By , September 03, 2021.

Instagram Might Not Care About Copyright Law and It Could Land Them in Trouble — Andy Day, writing for FStoppers, chronicles the frustrating efforts to deal with infringement on the social media site by photographer Martin McNeil. “McNeil wants to see the asymmetry of power brought about by the DMCA rebalanced. Artists create the content that makes these platforms money, and yet, the resources to ensure control of their work are massively outweighed by those available to the digital platforms seeking to exploit it.”

EFF Dealt Another Blow in Attempt to Strike Down Section 1201 of the Copyright Act — Devlin Hartline discusses the recent DC District Court decision denying a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions. Says Hartline, “Congress was prescient in granting copyright owners rights over the digital locks that they use to secure their copyrighted works on the internet. The scale of online piracy has proven to be enormous, and copyright owners need every tool Congress can give them to nip piracy in the bud.”

Broadcasters Score Big Legal Win Against Locast, a Popular App Streaming Network TV — “In an order favoring the broadcasters, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton writes that under the law, fundraising can only be used to defray costs of operating the service, not of expanding it into new markets. ‘Since portions of its user payments fund Locast’s expansion, its charges exceed those ‘necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service,’ which is the only exemption granted in Section 111 (a) (5).'” Locast has since announced it is shutting down.

State Sovereign Immunity Study — The U.S. Copyright Office this week published its study on copyright infringement by states and state entities. The study was requested by Congress in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2020 Allen v. Cooper decision, which struck down a law allowing copyright owners to sue states for infringement. The study found that while “state infringement represents a legitimate concern for copyright owners,” the Office could not say with certainty that the “record would be found sufficient to meet the constitutional test for abrogation.” Nevertheless, the Office concluded that the issue is worthy of Congressional attention, and it would support alternatives to abrogation legislation.

Exclusive: Amazon to remove more content that violates rules from cloud service, sources say — “It could turn Amazon, the leading cloud service provider worldwide with 40% market share according to research firm Gartner, into one of the world’s most powerful arbiters of content allowed on the internet, experts say.”

By , August 27, 2021.

Ruling Warhol Art Infringed Prince Pic Stands, 2nd Cir. Says — The court was asked to revisit the decision denying fair use to the Andy Warhol Foundation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Google v. Oracle decision. It held that application of Google leads to the same conclusion.

Ninth Circuit sides with Sirius XM in dispute over pre-1972 music royalties — “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found Monday that satellite radio station Sirius XM does not have to pay royalties to the band The Turtles for playing their pre-1972 recordings. Unlike typical AM and FM radio stations, digital and satellite radio must pay royalties if they broadcast a song from after 1972 on their airwaves. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, the founding members of The Turtles, started Flo & Eddie to have control over their recordings and first sued Sirius XM Radio in 2013. They argued that their ‘exclusive ownership’ under California copyright law entitles them to royalties when their pre-1972 songs are played on-air. A federal judge in California agreed.”

The Federal Circuit Must Correct Texas Court’s Misapplication of Copyright Law in SAS Institute Appeal — Steven Tepp writes, “WPL did not try to compete with SAS by building a different or better product. Instead, it ordered copies of SAS’s products under the guise of an educational license, but with the true intent to reverse-engineer and copy key elements, including the selection and arrangement of its outputs, and even the manuals licensed users receive from SAS. The result is that WPL produced a clone, taking the exact same input and producing the exact same output that SAS does. Avoiding the years of investment and fine-tuning that SAS undertook to create its market-leading software, WPL undercut SAS’s price in the market and lured away SAS’s customers.”

NC Court Grants Motion in Allen v. Cooper to Reconsider Takings Claim — David Newhoff writes a briskly paced recap of state sovereign immunity and the latest development involving the district court in Allen v. Cooper reviving two of the plaintiff videographer’s claims against the state of North Carolina following remand from the Supreme Court, which held his copyright infringement claim barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

CJEU in C-597/19 Mircom: users of P2P networks might be infringing the making available right if duly informed — “After the C-610/15 Ziggo ruling on the operation of an online sharing platform indexing torrent files, it was only a matter of time until the CJEU had to rule on whether users of P2P networks make works available to the public, even if they do not possess a complete file. In the line of previous development, the judgment allows a finding of infringement of copyright where users of P2P networks automatically upload pieces of files containing a protected work. However, it must be established that that user actively chose to use sharing software by giving consent after being duly informed of its characteristics, so they ought to be informed in some way about the automatic upload of already downloaded pieces.”

