Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®
$500M Verdict Returned In Trade Secrets Trial Involving Virtual Reality Software
DALLAS - A Texas federal jury on Feb. 1 ordered four defendants - including Facebook Inc. - to pay a combined $500 million in actual damages to two virtual reality (VR) technology companies for copyright and trademark infringement, conversion, violations of a nondisclosure agreement and false designation (ZeniMax Media Inc., et al. v. Oculus VR Inc., et al., No. 14-cv-1849, N.D. Texas, Dallas Div.).
Copyright Claim Barred By Collateral Estoppel, 11th Circuit Affirms
ATLANTA - A Georgia federal judge's March 2016 grant of a motion by Tyler Perry for judgment on the pleadings with regard to allegations the filmmaker infringed a copyrighted book was not erroneous, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 19 (Terri Strickland v. Tyler Perry, No. 16-11601, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 959).
11th Circuit: Award Of Fees In Copyright Case Not Abuse Of Discretion
ATLANTA - A decision by a Florida federal judge to award $13,961 in attorney fees under Section 505 of the Copyright Act will stand in light of a Jan. 18 ruling by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Dan Pronman, et al. v. Brian Styles, et al., No. 16-12157, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 824).
11th Circuit: Reduction Of Fees In Copyright Case Was Abuse Of Discretion
ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge abused his discretion when awarding a prevailing copyright infringement plaintiff just 4.9 percent of the attorney fees and 6.8 percent of the costs it requested in connection with a successful copyright infringement case, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 24 (Yellow Pages Photos Inc. v. Ziplocal LP, No. 16-11868, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1197).
Texas Federal Judge Sides With Copyright Plaintiff In Daily Newsletter Dispute
HOUSTON - Each issue of a daily newsletter constitutes a single work, and an annual subscription does not constitute a compilation under the Copyright Act, a Texas federal judge ruled Jan. 24 (Energy Intelligence Group Inc. v. Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LP and KA Fund Advisors LP, No. 14-1903, S.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9426).
Lanham Act Claims Over Political Ad Dismissed, Copyright Claims Survive
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Jan. 31 refused to decide the question of whether inclusion of an altered, copyrighted song in a 30-second advertisement critical of former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold qualifies as a fair use under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 107, deeming such a determination inappropriate in response to a motion to dismiss (Roger Nichols, et al. v. Club for Growth Action, No. 16-220, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12820).
Copyright Dispute Over Home Dismissed By New York Federal Judge
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - Allegations of copyright infringement levied in connection with a "look-a-like" home were dismissed Jan. 20 without leave to amend by a New York federal judge (Seth Fortgang, et al. v. Pereiras Architects Ubiquitous LLC, et al., No. 16-3754, E.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8175).
9th Circuit Finds Usenet Provider Not Liable For Infringement Of Adult Pictures
PASADENA, Calif. - An adult entertainment site operator failed to establish that a usenet provider acted volitionally in or obtained any direct financial benefit from its users' infringing of the site's copyrighted images, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 23, affirming dismissal of direct and indirect infringement claims against the defendant (Perfect 10 Inc. v. Giganews Inc., et al., No. 15-55500, 15-55523 and 15-56026, 9th Cir.).
Indiana Federal Judge Dismisses Amended Copyright Complaint
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Allegations that a school copied a copyrighted educational model without consent were dismissed Jan. 6 by an Indiana federal judge pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Angela Brooks-Ngwenya v. National Heritage Academies, No. 16-183, N.D. Ind.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2071).
7th Circuit Rejects Copyright Claims Against Amazon.com
CHICAGO - In what it deemed a "very unusual case," the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 6 affirmed dismissal of a dispute in which Amazon.com Inc. was accused of permitting third parties to advertise for sale six counterfeit books in violation of the Copyright Act (Reginald Hart v. Amazon.com Inc., No. 16-2793, 7th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 256).
5th Circuit Affirms: State Law Claim Preempted By Copyright Act
NEW ORLEANS - In a Jan. 11 ruling, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a Texas federal judge's determination that a state law claim of unfair competition by misappropriation - levied in connection with allegations of stolen instructional drawings - is preempted by the Copyright Act (Ultraflo Corporation v. Pelican Worldwide, et al., No. 15-20084, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 509).
