Loew’s Inc v CBS, 131 F.Supp. 165 (SD Cali 1955) held that a Jack Benny parody of the film Gaslight was not fair use. Here the court responds to defendants’ contention that “such a decision would be a frontal attack on freedom in our democracy”:
… we confess we have difficulty in visualizing the loss of that freedom if Benny’s activities are curtailed by this decision. Instead, the decision reaffirms a principle inherent in the democratic way of life — the right to own and enjoy one’s own private property without fear of appropriation by another. The concept of private ownership of literary property is equally entitled to protection and is more in danger in this proceeding than are our other freedoms.
The US Copyright Office: Its Functions and Resources — On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee is holding its first copyright review hearing of 2015, looking this time at the primary agency for administering copyright law and registration and developing copyright policy. However, the Office currently faces funding and staffing shortages, as well as structural challenges to the important role it plays. And yesterday, the Copyright Office Special Projects Team released a report on Technological Upgrades to Registration and Recordation, which analyzes many of these issues in more detail.
YouTube makes a move against brand-sponsored videos — The media platform has amended its policies so that, according to Digiday, “Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.”
Some Presidents’ Day words about copyrights from George Washington — “At best, Article IV [of England’s Statute of Anne] reflected profound distrust of private markets. At worst, it was a veiled means of censorship that strongly discouraged the creation and publication of any works that might offend the sensibilities of Royal officials, academics, or leading clerics of the Established Anglican Church. Washington, Madison and the other Members of the First Congress were well aware of Article IV of the Statute of Anne. Yet they rejected it entirely: the federal Copyright Act of 1790 contained no analog of Article IV. Indeed, it did not authorize any compulsory licensing. Consequently, while the US Copyright Act of 1790 was not the first general, national copyright law, it was the first truly market-based general, national copyright law.”
Cravath Partners Spearhead New Copyright Program at Columbia Law — A great profile of a new pro bono clinic for copyright plaintiffs in New York City, led by Cravath, Swain & Moore partners David Marriott and David Kappos. For more info, see here.
C.D. Howe: Copyright Board undercompensating artists and depriving rights holders of royalties — From Canada: “Yesterday, the C.D. Howe Institute released a report, The Value of Copyrights in Recorded Music: Terrestrial Radio and Beyond. The report, written by Prof. Marcel Boyer, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Université de Montréal, concluded that the value of recorded music is about 2.5 times greater than the level of copyright royalties certified by the Copyright Board. He estimates that in 2012, this would have meant that royalty payments should have been about $440 million compared to the estimated $178 million.”
Grammys, Love, Angst, Striving, Synergy, Creativity & Copyright — “By ensuring that artists, musicians, songwriters and other creators enjoy the fruits of their glorious labors — most of which are spent in arduous hours of striving before their works see the light of day and the love of their fans — we invest wisely in the cultural wealth that makes living worthwhile.”
LOTR’s One Ring explainer — “What’s interesting about hearing of The Ring in this focused way is how it becomes a part of Tolkien’s criticism of technology. The Ring does what every mighty bit of tech can do to its owner/user: makes them feel powerful and righteous. Look what we can do with this thing! So much! So much good! We are good therefore whatever we do with this will be good! The contemporary idea of the tech startup is arguably the most seductive and powerful technology of the present moment, the One Ring of our times.”
Searching for answers from Google about Google — This Tuesday, a federal judge is set to rule on Google’s unusual and aggressive move begging a federal court to block a state attorney general from investigating whether the $368 billion company has violated state consumer protection laws. The Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray writes, “The only way we’re going to learn about what Google is doing is through legal challenges like that of AG Hood… I worry that if Google can block a state’s top law enforcement officer from even asking questions, then who is there to stand up and search for the answers we clearly should be seeking?”