Wednesday 1 July 2015

The CopyKat - easy on a Wednesday

It takes quite a number of hands to create a motion picture - camera operators, set designers, lighting directors, the director and the cinematographer to name but a few. Quick on the heels of the en banc decision by the majority of the 9th Circuit in the 'Innocence of the Muslims' case which held on further appeal that the contribution of an actor cannot be copyrightable because "defining a 'work' based upon 'some minimal level of creativity or originality' ... would be too broad and indeterminate to be useful",  the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that individual contributions can't be recognized as works of authorship insofar as becoming independently copyrightable. The opinion from Circuit Judge Robert Sack on 'Heads Up' director Alex Merkin's claim says "We have never decided whether an individualʹs non‐de minimis creative contributions to a work in which copyright protection subsists, such as a film, fall within the subject matter of copyright, when the contributions are inseparable from the work and the individual is neither the sole nor a joint author of the work and is not a party to a work‐for‐hire arrangement," he writes. "We answer that question in the negative on the facts of the present case, finding that the Copyright Actʹs terms, structure, and history support the conclusion that Merkinʹs contributions to the film do not themselves constitute a 'work of authorship' amenable to copyright protection." More here.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the case between Oracle v. Google, sending the long-running case back to a lower court where Google will have to argue that it made fair use of Oracle's copyrighted APIs. A ruling in favour of Oracle could give some technology firms "unprecedented and dangerous power" over developers by making it substantially more difficult for upstarts to create new software according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation says - unless of course fair use laws so turn out to protect the use of APIs.

Jacobus Rentmeester has failed in his claims of (i) copyright infringement; (ii) vicarious copyright infringement; (iii) contributory copyright infringement; and (iv) a breach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against Nike, which stem from his iconic picture
of basketball star Michael Jordan in his Olympic warm-ups in 1984 for an issue of Life Magazine. The case is Rentmeester  v Nike Inc., (No.3 : 15-cv-00113-MO). In his decision, District Judge Mosman granted Nike Inc.’s motion to dismiss Rentmeester’s claims - all of the details on the IPKat here.

Torrentfreak reports that a court in Nanterre in France has ruled that a magazine publisher violated French copyright law by running an article offering some top tips on how to access illegal sources of music and movie content online, including the 'low down' on the best torrent clients, and guidance that Google is the pirate's friends because "with some clever keywords and in a handful of clicks you will fill your hard drives with joy and laughter". The publisher of  computer magazine Téléchargement was fined 10,000. Torrentfreak say that under French law it’s forbidden to “knowingly encourage” the use of software that’s clearly meant to infringe copyrights, with a maximum prison sentence of three years and a €300,000 fine. (I am sure the FrenchKat an correct me if this is wrong!).  SCPP took action after the magazine's cover featured a pirate skull and advertised “the best software and websites to download for free.”

And finally, LA-based domain registrar Namecheap has been ordered to hand over the personal details of one of its customers, a person suspected of being involved in the ongoing attempts to keep Grooveshark - or at least a music service using that name - online. The action was brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

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