Copyright

Folks love Game of Thrones. Maybe it’s the intricate storytelling, the impeccable acting, the allure of high fantasy, or the fact that all the exposition is done by naked prostitutes. Whatever it is, the show is a hit and everyone clamors to watch it.

Unfortunately, lots of people want to watch it illegally. Even the New York Times is watching it illegally.

And when students use a school network to stream Game of Thrones, it can clog up the works and bottleneck the Internet faster than Walder Frey can lock down passage over the Trident…

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We’ve written many times about the issue of termination rights in copyright. Under the Copyright Act that went into effect in 1978, artists have a “termination right” to basically take back their copyright from whomever they assigned it to, 35 years after the works were created. Artists cannot contract that right away. It’s inalienable. Of course, it’s 2013, and as you may have noticed, that’s 35 years after 1978. There are a variety of legal fights going on, as copyright holders (generally large gatekeeper companies) are fighting to stop the termination rights. One of the first key cases on this involved The Village People’s Victor Willis, who initially scored an initial victory last year. Of course, the legal fight went on. The NY Times, however, is reporting that Willis himself is now claiming victory, but the details are lacking, and the lawyer for the record labels denies Willis’ claim, noting that there’s still an appeal to be heard.

That said, what struck me as more interesting — but no less troubling — is the gleeful manner in which it appears Willis is preparing to use his new copyright powers (if he actually gets them) to make the current version of The Village People stop performing the band’s classic songs….

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Back in June, we got a chance to see an absolutely great response to a cease and desist letter. The author of that response letter, Stephen B. Kaplitt, is an Above the Law folk hero for kicking off his response to an unnecessarily threatening C&D with “obviously [this] was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire,” before systematically ripping the opposing attorneys a new one.

Now comes another great response to a C&D letter, and this one may even be better because of the firm on the receiving end.

Teaser: Biglaw smackdown! Snarky footnotes! Spice Girls references! Lollipops!

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As you hopefully are aware, today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful, moving and memorable I have a dream… speech. In a just world, that speech would be in the public domain. And, legally, it might be. While King did apparently send a copy of the speech to the Copyright Office, he did so as an “unpublished work.” There has been a dispute, then, about the speech itself, since that would be a publication. His estate, however, has argued that the speech was not a “general publication,” but rather a “limited publication” and thus King retained a common law copyright — and an appeals court appeared to agree, but the lawsuit over this was settled without a final ruling, and no one has challenged it since. However, King’s estate has beenridiculously aggressive in trying to lock up his speeches and take down videos commemorating his talks, with a focus on this momentous speech.

Of course, they’re more than happy to license the speech to the highest bidder…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Let Freedom Ka-Ching! On The 50th Anniversary Of ‘I Have A Dream,’ AT&T Can Use The Speech To Sell Phones, But You Can’t Post It”

* Mike Brown, the man at the center of the would-be South Carolina restaurant racial discrimination suit, has a post over at xoJane telling his story. [xoJane]

* Time for a Team Prenda update! Now they are making really embarrassingly terrible “your mom” jokes. [Popehat]

* Contrary to Elie’s tweet, there is kind of a legal angle to the debacle at the VMAs that was Miley Cyrus dancing with an aging Michael Keaton dressed as Beetlejuice Robin Thicke. MuckRock has submitted a FOIA request to find out how many complaints were filed with the FCC. Unfortunately, my bet is that the number is more than zero, despite the FCC having no legal authority over indecency on MTV. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a collection of GIFs. [MuckRock]

* Shots fired! Law Librarian Blog snarks on Law Professor Blogs 2.0 re-design. Palace Intrigue: Blogger Edition. [Law Librarian Blog]

* A new website provides an online course in general deposition prep for witnesses. Will this work? Pro: Deposition prep involves haphazard application of life lessons from a lawyer’s individual career and a professionalized course is beneficial. Con: Why would a firm forfeit all those billable hours to a third-party? [The Perfect Witness]

* Not every law school is cutting back. San Joaquin College of Law is expanding its enrollment. It’s not ABA-accredited, so all these students are sure to land on their feet. [KFSN]

* Since we’re likely to be at war with Syria by the end of the week, here’s a thoughtful piece on the legality of intervention in light of the UN charter and moral obligations. [Boston Review]

You’ve probably heard Robin Thicke’s magnum opus Blurred Lines this summer, whether you wanted to or not. For those who haven’t, ATL would like to welcome you home from your captivity at the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Blurred Lines is seemingly forced upon every American stepping more than 20 paces from the seclusion of their home. It is what is known as an earworm, too: a piece of music appealing enough on a core psychological level that the listener repeats it to themselves after the fact.

