Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®
Oral Arguments Held In 'Useful Articles' Copyright Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although a respondent's two-dimensional cheerleader uniform designs are themselves copyrightable, those copyrights do not extend to prevent others from making the useful article depicted in the two-dimensional designs, an attorney for cheerleading uniform manufacturer Star Athletica LLC told the U.S. Supreme Court Oct. 31 (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Government Invited To Weigh In Before Supreme Court In Copyright Fair Use Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In its Oct. 31 orders list, the U.S. Supreme Court invited the views of the solicitor general in a dispute over a YouTube user's claim that three music publishers should be subject to takedown notice liability under Section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because they demanded removal of a video from the website without a good faith belief that the video was not a fair use (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., Nos. 16-217 & 16-218, U.S. Sup.).
8th Circuit Upholds Injunction, Award In Copyright, Trademark Case
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge's decision to permanently enjoin four defendants from licensing images or phrases from the iconic films Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz as well as images from the animated Tom and Jerry short films was affirmed Nov. 1 by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. v. X One X Productions, et al., No. 15-3728, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 19671).
2nd Circuit Partly Vacates DMCA Safe Harbor Rulings In Favor Of MP3Tunes
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge applied "too narrow" a definition of "repeat infringer" in finding that the former music downloading site MP3Tunes LLC qualified for safe harbor immunity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 25 (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. MP3Tunes LLC, et al., Nos. 14-4369, -4509, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 19236).
California Federal Judge Rejects Equitable Estoppel Defense In Copyright Case
SAN FRANCISCO - A jury's award of $30.4 million in favor of a copyright infringement plaintiff will stand in light of an Oct. 24 ruling by a California federal judge that turned away a defendant's assertion of equitable estoppel (Synopsys Inc. v. ATopTech Inc., No. 13-2965, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147088).
Judge Refuses To Allow Insurer To Intervene In Copyright Infringement Dispute
CLEVELAND - An Ohio federal judge on Oct. 17 denied a commercial property's insurer motion to intervene in a copyright infringement dispute, finding that the insurer lacks a substantial interest in the case and that the insurance action would not share questions of law or fact with the copyright lawsuit (Design Basics LLC v. A.J. Bokar Building Company Inc. d/b/a Willow Wood Homes, No. 16-669, N.D. Ohio; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143464).
Ohio Panel: Court Erred In Finding Audit Request Was Not Claim Under Policy
LIMA, Ohio - Reversing a lower court in part, an Ohio appeals court on Oct. 11 held that the court erred in finding that an audit request in an underlying copyright infringement dispute was not a "claim" under an insurance policy (Eighth Floor Promotions v. The Cincinnati Insurance Companies, No. 10-15-19, Ohio App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4119).
2nd Circuit Affirms: 'Made In America' Song Does Not Infringe Copyright
NEW YORK - Findings by a New York federal judge that Kanye West, Jay Z and other artists did not commit copyright infringement through their song "Made in America" were proper, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 7 (Joel R. McDonald aka Joel Mac v. Kanye West, et al., No. 15-3489, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18291).
2nd Circuit: Copyright Interest In 'Who's On First' Routine Lacking
NEW YORK - Although rejecting a New York federal judge's determination that incorporation of Abbott and Costello's iconic "Who's on First" comedy routine into a Broadway play was a fair use, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 nonetheless affirmed dismissal of the case after finding that plaintiffs failed to assert the existence of a plausible copyright interest (TCA Television Corp., et al., v. Kevin McCollum, et al., No. 16-134, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18333).
Missouri Federal Judge Finds For Restaurant Franchisor In Franchise Agreement Dispute
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on Oct. 3 ruled that Lion's Choice franchisee Valley Beef LLC's continued operation of its franchise after the termination of its franchise agreement constitutes a violation of the franchise agreement and a violation of Lion' Choice's trademarks and copyrights (LC Franchisor LLC, et al. v. Valley Beef LLC, No. 4:15-cv-00383, E.D. Mo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136790).
New York Federal Judge: No Sanctions For Attorney In Copyright, Lanham Act Case
NEW YORK - Although finding "much to criticize" in the conduct of an attorney who advanced allegations of copyright infringement and violations of the Lanham Act in a third-party action against Viacom and others, a New York federal judge on Oct. 5 nonetheless declined a request for sanctions in the case (Scrilla Hill Entertainment Inc., et al. v. Bianca Dupree, et al., No. 16-490, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138346).
