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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News

Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®


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.).

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).

Federal Magistrate Judge Rejects Alter-Ego Theory Of Liability In Copyright Case
NEW YORK - A plaintiff on Oct. 19 won the right to amend his complaint to add several individual and corporate defendants in a New York copyright infringement dispute (Joseph Separzadeh v. Iconix Brand Group Inc., et al., No. 15-8643, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144772).

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 [2014]), 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.).