Art, Entertainment & Sports Intellectual Property

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Led Zeppelin Legends Smackdown “Stairway to Heaven” Copyright Suit

This morning in a Los Angeles federal court, a unanimous jury exonerated British rockers Jimmy Page and Robert Plant—two members of the storied Led Zeppelin rock band—from claims of copyright infringement over the iconic...more

Jury Hands Zeppelin a Heavenly Victory

In Robert Plant’s world, all that glitters is not gold, and all that sounds like another artist’s work is not stolen from that artist. Fortunately for Plant and his Led Zeppelin bandmates, a Los Angeles jury agreed. That jury...more

Whole Lotta Love for Zeppelin in Jury Verdict On Stairway Copyright Trial

After less than a day of deliberation, a California jury has found the members of the legendary group Led Zeppelin (and their record label) did not copy the famous opening riff of Stairway to Heaven from an earlier song by...more

Three Point Shot - June 2016

Showtime and Top Rank Slug It out over "Fight of the Century" - Who said boxing was dead? Fight fans still bitter over the May 2015 Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao bout that was far more mega-bore than mega-brawl...more

Supreme Court Provides Guidance on Discretionary Fee-Shifting in Copyright Cases

On June 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified how courts should exercise their discretion to award attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in copyright cases. The Court unanimously held that courts should give...more

Copyright Flash Report: Attorneys' Fees and Pre-1972 Safe Harbor

Objective Reasonableness Must Receive “Substantial Weight” in Copyright Attorney-Fee Shifting Decisions:Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 15-375 (U.S. June 16, 2016) - Kagan, J. In a unanimous decision, the...more

The Importance of Being Earnest and Objectively Reasonable

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. continues to make controlling copyright law, visiting the U.S. Supreme Court for the second time on an issue of great importance to copyright owners and litigants. This time, the issued...more

Second Circuit Extends DMCA Safe-Harbor Protection to Pre-1972 Sound Recordings, Clarifies Scope of Exceptions for Willful...

On June 16, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its long-awaited decision in Capitol Records, LLC v. Vimeo, LLC, No. 14-1048 (2d Cir. 2016). First, the Second Circuit held that the "safe harbor"...more

Second Circuit Reinforces the Scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s Safe Harbor Provision

In Capitol Records LLC v. Vimeo, LLC, the Second Circuit issued a decision clarifying the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) safe harbor provision, which protects certain Internet service providers from liability for...more

Sheeren-nuff: Another Copyright Infringement Suit

English pop musician Ed Sheeran has been sued for copyright infringement in the Central District of California over his recent hit song “Photograph,” which peaked at number ten on Billboard’s “The Hot 100” chart. The two...more

Sometimes Borrowing Isn’t Stealing: De Minimis Sampling of Music Sound Recordings Isn’t Copyright Infringement, Say Two Key Courts...

Setting music sampling up for a potential U.S. Supreme Court battle, the Ninth Circuit sided with Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone and her producer (Shep Pettibone) in emphatically rejecting the Sixth Circuit’s bright-line...more

If it Ain’t Broke?…Ninth Circuit Announces Curious Test of “Applied Art” Under VARA

The Ninth Circuit has ruled against two artists in a long-running dispute about a hybrid school bus creation at Burning Man more than ten years ago, a “galleon” named La Contessa. In announcing a test that focuses on whether...more

Intellectual Property Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

On June 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 15-375, that it is appropriate for a court to give substantial weight to the reasonableness of a losing party’s position when...more

The U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Standard for Award of Attorneys’ Fees in Copyright Cases

On June 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down an important decision regarding when the prevailing party in a copyright lawsuit is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs. The Copyright Act provides that “the...more

Originality in Remastering: CBS Secures Victory in War Over Rights to Play Oldies

CBS recently secured a potential landmark victory that could benefit radio stations, streaming services, and satellite radio providers—many of whom have been mired in litigation for years with owners of sound recordings of...more

Music Sampling Back in “Vogue”

With its decision in VMG Salsoul v. Ciccone, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals created a circuit split that could greatly impact copyright infringement claims based on unlicensed music sampling. For the advertising...more

The Battle Between the Estate of Michael Jackson and the IRS Continues

In March 2014, I reported on the all-out battle that was ensuing in the U.S. Tax Court between the IRS and the Estate of Michael Jackson over the value of the late pop singer’s estate. It began in 2013, when the estate...more

VARA Claim over 16th Century Spanish Galleon Replica Goes Up in Smoke

The Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”) protects a “work of visual art” from “intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification.” VARA defines what a work of visual art is, and also what it isn’t. A painting, drawing...more

VMG Salsoul LLC v. Ciccone - USCA, Ninth Circuit, June 2, 2016

Ninth Circuit breaks from Sixth Circuit in music copyright infringement case over a 0.23-second horn segment in Madonna’s pop hit “Vogue,” holding that de minimis copying exception applies to copyrighted sound...more

ABS Entertainment Inc. v. CBS Corp.- USDC, C.D. California, May 30, 2016

CBS defeats claims that it infringed copyrights in pre-1972 sound recordings by performing recordings on radio broadcasts, successfully arguing that it performed only post-1972 remastered versions of recordings and that those...more

Short Samplings of Songs May Not Be Considered Copyright Infringement After All

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just decided that sampling a song without permission does not necessarily infringe the copyright. Many artists have built careers by sampling an old song to create a new work. Until now,...more

Broadcasters obtain injunction in bid to stem “emerging trend” of pre-loaded set-top boxes

The Federal Court of Canada recently granted three large broadcasters an order for an injunction* against retailers of pre-loaded “plug-and-play” set-top boxes.  The apps pre-loaded on the boxes allow consumers to access TV...more

32 Hours of Terms and Conditions

Norway has positioned itself as the leader in the “Slow TV” movement. I’m not sure it’s a movement, actually. Norway is really the only place I know of that this is going on (C-SPAN and golf aside). Slow TV is live coverage...more

Ninth Circuit “Strikes A Pose” For Madonna And Music Sampling In “Vogue” Copyright Dispute

In a copyright decision that rocks the music industry and splits from the Sixth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit recently held that Madonna’s mega-hit “Vogue” did not violate copyright rights by sampling a 0.23-second horns segment...more

Till Death Do Us Part? How to Deal With Celebrity Publicity Rights When That Celebrity Passes

The tragic death of renowned recording artist Prince left many reminiscing about his meticulously crafted public image. In life, the law allowed Prince to control the commercial exploitations of his image.  At death, however,...more

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