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Posts Tagged: "Copyright Office"

Music Industry Groups Square Off Against Songwriters, Small Publishers in Mechanical Licensing Collective Battle

On October 11, the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) was enacted into law after passing both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The bill was drafted in order to modernize U.S. copyright law as it relates to the licensing of copyright protected music for use in digital streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music. Such digital service providers (DSPs) may obtain a new kind of license created by the law, known as a blanket license, which covers the distribution of all musical works available for compulsory licensing. DSPs may then make these works available to consumers through covered activities, such as delivering digital phonorecords of musical works available in the form of a permanent download, a limited download or as an interactive stream.In short, the blanket license under the MMA allows Spotify and others to offer streaming music services without having to negotiate licenses with copyright-owning entities, including recording studios and songwriters. Instead, these streaming services would obtain a blanket license from the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), another new feature of the MMA. The MLC is a non-profit entity responsible for administering blanket licenses to DSPs, collecting and distributing royalties, enabling copyright owners to claim ownership of musical works and administering a process by which royalties for works with unidentified owners are equitably distributed to known copyright owners. The statutory language of the MMA directs the Register of Copyrights to designate the membership of the MLC within 270 days of enactment of the law. Given the date on which the MMA was enacted, this would indicate that July 8 of this year is the deadline for Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple to designate the MLC that would start administering blanket licenses at the beginning of 2021. There are two groups that have proposed their own membership of the MLC to the Copyright Office: a coalition of major publishers from the music industry, including the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), Songwriters of North America (SONA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI); and the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC), a collection of songwriters, musicians, tech developers and executives from smaller rights organizations and publishers within the music industry.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, April 12: Global Music Copyright Revenues Up, Copyright Office Examines Online Infringement Issues, and China’s ‘Reverse Patent Troll’ Problem

This week in other IP news, recently released data shows that worldwide revenues for music copyright exceeded $28 billion in 2017, up $2 billion over 2016; reports surface about the  “reverse patent trolling” issue in China; Google retains Williams & Connolly for Supreme Court battle with Oracle despite Shanmugam exit; the Copyright Office holds roundtable discussions on detecting online copyright infringement; Twitter takes down a tweet from President Donald Trump after a copyright complaint; “KINKEDIN” trademark for computer dating site successfully opposed in the UK by LinkedIn; EU antitrust regulators are petitioned to look into Nokia patent licensing practices; and loss of patent exclusivity leads to major job cuts at Gilead Sciences. 

Other Barks & Bites: New Register of Copyrights, Win for Qualcomm at ITC and Big Tech Up in Arms Over New EU Copyright Rules

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Karyn Temple is appointed Register of Copyrights; the International Trade Commission recommends excluding certain iPhone models for infringing Qualcomm patent claims; the EU approves new copyright rules which will affect online media platforms; Senators Tillis and Coons move forward with stakeholder discussions on a legislative fix to Section 101 of patent law; Peloton responds to copyright infringement suit by dropping online cycling classes; Amazon adds nearly 1,000 jobs in Austin, TX; the District of Delaware tosses out willful infringement claims against Intel; and Oracle files opposition asking Supreme Court to deny a petition for writ filed by Google.

Senators Tillis and Coons Express Concerns with Fourth Estate in Letter to Copyright Office

On March 14, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), respectively the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, sent a letter addressed to Karyn Temple, Acting Register of Copyrights at the U.S. Copyright Office expressing concerns that Tillis and Coons share about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC. As the letter from Sens. Tillis and Coons notes, it takes an average of about six months for the Copyright Office to fully process registration applications. Given that the Supreme Court has now ruled that these applications must be fully processed prior to the filing of a suit, Senators Tillis and Coons said the real impact of the Fourth Estate decision “will be the extended unlawful exploitation of a copyright owner’s intellectual property.”

Supreme Court Mulls Circuit Split on When a Copyright is Registered in Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com

On January 8th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com [Case No. 17-571 (Jan. 8, 2019)] to settle a longstanding circuit split on the copyright registration prerequisite to a copyright infringement suit… The Justices gave little indication as to how convincing they found either party’s policy arguments. The first rule of statutory interpretation, however, is that if the plain meaning of the text is clear, the inquiry ends. Here, at least two of the Justices acknowledged that the term “registration” is flexible, so the issue may end up turning on how far outside the four corners of Section 411(a) the Court is willing to look to determine its meaning.

Copyright Office Seeks Mechanical Licensing Collective Members

The U.S. Copyright Office recently published a Notice in the Federal Register regarding Title I of the Orrin G. Hatch – Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA). This section of the law created a new blanket licensing system that governs the licensed uses of musical works by digital music providers. In this recent notice, the Copyright Office is seeking input to identify entities which are appropriate for inclusion in the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) that will manage the new blanket licensing system.

