Lawyers Sue West and Lexis For Selling Lawyers’ Briefs Without Permission

Two lawyers have filed a class-action copyright infringement suit against West and Lexis/Nexis, the two largest legal research database providers, based upon both companies’ provision of paid access to copies of motion papers filed in federal and state courts without the permission of the lawyers who wrote the briefs. [Read more…]

American Buddha: What’s Next?

Zen Slate
Creative Commons License photo credit: Intrepid Flame
I am heading out to Philadelphia for the NY State Bar Association Fall Meeting (discussed here), where I will be speaking about the recent American Buddha decision in which the New York Court of Appeals held (limited solely to cases involving on-line copyright infringement of literary works) that for the purposes of the New York long-arm statute, the harm from such types of infringement occurs where the copyright owners resides.  You always know that a decision is going to be a deusy when the court limits the applicability of the holding like that. . .  [Read more…]

MP3tunes Summary Judgment Decision: Defendants Only Liable For Specific Songs In Takedown Notice That Were Not Taken Down


Creative Commons License photo credit: Tac Anderson

The Southern District of New York has issued its ruling in the Capitol Records v. MP3tunes case, granting partial summary judgment for each side. The bottom line is that MP3tunes and its founder, Michael Robertson (also the founder of MP3.com), are only liable for the infringement of sound recordings that were specifically identified in DMCA takedown notices but not removed from users’ accounts.

One amazing nugget hidden in the first footnote of the decision (page 12), is the court’s holding that the DMCA safe harbor applies to pre-1972 sound recordings, even though such recordings are not protected by federal copyright. This holding, if noticed and followed by Justice Kapnick, should destroy the claims brought by UMG Recordings against Grooveshark in New York State court. UMG brought these claims in state court, limited to common law copyright infringement for pre-’72 recordings, as an attempted end-run around the DMCA.

There are lots of other points of interest in the decision, which I will get to soon. In the meantime, I wanted to post the decision as quickly as possible for your reading enjoyment:

 

Suing For All The Tea In China: Court Exercises Jurisdiction Over Chinese Government And Companies In $2.2 Billion Copyright Infringement Case

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Creative Commons License photo credit: irrezolut

The Central District of California is allowing a software copyright infringement suit to proceed against the People’s Republic of China and several Chinese corporations, in which the pleaded copyright damages exceed $2.2 billion.  The Amended Complaint in CYBERsitter, LLC v. Peoples Republic of China, the plaintiff software developer alleges that large and important chunks of its Internet content filtering software were copies wholesale by two Chinese software developers working in conjunction with the Chinese government, and that China then essentially mandated that every new computer sold or distributed within China have a copy of the infringing “Green Dam” filtering software installed.  [Read more…]

Doctor Doom Prevails: SDNY holds Jack Kirby’s Iconic Contributions to Marvel Comics Characters Were Works For Hire

  Another decision has come out of the SDNY, Marvel Wolrdwide, Inc. v. Kirby, holding that work commissioned from an independent contractor was work made for hire under the 1909 Act.

In this case, comic book industry Galactus, Marvel, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that the Section 304(c) termination notices served by the heirs of legendary comic book artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby were invalid.  The work for hire issue is crucial in termination cases because if work is made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is treated fictionally as the author in the first instance, and the individual who actually created the work can never terminate any transfer to recapture copyright ownership in his or her work.

Kirby, who jointly created many of Marvel’s greatest characters with Stan Lee (including the Fantastic Four as shown in the first issue cover by Kirby depicted above), was not an employee of Marvel at the relevant time period, but rather was an independent contractor, working for 12-14 hours a day and paid on a per-page basis.  There was no written agreement.  Together with Marvel editor Stan Lee, Kirby created several of Marvel’s most famous (and profitable) characters, co-writing the stories and drawing the artwork.

As noted above, the issue in this case was whether Kirby’s contributions to the Marvel canon were works made for hire under the 1909 Act, and the district court granted summary judgment for Marvel, holding that they were. [Read more…]