Category Archives: Copyrights

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Original Policeman in the Village People Gets His Copyrights Back, and $500,000 in Attorneys’ Fees

On September 15, 2015, the Southern District of California awarded over $500,000 in attorney’s fees to a songwriter who successfully prevailed on his right to terminate grants of copyright under 17 U.S.C. § 203 because awarding fees would encourage authors to assert their rights to regain their copyright interests.  Victor Willis (“Willis”) is a songwriter … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Says “Let’s Goes Crazy” On Fair Use of Prince Song In YouTube Video

In Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. et al, the Ninth Circuit held that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”) requires copyright holders to consider fair use before sending a takedown notice and that the failure to do so raises a triable issue as to whether the copyright holder formed a subjective good faith belief … Continue Reading

Copyright Fair Use: 1 Win, 1 Maybe and Two Losses for TVEyes

On August 25, 2015, the Southern District of New York held that the archiving function of a media monitoring service was protected by fair use and that the e-mailing feature could qualify for fair use if certain protective measures were implemented, but that the downloading and “date-time” search functions were not.  Defendant TVEyes, Inc. (“TVEyes”) … Continue Reading

“BRING IT ON!”: Sixth Circuit OKs Copyright Claims for Cheerleader Uniform’s Design

On August 19, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y” for the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of cheerleader uniforms in its copyright infringement lawsuit against another cheerleading gear company. In a 2-1 decision, in Varsity Brands, Inc. v. Star Athletica, LLC, the appellate court held that the colors, stripes, chevrons, and … Continue Reading

The Ray Charles’s Foundation Doesn’t Have to “Hit the Road Jack”: Ninth Circuit Permits Foundation to Challenge the Validity of Copyright Termination Notices Served by Ray Charles’s Heirs on Third Party Grantees

On July 31, 2015, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Central District of California’s dismissal of an action brought by the Ray Charles Foundation, seeking, among other things, a judicial determination of the validity and effectiveness of termination notices served by some of Ray Charles’s children on Warner/Chappell Music.… Continue Reading

“California Gurl” Katy Perry Not Subject to Personal Jurisdiction in Missouri

The Eastern District of Missouri recently dismissed copyright infringement claims against pop-star Katy Perry, rapper Juicy J, and other individuals for lack of personal jurisdiction, in Marcus Gray p/k/a Flame v. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson p/k/a Katy Perry.  The lawsuit alleged that Perry’s song “Dark Horse” infringed the plaintiffs’ copyright in their Christian Gospel hip hop … Continue Reading

Owners of Celebrity Fan Sites Still in the Spotlight for Copyright Liability Without DMCA Safe Harbor

The Southern District of New York recently stressed the importance for internet service providers (“ISPs”) to comply with “safe harbor” requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) in order to be shielded from copyright infringement liability.  The court, in BWP Media USA Inc. v. Hollywood Fan Sites LLC, found that the defendants, who owned … Continue Reading

State Law Claims Suffer “Awfully Big Adventure”: New York Court Finds Federal Copyright Preemption in Dispute over Peter Pan Musical

On June 8, 2015, the New York County Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice eight of twelve state law claims brought by a producer seeking damages for the purportedly unauthorized use of his music in a world-wide production of Peter Pan. Craig Barna and Bronsand Music Inc. v. Cathy Rigby, Tom McCoy, McCoy Rigby Entertainment, and … Continue Reading

Perfect 10 Slammed With $5.5 Million In Fees And Costs Under The Copyright Act Without A Finding Of Frivolous Or Objectively Unreasonable Claims; Patent Trolls Beware

The Central District of California recently awarded over $5 million in attorneys’ fees and over $400,000 in costs, emphasizing the degree of success obtained by Defendants and the improper motivations of Plaintiff.  The court rejected the notion that the fee award was unreasonable simply because it was sizeable.  In Perfect 10, Inc. v. Giganews, Inc., … Continue Reading

