TIME Law

Pet Owners Look to Muzzle Police Who Shoot Dogs

Brittany Preston

Bereaved owners argue that when police shoot dogs it a violates their Fourth Amendment rights

Correction appended, Sept. 26

Lexie, a Labrador mix, was barking in fear when the police arrived at her owner’s suburban Detroit house early in the morning last November. The officers, responding to a call about a dog roaming the area, arrived with dog-catching gear. Yet they didn’t help the one-year-old dog, who had been left outside the house, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court: Instead, they pulled out their guns and shot Lexie eight times.

“The only thing I’m gonna do is shoot it anyway,” the lawsuit quotes an officer saying. “I do not like dogs.”

Such a response, animal advocates say, is not uncommon among law enforcement officers in America who are often ill-equipped to deal with animals in the line of duty. And now bereaved owners like Brittany Preston, Lexie’s owner, are suing cities and police departments, expressing outrage at what they see as an abuse of power by police. Animal activists, meanwhile, are turning to state legislatures to combat the problem, with demands for better police training in dealing with pets.

There are no official tallies of dog killings by police, but media reports suggest there are, at minimum, dozens every year, and possibly many more. When it comes to Preston’s dog, officials from the city of St. Clair Shores and the dog owner agree on little. City police say the dog attacked, prompting officers to open fire in self-defense. But the lawsuit filed by Preston cites police audio recordings to argue that the November 2013 shooting was premeditated, prompted by officers eager to kill a dog. Preston is suing the city for violating her Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

“We want whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Christopher Olson, Preston’s lawyer. “Before this case I wasn’t a dog shooting lawyer, but I am now.”

St. Clair Shores defended the officers’ actions.

“The animal was only put down after a decision was made that it was in the best interest of the residents,” said city attorney Robert Ihrie, who is defending the city in the lawsuit. “Sometimes police officers are in a position where they need to make very quick decisions for the protection of themselves and others.”

The Fourth Amendment argument gained traction in 2005, when the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels sued the city and the police department because officers had killed dogs during a gang raid in 1998. A federal appeals judge found that “the Fourth Amendment forbids the killing of a person’s dog… when that destruction is unnecessary,” and the Hells Angels ultimately won $1.8 million in damages. In addition to the St. Clair lawsuit, other lawsuits stemming from police shootings of dogs are being planned or filed in Idaho, California, and Nevada.

At the same time, animal-rights activists are lobbying police departments to implement pet training for all officers. Several states including Illinois and Colorado have enacted measures to reduce dog shootings, and others states are considering legislation. In 2011, the Department of Justice published a report on dog-related police incidents, which included advice on how to handle dogs without killing them.

“It’s much more likely that a cop is going to encounter a dog than a terrorist, yet there’s no training,” said Ledy Van Kavage, an attorney for the advocacy group Best Friends Animal Society. “If you have a fear or hatred of dogs, then you shouldn’t be a police officer, just like if you have a hatred of different social groups.”

Brian Kilcommons, a professional dog-trainer who has trained more than 40,000 dogs and published books on the subject, said some police officers accidentally antagonize dogs right from the start, without even trying. “Police officers go into a situation with full testosterone body language, trying to control the situation,” he said. “That’s exactly what will set a dog off.” Kilcommons is developing an app that could help police officers evaluate the best way to handle a dog, including tips on reading body language and non-lethal strategies for containing them. “A bag of treats goes a long way,” he said.

But Jim Crosby, a retired Lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida who now works in dog training, said there are sometimes cases that require police force.

If you’re executing a high-risk, hard-going entry with an armed suspect, the officers don’t have time to play nice and throw cookies at the dog,” said Crosby, who was commenting on police handling of dogs in general and not any specific case. But he emphasized that such situations are few and far between: “Police absolutely have the right to protect themselves against a reasonable and viable threat—but the presence of a dog is not necessarily a reasonable or viable threat.”

Ronald Janota, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Illinois State Police who now serves as an expert witness on use of force, acknowledged that officers are often at “heightened awareness” when confronting dogs. “If you’re the first or second through the door, you don’t have time to put a collar on the dog if the dog is literally lunging at you,” he said. “If you’re entering the house legally, you have the right to protect yourself.”

Regardless of the circumstances, a dog’s death at the hands of police can be devastating to owners.

“People are getting married later, if at all, people are having children later, if at all, and pets are filling an emotional niche,” Kilcommons said. “Before, if you had a dog and it got killed, you got another one. Now dogs are in our homes and in our hearts. They’re not replaceable. So when they’re injured or killed, people are retaliating.”

