Cloud computing has been a hot topic lately. Just ask Dell, whose application to register the trademark CLOUD COMPUTING was refused because the term is already generic. Amazon, Google, and other service providers also offer cloud computing services. More recently, however, at GDC 2009 made their public launch. On it's web site, OnLive has this to say:

OnLive is launching the world’s highest performance Games On Demand service, instantly delivering the latest high-end titles over home broadband Internet to the TV and entry-level PCs and Macs.

Founded by noted technology entrepreneur Steve Perlman (WebTV, QuickTime) and incubated within the Rearden media and technology incubator, OnLive spent seven years in stealth development before officially unveiling in March 2009.

OnLive, together with its Mova subsidiary, lies directly at the nexus of several key trends, all of which are reshaping the way we think about and use digital media:

  • The shift to cloud computing, displacing the limitations, cost and complexity of local computing;
  • An explosion of consumer broadband connectivity, bringing fast bandwidth to the home;
  • Unprecedented innovation, creativity and expansion within the video game market.

Pioneering the delivery of rich interactive media to the home, OnLive will change the way that entertainment applications are created, delivered and consumed.

Anyone who stopped by OnLive's booth at GDC got a real treat. Solid game play and no lag (let's hope it stays that way when millions of people start playing at once, instead of 20 people in the booth).

And perhaps (not?) coincidentally, on the same day that OnLive made their public debut, Sony filed a new trademark application for PS CLOUD.

It looks like cloud gaming is here, folks. I can't wait to see how this plays out...

Shoot me an email if you want to meet for coffee.
In a previous post, we reported on the filing of this patent lawsuit regarding pay-for-download software over a computer network, e.g., including games. Well it appears that Sony is out of the lawsuit, and Microsoft & Nintendo remain. The dismissal was voluntary by ADC, as Sony never made an appearance in the lawsuit. The dismissal is also without prejudice, which means that ADC could refile a lawsuit against Sony regarding these same patents in the future. In interesting twist, to be sure. If we find out more, we'll let you know.
Bourne Co. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. et al.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
March 16, 2009

Ok, the case isn't REALLY Peter Griffin versus a cricket, but it made you look, right? The case is really Bourne Co. v. 20th Century Fox. Bourne is the owner of the copyrights to "When You Wish Upon A Star," the song made famous by Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney's Pinnochio. In an episode of The Family Guy (aptly titled "When you wish upon a Weinstein"), Peter Griffin sings a song called "I need a jew." Bourne was nonplussed, and sued for copyright infringement.

Because the facts were largely undisputed, the court decided the case at the summary judgment level. Holding that Fox's use was fair use, the court stated “Defendants have established that their song ‘I Need a Jew’ contains several layers of parody of plaintiff’s copyrighted work ‘When You Wish Upon a Star.'”

According to Fox and “Family Guy” head honcho Seth MacFarlane, also named as a defendant, the song was created as a commentary on the wholesome, “saccharine sweet” lyrics to “When You Wish Upon a Star” and further commented on allegations that Walt Disney was anti-Semitic. In the parody, Peter Griffin sings about “needing a Jew” to help him with his finances to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which was originally written for “Pinocchio.”

The court agreed with Fox that “I Need a Jew” was a parody protected by fair use because it was a social commentary on the idealism portrayed by the original song in addition to taking a jab at Walt Disney’s alleged anti-Semitism.

“By pairing Peter’s ‘positive,’ though racist, stereotypes of Jewish people with that fairy tale worldview, ‘I Need a Jew’ comments both on the original work’s fantasy of stardust and magic, as well as Peter’s fantasy of the ‘superiority’ of Jews,” wrote the court. “The song can be ‘reasonably perceived’ to be commenting that any categorical view of a race of people is childish and simplistic, just like wishing upon a star.”

Bourne argued that the commentary about Disney was weak and far fetched, because Disney did not actually own the song. However, the court's ruling adhere's to the principle that it is not for courts to determine whether art is "good" or "bad," but rather a court need only find that the defendants have demonstrated that “a parodic character may be reasonably perceived” regardless of the strength or clarity of the joke.

“Although this joke may not be an obvious one, defendants have established sufficient facts for the court to find that one of their intended comments in parodying ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ related to the repudiation of Walt Disney as an anti-Semite and that such a comment may be ‘reasonably perceived,’”

While not a video game case directly, I find this case interesting from the standpoint that it deals with media and audiovisual works. The case is Bourne Co. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. et al., case number 1:07-cv-08580, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The entire opinion can be downloaded here.

This isn't exactly video game related, so I won't take up much of your time, but if anyone was looking for a side-by-side comparison of the Shepherd Farey Obama poster next to the photo that AP alleges it infringes, here you go. Farey and AP have fired countersuits against each other to try to resolve whether this is copyright infringement or fair use. You decide.
I will be speaking at GDC 2009 in San Francisco, California. The event is at the Moscone Center, and my session is scheduled for Friday at NOON! Yes, I drew the Friday lunch slot, so I promise to keep it entertaining and lively, and there will be some very useful handout materials.

Session: Video Game Patents - Cases & Examples: Adventures in Video Game Litigation
Date/Time: Friday (March 27, 2009) 12:00pm — 1:00pm
Location (room): Room 2002, West Hall
Track: Business and Management
Format: 60-minute Lecture
Experience Level: All

Session Description
The successes and failures by companies to properly protect their innovations and software has led to some interesting results in the courts. Copyright protection, while important, is not always enough for protecting computer software and video games.

This presentation will explore patent lawsuits (both historical and more recent) that yield important lessons for companies desirous of using patents to protect their video game intellectual property, and to ensure that the company continues to obtain strong and enforceable software patents.

Regardless of the size of your company, you can always improve the IP protection of your assets, from game artwork, to game play methods, to hardware, and including the software itself. Learn from other companies’ pitfalls and mistakes, and see what makes a patent stand up in court, versus why patent lawsuits are lost in the video game industry.

Hope to see you there!
It appears that congress is again going to try to pass patent reform legislation. Rather than recreate the wheel, and based on other deadlines I have today, feel free to read the summary article over at Patently-O. Dennis does a fine job summarizing it and provides copies of the house and senate versions of the bill (which are somewhat different--so this might take a while... again).

Sorry for the short post, but I at least wanted to get the information out there.
Zynga Game Network on February 27, 2009, filed suit against CLZ Concepts, Jeff Chen, and James Zhang asserting copyright infringement. The case is 3:09-cv-00854-EMC in the District Court for the Northern District of California. We are obtaining a copy of the complaint and have added this case to our watch list. More details to follow.
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