Fake News: Senate Moves Bill With NO $15,000 Fines For Sharing Memes OnlineLead Stories, a site dedicated to debunking online hoaxes, takes aim at criticism of the CASE Act, which would establish a copyright small claims process in the US Copyright Office. “Did the U.S. Senate move on a bill that provides fines of up to $15,000 against those who share memes online? No, that’s not true: A trending article making that claim distorts what the proposed copyright legislation would provide. If passed into law, it would provide a voluntary alternative to federal lawsuits for settling small copyright claims. It would not specifically relate to memes shared on social platforms and it would require the voluntary participation of both sides, including the person who allegedly violated a copyright. Also, there are no fines, just damages, which the legislation limits to $15,000 for each infringed work.”

Star Trek writer ‘aped’ author’s work, says Dr Seuss estate — The opening brief in Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. ComicMix was filed this week with the Ninth Circuit. The Seuss estate is appealing a lower court decision that held an unauthorized mashup of “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and elements from the Star Trek franchise was permitted under fair use.

Allen v. Cooper brief for petitioners [PDF] — Also this week, petitioners in Allen v. Cooper filed their opening brief in one of two copyright cases currently in front of the Supreme Court. The question presented is “Whether Congress validly abrogated state sovereign immunity via the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, in providing remedies for authors of original expression whose federal copyrights are infringed by States.” Petitioners answer: yes. Did I mention the case involves a shipwreck of one of Blackbeard the Pirate’s ships?

Artists vs. Influencers: Why That Street Art Selfie Could Get You Sued — Ashley Cullins of The Hollywood Reporter discusses what may be the next frontier of copyright lawsuits: “social media stars posing in front of murals without getting permission to use the art.”

No-deal Brexit: ‘Big unanswered questions’ for UK music — “The Intellectual Property Office – the government body responsible for intellectual property rights – last year published guidance on copyright in no-deal situation. A spokeswoman says UK copyright laws do not depend on membership of the EU. However, Moss maintains copyright is a ‘central issue’ and has been a real ‘concern’ for BPI members in discussions with officials.”

An argument for the CASE Act — Indie musician, composer, and cellist Zoë Keating cuts through the unfounded claims against the CASE Act, which would create a copyright small claims court for individuals and small businesses, and shares her experiences with infringement. She writes, “My work is supposedly protected by copyright law but when such an infringement occurs I have little recourse beyond sending a stern letter or attempting to shame them on social media. I would like to explain why, from my perspective, the CASE act sounds like a good idea.”

European Court Rules In Favor Of Kraftwerk In 20 Year-Long Copyright DisputeBillboard reports, “On Monday July 29 the European Court of Justice returned its verdict, ruling that the sampling of a sound recording, even a very short sequence, must be regarded as a reproduction of the original work and therefore require clearance from the rights holders. There are some important and, on the surface, seemingly contradictory exceptions to that ruling though, which could impact on future copyright infringement and sampling cases in Europe. Significantly, the court states that in instances where a producer or artist samples a musical recording ‘in a modified form unrecognizable to the ear’ it does not amount to a reproduction of the original work.” The judgment of the court can be found here.

Artists group urges crackdown on Big Tech — “A trade group representing musicians and other content creators wants Congress to take in their perspectives as it investigates the effects of large tech companies’ market power. The Artist Rights Alliance (ARA) sent a letter on Wednesday to lawmakers leading an antitrust probe into Silicon Valley’s giants, raising concerns about how large internet platforms impact the music business.”

U.S. Publishers Are Still Losing $300 Million Annually To Ebook Piracy — From Forbes: “$300 million in publisher income is lost annually as a result of online piracy, according to data from the Authors Guild presented during Book Expo 2019.”

Third Circuit Reinforces Banana-Costume Injunction — Coming soon to every copyright conference presentation near you, this dispute involving banana costumes. The Third Circuit on Thursday affirmed a preliminary injunction against the alleged infringer, finding the plaintiff’s costume met the threshold for copyright protection and “established a reasonable likelihood that it could prove entitlement to protection for the veritable fruits of its intellectual labor.” The full decision is here [PDF].

It’s Time for Congress to Modernize the United States Copyright Office — Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Tillis writes that his Subcommittee “will convene a hearing later this month to provide oversight and support of the Copyright Office [and] will also announce a bipartisan, bicameral legislative effort to update the Copyright Office.” He further says, “This effort will involve stakeholders from across the copyright community and general public, and it is my hope that our work throughout the fall will produce a bill by the end of this year that provides the Copyright Office with the appropriate structural autonomy and necessary resources it needs to support the America’s creators in the 21st century.”