In St. Clair Shores, where Lexie died, the city is fighting the lawsuit but the police department now requires its officers to undergo animal control training.

Van Kavage said that kind of training is crucial, even if just to instill a sense of trust in the police.

“If a cop shoots your pet, do you think you’re ever going to trust a cop again?” she said. “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the person who said, “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’” It was Ledy Van Kavage.

TIME Video Games

Rudy Giuliani Explains Why Noriega’s Call of Duty Lawsuit Is ‘Absurd’

The former mayor of New York explains why Activision chose him to lead a very public pushback against Manuel Noriega's lawsuit over the use of the former Panamanian military leader's likeness in the military shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Rudy Giuliani minces no words when speaking about former Panamanian military leader Manuel Noriega. When he describes the man he calls “a criminal of the worst kind,” you can hear the outrage. And when he refers to Noriega’s lawsuit against Call of Duty publisher Activision over the use of his likeness in one of the games, he repeatedly calls it “absurd.”

“Noriega is one of the worst criminals, dictators, opressors, terrorists, whatever you want to call it, of the past 30 or 40 years,” he tells me. “He’s been convicted in three countries, the U.S., France and Panama. And he’s suing a decent, good company, because he is included in a video game as a bit player.”

In July, lawyers for Noriega, currently serving a prison sentence in a Panamanian jail, sued Activision, alleging the company used Noriega’s likeness in the first-person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in a damaging way, without his permission, and without paying him royalties.

In the game, Activision’s version of Noriega works with the CIA to apprehend a fictional Nicaraguan political activist named Raul Menendez who’s the game’s prime antagonist. But Noriega betrays his own Panamanian Defense Force and frees Menendez, only to be savagely beaten by the terrorist leader. Later, players are tasked with capturing Noriega, loosely mirroring events that transpired during the historical invasion of Panama by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, during which the real Noriega was captured.

I spoke with Giuliani–a celebrity-caliber presence himself–about the case by phone. The former mayor of New York says he views the matter above all as a question of free speech, but says it’s also about precedent-setting he calls “extremely dangerous” were Noriega to prevail. He mentions the chilling effect it might have on historical fiction, for instance, and not just the sort of drier, voluminous, fact-obsessed tomes a James Michener might write, but gonzo-revisionist stuff like Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, in which the 16th U.S. president runs around staking the bloodsucking undead.

“If Noriega can do this–since video games, movies and books are considered to be exactly the same for free speech purposes, according to the Supreme Court decision in 2011 written by Justice Scalia–then Osama bin Laden’s heirs could sue the filmmakers of Zero Dark Thirty for bin Laden’s portrayal in that film,” Giuliani tells me. “Public figures, good ones, bad ones, who are included in books, movies and video games, all of these would have a right to sue.”

Here’s the rest of the interview in full.

Why did Activision contact you, specifically, to address this case publicly at this time? You obviously have a breadth of legal experience, but I’m not sure people think about you as a legal figure these days.

Well, I’ve been at Bracewell & Giuliani, that’s my law firm, and I’ve been practicing law there for nine years. So although it hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of the other things I do, I’ve been back at the practice of law now for at least nine years.

I think that I have a reputation of being a very good lawyer. I’ve argued cases in almost every court you could think of, including the United States Supreme Court. It’s an area of the law I know well. And I think also the fact that I have a background as a narcotics prosecutor is important here. I was head of the narcotics division in the United States Attorney’s office. As the Associate Attorney General, I was in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. I probably possess considerably more knowledge about Noriega than the vast majority of lawyers. So it’s a combination of those things. And I’d like to think they asked me because I’m a great lawyer, which I am.

You’ve been talking about this case from the free speech angle, but Noriega’s lawyers are pushing this on the basis of a principle known as “right of publicity,” which, while it varies from state to state, is supposed to afford individuals some measure of control over how they’re depicted in commercial products. You’ve had football and basketball player sue Electronic Arts over the use of their likenesses in games, for instance, resulting in a multimillions payout, and the band No Doubt sued Activision for using their likenesses in a music game and got Activision to settle out of court.

I think you’ve hit on exactly the right point, the point over which the case is going to be argued, or as we say as lawyers, “distinguishing this case from those ones.” And they are very, very distinguishable.

The two cases you’re talking about, the football case and the band case, the litigants were basically the principle figures in the games. And not only were they the principle figures in the game, they were advertised as such. And you could play them in the game. So there was not enough transformative use involved.