Music Publishers Ask High Court To Reject Petition On Fair Use In Copyright Dispute
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Music publishers argue in a Sept. 26 opposition brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that it should not consider whether a YouTube user is excused from liability under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because the user lacks standing to make her claim of a good faith belief that her video was protected under the fair use doctrine (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., Nos. 16-217 & 16-218, U.S. Sup.).
Amylin Says To Supreme Court: Decision On Limitations Period Does Not Conflict With Petrella
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An appellate court's decision that a copyright complaint must be dismissed for falling outside the three-year statute of limitations proscribed by the Copyright Act does not conflict with Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (134 S. Ct. 1962, 1969 ), Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Amylin Pharmaceuticals LLC (Amylin, collectively) argue in a Sept. 30 brief to the U.S. Supreme Court (Consumer Health Information Corp. v. Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 16-282, U.S. Sup.).
Service Provider Says It Qualifies For Section 111 License In Copyright Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a copyright infringement action, a service provider argues in a Sept. 28 brief to the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that it qualifies for a license under Copyright Act Section 111 because it operates physical facilities that receive broadcast programming and then retransmits that programming over wires and other communications channels, including the internet, to paying subscribers (FilmOn X LLC, et al. v. Fox Television Stations Inc., et al., No. 16-7013, D.C. Cir.).
Music Companies Seek Dismissal Of Class Action On Copyright To Folk Song
NEW YORK - Music companies that claim ownership in the folk song "This Land Is Your Land" argue in an Oct. 10 reply brief that a New York federal court should dismiss a class action aimed at freeing the song for all to use because there is no subject matter jurisdiction (James Saint-Amour and Alena Ivleva a/k/a Jerra Blues, doing business as Satorii v. The Richmond Organization Inc. [TRO Inc.] and Ludlow Music Inc., No. 16-04464, S.D. N.Y.).
Oracle Denied New Trial, Judgment In Java Suit Post-Trial Proceedings
SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle America Inc. saw its post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) and for a new trial denied by a California federal judge Sept. 27, who found that defendant Google Inc. did not engage in any discovery misconduct meriting a new trial (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 3:10-cv-03561, N.D. Calif.).
Wisconsin Federal Judge Clears Path For Trial, Won't Invalidate Copyrights
MILWAUKEE - Efforts by myriad infringement defendants to invalidate various copyrights as a sanction for the alleged spoliation of evidence were unsuccessful on Sept. 12, when a Wisconsin federal judge denied the request and instead scheduled the case for trial, indicating that no reference to spoliation will appear in the jury instructions (Design Basics LLC v. Campbellsport Building Supply Inc., et al., No. 13-560, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123126).
With Registration Requirement Now Met, West Virginia Judge Reinstates Copyright Case
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - One month after dismissing a purported copyright infringement case, a West Virginia federal judge on Sept. 12 granted a plaintiff leave to amend in light of the plaintiff's recently received copyright registrations (CSS Inc. v. Christopher Herrington, et al., No. 16-1762, S.D. W.Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122869).
9th Circuit Affirms: Copyright Plaintiff Failed To Prove Access To Work
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge properly granted three defendants summary judgment on allegations that they infringed a copyrighted two-measure vocal melody in their hit song "Domino" because the plaintiff failed to present any admissible evidence that established access to the allegedly infringed work, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 2 (Will Loomis v. Jessie J., et al., No. 13-57093, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16261).
Dismissal Of Copyright Claims Against Beyonce Explained By Federal Judge
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 12 explained, in writing, his Aug. 31 "bottom-line Order" that dismissed allegations of copyright infringement levied against pop star Beyonce and others associated with the film and musical album "Lemonade" (Matthew Fulks v. Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, et al., No. 16-4278, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123150).
5th Circuit Affirms: Trade Secret Claims Not Preempted By Copyright Act
NEW ORLEANS - A $15 million judgment on allegations of trade secret misappropriation will stand, in light of findings on Sept. 7 by the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that the case is not preempted by the Copyright Act (GlobeRanger Corporation v. Software AG, No. 15-10121, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16429).
9th Circuit Reverses Dismissal Of Effort To Enforce Copyright Award
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in refusing to enforce a 2 million Euro judgment ordered by a French court against an American art editor accused of copyright violations under the California Uniform Foreign-Court Monetary Judgment Recognition Act, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 26 (Yves Sicre de Fontbrune v. Alan Wofsy, No. 14-15790, 9th Cir. 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17477).
