Last month, the Broadway hit-musical Jersey Boys closed its doors after a spectacular eleven-year run. As someone who hails from the great state of New Jersey and who saw the show twice, I thought it was only appropriate to give Jersey Boys a formal send off. And what better way for a copyright lawyer to honor Jersey Boys than to write about two Jersey Boys-related copyright suits?… More
Tag Archives: Fair Use
In BWP Media USA v. Gossip Cop Media, a case sure to bring cheer to paparazzi and tabloid publishers everywhere, a judge in the Southern District of New York has found after a bench trial that a gossip website willfully infringed copyrights in photos showing celebrities Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Pattinson, and Liberty Ross.
The plaintiff in the case,… More
Last month, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., the long-running copyright case involving Google’s Google Books project. The high court’s refusal to hear the case leaves in place the Second Circuit’s October 2015 decision in favor of Google and brings to a close this highly publicized and closely watched litigation, more than a decade after it began. … More
We’ve taken advantage of past Presidents Days to recount George Washington’s role in the history of U.S. Copyright law, specifically the birth of fair use. That role was not insubstantial, but it was posthumous and, therefore, unwitting. By contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s contribution to copyright law was likely quite intentional.
On March 3, 1865, President Lincoln signed into law “An Act to Amend Several Acts Respecting Copyright,” the galley of which contained the subheading: “Photographs … may be copyrighted.” This was the first U.S.… More
Most readers of this blog are well-acquainted with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the anti-circumvention provisions codified therein, 17 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq., which prohibit the circumvention of technological measures that control access to a copyrighted work, even in the absence of copyright infringement. The anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA are often criticized for their failure to include an explicit fair use exemption like that included elsewhere in the Copyright Act,… More
Are You Sure This Isn’t About Copyright? Chicken Sandwiches, Monkey Selfies and the Boundaries of Copyright Law
Last 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
As a leader of a start-up company, you are probably aware of the importance of protecting your company’s innovative products, services and technologies through patent filings. If you are savvy, you are also aware of the importance of having a trademark and branding strategy as well (see our guide entitled “Trademark Strategies for Start-Up Companies”). Most start-up companies overlook copyright issues, however, and this can create problems down the road. … More
On July 31, 2015, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling celebrates her 50th birthday, according to muggle sources. The enormous success of Rowling’s literary creation and its associated multimedia empire has spawned countless jealousies, countless imitators, countless parodists and countless pirates. The franchise has kept dozens if not hundreds of lawyers busy with precedent-setting copyright cases, trademark disputes, First Amendment battles over religious expression,… More
Federal Government Wins Trademark Battle to Shut Down “Voice of America” Website with “Undeniable Governmental Aesthetic”
Since its first broadcast on February 1, 1942, the Voice of America radio service (VOA) has aired countless hours of programming in dozens of languages to what is currently an estimated global audience of over 100 million people. Although the history of the VOA name is storied and long, VOA’s efforts to protect that name are of a more recent vintage. VOA didn’t apply to register its name as a federal trademark until 2005,… More
Georgia State Academic Fair Use Decision Vacated by 11th Circuit: A (Relatively) Quick Read for the Busy Practitioner
Last Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the Northern District of Georgia’s 350-page fair use analysis of the electronic reserves practices at Georgia State University (“GSU”). Although this reversal is technically a win for the plaintiff publishers, the 11th Circuit left the most important parts of the lower court’s analysis intact, and essentially affirmed the bulk of its reasoning with respect to the first and fourth fair use factors.… More
On September 26, 2014, the District of Massachusetts shot down a plan to develop a “textbook dictionary.” James Richards, inspired in part by the Autobiography of Malcolm X, developed a project to convert the dictionary from a reference book into something that looked more like a textbook. Richards felt that this format would be more conducive to helping students and adults improve their reading and listening comprehension skills.… More
Last week, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York issued his opinion Fox News v. TVEyes. Fox News claimed that TVEyes’ media monitoring service was copyright infringement. TVEyes argued that it was fair use. Here is our summary version of the case:
What is TVEyes?
TVEyes is a media-monitoring service that records content from over 1,400 TV and radio news outlets,… More
Last month, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, held that a public university was not required to turn over copies of certain course materials, including course syllabi, in response to a public records request. The syllabi were the type of document that is normally subject to disclosure under Missouri’s “Sunshine Law” (Chapter 610 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri),… More
Every attorney in the United States understands that West Publishing Corp. (“Westlaw”) and the LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”) are perennial rivals in the electronic legal research field. As such, they don’t agree on much, but there are some important exceptions. Earlier this month, one of those exceptions came to a pleasing conclusion for both companies, when Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York issued his long-promised opinion in White v.… More