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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Copyright Legal News

Headline Copyright Legal News from LexisNexis®


Federal Magistrate Judge Requests Briefing On Copyright Defenses
SAN DIEGO - A California federal magistrate judge on Aug. 4 directed Conan O'Brien and other copyright infringement co-defendants to file a proposed amended answer and supplemental brief justifying their request to reopen discovery in the case, based upon representations by plaintiff's counsel that an underlying copyright registration will be canceled or corrected (Robert Alexander Kaseberg v. Conan O'Brien, et al., No. 15-1637, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123703).

Florida Federal Judge Grants $1.1 Million Fee Award In Copyright Case
TAMPA, Fla. - On remand from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Florida federal judge on Aug. 8 found that although the number of hours spent pursuing copyright infringement claims was "excessively high," a plaintiff was nonetheless entitled to an award of $1.1 million in attorney fees (Yellow Pages Photos Inc. v. Ziplocal LP, et al., No. 12-755, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125028).

California Federal Judge Denies Dismissal Of Criminal Copyright Claim
SAN FRANCISCO - Allegations that a defendant gained access to copyrighted electronic design automation (EDA) software through fraud in violation of the Copyright Act are adequately pleaded, a California federal judge ruled Aug. 15 in denying a motion to dismiss (Synopsys Inc. v. Ubiquiti Network Inc., et al., No. 17-561, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130070).

Illinois Federal Judge Denies Dismissal Of Copyright Claims
CHICAGO - Although granting one defendant's motion to dismiss allegations of professional negligence as preempted by the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 301(a), an Illinois federal judge on Aug. 21 denied another defendant's request for dismissal of contributory and vicarious infringement claims (UIRC-GSA Holdings Inc. v. William Blair & Company, et al., No. 15-9518, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133287).

Indiana Federal Judge Rejects Copyright Claims Over Pontoon Boat Designs
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In an Aug. 22 ruling, an Indiana federal judge dismissed allegations that a defendant violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 512 et seq., and the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., when it applied certain graphic designs to pontoon boats because the complaint fails to allege with specificity the nature of the copyrighted work (The Art of Design Inc. v. Pontoon Boat LLC, et al., No. 16-595, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133672).

6th Circuit: Dismissal Of Declaratory Judgment Copyright Claim Was Proper
CINCINNATI - An Ohio federal magistrate judge did not err in dismissing, as redundant, a declaratory judgment counterclaim of noninfringement filed by an alleged downloader of various copyrighted films, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 28 (Malibu Media LLC v. David Ricupero, No. 16-3628, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16586).

New York Federal Judge Grants Request For Dismissal Of Software Copyright Case
NEW YORK - Allegations that a law firm specializing in real estate and four of its partners infringed copyrighted software were dismissed, with leave to amend, by a New York federal judge on Aug. 30 on grounds that the complaint lacks requisite specificity (Automated Management Systems Inc. v. Rappaport Hertz Cherson Rosenthal, et al., No. 16-4762, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139728).

Amazon Wins Dismissal Of Copyright Claims In Pennsylvania Federal Court
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 16 agreed with Inc. and Amazon Web Services Inc. (moving defendants, collectively) that a pro se plaintiff's claims of copyright infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act should be dismissed (Gordon Roy Parker v. PayPal Inc., et al., No. 16-4786, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130800).

9th Circuit Finds VidAngel's Filtering Service Infringing, Affirms Injunction
SAN FRANCISCO - Four movie studio plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their copyright infringement claims against a video-streaming service that provides filtered, family-friendly copies of movies, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Aug. 24, affirming a preliminary injunction preventing any filtering of the plaintiffs' works (Disney Enterprises Inc., et al. v. VidAngel Inc., No. 16-56843, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16188).

Pro Se Plaintiff Defeats Request For Dismissal Of Florida DMCA Claim
ORLANDO, Fla. - Allegations that a ministry and its minister made knowingly false representations of copyright infringement to YouTube in an effort to take down a plaintiff's YouTube channel will proceed, a Florida federal judge ruled Aug. 25 (Shirley Johnson v. New Destiny Christian Center Church Inc., et al., No. 17-710, M.D. Fla.).

Pillowcase Maker Tells High Court Amazon Is Liable For Selling Infringing Goods
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Appealing rulings in favor of Inc. by both a trial court and an appeals court, the maker of a line of children's pillowcases filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 21, seeking review of the standards for determining when an online retailer is liable for copyright or patent infringement from the sale of third parties' counterfeit goods (Milo & Gabby LLC, et al. v. Inc., No. 17-287, U.S. Sup.).

