On the Road to a Modern Copyright System — Josh Simmons provides a thorough look at the history of copyright registration in the U.S., chock-full of interesting trivia and tidbits.

European Copyright Reforms Clear Final Hurdle at EU Before Heading Back to Member States — The sweeping set of reforms, which aim to modernize copyright rules within the EU as part of its Digital Single Market strategy, now head to the member states, which have two years to transpose the directive into their national laws. And then come the court cases.

In US, No Remedies for Growing IP Infringements — Sovereign immunity largely shields states and state entities from being liable for copyright infringement. But petitioners in Allen v Cooper are hoping the Supreme Court changes that.

Debunking the Capitalist Cowboy — A critical look at the lionization of “disruptive innovation”, which often plays a role in justifying weaker copyright protections.

Instagram Memers are Unionizing — “‘We as content creators want to have worker protections,’ Praindo said. ‘Even if you’re producing funny pictures of Shrek, that should not determine whether you’re taken seriously as a creator or your livelihood is imperiled at the drop of a hat … We are a meme union; the whole point of it is to work for protections for other content creators.'”

The Golden Age of YouTube is Over — There was a time in the early days of the internet when existing creative industries were decried as legacy dinosaurs, and user-generated services like YouTube were hailed as ushering in a new era of culture and creativity. Verge‘s Julia Alexander reports that that hasn’t exactly proven true.

Why Disney’s Remakes Don’t Extend its Copyright — Disney’s latest remake—a live action version of its classic Dumbo—has sparked some chatter that this is part of an effort by the company to extend the term of its copyright protection over those older works. But as Jonathan Bailey explains here, that’s not how copyright term works.

ScoreKeeper And Composer Michael Abels Invites You To Admire USBirth.Movies.Death talks with film composer Michael Abels, who offers a fantastic look inside the creative process that went into his work on Jordan Peele’s latest film, US.

17 Indie Artists on Their Oddest Odd Jobs That Pay the Bills When Music Doesn’t — A sobering look at the financial realities facing indie musicians in the digital age.

Platforms, Privacy, and Property Rights — Neil Turkewitz: “The problem is rooted not in the idea of ‘property,’ but in the underlying incentives created by outdated laws and the cavalier attitude Silicon Valley takes toward its responsibilities in the online space. To the tech giants, every pixel on the internet is just a ‘resource’ ripe for exploitation, whether it’s a consumer surfing the web, a filmmaker promoting her movie, or a political campaign trying to reach the public. They talk about freedom but have permitted rampant online piracy, which has decimated cultural industries.”

Have Songwriters Turned the Tide Against Big Tech? (Guest Column) — NMPA President David Israelite writes, “What’s astounding about this progress is the imbalance of influence is so dramatic. It is remarkable that anyone could stand up to the likes of Google, Amazon, Spotify and the other tech titans who amass more power every day. However, it proves that while these companies may harness data, music continues to strike a nerve that cannot be ignored. People don’t just care about the music that moves them, consumers also care about the people who create it, and everyone from governments to Gen Z are no longer buying the notion that tech companies must operate unchecked at the expense of musicians.”

The EU’s New Copyright Laws Won’t “Wreck the Internet” — Copyright expert Eleonora Rosati responds to some of the more hyperbolic claims about the EU Copyright Directive, which is only one last step from going into effect. She clarifies what is in the Directive, particularly the most contentious provision, Article 13 (now renumbered Article 17), and notes, “In all this, users might actually be better off than they are under the current system.”

Canadian ‘Pirate’ Set-Top Box Seller Must Pay CAD$5 MillionTorrent Freak‘s Ernesto reports on a recent settlement in Canada between several Canadian media companies and a seller of “fully-loaded” set-top boxes, which provide easy and powerful access to pirated films, television shows, music, and other copyrighted works.

