GaS News — What Happened Next: February 2013

Continuing our look back at later developments to stories we brought you on Geeks Are Sexy this year, we turn our attention to February. Google paid around $81 million to French publishers who had complained they should get a share of revenue from advertising when “snippets” of their stories appeared on the Google News Site. The payment was clearly marked as a donation and not an admission of legal responsibility.

Later in 2013, German politicians and lawyers argued about how to apply copyright laws to such cases. Eventually they settled on a new law that said search engines and other sites could only reproduce “small text snippets” without permission, but didn’t clearly define what constituted a snippet. Google decided not to risk further legal dispute and now only includes German media sources on Google News when those sources have expressly given permission.

Rumors were flying that Microsoft would make it impossible to play used games on the next generation Xbox. Microsoft later announced that games would be tied to specific users and reselling would only be possible by trading in the game at authorized retailers. Eventually it abandoned this policy completely, along with a requirement that the console “check in” with Microsoft at least once every 24 hours.

Amazon patented the idea of a technology that would let it control a market for “used” copies of Kindle books and other digital content. There’s been no sign since of it making the idea a reality.

The New York Times published a controversial review of Tesla’s Model S electric vehicle claiming the car didn’t reach its advertised driving range and ran out of power while driving. It sparked a furious back-and-forth row including Tesla publishing the electronic vehicle activity logs for the period of the test drive. Tesla later claimed the review cost it several hundred orders and temporarily knocked $100 million off the company’s valuation. Despite harsh words on both sides, no legal action followed. An investigation by the newspaper into the review concluded its writer had “problems with precision and judgment, but not integrity.”

Apple agreed to pay as much as $100 million compensation to cover cases where children made in-app purchases without parental permission, including a $99.99 “bucket of smurfberries.” The payout only covered a specific 45-day period between Apple changing its rules so that users who made a purchase didn’t have to type in a password for further purchases in the next 15 minutes, and Apple introducing an option to disable this window. A court later approved the settlement of a class action lawsuit, with Apple offering each affected user either a flat $5 with no questions asked, or a refund of the actual amounts involved if they completed a detailed report of the individual purchases. Apple later revised the settlement so that parents could get refunds for purchases made during any 45-day period of their choice.

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