Category: Copyright

Organizations Commit to Share Their Intellectual Property to Support the Fight Against the Coronavirus

The Open COVID Pledge calls on organizations around the world to make their patents and copyrights freely available to combat the coronavirus. The Pledge was developed by the Open COVID Coalition (“Coalition”), an international group of scientists and lawyers, seeking to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of diagnostics, therapeutics, medical equipment, and software solutions to this urgent public health crisis. Many major technology companies and academic organizations have “signed onto” the Pledge. The Pledge, however, does not appear to be as popular with biopharmaceutical companies. Am I eligible? How do I make the Pledge? Anyone who holds intellectual property rights is eligible by either issuing a public statement making the Pledge or issuing a press release and notifying the Coalition. What IP is covered? Pledging parties may share any of their intellectual property rights, including patents and copyrights relating to the coronavirus pandemic. The Pledge does not cover trademarks or trade secrets. How do I implement the Pledge? The Coalition has published three standard licenses. A pledging party may adopt one of these standard licenses, adopt its own compatible license, or adopt an alternative license. What are some of the key terms of the standard licenses? Grant: Simply stated, the standard licenses grant a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license to use and commercialize the intellectual...

U.S. Copyright Office Seeks Public Comment and Holds Public Roundtables Concerning DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions

The United States Copyright Office recently published a notice in the Federal Register (“the Notice”) seeking public comment in connection with a study it is conducting to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. § 512 (“Section 512”). Comments, due on Friday April 1, 2016, could pave the way for a Congressional amendment to the DMCA and in particular, to the safe harbors relied upon by service providers to avoid liability for copyright infringement by users.

District Court Issues Opinion on “Fair Use” of Viral Videos

In Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., the United States District Court for the Central District of California presented an informative “fair use” analysis in a dispute between two media companies over viral videos. The Court’s decision highlights the fact-sensitive nature of the doctrine of fair use. It also clarifies the extent to which a use must be transformative in order to be deemed fair use.

Neither Baritsu Nor the Supreme Court Can Stop Sherlock Holmes from Falling Into the Public Domain

We previously reported on the failed attempts by the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd., to extend the umbrella of United States copyright protection for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s pre-1923 Sherlock Holmes-related works. After suffering a setback at the district court level (N.D. Ill.), the Conan Doyle Estate sought a reversal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. However, the Estate was again denied, with the Seventh Circuit panel unanimously affirming the lower court decision.

Aereo “Performs Publicly” and Therefore Illegally

We have previously posted our analysis of the oral arguments held before the Supreme Court in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al., v. Aereo, Inc., No. 12-451, this past April. On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the case, holding that Aereo performs the television broadcasting companies’ copyrighted works publicly through the function of their service/system within the meaning of the Transmit Clause of the Copyright Act of 1976. The Court tried to carefully limit its holding to only the facts particular to Aereo’s system in order to avoid precluding the development of “cloud computing,” a still burgeoning field of technological and economical promise.

Clouds on the Horizon: The Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Aereo

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al., v. Aereo, Inc., No. 12-451, a copyright action whose outcome could dramatically shape the future of television and cloud computing. Aereo is an internet start-up that uses arrays of dime-sized, customer-specific antennas to stream and store on-demand, over-the-air television, likening its technology as an alternative to an individual using, for example, an antenna and DVR to legally capture and record over-the-air content for private viewing. Fearing the loss of their intellectual property rights and lucrative retransmission fees, a consortium of broadcasters promptly sued Aereo for copyright infringement in March 2012 in the Southern District of New York. The broadcasters sought a preliminary injunction against Aereo, arguing that Aereo’s service amounted to thinly veiled public performances, and therefore, constituted copyright infringement. The SDNY, and subsequently the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, both ruled in favor of Aereo, citing the 2008 Second Circuit Cablevision case (Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121 (2nd Cir. N.Y. 2008)), which established the legality of using hosted DVRs to store and replay content to individual subscribers.

The ART Act: New Legislation Proposes Royalties for Visual Artists Based on Secondary Sales

When music is sold, or a poem or novel is purchased, the composer or writer receives a portion of the initial sale or royalties on future sales of copies of the work. The more copies of a song, composition or book that are sold, the greater the royalties the composer or writer may receive. However, this is not true for all copyrightable material, particularly certain works of visual art such as contemporary paintings or sculptures. Unlike music and written works, that are mass produced and distributed, visual art, as noted by United States Copyright Office, “are produced singularly and valued for their scarcity.” The artist may receive a one-time fee or commission for their original work, but such works are often resold at auction with the artist rarely receiving any additional payment.

Sherlock Holmes Has (Mostly) Entered the Public Domain

In what may not come as a surprise to many in the legal field, a federal court has recently confirmed that pre-1923 Sherlock Holmes-related works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are within the public domain. In the United States, it is established that copyrights of any works published or copyrighted prior to 1923 have expired, and such works are part of the public domain. The characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were first introduced in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “A Study in Scarlet.” Prior to 1923, Doyle published a total of four novels, and forty-six short stories involving these characters. It would be reasonable to conclude that any of these pre-1923 works were in the public domain, free of copyright protection.

Ghost Rider Copyright Case Going to Trial

Following a status conference held on June 27, it appears that the copyright case relating to ownership rights in the comic book super hero “Ghost Rider” will be going to trial in the Southern District of New York in November. We recently reported that the Second Circuit reversed the lower court’s dismissal of this lawsuit, Gary Friedrich Enters., LLC v. Marvel Enters., Inc., finding a genuine issue of material fact existed as to what rights, if any, Friedrich retained in the character following a 1978 contract he entered with Marvel. We reported additional background on the case here.

Ghost Rider Copyright Case Lives On

Last week, in Gary Friedrich Enters., LLC v. Marvel Enters., Inc., the Second Circuit reversed the lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Gary Friedrich, who created the comic book super hero “Ghost Rider,” ruling that Friedrich could maintain his lawsuit against Marvel Enterprises Inc. regarding his ownership rights in the character.