Carmack Says His Piece On Oculus Lawsuit

The Oculus-ZeniMax lawsuit has been long-winded and complex to say the least and I am glad that it’s finally come to an end. ZeniMax won and now Oculus has been ordered to pay $500 million to the rival company. Unfortunately, it seems not everyone is relieved and willing to let this dead horse lie. John Carmack, a former employee of id Software (a company now owned by ZeniMax), has vented his frustrations about the case on Facebook.

Of the most significant, the man calls the particular expert ZeniMax brought into the trial “impudent”, and further denies ZeniMax’s main accusations against him. The programmer stated that he, “disagreed with their characterization, misdirection, and selective omissions. I never tried to hide or wipe any evidence, and all of my data is accounted for, contrary to some stories being spread. [A ZeniMax statement suggested he destroyed data after learning of the lawsuit.] Being sued sucks. For the most part, the process went as I expected.”

On the issue of the apparently disrespectful expert from ZeniMax, Carmack pointed out that the person “said Oculus’s implementations of the techniques at issue were ‘non-literally copied’ from the source code I wrote while at id Software. This is just not true. The authors at Oculus never had access to the id C++ VR code, only a tiny bit of plaintext shader code from the demo. Early on in [the expert’s] testimony, I wanted to stand up say, ‘Sir! As a man of (computer) science, I challenge you to defend the efficacy of your methodology with data, including false positive and negative rates.’ After he had said he was ‘absolutely certain there was non-literal copying’ in several cases, I just wanted to shout, ‘You lie!’ By the end, after seven cases of ‘absolutely certain,’ I was wondering if gangsters had kidnapped his grandchildren and were holding them for ransom.”

He goes on to suggest the testimony would not have stood out if the expert’s phrasing had been different. As it stands, he said, ” I am offended that a distinguished academic would say that his ad-hoc textual analysis makes him ‘absolutely certain’ of anything. That isn’t the language of scientific inquiry.”

Needless to say, Carmack basically calls the entire trial a bonafide sham in equally biased and emotional terms as above. ZeniMax, for its part, responded with: “In addition to expert testimony finding both literal and non-literal copying, Oculus programmers themselves admitted using ZeniMax’s copyrighted code (one saying he cut and pasted it into the Oculus SDK), and Brendan Iribe, in writing, requested a license for the ‘source code shared by Carmack’ they needed for the Oculus Rift. Not surprisingly, the jury found ZeniMax code copyrights were infringed. The Oculus Rift was built on a foundation of ZeniMax technology. As for the denial of wiping, the Court’s independent expert found 92% of Carmack’s hard drive was wiped–all data was permanently destroyed, right after Carmack got notice of the lawsuit, and that his affidavit denying the wiping was false. Those are the hard facts.”

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this one, but I do hope these two sides can stop picking fights with each other soon. What do you think of Carmack’s statements? Do you think his accusations are right? Say your piece in the comments below.

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