Eleventh Circuit Finds No Valid Copyright in Official Code of Georgia Annotated

An analysis of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated led the appellate court to find that the annotations, while not having the force of law, are part and parcel of the law. First, the Eleventh Circuit found that the Georgia General Assembly was the driving force behind the annotations in the OCGA. Although the annotations were prepared by LexisNexis, those annotations were drafted based upon highly detailed instructions contained within its publishing agreement with the Code Revision Commission, making Georgia’s legislators the creators of the annotations.

Copyrights: Intellectual Property Considerations for Start-Ups

Copyrights protect original works of authorship.  This gives a copyright holder exclusive rights to modify, distribute, perform, display, and copy the work. However, as with other forms of intellectual property, there are important things copyright holders need to know in order to best protect and utilize their copyrights. You do not need to register a work to be protected by copyright.  However, registration is encouraged as it provides enhanced protection for copyright holders.  For example, a registered copyright is considered prima facie evidence in litigation, meaning the court will accept, on face value, that the copyright is valid unless it can be proven otherwise. 

Western Tennessee Judge Denies Spotify’s Motions to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Claims Brought by Bluewater Music

U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla of the Western District of Tennessee recently issued an order denying motions made by interactive streaming music provider Spotify to dismiss a case including copyright infringement claims brought by independent music publisher and copyright administration company Bluewater Music Corporation. Judge McCalla’s order determined Bluewater has standing for all 2,142 music compositions it has asserted based on ownership or an exclusive license of the works. Given Bluewater is seeking the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work, Judge McCalla’s order allows Bluewater to continue pursuing a maximum damages award of $321.3 million.

Ninth Circuit Vacates and Remands ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case Over Erroneous and Prejudicial Jury Instructions

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently issued an opinion in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, which vacated-in-part a judgment out of the Central District of California that Led Zeppelin’s hit classic rock song “Stairway to Heaven” was not substantially similar to “Taurus,” a song written by the late songwriter Randy Wolfe, a member of the band Spirit. 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.

Copyright and Tattoos: Who owns your ink?

As of 2012, one in five adults in the United States have at least one tattoo.  While some designs are simple, many are incredibly complex, original works of art.  However, since tattoos are designed to be permanent, and often placed to be seen, the question arises – who owns the copyright to that artwork? And how can, and can’t, the owner display it? Unfortunately, there are no cases to date that definitively answer the questions around copyright infringement and tattoos.  With a new case filed by a tattoo artist in April 2018, concerning a tattoo he placed on WWE wrestler Randy Orton, which appeared in the WWE 2K16, 2K17 and 2K18 video games, it is important to determine what we do know about whether tattoos can be copyrighted, and who owns what rights with regard to their use and reproduction.

US Supreme Court Tackles Copyright Registration Circuit Split

Some circuit courts have held that a work is “registered” and the copyright owner can sue an infringer as soon as the applicant files the application, deposits a copy of the work and pays a fee.  This is known as the “application” approach.  Other circuit courts follow the “registration” approach which requires the Copyright Office to act on the application—by examining it and either approving or refusing it—before the copyright owner may file suit. So, which approach is correct? We should soon have an answer as the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v Wall-Street.com, LLC to resolve this issue and finally decide what it means to be “registered.”

Supreme Court to Resolve Copyright Registration Circuit Split

On Thursday, June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that should resolve the long-standing question of whether a copyright plaintiff must have a registration in hand when filing suit or, instead, can merely have an application pending. The case is Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, 17-571… The Solicitor General filed a brief in favor of the court taking the case. That brief urges the high court to adopt the “registration” approach based on the plain language of the statute.

Video Game Companies Seek DMCA Exemption for Online Video Game Preservation

Every three years the U.S. Copyright Office analyzes whether to revise and/or renew the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) anti-circumvention provision. The latest triennial rulemaking review under the DMCA relating to anti-circumvention provisions began on June 30, 2017, when the Copyright Office published a Notice of Inquiry requesting petitions to renew existing exemptions, and as well as petitions for new exemptions.

5 ways companies can stay in compliance with DMCA

Understanding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has become increasingly important for companies that want to protect their digital content. The DMCA was created primarily as a solution for service providers such as YouTube that host content uploaded by third parties rather than create their own original content. Service providers benefit from the DMCA because it protects them from liability in the event content uploaded to their site infringes another’s copyrights. While the DMCA addresses a number of copyright issues, the “safe harbor” provision remains one of its most important aspects.