By , August 20, 2021.

Filmmaker Overcomes Supreme Court Setback to Pursue North Carolina for Stealing Footage — Eriq Gardner has the full story about the somewhat remarkable development in Allen v. Cooper, which involves a long running dispute between videographer Frederick Allen and the state of North Carolina over video and images of the shipwreck of one of Blackbeard’s pirate ships. After last year’s Supreme Court decision holding that Congress could not prophylactically abrogate state sovereign immunity using the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act, the district court has granted a motion for reconsideration, allowing Allen to revive his claims against the state on alternative grounds.

Embed Copyright Cases Could Multiply as Server Test Faces Siege — Bloomberg Law’s Kyle Jahner discusses the growing split in courts regarding the “server test”, a 9th Circuit doctrine that limits implication of the public display right online to circumstances where a copy of the work resides on the defendant’s own server. As Jahner notes, an increasing number of courts outside the 9th Circuit have rejected the server test as inconsistent with the Copyright Act.

Pirated-Entertainment Sites Are Making Billions From Ads — “Websites and apps featuring pirated movies and TV shows make about $1.3 billion from advertising each year, including from major companies like Amazon.com Inc., according to a study. The piracy operations are also a key source of malware, and some ads placed on the sites contain links that hackers use to steal personal information or conduct ransomware attacks, according to the online safety nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance and the anti-piracy firm White Bullet Solutions Ltd. While law enforcement officials have sought to stop some of the online criminality, the groups identified at least 84,000 illicit entertainment sites.”

8th Circuit revives copyright dispute over house floor plans — Blake Brittain writes, “The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday reinstated copyright claims brought by home designer Charles James against real estate companies that allegedly made floor plans based on one of his designs without permission. A copyright law that protects pictures or ‘pictorial representations’ of architectural works from infringement claims doesn’t apply to floor plans, U.S. Circuit Judge Morris Arnold said.”

Apple Files Appeal After Partly Settling Corellium Copyright Dispute — “A string of docket entries filed this week reveal that Apple Inc. and defendant Corellium LLC have partly ended their dispute over whether Corellium illegally copied Apple’s technology by creating a ‘virtual’ version of Apple devices and unlawfully trafficking a product used to circumvent security measures. Though the parties reached a settlement concerning Apple’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim and Corellium’s counterclaims, the terms of which were not made public, Apple has appealed three copyright infringement claims as to injunctive relief only.”

By , August 13, 2021.

Is an MLB Mascot About to Change Hollywood’s Future? — “Many years later, after the Phanatic became very popular, both sides would dispute the amount of creative direction that the team had given Erickson, but what became important was how Harrison/Erickson obtained a registration from the Copyright Office by calling the Phanatic costume an ‘artistic sculpture.’ Then, attempting to leverage the termination provisions of the Copyright Act, which allows authors to reclaim newer works after 35 years, Harrison/Erickson attempted to grab back rights. In a suit, the team raised all sorts of theories why copyright termination was invalid, and before the termination became effective, the Phillies made some alterations to the Phanatic to the confusion and ire of its fan base.”

Unicolors Case Presents the Supreme Court With an Opportunity to Reinforce the Foundations of the Copyright Registration System — “Months into the litigation, after you’ve spent a considerable amount on legal fees and a tremendous amount of time preparing for litigation—time you could have spent creating new works and taking care of other business responsibilities—the infringer challenges the validity of your registration based on an error that appears in the registration. The error was an honest mistake on your part as to the legal interpretation of the date of publication. Even though the defendant clearly infringed your work, they found a loophole and they were able to invalidate your registration on a technicality. The scenario may sound far-fetched and unfair, but it’s what the Supreme Court could open the door to if it rules in favor of a similarly opportunistic defendant in Unicolors v. H&M.”

Apple Drops iPhone Copyright Lawsuit Against Cyber Startup Corellium — “Back in August 2019, Apple accused Corellium of both violating its copyright and breaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by creating ‘virtualized’ versions of the iPhone. Corellium had caused a stir in the security community in 2018 when Forbes revealed its plans to allow researchers to spin up iPhones on their laptops to start probing iOS for security weaknesses or usability flaws.”

