Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News
Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®
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.).
4 Questions Certified To Florida Supreme Court In Sirius Copyright Case
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 29 directed the Supreme Court of Florida to address the question of whether the state "recognizes common law copyright in sound recordings and, if so, whether that copyright includes the exclusive right of reproduction and/or the exclusive right of public performance" (Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. 15-13100, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11860).
7th Circuit Rules Against Photographer In Copyright Case
CHICAGO - An Indiana federal judge properly rejected a photographer's copyright claims because although several defendants committed infringement, they promptly removed the infringing photograph from their website and their use caused no damages, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 1 (Richard Bell v. Cameron Taylor, et al., Nos. 15-2343, -3735 and 15-3731, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12175).
New York Federal Judge Sides With Fashion Website In Copyright Dispute
NEW YORK - Applying Cartoon Network LP v. CSC Holdings, Inc. (536 F.3d 121, 130 [2nd Cir. 2008]) (Cablevision) and related cases, a New York federal judge on July 15 concluded that "no reasonable juror" could find that a defendant Internet service provider "acted volitionally" when it hosted an online community that allowed users to save and display copyrighted photographs (BWP Media USA Inc. v. Polyvore Inc., No. 13-7867, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92121).
7th Circuit Partly Affirms Discovery Sanctions Against Attorney In File-Sharing Suit
CHICAGO - In a July 19 ruling, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed discovery sanctions against an attorney in a "porno-trolling collective" for what it called egregious and obstructive behavior in failing to comply with a trial court's sanctions awards against it in the wake of a dismissed file-sharing lawsuit (Lightspeed Media Corp., et al. v. Anthony Smith, et al., No. 15-2440, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13195).
California Federal Judge Reduces Award In Hookah Copyright Suit
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on July 11 partially granted a defense motion for a directed verdict, reducing by $800,000 a jury award against a retailer that sold a copyrighted hookah without the maker's permission because two of the flavors it sold were not counterfeited (Kaloud Inc. v. Shisha Land Wholesale Inc., No. 2:15-cv-3706, C.D. Calif.).
Judge Allows Damages Testimony In Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
MADISON, Wis. - In a copyright infringement lawsuit, an expert may testify that a software company did not suffer any damages at all, a Wisconsin federal judge ruled July 8 (Epic Systems Corp. v. Attachmate Corp., No. 15-179, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88572).
Federal Judge: Copyright Claims Not Likely to Succeed
TRENTON, N.J. - While recognizing that "the question of who a customer 'belongs to' may not be immediately clear," a New Jersey federal judge on June 30 nonetheless denied a copyright infringement plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction in its dispute with a competitor in the professional insurance market (Jorgensen & Company v. Gary Sutherland, et al., No. 15-7373, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85498).
Judge Awards Production Company $1.8 Million For Improper Use Of Movie Name
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 11 awarded a movie production company that asserted causes of action for copyright infringement and violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) $1,885,969.96 in damages and entered a permanent injunction ordering another entity and its owner from ever using the company's movie trademark again (Fuzzy Logic Productions Inc. v. Trapflix LLC, et al., No. 15-6203, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90290).
German Firm Says U.S. Navy Exceeded License For Virtual Reality Software
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A German-based software development firm filed suit against the U.S. government July 15 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking almost $600 million in damages for the U.S. Navy's copyright infringement, which the firm says occurred when the Navy far exceeded a limited license it had previously been granted to use the firm's virtual reality software (Bitmanagement Software GmbH v. The United States of America, No. 1:16-cv-00840, Fed. Clms.).
Complaint: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Provisions Violate 1st Amendment
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A complaint filed July 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia targets the "anti-circumvention" and "anti-trafficking" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), stating that they chill "protected and noninfringing speech that relies on copyrighted works" without providing speakers with the traditional safeguard of "the fair use doctrine" in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Matthew Green, et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice, et al., No. 1:16-cv-01492, D. D.C.).
Author Fails To Show 'Empire' Stole From Novel, Defendants Say To California Federal Court
RICHMOND, Va. - An author cannot show that defendants had access to his novel to prove that the television show "Empire" was taken from it, defendants argue to a California federal court on May 13 in a reply brief to their motion to dismiss a $1.5 billion case for copyright infringement (Timothy J. Levi v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., et al., No. 16-129, E.D. Va.).
Company Argues To U.S. Supreme Court: Cheerleader Uniforms Are 'Useful Articles'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A cheerleader uniform manufacturer's copyright-infringement claim involves the design of useful articles, not fabric designs, Star Athletica LLC argues in a July 15 petitioner's brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, also saying the features of those uniforms are inseparable from the utilitarian function of the uniforms themselves (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Supreme Court Vacates, Remands Denial Of Fee Award In Copyright Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a unanimous ruling written by Justice Elena Kagan, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 16 held that when deciding whether to award attorney fees to a prevailing party in a copyright action, district courts should give "substantial weight to the objective reasonableness of the losing party's position, while still taking into account all other" relevant circumstances (Supap Kirtsaeng, d/b/a Bluechristine99 v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 15-375, U.S. Sup.).
6th Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction In Copyright Case
CINCINNATI - A Tennessee federal judge did not abuse his discretion in preliminarily enjoining a karaoke recording distributor from using certain musical compositions belonging to Sony/ATV Publishing LLC and EMI Music Publishing Ltd., the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 9 (Sony/ATV Publishing LLC et al. v. 1729172 Ontario Inc., No. 15-6108, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10592).
New Jersey Federal Judge Issues Injunction In Copyright Case
TRENTON, N.J. - TD Bank N.A., which prevailed on allegations of copyright infringement in 2015, was granted a permanent injunction June 14 by a New Jersey federal judge (TD Bank N.A. v. Vernon W. Hill, No. 12-7188, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77025).
