Author: Rosalind Read

Law submarines BlueBeat’s Beatles grab

After accepting a accepting a proposed consent judgment last month in the Central District of California, online music store BlueBeat agreed to cough up $950,000 to settle a lawsuit for infringing copyrights on one of the most prized online music caches — the much-sought downloads of Beatles tracks, to which the firm and its backer had made a bizarre legal claim. BlueBeat.com, it seems, managed to sell 67 million “remastered” Beatles tracks online before they became officially available on iTunes and skepticism was abundant when BlueBeat and its backing company, Media Rights Technologies, appeared to have outdone Amazon and iTunes in getting the first online rights to the Beatles back catalog. Some history: prior to BlueBeat’s release of the tunes, EMI strategically had withheld the Fab Four’s works for years, leaving consumers salivating until recently, when only last year was iTunes was given the permission to offer up the Beatles tunes at $1.29 a pop. As predicted, the BlueBird litigation commenced in 2009, when it turned out, of course, the “remasters” it offered actually were unauthorized for its online sales. When the company did first post the songs for only 25 cents a track, a lawsuit soon was filed by a raft of angry record labels, including EMI, Capitol Records and Virgin Records America. Media Rights’ fast response a bizarre legal defense: psycho- acoustic simulations. What? The firm asserted...

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Ruling puts the big squeeze on LimeWire

In a victory for the Recording Industry Association of America and artists, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has ruled in New York that LimeWire LLC and its CEO were liable for inducing the infringement of more than 10,000 sound recordings, declaring those materials were owned by major labels including UMG Recordings Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. DigiDayDaily reports that LimeWire is the largest remaining commercial P2P service and has not followed other such enterprises that negotiated licenses or discontinued their service after the Supreme Court decision in MGM v. Grokster. In Grokster, the high court ruled in 2005 that providers of software designed to enable “file-sharing” of copyrighted works may be held liable for the infringement occurring due to its use. The justices held that “one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties.” According to Law.com, the record industry trade group and the 13 record companies suing LimeWire for copyright infringement demanded damages ranging from $400 billion to $75 trillion, claiming that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act allows them to request damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable; the trade group. in other words, argued for damages not only for the individual...

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Judge orders copyright-offending art destroyed

Holy, Moses: a U.S. District Court in New York has stunned many in the contemporary art world by skipping past the Solomonic approach and ordering some copyright offending works potentially worth huge sums to be plucked from the public and impounded and destroyed. The decision, finding “appropriation artist” Richard Prince liable for copyright infringement, leaves him and the noted Gagosian gallery on the wrong and apparently costly side of a reworking of a series of pictures by French photographer Patrick Cariou. Appropriation art is a popular approach that involves the deliberate copying of existing images by an artist, who then is said to take possession of the work by changing or adding to it, all the while intending that a viewer recognize the original image. Such deliberate “borrowing” of an image is termed “recontextualization,” which, in turn, is supposed to help the artist comment on an image’s original meaning and the viewer’s association with the original image or the real thing. Exemplars of this approach supposedly include Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s Soup Can series of 1962. The Calnnco blog notes that Prince used Cariou’s photographs from his book Yes, Rasta without permission or compensation to the photographer to create artworks, some of which little altered or transformed the originals. District Judge Deborah Batts ruleed that for “fair-use exceptions to apply, a new work of art must be transformative in the sense...

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A thumbs up by museums for tiny displays

The Association of Art Museum Directors has released its long-awaited policy that deems working with, or using, low-quality digital thumbnail images a copyright fair use. This much-debated policy should provide greater clarity on a controversial but common practice that could have bedeviled smaller museums and that might have proved a stumbling block to art institutions as they sought to make a place for themselves by displaying their collections online and with social media while also respecting artists’ rights. According to the group, its mission is to promote “the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advance the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice.” This policy statement for its member organizations (numbering 198) focuses chiefly on the practice of using for online and other displays thumbnail images of artworks in existing museum collections. The group members — including notable Los Angeles institutions such as the Hammer, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty — define a thumbnail image as being a “low resolution, small version of less than commercial quality (less than 250 x 300 pixels) … digital image that is typically used in a collection image database, on a web page, or in an online publication to represent an image or to provide a link to other content, such as a larger version of the image.” And though, “Member...

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‘Oh, Really?’ Facing up to ‘Facebook,’ the law

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. The social networking phenomenon Facebook recently attained new heights as an integral part of pop culture when the film, The Social Network, achieved public acclaim by winning three Oscars this year. While it will be of continuing interest to see whether any of the characters depicted in the film do file legal complaints about their cinematic portrayals — as it is unlikely that permission for such use was requested by the movie’s producers — the social media site has spawned some novel legal situations in and of itself. In considering a litigious proceeding involving the Facebook movie, as noted by attorney Aaron Moss, “these individuals have a choice fraught with irony: to succeed on a libel-by-fiction claim, a plaintiff must prove that she’s similar enough to a fictional character that the audience will think the film is about her — but at the same time that she’s different enough from the portrayal that her reputation is harmed by it.” On another semi-legal note, the site’s founder himself claimed his safety was threatened by a man who persistently asked for money via Facebook messages and appeared at his home and office. As a...

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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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