Trademark Counterclaim Survives Motion In New Jersey Federal Litigation
TRENTON, N.J. - Counterclaims of contributory copyright infringement were rejected Sept. 22 by a New Jersey federal judge as barred by the economic loss doctrine because the allegations giving rise to the counterclaim are not "separate and distinct" from a related breach of contract counterclaim (Air Express International d/b/a DHL Global Forwarding Corporation v. LOG-NET Inc., No. 12-1732, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129409).
New York Federal Judge Won't Strike Innocent Infringement Defense
NEW YORK - Although agreeing with three textbook publishers that a defendant cannot raise the affirmative defenses of copyright misuse and unclean hands to allegations of infringement, a New York federal judge on Sept. 19 denied a motion to strike the related affirmative defense of "innocent infringement" (John Wiley & Sons Inc., et al. v. Book Dog Books LLC, et al., No. 13-816, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127307).
Temporary Restraining Order, Dismissal Denied In Texas Copyright Case
DALLAS - Efforts by a copyright infringement and false advertising plaintiff to obtain a temporary restraining order barring the construction of a single-family home were unsuccessful Sept. 16, when a Texas federal judge denied the request (The Joseph Paul Corporation d/b/a The Joseph Paul Homes v. Trademark Custom Homes, Inc., et al., No. 16-1651, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126206).
Allegations That Textbook Maker Exceeded Copyright License Will Proceed
NEW YORK - Efforts by McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC and McGraw-Hill School Education Holdings LLC (McGraw-Hill, collectively) to dismiss allegations of copyright infringement were unsuccessful Sept. 16, when a New York federal judge rejected the textbook publishers' claim that 14 disputed photographs are in the public domain (Joseph Sohm v. McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC, et al., No. 16-4255, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126836).
ABC, Yahoo Sued Over Broadcast, Posting Of Live Birth Video
NEW YORK - American Broadcasting Cos. Inc. (ABC) and Yahoo! Inc. were named as defendants in a Sept. 22 complaint in New York federal court by a man who claims that the companies breached the copyright in his video of a live birth that was aired on television and posted online without his permission (Kali Kanongataa v. American Broadcasting Companies Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-07382, S.D. N.Y.).
YouTube User Seeks High Court Clarification On Fair Use In Copyright Dispute
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A YouTube user asks the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 12 petition for certiorari to consider whether a user is liable under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when she had a good faith belief that a video was protected by the fair use doctrine (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., Nos. 16-217 & 16-218, U.S. Sup.).
Company Tells Supreme Court Appellate Decision On Limitations Period Conflicts With Petrella
CHICAGO - An appellate court's decision that a copyright complaint must be dismissed for falling outside the three-year statute of limitations proscribed by the Copyright Act conflicts with Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (134 S. Ct. 1962, 1969 ), Consumer Health Information Corp. (CHIC) says in a July 14 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court (Consumer Health Information Corp. v. Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 16-282, U.S. Sup.).
Manufacturer To U.S. High Court: Cheerleader Uniforms Are Copyright Protected
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two-dimensional graphic designs are eligible for copyright protection, a cheerleader uniform manufacturer argues in a Sept. 14 response brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, further explaining that the protection is not lost when the designs appear on three-dimensional cheerleading uniforms (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Google, Oracle Spar Over Post-Judgment Sanctions For Financial Info Disclosure
SAN FRANCISCO - In an Aug. 8 opposition brief filed in California federal court, Oracle America Inc. calls a post-trial motion for civil contempt and sanctions by Google Inc. "unprecedented," asserting that the discovery trial statements that purportedly disclosed confidential information "were responsive" to arguments from Google and probing questions from the presiding magistrate (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 3:10-cv-03561, N.D. Calif.).
Internet Service Provider Launches Appeal Of Copyright Verdict
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Aug. 23 transmitted to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals an Aug. 19 notice of appeal by Cox Communications Inc. and CoxCom (Cox, collectively) of a December 2015 jury verdict that the Internet service providers (ISPs) committed contributory copyright infringement (BMG Rights Management [US] LLC v. Cox Communications Inc., et al., No. 14-1611, E.D. Va.).
9th Circuit: Willful Copyright Infringement Claim Improperly Rejected
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in granting Live Nation Merchandise Inc. summary judgment on allegations of willful infringement because a reasonable jury could have concluded that Live Nation distributed a plaintiff's photographs with knowledge that copyright management information (CMI) had been removed, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 18 (Glen E. Friedman v. Live Nation Merchandise Inc., No. 14-55302, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15178).
