Month: January 2013

A tsunami of take-down demands for Google

Since January 2012, internet juggernaut Google has seen a 1,300% increase in copyright-related take-down demands from those asserting ownership of content. In the latest week measured, they received a staggering 2,857,808 demands. If a company with the resources of Google struggles to keep up with the volume of demands — many of them from entertainment-related concerns — it’s hard to fathom how any website could keep its head above water. If you check out Google’s comprehensive Transparency Report, it’s loaded with many more astonishing statistics. In the last month alone, 44,316 specified domains have been hit with take-down demands from 1,434 reporting organizations. These include entertainment-related organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America (No. 2 on the list) and NBC Universal (No. 8), as well as companies devoted solely to take-down services, such as Remove Your Media LLC and Removeyourcontent LLC (Nos. 10 and 12, respectively). Where do websites like Google go from here? It’s been well documented that the larger sites oppose SOPA, the controversial anti-piracy legislation, versions of which still are circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives. SOPA would let law enforcement get more involved in preventing the piracy at issue in take-down demands. For more information on SOPA’s status, visit this website. And of course, here’s more information on the DMCA, Google’s take-down process and some fill from YouTube about this...

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Tots’ video dances to new tests in take-downs

Before firing off another DMCA takedown notice, copyright owners must first consider fair use. Although consideration of fair use is already required by the DMCA, a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California in San Jose has affirmed and clarified the requirement in a ruling involving a long-running tiff over a mom’s YouTube video.     The case arose from this 29-second clip of Stephanie Lenz’s children, dancing around their kitchen while Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy plays in the background. Universal Music Corp. sent a takedown notice pursuant to Section 512(c)(3) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In response, Lenz sued, claiming that Universal misrepresented that her fair-use video violated copyright law. In the ruling denying cross-motions for summary judgment,  U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif., held that copyright owners not only must consider fair use before sending take-down notices, but they also must make a legal determination as to the significance of the facts in the context of fair use. In other words, copyright owners must put some level of thought into who they send takedown notices to and the strengths and weaknesses of a fair-use defense. Unfortunately for Lenz, the burden of proof for failure to consider fair use is high. Fogel stated that Universal cannot be held accountable for failure to consider fair use unless Lenz can show a jury that Universal “willfully blinded” itself to the...

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Which artists will try to recapture rights in ’13?

As the calendar turns, the issue of copyright reversion, termination or recapture — call it what you will — will gain further momentum, as the music albums released in 1978 come into the category where rights to them may go from the labels to the artist. It’s a topic that’s been dealt with by this blog before, including here and here. But as 2013 rolls on us, studio executives remain unfazed and only a small number of artists have filed notices of termination including Devo and Pat Benatar. Here’s a readable recap of the issue and look ahead at prospective developments in the near...

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Can we talk? Just don’t expect it to be private

It’s simple: approach a celebrity, don’t expect the interaction to be private. That’s one takeaway from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, affirming  the dismissal by a U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisc., of a lawsuit aimed at comedienne Joan Rivers. As described in the suit, a woman came up to Rivers after a comedy show and conversed with her for all of 16 seconds. That chat was taped and included in a documentary about Rivers. Apparently displeased with her portrayal in the doc, the woman sued for invasion of privacy and misappropriation of her image. U.S. Circuit Judge David Hamilton agreed with the lower court’s finding that any reasonable person who comes up to a celebrity after a public performance would anticipate an encounter with security, not to mention cameras in this case. Indeed, security was nearby and the cameras were rolling, thus, the woman had no expectation of privacy when she approached Rivers. Further, this scenario fits into the newsworthiness exception for misappropriation of image claims, because Rivers’ fame renders the documentary a matter of public interest. This decision falls in line with other unsuccessful suits brought by disgruntled individuals shown on film, including one against Sacha Baron Cohen aka Borat. As Hamilton stated, if this exception were triggered for a documentary about a fictional character, it certainly should be for a film about a real celebrity. The court added...

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A legal shot against Aerokiller’s TV streaming

Aereokiller has taken a legal body blow as a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has granted a preliminary injunction against the television internet streaming service.  Four broadcast networks — FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC — had asked the court to enjoin Aereokiller from providing their copyrighted content through its service, which they claimed violated their right of public performance. U.S. District Judge George W. Wu agreed with them. Aereokiller is a paid, subscription,  net-streaming service that delivers network television programing via miniature antennae.  Wu rejected the finding in Cartoon Network LP LLP v. CSC Holdings Inc., (Cablevision), where the Second Circuit held the internet transmission of a copy of a work, made at the direction of and solely for use by a single user, is not a public transmission, thereby not making it a public performance.  Wu states that Second Circuit view has yet to be fully adopted in the Ninth Circuit, so his court could find defendant’s transmissions were public performances, and, therefore, infringing on Plaintiff’s exclusive right of public performance. Aereokiller was created to be a thorn in the side of Aereo, a similar internet streaming service, in which Aereokiller’s mini antennae deliver content obtained by Aereo antennae.  Aereo recently won a decision in the Second Circuit denying a preliminary injunction against them in July, 2012, as sought by the same TV networks. This decision against...

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