A math student with an eye for a bargain has shaken up the U.S. publishing industry 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
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
At 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
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
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.