Copyright

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.

Universal Studios seems to have some trouble establishing concrete ideas and positions when it comes to copyright on its own products. In recent iterations, this has manifested itself in the form of their protesting a parody of 50 Shades of Grey while conveniently ignoring that work’s birth in the form of Twighlight fan-fiction. Alternatively, there are times when Universal doesn’t even seem to know what it holds the rights to and what it doesn’t. Well, it turns out that these stumbles aren’t exactly a new experience for Universal.

Chris O’Donnell writes in with the historical and hysterical case of Universal suing Nintendo over Donkey Kong shortly after Universal itself had argued that the property the dispute was based on, King Kong, was in the public domain. See, back when Michael Jackson was still best known for his music, Nintendo came up with their iconic Donkey Kong character, admittedly in some part inspired by the famous King Kong character. This inspiration, it turns out, came after the fact, but that didn’t stop Universal Studios from filing suit against Nintendo, because they had released a remake of King Kong a few years earlier. While some within Nintendo wanted to simply settle with Universal and move forward, others within sought out the words of a key ally to fight against them, and that ally was Universal Studios.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Historical Hypocrisy: Donkey Kong, King Kong, & The Public Domain”

* A new lawsuit asks, “Who owns Sherlock Holmes?” That sounds like a mystery suitable for… ugh, I can’t bring myself to finish that gag. [Courthouse News Service]

* The well-oiled train wreck that is the NCAA finds itself in hot water for ignoring legal advice and going after Miami using privileged information. Lawyers are often maligned by non-lawyers, so let’s enjoy this article from a sports columnist explaining why lawyers can be awesome. [EDSBS]

* There’s a new iTunes app to keep track of your hours! I’m assuming it has a Biglaw feature to pad hours. [Herald Online]

* A trilogy of articles about California’s prison “realignment,” described as “The Best Trilogy Since Star Wars.” I’m certainly hoping this isn’t a reference to Episodes I-III. [PrawfsBlawg]

* The previously discussed proposal to allow Arizonans to bypass law school and take the bar exam has been cut down. It was always ironic that the state most wrapped up in “they took our jobs!” rhetoric wanted to open the legal profession to everyone. [Verde Independent]

* The third in an ongoing series of posts covering the trial of DC superhero Firestorm. Too bad he doesn’t have that split personality defense to fall back on. For the three of you who got that joke, you’re welcome. [Law and the Multiverse]

‘Read me some Camus to cheer me up.’ — Hayley Franklin, 3, after hearing new birthday song.

Ever notice that movies and TV shows go out of their way never to sing “Happy Birthday To You” on-screen? Well that’s because Time Warner owns the copyright and rides that cash cow to the tune (hah!) of $2 million every year. Every unauthorized rendition of the song is technically worth $700 in royalties payable to Time Warner.

Time Warner’s zealous enforcement has even raised concerns that YouTube may have to take down videos of kiddie parties singing the song.

How can we break Time Warner’s stranglehold over our annual celebration of our own impending mortality? A New Jersey radio station (WFMU) decided to write a new song to replace “Happy Birthday To You” and brought in Harvard professor Larry Lessig to judge the competition.

A video of the new song that you’ll come to love appears after the jump. And by love I mean, “listen to, laugh, and hope to purge from your memory”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New Birthday Song To Make You Even More Depressed To Get Older”

You can do so much with a law degree: securities litigation, real estate, executive compensation, porn production…wait, what?

The Internet, one of the greatest technological achievements in human history, is mostly for porn distribution (not really, but that’s the popular misconception). And if the Internet is littered with copyrightable pornographic material, there’s an opening for attorneys to make some money helping clients go after those who steal that material.

But what if a law firm, operating through shell companies, started making its own porn in order to concoct its own causes of action? I mean, that couldn’t happen, right?

Well, Judge Otis Wright of the Central District of California suspects that may have just happened in his courtroom, and he’s not happy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Threatens Alleged Copyright Troll With Jail Over Porn Complaints”

* 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]

* Remember the lawyer who sued Westlaw and Lexis for copyright infringement? Judge Jed Rakoff dismissed it for reasons yet to be disclosed, but probably for legal dumbassery. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “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]

* DC Comics didn’t take kindly to a garage selling replica Batmobiles without permission. A federal court agreed. But if we outlaw Batmobiles, only outlaws will have Batmobiles! [Comic Book Resources]

* Mistrial in Philadelphia after the witness lost (part of) his head on the witness stand. [Philly.com]

* Taser or Lightsaber? I never thought that would be a serious question. [Legal Juice]

* A quick refresher from that “Law and the Vatican” course you took as a 3L. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A compilation of some bad courtroom (and quasi-courtroom) behavior including our friend from last week, Penelope Soto. [LOL and Smile]

* The Bratz case is so totally over. The result? A whole lot of nothing — much like the Bratz movie. [The Recorder]

* Shorter version of this article: Morpheus explaining, “But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see?…The very minds of the [nice legal academics] we are trying to save. But until we do, these [law professors] are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* New Mexico is considering a new law against bullying — but does it go too far? Does it? Answer me, you little wuss! [Volokh Conspiracy]

Antigua & Barbuda 1
United States 0

Have you been holding off on buying your copy of Supertrain: The Complete Series in hopes of downloading it illegally without fear of reprisal? Well, you have a friend in Antigua & Barbuda.

In a Monday decision by the World Trade Organization, Antigua & Barbuda can now legally offer downloads of copyrighted U.S. works, and there’s not a damn thing the U.S. can do about it.

The decision marks the latest chapter in the long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the tiny Caribbean nation over Antigua’s internet gambling industry. The U.S. banned Antigua’s internet casinos, Antigua took the U.S. to court through the WTO, and Antigua won — and has continued to win — consistently throughout the appeal process.

And now, in what passes for the sentencing phase of the WTO proceedings, Antigua has earned the right to violate the hell out of U.S. copyrights up to the value of $21 million a year.

Does that seem illogical? Welcome to the WTO….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where U.S. Copyrights Go To Die”

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)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Court Says Trial Needed To Determine If Universal Music Violated DMCA With Dancing Baby Takedown”

50 Cent

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.

Phil Chronakis, a lawyer who represented Shadrach Winstead at the trial court level in his copyright infringement case against rapper 50 Cent. The Third Circuit recently upheld the dismissal of Winstead’s complaint.

‘If they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…’

* “It’s very hard to copyright a story about an individual growing up in the ghetto and getting involved in crime.” Go Third Circuit, it’s your birthday, we gon’ affirm that like it’s your birthday. [New Jersey Law Journal (reg. req.)]

* I believe you have my stapler? A former Fried Frank staffer has been accused of stealing more than $376K worth of copy machine ink from the firm and selling it on the black market for office supplies. [Am Law Daily]

* Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Jenny Rivera, a CUNY School of Law professor, to fill a vacant New York Court of Appeals seat. If confirmed, she’ll be the second Hispanic to sit on the court. [New York Law Journal]

* This’ll please the gun nuts: Governor Cuomo’s gun-control bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law, officially making New York the state with the toughest gun restrictions in the nation. [New York Times]

* And this right here is the lawsuit equivalent of half-court heave. A lawyer is suing the San Antonio Spurs because the team’s coach sent all of its best players home to rest without the fans’ prior knowledge. [ESPN]

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