Archives: Copyright

Subscribe to Copyright RSS Feed

Copyright Office Rule Changes—Maintaining DMCA Safe Harbor Immunity Requires New Registration

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides limited safe-harbor immunity from copyright infringement claims to certain types of websites and other online service providers. Earlier this year, we blogged regarding the need for such providers to now use an online portal to electronically designate an agent to receive take down requests and reported that all … Continue Reading

Sis Boom Bah? Cheerleading Uniforms and Copyright Protection—Star Athletica Case Decided!

Can a cheerleader uniform containing combinations of elements like chevrons, lines, stripes, and angles be protected by copyright? Well, the Supreme Court addressed this exact issue on March 22, 2017, in the case of Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. And, ta da, the answer is yes where a design feature of a useful article … Continue Reading

Copyright Office Requiring New DMCA Agent Designation by Year’s End

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides limited immunity from copyright infringement claims to certain types of websites and other online service providers. To qualify for such safe-harbor immunity, such providers must designate an agent to receive requests to remove infringing materials. As of December 1, 2016, the Copyright Offices now requires that such providers … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit to Copyright Owners: Consider Fair Use Before Submitting DMCA Notices

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Lenz v. Universal Music answered a question that it seems nobody has asked until now: Is it necessary to consider fair use before submitting a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)? The answer is an unequivocal yes, though copyright holders need only a … Continue Reading

TTAB Proceedings Remain Effective Enforcement Tool Following B&B Hardware v. Hargis

Much has been written regarding the recent US Supreme Court decision in B&B Hardware v. Hargis. For a detailed background and analysis of the opinion, check out the SCOTUS blog summary. In short, the Court held that a US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decision could give rise to issue preclusion in a later federal court … Continue Reading

Countering the Counterfeiters—UK Trial Court Agrees to Order That Blocks Access To Sites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Last week, in the case of Richemont International v. British Sky Broadcasting, a UK trial court issued a unique decision that ordered British ISPs to block access to websites that advertise and sell counterfeit luxury goods. The case was brought by the owners of such luxury brands as CARTIER and MONTBLANC. The trademark owners sought to … Continue Reading

Think You Can Get Out of Copyright Infringement Damages Through Bankruptcy? Think Again.

Does a bankruptcy decree discharge all debts? For a discharge of debt from damages for copyright infringement, the answer is “not always.” A recent bankruptcy appellate court of the 8th circuit affirmed a district bankruptcy court that refused to discharge royalties due to copyright owners in bankruptcy.  In re Walker, — B.R. —-, 2014 WL 3882494 … Continue Reading

Sherlock Holmes Outlives Copyright

Copyright protection lasts a long time, but it isn’t long enough for the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the well-known Sherlock Holmes books. Of the fifty novels and short stories written by Conan Doyle about the famous detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, forty have outlived their copyrights (which in this case, expired … Continue Reading

Monkey See, Monkey Do – But the Rights Belong to Who?

Question: What do you get when you cross a curious primate with an unattended camera? In addition to the beginning of a bad joke, a rather quirky question of copyright law. The story began when professional photographer David Slater brought thousands of dollars’ worth of photography equipment on the trip of a lifetime to Indonesia in … Continue Reading

Aereo Copyright Decision: Signal or Noise?

In American Broadcasting Company, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a “technologically complex system” that permitted Aereo subscribers to view over-the-air TV signals infringed the copyrights of broadcasters. The Court found that Aereo’s system was engaged in transmitting copyrighted material to the public without a license. Aereo had created an innovative system … Continue Reading

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar: Empressa Cubana v. General Cigar Co.

Cuba is famous for cigars, and COHIBA brand cigars are arguably the most famous Cuban cigars in the world. But because of the Cuban embargo, COHIBA brand cigars cannot be legally sold or imported into the United States. But as recently decided by the Federal Circuit, the Cuban owners of the COHIBA mark still have a … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Broader Reach for False Advertising Claims: Lexmark v. Static Control

In a unanimous decision announced today, the United States Supreme Court upheld an expansive interpretation of the false advertising prong of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. s. 1125(a)), which decision will allow a broader range of commercial interests to bring false advertising claims. As we reported earlier in this blog, the question asked of the Supreme … Continue Reading

Copyright Protection and Useful Articles–Generally Not a Good Combination

Copyright protection is a relatively cheap and a very long term protection for works of authorship. But unfortunately, copyright protection in the United States generally does not cover the protection of useful items (think furniture, lamps, beverage bottles, now hookahs) unless the protectable work of authorship is either physically or conceptually separable from the useful article. This … Continue Reading

Copyright Damages Are Not Linked to the Three-Year Statute of Limitations for Copyright Claims

In Nashville, songwriters’ rights are protected vigorously, as the Nashville district court confirmed in Castronuovo v. Sony Music. There, the district court for the Middle District of Tennessee recently ruled in a dispute over the authorship of certain songs that, if a claim is not barred by the three-year statute of limitations for copyright actions (17 … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Decide Legality of “Place-Shifting”

Legend has it that cable television was originally invented during the 1940s as a means for isolated rural communities to receive over-the-air television broadcasts by siting a community antenna on the highest mountain, and then running cables down to the valley where the television audience (who could not otherwise receive the signal) resided. Of course, … Continue Reading
LexBlog