A federal appeals court has partially sided with real estate giant Zillow in important decision involving the long-running copyright battle with photography company VHT over how property photos can be used online. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Zillow did not willfully infringe on copyrights for 28,000 real estate photos for its home improvement section, now known as Zillow Porchlight in a turnaround in the case from when Zillow lost a jury trial in 2017 and was ordered to pay $8.3 million in damages to VHT. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart had already reviewed the Seattle jury's decision and had ruled that “the jury had no rational basis on which to conclude” that 22,109 of those photos violated VHT’s copyright and reduced the damages award down to a little over $4 million. However Judge Robart upheld a piece of the original verdict that held Zillow liable for willfully infringing on 2,700 photographs, a key victory for VHT and the basis for keeping the damages at around $4 million: the appeals court also sided with VHT when it maintained the prior ruling that several thousand tagged, searchable photos displayed on Zillow did not constitute a “fair use” but criticised VHT's methods of dealing with the infringements before filing their suit. “We are pleased with the results of this appeal,” Zillow said in a statement. “We take copyright protection and enforcement seriously and will continue to respect copyright permissions across our platforms.” One final consideration is whether the infringing use is as a 'compilation' - so one infringement - or multiple infringements of each image used with the appellate court saying: “If the VHT photo database is a ‘compilation,’ and therefore one ‘work’ for the purposes of the Copyright Act, then VHT would be limited to a single award of statutory damages for Zillow’s use of thousands of photos on Digs. But if the database is not a compilation, then VHT could seek damages for each photo that Zillow used.
|A real peloton (Ben Challis, (C) 2018)|
It seems there is an ever growing list of comedians, artists and other creators who want to take a pop at @FuckJerry and owner Elliot Tebele , the wildly popular Instagram meme account that does seem to be very good at finding material for its users, but doesn't seem to be very good at crediting or compensating people when they use their works. First in line with a complaint about alleged violations is a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Nigerian-based Twitter user and Instagrammer Olorunfemi Coker, who has 133,000 followers on Twitter and over 62,000 followers on Instagram. The lawsuit alleges that FuckJerry posted a screenshot of a January tweet by Coker to its Instagram account without Coker’s permission and used it to advertise its JAJA tequila brand. (The post no longer appears to be on the FuckJerry Instagram page.) According to Coker’s lawyer, this is the first case of its kind brought against FuckJerry. But it's not as simple as it seems - jokes are a thorny issue when it comes to proving appropriation - especially when the 'idea' of a joke has been borrowed - but expressed in a new way. This one could be interesting! Jerry Media took some flak for its role in promoting the disastrous Fyre Festival and, after controversy over how the @fuckjerry account was crediting third party works, Tebele said that the account would no longer post images if the original creator couldn’t be identified saying: “In the past few years, I have made a concerted, proactive effort to properly credit creators for their work ..... [W]e have also updated our policies to make sure we are responsive to creators whenever they have reached out to us about posts.”
The EU Parliament will vote next Tuesday (March 26th) on whether to endorse an overhaul of the EU’s two-decade old copyright rules as Google and internet activists stepped up their criticism of a requirement to install copyright filters. Websites and businesses across Europe today are protesting controversial changes to online copyright being introduced by the European Union. Ahead of a final vote a number of European Wikipedia sites are going dark for the day, blocking all access and directing users to contact their local EU representative to protest the laws. Other major sites, such as Twitch and PornHub, are showing protest banners on their homepages and social media. Meanwhile, any users uploading content to Reddit will be shown a #saveyourinternet message.