MPA Wins Piracy Battle, US Court Orders PrimeWire to Shut Down — Torrentfreak reports, “Several Hollywood studios and Netflix have prevailed in their battle to shut down pirate streaming site PrimeWire. Despite PrimeWire recently removing all links to pirated movies and TV shows and losing more than 60% of its traffic in a month, a US court found the streaming site liable for copyright infringement. PrimeWire’s domains will now be seized.”
Photography Copyright Cases Photographers Should Know — From decisions establishing that photographs are copyrightable to when communicating photos online implicates the exclusive right of public display, the Copyright Alliance reviews the major cases involving photos and copyright law.
Piracy Numbers Drop After Indonesia Blocks Over 3,500 Pirate Sites — Torrentfreak reports, “The Government of Indonesia continues to crack down on piracy. The country’s list of blocked sites and services has grown to more than 3,500 domain names. According to the Coalition Against Piracy, these actions resulted in a 75% decrease in pirate site traffic, while the use of legal alternatives has tripled.”
How to Support Your Local Library — Paul Sweeting writes about the demise in court of a Maryland law effectively creating a compulsory license of ebooks to libraries for digital lending. Taking a look at data regarding library expenditures, he suggests the aim of the bill was misplaced. “Indeed, insofar as public libraries face growing financial challenges, those challenges are not coming from the cost of material in their collections; it is coming from higher operating and administrative costs. . . . If state legislators genuinely want to help public libraries, they would get more bang for the buck by increasing funding for operating and administrative costs, not by trying to rewrite federal copyright law for e-books.”
Goold & Simon on Luck & the Labor Theory of Intellectual Property — Via Lawrence Solum: “A person naturally owns the fruits of their intellectual labour; so goes the labour argument for intellectual property. But what should happen when a creator gets ‘lucky’ – such as the photographer who is in the right place at the right time or the scientist who accidentally discovers a new drug?” The authors of the paper argue that the presence of luck does not undermine the labor theory of IP law.
Brent Lutes Named First Chief Economist of the U.S. Copyright Office — “Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter has announced the appointment of Dr. Brent Lutes as the first Chief Economist of the U.S. Copyright Office, effective April 10, 2022. As Chief Economist, Lutes will evaluate the economic impacts of programs and policies relating to the U.S. and international copyright systems. He will advise the Register and other senior officials on how these impacts affect the Office, copyright stakeholders, and the general public.”
National Association Of Realtors Is Fighting A Copyright Ruling On Floor Plans — Forbes’ Brenda Richardson reports, “The National Association of Realtors is fighting a court ruling that says homeowners who post floor plans of their homes on Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and other websites could be open to copyright lawsuits. . . At the center of the issue is NAR’s claim that the ruling misrepresents federal law and would invalidate decades of legal precedent by allowing copyright infringement lawsuits to be filed against homeowners who make or display floor plans of their own homes.”
How Google and Amazon bankrolled a ‘grassroots’ activist group of small business owners to lobby against Big Tech oversight — Shenanigans! “Montgomery isn’t the only small business owner bewildered to find their names listed as a member of the Connected Commerce Council, which also goes by ‘3C.’ More than 20 other ‘members’ contacted by CNBC said they similarly had never heard of the council and did not know why they were on their membership list. The council, which pitches itself as a grassroots movement representing small business owners, is actually a well-financed advocacy group funded by tech heavy hitters Google and Amazon.”
Choreographer on Charlie Puth video reignites debate about dance copyright on Fortnite — “It’s by no means the first time Epic has faced a legal claim of this kind, with a flurry of lawsuits filed over Fortnite emotes a few years back when the gaming platform first became a global phenomenon. Though many of those legal claims stalled, partly because of complexities around registering the copyright in choreography in the US. However, lawyers working for LA-based choreographer Kyle Hanagami hope this case is stronger.”
New Copyright Challenges in the Publishing Industry — A bit of self-promotion here: this week I joined a panel with representatives from the Authors Guild and News Media Alliance to discuss “hot-button issues affecting the publishing industry today, including digital first sale, controlled digital lending, state compulsory licensing, and ancillary rights.” Video of the one-hour panel is available at the link.
A SMART New Approach to Combatting Piracy — Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid examines new copyright legislation introduced by Senators Tillis and Leahy, which would create a process for the Library of Congress to designate technological measures for identifying or protecting copyrighted works that must be implemented by online service providers.
WIPO’s Pirate Site Blocklist Expands to 4,042 Active Domain Names — Torrentfreak reports, “WIPO, which is part of the United Nations, was founded more than 50 years ago with the aim of protecting intellectual property. This includes combating online piracy, something it hopes to facilitate with its “WIPO Alert” blocklist. The goal of the project is simple; allow stakeholders from member states to report problematic sites and share the resulting list with advertisers, so they can block bad apples. This should result in less money going to pirate sites, making it harder for them to generate profit.”
