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Skype Founders File Copyright Suit Against eBay 107

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the leggo-my-eggo dept.
Saif writes to let us know that Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, have filed a copyright suit against eBay for altering and sharing the peer-to-peer source code behind the calling service. The founders managed to maintain ownership of the source and licensed it to eBay in their 2005 deal and are now seeking an injunction and statutory damages which could total more than $75 million per day. "Mr. Zennstrom and Mr. Friis have developed a reputation for litigiousness in some legal circles. They filed three separate lawsuits against Pamela Colburn, an investment banker who represented them in the original sale of Skype, in the United States, the Netherlands and Britain. In May, a British judge dismissed the case and said the two men's reason for pursuing the matter in his country 'remains inexplicable.' The buyers of Skype have not publicly addressed the founders' lawsuit against eBay in Britain or their potential legal liability."
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Skype Founders File Copyright Suit Against eBay

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  • by swschrad (312009) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:41PM (#29470475) Homepage Journal

    1) if you "buy" an outfit, you should get the code that made it.

    2) if you didn't, you should have modification rights.

    3) if you "sell" an outfit, you should spend your money and not try to steal the sumbitch back.

    conclusion: put them all in a room, with their laywers. on the titanic. hit an iceberg. it's a start.

  • Damn unicode... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:42PM (#29470489) Journal

    If we can't get it working, can we at least have the editors strip the unicode out of the summaries?

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:44PM (#29470515)

    I'll be generous... 2006 to 2009, 365 days per year minus about 100 days for the remainder of 2009, at $75 million per day. That's $102 billion...

    eBay bought them for $2.6 billion in 2005. Revenue, according to a quick google lookup, has been about $1.1 billion in the years 2006 to 2009.

    This seems ridiculous? Or am I reading this wrong?

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:48PM (#29470583)
    Why did EBay agree to the terms where they did not get control of the source when they bought Skype? Shame on Ebay for making this possible when they bought Skype with a bajillion of their shareholders money. I predict that this will lead to a class action suit by Ebay shareholders against Ebay.
  • by Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:51PM (#29470615) Homepage Journal
    It's a copyright lawsuit. Thanks to other industries who make their living off copyright (especially the RIAA and MPAA), the legally accepted penalties for violating copyright are allowed to go far beyond the actual damages. Yes, 100x has precedent.
    At least, if eBay loses, it has a chance to pay the fine in its lifetime. You don't want to be holding a PayPal card if it comes to that, though.
  • Re:Some people. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:00PM (#29470713) Journal

    Where does one shop for "beautiful naked women"?

    Red light District

    Can I claim accelerated depreciation for them on my taxes?

    No. Women never get depreciated, only under appreciated.

    How many "beautiful naked women" can one purchase for $2.6 billion (less the cost of the island, of course)?

    More than you can afford.

    Finally, what should the founders of Skype do if their tastes run more towards beautiful naked men?

    There's an app for that.
    (Just kidding)

  • Re:Some people. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:09PM (#29470825) Journal

    Beautiful naked women aren't bought - they are leased. Finding them is relatively easy - they will seek out the cash. Lease and operations rates are typically high, but very manageable if your bank account balance looks like a phone number. Since you can only lease BNW, they are always deductible provided sufficient accounting creativity.

    If the founders are looking for men, the same applies, however overall costs tends to be greater.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:16PM (#29470907)

    1) if you "buy" an outfit, you should get the code that made it.

    2) if you didn't, you should have modification rights.

    3) if you "sell" an outfit, you should spend your money and not try to steal the sumbitch back.

    conclusion: put them all in a room, with their laywers. on the titanic. hit an iceberg. it's a start.

    If you spend millions to buy something and never have anybody who understands what you are buying read the contract, you deserve what you get. Read the fine print... http://www.mevis-research.de/~meyer/MISC/di/a.htm [mevis-research.de]

  • Brilliant Hack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:21PM (#29470977) Journal

    Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis were clearly not content to hack compelling software. Their travails sound like a Gibson novel. As far as I can tell, they made themselves the monarchs of Skype. One day, some enterprising journalist will tell us how the fuck they managed to sell Ebay an empty XBOX 360 box for billions of dollars.

  • Re:Basically (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:34PM (#29471127)

    Changing the code was perfectly legal, so long as they only used it internally or developed a compiled product with it. That's why they licensed the source code in the first place.

    However, distributing the code is not legal. It sounds to me like someone at Ebay was dumbass enough to think that minor changes would be enough to alter the copyright, making it theirs and therefore distributable. In fact, depending on the license they agreed to, it may have legal to distribute the altered portions only, or not at all. Either way, to make re-distributing the code legal would have required a substantial re-write, basically just using the Skype code as a guide and not much more than that.

    The Skype founders may be overly-litigeous bastards, but on the surface it sounds like they are in the right on this one.

  • by Jaysyn (203771) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (todhsals+nysyaj)> on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:58PM (#29471439) Homepage Journal
    Or eBay / PayPal stock for that matter.
  • Re:Some people. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coolsnowmen (695297) on Friday September 18, 2009 @05:04PM (#29471511)

    If I wanted to buy a person. I would take the amount of money they would need in a life time to support a family, and multiply it by 10. That should allow you to find a naked woman to by. Beauty is subjective. Let's say for here: http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/counties/12086 [psu.edu] (Miami-Dade, Florida). So about 3 million dollars. For 2.6 billion, you could have about 867 naked women MAX

    For a minimum, I'ld look at what porn stars get paid. A good porn start can make about 750K/year. Assuming that you want top quality women for the rest of your life (50 years), you could have 69 women minimum (rotating the old ones out and new ones in as they age and your preferences change).

  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Friday September 18, 2009 @05:32PM (#29471783)

    eBay / PayPal routinely shaft sellers out of PayPal payments, sweetly telling the post-coital shaftees to, "Read your user agreement, you explicitly agreed to accommodate our shaft."

    Apparently those Kazaa guys' lawyers were skilled at placing a StealthShaft(TM) in the contract.

    Take it eBay. Take it.

  • Genius! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerrry (43027) on Friday September 18, 2009 @06:22PM (#29472231)

    The Skype founders must be genius negotiators if they managed to sell their company to eBay for billions of dollars yet keep rights to the source code that runs the business. Either that or eBay's lawyers must be the world's biggest idiots.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

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