April 9, 2013 |
There are trolls who live under bridges in fantasy novels. Then there are "copyright trolls. " The latter have always occupied one of the most squalid corners of the legal system. They're people or firms that acquire copyrights to movies, music or other creative works chiefly to turn a profit by filing lawsuits alleging piracy. Often the threat of a lawsuit is used to scare Web users into paying nominal settlement fees to avoid legal costs and a big penalty. Collect a few checks of a few thousand bucks each from enough defendants, and presto!
April 1, 2013 |
Aereo, a media company that distributes broadcast programming via the Internet, survived a major legal challenge to its business from CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and other broadcasters. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that Aereo's transmissions and recordings of broadcast programming are not "public performances" of copyrighted material and added that the broadcasters "have not demonstrated that they are likely to prevail on the merits on this claim in their copyright infringement action.
March 20, 2013
Supap Kirtsaeng was a Thai student in the United States who helped finance his education (and then some) by reselling textbooks that family members bought for a low price in Thailand. Textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons sued Kirtsaeng for copyright infringement in 2008, citing a federal ban on importing copyrighted goods without the copyright holder's permission. Lower courts agreed with Wiley, opining that the "first sale" doctrine - a buyer's right to sell, lend, rent or give away a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work - did not apply to foreign-made products even if they'd been manufactured under contract with the copyright holder.
March 19, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court gave foreign buyers of books, video discs and other copyrighted works a right to resell them in the U.S. without permission of the copyright owner, giving discount retailers a victory and the entertainment industry a setback. The 6-3 decision Tuesday came in the case of Supap Kirtsaeng, a USC graduate student from Thailand who figured he could earn money for his education by buying low-cost textbooks in his native country and reselling them in the United States.
March 19, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court, in a major ruling on copyright law, has given foreign buyers of textbooks, movies and other products a right to resell them in the United States without the permission of the copyright owner. The 6-3 decision is a victory for a former USC student from Thailand, Supap Kirtsaeng, who figured he could earn money by buying textbooks at lower costs in his native country and selling them in the United States. He was sued by publisher John Wiley & Sons for violating its copyright protection.
February 25, 2013 |
This week the entertainment industry finally is getting a version of something it has been craving since the original Napster transformed online piracy into a mass-market phenomenon: a new Copyright Alert System that turns Internet service providers into anti-piracy enforcers. It's not as powerful as the major record companies and Hollywood studios have proposed, and it ignores many sources of bootlegged music and movie files online. But it's a start. And if the industry's assumptions are correct, it could make a dent in the problem.
February 22, 2013 |
Unlike last year, people hoping to jazz up their Academy Awards viewing parties this weekend with an oversized statuette resembling Oscar are now out of luck. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has settled a lawsuit it brought against an Edwardsville, Ill.-based events rental company for copyright infringement stemming from the alleged renting and selling of eight-foot statues that looked like the Oscar statuettes. The case against TheEventLine.com and its president, Robert Hollingsworth, was settled late last year and dismissed Nov. 19. In a lawsuit filed March 9 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, the Academy had alleged that Hollingsworth continued to market, sell and rent the eight-foot statues after he'd been notified of the alleged infringement in a letter sent in March 2011.
January 29, 2013
Cellphone users know that when they sign a contract with a mobile phone company, they're locked into that network for the duration of the deal. What they may not know is that their phone is digitally locked to that network forever. And as of this week, they may no longer have the legal right to unlock it, even after the contract has expired. It's just the latest example of how companies have stretched copyright law to deter competition and innovation, not protect the creators of copyrighted works.
January 22, 2013
PARK CITY, UTAH -- How Disney will respond to an unauthorized film made in its theme parks has been a question hovering over the Sundance Film Festival since the movie premiered to intense media interest Friday night. But one legal expert who's seen the film, titled "Escape From Tomorrow," says he believes the conglomerate doesn't have a very strong leg to stand on. "I think on both copyright and trademark fronts their case would be pretty weak," Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University who watched the movie at a screening last weekend, told The Times.
January 10, 2013 |
In a legal victory that cements the studio's ownership of Superman as it goes forward with a slate of movie about the Man of Steel, Warner Bros. has won an appeal against the daughter of the character's co-creator, Jerry Siegel. A trio of judges with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower-court ruling that had allowed Laura Siegel Larson to terminate 50% of Warner Bros.' copyright. Terminating the copyright would have deprived Warner Bros. of much of the Superman mythos and likely would have led to new negotiations over royalties -- at a higher price for the studio.