Tag Archives: Copyright Infringement

Are You Sure This Isn’t About Copyright? Chicken Sandwiches, Monkey Selfies and the Boundaries of Copyright Law

CaptureLast week, a wild crested macaque named Naruto (but really People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against photographer David John Slater in the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that Slater infringed Naruto’s copyright in the famous “monkey selfies” (taken by Naruto with Slater’s camera). The complaint requests that the Court order Slater to disgorge any profits he has realized from the distribution of the images and establish a trust,… More

When Can You Be Sued For Introducing Copyrighted Works At Trial? Almost Never, But Plaintiffs Keep Trying

Professor Nimmer once identified the “weakest infringement claims of all time” as  those involving attempts by copyright holders to prevent their copyrighted work from being used as evidence against them in court. “It seems inconceivable,” Professor Nimmer wrote, “that any court would hold such reproduction to constitute infringement either by the government or by the individual parties responsible for offering the work in evidence.” But this scholarly warning has not prevented many plaintiffs from trying —… More

Innocent Infringement: Intent and Copyright Law

SOL PictureOne of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of copyright law is the significance of intent. The elements of direct copyright infringement are (1) the plaintiff’s ownership of a valid copyright in a work and (2) the defendant’s copying of protectable expression from that work.  The defendant’s intent is not part of this analysis. One hears the term “innocent infringer” thrown around, but this moniker is of far less value than is often imagined.… More

“Ghostman” Copyright Claim Dismissed For Failure to Allege Copying and Substantial Similarity

Ghostman 2Ghostman

In Kenney v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., No. 13-11068, 2013 WL 6212593 (D. Mass. Nov. 29, 2013), Judge Richard G. Stearns dismissed an action for copyright infringement brought by Michael P. Kenney (d/b/a Mike O’Dea and Shamrock Films) against the film studio Warner Brothers.

According to the decision, Kenney is a screenwriter, director, and actor, who began developing a Ghostman comic book and film in 2010. … More

Rolling with the Punches: A Blow-by-Blow Account of the Supreme Court’s Copyright Laches Case

At some point, a legal claim is just so old and stale that it’s unfair to allow the plaintiff to bring it. The statute of limitations and the doctrine of laches are two different solutions to this same problem.  The former puts specific time limits on certain types of claims. On the other hand, the equitable doctrine of laches (from the old French “laschesse,” meaning “slackness”) eschews the one-size-fits-all approach and allows a judge to use common sense and fairness to determine whether a plaintiff’s delay was unreasonable given the particular circumstances of each case.… More

Private or Public? The Developing Circuit Split on Internet TV Retransmission

Private Public

It appears that a Circuit split is developing on the issue of whether Internet services that transmit network television programs are engaged in a transmission to the public in violation of the networks’ copyrights.  The networks argue that the Internet streaming services (such as Aereo) are engaged in public transmissions because large numbers of members of the public can access television programs using these services;… More

District Court Adopts Subjective Test For Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Notices

Finger

We’ve previously written about Tuteur v. Crossley Corcoran, the Digitus Impudicus copyright case in the District of Massachusetts.  The facts can be summarized as follows: Blogger A posted a photo of herself giving Blogger B “the finger.”  Blogger B reposted the photo as part of her response.  Blogger A then issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice to Blogger B’s internet service provider,… More

A “Deal with the Devil”? Ghost Rider Creator Asserts that Contract Did not Give Marvel Perpetual Ownership of Copyright in Comic Book Character

GhostRiderBigPoster (2)

As we have previously observed, superheroes often take starring roles in disputes relating to copyright protection for fictional characters.  This makes sense, as they frequently appear in long-lived series of works in various media (comic books, television shows, films, etc.) sporting a consistent set of identifying characteristics – physical appearance, personality traits, “origin story,” and the like.  Indeed, many such disputes take it as a settled conclusion that the superhero character is entitled to copyright protection,… More

Court Finds No Digital Re-Sale Right for iTunes Music

iTunes

One reason to buy physical books and music CDs rather than Kindle books and iTunes files is that when you own a physical copy of the book or music CD, you can lend it to friends.  You could also, if you chose, sell your copy.  These are rights guaranteed by the first sale right in Section 109 of the Copyright Act.  When you buy a Kindle book or an iTunes song (or more accurately,… More

Second Circuit Overturns Class Certification in Google Books Copyright Challenge

Google Books

Yesterday the Second Circuit issued its decision undoing the District Court’s certification of a plaintiff class in the long-running lawsuit claiming that the Google Books Library Project violates copyright in millions of books.  The plaintiffs, the Authors Guild and various individual authors, assert that Google’s practice of scanning and digitizing in-copyright books from major libraries, and making short “snippets” of those books available to the public in response to searches,… More

First Circuit Affirms $675,000 Award Against Joel Tenenbaum: Gore Test Does not Apply to Statutory Damages under Copyright Act

This week, the First Circuit affirmed a $675,0000 statutory damages award against college student Joel Tenenbaum for copyright infringement. The Court held that the damages award, based on Tenenbaum’s illegal downloading and distribution of 30 copyrighted songs, was not excessive or a violation of due process.

The Original Jury Award

As we have previously discussed, Tenenbaum had been downloading and distributing (via peer-to-peer networks) thousands of copyrighted songs,… More