ISP, Music Publisher Debate Dismissal Of Copyright Declaratory Suit In 2nd Circuit
NEW YORK - In briefs filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, an internet service provider (ISP) and a music-publishing firm argue over whether a trial court properly dismissed the ISP's declaratory judgment action related to claims of online infringement of the firm's copyrighted songs by the ISP's customers (Windstream Services LLC v. BMG Rights Management [US] LLC, et al., No. 17-1515, 2nd Cir.).

Oracle To Federal Circuit: Google's Java Code Copying For Android Wasn't Fair Use
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an Aug. 4 reply brief, Oracle America Inc. calls a fair-use ruling in favor of Google Inc. "an aberration," telling the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that Google copied a substantial amount of its Java code in creating the Android operating system (OP), which competes directly with its Java-based products (Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 17-1118 and 17-1202, Fed. Cir.).

Screenplay Copyright Owner Asks High Court To Review Selection, Arrangement Test
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Appealing noninfringement rulings by trial and appeals courts, the owner of a screenplay filed a petition for certiorari July 31, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the proper standard for determining substantial similarity between two works when the alleged infringers had access to the purportedly infringed work (Shame On You Productions Inc. v. Elizabeth Banks, et al., No. 17-180, U.S. Sup.).

North Carolina Federal Judge Denies Motion Challenging Copyright Ownership
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A request for summary judgment by a copyright infringement defendant was denied July 21 by a North Carolina federal judge, who found that material issues of factual dispute remain with regard to whether a plaintiff qualifies as an author or co-author of disputed architectural plans (Brookwood Remodeling and Homebuilding LLC v. Landis Reed Homes LLC, No. 16-186, W.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113629).

11th Circuit Upholds Rejection Of Copyright, Trademark Claims
ATLANTA - Allegations that a copyright and trademark infringement defendant befriended a plaintiff under false pretenses in order to misappropriate portions of her autobiography for a line of perfumes were properly rejected by a Georgia federal judge, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 18 (Daisy Byrd Mobley v. Claire Fermont-Langlais, et al., No. 16-12340, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12841).

5th Circuit Affirms: Copyright Claim Against American Girl Fails
NEW ORLEANS - Allegations that several books in the "American Girl" series infringe the copyright of an unpublished novel were properly rejected by a Louisiana federal judge, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held June 29 in a per curiam ruling (Melva Leona Vallery v. American Girl L.L.C., No. 15-30472, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11647).

Induced Copyright Infringement Claim Tossed By California Federal Judge
SAN DIEGO - Allegations that various individuals working at the behest of musician Carlos Santana induced others to infringe copyrighted artwork were dismissed July 6 by a California federal judge (Eric Gottesman v. Carlos Santana, et al., No. 16-2902, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104548).

Judge Denies Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion In Trade Secrets Suit
BOSTON - Defendants in a copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit failed to show that summary judgment is warranted with regard to the misappropriation claims because a jury could reasonably determine that the defendants misrepresented each of the trade secrets at issue and that each of those trade secrets was not publicly available or disclosed, a federal judge in Massachusetts ruled July 19 in denying the motion (Iconics Inc. v. Simone Massaro, et al., No. 11-11526, D. Mass, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112042).

Motions For Judgment, Relief Filed In Remanded MP3tunes Copyright Suit
NEW YORK - Following an appeals court ruling and a denial of certiorari, the founder of now-defunct online music-sharing service MP3tunes LLC on July 28 asked a New York federal judge to grant him relief from a previous adverse judgment, citing new precedent that he says controls what claims may be brought against an out-of-state defendant (Capitol Records LLC, et al. v. MP3tunes LLC, et al., No. 1:07-cv-09931, S.D. N.Y.).

West Virginia Federal Judge Denies Relief In Copyright, Trade Secret Row
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Allegations of copyright infringement by a software provider against a former employee stemming from his allegedly unauthorized use of source code are unlikely to succeed, a West Virginia federal judge held Aug. 1, denying entry of preliminary injunctive relief (CSS Inc. v. Christopher Herrington, et al., No. 16-1762, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120396).

California Federal Judge Allows Oracle To Amend Copyright Claims
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on July 25 agreed to permit Oracle America Inc. to amend its complaint against Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) to address a California magistrate judge's November 2016 ruling that Oracle's allegations of international copyright infringement were inadequately pleaded (Oracle America Inc. v. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, No. 16-1393, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116298).