Porn Firm Tells 6th Circuit Downloader Failed To Show Prejudice In Dismissal
CINCINNATI - In a Jan. 13 appellee brief filed in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, an adult entertainment company says that its abandoned infringement claim against an accused file sharer was properly dismissed with prejudice because of the defendant's dilatory discovery conduct and to serve judicial economy (Malibu Media LLC v. David Ricupero, No. 16-3628, 6th Cir.).
Majority: No Coverage For Legal Expenses Incurred Without Insurer's Approval
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 9 that an insurer has no duty to pay an insured's $405,989 in pre-tender legal expenses incurred in defending a copyright infringement lawsuit, affirming a lower court's finding that Florida's claims administration statute (CAS) does not control because the insurer relied on an exclusion and not a coverage defense in its refusal to pay the expenses (EmbroidMe.com, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 14-10616, 11th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 368).
Home Design Company Seeks High Court Review Of Intervest In Copyright Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a dispute over an architectural floor plan, a home design company asks the U.S. Supreme Court in a Dec. 21 petition for certiorari to consider whether Intervest Construction Inc. v. Canterbury Estate Homes Inc. (554 F.3d 914, 919 [11th Cir. 2008]) should be overruled in light of conflicting precedent from other appellate courts, which hold that architectural works are entitled to the same protection as other copyrightable, original works under the Federal Copyright Act (Home Design Services Inc. v. Turner Heritage Homes Inc., et al., No. 16-858, U.S. Sup.).
9th Circuit Hears Arguments On Copyright Infringement Against Urban Outfitters
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Jan. 13 in a copyright infringement lawsuit over whether a trial judge erred in finding that Urban Outfitters Inc. and a department store infringed a copyrighted fabric design and whether a jury's finding of willfulness was supported by substantial evidence (Unicolors Inc. v. Urban Outfitters Inc., et al., No. 15-55507, 9th Cir.).
Supplement Seller Seeks Review On If Influence Shows Control For Vicarious Liability
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A seller of nutritional supplement products on Jan. 24 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if an appellate court improperly held "that indirect influence is sufficient to demonstrate the required control for vicarious liability and that no proof is needed that the claimed infringements act as a draw for customers" (Stemtech International Inc. f/k/a Stemtech Healthsciences Inc. v. Andrew Paul Leonard d/b/a APL Microscopic, No. 16-928, U.S. Sup.).
Music Industry Groups Support Review In Dispute On DMCA Immunity For Pre-1972 Works
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Music industry groups argue in a Jan. 17 amicus curiae brief that the U.S. Supreme Court should take up a petition from a group of record labels asking for a review on whether the safe harbor protections from copyright infringement liability that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides for internet service providers apply to sound recordings from before 1972, which are governed by state law, rather than federal copyright law (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. Vimeo LLC, et al., No. 16-771, U.S. Sup.).
Video-Streaming Company Tells 9th Circuit Its Movie- Filtering Service Is Fair Use
SAN FRANCISCO - Appealing a trial court injunction preventing it from providing content-filtered copies of four movie studios' films to its customers, a video-on-demand (VOD) provider told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Jan. 27 brief that its services constitute fair use under the Copyright Act and are specifically protected by the Family Home Movie Act (FMA) (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 16-56843, 9th Cir.).
New York Appeals Court: No Common-Law Public Performance Right
ALBANY, N.Y. - A divided New York Court of Appeals on Dec. 20 answered "no" to the question of whether a right of public performance exists for creators of pre-1972 sound recordings under New York common law (Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. 172, N.Y. App.).
New York Federal Judge Dismisses Copyright Dispute Over Muppets Song
NEW YORK - An Italian music publisher's claim that the "Mah Na Mah Na" song popularized by the Muppets by is an unauthorized derivative of a 1966 classical composition were dismissed Dec. 29 by a New York federal judge on grounds that the publisher lacks standing to sue for copyright infringement (Creazioni Artistiche Musicali S.r.l. v. Carlin America Inc., et al., No. 14-9270, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180431).
Illinois Federal Judge Partly Grants Dismissal In Copyright Dispute
CHICAGO - An individual copyright defendant won dismissal of allegations on Dec. 20 by an Illinois federal judge, who cited a lack of evidence that the individual used a corporate defendant "as an instrument" to carry out "willful and deliberate" infringement (Live Face On Web LLC v. KAM Development LLC, et al., No. 16-8604, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175619).
