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.”
‘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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.'”
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.
How Colorist Loren White Makes Footage Pop Off the Screen — “A relatively recent entrant in the field of Hollywood jobs, coloring – or ‘color grading’ – is a digital art that involves creating a ‘look’ for a project that remains consistent from start to finish. Achieving that look can entail matching a cloudy sky from one angle to the sunny sky of another, making onscreen objects ‘pop’ such as eyes or clothing, imbuing a period feel, or a combination of all those things.”
RIAA Appeals Dismissal of Major Labels’ Case Against Russian Stream-ripper — “Last week, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a copyright infringement case brought by Universal Music, Sony Music and 10 other labels against the operator of Russian stream-ripper FLVTO.biz, ruling that the court lacked jurisdiction over the foreign site. But the recording industry isn’t done fighting yet.”
Stream-ripping Site Acted Illegally, German Court Rules — Torrentfreak reports, “The Court found that while users had requested the tracks, it was ZeeZee that fetched and reproduced them, later making them available for download. The infringing copies, therefore, had to be attributed to ZeeZee, not the end users of its service, in line with the limits on private copying highlighted in a 2017 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
Copyright Office Modernization Webinar Series Kicks Off — If you register copyrights and are interested in the US Copyright Office’s efforts to modernize its systems, you’ll want to check out the first in a series of webinars that the Office is planning on holding to provide updates on its ongoing efforts. The fun begins next Thursday, January 31, at 12pmET.
Digital Media is a Wasteland — Writer John DeVore pens this series of eminently quotable observations on the last two decades of online media. Example: “Opinion is easy to produce and goes stale quick, like a donut… There is nothing wrong with the opinion business, but I just don’t think its wise for America to transform into an opinion-based economy. Facts are fussy. It takes work to dig them up and crack them open. Skill. Journalism isn’t cheap. But a fact is valuable. For instance: ‘a hurricane is coming’ is an important fact to know. ‘There is tainted lettuce at the grocery store’ is another.”
TVEyes Will No Longer Carry Fox News in Negotiated End to Big Copyright Fight — At one time, there was concern that the news clipping service would prevail on its fair use defense, broadening the doctrine even further beyond its original purpose of complementing the goals of copyright, but last year the Second Circuit decisively concluded the 24/7 copying and commercial redistribution of Fox News’ copyrighted content was not fair use, and after an unsuccessful attempt at Supreme Court review, the two parties have reached a settlement.
Netflix Joins the Motion Picture Association of America — It was announced this week that the streaming service will become a part of the 97-year-old trade association for film studios. As Variety reports here, the service also recently dropped ties with the Internet Association, a trade association “which represents many tech giants like Google, Amazon, Snap and Facebook.”
Effect of a “No-Deal” Brexit on IP in the UK — It has been a whirlwind week in the world of UK politics, but what happens to IP if the country leaves the EU without a deal in place? Terese Saplys, Deborah J. Kirk and Grace Erskine of Latham & Watkins breaks it down.
How is the USPTO Operating During the Federal Government Shutdown? — The agency, which, among other duties, provides copyright policy advice to the Executive Branch, is able to continue to operate during the shutdown using reserves from prior year fee collections, though, as Patentlyo points out here in more detail, those reserves will eventually run out.