We’ve written plenty of times about the importance of the public domain around here, and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public domain has been Disney, a company which has regularly mined the public domain for the stories it then recreates and copyrights. Of course, somewhat depressingly, Disney also has been one of the most extreme players in keeping anything new out of the public domain, as pointed out by Tom Bell’s excellent “mickey mouse curve” showing how Disney has sought to push out the term of copyrights every time Mickey Mouse gets near the public domain.
* D.C. litigator Bruce Klores is living a double life as a Grilled Cheese restaurateur. He’s planning some politically-themed sandwiches, like the Boehner: “maybe if someone orders it, we’ll just say no.” [Washington Post]
* Here are the best suitcases for an overnight business trip. [Corporette]
* A riveting account, by lawyer turned journalist Adam Teicholz, of the brutal murder that shook the gay community in a small Louisiana town. [Vanity Fair]
* Crude oil is transported by rail, and those railroads have safety regulations. [Breaking Energy]
* RIP Pete Seeger. I know he was a folk singer rather than a lawyer, but he wrote a song called “New York J-D Blues,” which sums up Biglaw in this town. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
- American Bar Association / ABA, Copyright, Free Speech, Health Care / Medicine, Law Schools, Movies, Non-Sequiturs
* Opera singer who can’t sing without farting sues for $2.5 million. She should try blaming it on the phantom. [Gawker]
* Speaking of Gawker, Elie has an article up about last night’s Grammy ceremony over at our new outpost in Gawkerville, the ATL Redline. [ATL Redline]
* Amazingly, adding Elie’s perspective wasn’t the worse thing to happen to Gawker this week: Quentin Tarantino has decided to sue them for publishing copies of his latest script, The Hateful Eight. [Grantland]
* Everyone’s favorite Harvard Law transcript forger cum insider trading defendant, Matthew Martoma, just can’t catch a break — the government is trying to get a couple of key defense experts tossed. [The Expert Institute]
* Should bloggers out pseudonymous commenters? No, because… free speech? Whatever, bloggers aren’t the government. [Ramblings on Appeal]
* The ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education thinks schools should cut costs and prepare students for legal careers. Welcome to the ATL Family! [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* It’s an old adage but it bears repeating: if you want to win a negotiation, be prepared to go to trial. [Katz Justice]
* An update on Stephen Glass, the
plagiarizing fabricating (plagiarizing suggests it was at least true when the first person said it) journalist applying for admission to the California bar. Want to know what happened to his application? Click on….
The very first copyright law in the US was officially called ”An Act for the Encouragement of Learning.” Indeed, that was the actual stated purpose of copyright law at the time. It wasn’t supposed to be a system for protecting the revenue of artistic folks. In fact, it didn’t even cover most artistic works at the time. It was limited to “maps, charts and books.” Music? Not protected. Paintings? Not protected. Sculpture? Not protected. That’s because it wasn’t about artwork, but about the spread of knowledge through learning.
Yes, the idea was to provide a limited monopoly to incentivize the initial creation, and the exchange was that it would then be given into the public domain soon after, such that everyone could learn from it. Yesterday, we covered the importance of the public domain, and today’s topic for Copyright Week goes hand in hand with it: the idea of open access.
* A pimp is suing Nike for not labeling its shoes as dangerous weapons after the sex work entrepreneur used his Jordans to beat the holy hell out of a john. Good luck with your suit, Superfly! [USA Today]
* Tattoo artists are suing over their artwork getting featured in media without getting compensation. So add “because shooting ink through a damn needle into your skin” as a reason never to get a tattoo. [Infringe That!]
* Comparing strippers to lawyers. Makes sense. [Miami Herald]
* Across the Pond, a Cambridge College masturbator gets punished. I see what you did there, you clever headline writer, you. [The Tab]
* Boston has stopped using license plate scanners to probe the question, “Are these even worth it?” That’s the sort of question they might have wanted to explore before spending all that money. [IT-Lex]
* A Pennsylvania lawyer was busted for selling wines out of his wine cellar without a license. God, liquor laws are stupid. [Philly.com]
* Congratulations to the LGBT Bar Association’s 2014 Community Vision awardees: Mary Bonauto, Brian Ellner, and Credit Suisse. [LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York]
As they do every year, unfortunately, the good folks at the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke have put together a depressing list of what should have entered the public domain yesterday. As you hopefully know, until 1978, the maximum amount of time that work in the US could be covered by copyright was 56 years (you initially received a 28 year copyright term, which could be renewed for another 28 years). That means, back in 1957, everyone who created the works in that list knew absolutely, and without a doubt that their works would be given back to the public to share, to perform, to build on and more… on January 1, 2014 at the very latest. And they all still created their works, making clear that the incentive of a 56 year monopoly was absolutely more than enough incentive to create.
And yet, for reasons that still no one has made clear, Congress unilaterally changed the terms of the deal, took these works away from the public, without any compensation at all, and will keep them locked up for at least another 40 years. At least.
Ed. note: Happy New Year! We will resume our normal publication schedule on January 2nd. See you next year.
* A guy got pantsed twice. He then secured a six-figure judgment! And now he’s appealing that judgment!?!? God, this is exactly the kind of guy who deserves a wedgie. [Lowering the Bar]
* Professor Campos takes on George Will’s claim that the team name Redskins isn’t offensive because “Oklahoma” basically translates to “Redskin” too. Hey, I could get behind banning Oklahoma. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* A pro se inmate sues the state. The reporter tries really hard to treat the complaint seriously until the very end. [Times-Picayune]
* A Las Vegas judge (and son of a former mayor) suffered head wounds indicative of an assault. When asked about why LVMPD didn’t tell marshals that a judge had been attacked, they basically said, “Why would we?” Yeah, why alert a judge’s security team about a possible, persistent threat related to his job. [Las Vegas Law Blog]
* With Netflix about to purge a number of movies off its system, this is an interesting look back at a time when Hollywood tried to ban home movie rental because they generally adhere to the “cut off your nose to spite your face” business model. [Tech Crunch]
* More on the phenomenon of judges speaking out publicly. I don’t know about all these critics, but we’re sure big fans of these judges. [Wall Street Journal]
- 3rd Circuit, Copyright, Dahlia Lithwick, Drugs, Guns / Firearms, Movies, Non-Sequiturs, War on Terror
* You can go to jail for possession, but if you actively aid and abet drug cartels, you can walk away with a fine worth 5 weeks of your income. It also helps if instead of “poor” you’re a bank. Hooray for “Too Big To Hold Accountable For Anything!!! [Rolling Stone]
* Disney has gotten fed up with “mockbusters,” films that jack the studio’s logo to confuse people into buying a different DVD. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been itching to check out this new flick September: Osage County. [Jezebel]
* Dahlia Lithwick explains that too many schools feel the cure for the trauma of school shootings is… creating more trauma. [Slate]
* Chief Judge Theodore McKee of the Third Circuit rules that the government can detain you for carrying Arabic flashcards. This doesn’t even make racist profiling sense: “bad guys” would already know how to speak Arabic, right? [The Raw Story]
* Defendants need to understand that getting an acquittal requires them to expend some personal effort, too. [Katz Justice]
We were just talking about the latest efforts to remove termination rights from musicians (and other artists), and a number of termination rights battles are still ongoing. Most of the existing ones are slightly different from the ones we’re talking about — and it gets pretty down in the weeds technically. In short, there are different rules for works created prior to 1978 and those after 1978. Most of the focus is on the termination rights for works created after 1978 — though there are some interesting ongoing battles concerning works created prior to 1978… including that song you just can’t stop hearing this time of year: Santa Claus is Coming to Town.