1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The CopyKat - its no laughing matter

The Japan Times says that architects whose design for the original 2020 Tokyo Olympics stadium was scrapped due to ballooning costs say they have rejected a request to give up the copyright to their plans in return for an overdue final payment. U.K. based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was chosen in an international contest to build the main Tokyo stadium, but the much-criticized futuristic design was dropped last year. A design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma with a price tag of ¥149 billion ($1.27 billion), as opposed to an estimated ¥252 billion for Hadid’s plans, was chosen last month instead.

A copyright suit filed against rapper 50 Cent over his 2007 hit “I Get Money” has been dismissed. The plaintiff, Tyrone Simmons (aka Young Caliber) filed papers against 50 and the song’s producer William Stanberry in 2010, claiming they had infringed on his rights to use the instrumental for “I Get Money”, reported Billboard. Simmons also named Universal Music Group, Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment as defendants.
Officials at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled the case was “time-barred” adding Simmons had waited beyond the allowed three years to file the suit. More here.

Beastie Boys have resolved their lawsuit that accused the energy drinks company Monster Beverage Corp of using excerpts from five of the hip-hop group’s songs without permission in a video promoting a Canadian snowboarding competition. Capitol Records and Universal-Polygram International Publishing  settled a related lawsuit against Monster over the same video. The terms were not disclosed. Orders dismissing the cases were filed in two Manhattan federal courts but it appears Monster dropped its appeal of a $1.7 million jury verdict and an award of $667,849 in legal fees which resulted from the Beastie Boys’ lawsuit.

Readers will no doubt remember the epic battle between Supap Kirtsaeng, who built a business on eBay buying textbooks in Asia and reselling them to students in the US, and academic publisher John Wiley & Sons who took action against him. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court who ruled in favour of Kirtsaeng under the first sale doctrine, but he's going back to the Supreme Court to try and get his attorney's fees paid by Wiley, having been rejected by both the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Why? Well Kirtsaeng's petition says this: "Had Kirtsaeng prevailed in the Ninth or Eleventh Circuit, he would have obtained his reasonable attorneys’ fees. Had he prevailed in the Fifth or Seventh Circuits, he would have had a rebuttable presumption in favor of obtaining his attorneys’ fees. Had he prevailed in the Third, Fourth, or Sixth Circuits, Kirtsaeng very likely would have obtained his attorneys’ fees. Unluckily for Kirtsaeng, Wiley sued him in the Southern District of New York, and so when Kirtsaeng prevailed, he prevailed in the Second Circuit, where Second Circuit precedent meant Kirtsaeng could not obtain his attorneys’ fees."

And finally, and this is no laughing matter, we have a very interesting article from US attorney Dylan Price on .... wait for it ...... the potential for the infringement of copyright in jokes. As Dylan says, the case in question is a surprisingly rare foray into humour by the courts, but he tells is that last summer, comedian Robert Kaseberg filed a copyright infringement suit against Conan O’Brien, among others, alleging that O’Brien incorporated four jokes written by Kaseberg in the opening monologues of his television show “Conan.” According to the complaint,  Kaseberg published each of the jokes – all of which were based on then-current events and news stories – on his personal blog and Twitter feed on various dates between January and June, 2015, only to have O’Brien feature the same jokes in his monologues on the same respective dates. The case has yet to get to court by Dylan gives us a thorough review of the position of jokes under copyright in US law - in particular the decision Foxworthy v. Customer Tees, Inc., 879 F.Supp. 1200 (N.D. Ga. 1995) and its well worth a read on the Sheppard Mullin IP Law Blog here.

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