Category Archives: Copyrights

Supreme Court: Copyrighted works may be imported into and sold the United States if lawfully made abroad

A math student with an eye for a bargain has shaken up the U.S. publishing 1309128948industry after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of his textbook importation scheme.

Supap Kirtsaeng moved from Thailand to the United States to study mathematics at Cornell University. Frustrated over the high cost of textbooks at the school, he asked friends and family to purchase books in Thailand — where they were available at a much lower retail price — and ship them to him in the U.S.   Recognizing the business opportunity, Kirtsaeng began reselling the imported books on eBay.  Over time, Kirtsaeng generated about $600,000 in revenue from his textbook resale business. Continue reading

New house and senate bills, and White House memo, call for open public access to publications and data resulting from federally funded research

If a new White House memo directing government agencies to ensure that publications and data resulting from federally funded research seems familiar, that’s because it nearly matches a new bill that was introduced in the House and Senate just a week earlier.

On February 22, 2013, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo directing U.S. government agencies who annually fund over $100 million in research to implement a plan for requiring public access to data and publications resulting from that research.

The memo requires that each plan included elements for: Continue reading

Copyrights and the Sixth Grade

small__74907741At a class lecture today, my audience peppered me with some of the most thought-provoking questions that I have received about intellectual property matters.  As a frequent seminar speaker on IP issues, I often lead discussions with entrepreneurs at business incubators, with attorneys at CLE courses, and executives in client seminars.

Today, my challenge was even greater:  teaching copyright law to my daughter’s sixth grade class.

The task at hand was straightforward.  The class was about to launch a student newspaper and website.  The teachers wanted the students to understand basic copyright concepts before the kids just started copying photos and other content from websites and pasting that content into the school newspaper.

The basic legal rule was pretty straightforward, too:  just because it’s on the web Continue reading

Do contractors help develop your software? Read this if you plan to sell or license it to others.

A recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of California could, if upheld, significantly limit companies’ ability to transfer its proprietary software unless the company has obtained an assignment from each and every developer.

In a decision published November 5, 2012 in Amaretto Ranch Breedables LLC v. Ozimals Inc., Ozimals argued that Amaretto Ranch infringed its copyright in software used in connection with the online virtual reality site Second Life. Amaretto Ranch filed a declaratory judgment action and argued that it could not infringe because Ozimals did not own the software. Three developers created the software, but only two of them had executed assignments in favor of Ozimals.

The court agreed with Amaretto Ranch’s argument and held that in order to transfer a copyright, all authors must agree to the assignment.  Otherwise, the attempted assignment is merely a non-exclusive license. Continue reading

Bogus legal notice goes viral on Facebook

A fake “copyright notice”  has been making the rounds in Facebook posts this week.  The notice attempts to restrict the use of the posting member’s  profile information.  It also encourages other Facebook users to post the notice to their profile.  Quite simply, the notice is a hoax.

The copyright notice meme first made the rounds in Spring 2012, and it returned this month.  Its return prompted Facebook to publish a “fact check” bulletin debunking the hoax by stating: Continue reading

Twitter announces new policy to publicize copyright takedown notices

Social media service Twitter recently announced a change to its Copyright and DMCA Policy that will result in more publicity for allegations that content posted on Twitter infringes a U.S. copyright law.   This publicity will occur in the allegedly infringing user’s Twitter feed, as well as a third party website that seeks to call attention to overzealous allegations of infringement.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) allows copyright holders who find their content being infringed on the Internet to submit a “takedown notice” in which they demand that the Internet service provider remove the copyrighted material.

Under the Twitter policy, when Twitter removes material an allegedly infringing Tweet or media, it will automatically post a Tweet in the user’s feed, such as the following:

Presumably in an effort to not be viewed as favor one side over the other in the infringement dispute, Twitter will also send a copy of each DMCA takedown request to the Chilling Effects website, where it will be posted for public view.

According to Twitter, the new procedures represent “an effort to be as transparent as possible regarding the removal or restriction of access to user-posted content.”

The Twitter policy follows in the long-lived footsteps of Google, which in 2002 implemented a policy of sharing copies of many DMCA takedown notices to Chilling Effects.

2nd Circuit: Streaming Video Website is Not Cable Service; Infringes Copyright

Is streaming Internet video a “cable service” under U.S. copyright law?  ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and other broadcasters recently asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to address that question after a streaming video service started rebroadcasting their signals over the Internet in 2010.  The service, offered by ivi, Inc., allowed subscribers to view live network television over the Internet for a subscription fee of $4.99 per month.

The broadcasters’ question was is significant because U.S. copyright law gives copyright holders the exclusive right to publicly display their broadcast signals.  This exclusive right generally includes the right to control retransmission, but Section 111(c) of the Copyright Act provides an exception for cable systems who pay royalties at government-regulated rates.   In such situations, broadcasters are required to license their content to the cable systems so long as the cable system pays the regulated rates.

This week, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit addressed the question and answered “no.”  In WPIX, Inc. v ivi, Inc. (2d Cir. Aug. 27, 2012), the Court held that ivi was not entitled to a compulsory license because it was not a “cable system.”  The court based its decision on the legislative intent of the cable systems exception, which was to address difficulties that certain geographic areas and households had in receiving broadcast signals:

Congress did not, however, intend § 111’s compulsory license to extend to Internet retransmissions.  . . .  Internet retransmission services are not seeking to address issues of reception and remote access to over-the-air  television signals.  They provide not a local but a nationwide (arguably international) service.

Finding that Copyright law required ivi to obtain the broadcasters’ consent before retransmitting content over the Internet, the Court upheld a preliminary injunction against ivi’s retransmission service.