Microsoft drops lawsuit after DOJ limits use of gag orders when accessing customer data

 Microsoft said it will drop its lawsuit against the Department of Justice over gag orders placed on companies that prevent them from telling customers when their personal data has been accessed by investigators. Its decision comes after the DOJ issued a new binding policy that requires prosecutors to give more detailed reasons when applying for a gag order and makes it much harder to seek one… Read More

DMCA takedown removes River City Random Underground from Steam

River City Ransom Underground was removed from Steam late last week, part of an unfolding legal drama surrounding a composer who has been directing DMCA copyright-infringement takedowns at games she says don’t have the rights to her music.

Conatus’ Andrew Russell, one of the developers of River City Ransom Underground, said in a short statement that “we are aware that RCRU is down on Steam. We have contacted Valve’s copyright department, and will let you know when access is restored.” But composer Alex Mauer confirmed to Destructoid that the removal was the result of a Digital Millenium Copyright Act request she made against the title.

“Conatus never got my written permission to use my music in the game,” Mauer told the site. “As far as I know, they have Disasterpeace’s [one of the game’s composers] signature and are trying to act like that alone is enough to have secured rights.”

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Halo-inspired fan-game gets conditional thumbs up from Microsoft

When you write about the game industry for a while, you end up writing about fan game projects that have been shut down by the original publishers with depressing frequency. Everyone from Square Enix to Blizzard to Nintendo (especially Nintendo) has sent cease-and-desist letters to passionate fans over games based on the companies’ popular properties. The companies often cite the need to protect their legal copyrights to characters and related works.

So it’s nice when we’re occasionally able to write about a fan game that actually gets some level of tacit approval from the developer of the original title. That’s what is happening with Installation 01, a Halo fan-game project being built in Unity in order to recapture the classic feel of Halo 2 and Halo 3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux players. Apparently, the team behind that game has worked out an arrangement to continue development without any legal trouble from the Halo-makers at 343 Industries or its corporate parent Microsoft.

The Installation 01 team wrote in a community update this week that they have been “maintaining a level of contact with 343 Industries over the past several months,” eventually culminating in a meet-and-greet to talk about details of the project and its legal status. After what the team calls an “incredibly informational and very positive” phone call, they say, “We have been ensured that Installation 01 is not under imminent legal threat, provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope and continue to follow Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules to the letter.”

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ZeniMax to judge: Block Oculus sales or give us 20%

Earlier this year, ZeniMax won a $500 million judgment against Facebook-owned Oculus and many of its executives for illegal use of ZeniMax’s VR technology and copyrights. That wasn’t the end of Oculus’ legal trouble, though. The company is now fighting off a proposed injunction that is seeking to bar the sale of any hardware or software “derived” from ZeniMax’s technology or to enforce a 10-year, 20-percent royalty to ZeniMax on that hardware.

US District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Southern District of Texas heard arguments in that injunction case Tuesday, and he also addressed a ZeniMax request for an additional $500 million in false designation damages and lawyer’s fees. In court filings, ZeniMax argues that “the jury verdict clearly establishes that Oculus wrongly obtained ZeniMax VR technology under the NDA and used it… to establish a business that would not have existed without ZeniMax.”

While Oculus’ sale to Facebook “[made] tycoons out of the individual Defendants,” ZeniMax writes, the company “never received a penny for its investment in this revolutionary technology—even though it was ZeniMax that had proven its value to the world long before Defendants ever came along.” The company also points to specific language in the Oculus/ZeniMax NDA that establishes an injunction would be called for if that agreement was broken.

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Federal court decides that Adobe can’t stay under a gag order over search warrant forever

Adobe Systems world headquarters in downtown San Jose, California According to newly unsealed documents, a federal court in California ruled that it is unlawful for Adobe to remain under an indefinite gag order regarding a search warrant for one of its users. In the ruling, the Los Angeles court concluded that the government had not made a sufficient argument to support the ongoing nature of a gag order it issued to Adobe in 2016. Read More

Qualcomm countersuit claims Apple ‘refuses to acknowledge’ the value of its technology

 Apple filed a billion-dollar royalty lawsuit against Qualcomm in January and today the chipmaker hit back with a legal case of its own against the iPhone maker which, it claims, has refused to acknowledge the value of its technology. In the original suit, Apple claimed that Qualcomm — which makes money from licensing its patents to technology makers — was charging it for… Read More

Amazon will refund millions of unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids

 Amazon will refund millions of unauthorized in-app purchases kids made on mobile devices, having now dropped its appeal related to last year’s ruling by a federal judge who sided with the Federal Trade Commission in the agency’s lawsuit against Amazon. The FTC’s original complaint said that Amazon should be liable for millions of dollars it charged customers, because of the… Read More

Postmates now allows drivers to opt out of mandatory arbitration

The Postmates sign outside the office In fall 2015, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against delivery service Postmates which challenged the legality of the company’s mandatory arbitration agreement between it and its contractors. In Postmates’ fleet agreement, which contractors must sign as a condition of hire, the company had required that workers settle disagreements through arbitration. In… Read More