Trump signs memo to stem counterfeit goods trafficking — “‘Third-party intermediaries, including online third party marketplaces, carriers, customs brokers, payment providers, vendors, and others involved in international transactions, can all be beneficial partners in combating trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods,’ the memo states… The memorandum of understanding specifically targets the trafficking of such goods through third-party online marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba, China’s top e-commerce marketplace, Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, told reporters, according to the Associated Press.”

Spotify ad draws criticism over how it (under)pays musicians — Finally, theNextWeb‘s Rachel Kaser highlights a Twitter thread from musician David Lowery, who responded to a Spotify ad by pointing out that “Spotify streams earn artists exceptionally little money. Most of Spotify’s money goes elsewhere, including to its very pricey offices, and it’s currently appealing the rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board in an effort to pay even less.”

ISP Grande Loses Safe Harbor Over ‘Utter Failure’ to Terminate Pirating CustomersTorrentfreak reports on the Western District Court of Texas decision, saying, “Grande didn’t terminate any subscribers between October 2010 and May 2017. This, despite receiving over a million copyright infringement notices, and tracking over 9,000 customers in its DMCA ‘Excessive Violations Report.'” Just in time for the US Copyright Office’s public roundtable on Section 512, scheduled for April 8.

Courts Being Led Down Rabbit Hole in Photograph Copyright Case — David Newhoff discusses the appeal in Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions, involving a lower court decision finding fair use. The Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal on Tuesday.

CRB Appeal: Inside The Battle For Fair Streaming Rates — The Recording Academy’s Todd Dupler writes, “Last year, songwriters won a historic victory from the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), the three-judge panel that sets the royalty rates for mechanical licensing. … Then this month, Spotify, Amazon, Google, and Pandora all filed notices of appeal of that CRB decision. These would be the first appeals ever of a CRB determination for music publishing rates under Section 115 of the Copyright Act.”

Hollywood Employs More Workers Than Mining and Farming, MPAA Says — “The entertainment industry has spread across the U.S., beyond Southern California where the warm, sunny climate drew filmmakers to build the first production companies at the turn of the 20th century. Other states — including Georgia, Louisiana and Illinois — have used subsidies to draw production away from California to create their own thriving hubs.”

SXSW 2019 Keynote: T Bone Burnett — The producer of the O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack (among many other projects) tells you what he really thinks about tech platforms:

‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Deemed Copyright Fair Use by Judge— The decision, involving a novelty book that combines Seussian style rhymes and artwork with Trekkie characters and other elements, distinguished the Federal Circuit’s Oracle v Google decision and analogized to the Second Circuit’s decision involving a Naked Gun 33 1/3 promotional poster that parodied Annie Liebowitz’s famous portrait of a pregnant Demi Moore to find the force was strong with fair use.

The Fourth Estate Decision and Copyright Registration — US Copyright Office General Counsel Regan Smith dives into the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit v Wall-street.com, which held that the Copyright Act requires copyright owners to have a registration certificate from the Copyright Office (or have had their application refused by the Office) before filing suit for infringment. Smith also details the efforts the Office is taking to reduce the time it takes to process registration applications.

Music Community Calls For Building A Better Digital Attribution And Credits System — SAG-AFTRA, A2IM, RIAA, and Artist Rights Alliance this week announced a collaboration to build more robust digital attribution and credits, saying “Attribution recognizes artistic achievement, helps creators connect, collaborate, and appreciate each other’s work, opens up new pathways for fans to trace artistic influences and find new music, and aids accuracy in the digital royalty economy.”

In Appeal of Russian Stream-Ripper Ruling, RIAA Says Court Gave ‘Carte Blanche to Internet Pirates’ — The labels are appealing a decision that held a pair of Russian “stream ripping” sites, which used a US domain name and enabled US users to infringe US copyrights through a US service (YouTube) could not be haled into a US court.

Facial recognition’s ‘dirty little secret’: Millions of online photos scraped without consent — The “without consent” here refers to the people who were the subjects of the photos. The copyright owners of the photos themselves already (perhaps inadverdantly) gave consent for their photos to be used to train surveillance systems by releasing them under Creative Commons licenses.