Florida Federal Judge: Copyright, Trademark Case Fails To State A Claim
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Allegations by a pro se plaintiff that two individual defendants committed copyright and trademark infringement are insufficiently pleaded, a Florida federal judge ruled Dec. 6 (Daniel A. Bernath v. Don Shipley, et al., No. 16-40, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168253).
Florida Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Copyright Lawsuit By DISH Network
TAMPA, Fla. - Allegations that the owners and operators of the Arabic television service "UlaiTV" committed copyright infringement will proceed in light of a Jan. 3 ruling by a Florida federal judge (DISH Network LLC v. Gaby Fraifer, et al., No. 16-2549, M.D. Fla.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 380).
3rd Circuit Upholds Rejection Of Copyright Claims By Songwriter
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge did not err in granting pop singer Usher Terry Raymond (Usher) and myriad co-defendants summary judgment on allegations of copyright infringement nor in sanctioning the plaintiff's attorney more than $28,000 for communicating with an unrepresented defendant, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 8 (Daniel Marino v. Usher, et al., Nos. 15-2270, -2359, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 21828).
2nd Circuit: Confusion Unlikely In Copyright, Trademark Dispute
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge did not err in granting a copyright and trademark defendant summary judgment in a dispute with Louis Vuitton (LV) Malletier S.A., the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 22 (Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. My Other Bag Inc., No. 16-241, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23014).
9th Circuit Remands Relief In Copyright Case, Citing Lack Of Factual Findings
SAN FRANCISCO - An Oregon federal judge's preliminary injunction was reversed and remanded Dec. 12 by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, on grounds that the relief - first granted orally and later in writing - failed to include sufficient findings of fact or conclusions of law (Omnigen Research LLC and Prince Agri Products Inc. v. Yongquiang Wang, et al., No. 16-35471, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22024).
Video-Streaming Firm Enjoined From Editing Movies In Copyright Suit
LOS ANGELES - A video-on-demand (VOD) provider was hit with a preliminary injunction by a California federal judge Dec. 12 that prevents the firm from streaming, copying or editing works owned by the plaintiff movie studios, which accuse the company of infringement and circumventing their works' anti-piracy technology (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
Judge Declines To Stay Injunction On Video-Streaming Service Pending Appeal
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Dec. 29 declined to stay pending appeal a preliminary injunction issued against a video on demand (VOD) provider, finding that the balance of hardships weighed in favor of the plaintiff movie studios that have demonstrated a likelihood of success on their copyright infringement claims against the VOD firm (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
Citing Sovereign Immunity, Michigan Federal Judge Partly Rejects Copyright Case
DETROIT - Allegations that a university violated the Copyright Act were rejected on summary judgment Dec. 5 by a Michigan federal judge on grounds of sovereign immunity; however, the judge in the same ruling agreed that two individuals will remain in the case as copyright infringement defendants (Alisa Wolf v. Oakland University, et al., No. 15-13560, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167268).
Record Labels Ask High Court To Hear Dispute On DMCA Immunity For Pre-1972 Works
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a Dec. 14 petition for certiorari, a group of record labels ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the safe harbor protections from copyright infringement liability that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides for internet service providers apply to sound recordings from before 1972, which are governed by state law, rather than federal copyright law (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. Vimeo LLC, et al., No. 16-771, U.S. Sup.).
Accused Downloader Appeals Dismissal Of Claims Against Him Without Prejudice
CINCINNATI - A federal magistrate judge erred in granting voluntary dismissal of an adult movie studio's copyright infringement claims without prejudice, an Ohio man argues in a Dec. 21 brief in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that the disposition deprived him of the ability to seek a fees award as prevailing party for the studio's baseless lawsuit (Malibu Media LLC v. David Ricupero, No. 16-3628, 6th Cir.).
Lawyer In File-Sharing Case Again Sanctioned For Discovery Violations
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - After an appeals panel partly dismissed sanctions against an attorney as not properly reflecting the harm incurred by a copyright defendant due to the attorney's discovery misconduct and misrepresentations, an Illinois federal judge on Nov. 23 deemed the attorney's actions to be civil contempt and sanctioned him in amount equivalent to the defendant's remaining costs related to the misconduct (Lightspeed Media Corp. v. Anthony Smith, et al., No. 3:12-cv-00889, S.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162981).