Remember, that’s the distinction. If the court finds that there’s been transformative use of the character, then we win under the First Amendment. In those cases, the court didn’t believe there’d been sufficient transformative use because the football players were actually shown making their football plays. The band was actually shown playing their songs. And they were principles, and the video games were marketed around them.

(L) Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega takes part in a news conference at the Atlapa center in Panama City on Oct. 11,1998.(R) The character Noriega claims was created in his likeness.
Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega (left) sues Activision over a portrayal of him in Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 game (right) Alberto Lowe—Reuters; Activision/AP

In this case, Noriega appears in only two of 11 segments. He is one of 45 characters. If you add up the average time the game is played, he appears for about 1% of the game. You cannot play him in the game, as you could in the other games. Most importantly, he is not found anywhere in any of the advertising for the game, he is such an insignificant bit player. When you go back and look at the reviews of this game, which is one of the most popular games in the world, there’s no mention of Noriega, he’s so unimportant. And from the standpoint of transformative use, Noriega isn’t shown doing what he actually did. Noriega is being used as a historical figure, but shown doing very different, fictionalized things, the way Lincoln was in a book like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which of course is a genre, not only in video games, but in movies.

Think of Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump the character is shown with Nixon, Kennedy, Bear Bryant, all kinds of famous people. None of that really happened. The more transformational the work is, the more it’s protected as free speech. And we have a complete transformation in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, because unlike these other cases, Noriega’s shown doing things that are creative, things that a creative mind made up. That’s why free speech is so important. We want to protect people’s ability to be creative.

What about the fact that Noriega’s not a U.S. citizen? Let’s assume someone made a game where a figure like Noriega was, in fact, the principle component, maybe where you even play as him for whatever reason, and furthermore the game cares about historical verisimilitude, and then the company that makes the game markets it on that basis? What if the person portrayed, but not a U.S. citizen, sues on that basis?

We believe that that would still be protected because Noriega is such a public person. It goes back to a case a long time ago that started all of this libel law, New York Times v. Sullivan. What that case says is, if you are a public person, you are entitled to considerably less protection of your right of privacy and publicity than a person who is a private person. They even extend public persons to people that are victims of crime who don’t intentionally become public persons. But when you are a public person intentionally, your protection is lessened dramatically.

I can’t think of someone who has worked harder at becoming a public person than Noriega, in the most infamous ways possible. Every one of the crimes that he committed, every one of the things he did in the U.S. and France, I mean this is about as public as a person can get. In many ways, I think the Supreme Court would say he’s lost the usual protection you would have for your right of privacy or your right to be free of publicity.

But let me be clear, that’s not our case. We don’t have to go that far, because this is a one-percenter. If this were a movie, he would be way down at the bottom of the credits. This is a guy that’s trying to extort money out of a decent company, and who the heck knows what he wants to do with it down in Panama, and who knows what you can accomplish in a Panamanian prison if you can get yourself a few million bucks.

If the suit isn’t dismissed, will you personally lead it at trial?

The extent to which I am involved in it we’ll figure out, but I’m deeply involved in it right now.

TIME Music

Bose Is Suing Beats Over Headphone Patents

Apple Said To Be In Talks To Purchase Beats Headphones Company
Beats headphones in an Apple store on May 9, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

As Beats is being bought by Apple

Bose is suing Beats Electronics over the noise-canceling technology in Beats’ headphones.

Bose filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Delaware Friday, claiming that Beats violated five different patents in the manufacture of its line of Studio noise-canceling headphones. The patents in question are for technology such as “Dynamically Configurable ANR Filter Block Technology” and “Digital High Frequency Phase Compensation.”

Bose is seeking an injunction to prevent Beats from selling the products it says violate its patents, as well as an award for damages.

Apple agreed to buy Beats for $3 billion in May. The deal is still pending regulatory approval.

TIME

Lindsay Lohan Should Win Her GTA Lawsuit

Lindsay Lohan in 2007; Lacey Jonas in 2014
Lindsay Lohan in 2007; Lacey Jonas in 2014 Clark Samuels—Startraks; Rockstar

I'm no legal expert, but I know my tabloid stars, and I see the evidence that Grand Theft Auto's Lacey Jonas shares some Lohan DNA

I don’t think anyone in their right mind would suggest that the lawsuit Lindsay Lohan filed last week against the makers of Grand Theft Auto isn’t annoying. Yes, it would be nice if Lindsay would go back to being an actual movie star, rather than wasting precious time insisting that her “unequivocal” similarity to Lacey Jonas, a minor character in Grand Theft Auto 5, entitles her to compensation. And yes it would be nice if this weren’t Lohan’s third similar lawsuit. But the fact is, like her or not, the 28-year-old actress/docu-drama subject/paparazzi bait might in fact have a bare, slightly bruised leg to stand on.