Social Justice Meets IP at Howard Law Clinics Tackling Diversity — Bloomberg Law visits Howard University School of Law to take a close look at the schools patent and trademark clinics, which “tackle diversity issues in intellectual property in two ways: encouraging more people of color to enter the traditionally white, male intellectual property field and providing legal assistance to people who are underrepresented in inventorship and trademark registration applications.”
State Laws Forcing Publishers to License Ebooks to Libraries Are Unlawful [PDF] — A new white paper from Free State Foundation explains, “As the District Court in AAP v. Frosh recognized, under Section 106 of the Copyright Act, copyright owners possess exclusive rights to decide who can distribute or make available their copyrighted works and on what terms and conditions. State laws that force publishers to license copyrighted works to libraries clearly conflict with federal law.”
Europe Takes Aim at Big Tech With Digital Markets Act — “The new law, set to take effect next year, sets out a list of dos and don’ts that outlaw many of what are currently core business practices among major tech companies. Apple, for example, will have to allow alternatives to its App Store for downloading apps and allow payment methods for the App Store other than Apple’s own. (Apple charges a 30 percent commission on all Apple App Store payments.) Google and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will no longer be able to offer targeted ads across multiple platforms — using data gathered as users move between services owned by the same company, YouTube and Google Search, for example, without receiving explicit consent. Amazon will be barred from using data collected from outside sellers on its services to offer competing products, a practice already the subject of a separate EU antitrust investigation.”
Copyright Office Issues Final Rules for CASE Act Copyright Claims Board Proceedings — The Copyright Office is in the final stages of fleshing out the details of the copyright small claims tribunal that is set to launch this summer. IPWatchdog reports, “the rules establish procedures for designating service agents for receiving notices of initiated proceedings at the CCB, as well as opt-out procedures for libraries, archives and any claimants who are notified of class action litigation filed in U.S. district court covering their own copyright claim.”
Game Developers Go Quiet On NFTs As Trading Volume Plummets — “The backlash has also been accompanied by a wider downturn in the overall NFT market, which you can chalk up to crypto’s recent turmoil in the wake of global instability, or what I would argue is just a general fading away of interest in the concept of NFTs. OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT platform, has seen daily trading volume drop by 80% and the average price of NFTs fall 48% since its peak in November, right before all these game companies launched these project ideas.”
Katy Perry Wins in ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Appeal — The Ninth Circuit lays down a speed bump in front of music infringement cases, affirming a trial court judge’s decision that elements of a song popstar Katy Perry allegedly copied in her hit Dark Horse were not protectable expression under copyright law. In what may become a frequently cited phrase by copyright lawyers, the Circuit called the combination of elements that plaintiffs identified as copied a “manifestly conventional arrangement of musical building blocks” that lacks the requisite originality to be protected by copyright.
Cox Moves to Overturn $1 Billion Music Suit — “A Virginia federal court awarded 53 music publishers, including Sony Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music and others, $1 billion in December 2019, agreeing with claims that despite complaints and warnings from the music publishers, Cox continued to allow its broadband subscribers to illegally download music. All in all the publishers found 10,017 instances of infringement by Cox customers, and a jury assigned a value of $99,830.29 to each one, for a total of $1 billion.”
ResearchGate dealt a blow in copyright lawsuit — “A landmark court case in which two major academic publishers sued the popular website ResearchGate for hosting 50 of their copyrighted papers has come to a close — although both sides say that they will appeal. The court in Munich, Germany, has not only prohibited ResearchGate from hosting the papers, but also ruled that it is responsible for copyright-infringing content uploaded on its platform. The decision has the potential to set a precedent for further restrictions on the site, which has 20 million users worldwide.”
Here’s the difference between Jeff Bezos and me — “Amazon’s retreat from the physical bookstore business underscores what those of us in it know all too well: It isn’t easy. It requires superb customer service, dedicated staff who provide knowledgeable advice about what to read, an inviting environment in which to browse and shop, and literary activities that connect patrons directly to authors through book talks and other programming. Most of all, it demands a deep commitment to the local communities that sustain us.”
Delete Your Account, Internet Archive – No One is Burning Digital Books — Writing at the Centre for Free Expression, John Degen takes aim at a recent op-ed by Internet Archive’s Chris Freeland: “Because a demand for someone else’s property is an unjustifiably selfish act, the champions of ‘gimme’ like to disguise their motivations by styling themselves as freedom fighters. Their rhetoric is silly and disingenuous, self-aggrandizing and laughable. Occasionally though, it wanders into the realm of the truly bizarre and dangerous.”
Two Years After Allen, SCOTUS Poised to Revisit Copyright Infringement by State Entities — At IPWatchdog, Steve Brachmann looks at recent developments regarding copyright and sovereign immunity. The primary focus is on the cert petition in Jim Olive Photography, which the Supreme Court is set to consider March 18. The plaintiff there is asking the Court “to grant the petition, vacate the Texas Supreme Court’s decision and remand the case for further consideration under Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid (2021).”