Architectural Expert's Testimony Mostly Allowed In Home Design Copyright Case
CLEVELAND - Most of an architectural expert's testimony in a home design copyright infringement case is reliable and will be helpful in deciding the key issues in dispute; however, he is not allowed to give legal opinions or "dictate the conclusion" of the case, an Ohio federal magistrate judge held July 3 (Design Basics LLC v. Petros Homes Inc., et al., No. 14-1966, N.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102931).

California Magistrate Judge Dismisses Trade Secret, Copyright Misuse Claims
SAN FRANCISCO - An affirmative defense of copyright misuse was stricken by a California federal judge on July 5 in a dispute over golf club and golf training aid designs (Jonathan Wang v. Golf Tailor LLC, No. 17-898, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103654).

New York Federal Copyright Claim Against Associated Press Survives Motion
NEW YORK - A request by The Associated Press and Hearst Communications Inc. for judgment on the pleadings on allegations that they committed copyright infringement was denied July 7 by a New York federal judge, who found that material issues of disputed fact exist with regard to the date the infringement first took place (Michael Grecco v. The Associated Press, et al., No. 16-6240, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105264).

Internet Service Provider Appeals Infringement Ruling, Fees Award To 4th Circuit
RICHMOND, Va. - With briefing completed on its appeal of a trial court finding it contributorily liable for users' online infringement, an internet service provider (ISP) on June 28 filed a supplemental brief in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, voicing its objections to a subsequent award of attorney fees against it (BMG Rights Management [US] LLC, et al. v. Cox Communications Inc., et al., No. 16-1972, 17-1352 and 17-1353, 4th Cir.).

Megaupload Executives Say Circuit Split Requires Review Of Foreign Asset Seizure
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Former executives of the now-defunct file-sharing service Megaupload filed a reply brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on June 21, supporting their petition for certiorari and urging review and clarification of procedures governing the seizure of foreign assets under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), which the petitioners say the U.S. government wrongly invoked to seize their assets in a criminal copyright case (Finn Batato, et al. v. United States of America, No. 16-1206, U.S. Sup.).

Amazon Waives Right To Respond To Author's DMCA Claims, Petition For Certiorari
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the wake of trial and appeals court rulings in its favor, Inc. on June 28 waived its right to respond to a pro se plaintiff's petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, in which he asserts that the online retailer was negligent in its duty to remove infringing items from its website under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (Reginald Hart v. Inc., No. 16-1549, U.S. Sup.).

Copyright Immunity To Antitrust Claims Debated In Supreme Court Briefs
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An airport chart maker and an app developer recently presented arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the assertion of intellectual property rights serves to immunize a property owner from antitrust claims (SolidFX, LLC v. Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc., No. 16-1303, U.S. Sup.).

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari In Dancing Baby Copyright Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following a May amicus brief from the U.S. government urging that certiorari be denied in a longstanding copyright dispute over a viral video, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 19 indicated that it will not hear the case (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., No. 16-217, U.S. Sup.).

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari In Copyright Preemption Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In its June 19 orders list the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will not review a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that Section 301(a) of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 301(a), preempts state law claims relating to ideas expressed in tangible media (Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts Inc., et al., No. 16-1085, U.S. Sup.).

High Court Denies MP3Tunes Founder's Jurisdictional Challenge In Copyright Suit
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In its June 19 order list, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari by the founder of now-defunct online music-sharing service MP3Tunes LLC, who argued that neither he nor his former company had sufficient contacts with New York to establish personal jurisdiction over him in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by a group of record labels (Michael Robertson v. EMI Christian Music Group, et al., No. 16-1227, U.S. Sup., 2017 U.S. LEXIS 3969).

7th Circuit Affirms: House Plans Dissimilar, Access Not Proven
CHICAGO - A Wisconsin federal judge did not err in granting a copyright infringement defendant summary judgment in connection with allegations that it infringed four copyrighted house designs, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 6 (Design Basics LLC v. Lexington Homes, Inc., No. 16-3817, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9985).

Copyright Defendant Zillow Partly Prevails Following Adverse $8.2 Million Verdict
SEATTLE - Jurors who in February deemed Zillow Inc. an infringer of 28,125 copyrighted images did not hear sufficient evidence from which to conclude that Zillow failed to take "simple measures" to remove the works from its "Zillow Digs" mobile app, a Washington federal judge ruled June 20 (VHT Inc. v. Zillow Group Inc., No. 15-1096, W.D. Wash.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95010).

