How Not to Copy: What is Fair and What is Fair Use?

11 04 2018

IP Watchdog

Raymond Van Dyke
April 5, 2018

These issues of fairness and fair use are played out in the recent Oracle v. Google decision. In a convoluted case that has gone up to the Supreme Court once and will again, the Federal Circuit finally was able to make a ruling that the blatant, verbatim copying of computer code is not a fair use. At issue were the copying of 37 Oracle programs or apps, constituting over 11,500 lines of code, by Google for their use in the Android operating system for smart phones and other uses… In the Federal Circuit’s final analysis of the four factors, they again noted that Google could have written their own code or properly licensed with Oracle, but instead chose to copy. “There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform.” Accordingly, the Federal Circuit held that Google’s use of the Oracle code was not a fair use.

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Tom Brady and a Ruling over Embedded Tweets Could Change the Internet and Online Publishing

10 04 2018

IP Watchdog

Franco Galbo
April 6, 2018

Of all of the things NFL quarterback Tom Brady has been accused of ruining over the years, the internet is not necessarily at the top of the list, and certainly not based on an alleged copyright infringement that he had no part in perpetuating. Yet, a photograph of him and Danny Ainge, the general manager of the Boston Celtics, could in fact forever change the internet and online publishing as we know it.

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Ninth Circuit says ‘Blurred Lines’ Infringed Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give It Up’

22 03 2018

IP Watchdog

By Gene Quinn
March 21, 2018

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the song Blurred Lines infringed the copyright in Marvin Gaye’s song Got To Give It Up. See Williams v. Gaye, No. 15-56880. Affirming most of the decision of the district court, the Ninth Circuit also held that the award of actual damages and infringers’ profits, and a running royalty, were all proper.

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Copyright, Censorship, Pepe & Infowars

15 03 2018

TechDirt

Mike Masnick

If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of Pepe the Frog, the cartoon character created by Matt Furie years ago that turned into quite the meme by the 4chan crowd. Over time, the meme morphed into one favored by Trump supporters and the alt-right (though, upset that Pepe has become too “mainstream,” that crowd has moved onto something of a derivative work known as Groyper). As you may have heard, Furie has now decided to sue Infowars over a poster the site is selling that puts together a bunch of… well… the crowd of people you’d expect to be fans of Infowars and Pepe.

The lawsuit, which you can read in its entirety, claims copyright infringement — and it’s raising a whole bunch of issues concerning memes and copyright that seemed worth exploring.

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Is There A Digital First Sale?

14 03 2018

Is There A Digital First Sale?

Above the Fold

The Copyright Act grants the owner of a copyright certain rights, including the right to reproduce, to distribute, and to perform and display the copyrighted work. 17 U.S.C. § 106. However, these rights are limited by other sections of the statute. One such limitation to the distribution right is known as the “first sale doctrine,” which states, “the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made [] is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord. Id. at § 109(a). For example, if you purchase a DVD at the store, you own a particular copy of a copyrighted work. You can resale the DVD, give it away, or destroy it without infringing the copyright owner’s right of distribution. The same is true for any number of copyrighted works fixed in a variety of mediums, e.g., a CD, cassette, vinyl record, book, photograph, art print, etc. But what about digital content? That is, can you resell a song or movie you lawfully purchase and download?

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Federal Judge Says Embedding a Tweet Can Be Copyright Infringement

14 03 2018
EFF
FEBRUARY 15, 2018

Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled [PDF] that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page. Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.

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Video News Aggregator Loses Fair Use Defense–Fox v. TVEyes

8 03 2018

Technology and Marketing Law blog

March 1, 2018 · by ·

TVEyes aggregates video newsclips, makes them searchable, and lets subscribers watch responsive clips. One use case is for companies’ communications departments. They can set up searches for their brands in TVEyes’ database and monitor what’s being said about them.

To create the searchable database, TVEyes copies and stores third party copyrighted video. Fox News sued for copyright infringement. The appellate court rejected TVEyes’ lack-of-volition defense because “TVEyes decides what audiovisual content to record, copies that content, and retains it for thirty‐two days.” As a result, all of TVEyes’ copying constitutes prima facie copyright infringement. TVEyes also defended on fair use grounds. Despite its recent pro-fair use rulings in HathiTrust and Google Books, the Second Circuit rejects the argument.