Kenya is changing its copyright law. Why this is bad for sports — “Piracy has many effects. Firstly, the local licence holder will lose revenue, and therefore motivation to buy a licence next time. If this happens in many countries, the international sports organiser will lose out eventually. In turn, national sports bodies will not get any money from international bodies. In the long run, sports development can be hampered.”
IBPA Position Statement on Maryland eBook Law and Its Impact on Small Publishers and Authors — IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, released a position statement this week supporting the preliminary injunction against Maryland’s recently enacted law mandating ebook licensing to libraries. Says IBPA, “The importance of the issues raised by the Maryland eBook Law cannot be overemphasized. If not successfully challenged in the courts, this law, and laws like it, will directly affect the primarily small and mid-sized publishers in IBPA membership.”
Pro-Codes bill filed to preserve safety code copyright — “NFPA alone develops more than 300 safety standards through an open, consensus-based process, and that’s just our organization. If SDOs were no longer able to carry out our work, there would be a disjointed and expensive patchwork of safety standards in the U.S. and around the world. Standards would probably be updated less frequently, if they were created at all. It’s no exaggeration to say that lives and property would be lost.”
Justices require actual knowledge that application was erroneous to invalidate copyright filing — Writing at ScotusBlog, Ronald Mann takes a look at Thursday’s decision in Unicolors v. H&M, so far the only copyright case taken up by the US Supreme Court this term, and likely Justice Breyer’s last copyright opinion. The result is a good one: copyright owners don’t lose their ability to defend legitimate infringement claims because of inadvertent mistakes made on their registration application.
Appeals Court Revives Copyright Lawsuit Over ‘Servant’ — “The decision in favor of Gregorini is at least the third from the federal appeals court since 2020 reversing a federal judge’s decision to toss a copyright lawsuit. In each of the cases, the 9th Circuit cautioned lower courts against imposing their views on what are supposed to be subjective inquiries requiring further arguments and expert testimony.”
Authors Guild Statement on AAP’s Win in Maryland E-book Licensing Case — “‘Public libraries deserve and require more public funding to meet the growing needs of library patrons, including the ability to purchase an adequate number of e-book licenses,’ [Authors Guild CEO Mary] Rasenberger added. ‘Mandatory e-book licensing laws don’t address this issue, and unfairly target authors and publishers. Moreover, the publishing industry depends on a system of stable, consistent rules, including federal control over copyright law. ‘If we let all 50 states make up their own copyright laws, authors and publishers would need to comply with different requirements in each state.'”
Sorry, Your NFT Is Worthless: The Copyright and Generative Art Problem for NFT Collections — Franklin Graves writes at IPWatchdog, “If software is used to autonomously create 10,000 musical compositions based on a set of four cords, should those compositions be eligible for copyright protection? Does it make a difference if an AI or machine learning model was used? What if the model was trained using the top songs from the Billboard charts to mimic popular music styles?”
Why you can’t rebuild Wikipedia with crypto — An engaging interview with crypto skeptic Molly White. “Towards the end of 2021 I started to see so much web3 hype, everywhere: on social media, in conversations with friends, in technical spaces, in the news. When I went to look up what ‘web3’ even was, I found no end of articles talking about how one company or another was doing something with web3, or how some venture capital firm was setting up a web3 fund, or how all the problems with the current web were going to be solved by web3… but very few that would actually succinctly describe what the term even meant.”
Publishers Win Preliminary Injunction Against Maryland Law that Requires Licensing Digital Works to Libraries â€” “While the State argued that leaving the law in place would serve the public interest by expanding access to e-books, AAP claimed, and the court ultimately agreed, that ‘digital lending in public libraries, including Maryland public libraries, was alive and well before the Maryland Act took effect,’ with a reported 31% increase in customer access to digital materials in FY 2020. AAP also argued that it is only through the protection of copyright that such works can be created and distributed at all, and that the law would undermine the Copyright Actâ€™s incentive in this regard.”
US Govt Identifies Top Pirate Sites and Other â€˜Notorious Marketsâ€™ â€” “The US Government has published its annual list of problematic piracy websites and other ‘notorious markets.’ This year’s overview includes usual suspects such as The Pirate Bay, FMovies, and Rapidgator, but hosting companies and an advertising service are mentioned as well. The USTR hopes that by highlighting the threats, platform operators or foreign authorities will take action.”
Apple defeats copyright lawsuit over racially diverse emoji â€” Reuters’ Blake Brittain reports, “Cub Club said Parrott discussed a potential partnership with Apple representatives in 2014, and that Apple created its own set of multiracial emoji after declining to work with her. It said Apple’s emoji infringed its copyrights and trademark rights, arguing they copied iDiversicons’ five skin tones and other features.”
The Great Gapsby? How modern editions of classics lost the plot â€” “Experts are warning that the freedom for anyone to reproduce or reimagine books once they are out of copyright is corrupting classic texts â€“ all for the sake of making a quick buck. The Great GatsbyÂ of 1925 is the quintessential novel of the hedonistic jazz age, the story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. It entered the public domain on 1 January 2021, after 95 years of copyright protection.”