3rd Circuit Affirms: Defendant Benefitted From Distributor Infringement
PHILADELPHIA - A Delaware federal judge did not err in upholding a jury verdict of direct and contributory copyright infringement in a dispute over stem cell photographs, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 24 (Andrew Paul Leonard, et al. v. Stemtech International Inc., Nos. 15-9138, -3247, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15565).
Illinois Federal Judge Says Meijer, Others Infringed Copyright
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A copyright infringement plaintiff on Aug. 25 won partial summary judgment when an Illinois federal judge found that the "undisputed facts" demonstrate that three defendants copied the "particularized expression" of an idea for a clothespin featuring a silhouetted bird design (Design Ideas Ltd. v. Meijer Inc., et al., No. 15-3093, C.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113704).
Federal Judge Declares Copyrights, Trade Dress, Patents Not Infringed
FORT WORTH, Texas - A defendant has failed to show "where, how and why" a plaintiff's planned fiberglass utility body (FUB) would infringe any protectable trade dress belonging to the defendant, thereby entitling the plaintiff to a declaration of noninfringement, a Texas federal judge ruled Aug. 29 (Industrial Models Inc. v. SNF Inc., et al., No. 15-689, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115644).
Illinois Federal Judge: Television Commercials Not Substantially Similar
CHICAGO - Allegations that Steak n Shake Inc. infringed the copyrighted television advertisement of a competitor were rejected Aug. 5 by an Illinois federal judge, who deemed the commercials dissimilar (Culver Franchising System Inc. v. Steak n Shake Inc., No. 16-75, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103091).
2nd Circuit Vacates Copyright Holding In Favor Of Sony
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge's rejection of copyright infringement claims against Sony Music Entertainment - based upon a determination that the "Iron Man" composition was a work for hire commissioned by Marvel Comics - was vacated July 29 by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that material fact issues regarding ownership should have precluded summary judgment (Jack Urbont v. Sony Music Entertainment et al., No. 15-1778, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13775).
Florida Federal Judge Strikes Defenses, Dismisses Copyright Counterclaims
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A seven-count declaratory judgment counterclaim was rejected in its entirety by a Florida federal judge on Aug. 30 as a shotgun pleading without prejudice to refile, with the exception of two counts seeking cancellation of a plaintiff's copyright and an award of attorney fees, which were dismissed with prejudice (PK Studios Inc. v. R.L.R. Investments LLC, et al., No. 15-389, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116057).
4th Circuit Orders Forfeiture Of Megaupload's Foreign-Held Assets
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority on Aug. 12 upheld a trial court ruling ordering the forfeiture to the U.S. government of New Zealand and Hong Kong-held assets of now defunct Internet file storage service Megaupload and others involved in a criminal copyright infringement conspiracy, finding the forfeiture to be supported by the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) (United States of America v. Finn Batato, et al., No. 15-1360, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14861).
Copyright Owners Ask High Court To Deny Review Of Copyright Term Extension Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Copyright owners to the classic holiday song "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" argue to the U.S. Supreme Court in an Aug. 8 response brief that an appellate court did not err in rejecting a music company's bid to reconsider publisher's rights under Section 304(d) of the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1978 (CTEA), which is set to expire (EMI Feist Catalog Inc. v. Gloria Coots Baldwin, et al., No. 15-1335, U.S. Sup.).
Music Publishers Argue Class Action State Law Claims Are Preempted Under Copyright Act
NEW YORK - Music publishers argue in an Aug. 20 reply brief that a New York federal court should dismiss a proposed class action seeking licensing fees collected from their alleged copyright to the song "We Shall Overcome" because the copyright is valid and that the class action plaintiffs' state law claims are preempted under the Copyright Act (We Shall Overcome Foundation and Butler Films LLC v. The Richmond Organization Inc. and Ludlow Music Inc., No. 16-02725, S.D. N.Y.).
Amicus Curiae Filers Tell U.S. High Court Cheerleader Uniforms Are 'Useful Articles'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A garment is a "useful article" that cannot be copyrighted, amicus curiae filers argue in a July 22 brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Star Athletica LLC's argument that a cheerleader uniform manufacturer's copyright infringement claim involves the design of useful articles, not fabric designs (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Oracle To California Federal Court: Google's Copying Of Java Was Not Fair Use
SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle America Inc. argues in a July 27 brief that a California federal jury was wrong to find that Google Inc.'s use of its copyrighted Java software code was protected by fair use because a reasonable jury could not have found that the use of the Java code was not transformative (Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 10-03561, N.D. Calif.).