By , January 22, 2021.

How one musician took on the world’s biggest TV network over copyright—and won — “You’ve heard Kerry Muzzey’s work (BandcampSpotify), even if you haven’t heard of him. The 50-year-old classical music composer from Joliet, Illinois, who now lives in Los Angeles, produces haunting orchestral scores that soundtrack some of the most poignant moments in film and television. When Finn Hudson kissed Rachel Berry for the first time on TV’s Glee, it was Muzzey’s stripped-back piano playing in the background. Some of his works have been choreographed and performed on So You Think You Can Dance?, too.”

RIAA: Not Even Improper YouTube ‘Rolling Cipher’ Complaints Can Be CounteredTorrentfreak‘s Andy Maxwell reports, “In response to a lawsuit filed by YouTube-ripping service Yout, the RIAA is doubling down on its assertion that YouTube’s rolling cipher is indeed an ‘effective technological measure’ under the DMCA. The music industry group also states that seeking remedy for improper takedown notices under the DMCA is not possible since the relevant law does not penalize anti-circumvention complaints.”

Three New Year’s Resolutions for Songwriters — The US Copyright Office’s Holland Gormley provides helpful tips to musicians to make sure they take full advantage of changes in the law that went into effect at the start of 2021.

Google, French publishers sign copyright news payment deal — According to the Associated Press, “Google has signed a deal with a group of French publishers paving the way for the internet giant to make digital copyright payments for online news content. . . . The company was forced to negotiate with publishers and news agencies for reusing their material online under a ‘neighboring rights’ law that took effect after France became the first country to adopt new European Union copyright rules.”

Redbubble Keeps Win in ‘Lettuce Turnip the Beet’ Trademark Case — In “Trademarking phrases to use on t-shirts” news, “Online print-on-demand marketplace Redbubble Inc. again defeated LTTB LLC’s claims that its sale of t-shirts and other wares with the phrase ‘Lettuce Turnip the Beet’ infringed LTTB’s trademark rights when the Ninth Circuit affirmed Wednesday that the phrase failed to function as a trademark.”

By , January 15, 2021.

‘The Police Didn’t Know What Was Going to Happen’: 5 Photographers on What It Was Like to Document the Storming of the US Capitol — “[T]he uprising marked the first time since the British invaded during the War of 1812 that Washington was so overrun. The scene was documented by a fearless press corps that braved tear gas, pepper spray, and attacks to record the day’s events, which so far have left five dead. We spoke to five photographers about their experiences capturing this dark moment in US history.”

U.S. Copyright Office Releases Updated Version of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition on January 28, 2021 — The update of the comprehensive and invaluable guide includes changes made in light of the Supreme Court decisions in Georgia v. Public Resource and Fourth Estate along with discussion of regulatory changes made to registration practices. The Office this week also announced that updates to its website are coming later this month.

Claims Tribunal, Music Rates Headline 2021 Copyright IssuesBloomberg Law‘s Kyle Jahner reviews what may be the most significant copyright issues expected in 2021. They include implementation of a U.S. copyright small claims court, a Supreme Court decision in Google v. Oracle, and draft legislation amending the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The Mechanical Licensing Collective Begins Full Operations as Envisioned by The Music Modernization Act of 2018 — In a little over two years after the MMA was enacted, the Mechanical Licensing Collective has begun administering the blanket license for mechanical reproductions by digital music services. Here, The MLC provides an overview of what that means, including tools and resources for songwriters and musicians to ensure they are collecting the royalties they are entitled to.

Ninth Circuit Clarifies Transformative Fair Use in Dr. Seuss v. ComicMix — CPIP’s Devlin Hartline analyzes last month’s decision from the Ninth Circuit finding that ComicMix’s unauthorized mashup of Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go and the Star Trek universe was not a fair use.

By , December 11, 2020.

Tillis Releases Text of Bipartisan Legislation to Fight Illegal Streaming by Criminal Organizations — “The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act would apply only to commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services. The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected.”

France’s Hadopi counts cost of piracy: 12m users, €1bn loss of earnings — “The Hadopi’s study, the first to attempt to calculate the economic consequences of content piracy and illicit retransmission of sports events in the round, comes as proposals for a new audiovisual law designed to tackle the problem are being discussed. The Hadopi found that while peer-to-peer piracy – the original focus of the Hadopi when it was set up – had declined significantly, illegal streaming and direct download of content had risen and new forms of illegal consumption such as illicit IPTV and live streaming services had also blossomed.”

