“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday found that yogi Bikram Choudhury’s series of 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises is an “unprotectable idea,” and that Choudhury cannot restrict its use.” [Marisa Kendall/The Recorder; AP; earlier, etc.]
- “In reality, government officials often have strong incentives to mandate warnings that are misleading or flat-out wrong” [Ilya Somin] George Akerlof and Robert Shiller’s analysis of consumers as fools leaves something to be desired [Alex Tabarrok, New Rambler Review]
- “The suppression of competition [is] a core driver of skyrocketing inequality.” New Steven Teles article sure to be much discussed touches on occupational entry restriction, land values inflated by municipal regulation, many other topics of interest [National Affairs]
- “Patterico Prevails: Vexatious Legal Attack on Speech Fails” [Popehat]
- On the topic of legal remedies against looks-ism, which I wrote about in The Excuse Factory, C-SPAN airs my comments as a counterpoint to Prof. Rhode [video, begins 1:30, more including transcript]
- “How copyright is killing your favorite memes” [Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post “Intersect”]
- University of Nebraska/Kearney agrees to pay $140,000 to two former students for not allowing psychological support dogs in dorms [Department of Justice press release]
- Regulation of child care provision drives up costs, has unintended consequences [Diana Thomas and Devon Gorry, Mercatus]
A Ninth Circuit panel has ruled that Batman’s car, the Batmobile, has sufficient character traits to qualify for copyright protection. Judge Sandra Ikuta seems to have had fun writing the opinion. [Reuters/AutoNews]
We’ve previously covered the controversy over whether anyone can properly claim copyright for a selfie photograph snapped by a macaque monkey. On one hand, the photographer who owned the camera and had set up the tripod wished to claim copyright; on the other, it was argued that the photo was properly in the public domain because the act of taking the shot had not been his. Now, in Naruto, a Crested Macaque, by and through his Next Friends, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. and Antje Engelhardt, Ph.D. v. David Slater, “PETA claims that the monkey, who is apparently named Naruto, should be treated as if he were a human artist who had taken the same photo.” [Consumerist, David Post]
“The world’s most popular English language song is potentially free from copyright after a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that filmmakers challenging Warner/Chappell Music’s hold on “Happy Birthday to You” should be granted summary judgment.” [Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter/Billboard] We’ve covered the saga a number of times previously. More: Lowering the Bar.
Copyright holders “must consider the existence of fair use before sending a takedown notification,” rules a Ninth Circuit panel, allowing a lawsuit to go forward against Universal Music Group, which had fired off a takedown notice over a mother’s 2007 YouTube posting of a home video showing her baby dancing to a song whose rights Universal owns. “To be successful at trial, Universal doesn’t have to prove that the video wasn’t fair use. It just has to show that it considered fair use before sending the notice. Otherwise, it could be liable for ‘nominal’ damages to [Stephanie] Lenz — which wouldn’t be much, since her video went back up after a short period and has been available since.” The common use of computer programs to generate takedowns, so long as it is governed by the right sorts of algorithms, appears to be consistent with the good faith required by DMCA, the court suggested. [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
“Why not have copyright law like property law — i.e. it lasts forever?” asked one Australian professor. The question deserves an answer and Eric Crampton offers one EFF Meanwhile, fine print in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty could block badly needed orphan-works reform in copyright law [David Post, earlier on orphan copyright]
If one of my family members chooses to sing the familiar “Happy Birthday To You” in celebration of my birthday today, their chances of prevailing against the tenacious lawyers at Warner Music Group appear better than ever. Law librarians helped by laying hands on a copy of a 1922 songbook in which the ditty, already by then decades old, appeared with no copyright notice; Warner/Chappell applied for copyright registration in 1935. [Above the Law, ABA Journal, BoingBoing, Joe Mullin/ArsTechnica] Earlier here, here, and here.
“In the courtroom, the quiet courtroom, the lawsuit slept for decades.” Mark Steyn on “the biggest hit ever to come out of Africa – and why its author never reaped the benefits,” with attention to the cultural appropriations of Pete Seeger et al. Earlier on unrelated litigation over one American cover of “Lion,” which figured in Ted Frank’s popular post, “The Overlawyered IMix.”
Despite today’s polarized political atmosphere, it is possible to construct an ambitious and highly promising agenda of pro-growth policy reform that can command support across the ideological spectrum. Such an agenda would focus on policies whose primary effect is to inflate the incomes and wealth of the rich, the powerful, and the well-established by shielding them from market competition. A convenient label for these policies is “regressive regulation” — regulatory barriers to entry and competition that work to redistribute income and wealth up the socioeconomic scale. This paper identifies four major examples of regressive regulation: excessive monopoly privileges granted under copyright and patent law; restrictions on high-skilled immigration; protection of incumbent service providers under occupational licensing; and artificial scarcity created by land-use regulation.