Google tries to kick Authors Guild out of court in book case

12 01 2012

By

Ars Techinca.com
Dec. 23, 2011
It’s as if the last four years hadn’t happened. In 2007, Google’s legal dispute with a coalition of authors and publishers over Google Books was put on hold while the parties hashed out a settlement agreement. That agreement was announced in 2008, but it attracted a massive backlash that convinced Judge Denny Chin to reject the settlement earlier this year.

So after three years of working together to try to get their settlement approved, the parties are now back in courts and at each others’ throats.

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Copyright, Contract, or Complicated? AIME vs. UCLA Dismissed: Implications for Licensing

12 01 2012

For many months, the academic world has been keeping an eye on a potentially critical lawsuit brought by AIME (the Association for Media and Equipment) and Ambrose Video Publishing (Ambrose or AVP) against UCLA (or more specifically, the Regents and several named university officials in their administrative and individual capacity). The plaintiffs, AIME and AVP, sued UCLA because the institution was purchasing education dvds (some from AVP, others from AIME association members), circumventing the technological protections embedded in the dvds, and then streaming (transmitting) the entire movies in their online, password-protected course management system. . . .

On October 3, 2011, the trial judge dismissed the case in a brief (13 page) order. At last, academia thought, an answer, or at least some copyright guidance. Instead of being a copyright case, however, this case became a civil procedure and contract case with copyright mentioned primarily for its characteristic of being a federal law.

The bottom line is that the copyright questions were not reached in the actual holdings. In her order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss, the course never reached the copyright questions on their own merit. Any passing reference to copyright is at best hopeful dictum, which cannot be pulled out of context and mischaracterized as a “copyright win”. It certainly does not stand for the proposition that streaming entire copyrighted films within password protected course management systems is lawful.

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UMG v. Shelter Capital: A Cautionary Tale of Rightsowner Overzealousness

10 01 2012

By Eric Goldman

UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners LLC, 2011 WL 6357788 (9th Cir. Dec. 20, 2011). My prior blog posts on district court rulings on Veoh’s 512(c) safe harbor and attorneys’ fees/Rule 68.

Make no mistake, web hosts and their investors got a major 512(c) victory in this ruling. The Ninth Circuit, building on its favorable but convoluted ruling in Perfect 10 v. ccBill, wrote a decisive and clear (well, as clear as the 9th Circuit gets…) opinion interpreting the crucial 512(c) safe harbor. This opinion is so comparatively lucid that I plan to substitute it into my Internet Law reader next Fall as a replacement for the Io v. Veoh and Viacom v. YouTube district court rulings.

But also make no mistake: this case reminds us why we need to strike a fair balance between rightsowners and technology providers, or else our system will break down. This case’s real result is that Veoh is legal, but Veoh is dead—killed by rightsowner lawfare that bled it dry. Meanwhile, rightsowners wrongly assessed the legality of Veoh, but the worst consequence they suffered was overpaying their lawyers. Indeed, UMG isn’t liable under 17 USC 512(f) for sending bogus takedown notices because they never sent any notices at all., nor is UMG liable for Veoh’s attorneys’ fees. UMG’s decision-makers walk away from this car crash, muttering under their breath that the Ninth Circuit misunderstood their brilliant legal arguments, but they still get to go to their cushy jobs tomorrow. The same can’t be said for Veoh, even though it “won.” Veoh’s employees? On the street. Veoh’s investors? SOL. Veoh’s community? Kicked to the curb.

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Why Are Korean Copyright Owners Suing an Australian Infringer in San Jose, California?

10 01 2012

By Eric Goldman

DFSB Kollective Co., Ltd. v. Tran, 2011 WL 6730678 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011)

In light of SOPA, I am paying closer attention to transborder copyright and trademark enforcement actions. After all, SOPA is designed to redress foreign rogue websites, so the results being obtained in court today are highly relevant to the policy debates. As we’ve previously shown, a lot of SOPA remedies are already being awarded by judges–for better or worse (mostly the latter)–and some of those rulings are raising some of the same due process concerns we have about SOPA.

Today’s ruling baffles me, and I’m hoping you’ll help me understand the case and the issues. The plaintiffs own copyrights in Korean pop music and are based in Seoul. The defendant is Kenny Tran, who runs ihoneyjoo.com and ihoneydew.com (both offline–more on that later) and is peripatetic on social media. Tran allegedly posted infringing music files and album covers to cyberlockers and other sites and then linked to the uploads from his social media accounts. The plaintiffs claim Tran is “one of the biggest illegal uploaders (and free download link providers) of Korean music in the world” and his site generated more traffic than the top 3 legitimate Korean music sites combined. (If true, this crucial information about consumer behavior made me think of this meme). Tran allegedly profited from his actions by showing ads and soliciting PayPal donations.

The plaintiffs claim they repeatedly sent takedown notices to Tran’s service providers, but Tran allegedly evaded enforcement by opening new accounts or switching vendors. So they sued Tran in San Jose, California, where they happened to draw Judge Koh, the only federal district court judge of Korean descent. They claim to have served him in Australia, but Tran hasn’t responded to the lawsuit at all.

