Google's government-related legal troubles have been numerous and varied. In the United States, they have been
FTC investigation, with a potential antitrust suit incoming. In Europe, they are being watched and warned by France, along with fines.
Their biggest issues, however, have come from the European Union, which have been
investigating Google's practices. Recently, they were ordered to create a way for EU citizens to remove themselves from Google's search index, which resulted in an interesting and larger than expected influx of requests. This week, though, it looks like the EU is really upping their focus on Google's practices, beginning the process of enforcing an antitrust breakup.
The European Parliament has a draft resolution calling for Google to break its search business from the rest of the company. It should be finalized next week, with a vote coming as soon as Thursday. The biggest issue with the resolution is that Parliament actually has no power to order a breakup. They are really just hoping that by passing the resolution, it will put pressure on the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, which does have that power.
Consumer Watchdog, an organization that has been highly critical of Google, was pleased with the move. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director told PCWorld,
This is exactly what needs to happen. Search should be separated from Google's other businesses. We called for this back in 2010 and the need to do this has become even clearer as Google's power has increased.
There is plenty of concern over the combination of Google's search business and others, such as YouTube and Google Shopping. Because of the combination, Google has the ability to place priority on their own offerings in search results rather than more accurate or relevant search results from their competitors. Because of this, it is understandable why the EU would want to separate this threat.
Unfortunately for Google, this separation would ultimately result in the end of the non-search business. Google is a company which has never quite figured out a business model and, instead, has relied on the Ponzi scheme of online advertising. That advertising money comes in largest form from search results. Without that revenue, Google could not continue to operate the rest of its businesses.
Could the EU force Google's separation? Would it ultimately end the company, or would Google abandon Europe entirely, as they did China? It would appear that we could have an answer as soon as Thursday.
One of the best parts of the release of a new
Super Smash Bros. game is the resurgence of tournaments, which are always fun. One of these launch-related tournaments was one for Super Smash Bros. Melee in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that went quite unexpectedly. One contestant, who is only known as Falcomaster3000, competed in the 9 hour tournament without ever speaking. He registered for the tournament by signaling the use of a pen at the registration desk. He also wore a black ski mask the entire day.
If this unnamed, unidentified, masked competitor wasn't weird enough, it turns out his name was accurate. It turns out that the Falcomaster3000 WAS indeed a Falco master. After 9 hours of competition, Falcomaster3000 was the winner. In fact, it was fairly clear that, until the finals, this guy was never even challenged in his play. During those times he would choose Marth or Fox instead of his beloved Falco.
After finally winning, the crowd chanted for him to "take it off," which he did not do. Instead, still without speaking or unveiling his face, Falcomaster3000 left as mysteriously as he had arrived and played. There is no telling if this was some sort of plant, or a legit player who just wanted to mess with a room full of people; either way, it sure lit up
Check out a video from someone who was there after the break.
Do you remember the Rockstar Consortium? They were the group of tech companies, led by Microsoft, Apple, Sony and Ericsson, who bid together on Nortel's patents. The intention was to share the technology between the members of the group. You will notice that there is a big name missing from the group: Google. This was because of
Google's decision, turning down the offer to join the group.
This decision turned out to be a bad one, as their
unique bidding process ended in a loss. Shortly after the win, Rockstar filed suit against numerous companies, Google included. Those suits have been coming to a head this month. Earlier in November, the main unrelated company, Cisco, settled the suit with Rockstar to the tune of $188 million.
This week, the only truly important case ended when Google agreed to settle "all matters in controversy between the parties" in a filing with a federal court in Texas. This settlement is important because of what it means to the other high profile cases that are related.
Among the other active suits from Rockstar are ASUS, HTC and Samsung - all under suit for their involvement with Android. Google's operating system is the "product" that got them into trouble, and the "product" that they ultimately settled over. Do these other Google partners stand a chance defending themselves over a product whose owner decided they couldn't defend themselves? We will likely know for sure in the next few weeks, either as the cases settle or not.
A little over two years ago Gottfrid Svartholm, one of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay, was
arrested in his riverside home in Cambodia. He was then deported back to Sweden to face criminal charges. Then in May, co-founder Peter Sunde was apprehended at a farm in Sweden. That left one remaining co-founder who was still at-large and this week, he was brought in.
Fredik Neij, also known as TiAmo, was arrested in Thailand by border patrol after trying to head into the country from Laos. Border police said it was "easy to spot him" and it made the arrest simple. Interestingly enough, he has made this exact trip over 30 times before, even after having his passport revoked and an international warrant for his arrest.
Now, Neij has to face the (pirated) music from his sentence in 2009 that included $7 million US in damages from copyright infringements. As of right now, the co-founder is sitting somewhere in a Bangkok jail for just a brief stay before being sent to Sweden and handed off to their authorities.
It is interesting to note the parity between the founders of Pirate Bay and those of other sites like Napster and Kazaa. All illegal, however the TPB trio being handled much differently. VC firm Passion Capital's Eileen Burbidge pointed this out when Sunde was arrested.
The fact that Peter has been arrested in order to serve out a criminal sentence for his role in The Pirate Bay is such a stark contrast to where other individuals are at the moment such as Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker (two of the founders of Napster), or Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (two of the founders of Kazaa).
All of these others are heralded as tech visionaries, wunderkinds and positive disruptors for their respective roles in peer-to-peer development, file sharing and how technology has impacted users' consumption of content and information. They are all now venture capital or angel investors, heralded as industry luminaries - and meanwhile two of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay are sitting in jail cells.
As for the site itself, it has been run a non-profit group that's registered in the Seychelles, a group of islands off the coast of Africa. The organization maintains the website, moves it when it has to and still holds true the vision of the founders. To date, The Pirate Bay has never removed a torrent.
Last week we talked about how Aereo may end up coming back to life if the
FCC passes a new proposal. Well, as you're probably aware, the story of Aereo is a long, winding rollercoaster so every piece of good news and hope has to be balanced out with something bad. This week I present you the bad side. Aereo has laid off almost 50 employees and will be shutting down its office in Boston as a measure to save the company from bleeding all of its money.
Currently licking its wounds from the Supreme Court sniper shot, Aereo hasn't made any money in a few months. Because of that, as you could expect, things are getting a little rocky. In a letter sent to its employees, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia explains the decision.
In accordance with the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "WARN Act"), this notice is to advise you that on November 12, 2014, Aereo, Inc. ("Aereo") will be permanently shutting down its operations.
The letter goes on to explain the options the employees have and some of the circumstances that led up to this move, which we all know. According to the letter there will be a small crew remaining at the office for some time, probably to break everything down and transition some equipment to Aereo's office in New York. And speaking on New York, there is also talk going around that the New York office will suffer similar consequences. Aereo has confirmed this but has not given details on it.
The letter did also mention that employees will be given a "modest severance package" which should help during this upcoming time for them. Considering the announcement but sudden, albeit expected, we hope that these employees can find new places to work. It shouldn't be a hard task, as these brave souls stared the Supreme Court and broadcasters right in the face and dared them to fight. Granted they lost, but that's only for now; the FCC proposal could turn all of that around soon.