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Beth Hutchens

is a contributing author on IPWatchdog.com. Beth’s recurring, feature column typically focuses on Internet, trademark, copyright and/or privacy issues. She brings her unique perspective and witty writing style to subject matter that could otherwise be dry. Her insights, along with a “take no prisoners” attitude, work to provide a fun, entertaining and always informative column.

When not writing she is an attorney based in Seattle, Washington. can be reached at beth.hutchens@gmail.com.

Recent Articles by Beth Hutchens

The Abandonware Conundrum: Can you modify games if publisher shuts down the server?

The EFF wants an exemption for people who want to modify their purchased games in order to bypass access controls when a publisher shuts down the server. Specifically, the EFF would like for any piece of software with server-based functions that are shut down by a publisher or developer to be considered “abandoned” six months later. This means that someone who owns a copy of a game that no longer has an online play component would be able to modify the game to eliminate authentication checks or access controls in the game itself so they can still play online using a third party server. This may also include reverse engineering and making intermediate copies of the game, which goes well beyond the skill set of the casual user.

Confusion Preclusion: SCOTUS Says TTAB Has Preclusive Effect

There was a split in the circuit courts as to what effect a TTAB decision will have, and this depends heavily upon where the litigation is happening. The weight of a TTAB decision will vary depending on the jurisdiction, ranging from none at all to complete preclusion. Here, the issue was whether one mark was confusingly similar to another, which the Supreme Court determined was exactly the same as what was being litigated.

Jury Tells Robin Thicke to Give it Up

Thicke maintains that the Gaye family doesn’t own a genre, a style, or a groove and he’s right. The Gayes point out no other musicians or songs of the era were compared with “Blurred Lines,” and they’re right, too. A viable criticism of the verdict is that it could have a chilling effect on new music for fear of overzealous copyright owners attempting to expand this concept to their cases. Is it possible that a ruling of this nature would stifle creativity? Perhaps, but people were saying the same thing when the music sampling cases happened, and the industry adapted just fine.

How Sweet it is to be Sued by You (for copyright infringement)

Marvin Gaye enjoyed tremendous success during this decade and his song Got to Give it Up topped the charts in 1977. Fast forward nearly forty years to 2013, when the tremendously popular singer / songwriter, Robin Thicke recorded his number one hit, Blurred Lines. Got to Give it Up was recorded in 1976 and released in 1977, which means its copyright is governed by the 1909 Act. Now, under the 1909 Act, a work had to be published with notice or a deposit had to be made in the Copyright Office. Mere distribution of a song did not meet the publication requirement. Blurred Lines, however, is protected under the 1976 Act. A notable difference between the two statutes is that the 1976 Act gives automatic protection to any original work fixed in a tangible medium.