Do Search Engines Influence Media Piracy? Evidence from a Randomized Field Study [PDF] — “Our data show that reducing the prominence of infringing links in search results causes users who otherwise would have consumed infringing content to switch their consumption to paid legal content, and that these results hold even among users whose initial search queries express an explicit preference for infringing content. This result suggests that even small changes in the cost of discovering pirated content can have a relatively large impact on user behavior.”

Rome Court finds videosharing platform directly liable for content uploaded by users — “A few days ago, the Rome Court of First Instance (Tribunale di Roma) issued what might be one of the first, if not the first decision in Europe, which has found a hosting provider – other than piracy-focused ones like The Pirate Bay – directly liable for content uploaded by users of the platform.”

Major CASE Act Copyright Legislation Passed by Senate Judiciary Committee — “The CASE Act, a major piece of legislation that would introduce a small claims court for copyright infringement cases, has officially been passed by Senate Judiciary Committee, clearing the way for a full vote on the Senate floor.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes CASE Act Legislation Streamlining Copyright Disputes — A big step forward for the bill, though it still has a long way to go. Based on recommendations made by the US Copyright Office in 2013, the bill would create a voluntary, inexpensive alternative venue to federal court for small copyright claims, giving individual creators and artists much needed relief.

Teaching Songwriting to World Dignitaries at the United States Patent and Trademark Office — Songwriter and Arts Envoy Amanda Colleen Williams shares her experience: “This week I had the privilege of leading a workshop for the assembled world copyright dignitaries at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) / GIPA Copyright Seminar 2019.”

Disney Beats Antitrust Claim, But Must Face False Advertising Over Movie Download Codes — Redbox’s kitchen sink defense largely fails. Disney’s lawsuit against the movie rental company, which is aimed at Redbox’s practice of reselling separately the digital download codes that come with DVDs and Blu-Rays, will move forward.

Plagiarism in Pop Culture — Jonathan Bailey explores some of the interesting moral questions involving the events in the recently released film Yesterday. In that film, a struggling songwriter wakes up after an accident to find himself in a world where the Beatles never existed, and thus he is the only one to remember their music. He takes the opportunity to start performing the songs as his own, which launches him into fame and fortune (but at what cost?).

In memoriam:

Sound policy, as well as history, supports our consistent deference to Congress when major technological innovations alter the market for copyrighted materials. Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology.

——Justice John Paul Stevens, who passed away Tuesday, writing in the seminal copyright decision Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 US 417, 431 (1984).

Why do copyright laws matter? — House IP Subcommittee Ranking Member Martha Roby writes, “Many, many more people and entities besides just big-name celebrities are involved in creating music, television shows and movies. In fact, these creative industries support thousands of indirect jobs that most of us probably wouldn’t even think of. Consider a movie set, for example. From a personnel standpoint, all types of professionals are necessary to make a movie happen, from camera crews and lighting specialists to script writers, makeup and hair artists, florists, caterers, seamstresses and the men and women who perform manual labor to build and take down sets.”

Why the U.S. Copyright Office Chose the Mechanical Licensing Collective — On Monday, the Copyright Office published its decision selecting an entity to administer the blanket licensing of mechanical licenses by digital music services, a process created by the Music Modernization Act. Billboard explores that decision.

More information and better tools to resolve manual Content ID claims — YouTube announced this week that it has rolled out two major changes to improve its copyright claims made by its manual claiming tool, which allows select copyright owners to manually make claims on viceos that were not automatically made by its Content ID matching system. First, copyright owners must now provide timestamps for exactly what part of the video is being manually claimed, and second, claim recipients can use YouTube’s editing tubes to remove the content claimed manually in their videos and automatically release the claims.

Magazine Says Its Stolen Cover Photo Was a Stock Photo… of the Photo — “Renowned photographer Nadav Kander was recently surprised to find one of his portraits used without permission on the cover of a magazine. When confronted with this, the magazine’s explanation was that the image was purchased as a stock photo — a stock photo of the copyrighted photo in an exhibition.”

House Judiciary Hearing on Copyright Office Reviews Music Modernization Act, Black Box Royalty Concerns — On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on oversight of the Copyright Office, the first such hearing since 2015, and the first to feature Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple, who was named permanent Register this past March. The hearing touched on a laundry list of current copyright policy issues, including the MMA, satellite television compulsory licenses, copyright small claims, Section 512 safe harbors, and modernization of the Copyright Office itself.

Supreme Court to Rule on Copyright Protection of State Annotated Legal Codes — “On June 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether states can claim copyright protection in annotated codes. State of Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., No. 18-1150. Annotated codes, in addition to the text of the statute, include summaries of judicial opinions, regulations, and attorney general opinions related to the statute. Georgia, like many states, offers a free version of the statute but charges a fee for the annotated version.”

