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.
‘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]
* “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, I am for real. Never meant to make your planet cry, I apologize a trillion times,” is likely what Barack Obama told Lisa Jackson when he found out she was stepping down as EPA administrator. [New York Times]
* Cook County, Illinois, is experiencing problems wherein the kookiest of judges get “electoral mulligans” every six years. Public humiliation and harsh ratings might be a great way to finally put an end to this practice. [Chicago Magazine]
* Another way to get revenge against the schools that screwed grads with their allegedly misleading employment stats: disciplinary action for ethical violations committed by those licensed to practice law. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re accused of being a murdererbirderer. Boalt Hall law students Justin Teixeira and Eric Cuellar have now been criminally charged for their alleged roles in the decapitation of an exotic bird. [Las Vegas Sun]
* Harvard Law is offering a free online copyright class, and anyone can enroll — even 13-year-olds. This may be your only chance to take a course at an Ivy League school, so hurry up and apply. [National Law Journal]
* George Zimmerman and his lawyer are being sued by a private detective for failure to pay $27K for security services, which included a detailed escape plan to get the murder defendant into a hidey-hole. [Boston Herald]
Celebrity opinions are the worst. On this, I think we can all agree. Unlike our pundit class, celebrities have very few advanced degrees and are never held to account for their prognostications. When a talking head on TV or the internet or even books gets something wrong, he’s fired immediately. The marketplace of ideas demands nothing less. Someone more inclined to bad puns would say that as a marketplace, being fired for being wrong is more than laissez… fair.
And so we hate celebrities mouthing off like they are wont to do because they don’t get fired from their jobs when they’re wrong. This is especially true of the sports world, where the famous people not being fired for voicing opinions also represent our favorite teams, like the Chicago Bears. Or even our least favorite teams, like the Syracuse Orangemen.
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim spoke out about gun control this week because a bunch of children were murdered recently and a bunch of microphones were stuck in his face. The men holding the microphones said, “Hey Jim, let’s talk sports.”
Jim didn’t want to talk sports. Let’s talk sports….
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….
We’ll put this simply to avoid further confusion: stringing together nonsensical bits of pseudo-legalese cannot save you from succumbing to the rules and regulations of the Facebook gods. On the other hand, stringing together nonsensical bits of pseudo-legalese is sometimes what law blogging is all about, so we’ll help our readers debunk the myths of privacy and intellectual property rights on Facebook.
Aww, you thought Facebook couldn’t use all the things you posted on the site because of your privacy settings? Well, isn’t that just precious….
* 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]
* A firm allegedly said “F**k you” (literally) to a disabled veteran, then suggested his wife should divorce him, called him a crummy soldier, and said he should have died. I can’t imagine this is going to end well. [Simple Justice]
* How do criminal defense attorneys defend those people and sleep at night? [Katz Justice]
* Well, sometimes, those people just might be innocent. Errol Morris wrote a new book (affiliate link) on one such case. I interviewed the Oscar-winning filmmaker about it last month, and Morris just published another grim update. [New York Times]
* Congratulations to Kim Koopersmith, who has been chosen to succeed Bruce McLean as the new leader (and first female chairperson) of Akin Gump. [Thomson Reuters]
* In a further display of total isolation from reality, music publishers have now sued websites that post lyrics to popular songs. Because God forbid fans sing along to their favorite tunes. [IT-Lex]
* By the way, did you know those folks who illegally share music also purchase significantly more music than everyone else? Like, with real money. Something to chew on for a minute or 15. [TorrentFreak]
Attorney John Steele is currently suing approximately 20,000 Internet users.
The rather long list of “People Most Hated By The Internet” — that guy who sued The Oatmeal, RIAA, Hunter Moore, Julia Allison, Violentacrez… — would be incomplete were it not to include John Steele. Steele is a lawyer who has partnered with the pornography industry to go after “pirates” who download their XXX films without paying for them. He has filed over 350 of these suits, and says he is currently suing approximately 20,000 people.
The tactic is similar to the one employed by the recording industry years ago to sue people who were amassing huge music libraries through peer-to-peer sharing rather than buying CDs. But where RIAA wanted to scare people out of illegal downloads by getting massive, scary judgments in highly publicized cases against individual Napster users, Steele and the lawyers like him are content to get relatively small settlements from individuals who pay up quietly to avoid being linked by name in public court filings for allegedly watching a film such as Illegal A** 2….
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