The Copyright Act

News & Analysis as of

Website Operators Must Use New Online System to Qualify for DMCA Safe Harbor

On December 1, 2016, online service providers (including most website operators, cloud service providers and online communication services) must qualify for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) safe harbor by using a...more

Federal Copyright Preemption of State Law Claims – Still a Powerful Defense Tool in Commercial Litigation

Recently our colleagues Natalie Arbaugh and Rex Mann discussed the Fifth Circuit’s decision in GlobeRanger Corp. v. Software AG USA, Inc., 2016 WL 4698270 (5th Cir., Sept. 7, 2016), focusing on the Court’s discussion of the...more

Chevrons, Stripes, Cheerleaders, and Copyright: The Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands

The closely watched case of Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands was argued in front of the the Supreme Court on Monday, offering anxious fashion designers a glimpse into how the Justices may rule. ...more

We’ve Got the Copyright, How ‘bout You? Supreme Court Grapples with Cheerleader Uniforms

On Halloween, the highest court in the land heard oral argument on whether cheerleader uniform designs are subject to copyright protection. Varsity Brand, Inc. (“Varsity”), the country’s largest maker of cheerleader uniforms,...more

Is a Cheerleading Uniform’s Design Separable from its Utilitarian Aspects and Therefore Copyrightable? - Star Athletica V....

On October 31, 2016, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Star Athletica V. Varsity Brands. At the core of the case is whether the design of a cheerleading uniform, including patterns, graphics and colors,...more

“Gimme a C!” (for Copyright): Supreme Court to Weigh Cheerleader Apparel Copyright Case

Are cheerleading outfits functional “useful items” that normally are ineligible for copyright protection? Or do they contain distinct design elements that allow for copyright ownership? ...more

Are You Allowed to Jailbreak Your Car? As of Today, the Answer is Yes.

Modern automobiles are operated by dozens of computers, known as Electronic Control Units or ECUs, which control almost all of the main functions in a vehicle, including engine control, fuel efficiency, and breaking. The...more

Fearing Trolls, Some “Friends of the Court” Turn to Laches for Solace While Others Urge Reversal in SCA Hygiene v. First Quality...

On November 1st, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to decide whether “Raging Bull” applies in patent litigation. At issue is whether and to what extent a laches defense may bar a claim for damages in patent...more

SPINAL TAPPED OUT: Harry Shearer’s Lawsuit is No Laughing Matter

For many of us, This is Spinal Tap remains the benchmark (if not the first great example) of the so-called “Mockumentary” genre of film. Since its first release in 1984 (it had a subsequent theatrical release thereafter) to...more

TCA TV Corp. v. McCollum - USCA, Second Circuit, October 11, 2016

Second Circuit rejects fair use defense in copyright action brought by Abbott and Costello heirs for use of comic duo’s “Who’s On First?” routine in play “Hand to God,” but affirms dismissal on grounds that plaintiffs failed...more

Make sure you get what you pay for with Independent Contractors: Pitfalls of a “Work Made for Hire” Agreement

As the owner or manager of a newly minted business, you are likely inclined to engage independent contractors to design your web site, create your marketing materials and perhaps even provide services to your clients....more

Ninth Circuit Provides a Second Look at Willful Copyright Infringement **WEB ONLY**

In a case stemming from a copyright dispute over photographs of the legendary hip hop group Run-DMC, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a music...more

Australian designs law — what is really going to change and when?

The Australian Government recently responded to the series of recommendations for designs law reform made by the Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) in its final report of March 2015. The ACIP Review of the...more

Hot News, Shredded Wheat and Wool Underwear: Brandeis On Copyright And Trademark

October 9 marks the 100th anniversary of Louis Brandeis’ first session as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (October 9, 1916 was the second Monday in October – in 1917, the Court began meeting on the first...more

Australian designs law - where is reform headed?

It was back in 2012 that Australia’s Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) was first tasked with conducting the Review of the Designs System. In 2013 ACIP published an issues paper and in 2014 an options paper....more

Supreme Court Corner: Q3 2016

CASES WE ARE WATCHING - Lee v. Tam TRADEMARK – Cert. Pending Pro-Football, Inc. v. Amanda Blackhorse, et al. TRADEMARK – Cert. Pending ISSUE: Whether the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause violates the...more

REDUCING RISKS: Court Finds Copyright Act Does Not Preempt State Trade Secret Claim

Over the years, it has proven difficult to fit software in any one category of IP protection. And while software’s ability to seemingly transcend patents, copyright, and trade secrets provides software developers and...more

Piracy Pays (The IP Owner) – Judge Whyte Grants Motion for Default Judgment After Awarding Sanctions in Unauthorized Software...

Order Granting Motion for Default Judgment, Adobe Systems Inc. v. Software Tech, et al., Case No. 5:14-cv-02140-RMW (Judge Ronald M. Whyte) - Everyone in the software field (and probably every computer user) is familiar...more

Bozo’s Flippity-Flop and Shooting Stars: A Cautionary Tale About Rights Management

If you’ve ever taken piano lessons then titles like “Bozo’s Flippity-Flop”, “Shooting Stars” and “Little Elves and Pixies” may be familiar. These are among the titles that were drawn into a recent copyright infringement...more

Pay Now or Pay Later – Challenges Facing Spotify, Tidal, and Other Media Streaming Services Following a Series of Copyright...

Spotify USA Inc. (“Spotify”), the popular music streaming service with over 100 million active users and 30 million paying subscribers, continues to grow as an industry leader. Spotify launched in 2006 and reached over 20...more

Led Zeppelin Prevails in Copyright Infringement Case: Now on Appeal in Ninth Circuit

In May 2014, the Trust acting on behalf of the estate of Randy Wolfe (a/k/a Randy California) of the rock group Spirit filed a copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin related to the first chords in the band’s most...more

Legal Concerns for Social Media Influencers: Intellectual Property

Social media “influencers” – individuals who are powerful, popular and relevant enough to influence others within their online social sphere – generate ad dollars, product endorsement opportunities and other revenue streams...more

Don’t Think About Copyright Law on Labor Day

Labor Day is the wrong time to think about copyright law, especially in 2016, because this year marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service, 499 U.S. 340...more

Notice and Notice Regime Does Not Change Law for Obtaining Norwich Orders

Unlike many countries which provide an effective “notice and take down” remedy for copyright owners whose works are wrongly posted on internet sites, Canada has implemented a “notice and notice” regime. In Voltage Pictures,...more

Paying for software development? Make sure you own it!

In a digital society dominated by the saying, “there’s an app for that,” copyright protection is essential. Paying to have a work created does not automatically vest ownership of the copyright in the paying party. When making...more

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