Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so…. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.
* There’s been a changing of the guard at Sidley Austin. Carter Phillips, one of our nation’s preeminent appellate advocates, is now the sole chair of the firm’s executive committee after a one-year stint as co-chair. Congrats! [The Recorder]
* It looks like the trolls attorneys behind Prenda Law got benchslapped in the worst of ways — complete with a multitude of Star Trek references. We’ll likely have more on this later today. [Ars Technica]
* The California Supreme Court just ruined everyone’s high, because it ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em, stoners. [Associated Press]
* Justin Bieber is being sued for copyright infringement, along with his musical mentor, Usher. Tween girl mob: ASSEMBLE! Defend your pop idol’s honor; after all, he just needed somebody to love. [Reuters]
* This guy could teach a master class in how to stand by your (wo)man. Mary Jo White’s husband, John White, will relinquish his equity partner status at Cravath upon her confirmation as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. [Am Law Daily]
* Macho, macho man: it looks like we’ll never know if Dechert actually has a “macho culture,” because the FMLA and paternity leave case that questioned the very existence of this Biglaw subculture was settled out of court. [National Law Journal]
* Why you gotta go and ruin Valentine’s Day for everyone at O’Melveny and Akin Gump? Apple’s request to speed up the Greenlight Capital case was approved, with arguments now scheduled for February 19. [CNET]
* Despite her nomination being crapped on by the Senate, Jenny Rivera, the CUNY School of Law professor, was recently confirmed as an associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]
* “Behold, the instrument of your liberation!” Survivors of the Aurora movie massacre are being harassed by conspiracy theorists, and the DA asked the judge to scrub their names from the record. [Courthouse News]
Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.
We’ve covered the Stephanie Lenz / dancing baby / fair use case for years — but now it looks like there’s finally going to be a trial to consider if Universal Music can be punished for sending a DMCA takedown notice on a video of Lenz’s infant son dancing to 29 seconds of a song by Prince, which Lenz asserts was clearly fair use.
If you haven’t followed the case, it’s been argued back and forth for years. At one point, the court ruled that a copyright holder does need to take fair use into account before sending a DMCA takedown, but that there needs to be “subjective bad faith” by Universal Music in sending the takedown. In other words, Lenz (and the EFF, who is representing her) needs to show, effectively, that Universal knew that it was sending bogus takedowns. The EFF has argued that willful blindness by Universal meant that it had knowledge (amusingly, using precedents in copyright cases in the other direction, where copyright holders argue that willful blindness can be infringement)….
What I find controversial is the Third Circuit’s adoption of Judge [Stanley] Chesler’s conclusion that there is one rule of law applicable to inner-city phrases and street language, and a different rule for language and phrases used by white people in the suburbs.
I’ve committed what is perhaps considered one of the cardinal sins of womanhood since 2011: I haven’t read a single page of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (affiliate link). But with all of the fanfare over the books’ overtly sexual themes, and given the fact that people are now naming their children after the BDSM-loving characters, I’m thinking about picking up a copy of the first in the series. Or, you know, maybe instead of doing all that reading, I’ll just kick back and watch the latest Fifty Shades of Porn flick.
“I’m completely shocked that there’s Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired porn,” said no one ever. Oh, come on, everyone knew that something like this was going to happen. Seriously, from the passages that were read to me by friends to convince me to read the scintillating tale, the series is essentially a softcore porn composition — “mommy porn,” if you will. So who really gives a damn if it gets turned into hardcore porn?
Universal Studios, that’s who, because the company owns the movie rights to the books. The motion picture empire brought a copyright infringement suit against Smash Pictures, a porn production company, earlier this week in federal court. Let’s check out the allegations, which our readers are bound to enjoy….
* You surely must remember former UT Law dean Larry Sager and his controversial $500K forgivable loan. Well, as it turns out, the school is now condemning the practice as inappropriate, and calling for its permanent suspension. [Texas Tribune]
* Someone finally sued a power company over its horrendous response to Hurricane Sandy. The Long Island Power Authority should’ve seen this lawsuit coming, but was woefully unprepared. Figures. [Bloomberg]
* I can haz copyright infringement? Internet memes are all the rage — we even had our own contest — but you may find yourself wading into dangerous intellectual property waters with improper use. [Corporate Counsel]
* Papa John’s is facing a $250M class-action lawsuit for spamming its customers with text messages advertising deals. With share prices dropping, it must suck to be Peyton Manning right now. [CNNMoney]
* Dewey know when Judge Martin Glenn will issue his ruling on the failed firm’s proposed partner contribution plan? If all goes according to plan, we can expect to learn if the PCP’s been approved or rejected as early as next week. [Am Law Daily]
* Hot on the heels of Google’s digital-book settlement, the company announced that it would be appealing its copyright infringement jury verdict in the Oracle trial. One thing’s for sure: Judge Alsup will be angered terribly by this. [Bloomberg]
* David Askew, formerly the director of Edwards Wildman’s pro bono program, will now lead the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as CEO and general counsel. [Corporate Counsel]
* The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of using race as a factor in college admissions, because diversity in college education is a must for diversity in law schools, duh. [ABA Journal]
* Remember the family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a video that went viral? Now he wants the Texas Supreme Court to reinstate him, over his ex-wife’s objections. Good luck with that. [CNN]
* A former Cravath law librarian is fighting his “effective termination” from Southern Illinois University School of Law over alleged threats to bash a colleague in the head with a crowbar. How déclassé! What, was a champagne flute not available? [National Law Journal]
* Is New York’s new mandatory pro bono requirement for admission to the bar too rigid a licensing rule? Compared to what it could have been, no, but obviously others disagree on this point. [Am Law Daily]
* New York Law School’s dean thinks that experience in City Hall gives him an edge. In other news, after being sued over its employment stats, NYLS had the most applicants ever since 2008. Sigh. [New York Law Journal]
* Jamie McCourt doesn’t think it’s very fair that she only got a $131M divorce payout when her ex-husband, Frank McCourt, ended up with $1.7B after he sold the Dodgers. #filthyrichpeopleproblems [Bloomberg]
* “I’m in shock and I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m flabbergasted and I’m livid.” You’d feel the same if you saw that your engagement photo was being used in an anti-gay marriage mailer. [City Room / New York Times]
* Don’t mind me, I’m just watering my hippies: in a proposed settlement, the University of California is offering $30K to each of the students who were pepper-sprayed by a police officer at UC Davis last year. [CNN]
* Good news, everyone! According to Citi’s Managing Partner Confidence Index survey, firm leaders are feeling pessimistic about their business due to an overall lack of confidence in the economy. [Am Law Daily]
* Per the Ninth Circuit, an Idaho statute that essentially criminalizes medication-induced abortions imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. Really? You don’t say. [Bloomberg]
* Kiwi Camara’s circuitous route to SCOTUS: thanks to the Eighth Circuit, Jammie Thomas-Rasset started and ended her journey with $222K damages for copyright infringement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Was Barack Obama ever offered a tenured position on the faculty at University of Chicago Law School? Absolutely not, says longtime law professor Richard Epstein — and he was never a “constitutional law professor” either. [Daily Caller]
* “Fashion law is a real career choice,” says Gibson Dunn partner Lois Herzeca. This niche practice area is one of the hottest new trends in the fashion world, and it’s not likely to go out of style any time soon. [Reuters]
* Your clawback suit is a wonderland? John Mayer was named as a defendant in a suit filed by trustees seeking to recover money paid out by Ponzi schemer Darren Berg. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]
* J. Christopher Stevens, UC Hastings Law grad and U.S. Ambassador to Libya, RIP. [CNN]
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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