‘WHYYYYYY?’: Police Upset Idiot Colleague Played Taylor Swift to Trigger YouTube Filter — “In at least four instances, this move has backfired by drawing massive attention to the offending cop, leading all of us to wonder what the hell they were thinking. Now, we know that the officers’ colleagues are thinking the same. New emails and documents obtained by Motherboard through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Shelby’s superiors and colleagues in the Alameda County Police Department were pissed and embarrassed by his attempt at censoring the public—and it was such a debacle, they revised rules for officers about they can use cell phones on duty. “

By , August 06, 2021.

Manhattan judge rejects ‘server test’ for internet copyright infringement — “In Friday’s opinion, Rakoff said the server rule is ‘contrary to the text and legislative history of the Copyright Act,’ which ‘defines “to display” as “to show a copy of” a work, not “to make and then show a copy of the copyrighted work.”‘ Rakoff said that under the test, ‘a photographer who promotes his work on Instagram or a filmmaker who posts her short film on YouTube surrenders control over how, when, and by whom their work is subsequently shown — reducing the display right, effectively, to the limited right of first publication that the [Act] rejects.'” Read the opinion here.

YouTube Rippers Shut Down in US & UK After Giving Up Legal Fight — “YouTube rippers FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com have closed their doors to visitors from the US and UK. The services are ‘permanently unavailable’ according to a message posted on the sites. This drastic decision follows shortly after their operator backed out of the legal battle against several record labels, which now hope to get a default judgment in US court.”

[Podcast] Formalities in U.S. Copyright with Steven Tepp — A delighfully wonky look at copyright formalities—notice, registration, and deposit—with copyright expert Tepp. The only downside with this podcast is that it was recorded just days before the D.C. District Court issued a decision in Valancourt Books v. Perlmutter, rejecting a Constitutional challenge to the Copyright Act’s mandatory deposit requirement, so we missed out on a discussion of that case.

In Copyright Case, Judge Evaluates Use of 9/11 Footage in 16 Films — Eriq Gardner breaks down a hefty Southern District of New York decision concerning the fair use of copyrighted clips by multiple film producers. Gardner notes, “What makes this 88-page summary judgment opinion especially fascinating is how the judge, when evaluating both famous films and obscure ones, comes to differing conclusions.”

British authors warn of a potential devastating impact on the publishing sector if the UK changes its exhaustion regime — Emmanuel Legrand reports, “The letter was signed by such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro, Carol Ann Duffy, Hilary Mantel, Sara Sheridan, and Philip Pullman, among others. The letter reads: ‘UK currently has strong copyright laws which enable creators to be fairly compensated for their work and the UK to export more books than any other country in the world. Weakening the UK’s copyright laws would impair our ability to earn an income which would have a devastating impact on this country’s vibrant, world-renowned book industry. If writing becomes a profession only accessible to the wealthy, important stories will not be told.'”

By , July 30, 2021.

The National Library loses the plot, again — “What’s in the water at the National Library? Is it methylated spirits, or lysergic acid, or somesuch other derangement of the senses? After 12 months of rotten publicity and bitter backlash over its decision to try and dump over 600,000 New Zealand books at garage sales, the Library is embroiled in a new row which has authors and publishers in various states of shock, disbelief and anger.”

Cultural Misappropriation and Copyright Take Center Stage in #BlackTikTokStrike — Terrica Carrington writes, “It’s a tale we’ve heard a million times: white creators with large followings perform and ‘popularize’ (read: whitewash) the work of Black creators, and in turn reap all of the benefits. And while credit and attribution are important, copyright law empowers many of these creators to demand more in exchange for their work. In fact, it’s time that Black creators demand more, and that is what the #BlackTikTokStrike is all about—Black creators recognizing the value of their work and refusing to be exploited.”

BREIN Pulled 466 Pirate Sites and Services Offline Last YearTorrentFreak reports, “Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is one of the most active civil copyright enforcement groups in the world. This week the group announced its 2020 achievements, which include the shutdown of hundreds of pirate sites and services, dozens of settlements, and a local Pirate Bay blockade.”

Commission starts legal action against 23 EU countries over copyright rules — From Reuters: “France, Spain, Italy and 20 other EU countries may be taken to court for their tardiness in enacting landmark EU copyright rules into national law, the European Commission said on Monday as it asked the group to explain the delays.”