The Low Bar For Copyright Protection Shown By Flooring

In Home Legend, LLC v. Mannington Mills, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit recently reversed a grant of summary judgment and held that a two dimensional laminate flooring design was eligible for copyright protection because it reflected sufficient creativity, was severable from the flooring to which it was applied and was directed at a design and not … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms Victory for Pandora On Music Streaming Rights

On May 6, 2015, in Pandora Media, Inc. v. American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, the Second Circuit held that composers and music publishers cannot partially withdraw from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”) licensing scheme to attempt to negotiate or coerce direct deals with new media companies and also affirmed … Continue Reading

In Mardi Gras Tradition, Fifth Circuit Tosses IP Rights in Bead Dog

In Nola Spice Designs L.L.C. v. Haydel Enterprises, Inc., the Fifth Circuit recently cancelled a New Orleans bakery’s word and design trademarks for “Mardi Gras Bead Dog” – the bakery’s mascot based on the Mardi Gras tradition of parade-goers twisting their plastic beads into the shape of a dog. The appellate court also affirmed the … Continue Reading

Slep-Tone and Karaoke Redux: Under Dastar, Bar Must Face the Music For Trademark Infringement

The Northern District of Illinois recently held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 539 U.S. 23 (2003), did not protect a karaoke bar from claims of trademark infringement and unfair competition based on the bar’s knowing use of unauthorized recreations of karaoke tracks. In Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp. v. … Continue Reading

California Court SLAPPs Down Pandora’s Motion to Strike Copyright Lawsuit, But Finds that Free Music Furthers Free Speech

In Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Pandora Media, Inc., the Central District of California recently refused to apply California’s anti-SLAPP statute to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit against Pandora, a leading operator of internet radio service. Although the court found that Pandora was furthering its First Amendment right to free speech by streaming the plaintiff’s … Continue Reading

The Hopper Isn’t Aereo

Last year, the Supreme Court held, in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, that a distributor of copyrighted programming over the internet was liable for copyright infringement.  Recently, the Central District of California distinguished Aereo in Fox Broadcasting Co. v. DISH Network LLC, holding that certain internet-based services of a satellite television provider did not … Continue Reading

“First Sale” in Foreign Jurisdiction Leaves Omega Watch Out of Time for Copyright Claim

In Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., a global luxury watch company sued an American discount warehouse club based on the defendant’s importation into the United States of a line of the plaintiff’s luxury watches without the permission of the plaintiff copyright holder. Applying the Supreme Court’s decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, … Continue Reading

Volitional Acts and Control: Copyright Infringement Liability of Online Sellers

The issue of whether a party has engaged in a volitional act, or has the ability to control an infringer, sufficient to result in liability for copyright infringement, either as a direct infringer or through vicarious copyright infringement, has taken on new significance due to the rise of online sellers providing goods and services.  In … Continue Reading

“‘Cause You Can’t, You Won’t and You Don’t Stop” the Statutory Damage Award for the Beastie Boys

In Beastie Boys v. Monster Energy Company, 2014 WL 6845860 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2014), the Southern District of New York found that the jury’s award of $1.2 million in statutory damages to the plaintiff group on their copyright infringement claim was “not so high as to ‘shock the conscience.’”  The court, therefore, rejected the defendant … Continue Reading

Are State Law Claims Preempted by the Copyright Act?

Recently, district courts in Virginia and Illinois applied similar two-prong tests to determine whether state law claims were preempted by the Copyright Act. In Maxient, LLC v. Symplicity Corp., 2014 WL 5422195 (E.D. Va. Oct. 23, 2014), a number of Symplicity’s customers left Symplicity for its competitor, Maxient. Symplicity decrypted these former customers’ passwords, used … Continue Reading

Key Factors in Proving the Fair Use Defense

The recent decision in Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation LLC, No. 13-3004, 2014 WL 4494835 (7th Cir. Sept. 15, 2014) suggests that the Seventh Circuit is at odds with the Second Circuit as to which factor is most important for determining when the fair use defense to copyright infringement should apply, and as to the appropriate … Continue Reading