Now the artists behind this “genius” work — Thicke the Younger, Pharrell, and T.I. — have filed for declaratory judgment in federal court to protect their stake in the song from two different camps threatening to sue the trio for ripping off earlier works.

I’ve compiled clips of the allegedly offending (or, I guess, “allegedly non-offending,” given the posture) works. You can judge for yourselves….

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Does your law school ROI look like this?

* Victoria Espinel, chief IP counsel to the White House (better known as the “copyright czar”), has stepped down. A tech or trade company will snap her up in 3… 2… [Corporate Counsel]

* Child custody train wreck alert: Baby Veronica of SCOTUS fame was in the news after her father was arrested for refusing to return his child to her adoptive parents. [ABC News]

* Rather than watching people pump gas, BP is watching people pump out lawsuits against the company at a rather alarming rate as a result of its 2010 oil spill. [Businessweek]

* Cynthia Brim, the Illinois judge who was reelected despite the fact that she was legally insane, finally had a complaint filed against her by the state’s judicial board for being just a little bit too kooky for court. [Chicago Tribune]

* Your degree might not be worth a million dollars, but if you went to one of these schools, you probably got a good bank for your buck. We’ll have more on this later. [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]

* The fight over attorneys’ fees in the antitrust lawsuits filed against BARBRI continues rage on, and class members still haven’t received a penny — which is all they’d really get, anyway. [National Law Journal]

* Congratulations to Newark Mayor and Yale Law alumnus Cory Booker! Last night, he handily won the New Jersey Democratic primary election for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat. [CBS News]

I mean suing the bejeezus out of Goldman Sachs. And likely a number of other high-profile financial players.

Not over something mundane like the whole “taking part in collapsing the global economy” thing. That’s been discussed to death. I’m talking about something much more concrete and, apparently, easy to establish.

People sometimes derisively call bankers pirates, but it turns out they may be right. Software pirates, at least.

In this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis looks at the prosecution of former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov. In addition to detailing the outsized influence large banks have over the justice system and the ease with which the system can break down when the facts of a case are too complex for lay jurors, Lewis uncovers a small nugget that he doesn’t really pursue, but that could be trouble for Wall Street….

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Hope you enjoyed your small summer classes.

* “[J]ust because something is constitutional doesn’t mean it’s the best idea, or even a good one.” Perhaps we’ve given Chief Justice John Roberts a little too much to do. No wonder he’s gotten cranky. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* “It’s raining lawsuits.” As Justice Scalia predicted, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Windsor case, gay couples across the nation have banded together to challenge bans on same-sex marriage. [NBC News]

* The Fourth Circuit ruled that state authorities in Maryland can’t arrest and detain people just because they look like they might be illegal immigrants. They can only do that in Arizona. [Baltimore Sun]

* No more fun during sequestration, ever! Judges, get ready to kiss your “lavish accommodations” at judicial conferences goodbye, because Senator Tom Coburn is on the case. [National Law Journal]

* For all of the talk that Biglaw is in recovery, summer associate hiring just isn’t what it used to be. Summer class sizes shrank since last year. We’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily]

* On Friday, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will consider making changes to its law school accreditation standards. Yes, the ABA does have standards. [ABA Journal]

* Open wide and suck this down: A film on the life and times of porn star Linda Lovelace may be lost to the cutting room floor because Deep Throat’s rights holders are seeking an injunction. [The Guardian]

* “Our graduates have a history of going to small firms, DAs and public defenders’ offices. We don’t have the employment swings that big law schools have because their graduates are focused on more elite firms,” says the dean of law school that costs $185,214 to attend. Certainly all of those students at the District Attorney’s office are making enough bank to pay that off. [Daily Report]

* Looking to avoid jury duty? Practice some F-Bombs. [Lowering the Bar]

* Copyright carries with it a substantial weakness — most publishers would rather reprint public domain works than deal with authors. [The Atlantic]

* 75 percent of IP counsel are either litigating with patent trolls or expect to in the next 12 months. The other 25 percent just represent really sh**ty products. [Consero]

* A former attorney is aiming to crowdfund her invention, a 3-in-1 kitchen tool. [Gambas and Grits]

* Several State Attorneys General want to make it easier to go after bloggers because narrowly tailored laws are for suckers. [Popehat]

* A tipster sent us this from Facebook. This is the best tattoo of Lady Justice ever. Picture after the jump…

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