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Posts in Copyright

Copyright and Translated Content: Who is the Creator?

Copyright law protects artistic works. That includes literary pieces like novels, poems and other literary pieces. The original author is the one who owns the copyright of the piece. Translation raises an interesting question when it comes to copyright. Who will own the copyright of the translated work? Does it belong to the individual translator, the translation company, or to the author of the original work? Because copyright laws protect original works, translations occupy a gray area. Many would consider it to be a creative process, like the translation of poetry and other literary pieces. But then again, there are those who would contend that translation is not a creative process at all, or at least not at the same level as writing a novel. The main ideas of the work are already in place and it just has to be expressed in a different language.

Creator Frustration Over TikTok Reflects System Weaknesses—Both Racial and Copyright

Millions of content creators hoping to establish a cash machine on platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram are learning that it takes more than lively moves and thousands of followers to be taken seriously. They are also discovering that not all creators are created equal, even when they are the source. Content on TikTok and other social media platforms is theoretically copyrightable. In practice, however, the IP rights of social media creators today are less clear. Work generated by lesser known creators, especially if they are young and Black, is being stolen with little apparent recourse.

SCOTUS Grants Government’s Request to Participate in Case Interpreting PRO IP Act Language on Copyright Invalidation

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted a motion made by the Acting U.S. Solicitor General to participate in oral argument as an amicus in the case of Unicolors v. H&M. The case asks the Court to decide whether the Ninth Circuit properly construed the language of 17 U.S.C. § 411 relating to whether courts must have evidence of intent to defraud before referring copyright registration validity questions to the Copyright Office. Oral argument is set for November 7.

Senator Tillis Letter to Ambassador Tai: TRIPS Waiver (Copyright)

Dear Ambassador Tai: I write you again today for the fourth time about the Biden Administration’s waiver of international obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS agreement. Last week, several open-content organizations wrote to President Biden and argued that your proposed TRIPS Waiver should cover not just patents, but also copyright and other intellectual property rights. These organizations ask that you include copyright simply because it may apply to software, medicine labels, manuals, or “tools” associated with vaccines. The letter fails to address the importance of these protections to the economy, trade, and employment, the limitations placed on protections to ensure a balanced system, and how copyright protection facilitates the very innovation, creativity, and knowledge sharing that will make it possible for us to end this once in a lifetime pandemic. The inclusion of copyright is both unsubstantiated and unwarranted, and would impose devastating consequences on American creators, businesses and workers, while doing nothing to advance the objective of combatting COVID.

Beware the Shadow Statute: ALI’s Copyright Restatement Project is Quite the Fright

American creators know how to celebrate Halloween: Whether they’re writing a mystery novel, shooting a horror movie, or painting a calavera, they’re a huge part of the season. Unfortunately, this year, there’s a monster lurking that creators didn’t manufacture: The American Law Institute’s (ALI’s) Copyright Restatement Project. The ALI is an independent organization that produces and publishes academic papers, including “Restatements of Law”—papers on legal subjects that judges and lawyers can use as guidance. Most of the time, ALI’s restatements help advance uniformity and certainty in the court system. But their Copyright Restatement Project is a step in the wrong direction. In fact, it’s a step into a graveyard of killer consequences.

Second Circuit Copyright Ruling Affirms Independent Contractor Status for Friday the 13th Author

On September 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ruling in Horror Inc. v. Miller in which the appellate court affirmed a summary judgment ruling in the District of Connecticut which found that Victor Miller was an independent contractor when writing the script for the 1980 classic horror film Friday the 13th. The ruling enables Miller to move forward with copyright termination notices served on Horror, which became the successor-in-interest to the rights to Friday the 13th, so that Miller can claim copyright in the original screenplay.

Roblox is Latest Online Platform to Settle NMPA Copyright Claims with Collaborative Music Licensing Agreement

On September 27, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and online game platform provider Roblox announced that the two parties had settled ongoing copyright litigation in the Central District of California over Roblox’s unauthorized use of copyrighted music on its online gaming platform. The settlement also creates an opt-in mechanism for eligible NMPA publishers and opens a negotiation period for individual publishers to engage Roblox in go-forward licensing deals.

Epic Sports Petitions Fifth Circuit for Rehearing En Banc in Texas A&M ‘12th Man’ Copyright/ Takings Clause Case

On September 22, publishing company Canada Hockey L.L.C., doing business as Epic Sports, and Michael Bynum, a sportswriter and editor, filed a petition for rehearing en banc in their appeal of a copyright case against both Texas A&M University and a pair of school officials. In their petition, the plaintiffs argue that the original panel decision erred in failing to find constitutional violations of both the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment for Texas A&M’s unlawful reproduction of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted work regarding the history of the legendary 12th Man at Texas A&M.