Lindsay Lohan is not someone you’d want taking care of your grandmother or even your guppy. But that’s not what’s in question here. What is—put so well in Forbes by intellectual property attorney Kim Landsman—is this: “How recognizable is Lindsay Lohan as the Lacey Jonas character? Would it be recognized specifically as her or as a generic, blond, bimbo actress?” It seems to me that the answers are a. very and b. yes.

Obviously there’s the fact that the hotel in the game, Gentry Manor, brings to mind Chateau Marmont, a place Lindsay has frequented. Then there’s the whole running away from the paparazzi thing that’s pretty Lilo-esque. But let’s get to the stuff that’s more exclusively her. First of all, Lacey’s voice. The way that she makes a declarative, despairing statement “This is a disaster!” and then rambles “Oh my God, I’m so f—ing fat. Oh my God! They cannot get a shot of me!” and then throws out a generally desperate and kind of unanswerable question “How’s my hair? Do I look cute?” Sorry, Rockstar — that is not a “generic” voice, or “generic” speech patterns. No one else sort of wails at the end of everything she says quite like Lohan. And if you don’t know what I mean, please enjoy this clip of Lohan on her reality show upbraiding her assistant for not getting her new keys made fast enough.

Then there are the outfits, which Lacey wears not only in the game but also in promotional material, that the lawsuit mentions explicitly and at great length as being Lohann-y. If I were the Lohan legal team I would forget about the stuff that sort of looks like Lohan would wear it — Lohan did not invent or perfect the short-short, high-heels, 800-necklace look — and concentrate instead on the image for Grand Theft Auto’s cover, which is a blonde model in a bikini giving the peace sign and taking a selfie. Model Shelby Welinder posed for the ads in 2012, but the Lohan photo that looks EXACTLY like it was taken in 2007. Also, if you said to three million people, “Hey, you know that picture of a blonde chick taking a selfie and giving the peace sign, in a bikini? Who is she?” two million of them would say “What?” but the other million would say “Lindsay Lohan,” and the number of people saying, ‘Oh, isn’t that Shelby Welinder?” well, that would be zero.

Finally, there’s Lacey’s personality. She’s demanding, yelling to the poor motorcycle racing protagonist she’s forced into giving her a ride “Go faster! Go faster.” But demanding is pretty basic. Lacey could just as well be channeling Mariah Carey. Or even Katherine Heigl, if Heigl weren’t more of a stay-at-home complainer, with no personality to rip off. If demanding is too broad a category to make GTA 5’s work “unequivocally” Lohan-inspired, then there’s the arrogance: Lacey shouts “I’m really famous!” and is generally appalled that the motorcyclist doesn’t know who she is. Only a few actors have been caught pulling the fame card, Lindsay among them. (Lindsay’s mother Dina even asked someone “Do you know who I am?”)

Lindsay Lohan might not be the classiest person around, but she’s special in other ways. Not everyone can say theyowe the Chateau Marmont $46,000. Not everyone can claim to be America’s sweetheart and then run over it all with a limo. And not everyone can lie to Oprah. There is only one Lindsay, and surely, at this point, she’s at least got a right to that.

Sarah Miller writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

TIME movies

If You Sell Your Oscar, You’re Going to Get Sued

The heirs of Oscar winner Joseph Wright are being taken to court for allegedly selling the statuette he won for a 1942 musical

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing the heirs of the 1942 Oscar winner Joseph Wright, as well as auction house Briarbrook Auctions, for allegedly selling an Oscar statuette, according to the Hollywood Reporter (THR).

In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the academy claimed that the trophy’s sale to the anonymous buyer breached the academy’s rules, which prohibits its members — and anyone who inherits an Oscar — from selling or disposing of the statuette without offering the academy a right of first refusal to purchase it for a sum of $10.

Wright won the Oscar for his work on color and art direction for My Gal Sal, a musical starring screen legend Rita Hayworth.

The academy is known for being protective of its golden Oscars and has taken legal action in the past.

Briarbrook Auctions did not immediately respond to THR’s request for comment.

