Waller TIPS

Waller TIPS

Perspectives on Intellectual Property Issues

Category Archives: Copyright

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“Transformative Use” Following the Google Books Decision

Posted in Copyright, Internet
On November 14, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the plaintiff’s copyright suit in The Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc.  The decision was based on the Court’s determination that Google engaged in “fair use” of the plaintiffs’ copyrighted materials when it scanned over 20 million books and … Continue Reading

Effects of Government Shutdown on USPTO and Copyright Office

Posted in Copyright, Trademark
Last week the United States federal government entered a shutdown, suspending services not exempted by the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341. Although the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office currently remains open, the Copyright Office is among the many closed government offices. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office The USPTO remains open, operating on reserve fees collected in the … Continue Reading

“Blurred Lines”: The Advantages of Filing First

Posted in Copyright
Recently, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Clifford Harris, Jr., the authors of the song “Blurred Lines,” filed a lawsuit against the family of Marvin Gaye and Bridgeport Music, Inc. in the Central District of California seeking a declaratory judgment that the song “Blurred Lines” does not infringe upon either the song “Got to Give it … Continue Reading

The Danger of Outsourcing DMCA Take-Down Notices

Posted in Copyright, Internet, Trademark
A couple of famous, publicly-traded companies have been a bit embarrassed recently when third parties they have engaged to make sure no one is improperly using their trademarks or copyrights online have instead demanded shut downs of legitimate uses. Companies faced with rampant theft of their intellectual property frequently outsource the DMCA Take-Down Notice process … Continue Reading

Electronic Signatures Permissible for Copyright Transfer

Posted in Copyright, Internet
The Fourth Circuit recently held that electronic signatures are permissible for copyright transfers, in its July 19, 2013 decision in Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. v. American Home Realty Network Inc.  This decision clarifies that the E-Sign Act, which mandates that no signature be denied legal effect simply because it is in electronic form, applies … Continue Reading

The Makers of Two Widespread Internet Memes Sue to Enforce Their Copyrights

Posted in Copyright, Entertainment, Technology
In this day and age where an innocuous home video or the latest news story can explode into an internet phenomenon, game developers looking to cash in on the popularity of the latest memes need to carefully consider the potential copyright ramifications of using protected images without permission. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and 5th Cell, … Continue Reading

Copyright Case Over Legal Briefs Dismissed

Posted in Copyright
A federal judge has dismissed claims that online services that provided access to legal briefs filed in federal court were infringing the copyright in those briefs. Earlier this month, in one of the most highly watched copyright cases of the last few years, Judge Rakoff of the Southern District of New York issued a ruling … Continue Reading

Sony Patent Application Raises Interesting Copyright Implications

Posted in Copyright, Patent, Technology
Sony Computer Entertainment Japan recently filed for a new patent which has peaked the curiosity of the gaming world. From the published patent application we can gather that Sony’s new technology links each game sold to the console (PlayStation) upon which it is first played. After this initial imprint, the game would be unplayable on … Continue Reading

Exemptions Under DMCA Expanded By Copyright Office

Posted in Copyright
The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) has some new exemptions, under a final rule published by the United States Copyright Office in the Federal Register that went into effect on October 28. The Act provides that, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights (which is a division of the Library of Congress), the … Continue Reading

Electronic Arts Steps Up Its Defense of Its Sims Franchise Against A Popular Social Media Game Developer

Posted in Copyright, Internet, Technology
On August 3, 2012, Electronic Arts filed a copyright infringement complaint against Zynga, Inc. for infringing its copyrights in the Sims franchise, specifically for infringing on the game The Sims Social with Zynga’s The Ville. As the  complaint details, The Sims Social launched in August 2011 on Facebook.  The Sims Social allows players to create … Continue Reading

