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Posts Tagged: "copyright infringement"

Photographer’s SCOTUS Petition Argues State School Liable Under Takings Clause for Copyright Infringement

On November 15, Houston-area aerial photographer Jim Olive Photography filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up an appeal from the Texas Supreme Court, which had denied Olive’s copyright claims against the University of Houston System on sovereign immunity grounds. In the petition, Olive requests that the Supreme Court simply grant certiorari, vacate the lower decision and remand for reconsideration of the issues in light of the Court’s decision this summer in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, which was issued just a few days after the Texas Supreme Court ruled against Olive.

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.

UK Judge Backs Meghan Markle over Leaked Letter

The actor Meghan Markle gained fame playing a paralegal in the TV show Suits. Now, as Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex, she is starring in her own legal drama in London’s High Court. On February 11, Mr. Justice Warby granted summary judgment in favor of the Duchess on most of the issues in her privacy and copyright case brought against Associated Publishers, which publishes the tabloid Mail on Sunday newspaper and MailOnline website in the U.K. The Duchess brought the action over the publication in February 2019 of five articles that included 88 quotations from a letter she had sent to her father, in which she discussed their relationship. She claimed that the publication of the articles involved (1) a misuse of her private information, (2) a breach of the defendants’ duties under data protection law and (3) an infringement of her copyright in the letter.

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Copyright Infringement Claim Against Disney’s Inside Out Movie

On August 3, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Masterson v. Walt Disney Company, affirmed a district court’s dismissal of Carla Masterson’s copyright infringement claims against The Walt Disney Co. The infringement claim was based on Masterson’s allegation that Disney’s Inside Out (the Movie) violated her copyrights in her book of poetry, What’s On the Other Side of the Rainbow? (A Book of Feelings) (the Book) and her movie script, The Secret of the Golden Mirror (the Script). Masterson’s Book was a collection of poems featuring a cloud-like character, Mr. Positivity, and anthropomorphic doors representing different feelings. The Script is about Mr. Positivity and the anthropomorphic doors helping a child cope with a difficult situation. In contrast, Disney’s Inside Out is about an eleven-year-old girl and the anthropomorphized emotions that control her brain from her brain’s “Headquarters.” The district court held that the literary works were not substantially similar and granted Walt Disney’s motion to dismiss.

Second Circuit Affirms Welsh Government Advertising Activity Triggered Exception to Sovereign Immunity

On June 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Pablo Star Ltd. V, Welsh Gov’t, affirmed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denying the Welsh government’s motion to dismiss a claim of copyright infringement on the ground of sovereign immunity. In particular, the circuit court held that the activity resulting in the lawsuit fell within the commercial-activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)…. The circuit court explained that whether an activity is considered ‘commercial’ depends on the ‘nature’ of the activity, rather than the ‘purpose’, wherein nature is defined as ‘the outward form of the conduct that the foreign state performs or agrees to perform’ and purpose is defined as ‘the reason why the foreign state engages in the activity.’

Section 512 Report Suggests Fine-Tuning Knowledge and Eligibility Requirements for DMCA Safe Harbors

On May 21, the U.S. Copyright Office published a report on Section 512 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code, which governs limitations on copyright liability to materials published online. Safe harbor provisions in Section 512, which were enacted as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), have allowed online service providers to operate tech platforms without facing liability for infringing content posted on those platforms. While the Copyright Office acknowledges that the careful balance intended to be struck by Section 512 has become unbalanced, to the detriment of rights holders, the report only recommends that Congress fine-tune certain aspects of Section 512 to restore this balance of competing interests.

Supreme Court Says State Code Revision Commissions Are Not Authors for Copyright Purposes

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit’s decision that a state code revision commission cannot claim copyright protection over annotated state code in Georgia et al. v. Public.Resource.Org., Inc. The Court dove into the judicially created “edicts doctrine,” which has not really been explored since the 1800s. The “original works” in question were supplementary annotations accompanying the statutes in Georgia’s Official Code, known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”). These annotations and summaries of judicial decisions were owned by Georgia’s Code Revision Commission (“Commission”), although they were originally authored by a division of the LexisNexis Group under a “work made for hire” contract.

District Court Finds Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Not Substantially Similar to ‘Joyful Noise’ Ostinato

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Monday granted Katy Perry’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) and vacated the jury’s verdicts regarding liability and damages. In particular, the court found that the plaintiffs did not satisfy the extrinsic test, whereby the court determined whether any elements of plaintiffs’ eight-note ostinato (defined as “a continually repeated musical phrase or rhythm”) from the song “Joyful Noise” were protected and objectively similar to the allegedly infringing eight-note ostinato from Perry’s song “Dark Horse.”