TikTokkers are writing Ratatouille, the musical. But who owns the copyright? — The phenomenon raises potentially complex and interesting questions about authorship, ownership, and infringement.

The MLC Presents: How Self-Administered Songwriters Can Connect to Collect — The Mechanical Licensing Collective recently hosted a webinar detailing what the Music Modernization Act means for songwriters who administer their own publishing and what they need to do to make sure they get the royalties their music generates when the new blanket mechanical license takes effect in less than a month.

By , December 04, 2020.

IP Perception 2020 — The EU IPO Observatory published a report on a survey of EU citizens perceptions and attitudes toward IP, including copyright. Some key results: “The more people understand intellectual property (subjective understanding), the less likely they are to infringe it”; “100% increase (from 10% in 2017 to 20% in 2020) of those who think that intellectual property benefits artists and creators, among others”; and “People are more willing to pay for content, with a 69% increase since the last study (from 25% in 2017 to 42% in 2020).”

Record Labels Secure Big Win in Piracy Lawsuit Against Spinrilla — Torrentfreak reports on the NDGA decision this week, which found the site directly liable for copyright infringement and unable to claim DMCA safe harbor protection.

TPM circumvention and website blocking orders: An EU perspective — Eleonora Rosati examines recent developments regarding site blocking orders applied to sites alleged to offer tools to circumvent TPMs. Rosati concludes, “copyright owners appear entitled to seek injunctions against intermediaries to also block access to websites dealing with TPM-circumventing devices.”

‘Copyright Troll’ Liebowitz Suspended From Manhattan Court — Blake Brittain reports for Bloomberg Law, “Liebowitz is known for filing over a thousand lawsuits on behalf of photographers who claim their work was reposted by media outlets and others without permission. He’s been accused of filing frivolous suits to force settlements, and federal courts have called Liebowitz a ‘copyright troll,’ among other things.

Europe is a leader (and an exception) in the global collection of revenues from private copying levies — A new report from CISAC and BIEM details global collection of private copying levies for 2018. As Emmanuel Legrand explains, “Private copying levies are in place in a number of countries to compensate rights holders for the copying of copyrighted material within the private environment of content users. The levies can be applied of blank media such as CD-R, but also memory sticks, hard drives, TV boxes, smart phones, among others.”

By , November 20, 2020.

Mixcloud founder: here’s what DJs need to know about music copyright — “When streamers and DJs are hit by music copyright takedowns on other platforms like Facebook or Twitch, it’s because those platforms have not – for whatever reason – secured the right music licenses. They are not paying the artists that are getting played. . . . At Mixcloud, we have invested time, energy and resources to get the right licenses. That is why music takedowns do not happen on Mixcloud.”

On the Page: Who Invented Oscar Wilde [Audio] — Pilar Alessandra talks with writer David Newhoff about his new book, which explores some of the paradoxes inherent in copyright and creativity.

Google signs copyright agreements with six French newspapers — “The announcement follows months of bargaining between Google, French publishers and news agencies over how to apply revamped EU copyright rules, which allow publishers to demand a fee from online platforms showing extracts of their news. The world’s biggest search engine initially fought against the idea of paying publishers for the content, saying their websites benefited from greater traffic brought by Google.”

Is it Time for a DMCA Update? Senator Tillis Says Yes — “In 2019 and 2020, Tillis, in his capacity as chair of the Senate IP subcommittee, held a series of hearings focused on known problems with several DMCA provisions and has stated his intent to put forward a legislative fix for which there may be bipartisan support — and controversy.” Last week, the Senator sent a letter to stakeholders seeking input on potential tweaks to sections 512, 1201, and 1202.

Six Artists Are Suing a Property Owner for Painting Over Beloved Murals at a Famed San Francisco Gay Bar During Pride Month — “For the past three years, San Francisco gay bar the Stud, the city’s oldest, was fronted by colorful murals with suggestive titles like ‘Stepping Out’ and ‘Head First,’ which had been painted on the bar’s distinctive navy exterior to celebrate Pride Week in 2017. . . . On June 20, during Pride Month 2020, its new owners whitewashed them before painting the building over in beige. Now, six artists are suing the property owner, named only as City Commercial Investments, for damages under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), a law that has been cited in high-profile cases like the suit against the owners of the 5Pointz graffiti mecca in Queens, New York, in which a judge awarded a group of artists $6.75 million after their works were destroyed by a property developer.”

