Posts Tagged: "U.S. Copyright Office"

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Unicolors v. H&M to Consider Whether Section 411 Includes Intent-to-Defraud Requirement

On Tuesday, June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by fabric designer Unicolors seeking to challenge the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling last May that reversed a jury verdict finding Swedish multinational clothing firm Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) liable for copyright infringement. The district court eventually entered a judgment awarding more than $500,000 to Unicolors. The case will ask the nation’s highest court to decide whether the Ninth Circuit properly construed the language of 17 U.S.C. § 411 in determining that the district court was required to refer Unicolors’ copyright registration to the U.S. Copyright Office because it contained inaccurate information with no evidence that the inaccurate information contained any indicia of fraud or material error regarding the work covered by the copyright registration.

Copyrights Help SMEs Bring Their Ideas to Market – Especially if They’re Registered

Discussion around intellectual property strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often focus chiefly on patent and trademarks. But the benefits of copyright to a small business should not be underestimated. Copyrights protect the expression of ideas in works that are tangible. Copyrightable subject matter is very broad—all “original works of authorship, fixed in a tangible medium” are protected immediately from creation. The U.S. Copyright Office lists these categories as subject to copyright protection: literary works, musical works, performing arts, visual arts, other digital content (including computer software code), motion pictures, photographs, sound recordings, and architectural works. 17 U.S.C. Section 102.

The New Copyright Small Claims Board Presents Problems for Copyright Owners and Small Businesses

Creative people need a quick, efficient and inexpensive way to recover damages for copyright infringement. They need a place to submit their charge of infringement and collect damages. Until recently, their only option was to bring a lawsuit in a federal district court; a process that is complicated, expensive and time-consuming. The Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act) gives them another option, but it is problematic. It is also a problem for small businesses, which are at a disadvantage because the act benefits copyright trolls. It creates a new efficient vehicle for copyright trolls to prey on your clients.

Mechanical Licensing Collective’s $424.4 Million Unmatched Royalty Collection Highlights Music Modernization Act’s Limited Liability Compromise

On February 16, the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) – a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to administer blanket mechanical licenses to eligible streaming and download services in the United States –announced that it had received a total of $424.4 million in unmatched royalties accrued by 20 digital service providers (DSPs), including Spotify and Apple Music, during a three-year transition period under the terms of the Music Modernization Act (MMA). The transfer of unmatched royalties enables these DSPs to qualify for limited liability provisions under the MMA. At the same time, usage data submitted by DSPs associated with the accrued unmatched royalties is expected to help the MLC identify copyright owners for distributing royalty payments, the first of which are expected to be distributed this April.

Library of Congress to Establish Public Advisory Committee on Copyright Office Modernization

The U.S. Library of Congress, in a February 3 Federal Register Notice, responded to a December 2019 request by members of Congress to establish an advisory committee focused on copyright modernization efforts. The Notice announced the creation of the Copyright Public Modernization Committee and urged interested stakeholders to apply as volunteer members.

Copyright Office Updates to Third Edition of Compendium of Practices Focus on Registration Refusals, Intervening SCOTUS Case Law

On January 14, the U.S. Copyright Office published in the Federal Register an update to the agency’s Third Edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. The updates to the draft revision, which was first released in May 2019, include several changes based on public comments asking for clarification on several points of legal interpretation as well as major copyright decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court since the Third Edition’s last revision in 2017. Since issuing the public draft in May 2019, the Copyright Office received 24 public comments and the focus of most of these comments seems to have been aimed at language in the Third Edition’s 2019 draft giving greater discretion to agency examiners regarding registration refusals due to application deficiencies. Some commenters were concerned that this additional discretion would result in fewer opportunities for applicants to cure defects in their applications for copyright registration. Several changes in the recent Compendium update are intended to address these concerns, including the replacement of references to “deficiencies” with “variances,” which is defined as conflicting information pre

U.S. and EU Copyright Law Developments Reviewed at INTA Annual Meeting

Last week, during the International Trademark Association’s (INTA’s) all-virtual 2020 Annual Meeting & Leadership Meeting, panelists Naomi Jane Gray, Axel Nordemann and Catherine Zaller Rowland discussed perspectives in Copyright Law in a session titled “Hot Topics in Copyright: The New and Controversial Landscape.” In particular, the panelists discussed United States and European perspectives on 1) mash-ups, politics and parody, 2) Liability for Platforms and Service Providers, and 3) Useful Articles.