Golden Globe statuette 2018 denied copyright protection in the US — Finally this week, the IPKat’s Riana Harvey discusses a recent decision by the US Copyright Office to deny copyright registration for an updated version of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s famous film award statuette. One technical point regarding the headline: the Office’s decision denies copyright registration not copyright protection—the HFPA could still bring an infringement suit and ask the court to come to a different decision than the Office on the issue of copyright protection.

By , July 23, 2021.

Copyright Office Announces Appointments of Copyright Claims Board Officers — Click to see which three individuals were named to preside over copyright small claims disputes in the new tribunal.

Podcast – IP & Social Justice with Professor Lateef Mtima — Illusion of More’s David Newhoff speaks with Howard University Law professor and director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice Lateef Mtima on the intersections between IP and social justice.

#BlackTikTokStrike: How TikTok Dance Creators Can Begin to Protect Their Choreographic Works — CDAS attorney Kamilah Moore talks about how black creators and other creators of color can protect their choreographic works, protect their rights, and monetize their creativity in a TikTok world.

Biden to appoint Big Tech critic to DOJ antitrust role — The nomination is for one of the last remaining open slots among government positions leading in antitrust enforcement efforts, and the choice signals that the Administration will be vigorous in enforcing antitrust laws against Big Tech.

UEFA Wins Two-Year Extension to Streaming Piracy Blocking Order — “UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe, has obtained an extension to a High Court injunction that requires major ISPs to block consumer access to pirated streams in Ireland. The plan is to continue blocking measures so that pirating customers of Eir, Sky, Virgin Media, and Vodafone can less easily watch UEFA Champions League and Europa Conference League matches.”

By , July 16, 2021.

France fines Google $593 million for news copyright violations — “French competition regulators said Tuesday they are fining Google 500 million euros, or roughly $593 million, for failing to comply with copyright rules around negotiating payment terms for news publishers. . . . It’s the latest in a string of competition penalties and investigations Google has faced abroad and at home, several of which concern the way Google compensates news publishers for distributing their work.”

Advocat General dismisses Poland’s challenge to Copyright Directive — “Article 17 of the Copyright directive introduces the principle content sharing service providers might be liable if users upload content that breaches copyrights. Providers can be exempted from this liability if they take measures to prevent illegal uploads, which most commonly takes the form of automatic content recognition tools. Poland challenged the provisions before the Court of Justice, contending that Article 17 should be annulled because it violates freedom of expression.”

Copyright Office’s Busy Summer Includes a Full Slate of Studies and Rulemakings — The Copyright Alliance reviews the full slate of studies and rulemakings that the US Copyright Office is engaged in this summer, addressing everything from implementation of the new copyright small claims tribunal to state sovereign immunity and state compulsory e-book licensing bills.

US Copyright Office report: The MLC should hold unclaimed mechanical royalties for longer than the statutory minimum periods — “The US Copyright Office has issued a series of recommendations regarding the way the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), created by the 2018 Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernisation Act (MMA) to license and administer mechanical royalties for the digital use of music in the United States, should deal with unclaimed royalties, in particular that they ‘should be held for longer than the statutory minimum periods where appropriate.'” 

Spotify Blocks Users For “Improperly Downloading” Tracks With Third-Party Software — “Spotify has reportedly blocked the accounts of several customers after they ‘improperly’ downloaded tracks from the service using a third-party software tool. Audials Music exploits Spotify to stream music to users at breakneck speed while recording tracks locally as MP3 files. This was noticed at Spotify and has resulted in users being suspended from the service for abuse.”

By , July 09, 2021.

Copyright Office Releases Report on Best Practice Recommendations for the Mechanical Licensing Collective — The report outlines how the newly established Mechanical Licensing Collective can ensure songwriters are getting the royalties they’ve earned under the new blanket license for digital streaming, focusing on on how the MLC can identify and locate songwriters of unclaimed accrued royalties, encourage songwriters to claim their royalties, and reduce the incidence of unclaimed royalties.

A Years-Long Intellectual Property Battle Over a Painting of David Bowie Has Been Dismissed by a Berlin Court — “The court found that Moebius’s work differed from Evans’s in both form and message. ‘It radiates softness and tranquility, which is primarily caused by the altered eye area,’ the court said of Moebius’s image. ‘The drawing shows a world-famous artist performing an everyday, yet absurd gesture with great seriousness.’ By contrast, Evans’s photograph is defined by the strong contrast in its lighting and the vertical line formed by finger and nose. In it, Bowie ‘commands the viewer to remain calm,’ the court said.”

