Archives for 2012

Google Court Rules APIs Not Protected By Copyright

I apologize for slacking off on the blog posts, but I have been preparing for a Copyright Royalty Board trial.  Even under these trying circumstances, however, I had to quickly post this decision due to its immense importance to copyright lawyers.  In the ongoing battle between Google and Oracle, the district court has finally issued its decision on the crucial issue of whether APIs (application programming interfaces) are protected by copyright, holding that APIs are methods of software operation and therefore not within the scope of copyright.

Here is the decision:

Macho Man Songwriter Wins Termination Case

Village People songwriter, lead singer and ersatz police officer, Victor Willis, has prevailed in a lawsuit challenging his termination of assignment (and resulting recapture) of copyright to his many hit songs.  To be honest, the decision is very straightforward and there really were not any difficult issues presented, particularly because the music publisher withdrew its claim that the songs were works made for hire (which would have rendered any attempt to terminate ineffective).  The only argument advanced by the publisher was that Mr. Willis could not terminate his assignment because he was only one of several joint authors of the assigned songs.

This argument was frivolous, however, because [Read more…]

Second Circuit Reverses YouTube Decision: DMCA Safe Harbor Might Not Apply

Breaking News: The Second Circuit has just reversed the district court’s summary judgment ruling in the Viacom v. YouTube case, holding  a reasonable jury could find that YouTube did not qualify for the DMCA safe harbor.  More analysis to follow, but in the meantime here is the decision:

Sirius XM Files Antitrust Suit Against SoundExchange, Seeks Dissolution

Sirius XM has filed an antitrust suit against SoundExchange and the American Association of Independent Music, alleging that these entities have been colluding with the major and certain independent record labels to prevent Sirius XM from direct licensing the sound recording copyrights it needs to provide its various services. [Read more…]

photo by: pennstatelive

Are “Digital Actors” Protected By Copyright?

A company called Digicon Media, LLC has issued a press release, claiming that it has obtained a copyright registration for the “digital persona” of a “virtual Marilyn Monroe.”  Digicon appears to be claiming that the registration broadly covers the exclusive right to a digital representation of Marilyn Monroe’s persona or performance.

It seems to me that Digicon is grossly overstating its rights (at least its rights under copyright law).  Last time I checked, neither “digital actors” nor “digital personas” were classes of works protected by copyright.  Indeed, the registration cited by Digicon is a VA registration, making it likely that the registration covers a particular digital animation as an audiovisual work.  If so, the registered copyright (as opposed to any potential right of publicity issues) would not prevent others from creating their own digital animation featuring a virtual Marilyn Monroe, so long as the second animation was not substantially similar to Digicon’s animation (i.e., different clothing, movement, dialogue, etc.).

There are some other interesting points about the registration.  First, the registration claimant is not Digicon, but rather is an individual by the name of Peter F. Paul.  Mr. Paul is an interesting character in his own right, with a colorful personal background that includes jail time and several unsuccessful bids to wrest the rights to several Marvel Comics characters away from Marvel and Stan Lee.  Also of interest, the registration record notes that Copyright Office correspondence is part of the record.  I would imagine that the issues raised in that correspondence are very interesting, indeed!