North Carolina Federal Judge Denies Injunction Following Jury Verdict
RALEIGH, N.C. - A plaintiff who was awarded more than $80 million at the conclusion of a fraudulent inducement and breach of license damages trial in September 2015 was nonetheless denied a permanent injunction on June 17 by a North Carolina federal judge, who noted that the defendant prevailed on summary judgment with regard to copyright infringement (SAS Institute Inc. v. World Programming Ltd., No. 10-25, E.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79234).
9th Circuit Creates Circuit Split Over De Minimis Copying Exception
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge properly granted pop star Madonna Louise Ciccone - commonly known as Madonna - and others summary judgment on allegations a modified version of a horn segment in the song "Vogue" infringed the copyrighted song "Love Break," a divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded June 2 in a decision that creates a circuit split (VMG Salsoul LLC v. Madonna Louise Ciccone, et al., Nos. 13-57104, 14-55837, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10017).
$3.5 Million Judgment Entered Against Seller Of 'Used' Digital Music
NEW YORK - In lieu of a copyright infringement damages trial, a New York federal judge on June 3 entered a stipulated judgment of $3.5 million against the operators of a digital "used" music website, which were previously deemed liable for copying and infringing Capitol Records LLC's copyrighted works (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. ReDigi Inc., et al., No. 1:12-CV-00095, S.D. N.Y.).
Federal Jury Awards Hookah Maker $2 Million In Knockoff Sales Suit
LOS ANGELES - A federal jury in California on June 8 awarded a hookah maker $2 million after finding that a wholesale retailer was selling a copyrighted hookah without the maker's permission (Kaloud Inc. v. Shisha Land Wholesale Inc., No. 2:15-cv-3706, C.D. Calif.).
9th Circuit Affirms Sanctions Against 'Copyright Troll' Firm In Downloading Suit
PASADENA, Calif. - A law firm, its principals and their shell companies engaged in fraud, vexatious litigation and a money-making scheme by misusing the subpoena power of the courts, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 10, affirming a trial court's sanctions award in favor of the John Doe defendant in one of the many copyright infringement suits the firm initiated related to purported online sharing of adult movies (Ingenuity 13 LLC, et al. v. John Doe, Nos. 13-55859, 13-55880, 13-55881, 13-55882, 13-55883, 13-55884 and 13-56028, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10557).
Judge Denies JMOL In Oracle, Google Java Retrial, Finds Jury Verdict Reasonable
SAN FRANCISCO - Two weeks after a California federal jury found that Google Inc.'s use of Java structure, sequence and organization (SSO) in its Android operating system constituted fair use under the Copyright Act, the presiding judge on June 8 denied motions for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) by Google and Oracle Inc., finding that the jury's conclusion was reasonable and rejecting both parties' contentions that only verdicts in their respective favors would have been reasonable (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 3:10-cv-03561, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74931).
7th Circuit Vacates, Remands Attorney Fee Award In Copyright Case
CHICAGO - A photographer who voluntarily dismissed his copyright infringement action should not be required to pay a defendant's request for $33,974 in attorney fees, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 17 (Richard N. Bell v. Charles Lantz, No. 15-2341, 7th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11006).
6th Circuit Affirms Attorney Fee Award In Copyright Case
CINCINNATI - A Tennessee federal judge's decision to award prevailing party attorney fees to a copyright infringement defendant was affirmed June 22 by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which rejected a plaintiff's appeal as nothing more than a "rehash" of arguments that failed in a district court (Taryn Murphy, et al. v. Sergey Lazarev, No. 15-6100, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 11633).
11th Circuit Affirms: Jury Verdict In Copyright Case Was Unsupportable
ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge did not err in granting judgment notwithstanding a jury's verdict of copyright infringement, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 17 in a dispute over an architectural floor plan (Home Design Services Inc. v. Turner Heritage Homes Inc., et al., No. 15-11912, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10962).
2nd Circuit Rules DMCA Safe Harbor Applies To Pre-1972 Works In Vimeo Suit
NEW YORK - Mostly affirming a trial court's ruling dismissing copyright infringement claims against video-sharing site operator Vimeo LLC, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 16 found that the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is available to recorded works from before 1972 that are governed by state law (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. Vimeo LLC, et al., No. 14-1048, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10884).
Royal Manticoran Navy To High Court: Simple Shapes Are Not Copyrightable
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association Inc. (TRMN) filed an amicus curiae brief on May 26 telling the U.S. Supreme Court that simple shapes are not by themselves copyrightable as they are staple or commonplace geometric shapes (Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al., No. 15-866, U.S. Sup.).
Writer Asks 9th Circuit To Reinstate Rescission Claim Against Disney In Copyright Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - A Florida writer argues in June 1 brief to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a trial judge should not have tossed his copyright suit against the Walt Disney Co. over its "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise because he provided the company with proper notice of his intentions to rescind a release and settlement agreement (Royce Mathew v. The Walt Disney Co., et al., No. 15-56726, 9th Cir.).
Writer Seeks Review On Attorney Fees With High Court In Copyright Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A writer accusing a movie company and film director James Cameron of stealing his copyrighted work asks the U.S. Supreme Court in a June 14 petition to consider his case on whether a federal court acted in fraud and with regard to its award of attorney fees to defendants (Bryant Moore v. Lightstorm Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-1520, U.S. Sup.).
Kanye West, Jay Z Argue To 2nd Circuit No Infringement In 'Made In America' Song
NEW YORK - Kanye West and Jay Z and other artists assert in a May 19 brief to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that it should affirm a lower court decision dismissing copyright infringement claims over their song "Made in America," saying it has no protectable similarities with a song of the same name by another musician (Joel R. McDonald aka Joel Mac v. Kanye West, et al., No. 15-3489, 2nd Cir.).