Technologies, filed a patent back in 1992 for “visual voicemail”, a way to apply a graphical means of interacting with voicemail messages, similar to the use of e-mail.

Back in June, Klausner had a similar lawsuit settled against Apple, AT&T, and eBay (Skype) over its “visual voicemail” features on iPhone devices.

Verizon apparently had anticipated the lawsuit from Klausner and two weeks ago filed their own lawsuit in US District Court, to have the inventor’s patent declared invalid.

In an article published on Reuters Tuesday Jim Smith, a Verizon spokesman stated: “We anticipated Klausner’s action. We are seeking a declaration that Klausner’s visual voicemail patent is invalid and that Verizon’s system does not infringe the patent in any event.”

The latest lawsuit is just a series of suits filed by Klausner dating back to the first in 2005 against AOL.

A case was brought to French court surrounding the use of certain keywords through the use of Google AdWords.

Google AdWords offers advertisers a keyword tool which will often suggest variations of certain keywords to be added to a given campaign. Fashion retailer, Louis Vuitton is unhappy as AdWords has been noted to suggest terms such as “Louis Vuitton fakes” and “Louis Vuitton replicas”.

Because Google is essentially selling the advertising rights to these trademarks, Louis Vuitton alleges a trademark violation, and took the search giant to court – and won! Naturally Google has appealed and the case will now go to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

What would you do if you suddenly found your private residence plastered over Google Street View, along with photos of your yard, pool, and other private property? Well, this very thing has happened to Christine and Aaron Boring, and they have since filed a lawsuit against Google.

According to The Smoking Gun, when one of the vehicles shooting photos for the mapping service made a wrong turn up a 50 foot private driveway, it also continued snapping photos and those photos made it onto the live version of Google Street View.

Google spokesman Larry Yu told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no merit to this action. It is unfortunate litigation was chosen to address the concern because we have visible tools, such as a You Tube video, to help people learn about imagery removal and an easy-to-use process to facilitate image removal.”

The Boring’s are seeking “in excess of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars for compensatory, incidental, and consequential damages, punitive damages, costs, all allowable attorneys’ fees, and all other damages deemed to be just,”

Another home owned by Janet and George McKee also found its way onto Google Street View. This series of photos is far more intrusive, as the vehicle had to drive up a long winding driveway to approach the house. No word yet on whether or not the McKee’s will also be filing suit. More info and photos on this instance can also be seen at The Smoking Gun.

The “Boring” photos have since been removed from Street View, however, the Mckee’s photos are apparently still listed. Searching Google Maps for the Boring’s Address (1567 Oakridge Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15237), and doing a fair bit of scrolling to the West, you will eventually find their photos have been blacked out and removed from Google.

According to the Globe and Mail, Microsoft has taken a step back and will now allow for third party search applications to be used in the new Windows Vista operating system.

Microsoft’s decision came a week before a government review of Microsoft’s 2002 antitrust settlement compliance demanding the use of such third party apps. Read more…

I took a look at some of the user responses to the ZD Net Alexa vs. Statsaholic lawsuit article and here is a taste of their passionate replies.

From user: Yorn
“When you’re done reading that, please click the following link and uninstall Alexa toolbar:

I’m not going to reinstall it till they drop the lawsuit *AND* issue a formal apology. We provide them their data, without us they wouldn’t have a business, and yet they turn around and sue one of us.”

From user: Disneynut
“I’ve already cancelled my Amazon Prime membership and am ready to cancel my affiliate membership with Amazon if they don’t drop this crazy lawsuit. How can they have a workshop with independent developers while at the same time sue this guy for taking advantage of publicly accessible data… data that Amazon wants people to use to help me Amazon better.”

From user: thekohser
“The fact that Amazon would sue over being jealous that an outside developer found a better way to render their publicly-released data, means that I won’t be buying anything on Amazon for the rest of this year. I’ll reconsider in 2008.”

There are some heated discussions on the Digg posting which I recommend anyone read who has interest in all sides of this case. The other side makes some good points too but I personally think they are missing the boat; working with Alexaholic instead of suing them would have made far more sense from a fallout and financial standpoint:

From user: IanRReardon
“This guy is taking Alexa graphics and data and calling it his own. He is doing it outside the API and violating Alexa’s trademark. Did you see his graphic before he changed his name. It was the Alexa logo with “aholic” at the end. Thats like me starting Google2, using googles exact logo and putting a multi colored 2 at the end.

I use to work at a search engine company and I know it cost Alexa MILLIONS to harvest and display that traffic data. This guy is just leaching onto it. Its totally not right. Even though he might have better features and option, it doesn’t give him the right to capitalize off of Alexa’s 10+ years of harvesting web data.

The API is a gift from Alexa. Alexa is saying, hey developers we’re going to give you access to all this data, we just want you to use it this way. What the hell is wrong with that? Google makes you use its API to run programmatic queries. No one yells at google, its the same .”

Amazon’s bullying tactics make my blood pressure rise. Alexa (owned by Amazon) has chosen to file a lawsuit against for “stealing Alexa’s proprietary data by disregarding the rules for Alexa’s Web Services–through which Alexa makes certain proprietary data available in exchange for a fee–and instead simply taking the data and graphs he wants without permission.” (source: PDF legal filings) Read more…