Brief of the Software & Information Industry Association as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners — “Going forward, the people of Georgia will thus be left without the benefit provided by the current arrangement between Lexis and the State: access to high-quality, reliable exposition of Georgia law at a reasonable price. See Pet. App. 7a (noting that the price of the complete set of the print OCGA is capped at $404, while a competing unofficial annotation of the Georgia Code costs $2,570—more than six times as much). If ‘a full understanding of the laws of Georgia necessarily includes an understanding of the contents of the annotations’, invalidating copyrights is hardly the solution, since to do so removes the incentive to produce those annotations in the first place.”

Brief for Matthew Bender & Co., Inc. as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioners — “In that world, States and U.S. Territories and their citizens either will move to the Colorado-style model and have to absorb significant employee and publishing costs to create annotations themselves; pay a publisher market rates to create annotations, which would be significant; or hope that independent publishers will choose to create their annotations, such as West does now, but which cost users ten times the cost currently charged by LexisNexis under its contractually capped Contract. The States and their citizens who have relied on the Georgia-style structure will now face higher taxes and costs, and the significant loss of their copyrights and meaningful access to their laws and the robust legal resources. In short, they would suffer precisely the types of harms resulting from the destruction of economic incentives that the copyright laws are designed to avoid.”

Gigi Hadid: I Can Use a Photographer’s Photo Because I Smiled — Michael Zhang of PetaPixel reports, “The 24-year-old model had posted a copyrighted photo of her on a New York City street to her Instagram account @gigihadid, which currently boasts over 48 million followers. The post led to a copyright infringement lawsuit by Xclusive-Lee, Inc., which owns the copyright. Hadid then filed a motion asking the court to toss the suit. Hadid’s argument is that she didn’t violate the photographer’s copyright ‘because [she] posed for the camera and thus herself contributed many of the elements that the copyright law seeks to protect.'”

Texas court says photographer has no recourse against university copyright infringement — “In a closely watched case in creative and publishing circles, Olive, who has made a career out of getting difficult and dangerous aerial shots from open helicopters, sued the University of Houston two years ago with a novel argument that using one of his photographs without compensation or permission was an unlawful ‘taking’ under the Texas Constitution, which prohibits government agencies from taking private property without adequate compensation. Olive tried the approach after the University of Houston rejected his claim that the public university should pay for a photo it used without permission in web and print publications, contending the university has sovereign immunity, a well-established legal principle that protects a state from getting sued.”

Impacts of Digital Piracy on the U.S. Economy — A report released this week from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center estimates that digital piracy costs the US economy at least $29.2 billion a year.

Hollywood Studios Awarded $62M in VidAngel Fight — The streaming service had argued that its unlicensed streaming service was permitted under a combination of copyright exceptions, but the court had earlier rejected those arguments. This week, a jury awarded damages for the infringement of over 800 films, and had found that infringement willful, meaning VidAngel will be unable to discharge the judgment in bankruptcy proceedings.

Italian court confirms that unauthorized use of Audrey Hepburn’s likeness infringes (post mortem) image rights — Eleonara Rosati reports, “Italian image rights protection is notoriously quite strong and is also available post mortem. In the latter case, consent to the use of one’s own likeness must be obtained, in the first place, from the person’s spouse and children.”

Stream ripping site Convert2MP3 shuts down following global settlement with recording industry — “Convert2MP3, one of the world’s most-used stream ripping sites, has ceased to operate globally, following action coordinated by IFPI and BVMI on behalf of their member record companies. The Germany-based site, which had 684 million visits from around the world over the past 12 months, has agreed to shut down, surrender its domains and not infringe the rights of record companies in the future.”

Supreme Court Agrees to Review Filmmaker’s Copyright Lawsuit Against North Carolina — The Supreme Court this week announced that it will be adding the word “abrogate” to copyright lawyers’ everyday vocabulary. The grant of cert in Allen v. Cooper adds a copyright case to the Court’s docket after several months without one, and it will give the chance for the Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, which was enacted in 1990 but long considered dead letter.

US Dept. of Justice Reviewing ASCAP & BMI Consent Decrees — Also this week, the DOJ announced it will be reviewing the antitrust consent decrees that govern the Performing Rights Organizations ASCAP & BMI. As Billboard reports, the announcement was welcomed by ASCAP and BMI, along with the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Academy, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International, but drew concerns from the MIC Coalition and National Association of Broadcasters. The DOJ is taking public comments through July 10.