9th Circuit Upholds Copyright, Trademark Judgment And Award
SAN FRANCISCO - A $1.95 million statutory damage award issued in favor of copyright and trademark infringement plaintiff Microsoft Corp. will stand, in light of a June 27 ruling by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Microsoft Corp. v. Buy More Inc., et al., No. 15-56544, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11454).

No Irreparable Harm Showing Leads To Denial Of Injunction In Trade Secrets Suit
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A software company has failed to show that it will suffer irreparable harm unless an injunction is issued preventing defendants in a misappropriation of trade secrets and copyright infringement lawsuit from continuing to misappropriate the company's confidential and proprietary information a federal judge in Florida ruled June 12 in denying the company's motion for preliminary injunction (Compulife Software Inc. v. Moses Newman, et al., No. 16-81942, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89674).

Illinois Federal Judge: State Law Claims Are Preempted By Copyright Act
CHICAGO - Allegations by the heir of songwriter Calvin Carter that various music publishers committed contributory and vicarious copyright infringement by licensing to third parties the performance rights to Carter's work will proceed, an Illinois federal judge ruled June 9 (Tollie Carter v. ARC/Conrad Music LLC, et al., No. 16-6786, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88509).

Texas Magistrate Judge Primarily Rejects Effort To Dismiss Copyright Claims
AUSTIN, Texas - Allegations by a stock photography agency that McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC and McGraw-Hill School Education Holdings LLC (McGraw-Hill, collectively) exceeded the scope of their license to use certain photographs in textbooks and other publications should largely proceed, a Texas federal magistrate judge ruled June 12 (Bob Daemmrich Photography Inc. v. McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings LLC, et al., No. 15-1098, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89550).

New York Federal Judge Rejects Bid For Dismissal Of Copyright Claims
NEW YORK - Efforts by Justin Timberlake and other defendants to dismiss a request for copyright infringement damages occurring before Feb. 17, 2013, were denied June 13 by a New York federal judge (PK Music Performance Inc. v. Justin Timberlake, et al., No. 16-1215, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90562).

Copyright Claim Over Reposted Skyline Photo Dismissed Against Government Official
INDIANAPOLIS - A photographer failed to establish any individual liability against the director of a government agency related to the unauthorized posting of a copyrighted photograph, an Indiana federal judge ruled June 12, granting dismissal of infringement and unfair competition claims against the official (Richard N. Bell v. David N. Powell, et al., No. 1:16-cv-02491, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89587).

Federal Judge Refuses To Transfer Coverage Suit Over Intellectual Property Claims
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on June 13 denied a general liability insurer's motion to transfer the venue of an insured's lawsuit seeking coverage for underlying claims that it violated Microsoft Inc.'s intellectual property rights and committed wrongful business practices (TekVisions Inc. v. The Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., No. 16-1946, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91583).

Professional Services Exclusion Does Not Apply, Federal Judge Reiterates
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on June 21 denied insurers' motion to reconsider an earlier ruling that a professional services exclusion does not apply to bar coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging that a consulting company insured conspired with a competitor's former employee to use the competitor's copyrighted material and other confidential information (Caveo, LLC v. Citizens Insurance Company of America, Inc., et al., No. 15-6200, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95432).

DOJ Defends Seizing Of Foreign Megaupload Assets To Supreme Court
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a June 7 brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opposes a petition for certiorari by former executives of the now-defunct file-sharing service Megaupload, arguing that a trial court properly deemed them fugitives and ordered seizure of their foreign-held assets in accordance with the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) (Finn Batato, et al. v. United States of America, No. 16-1206, U.S. Sup.).

YouTube User Says High Court Review Of DMCA Fair Use Is Needed
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a May 19 supplemental brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, filed in response to an amicus curiae brief filed by the U.S. government, a woman whose video was removed from YouTube for purported copyright violation, argues that her petition for certiorari should be granted to ensure that the safe harbor parameters of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), such as fair use, "are properly construed" (Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., No. 16-217, U.S. Sup.).

Vacating Of Fees, Sanctions In Copyright Suit Over Film Appealed To 2nd Circuit
NEW YORK - In a June 16 appellant brief to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a film production firm argues that a trial court's remand order, which vacated a previous award of attorney fees and sanctions against a director and his attorney in a copyright dispute over a short film, was based on a misinterpretation of an earlier Second Circuit ruling that had recommended reconsideration of just a small portion of the award (16 Casa Duse LLC v. Alex Merkin, et al., No. 17-0625, 2nd Cir.).