Round One to Publishers in Tiff Over Copying of Scientific Articles

Posted in Copyright, Patent
As discussed on TIPS a few months ago, a number of publishers of scientific journals have launched copyright lawsuits against a handful of law firms, alleging that the firms’ photocopying in connection with patent submissions constitutes infringement.  That dispute has now proceeded to the motion to dismiss phase, with U.S. District Judge Kyle of the … Continue Reading

No Copyright Protection for Yoga Poses and Sequence of Poses

Posted in Copyright
Yoga poses and sequences of poses are exercises and not subject to copyright law protection, announced the United States Copyright Office recently.  “Exercise is not a category of authorship in section 102 and thus a compilation of exercises would not be copyrightable subject matter,” according to the Office’s statement of policy.  The policy made clear … Continue Reading

CSUSA Panel on Digital Activism

Posted in Copyright, Internet
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending time with some of my favorite copyright lawyers at the Copyright Society of the USA (CSUSA) annual meeting. On Tuesday morning, Jay Rosenthal of NMPA, Mitch Glazier of RIAA, professor Robert Brauneis and author Robert Levine discussed the politics of copyright. The following is a summary of … Continue Reading

Transfer of Copyright by Email

Posted in Copyright
Creators of copyrightable works (and their lawyers) tend to think of the transfer of Copyright as a solemn and formal event.  This is partly due to custom and partly to the requirement in 17 U.S.C. 204, which states that “A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an … Continue Reading

When Does “Fair Use” Stop Being Fair? Scientific Journals take on Patent Lawyers

Posted in Copyright, Patent
Patent lawyers are in the crosshairs of some scientific journal publishers for alleged copyright infringement. In recently filed lawsuits, publisher John Wiley & Sons and the American Institute of Physicists claimed that lawyers and their Chicago-and Minneapolis-based law firms had wrongfully copied journal articles.  The plaintiffs made good on their threats to pursue lawyers who … Continue Reading

Losing Hope: Artist of Obama Poster Pleads Guilty

Posted in Copyright
On Friday, February 24, Shepard Fairey pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of criminal contempt for destroying and altering documents in his civil lawsuit against The Associated Press.  Fairey filed a declaratory action against the AP in 2009, seeking an order declaring that he did not infringe the AP’s copyright in a photograph of Barack … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Upholds Congress’ Power to Restore Copyright Protection to Public Domain Work

Posted in Copyright, First Amendment
The Supreme Court this week upheld the power of Congress to restore copyright protections to public domain work against challenges based on the Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  In a nutshell, the ruling opens the door for Congress to restore, or remove, copyright protections from any work so long as it has a rational … Continue Reading

Wikipedia and Other Sites Down in Protest of U.S. Anti-Piracy Bills

Posted in Copyright, Internet
Websites including the English version of Wikipedia, Reddit and BoingBoing have gone dark for a period of twenty-four hours today, in protest of anti-piracy bills currently making their way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.   According to a statement posted by Wikipedia, the Stop Online Privacy Act (“SOPA,” as the House version … Continue Reading

Copyright in the Bible?

Posted in Copyright
It is estimated that portions of the Old Testament were written approximately 3,500 years ago.  Yet, you may be surprised to learn that a number of versions of the Bible, as well as translations of many other ancient texts, are currently protected under US copyright law.  Religious texts have been the subject of a significant … Continue Reading

Transfer of Copyright by Email

Posted in Copyright
Creators of copyrightable works (and their lawyers) tend to think of the transfer of copyright as a solemn and formal event.  This is partly due to custom and partly to the requirement in 17 U.S.C. 204, which states that “[a] transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an … Continue Reading

Renewal of Viacom/Time Warner Cable Dispute Over iPad Application Underscores the Import of Clarity in Digital Distribution Agreements

Posted in Copyright, Technology
After a several-month cease-fire, filings from both parties over the past month indicate that Viacom and Time Warner fully intend to litigate the issue of whether the parties’ contracts give Time Warner the right to stream Viacom programming over iPads and other devices. Viacom’s lawsuit stems from Time Warner’s iPad app, which allows Time Warner … Continue Reading