AAP Honors Jerry Nadler as House Judiciary Launches Tech Antitrust Probe — Rep. Nadler also said at the Association of American Publishers’ annual meeting Monday, “An effective copyright system enables a broad range of independent and diverse voices to emerge, secure in the knowledge that they will be rewarded for their efforts.”

Movie Studios Aim for Tens of Millions of Dollars at VidAngel Copyright Trial — Having previously found the service liable for copyright infringement, despite its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink defense, a jury will determine damages for VidAngel next week, including the question of whether the infringement was willful, which increases the maximum amount of damages that can be awarded and makes the judgment nondischargeable in bankruptcy.

Consolation Prize: Barcroft Media and the Case for a Copyright Small Claims Court — “Because the costs of bringing an infringement claim very often far exceed the likely damage award, such threats are frequently ignored. Sending a cease and desist letter can be effective in getting an infringer to stop the infringing use (by taking down a photo from a website, for example), but it is next to impossible to get an uncooperative infringer to voluntarily agree to compensate the copyright owner for that infringing use, much less reimburse the costs of enforcing the copyright owner’s rights. … One possible solution is to establish a “small claims” court to adjudicate low-value, uncomplicated copyright infringement claims in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. A copyright small claims court would help to level the playing field and correct the imbalance in negotiating power between copyright owners and users, making fair settlements more likely.”

Why Do Employers Lowball Creatives? A New Study Has Answers — Interesting research that could shed light on related discussions in the copyright realm regarding skepticism toward copyright’s incentives.

Time Inc. Settles with Photographer in Case of Tweeted Tom Brady Pic — And so the “server test” is put to (em)bed before the Second Circuit had the opportunity to be the first appellate court outside the Ninth to consider it.

‘Sample Clearance Queen’ Deborah Mannis-Gardner on Keeping Prices Low, Deals Fair — A thorough profile of Mannis-Gardner, who has been clearing samples since the early 90s. “‘For me, it’s all about the fairest deal, not the lowest, so everyone is taken care of,'” says Mannis-Gardner, who won a Guild of Music Supervisors Award in 2018 for her work on Grammy-winning HBO documentary The Defiant Ones.”

Google and Oracle’s $9 Billion ‘Copyright Case of the Decade’ Could be Headed for the Supreme Court — “Oracle claims that, if not for Android, Oracle’s own Java software could have become a major smartphone platform. (Although Java was written by Sun Microsystems, Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, shortly before bringing this suit.) Oracle’s lawyers mock the notion that the rulings in its favor will spawn any dire consequences. Despite Google’s ‘sky-is-falling’ arguments, they write, the software industry did not crash in the wake of May 2014 or March 2018, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued the two key rulings that Google seeks to reverse.”

Relist WatchSCOTUSblog notes of yesterday’s conference, “Now we really have to speed up, because we have six new relists this week. Allen v. Cooper, 18-877, involves whether Congress has the constitutional authority to abrogate state sovereign immunity for copyright infringement. That issue comes up more often than you’d think.” Orders from the conference will be published this Monday morning.

Why Creators Like Me are Lining up in Support of the CASE Act — Photographer Jenna Close writes, “For more than a decade, I have been making my living as a commercial photographer and filmmaker. During that time I have witnessed my works infringed online—an exceedingly easy thing to do in the digital age—but also in print… But the extraordinary costs of pursuing a copyright infringement suit in federal court prohibit me from seeking recourse this way without taking on the additional risk of bankruptcy.”

Fifty-Five Years of Software Copyright — Zvi Rosen marks the anniversary of the first time the US Copyright Office began to accept copyright registrations for software programs.

Amazing! Canada just came up with a brilliant new digital copyright regime — finally — Re: last week’s Shifting Paradigms report from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which makes a set of recommendations for revising the Canadian Copyright Act, “Finally the voices of Canadian artists and producers are being heard over the sterile and impractical theorizing of the copyright ‘elite’ and the loud voices of big tech, such as Google, which makes so much money from under-rewarding artists.”

Illicit streaming devices are more popular than ever, and hackers are taking note — “Malware-laden apps on Kodi boxes allow hackers to infiltrate home networks, gaining access to computers, tablets, phones, smart TVs, thermostats, security systems, smart appliances — anything connected to the network. Even worse, these devices often download malware to other devices in a user’s network, meaning that hackers may be able to infiltrate adjacent systems long after the illicit device is removed from the network.”

The Chinese Instagram Village — “Here, so-called adult amusement parks promise, in exchange for a small admission fee, the opportunity to create the perfect selfie. Standing on top of a derelict bus with a mountain range in the background? No problem! Posing with an alpaca in a rented white dress? Done.”