1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The CopyKat - no beef with the hookah ruling

The Ninth Circuit of Appeals in the US has ruled that the shape of a hookah pipe’s water base container is not entitled to copyright protection. In Inhale, Inc. v. Starbuzz Tobacco, Inc. U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright had ruled that the shape of the water container was a “useful article” and not protectable.  Under 17 U.S.C. § 101, a useful article is only entitled to copyright protection if it “incorporates … sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the container.” Finding that “the shape of a container is not independent of the container’s utilitarian function-to hold the contents within its shape-because the shape accomplishes the function,” the Ninth Circuit agreed.

LaBeouf - transforming
copyright onTwitter?
You may have missed it, you may know all about this - but Shia LaBeouf (he of “Transformers” fame) is a tangle of self inflicted copyright woes: It all started when his short film “HowardCantour.com” premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival and this was accused of being based on a comic book written by Daniel Clowes.  the author told BuzzFeed that he imagery and dialogue in the 11-minute movie were incredibly similar to a personal story he had written called Justin M Damiano. Clowes had not been credited, and his legal team issued a cease & desist letter. Initially LaBeouf issued a series of apologetic tweets aimed at Clowes, in which he admitted his guilt and red-cheeked embarrassment: unfortunately LaBeouf was using apologetic quotes he had plagiarised from others - including an apology by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, comment copied from a Gucci Mane Twitter apology - and then BuzzFeed spotted that some of LaBeouf's tweeted messages closely resembled a post written four years ago on Yahoo! Answers by a user named Lili. On New Year's Eve he posted a string of messages addressing the criticism he has received since being accused of plagiarism and then had to add "I am sorry for all the plagiarized tweets, they all were unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful". To this he added "2014 Resolution - I need to work on being a less controversial tweeter".  In a 'final' (was this meant to be departing?) Tweet, LaBeouf said 'In light of the recent attacks against my artistic integrity, I am retiring from all public life". All was quiet for a few hours and then it seems the 27 year old actor hired a team of skywriters [at a cost of $25,000 according to TMZ] to take to the skies above Los Angeles and spell out the words 'Stop Creating' in giant letters.  In order to make sure no one missed out on his latest bizarre stunt he was back on Twitter to post a picture of the skywriting and captioned it with the hastag 'stopcreating'.

Canadian domain registrar easyDNS has published a National Arbitration Forum ruling which seems to be in it's favour in relation to the domains that were blocked by Public Domain Registry in response to a letter from the City Of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit which we first reported here and then here. Having heard that the IP Crime Unit is not a court of law, the arbitrator charged with the task of considering this dispute has ruled in favour of easyDNS saying "No court order has been issued which would prohibit the transfer of the domain names at issue from the Registrar Of Record to the Gaining Registrar. Therefore, there is nothing in the Transfer Policy which authorises the Registrar Of Record to refuse to transfer the domain names". The ruling continues: "To permit a Registrar Of Record to withhold the transfer of a domain based on the suspicion of a law enforcement agency, without the intervention of a judicial body, opens the possibility for abuse by agencies far less reputable than the City of London Police".

Sony/ATV has settled its legal dispute with the Gaye family over claims that Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' borrowed from Gaye's "Got To Give It Up- as CMU Daily say: "possibly because Marvin Gaye's children raised issues around the music publisher's market dominance in their litigation. That's not something Sony/ATV chiefs want debated too much in the public arena, they having successfully speeded through their mega-acquisition of the EMI publishing". 

one of Daniel Morel's images
Lawyers representing Getty Images and AFP have filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New York seeking to overturn the verdict that resulted in the award of $1.22 million to Haitian photographer Daniel Morel for infringing eight of Morel’s images in the aftermath of his country’s devastating 2010 earthquake. The agencies are asking the also asking the courts to order a new trial, arguing that their conduct was “careless” but not wilfully malicious, thus shielding them from the maximum penalty. They argue the most Morel is entitled to is a single DMCA penalty of $2,500 and actual damages of $200,000 — although legal fees in the case are estimated to have reached northwards of $8 million.
The CopyKat would like to wish all of the 1709 readers a happy January 14th from Groningen in the Netherlands, where he is at the EuroSonic music conference and festival, just in time for the European Festival Awards tomorrow night. Happy days! 

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