By , November 13, 2020.

Senator Thom Tillis Seeks Suggestions for Reform of Digital Millenium Copyright Act — Jem Aswad at Variety reports on an open letter sent by North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, who recently won relection against Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham, to stakeholders addressing efforts to reform the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Tillis has held a series of hearings on the law over the past year, and the letter identifies a number of issues in sections 512, 1201, and 1202 of the Copyright Act which may be ripe for reform and seeks input on how to address those issues.

Administration Issues Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property — The U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator this week issued its Joint Strategic Plan for 2020-2022. The plan, which the IPEC is required to release every three years, focuses especially on trade-related efforts to enforce U.S. intellectual property as well as the sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated goods on e-commerce platforms and other intermediaries.

Mandatory Deposit of Electronic-Only Books — The U.S. Copyright Office this week issued a final rule amending its regulations to make electronic-only books published in the United States subject to the Copyright Act’s mandatory deposit provisions if they are affirmatively demanded by the Office. The final rule largely adopts the language set forth in the Office’s June 2020 notice of proposed rulemaking, with one additional clarification regarding the rule’s applicability to print-on-demand books.

Enda: Kenya’s first home-grown running shoe — From WIPO Magazine: “We work with Kenyan athletes to design running shoes and sell them to runners around the world. Most running shoe companies are based in the United States or Europe. Enda is unique; it’s the only company of its kind in Africa. We are not simply testing or marketing technical running shoes made by others, we are actually making our own shoes. . . . Intellectual property (IP) is king. Without IP rights, we would have no legal means of defending ourselves against copycats or other unscrupulous operators. IP rights enable us to protect Enda’s business interests and grow the company, ensuring that when people buy our shoes, they get an authentic, high-quality product.”

Google Takes Down Repositories That Circumvent its Widevine DRM — “GitHub has removed several repositories that helped to bypass Google’s Widevine DRM, which is used by popular streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Google requested the code to be removed as it would violate the DMCA. . . . Google sees the code, which was explicitly published for educational purposes only, as a circumvention tool. As such, it allegedly violates section 1201 of the DMCA, an allegation that was also made against the youtube-dl code last month.”

By , October 30, 2020.

U.S. Copyright Office Welcomes New Register — This week, Shira Perlmutter officially took the helm as the 14th U.S. Register of Copyrights. Perlmutter most recently headed the policy team at the USPTO. See her full bio at the link.

MLC Week October 26 – 30: Everything You Need to Know about The MLC — If you are a songwriter or musician, and aren’t familiar with the MLC, follow the link to get up to speed. The organization hosted a series of webinars this week to discuss the new blanket licensing regime for songs going into effect January 1, 2021, and what songwriters need to do to make sure they get paid.

Battle Lines Drawn Over Font Copyright Protection — Frankfurt Kurnit attorney Jeremy Goldman takes a look at recent decisions from the U.S. Copyright Office concerning registration of typefaces to consider whether there has been a shift in policy regarding their copyrightability.

Twitch, Amazon Slammed by RIAA and Major Industry Groups for Using Unlicensed Music; Twitch Disputes ClaimVariety reports: “Twitch, the rapidly growing livestreaming platform, and its owner Amazon received a blistering letter on Thursday signed by multiple major U.S. music organizations including the RIAA, the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, SAG-AFTRA and more than a dozen others over its licensing situation with many major music rights-holders.”

By , October 23, 2020.

The Digital Piracy Dilemma — Researchers Michael D. Smith and Brett Danaher discuss two recent papers on digital piracy. “Piracy, the papers suggest, can actually boost sales of some digital products by increasing word-of-mouth and overall market awareness. This has led some industry observers to argue that efforts by firms and governments to combat digital piracy may be wasted. We disagree with that assessment.”

Counting Copyright Registrations Before 1870 — IP scholar and copyright historian Zvi Rosen takes a closer look at research on copyright registrations that he has undertaken over the past several years and what it might tell us about creativity in the United States and the effect of changes in copyright law.

MLC Week October 26 – 30: Everything You Need to Know about The MLC — Next week, The Mechanical Licensing Collective is holding a series of virtual events to talk about changes to how digital music services license music and what musicians need to know in order to get the royalties their work generates.

