HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Rancho Mirage, California, Thompson Coburn partner Jim Burger presented his annual update on activities in Washington D.C. relevant to the media and entertainment business. Among the numerous copyright issues that Burger examined was the long-running case of Oracle America v. Google, which is centered on whether or not Oracle’s Java APIs are copyrightable. Google used early versions of the APIs to create its Android operating system. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

In a 410-6 vote, the House of Representatives approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act that will allow online content creators to more efficiently pursue infringers. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) introduced the measure last year. If it becomes law, it will create a new small claims court with a tribunal of copyright claims officers who would work with both parties to resolve the issue. Potential damages would no more than $15,000 per claim or $30,000 in total. Continue reading House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

Publishers and Authors Guild Oppose Audible Text Feature

Audible, the audiobook app owned by Amazon, is using machine learning to transcribe audio recordings, so listeners can also read along with the narrator. Audible is promoting it as an educational feature, but some publishers are up in arms, demanding their books be excluded because captions are “unauthorized and brazen infringements of the rights of authors and publishers.” Publishers are concerned that this will lead to fewer people buying physical or e-books if they can get the text with an Audible audiobook. Continue reading Publishers and Authors Guild Oppose Audible Text Feature

HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

In what has been an annual presentation at the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his update of legislation and litigation from the nation’s capital. His take on “administrative-legislative developments in copyright” was summed up by a slide of stars and the sounds of crickets, reflecting the government shutdown. Burger first briefly defined copyright as “an original expression in a fixed tangible medium,” and described the four-factor test that defines non-exclusivity. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

One of the gray areas of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the exemption for filmmakers. Although documentary filmmakers are allowed to use small pieces of copyrighted films in some circumstances, many of them say the provision is unclear and can lead to confusion and uncertainty. In late 2017, the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association and others asked the U.S. Copyright Office for clarity. Trade associations including the MPAA, RIAA and ESA have expressed concerns regarding exemptions. Continue reading Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

Yesterday, a jury ruled in favor of Google in its dispute with Oracle over software used to power smartphones. Oracle was seeking $9 billion in its claim that Google used copyrighted material in its software code for the company’s Android mobile operating system. Android uses open-source Java, which Oracle acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems in 2010. Google argued that it made fair use of the code. According to The New York Times, “The victory for Google cheered other software developers, who operate much the way Google did when it comes to so-called open-source software… The courtroom fight was something of a watershed for technology and could offer clarity on legal rules surrounding open-source technology.” Continue reading Jury Sides with Google in Oracle Copyright Case Over Software

YouTube Stands Up For Video Creators Fighting Takedowns

YouTube, no stranger to copyright infringement battles, says it will pick up the legal costs of four video creators that are the focus of takedown demands. The company says it chose creators that used third party content legally permitted under the “fair use” provisions for commentary, criticism, news and parody. The company has stated it wants to protect free speech, but it is also signaling its support to video creators to help build loyalty in an increasingly competitive online video environment. Continue reading YouTube Stands Up For Video Creators Fighting Takedowns

Court Win for Google Books Could Impact Film, TV and Music

In the latest page of Google’s decade-long saga to scan the world’s books and make them searchable, the company won a case that decided in its favor and against the Authors Guild, on whose behalf the Motion Picture Association of America and the music licensing organization ASCAP filed amicus briefs. The October 16 ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit means that writers cannot stop Google from adding their books to Google’s 20-million book library, which the Court calls “non-infringing fair uses.” Continue reading Court Win for Google Books Could Impact Film, TV and Music

Ruling on YouTube Viral Videos Parses Fair Use Versus Theft

The line between “fair use” in copyright law and outright theft has often been unclear, but a recent U.S. District Court ruling drew the line on a case involving Equals Three Studios and viral-video aggregator Jukin Media. Jukin accused Equals Three of illegally taking dozens of clips for use in its own YouTube show. Equals Three sued Jukin, saying its actions were protected by fair use, and that Jukin’s takedown deprived it of ad revenue. The Court’s ruling sides with Equals Three on all but one of the videos under consideration. Continue reading Ruling on YouTube Viral Videos Parses Fair Use Versus Theft

NFL Stops Fans From Sharing Sports Video Clips via Twitter

The tension between intellectual property owners and user-generated video sports replays came to a head when Twitter deactivated two popular sports accounts: Gawker Media’s Deadspin, with more than 887,000 Twitter followers, and @SBNationGIF, an offshoot of Vox Media’s SB Nation. The takedown came in response to complaints from the National Football League. But critics note the fuzzy line between fair use and IP infringement; some sports leagues, such as the NBA, regard user-generated videos as marketing, not infringement. Continue reading NFL Stops Fans From Sharing Sports Video Clips via Twitter

Live Streaming Apps Could Face Copyright Infringement Issues

Meerkat and Periscope are two apps that have brought live streaming into the spotlight, and some experts worry that these apps may be a breeding ground for copyright infringement. It may be as simple as someone trying to livestream a TV show or a public performance, but without the proper licenses, these users may be breaking copyright laws. Fair use laws probably will not offer these companies any defense, but constant monitoring should help them avoid potential legal problems. Continue reading Live Streaming Apps Could Face Copyright Infringement Issues

Writers Guild Cautions Against Stiff Copyright Enforcement

A statement from the Writers Guild of America West raises the group’s concerns regarding copyright infringement fees and agreements, digital sales and other related issues. The letter particularly references the “notice and takedown” system of copyrighted material shared on the Web, noting that the system’s intentions are good, but may also cause potential harm. The statement was written in response to a recent green paper on copyright policy. Continue reading Writers Guild Cautions Against Stiff Copyright Enforcement

MPAA Joins W3C to Help Standardize Video Copy Protection

In an effort to join the official conversation on how to come up with a solution for copy protection of videos on the Web, the Motion Picture Association of America has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which makes official decisions on Web standards like HTML. A new HTML component allows websites to host video directly on their sites instead of having to use a video tag, which doesn’t enable copy protection. Some, however, don’t care for the new approach. Continue reading MPAA Joins W3C to Help Standardize Video Copy Protection

Barry Diller Predicts Increase in Number of Aereo Subscribers

Aereo-backer Barry Diller has stated that the online service may grow to the point that 35 percent of U.S. households subscribe. However, this is largely contingent upon the service’s ability to overcome the legal challenges it currently faces from broadcasters. Individuals in their mid- to late-twenties aren’t highly inclined to pay $100 per month for TV cable packages, rendering Aereo’s $8 package highly attractive, according to Diller. Continue reading Barry Diller Predicts Increase in Number of Aereo Subscribers

Streamnation Offers New Approach to Sharing Movies and TV

Streamnation is a comprehensive solution for storing and streaming photos and videos. Version 2.0 now allows users to share movies and TV shows that have been ripped to their computers and uploaded to the cloud. Founder Jonathan Benassaya, who navigated digital rights for years as the co-founder of streaming music service Deezer, is confident in Streamnation’s approach. He sees it as similar to physical borrowing but in the digital realm, since no copy is made. Continue reading Streamnation Offers New Approach to Sharing Movies and TV

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