SCOTUS Resolves Court Split in Fourth Estate, but Registration Concerns Remain — I wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision in Fourth Estate Public Benefit v Wall-Street.com, which it issued on Monday, and its significance for Copyright Office modernization efforts.

‘Fortnite’ Legal Dance Battles Paused Following Supreme Court Ruling — Ashley Cullins of The Hollywood Reporter reports that the plaintiffs in a set of suits involving the alleged unauthorized reproduction of dance moves in the popular video game Fortnite have dismissed their claims following Monday’s Fourth Estate decision. They will likely be refiled once the Copyright Office has either registered or refused the pending applications, in line with the Supreme Court’s holding.

Supreme Court Will be Asked to Permit Resales of Digital Music Files — ReDigi is likely seeking to file a cert petition asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the Second Circuit, which held that the service’s unauthorized reproduction of digital music files is not permitted under the first sale doctrine or fair use. ReDigi has until May 11 to file its petition.

Spotify, Google, Pandora & Amazon Plan to Appeal Copyright Royalty Board Rates — Colin Stutz of Billboard reports, “Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have filed notices they intend to appeal the Copyright Royalty Board’s (CRB) rate determinations finalized last month that would boost record labels and digital services’ payments to music songwriters and publishers by 44 percent over a four-year term… This marks the first time that the Section 115 rate determinations for music publishing rates has been appealed.”

The Sharing Economy was Always a Scam — “Though its origin is vague, many credit the introduction of the term ‘sharing economy’ into the broader tech lexicon to Lawrence Lessig, who wrote about sharing in his 2008 book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.”

A philosopher argues that an AI can’t be an artist — “We can’t count the monkey at a typewriter who accidentally types out Othello as a great creative playwright. If there is greatness in the product, it is only an accident. We may be able to see a machine’s product as great, but if we know that the output is merely the result of some arbitrary act or algorithmic formalism, we cannot accept it as the expression of a vision for human good.”

Scribd Files Complaint Against DRM Circumvention Tool — Section 1201 prohibits on circumventing technological measures protecting access to copyrighted works. Actions for violations of Section 1201 may be brought by “any person injured.” So it was only a matter of time before we saw an entity besides a copyright owner file a 1201 lawsuit.

Books Digitization and Demand — Mark Seeley takes a look at a recent paper that examines demand for books in response to the Google Books Project. “[A]uthors and publishers were at the time the suit was initiated against Google heavily engaged in e-book production and creating an e-book market. It is possible that the Google project provided more incentive in this development, but the concern was not about print—it was about unauthorized use, print or online, without compensation.”

Fair Use Week Again. But Why? — Newhoff writes, “Perhaps future legal experts will find that the most important decision came in the ReDigi case, denying the fair use defense of this business, which sought to create and exploit a market for ‘used’ digital music files.  One reason this decision my be seen as a landmark is that Judge Leval himself wrote the opinion and added further nuance to his own ‘transformative’ doctrine, which has been the cause of considerable confusion in other cases.”

Kodak’s Kodakit Asks Photographers to Give Up the ‘Entire Copyright’ — Petapixel’s Michael Zhang highlights some of the extraordinary conditions that photographers must agree to before selling their photos through what has been dubbed here the “Uber of photography.”

An Empirical Study of Transformative Use in Copyright Law — How dominant has the transformative use inquiry become in fair use analysis since its introduction? And what effect has it had on shaping fair use outcomes? Law professor Jiariu Liu assembled a set of all reported transformative use decisions through 2017 to see what the data tell us.

The Investment Firm That Commissioned Wall Street’s ‘Fearless Girl’ Is Suing the Artist for Making Replicas — A teaching moment for artists who create works for others to understand what rights they retain for those works (and to determine in advance of any agreement what rights they may want to retain). Also another teaching moment for reading the actual complaint rather than relying on headlines. The complaint alleges only several breach of contract claims. That includes breach of both trademark and copyright agreements in the contract, but no allegations of trademark or copyright infringement per se. Of course, the question going forward is to what extent are any of the contract claims actually copyright infringement claims and/or preempted by the Copyright Act. A good law school exam hypo.

