Missed this one from January: “Before I Can Fix This Tractor, We Have to Fix Copyright Law.” Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it surprisingly complicated as a legal matter to perform repairs on software-containing products [Kyle Wiens, Slate]
As I went walking I saw a sign there.
And on the sign it said “(C) — Guthrie estate”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
“Following their successful actions to bring the songs ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’ into the public domain, New York law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz are now taking on a similar action for the Woody Guthrie classic, ‘This Land Is Your Land.'” [IP Flow/Mimesis Law]
Back in 2004, when the successors in interest of Guthrie’s heirs threatened the writers of a politically oriented parody with copyright litigation, Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wondered what Guthrie himself would have thought of the action, given that he once used a copyright notice that said:
This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
The lyrics of “My Land,” including the “No Trespassing” verse lightly altered above, are here, complete with copyright assertion.
“The Language Creation Society has filed an amicus brief challenging Paramount’s claim of copyright over the Klingon language in its lawsuit against Axanar, a fan-produced film set in the Star Trek universe….The amicus brief is peppered with Klingon words and phrases.” [Ed Krayewski, Reason] More: Ken White, Popehat. Update: suit moves forward.
Daniel McCall of Liberty Maniacs has put out a parody image in which the likeness of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is lined up as the latest in a row of figures such as Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Yesterday, invoking the campaign’s trademark and copyright interests, a Seattle lawyer named Claire Hawkins “has demanded that McCall stop purveying this image.” It’s the latest in a series of aggressive moves by campaigns and candidates including Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, and Ron Paul, as well as the Republican National Committee, to assert intellectual property as a reason for taking down works that play on their image in either unfavorable or favorable ways as a means of expression. [Paul Alan Levy, Consumer Law & Policy; Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion]
“‘We Shall Overcome,’ a song that was the ‘unofficial anthem to the civil rights movement,’ was wrongly placed under copyright and should be put in the public domain, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court. The complaint was filed by the same group of lawyers who succeeded at putting the world’s most famous song, Happy Birthday, into the public domain after years of litigation.” [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica; earlier on “Happy Birthday”]
- Sequel to Driehaus case on penalizing inaccurate campaign speech: “A Final Goodbye to Ohio’s Ministry of Truth” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier here, here]
- FCC commissioner Ajit Pai: U.S. tradition of free expression slipping away [Washington Examiner]
- Québécois comedian Mike Ward is already out $100,000 in legal fees after discovering how CHRC can stand for Crushes Humor, Ruins Comedy [Gavin McInnes, The Federalist]
- 10th Circuit free speech win: Colorado can’t shackle small-group speech against ballot measure [Coalition for Secular Government v. Williams, earlier]
- New York Times goes after publisher of “War Is Beautiful” book: are picture thumbnails fair use? [Virginia Postrel, earlier]
- Constitutional? Not quite: Illinois bill would ban posting “video of a crime being committed” “with the intent to promote or condone that activity” [Eugene Volokh]
“Great news for those of you who have been paying royalties every time you sing ‘Happy Birthday’ – assuming the judge approves a proposed settlement, he will declare that the song is in the public domain, making it free for everyone.” Warner will make some refunds for royalties paid, and plaintiff’s lawyers will ask for $4.62 million — “an awful lot of money for freeing ‘Happy Birthday.'” [Lowering the Bar; earlier here, etc.]
A firm representing Lucasfilm/Disney sent takedown notices to force removal from social media of photos of a newly issued Star Wars figurine that an unnamed fan had walked into a Wal-Mart and purchased in the usual manner. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]
- “At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit” — court dismisses handwritten challenge to originality of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” [Lowering the Bar]
- After nastygram from George Orwell estate, seller withdraws t-shirts bearing slogan “1984 is already here” [The Guardian] But see comment below from reader Gitarcarver (episode attributed more to CafePress over-reaction than to estate’s letter);
- “Anne Frank’s Diary Now Has Co-Author, Extended Copyright” [Christopher Klein, History.com]
- “What the history of Eskimo Pies tells us about software patents today” [Charles Duan, Slate]
- University of California, Santa Barbara, has put online a gold mine of 10,000 early recordings from the cylinder era, which ended in the 1920s [Hyperallergic] But could there be a copyright snag even on material this old? [Brian Frye, Prawfsblawg]
- Judge says company must pay $684K for pursuing “exceptionally weak” patent case [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- More: “That Irell & Manella would let itself get played by PETA for a stupid publicity stunt that serves no purpose other than to waste the court’s time…” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; earlier on monkey-selfie case]