Ninth Circuit Alters Its Approach to Assessing Copyright Infringement in Ruling for Led Zeppelin

The en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ultimately sided with Led Zeppelin in a long-running case examining whether the opening notes of the band’s legendary song “Stairway to Heaven” infringed the song “Taurus,” written by Robert Wolfe of the band Spirit, a contemporary of Led Zeppelin. Michael Skidmore, Trustee for Wolfe’s estate, brought the original suit in 2014. The Court notably struck down its own “inverse ratio rule,” which dictates that there is “a lower standard of proof of substantial similarity when a high degree of access is shown,” as set out in the 2000 case of Three Boys Music Corp. v. Bolton. In September 2018, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit vacated-in-part the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that “Stairway to Heaven” was not substantially similar to “Taurus”. The case was remanded back to the district court after the appellate court found that certain instructions given by the district court to the jury were erroneous and prejudicial. However, the Court agreed to rehear the case en banc in June 2019.

Rules on Copyright Infringement for Inline Linking Developing in the United States and Abroad

As the relationship between copyright and the internet continues to develop and technical distinctions are increasingly cast aside for more practical perspectives, new licensing opportunities are becoming available for content owners and creators. Two recent developments concerning online service providers’ use of so-called “inline linking” and those providers’ potential liability for publicly displaying unlicensed content from third-party websites open the way for this new vein of potential income.Inline linking occurs when a service provider “embeds” on the provider’s website content that is hosted at another location or “destination URL” on the internet. This is achieved using HTML coding, which retrieves content from the destination URL and shows that content to visitors on the service provider’s site. The inline link in the code of the service provider’s website thus constitutes a sort of window or “frame” to content maintained at another location on the internet. This is in contrast to the use of a standard text hyperlink, which, after a click, simply directs users to a destination without showing the content hosted there. A new European Union copyright law and recent decisions from the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of California suggest that what was once thought to be non-infringing inline linking may now require service providers to obtain licenses or face claims of infringement.

Keeping Up with Copyright Infringement: Copyright, Celebrities, Paparazzi, and Social Media

Just two months after the end of her second copyright infringement lawsuit, fashion model Jelena Noura “Gigi” Hadid was sued for a third time, on September 13, for copyright infringement for posting paparazzi photos to her social media accounts without the license or permission of the photographer. Other celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham and, most recently, Justin Bieber, have made news for the same situation. This trend falls into an interesting intersection of two significant tenets of law: a celebrity’s right of publicity in their own image and a photographer’s right to copyright their artistic work.

Congress Members Ask to Grill Google in Roundtable on Content ID Tool

Eight members of Congress have sent a letter to Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai requesting that the company participate in “a roundtable with Congressional offices and members of the creative community” to discuss its responses to a series of questions relating to Google-owned YouTube’s Content ID tool. The tool is meant to prevent copyright infringing material from appearing on YouTube but has come under scrutiny for its failings in recent years. In the letter sent September 3, the Congress members questioned whether the tool was effective for all users. “We have heard from copyright holders who have been denied access to Content ID tools, and as a result, are at a significant disadvantage to prevent the repeated uploading of content that they have previously identified as infringing,” said the letter.

Presumption of Guilt: How Microsoft Won a Protracted Battle on Unlicensed Software in Ukraine

In June 2019, five-years of legal proceedings between Microsoft and Zhytomyrgas PJSC in the Ukrainian courts came to an end. The parties began their battle in the context of criminal proceedings and ended the dispute in the economic court. Microsoft ultimately was successful. Ukraine has been among the countries on the U.S. Special 301 Report, prepared by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, for years due to its high rate of copyright violations. Ukrainian citizens, government agencies and enterprises are no exceptions. At the same time, Ukraine ranks second in Eastern Europe in the number of software developers and number one in the world in the number of developers per 1,000 inhabitants.

A Complete Guide to Protecting Images from Photo Theft

One of the first and easiest steps any photographer can take in protecting images against photo theft is to lower the resolution and size of their photos when posting them online. The Copytrack Global Infringement Report found that photos with a 16:9 aspect ratio were most likely to be stolen, while the most popular resolution for image theft in 2018 was Full HD, or 1920 x 1080 pixels.

A Question of Morals: The U.S. Approach to Plagiarism, ‘Moral Rights’, and Copyright Infringement

“It was a warm and pleasant day on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The waves lapped at the shore and far off a sea-bird raised its plaintive cries to the sky. She looked up from her book, thinking, ‘Wait, where have I read that that before? … ‘ “ Rather than an irksome daydream on the beach, an author’s nightmare is of having her works — or parts of them—lifted from her control and passed off as those of someone else. That is exactly the allegation that bestselling novelist Nora Roberts brings in her suit, filed in late April in a Brazilian Court, against Cristiane Serruya, a lawyer-turned-author. Nora Roberts is one of the most popular living American authors. She primarily writes romance novels, as well as police procedural (crime) fiction. Her works are solid sellers, and she has received a huge number of industry awards, as well as having more than a dozen of her works adapted into film and television productions. Hers is the type of market success that every genre author dreams of. Sadly, with widespread popularity comes risk of infringement—in this case, not of copyright infringement, but a very particular violation of authorial rights.