5th Circuit set to referee ‘egregious’ 12th Man copyright case — “Bynum sent the chapter to the Texas A&M Athletic Department’s media-relations team in 2010 to inquire about obtaining photographs to accompany it. The chapter listed Bynum as the book editor and copyright owner, and listed the commissioned writer as Whit Canning, a well-known Texas sportswriter. In 2014, media rep Brad Marquardt found the yellowed pages of Bynum’s 2010 manuscript, had his secretary ‘key them in,’ and posted it online as a special report that Canning had prepared for Texas A&M. . . . During the three days the story remained online, the department promoted it to ‘hundreds of thousands’ of social media followers and subscribers to its ‘TAMU Times’ e-newsletter – destroying the market for his book among its ‘core audience,’ Bynum alleged.”

RIAA and Rightscorp Defeat RCN’s Claims of “Fraudulent” Piracy Notices — “The RIAA and its anti-piracy partner Rightscorp have won a legal battle over allegedly ‘fraudulent’ piracy notices. A New Jersey federal court dismissed the complaint of Internet provider RCN, which failed to show that it was financially hurt as a direct result of any incorrect notices sent. The case is not completely over yet, however.”

French anti-trust decision on Google’s copyright talks with publishers due in coming days — “Antitrust investigators have accused Alphabet’s Google of failing to comply with the state competition authority’s orders on how to conduct negotiations with news publishers over copyright, sources who read the investigators’ report have said. Several publishers complained the talks weren’t made in ‘good faith’ and that Google didn’t provide access to some of its traffic data to determine a remuneration for news content online. Google has repeatedly said it held talks in good faith.”

By , June 25, 2021.

Congressmen Introduce American Music Fairness Act to Compel Radio to Pay Royalties on Recorded Music — “The United States is the only major country in the world where terrestrial radio pays no royalties to performers or recorded-music copyright owners of the songs they play, a situation that is largely due to the powerful radio lobby’s influence in Congress. While the more than 8,300 AM and FM stations across the country pay royalties to songwriters, they have never paid performers or copyright holders, although streaming services do. On Thursday, Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the bipartisan American Music Fairness Act, which aims to rectify that situation.”

CJEU rules on platform liability under copyright law, safe harbours, and injunctions — “The early reactions I have seen, likely supported by the rather misleading title of the press release, have been in the sense that the CJEU has ruled that platforms like YouTube and Uploaded do not communicate to the public under Article 3. In turn, this would mean that Article 17 of the DSM Directive is a novel regime that does not at all ‘clarify’ the law (recital 64 of the DSM Directive), but rather changes it. This interpretation is, in my view, incorrect.”

“Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!” dispute won’t go to SCOTUS, justices say — “The high court won’t review the 9th Circuit’s December decision written by U.S. Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown that author David Jerrold and ComicMix LLC’s mashup of ‘Star Trek’ elements with Dr. Seuss’s ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ didn’t make fair use of Seuss’s work largely because it wasn’t transformative.”

Library of Congress Announces Copyright Public Modernization Committee — “. . . the CPMC is being established by the Library to expand and enhance communication with external stakeholders on IT modernization of Copyright Office systems. Committee members were selected from a pool of applicants for their ability to represent a broad cross section of the copyright community and other interested groups. CPMC members will provide valuable input into the development of the new Enterprise Copyright System (ECS), which includes the Office’s registration, recordation, public records, and licensing IT applications, and will be encouraged to help spread awareness of the Library’s development efforts more broadly.”

Library of Congress to Celebrate the Return of Visitors to the Thomas Jefferson Building in July — “A limited number of free timed entry passes will be available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with last entry at 3 p.m. For information on reserving tickets, visit loc.gov/visit – visitors can review ‘Know Before You Go’ guidelines and reserve their free passes. Each visitor must have a printed paper pass or a digital copy of the pass available on a mobile device for entry. All visitors, regardless of age, must have a timed pass for entry, and each visitor will be able to reserve up to (6) passes. Passes will be released on a rolling, 30-day basis, so for visitors planning to visit within the next month, please visit the reservation site for availability.”