U.S. Copyright Office Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Eighth Triennial Proceeding Under Section 1201 — Every three years, the US Copyright Office recommends temporary exemptions to allow circumvention of technological protection measures for noninfringing uses, which includes things like cellphone unlocking, repair of software-embedded devices, and using movie clips in classrooms. The latest rulemaking round kicked off this month. For more on section 1201 and the rulemaking process in general, see the US Copyright Office’s dedicated section 1201 page.

By , October 09, 2020.

Google’s Supreme Court faceoff with Oracle was a disaster for Google — Writing for Ars Technica, Timothy B. Lee recounts this week’s (virtual) oral arguments in Google v. Oracle, a closely-watched case where heady issues of software copyrightability and fair use are in play. Lee’s takeaway: “The Supreme Court’s eight justices on Wednesday seemed skeptical of Google’s argument that application programming interfaces (APIs) are not protected by copyright law.”

Unpublished Twilight Sequel Sparks Interest in Copyright Deposits — “Recently, Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer talked about her unpublished sequel to the original Twilight story, Forever Dawn. Shortly thereafter, the Library began receiving questions through the Ask a Librarian portal about how to view the unpublished manuscript registered with the Copyright Office (TXu001163060), which is only possible through an on-site visit in Washington, DC. Note: as of the publication date of this blog, the Library buildings are closed to the public due to the coronavirus. So, what does that all mean? What is an unpublished copyright registration deposit, and why is it at the Library of Congress?”

UK’s Pirate Party set to be scuttled after almost a decade at sea — “If the Pirate Party is to sink as a political entity it will do so having fallen well short of the shores of electoral success, and without leaving much of a ripple in the turbulent seas of Westminster. But its demise is a reminder that at some point over the past 10 years a particular era of the internet quietly passed away too. It’s hard to imagine today, but a decade ago the general sentiment regarding the internet was that it was a fundamentally democratising force. From the Arab Spring through to the open-source-software movement, there was an optimism that the self-propagating values of an open society would spread anywhere that information technology would allow them access to.” Postscript: the vote to dissolve was successful.

Publishers Escape Fee Award as GSU E-Reserves Case Finally Ends — Twelve years and three trips to the 11th Circuit later, a final order in Cambridge University Press v. Patton has been entered. Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly writes, “When it was first filed, AAP called the litigation a ‘test case’ designed to ‘inform the application of fair use in the academic setting.’ But after more than a decade of litigation, observers tell PW the case failed to deliver any useful guidance for educators seeking to determine where the fair use line should be drawn. Further, advances in technology and new business products and models have largely mooted the fears that prompted the suit back in 2008.”

The Evolving Music Ecosystem Conference: Day One Recap — IPOsgoode has recapped all three days of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property’s Evolving Music Ecosystem Conference, held last month on September 9-11. A stellar set of panelists discussed a broad set of legal, business, and cultural issues related to supporting thriving music ecosystems. Videos of all the panels are online and embedded in the recaps. See also day two and day three.

By , October 02, 2020.

WWE Headed to Trial for Copying Wrestler’s Tattoos for Video Game — “On Saturday, an Illinois federal judge handed her partial summary judgment by determining that WWE and Take-Two Interactive Software, the publisher of the WWE 2K series of video games, had indeed copied her work. Now the question for a jury is whether that rises to copyright infringement. The judge denies the defendants’ own motion for summary judgment by deciding that certain questions are triable ones. Those include whether Alexander impliedly licensed Orton to disseminate and display the six tattoos she inked for him.”

U.S. Copyright Office Launches Digital Millennium Copyright Act Webpage — “The U.S. Copyright Office today launched a new webpage dedicated to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The new webpage consolidates information and resources about various aspects of the DMCA, including section 512’s safe harbors and notice-and-takedown system, section 1201’s anticircumvention provisions, and section 1202’s copyright management information protections.”

Introducing Soundtrack by Twitch: Rights-Cleared Music For All Twitch Creators — The livestreaming service this week announced the launch of a pre-cleared library of music for its users to incorporate into their own streams without having to worry about copyright issues.

This AI Generates Photos Using Only Text Captions as a Guide — “Researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) have created a machine learning algorithm that can produce images using only text captions as its guide. The results are somewhat terrifying… but if you can look past the nightmare fuel, this creation represents an important step forward in the study of AI and imaging.”