‘Fortnite’ Law Firm Reports Someone Tried to End Dance Lawsuits With Fake Emails — A bit of drama this week in the ongoing litigation involving claims the popular video game incorporated protectable dance moves without authorization. Variety reports that an email that appeared to originate from the plaintiffs’ law firm was sent to the US Copyright Office, asking it to reject its copyright claims.

Studios Sue Omniverse in TV Streaming Crackdown — On the heels of a successful settlement with streaming device maker Dragon Box, studios have sued Omniverse, alleging the company serves as a “hub” for feeding unauthorized content to other illegal streaming services.

Appeal from the victims of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) — This week, a group of 38 organizations published the following appeal: “As working writers, translators, photographers, and graphic artists; as unions, organizations, and federations representing the creators of works included in published books; as book publishers; and as reproduction rights and public lending rights organizations; we oppose so-called ‘Controlled Digital Lending’ (CDL) as a flagrant violation of copyright and authors’ rights.” An accompanying FAQ explains the practice of CDL, why it falls beyond the bounds of copyright law, and why it harms authors and creators.

EU Copyright Directive: Breakthrough — Agreement on text for the new Directive was reached yesterday, after months of negotiations. See DSM Watch: Crunch Time for the Copyright Directive for more background, along with press releases about the text from both the European Commission and European Parliament. The text must now be translated into 23 other languages and passed by the EU Parliament.

The Copyright Directive: how the mob was told to save the dragon and slay the knight — The European Commission also published this fiery post on Medium following the agreement. “Of course, we know from recent elections and referendums that simple memorable slogans — however untrue or unobtainable — can go a long way to winning over hearts, minds and voters. And so it was, that the wholly inaccurate phrases ‘link taxes’ and ‘censorship machines’ started to be part of the campaign against the proposed Copyright Directive. Never let the truth get in the way of a catchy slogan.”

Copyright Office Refuses Registration for ‘Fresh Prince’ Star’s ‘Carlton Dance’ — Eriq Gardner reports, “In correspondence last month that was surfaced on Wednesday in California federal court, Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the Office’s Performing Arts Division, told Ribeiro’s attorney that registration must be refused because his claimed ‘choreographic work’ was a ‘simple dance routine.'”

Stolen Artwork Is All Over Amazon — And Creators Want The Company To Do Something About ItBuzzFeedNews reports, quoting one creator as saying, “The laws are there. They should be benefiting people exactly like me — people who make their own work. … But instead, these companies don’t value what they’re selling and are making it impossible for small businesses, like mine, to stay in our lane.”

Music Modernization Act: Labels and Publishers Back NMPA’s Bid to Run New Mechanical Rights Society — “The NMPA, in tandem with the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) says it is being supported in its bid by the ‘overwhelming majority of copyright holders who together represent the majority of musical works in the US’.”

Minot on the Role of Blackstone in the 18th Century — This well-researched student note suggests that the conventional wisdom about Blackstone’s role as “oracle of the law” during the Founding Era is not quite accurate.

GTA V Cheat Maker Has to Pay $150,000 in Copyright Damages — According to the complaint, the defendant infringed Take-Two’s copyright in two ways: by continuing to play the game after breaching a condition of the license requiring licensees not to cheat (among other conditions), and by preparing an unauthorized derivative work of the game.

Allen v. Cooper — The plaintiff in a case involving copyright and sovereign immunity has asked the Supreme Court to review a Fourth Circuit decision holding that Congress did not validly abrogate state sovereign immunity when it passed the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act in 1990. Yesterday, the petition found support from amici, including former Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman, the RIAA, and a group of authors and scholars which include David Nimmer.