IPWatchdog LIVE Panel Examines Google v. Oracle: SCOTUS Punted on Copyrightability

Yesterday at IPWatchdog LIVE, a morning panel discussed “The Impact of Google v. Oracle on Fair Use.” That decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, issued this April, has many ramifications for the future of copyrightability of computer code as well as the analysis of transformative uses of computer code. Speaking on the panel was Chad Rutkowski, Partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP; Van Lindberg, Partner at Taylor English and Counsel and Director of the Python Software Foundation; and Llewellyn Gibbons, Distinguished University Professor, University of Toledo College of Law.

USPTO and Copyright Office Reports Attempt to Quantify Extent and Effect of IP Infringement by State Entities

On August 31, at the request of Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) provided a report to Congress analyzing infringement disputes between patent and trademark rights holders and states and state entities. The U.S. Copyright Office produced a similar, much lengthier report, also in response to a letter from Tillis and Leahy, studying whether there is sufficient basis for federal legislation abrogating State sovereign immunity when States infringe copyrights. The Senators’ letters were prompted by the March 2020 Allen v. Cooper Supreme Court decision. While the USPTO report came to no conclusions, the Copyright Office found that “the evidence indicates that state infringement constitutes a legitimate concern for copyright owners.”

Controlled Digital Lending Thwarts Democratic Process and Rights of Authors

One of the latest controversies in copyright law concerns the practice of controlled digital lending (CDL) by libraries. The idea is simple: Libraries take the physical books on their shelves, digitize them, and then share the digital copies with members of the public. Under the CDL theory, there is no permission needed to make the digital copies, nor is permission needed to share them publicly. The theory instead posits that all these things are perfectly legal—and presumably they have been legal for decades, though people are just now starting to notice. If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Ultimately, the CDL theory is really just the CDL fantasy. It’s an example of wishful thinking by supposed do-gooders who have figured out yet another way to give away other people’s copyrighted works for free. Except, this time, it at least comes with the fig leaf of a library.

Ninth Circuit Reverses Win for the Turtles’ Rights Owners Under California Law on Copyright for Public Performance

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Monday ruled that California common law on copyright protection does not include a right of public performance, reversing a partial summary judgment for Flo & Eddie, which controls the rights to the songs of the rock band the Turtles. The case began in 2013, when Flo & Eddie sued Sirius XM Radio, Inc. for playing the Turtles’ iconic pre-1972 recordings, such as “Happy Together” and “Elenore.” While AM/FM radio stations do not pay public performance royalties to sound recording owners, digital and satellite radio providers like Sirius XM must pay public performance royalties whenever they broadcast post-1972 music.

Is Your Brand Protection Strategy Defamation-Proof?

Robert Willison, an Atlanta real estate investor, could not believe what he was seeing on the computer screen. A business associate had mentioned that Mr. Willison might want to Google himself, as some odd search results were appearing. And there they were. Post after post after post, across numerous websites and social media platforms, alleging that Mr. Willison was a sociopathic criminal. According to the posts, Mr. Willison sold drugs to federal judges, stole credit cards numbers, stole money, made death threats, committed home invasions, masterminded a Ponzi scheme, and more…. Understanding the best practices for handling these situations can help turn them around, just as Mr. Willison did, to protect your online reputation – a valuable component to both an individual and their business’s intellectual property

The Federal Circuit Must Correct Texas Court’s Misapplication of Copyright Law in SAS Institute Appeal

SAS Institute is a software company in North Carolina. Founded in 1976, it employs thousands of people in the United States and thousands more around the world. World Programming, Ltd. (WPL) is a British company that decided to build a clone of SAS’s popular analytics software and, as several courts have found, broke the law to do it. After a decade of litigation across two continents and an unpaid multi-million-dollar judgment, the parties are once again in court. This time, however, WPL’s arguments pose grave dangers to all owners of other copyrighted works. WPL did not try to compete with SAS by building a different or better product. Instead, it ordered copies of SAS’s products under the guise of an educational license, but with the true intent to reverse-engineer and copy key elements, including the selection and arrangement of its outputs, and even the manuals licensed users receive from SAS. The result is that WPL produced a clone, taking the exact same input and producing the exact same output that SAS does. Avoiding the years of investment and fine-tuning that SAS undertook to create its market-leading software, WPL undercut SAS’s price in the market and lured away SAS’s customers.

Eighth Circuit to Realty Companies: Try Fair Use Next Time to Legally Publish Floorplans

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit yesterday reversed a Missouri district court’s grant of summary judgment for a group of real estate companies relating to copyright infringement claims brought by an architect over floorplans. While the appeals court said that another defense might well be available to the companies, the text of the statute, the broader statutory context, and the legislative history all suggest that “floorplans” were not intended to be encompassed by Section 120(a) of the U.S. Copyright Act.