[THR]

TIME Oculus Rift

Oculus VR Company Sued By Game Maker Over Copyright Claims

Oculus VR

Game publisher goes to court for its chunk of change after Oculus gets bought by Facebook.

ZeniMax Media and id Software have sued Oculus VR and its founder Palmer Luckey for allegedly stealing trade secrets and infringing on copyright, among other claims.

The rift began outside of court earlier this month when ZeniMax said that it’d been wronged by former employee and game development legend John Carmack. ZeniMax said Carmack, who became Oculus’ CTO in August of last year, did “extensive VR research and development” while still working at id Software, which is owned by ZeniMax.

Because of Carmack’s work, and a non-disclosure agreement signed by Luckey, ZeniMax felt it was entitled to a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus, which would be worth a lot now that Facebook is buying it for $2 billion. Oculus previously disputed ZeniMax’s claims and pointed out that Carmack left Zenimax after it stopped investing in virtual reality games.

The lawsuit, as published by The Verge, claims that Carmack worked extensively on Oculus technology at id Software’s offices and even demonstrated the technology to the press there. ZeniMax also claims that it has been researching virtual reality since the 1990s and came up with a VR prototype for some of its major games, including The Elder Scrolls.

“As a result of their years of research, and months of hard work modifying the prototype Rift to incorporate ZeniMax’s VR Technology, Carmack and others at ZeniMax transformed the Rift from $500 worth of optics into a powerful, immersive virtual reality experience,” the lawsuit says.

Oculus has not yet responded, but with millions of dollars on the line, it’s safe to assume this is going to get messy.

Update: Oculus has responded with the following statement: “The lawsuit filed by ZeniMax has no merit whatsoever. As we have previously said, ZeniMax did not contribute to any Oculus technology. Oculus will defend these claims vigorously.”

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

TIME Technologizer

An Apple-Samsung Patent Battle Ends with a Whimper

General Samsung And Apple Products Images
An iPhone 4S and a Samsung Galaxy S III, as photographed in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Who's the winner here? Not consumers. And probably neither Apple nor Samsung

The latest news in the Apple-Samsung patent saga came down Friday afternoon in a California court, when a jury ruled that Samsung had violated two of five software Apple patents. Additionally, it ruled that Apple had violated one of two Samsung patents, but not willfully.

Apple had been seeking $2.2 billion in damages, but the jury awarded just $119.6 million. It also awarded Samsung $158,400. A the time of writing, there’s some confusion over one Samsung product that was found to infringe an Apple patent, but which the jury didn’t award damages for.

There’s nothing decisive about that outcome, but presumably Apple regards Samsung as having gotten off easy, and Samsung is relieved. The Korean company was cleared on three out of the five patents and owes Apple an amount that is–by gigantic electronics manufacturer standards–peanuts. (Two years ago, Apple was awarded a more imposing $930 million over a different set of design-related patents.)

For Apple, the battle isn’t just against Samsung, and it’s not just about money. Steve Jobs was so irate over the degree to which Google’s Android operating system mimicked Apple’s iPhone software that he famously said he was willing to go thermonuclear over it. So far, neither Samsung nor Android seems to have been blasted back into the pre-iPhone stone age. Still, Apple’s suits–and the scads of other ones between an array of patent holders that have followed it–may have left everybody involved at least slightly more cautious about treading on other companies’ intellectual property.

For instance, the products Samsung has released since Apple first filed suit haven’t been the slavish knockoffs they might have been if it had felt free to copy at will. When technology companies sue each other over patents, I generally don’t take sides. Here’s a confession, though: If both Apple and Samsung end up regretting this whole process, it wouldn’t pain me.

Court battles like this are expensive distractions that only sap attention and resources better put to building the best possible products. That makes them bad for consumers. They can be bad for the companies involved, too, if it dulls their competitive edge. Exhibit A: Polaroid’s legendary suit against Kodak over instant photography–which ended in both a legal and moral victory for Polaroid, but didn’t do a thing to help the company prepare itself for the brave new world of photography ahead. In fact, it surely hurt, since founder Edwin Land, Polaroid’s resident genius, poured his time and intellectual capital into beating Kodak in court rather than in the marketplace. A few decades from now, when business historians look back at this period, they’ll know things we don’t yet, including how Apple and Samsung fared over the long haul.

I can’t imagine anyone will conclude that the patent tussle played a decisive role one way or another. Instead, it’ll have more to do with whether the companies stayed hungry or rested on their laurels. Which means that the sooner everyone involved puts the era of courtroom drama behind them, the better–for Apple, for Samsung and for all of us.

