“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.
“…claims to telepathically channel an inter-dimensional space alien from the future.” [Daily Dot (“Tumblr’s biggest copyright troll is a guy who says he knows an alien”)]
A Shelton, Ct. restaurant has paid $18,000 to settle a lawsuit over the playing of nine copyrighted songs on its premises; an owner says he thinks a private party played them. “If a band plays a cover song for which the bar has no license, the bar is legally liable, according to BMI and ASCAP,” the two musicians’-rights consortiums that make a practice of suing venues. [Hartford Business]
- Weirdly, Europe is more willing to legislate against pro-ISIS views than openly to argue against them [Nick Cohen]
- City of Inglewood, Calif. sues for copyright infringement over videos by critic of Mayor Butts [CBS L.A., Volokh, Paul Alan Levy]
- “Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com” [Ken White/Popehat, Wired, Scott Greenfield]
- Bans on the singing of sectarian songs, as in the Scotland case mentioned here recently, are perhaps less surprisingly also a part of law in Northern Ireland [Belfast Telegraph, BBC] UK government “now arresting and even jailing people simply for speaking their minds” [Brendan O’Neill]
- Broad “coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates” oppose provisions in anti-“trafficking” bill creating criminal liability for classified ad sites; Senate passes bill anyway by 99-0 margin [Elizabeth Nolan Brown; more from Brown on bill (“What, you mean grown women AREN’T being abducted into sex slavery at Hobby Lobby stores in Oklahoma?” — @mattwelch), yet more on trafficking-panic numbers]
- Group libel laws, though approved in the 1952 case Beauharnais v. Illinois, are now widely regarded as no longer good law, but a Montana prosecutor doesn’t seem aware of that [Volokh] No, let’s not redefine “incitement” so as to allow the banning of more speech [Volokh]
- Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis, the “true threats on Facebook” case, was speech-protective but minimalist [Ilya Shapiro, Orin Kerr, Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
There was much excitement about a “Netflix for vinyl” that would send music-minded subscribers a curated surprise selection of records they could listen to, then send back at their leisure for a new set of unexpected picks. No one seems to have reckoned with the part of federal law known as “section §109(b), popularly known as the Record Rental Amendment of 1984, which makes it illegal to rent records.” [Michael Nelson, Stereogum]
Historians are disturbed over a “royalties claim being brought by the heirs of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, against the publisher Random House Germany.” A book being published this month quotes from Goebbels’s diaries, and scholars are worried of precedent being set which would not only entitle heirs to profit from war criminals’ writings, but also give them approval authority over the usage of excerpts, which could lead to permission being traded for more sympathetic treatment. Goebbels committed suicide during the last days of the Nazi regime. [Matthew Reisz, Inside Higher Ed] “Maybe history needs a Son of Sam Law” [@KenSherrill on Twitter]
- “Lawyers Won 10x Fee Payoff By Avoiding Competition, Objector Claims” [Daniel Fisher, Center for Class Action Fairness on Capital One TCPA settlement]
- DMCA surprise: “Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; Pete Bigelow, AutoBlog]
- Comments deadline May 19 on proposed Indian Child Welfare Act regulations; American Academy of Adoption Attorneys files comments warning they go beyond statute, will harm kids [related group, earlier and general]
- Asbestos lawsuits are “economic engine” of rural Edwardsville, Ill. [Associated Press]
- Chicago pays damages to victims of police torture, suggestively labeled “reparations” [Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post, thanks for quote]
- Court dismisses pro se litigant’s handwritten “God v. gays” complaint for lack of basis for federal jurisdiction, other predictable deficiencies [Volokh, Lowering the Bar and followup]
- “Starbucks not liable in police coffee-spill case, jury decides” [WRAL, earlier]
Counsel’s Ninth Circuit arguments on behalf of copyright troll Prenda Law did not go well, to put it mildly. Trouble was evident even before Judge Pregerson commented, regarding the clients, “They should have asserted the Fifth Amendment because they were engaged in extortion.” [Ken at Popehat; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica] More on the Prenda Law saga here.
While musical copying, and copying lawsuits, are nothing new, Ray Lehmann finds “different” and “potentially problematic” a jury’s $7.4 million verdict “against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, asserting the pair’s 2013 smash ‘Blurred Lines’ borrowed inappropriately from the 1977 Marvin Gaye song ‘Got to Give It Up.'” [R Street Institute] More: Ann Althouse.
P.S. Tim Hulsey commenting on Overlawyered’s Facebook page (which you’ve liked, right?): “If this decision had been in force during the 1940s, nine-tenths of ‘be-bop jazz’ would never have occurred — no ‘Donna Lee,’ no Thelonious Monk, no 12-bar blues.” And @terryteachout on Twitter: “I now see that the judge instructed the jury to go by the sheet music only. If that’s the applicable standard, the verdict will definitely be reversed.” More: David Post.