Electronic Arts Prevails Before 9th Circuit In Copyright Dispute
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge properly awarded Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that the videogame maker did not infringe the copyrighted computer code of the original John Madden Football series, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 22 (Robin Antonick v. Electronic Arts Inc., No. 14-15298, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20933).
11th Circuit Affirms: Copyright Claims Barred By Settlement Agreement
ATLANTA - Finding no error in a Georgia federal judge's conclusion that a plaintiff released its claims for copyright infringement in a previous settlement agreement with third-party retailer Lands' End, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 22 affirmed a grant of summary judgment on behalf of four defendants (Genesys Software Systems v. Ceridian Corporation, et. al., No. 16-10773, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20914).
California Federal Judge Denies Motion By Copyright Plaintiff
LOS ANGELES - A dispute between a fabric designer and a manufacturer and retailer accused of selling garments that infringe upon numerous copyrighted designs will proceed, in light of a Nov. 28 decision by a California federal judge to deny the fabric designer partial summary judgment (Urban Textile v. Mark Edwards Apparel Inc., et al., No. 14-8285, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163650).
Following Bench Trial, D.C. Federal Judge Sides With Copyright Plaintiff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A plaintiff is entitled to prevail on its allegation that Poland's national public television broadcasting company violated the Copyright Act by displaying episodes of "TVP Polonia" on its website without permission, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled Dec. 2 (Spanski Enterprises Inc. v. Telewizja Polska S.A., No. 12-957, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166506).
New York Federal Judge Grants Dismissal Of Pro Se Copyright Case
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - An artist's allegation of copyright infringement in connection with an image of him taken without permission while carrying two of his own paintings were dismissed Nov. 30 by a New York federal judge (Earl Swanigan v. Kenneth Young, et al., No. 15-1272, N.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165591).
4th Circuit Affirms Ruling In Insurer's Favor In Breach Of Contract Suit
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 22 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a lawyer and his consulting firm's lawsuit alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion, unauthorized use of name and trademark and copyright infringement (Devil's Advocate LLC, et al. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 15-1048, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20952).
Politicians Denied Motion To File Amicus Brief In Family Movie Act Suit
LOS ANGELES - Two former U.S. Congressmen saw their bid to participate in a lawsuit pertaining to the Family Movie Act of 2005 (FMA) as amici curiae denied by a California federal judge Nov. 10, with the judge finding their motion to be untimely because it was filed more than 30 days after the parties' principal briefs relating to a pending motion to preliminarily enjoin an online video-on-demand (VOD) service from purportedly infringing copyrighted works (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 2:16-cv-04109, C.D. Calif.).
Microsoft Piracy Suit Against Georgia Firm May Proceed In Washington, Judge Rules
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on Nov. 10 declined to dismiss copyright, trademark and related claims against a Georgia company accused of selling pirated copies of Microsoft Corp. software, finding that Microsoft sufficiently alleged purposeful availment of Washington jurisdiction and harm experienced within the state (Microsoft Corp. v. Aventis Systems Inc., et al., No. 2:16-cv-01234, W.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156410).
Software Support Firm Denied Injunction Stay In Oracle Copyright Suit
LAS VEGAS - Finding that a copyright defendant did not demonstrate that it was likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of an infringement verdict or that it would suffer irreparable harm, a Nevada federal judge on Nov. 9 declined to stay a permanent injunction related to software created by Oracle USA Inc. pending appeal (Oracle USA Inc., et al. v. Rimini Street Inc., et al., No. 2:10-cv-00106, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155494).
Flea Market Owner Seeks Review Of Aiding, Abetting Copyright Infringement Charge
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The owner of a flea market in an Oct. 11 petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether charges for aiding and abetting copyright infringement and counterfeit goods are unconstitutionally vague because they did not provide him "a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited" (Jack Frison v. United States of America, No. 16-506, U.S. Sup.).
Newspaper Asks High Court To Decide Burden Of Proving Copyright Infringement Claim
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A newspaper organization in a Nov. 7 petition for writ of certiorari asks the U.S. Supreme Court to answer whether a plaintiff or a defendant has the burden of proving or disproving claims of copyright infringement over the distribution of a portrait of the Nation of Islam's leader, Louis Farrakhan (The Final Call Inc. v. Jesus Muhammad Ali, No. 16-647, U.S. Sup.).