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.
“…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]