Recently I was driving around between appointments and flipping through radio stations on Sirius XM. I came across a song that at first I thought was the summer hit by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams – Blurred Lines. But that wasn’t the song at all, rather is was Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up. I knew it would only be time before reading about some kind of settlement between Marvin Gaye’s family and Thicke/Williams, but Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams suing the family of Marvin Gaye asserting that they are not infringing the copyright in Got to Give it Up would be hilarious if it weren’t so utterly ridiculous.
As briefly discussed above, Peteski brought this action against Deadspin because Deadspin copied the Dr. Phil show that had an exclusive interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Tuiasosopo is the brains (and voice) behind the hoax that was played on Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. What was the hoax? A fake online girlfriend for the football player. On the first part of Dr. Phil’s two-part show, Tuiasosopo talked about how the hoax worked, and toward the end of the show, Dr. Phil asked Tuiasosopo to demonstrate the telephone voice that he used. Tuiasosopo acted like he didn’t want to do it; so the end of that first episode was “the cliffhanger”–can Dr. Phil get Tuiasosopo to “do the voice” on the next episode?
White dropped his class certification request in an amended complaint and sought to receive an unspecified amount in damages on the basis that his copyrighted legal briefs had been included in both Westlaw’s “Litigator” database and LexisNexis’s “Briefs, Pleadings and Motions” database. In particular, White’s Motion for Summary Judgment argued that law firms and lawyers own the copyright to their own materials and “a court’s docket is not a lawless, copyright-free zone.” However, Westlaw and LexisNexis countered that argument, stating that they were entitled to use the documents under the Fair Use Doctrine on the basis that the documents were publicly available in the PACER filing system. The companies also claimed that they actually “enhanced and transformed” the documents by making them searchable for practitioners.
Meridian Textiles filed a copyright claim against Topson Downs, Target and Wal-Mart (collectively called Defendant in court documents), claimed the used fabric designs that are solely theirs. The claim was related to 4 separate fabric designs: a zebra stripe pattern, a burnout pattern, an animal print pattern and a lace design. United States District Court of the Central District of California Judge Gary Klausner said that the zebra print pattern in question is not entitled to protection under copyright because the pattern reflects animal stripes that are found in nature and not a man-made pattern, and therefore ordered the U.S. Copyright Office to invalidate Meridian’s registration on the pattern.
The Batmobile namesake owners are doing battle over replicas of this very car. DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., is pushing a lawsuit against California custom paint and auto body shop, Gotham Garage. Owned and operated by Mark Towle of Santa Ana. Gotham Garage specializes in customizing replicas of the various Batman vehicles. This lawsuit started nearly 2 years ago, when Warner Bros. claimed that Towle’s business was violating copyrights and trademarks that are owned by DC Comics.
The answer to why a patent law firm would be taking a blanket copyright license may well be found in the old saying about a penny of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Law firms have been coming under fire recently for alleged copyright violations relating to the materials they submit to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The decision in this case means that DC Comics will retain all the rights to the Superman characters and can continue to use them in books, movies and other entertainment media. It also means that Warner Bros., which owns DC Comics, will retain the rights for use in books, films, television and other various mediums. Given the enormous popularity of movies portraying Marvel superstars such as Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men, keeping the rights to Superman and not interrupting the new Superman movie, which is scheduled for release on June 14, 2013, is a big win for DC and Warner Bros.
In a battle for the superheroes, an federal complaint alleging copyright infringement was filed on October 9, 2012 in the United States Federal District Court for the District of Colorado by a company called Stan Lee Media. The company was started by Stan Lee with his friend Peter Paul, who is now serving time in prison for fraudulent activities regarding this company. Lee wisely pulled out of the company over a decade ago when it failed. According to the complaint, Lee signed over the rights to his famed superheroes to the company Stan Lee Media. Of course, it is more complicated than it looks at first glance.
October overwhelmingly means one thing in the legal world. No, not Halloween, although to some it may seem just as scary. Every October the United States Supreme Court breaks its hibernation and starts its new session. Every case heard and decision handed down by the Supreme Court between October 1, 2012 and the end of June 2013 will be a part of the Court’s October 2012 term. This, the first of what will be a handful of SCOTUS related intellectual property articles, is a summary of the most important Supreme Court copyright fair use cases dating back to Baker v. Selden in 1879.
The agreement between AAP and Google settles a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google on October 19, 2005 by AAP member publishers (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Pearson Education, Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc.). As the settlement is between only the AAP and Google, it does not affect Google’s current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit. According to the press release issued by AAP and Google, court approval of the settlement will not be necessary.
Readers did point out some issues in our article that we would like to correct. First, we made some statements regarding copyright that are not completely accurate. A work can be jointly owned by two or more copyright holders who then have the right to individually assign nonexclusive rights without the permission of the other copyright holders. This is not typically done by companies developing code, because it effectively gives away the copyrights. It is more typically done when a company accepts code developed by an outside entity. In fact, as was pointed out by one reader, Sun has an agreement called the Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA) that specifies that any person who contributes code to a Sun-managed project gives Sun joint copyright in the code. This is an interesting way for Sun to ensure that code contributed to any of its projects can be used without restriction by Sun without copyright issues.
We decided to pursue these questions using the advanced tools for detecting copyright infringement created by our sister company, Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering (SAFE Corporation) and the thorough processes that we have developed. What started off as simple curiosity turned into an interesting research and analysis project to determine if we could uncover evidence of copyright infringement that Oracle’s experts had missed. Our two-week effort turned up some very surprising results–significant amounts of apparently copied code that was not brought up at the trial.
In order to establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show: (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original. Judge Chin concluded that no participation of the individual members would be necessary in order to establish the first prong for those who retain copyright ownership. More specifically, copyright registrations are prima facie evidence of copyright ownership and they are a matter of public record. While limited participation may be necessary for those who have assigned copyrights or licensed copyrights and continue to receive royalties, Judge Chin determined that “[r]equiring some individual members to present documentary evidence of their beneficial copyright interest would not make this case administratively inconvenient or unmanageable.”
AP’s common law misappropriation claim has its origins in a remarkably similar suit AP brought against a competing news service almost a century ago. In INS v. AP the Supreme Court, in 1918, enjoined INS, a competing news service, from free-riding on the work product of AP. The misappropriation action was based on INS re-distributing information to its customers which AP had previously released into the public domain. INS was enjoined from using the information for a limited time period while it was hot news (i.e. while it had commercial value as news). The Supreme Court’s decision was based on two rationales: (1) preventing unacceptable conduct in the form of a commercial enterprise free-riding on the investment of time and money by a competitor; and (2) avoiding the resulting ruinous competition that could result from a commercial enterprise free-riding on the efforts of a competitor.
When copying has occurred, much of the code may have changed by the time it’s examined due to the normal development process or to disguise the copying. For example identifiers may have been renamed, code reordered, instructions replaced with similar instructions, and so forth. However, perhaps one comment remains the same and it’s an unusual comment. Or a small sequence of critical instructions is identical. Correlation is designed to produce a relatively high value based on that comment or that sequence, to direct the detective toward that similarity. If correlation were simply a percentage of copied lines, the number could be small and thus missed entirely among the noise of normal similarities that occur in all programs.