 

Case citation: Fox News Network LLC v. TVEyes, Inc., 15‐3885(L) (2d Cir. Feb. 27, 2018)

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MPAA Opposes Several Filmmaker Associations Request For Expanded Circumvention Exemptions

7 03 2018

Techdirt

February 28, 2018

Over the past few weeks, we’ve mentioned in a couple of posts that the Copyright Office is currently taking public commentary for changes to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention exemptions provisions. While we’ve thus far limited our posts to the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment’s bid to have those exemptions extended to preserving online video games and the ESA’s nonsensical rebuttal, that isn’t the only request for expanded exemptions being logged. A group of filmmaker associations put in a request last year for anti-circumvention exemptions to be extended to filmmakers so that they can break the DRM on Blu-ray films in order to make use of clips in new works. At issue is the fact that these filmmakers are able to make use of clips in these new works thanks to fair use but cannot readily get at them due to the DRM on the films themselves.

This is confusing and creates uncertainty, according to the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association, and several other organizations. Late last year they penned a submission to the Copyright Office, which is currently considering updates to the exemptions, where they argued that all filmmakers should be allowed by break DRM and rip Blu-rays. The documentary exemptions have been in place for years now and haven’t harmed rightsholders in any way, they said.

“There is no reason this would change if the ‘documentary’ limitation were removed. All filmmakers regularly need access to footage on DVDs and without an exemption to DVDs, many non-infringing uses simply cannot be made,” the groups noted.

So, there are several groups that lobby for documentarians going to bat for the larger filmmaking world, having seen just how beneficial the exemptions they enjoy have been to the documentary craft. Frankly, it’s nice to see associations such as these not simply staying in their own lane and instead advocating for their larger craft as a whole. Unlike, say, the MPAA which leapt to respond with claims of how awful all of this would be.

A group of “joint creators and copyright owners” which includes Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA, and ESA informs the Copyright Office that such an exemption is too broad and a threat to the interests of the major movie studios.

The MPAA and the other groups point out that the exemption could be used by filmmakers to avoid paying licensing fees, which can be quite expensive.

Which, of course, is precisely the point of these exemptions. An end-around of fair use by locking up content behind DRM in order to extract licensing fees from those that legally would otherwise not have to pay them is a special kind of perversion of the DMCA. Not to mention copyright law as a whole, actually. Recall that the entire purpose of copyright law in America is to promote the creation of more works for public consumption. What the MPAA is arguing is that these exemptions, which would do much to promote new work, should be cast aside in favor of a system in which those new works live at the pleasure of the licensing schemes of the major movie studios.

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All Eyes on Fair Use: The Second Circuit Delivers a Victory for Copyright Owners

7 03 2018

on March 5, 2018

Socially Aware

[ed. Great example of the four part fair use test, applied by the appellate court, here]

In U.S. copyright law circles, one of the hottest topics of debate is the degree to which the fair use doctrine—which allows for certain unauthorized uses of copyrighted works—should protect companies building commercial products and services based on content created by others, especially where such products or services are making transformative uses of such content.

This debate is likely to become even more heated in the wake of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ issuance last week of its long-awaited decision in the copyright dispute between Fox News and TVEyes, in which the court sided with the copyright owner over the creator of a digital “search engine” for identifying and viewing television content. But regardless of which side of the debate you are on (or if you are just standing on the sidelines), the court’s decision provides important guidance on the scope of the fair use doctrine as applied to commercial products and services.

The Dispute

Using the closed-captioning data that accompanies most television programming, TVEyes provides a searchable database of video clips. TVEyes’ subscribers—who pay $500 a month—can search the database for keywords in order to identify and view video clips from the service; such video clips may be as long as ten minutes in duration.

In July 2013, Fox sued TVEyes for copyright infringement and, in August 2015, Judge Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the key features of the TVEyes service are protected under the fair use doctrine.

In support of their respective positions at the district court level and on appeal, both parties pointed to the Second Circuit’s decision in the Google Books case, in which the Second Circuit held that Google’s creation of a searchable database of millions of published books enabling users to view short snippets of the books constitutes a fair use. District court Judge Hellerstein found that the Google Books decision supported a fair use finding for TVEyes.

Now, more than two years later, the Second Circuit, in consideration of the same precedent, reached the opposite conclusion, finding the four-factor fair use test weighed against TVEyes. Although the court acknowledged its Google Books decision as a key precedent, it cautioned that the decision “tested the boundaries of fair use,” and that the TVEyes service at issue had “exceeded those bounds.”

 

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Misusing Mickey Mouse: The Fight Over Movie Download Codes

27 02 2018

Jetlaw

Barrett Lingle

In November, Walt Disney Co. sued Redbox in an attempt to stop the DVD rental company from selling digital copies of its movies. At the center of the suit are movie download codes that can be used to download a digital copy of a Disney movie and are included with a Blu-ray disc and a DVD in each “combo pack” Disney sells. Disney filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Redbox after Redbox began disassembling the “combo packs” it purchased from Disney and selling the codes separately to consumers.

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