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Updates on Transborder Copyright Enforcement Over “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”–Shropshire v. Canning

10 01 2012

By Eric Goldman

Shropshire v. Canning, 2012 WL 13658 (N.D.Cal. Jan. 4, 2012). Prior blog post.

This dispute involves complicated facts, so here’s my understanding of what’s happening:

The lawsuit involves the musical composition “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”. . . The song is co-owned by a group that includes Shropshire and his ex-wife Patsy. A Canadian group, the Irish Rovers, covered the song. I can’t tell if that cover was properly licensed. Canning, a Canadian, uploaded the Irish Rover’s cover to YouTube and synchronized it with Christmas-themed pictures, such as reindeers. I infer that Canning uploaded the cover without express consent from the Irish Rovers. Shropshire eventually sent a takedown notice to YouTube, and Canning submitted a counter-notice. Shropshire then sued Canning for copyright infringement and a 512(f) claim for an impermissible putback notice. Canning subsequently got authorization from co-owner/ex-wife Patsy for his video.

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Judge suggests DMCA allows DVD ripping if you own the DVD

5 10 2011

Oct 5, 2011

A Monday ruling suggests that educational institutions are entitled to stream legally purchased DVDs on campus without the permission of copyright holders. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit charging UCLA with violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other provisions of copyright law by ripping DVDs and streaming them to students.

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SCOTUS lets stand ruling that downloads are not performances

4 10 2011

Oct. 4, 2011

The Supreme Court left in place a ruling by a New York federal appeals court, which determined that song downloads are not “public performances” under copyright law. The ruling represents a victory for Yahoo! and RealNetworks, which have been locked in litigation with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for several years over royalty payments. And it has potentially far-reaching implications for the digital music industry.

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1st Circuit Reinstates $675,000 File-Sharing Award Against Tenenbaum — Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum

20 09 2011

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Sony BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, 2011 WL 4133920 (1st Cir. Sept. 16, 2011) [pdf]

Sony’s lawsuit against Joel Tenenbaum was one of two file-sharing lawsuits brought by record labels against end users that proceeded to trial. (The RIAA’s lawsuit against Jammie Thomas resulted in three trials, a $1.5mm verdict which was reduced to $54,000 and is currently on appeal.)

In a nutshell, in this case, the jury returned a verdict of $675,000. The trial judge found the award excessive under Due Process standards and reduced it to $67,500. The First Circuit finds that the trial judge erred in not reducing the award based on common law remittitur and giving Sony the choice between accepting the reduced verdict or opting for a new trial. The original verdict is reinstated and the case is sent back to Judge Gertner to rule on plaintiff’s motion for remittitur.

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Other coverage:

Techdirt: “Appeals Court Reinstates $675,000 Jury Award Against Joel Tenenbaum On Procedural Grounds
EFF: “Appellate Court Sends Tenenbaum Case Back For Another Round

Previous posts:

Copyright Statutory Damages Award Violates Constitutional Due Process–Sony v. Tenenbaum

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2011/09/1st_circuit_rei.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Hotfile turns tables, accuses Warner Brothers of DMCA abuse

13 09 2011

The Cyberlocker site Hotfile, which has been in Hollywood’s crosshairs since February, has returned fire with a focus on one of its five adversaries. In a response and countersuit, Hotfile charges that Warner Brothers violated the DMCA by repeatedly and willfully demanding the removal of Hotfile content that it did not own.

The Hotfile battle centers on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Hotfile claims it’s just an ordinary file hosting service that complies with the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown procedure and therefore qualifies for immunity from copyright liability. Hollywood studios have objected that Hotfile’s business practices disqualify the site from the safe harbor.

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Pillow Pets Knockoff Enjoined from Keyword Advertising–CJ Products v Snuggly Plushez

31 08 2011

By Eric Goldman

CJ Products LLC v. Snuggly Plushez LLC, 2011 WL 3667750 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2011)

Pillow Pets are cuddly and soft, but if you make knockoff versions of them, be prepared to meet the sharp end of their sword in court–a fate that befell the defendants in this case. However, before we condemn the defendants too much, recognize that (a) the term “pillow pets” is very descriptive (“It’s a pillow…it’s a pet”), and (b) the idea of making stuffed animals that turn into pillows goes back at least decades.

Nevertheless, the court concludes that the defendants mimicry was too close. It violated Pillow Pets’ copyright registration in sculptural works, and the marketing campaign constituted false advertising (for, among other things, saying “As Seen on TV” and claiming to be “original” and “authentic”) and trademark infringement. To reach the latter conclusion, the court concluded that “pillow pets” was a descriptive term that had achieved secondary meaning.

Unusually, this ruling broke out its discussion of the trademark implications of the defendants’ keyword ad campaign (rather than incorporating the discussion into the other trademark infringement analysis).

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