TIME legal

Doom Creator Accused of Stealing Virtual Reality Tech, Taking It to Oculus

Oculus VR

ZeniMax claims id Software co-founder John Carmack pilfered virtual reality tech when he quit to join Oculus VR last year, though both Carmack and Oculus are flatly denying the charges.

Well this sounds ugly, and bound to get uglier: John Carmack, the fellow gamers know best for helping birth Doom, and who left id Software last year to take a job as chief technology officer with Oculus Rift headset designer Oculus VR (who were in turn recently snatched up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion), has been accused by his former employer, ZeniMax, of purloining virtual reality secrets the games publisher claims belong to it, not Oculus VR.

ZeniMax Media, which also owns Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3) and Arkane Studios (Dishonored) claims that Carmack was involved in “extensive VR research and development” during his tenure at ZeniMax, according to the Wall Street Journal. That, says ZeniMax, gives it dibs on “key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift,” and thus the right to seek compensation.

According to the Journal, ZeniMax is staking its case on allegations that Carmack was in touch with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey before leaving ZeniMax, that Carmack received a prototype headset from Luckey, and that he made innovations to the headset, which he then demoed during a convention.

“ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others,” writes ZeniMax in a press statement (via Engadget). “ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.”

The statement continues:

The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests.

Oculus’s response? Balderdash: “It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims,” an Oculus VR representative told the Journal. “We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent.”

And Carmack himself has weighed in on Twitter:

That’s all we know so far, which is to say that it’s best to stay off the playing field just now in terms rallying for one side or another, since the only folks who know who’s telling (or twisting) the truth are John Carmack, ZeniMax and Oculus VR.

TIME movies

Author of Gravity the Novel Sues Makers of Gravity the Movie

GRAVITY
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Tess Gerritsen, the best-selling author behind the Rizzoli and Isles series, has filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. The writer claims that Alfonso Cuarón's script for the space blockbuster is partially based on her 1999 novel of the same name

Novelist Tess Gerritsen filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. on Tuesday, claiming the studio failed to acknowledge that its box office smash Gravity was partially based on one of her books, and that it now owes her 2.5% of the movie’s net profits.

Gerritsen’s suit isn’t for copyright infringement, reports the New York Times, since a Warner Bros. subsidiary bought the film rights to the novel Gravity in 1999. The lawsuit claims that Warner Bros. is in breach of contract, as the studio failed to give the author a “based upon” credit in the film, which was a stipulation in the sale of her novel’s rights. Also a stipulation, according to Gerritsen’s suit, was a production bonus of $500,000 if the movie were made and a fee of 2.5% of net profits from ticket and DVD and TV reruns.

Interestingly, Gerritsen didn’t originally believe that the 2013 film, from writer and director Alfonso Cuarón, had anything to do with her novel, despite the fact that the two had the same title, setting and general plot. (Both feature a woman astronaut stranded in space.)

Yet Gerritsen’s lawyer, Glen L. Kulik, told the New York Times that the author now believes Cuarón based his script on her novel, after discovering some unnamed, mystery information. “We’ve since come up with some other ties through a little investigation,” he told the Times, somewhat cryptically.

Neither Warner Bros. or Cuarón responded to the Times‘ requests for comment. The film Gravity won seven Oscars and took in more than $716 million at the box office, which means Gerritsen could be looking at a $17 million payday if her suit is successful.

[NYT]

TIME Television

Orphan Black Creators Sued for Cloning Writer’s Idea

A writer claims the BBC screenplay is based off an idea he submitted to the production company a decade ago

Either the Orphan Black plot was cloned or the hit BBC show’s producers have some explaining to do. That is, at least, according to a writer suing BBC and Temple Street Productions for copyright infringement.

Writer Stephen Hendricks claims key aspects of the show are near carbon copies of plot points from a screenplay he submitted to Temple Street co-president, David Fortier, in 2004, according to a Huffington Post report. In the complaint, Hendricks says the protagonist in his screenplay “Double Double” and the protagonist in Orphan Black are both “young (early 20s) attractive women who want the same thing: to understand who they are and where they come from.” Cloning is also a recurring theme in Hendricks work, much like the BBC show about a young woman who discovers she and many others are clones.

Orphan Black’s creators are listed as Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, who reportedly sent a spec script to Fortier. Hendricks says they’re script has to be based off of his idea. He’s seeking $5 million in damages from the suit.

[Huffington Post]

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