Month: March 2013

A verdict on Google’s anti-piracy steps: failure

Online piracy has proven to be like a mythological creature — whack one of its heads off, two grow in its place. And even as nations like France ponder cash fines or even tougher steps to quash illegal downloading, Google has said it’s doing its part by punishing sites with many piracy claims against them by reducing their search rankings. That move by the online search behemoth was announced in August, 2012, and the Recording Industry Association of America recently has offered its verdict: the trade group says Google’s move isn’t working to, among other things, protect the intellectual property rights of artists. The recording industry, of course, always has a freighted relationship with Google because, as the net’s top search engine, it both makes it easy for customers to discover talent, while also providing possible access to piracy sites. Though Google proclaims it is “a friend to copyright owners,” it also asserts that it “already does much more to protect intellectual property than the law requires.” The RIAA initially was pleased with Google’s steps to lower rankings on sites for illegal downloading, removing them from the coveted first-page of its search results. “This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily,” wrote Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president of engineering.  Six months later, though, little has changed. Google’s efforts, like many attempts to combat...

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TV show fights off suit with right legal ‘Touch’

A screenwriter has failed to prove that there are substantial similarities between his script and the Fox television show Touch,  with a U.S. District Court in New York finding that Fox Entertainment Group (online documents courtesy of Loeb & Loeb, which analyzed the case here) did not infringe the copyright of the screenplay Prodigy. Everette Hallford sued, claiming that the TV show was substantially similar to his screenplay. He argued there were numerous and substantial similarities between them, including that their plots both revolve around characters who are autistic boys. U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III dismissed Hallford’s claim, finding an ordinary observer could not recognize any of the claimed similarities, writing:  “The test for substantial similarity between two items is whether an ordinary observer, unless he sets out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard the aesthetic appeal as the same.” While there were some similarities in the characters Jonathan and Jake, such as their autism, there were fundamental differences in plot, sequence, setting and pace, making the total concept and overall feel...

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Court rejects gag order on file-sharing news

The music industry couldn’t get the courts to silence discussion of peer-to-peer technologies online as a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles denied a preliminary injunction that sought to prevent CBS Interactive and CNET from inducing the public to infringe on copyrights using such information. CNET and CBS Interactive are both online media companies that provide news, articles, blogs, and podcasts on technology.  And they have featured news articles in the past on peer-to-peer technology. To combat digital piracy of music, the plaintiffs — a group of music recording labels, songwriters and performers — sought an injunction against CNET and CBS Interactive, asserting the duo facilitate copyright infringement through the use of BitTorrent and other similar technologies. The court rejected this argument, finding that plaintiffs failed to show any likelihood that the online media organizations would be found liable for their continuing activities.  There is evidence showing that the software of BitTorrent and its counterparts can be tapped to infringe copyrights and that many may use them to do so. And while defendants are aware of these facts, to prove inducement of infringement requires more than just knowledge of actual or potential infringement, the court noted. In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., the court found that the defendant distributed software allowing the public to share electronic copyrighted files without permission. That fostered infringement and made them liable for...

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The Biederman Blog is now ranked NUMBER ONE on Feedspot's Top 20 Entertainment Law blogs (May 2018). It is very exciting to top this list. We are extra proud of number six - Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Mr. Firemark graduated from Southwestern in 1992, and is a top entertainment blogger and webinar presenter in addition to being a world class entertainment attorney!

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