Copyright for Choreography: When is Copying a Dance a Copyright Violation?

Recent news reports about choreographer JaQuel Knight’s efforts to copyright some of his iconic dance routines, such as Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” are a reminder that such works face steep hurdles when it comes to qualifying for protection. From ballet to breakdance and Swan Lake to Saturday Night Fever, dance is part of every culture—and a surprisingly frequent source of intellectual property conflict. While works of dance clearly are eligible for copyright protection under Section 102(a)(4) of the Copyright Act, determining which dances meet the standard—and which have two left feet—has been tricky and has resulted in a number of high-profile disputes in recent years. However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated copyright dispute may provide important guidance in subsequent dance-related copyright litigation.

New Group Copyright Registration Option Raises Questions Around Definition of ‘Published’ in the Digital Age

The United States Copyright Office recently released a New Group Registration Option for Short Online Literary Works (GRTX), which would allow an applicant to register up to 50 short online literary works with one application and one filing fee. A group registration covers the copyrightable text in each literary work submitted with the group registration, such that the copyright owner may seek a separate award for each work infringed.

Copyright Office Begins Period of Petitioning for Exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA

On June 22, the U.S. Copyright Office published a request for petitions in the Federal Register, which officially kicked off the eighth triennial rulemaking process for temporary exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). While Section 1201 generally prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs), which copyright owners use to prevent unauthorized access to and copying of protected works, the law instructs the Copyright Office to grant temporary exemptions every three years allowing for the circumvention of TPMs against unauthorized access in specific circumstances.

U.S. Copyright Office Publishes Federal Register Notice Announcing State Sovereign Immunity Study

On June 3, the U.S. Copyright Office published a Federal Register notice regarding a study it is initiating to “evaluate the degree to which copyright owners are experiencing infringement by state entities without adequate remedies under state law, as well as the extent to which such infringements appear to be based on intentional or reckless conduct.” The Office requested public input in the form of written comments on or before August 3, 2020 to assist the Office in preparing a report to Congress on the study.

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.

Debate Continues Between ALI and Congress on Copyright Restatement Project

The American Law Institute (ALI) has submitted a second response stemming from a letter sent by members of Congress last year expressing serious concerns over ALI’s Restatement of Copyright project. In December 2019, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Ben Cline (R-VA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Theodore Deutch (R-FL) and Harley Rouda (D-CA) sent a letter to ALI stating that laws created through federal statute like copyright are “ill-suited for treatment in a Restatement” and threaten to muddle the law. The U.S. Copyright Office, the American Bar Association (IP Law Section) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have raised similar concerns.

Acting U.S. Copyright Register Maria Strong: All Eyes on Modernization

Maria Strong currently serves as the Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office. She was appointed to the position effective January 5, 2020. Strong leads a 400-plus person workforce and is responsible for all administrative functions and duties under Title 17 of the U.S. Code, unless otherwise specified. Strong is on detail from her position as Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Policy and International Affairs, the office that focuses on domestic and international policy analyses, legislative support, and working with other agencies on IP and trade matters. With IP champions in Congress turning their attention away from patent reform and toward copyright reform this year, IPWatchdog took the opportunity to interview Strong shortly after she assumed her new role to learn more about the agency’s focus and plans. Senators like Senate Judiciary Committee, IP Subcommittee Chair Thom Tillis (R-NC) are laser-focused on modernization efforts, and Strong made it clear that is a major priority.   

Protecting Creative Works After Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court finally unequivocally answered the question about whether copyright owners need to receive a Registration Certificate from the Copyright Office before filing suit for infringement and thus resolved a difference of opinion among various regional circuit courts. (Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC. Since this decision was issued, federal district courts have cited it in at least 63 decisions. What should artists, writers, and businesses do now to protect their creative work? How should attorneys alter the standard advice they give their clients? Let’s start with a review of what the ruling actually says.