Fair Use

No one expects Biglaw to have the greatest sense of humor. Make no mistake, individual Biglaw partners can be hilarious. We actually talk to them all the time here. But when you get a big entity, the funny gets lost. See Apple or Saturday Night Live. Add in the fact that Biglaw doesn’t even have to pretend to pitch to the masses, and the tiny fragment of a fun-loving personality that mass advertising requires is lost.

So it should come as entirely zero surprise that a Biglaw firm has thrown a petulant fit over a parody website mocking it for behavior that even a federal judge has called into question….

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Casey Anthony

* Right about now, the Second Circuit is wondering why authors are suing Google and crying infringement over the Internet company’s e-book project, especially since digitization could benefit so many of them. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* This is the end of an era of legal battles: Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s former chief executive officer, is getting a little shaved off the top of his 24-year prison sentence thanks to a deal with the Department of Justice. He’ll be out in 2017. [CNBC]

* Biglaw expected to have a slow start in 2013, but no one expected it to be this slow. The latest Citi report wasn’t exactly encouraging; on average, firms saw a 0.2% increase in revenue during the first quarter. [Am Law Daily]

* In the past decade, the American Bar Association has created six task forces to explore changing the face of legal education as we know it. Funny… nothing’s really changed. [National Law Journal]

* Bail for Ariel Castro, the accused Cleveland kidnapper, has been set at $8 million. “Just think of how many ribs and salsa albums could be bought with that, bro,” said Charles Ramsey. [Chicago Tribune]

* Casey Anthony had a bankruptcy hearing yesterday, but that news was overshadowed because everyone cared more about the girl who wasn’t going to get away with murder. [Orlando Sentinel]

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)….

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The Snooki Defense

* Aw, come on, Mort, Dewey really have to pay you $61M? In case you missed it last night, the only thing that made the former vice chairman’s departure memo dramatic was the insane amount that he claims he’s owed. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Congratulations to Jacqueline H. Nguyen on her confirmation to the Ninth Circuit. She’s the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appellate court, so she’s earned our judicial diva title (in a good way). You go girl! [Los Angeles Times]

* Google might’ve infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights, but a jury couldn’t decide if it constituted fair use. Sorry, Judge Alsup, but with that kind of a decision, you can bet your ass that there’ll be an appeal. [New York Times]

* A Harvard Law professor has come to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, claiming that an alleged affirmative action advantage played no role in her hiring. And besides, even if it did, it only played 1/32 of a role. [Boston Herald]

* Classes at Cooley Law’s Tampa Bay campus began last night. Unsurprisingly, the inaugural class is double the size originally projected, because everyone wants to attend the second-best school in the nation. [MLive]

* Albany Law will be having a three-day conference on the legal implications of the Civil War. This could be a little more exciting if presenters wore reenactment garb and did battle when it was over. [National Law Journal]

* Jury selection is underway in a second degree murder trial that will forever be known as the case where a defendant first raised the “Snooki Defense.” He didn’t kill his wife… but her spray tan did. [CBS Miami]

Where would lawyers be without open (and absurdly expensive) access to Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for legal research? They’d have to trudge down to the closest law library and read real books made of paper. They’d have to head over to the courthouse and pull actual files with non-electronic documents inside of them. In a time where legal texts are used solely for decorative bookshelf purposes, that is just too much to ask.

But that is the behavior that two lawyers would expect of their professional colleagues. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, they claim that the legal database providers have been engaging in “unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created by, and owned by, the attorneys and law firms who authored them.”

Do they have any chance of winning their class action copyright suit?

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Transformative use? You be the judge.

CHICAGO (ATL) — The Associated Press is suing a digital news distributor, claiming it infringed on AP copyrights. In a story posted yesterday, the AP reported: “The Associated Press is suing a digital news distributor, claiming it infringed on AP copyrights.”

Apparently, something called Meltwater News Service has been stealing content from the AP and repackaging it as part of its service provided to clients who want to see what is written about them in the press.

After the jump, learn more about this execrable practice….

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I know why the caged bird tweets.

* Here’s a nice round-up of some of the most controversial laws that will be enacted in 2012. Looks like California is going to have some fabulously multicultural litigation. [Associated Press]

* What do you get when you cross an artist with a penchant for Rastafarians with the son of a Boies Schiller name partner? The biggest copyright fair use appeal ever. [New York Times]

* A Massachusetts town paid Phoebe Prince’s family only $225K to settle. With lawyer’s fees, it’s almost not even worth suing if your kid gets bullied to death. [ABC News]

* Everyone is going cuckoo over Iowa’s conservatives, even the Eighth Circuit. Iowa Law’s former dean is facing a political discrimination suit. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Apparently, this PhoneDog Twitter account case is a pretty big deal in the world of social media law. I’ll turn discussion of this issue over to our social media expert, Brian Tannebaum. [CNN]

* An employee at a presumably small law firm in New York had her jaw shattered while a thief ransacked the office. Give this woman a bonus. Hell, give her a raise, too. [New York Post]

On Wednesday, white and nerdy musical genius Weird Al released “Perform This Way,” to his Twitter followers for free download, after Lady Gaga supposedly refused to approve it for inclusion on his upcoming album. The song parodies Gaga’s “Born This Way” and, while certainly no “Another One Rides The Bus” or “Rye or the Kaiser,” appropriately mocks the Gaga marketing machine with such gems as “got my straight jacket today / it’s made of gold lamé / no I’m not crazy, I perform this way.” The whole thing is kind of a meta-parody because “Born This Way” is really a low rent rip-off of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” and “Vogue.”

Here’s the background story:

Lady Gaga denied Weird Al the right to release his parody of BORN THIS WAY, only the second time in his career that he’s been denied. [Ed. note: The other refusal came from Prince.] But he recorded the track at her request as a part of the approval process… the first time any artist has made that request. She summarily passed without comment. So instead of selling a couple hundred thousand or a million copies… he gave PERFORM THIS WAY away for free to his 2 million followers on Twitter.

Really, Lady Gaga wants to throw down with Weird Al?

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