Court Definitively Rejects AFP’s Argument That Posting a Photo to Twitter Grants AFP a License to Freely Use It — AFP v. Morel

21 01 2013

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

AFP v. Morel, 10 Civ. 02730 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, 2013)

The court *finally* issued its ruling on the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment in AFP v. Morel, the Haiti photo case. Previous posts here and here.

The facts are interesting and highly relevant to the fast-paced world we operate in. I recommend reading them, if for no other reason than as a cautionary tale. In a nutshell, Morel took photos of the Haiti earthquake, uploaded them to Twitpic and posted to Twitter. Someone else took Morel’s photos and uploaded the same photos to their own account. An AFP staffer found the photos on the second individual’s Twitter account, communicated with him, and thought AFP obtained a license. AFP then distributed the photos to Getty and other downstream third parties. Morel was understandably unhappy and started firing off takedown letters and requests. This prompted a preemptive lawsuit by AFP. (Joe Mullin has an excellent recap at Ars and he delves into the messy factual backdrop: “News flash for the media: you can’t sell photos grabbed from Twitter.”)

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New music survey: P2P users buy the most, no one wants disconnection penalties

21 01 2013
A new survey from the American Assembly, a research center at Columbia University, provides new insights about public opinion on file sharing and copyright enforcement. With support from Google, researchers Joe Karaganis and Lennart Renkema commissioned a public opinion survey to find out how consumers were getting their media and what their attitudes were toward a variety of copyright enforcement strategies.

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Amazon AutoRip: How the labels held back progress for 14 years

21 01 2013
When Michael Robertson heard news of AutoRip, the new Amazon service that automatically adds high-quality MP3s to Cloud Player when you buy a CD, he must have had a sense of deja vu. After all, the entrepreneur introduced a similar service way back in 1999. Unfortunately, it wasn’t licensed by the recording industry, and they sued it out of existence. He tried again with a licensed service in 2007, but only one label would cut a deal and the company failed to gain traction.

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Anti-Scraping Lawsuits Are Going Crazy in the Real Estate Industry (Catch-Up Post)

4 01 2013

By Jake McGowan with comments from Eric

The real estate listings industry has become increasingly concerned with competitive “scraping” by multiple listing service websites. After all, MLS owners make money by exploiting an information asymmetry–they charge participating brokers and agents for access to the database listings. If a website legally scrapes and distributes the MLS’s data, it destroys the valuable information asymmetry and thus hurts the listing services’ revenues.

For these reasons, some MLS sites have tried to squash this type of competition by taking the scrapers to court for copyright infringement. But the listings in question often consist largely of photographs and generic descriptions. Does copyright even apply in the first place?

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The Problem of “International Orphan Works” (Guest Blog Post)

4 01 2013

By Guest Blogger Marketa Trimble

The U.S. Copyright Office recently extended the deadline by which the public may submit comments on issues related to orphan works until February 4, 2013. The Office is gathering suggestions for shaping future U.S. legislation and taking other actions to address the issues of works whose copyright has not expired, yet the owner of the copyright cannot be identified or located. However, legislating on orphan works at the national level cannot solve an important problem: the problem of establishing the status of an orphan work internationally. The solution to this problem is crucially important for anyone hoping to use orphan works on the internet – particularly entities that are among the most active lobbyists for orphan works legislation.

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Examining Sony’s Internet-free method for blocking used game sales

4 01 2013
A newly published patent application filed by Sony outlines a content protection system that would use small RFID chips embedded on game discs to prevent used games from being played on its systems, all without requiring an online connection. Filed in September and still awaiting approval from the US Patent Office, the patent application for an “electronic content processing system, electronic content processing method, package of electronic content, and use permission apparatus” describes a system “that reliably restricts the use of electronic content dealt in the second-hand markets.”

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Leader of BitTorrent piracy ring sentenced to five years in prison

4 01 2013

The leader of the notorious IMAGiNE BitTorrent piracy ring, Jeramiah Perkins, was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison, the largest sentence for the group’s five top administrators.

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Court rules book scanning is fair use, suggesting Google Books victory

11 10 2012

The Author’s Guild has suffered another major setback in its fight to stop Google’s ambitious book-scanning project. The Guild lost a key ally when Google settled with a coalition of major publishers last week. Now a judge has ruled that the libraries who have provided Google with their books to scan are protected by copyright’s fair use doctrine. While the decision doesn’t guarantee that Google will win—that’s still to be decided in a separate lawsuit—the reasoning of this week’s decision bodes well for Google’s case.

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How Much Does Illegally Sharing a Song Cost? $9,250

2 10 2012

The Minnesota woman at the center of the first major file-sharing copyright case to go to trial must pay $9,250 for each of the songs she allegedly downloaded and shared, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

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Minnesota file-sharer loses appeal, must pay $222,000

17 09 2012

A three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit ruled (PDF) Tuesday in the case of a Minnesota woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who has been fighting music piracy legal battles since 2007. When it began, the case was the first trial involving unauthorized file-sharing of intellectual property heard by a jury in the United States.

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