Copyright

Righthaven: The Country’s First “Copyright Troll” and its Potential Impact on the Dissemination of Information on the Internet

By Vlad Vidaeff *

copyright symbolThe availability of articles online from sources such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times has made it easy for bloggers and other internet users to take the newspaper’s work and put it on their own websites without the original holder’s permission.  To perhaps deal with this phenomenon, a company called Righthaven has risen and attracted a great deal of criticism and scrutiny.  Righthaven has been deemed a “copyright enforcer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal” which was created by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson.  On behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Righthaven peruses the internet in search of online infringement of the Review-Journal’s copyright.  When it finds a potential infringement, Righthaven purchases the copyrights from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and then proceeds to file a lawsuit.  What makes this particular method unusual is that it is common practice in the newspaper industry for copyright holders to ask for infringers to take down infringing material by e-mail or through a cease and desist letter before pursuing legal remedies.  Many of the defendants in Righthaven lawsuits are non-profit organizations or small-time bloggers who simply do not have the financial resources to litigate.  Consequently, the vast majority of suits have led to settlements.  While each individual settlement is small, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 in most cases, in total, the revenue that Righthaven accumulates with little work is significant.  As of May 6, 2011, Righthaven has filed 275 copyright infringement lawsuits and has accumulated an estimated $490,000 in total money settlements.  Righthaven filed its first complaint on March 13, 2010. Continue reading »

White House Calls for Tougher Copyright Laws to Protect America’s Intellectual Property

By Tierryicah Mitchell *

 

White House copyright logo

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On March 15, Victoria Espinel, the White House’s first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, issued 20 legislative recommendations to Congress calling for tougher copyright laws and greater enforcement authority.  The white paperrecommendations ranged from Congress making illegal streaming of music and movies a felony to having wiretap authority for those suspected of being involved in copyright infringement.   According to Espinel’s White House Blog, these “legislative recommendations exemplify the Administration’s commitment to protect and grow jobs and exports, as well as to safeguard the health and safety of our people.”

Even though copyright law already carries a felony penalty Continue reading »

Joel Tenenbaum’s Unwavering War Against the RIAA: The Appellate Decision Coming Soon

By: Vlad Vidaeff *

Joel Tenenbaum with counsel

Joel Tenenbaum with counsel

Part 2: The Appeal

On April 4, 2011, Joel Tenenbaum will become the first victim of the RIAA crusade to reach the appellate level.  Further fueling the spectacle, the First Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion which will allow a Harvard law student to make oral arguments on Joel Tenenbaum’s behalf.  On the other side, Tenenbaum will face stiff competition as the RIAA will be represented by Paul Clement, a former United States Solicitor General. Continue reading »

Celebrating the IP Start-Up: JBIPL’s Symposium Tackles the Challenges of a Growing Industry in its Second Panel

By Tiffany R. Johnson *

Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat and CEO and founder of Lulu.com, gives keynote address at the 2011 JBIPL Symposium.

Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat and CEO and founder of Lulu.com, gives keynote address at the 2011 JBIPL Symposium.

On Friday, March 25th, the Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law’s symposium tackled the hard-and-fast growing issues associated with “creative capital,” and topped off its energetic morning panel with Bob Young – the founder of two incredibly successful creative capital ventures, Red Hat and Lulu.com.  Young’s address to a full crowd was not only inspiring because of his unique journey to success (often noting that his “ADD” prevented him from focusing on any one project for too long), but also because of his candor.  He opened to a crowd full of law students with the sentiment that he had some bad news for aspiring lawyers – the world does not revolve around us; and, especially for the IP start-up, it operates in spite of us. Continue reading »

NFL Lockout Raises Questions About Player Image Licensing

By Joseph W. Norman *

Lockout Composition by Joseph W. Norman

Composition by Joseph W. Norman

The NFL Lockout and subsequent decertification by the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) has raised some interesting questions about the use of player images by the NFL and its sponsors.  Namely, do former licensees under the NFL/NFLPA 2006 collective bargaining agreement (the NFL, teams, sponsors, advertisers, etc) have a legal right to use the players’ likenesses?

Labor and Antitrust Issues in the NFL/NFLPA Relationship

For those unfamiliar with the situation here is a quick primer.  The 2006 CBA(pdf)  expired on March 2, 2011.  League owners have long been unhappy about the current economic model, and have chosen to exercise their lockout rights under federal labor law as a negotiating tactic to exert pressure on the NFLPA.  After 17 days of mediation, negotiations hit a stalemate.  Thereafter, on March 11 the NFLPA filed papers to decertify the union on March 11, and now acts as a trade association. Continue reading »

The Modern Trend Towards Digitization: The Ambitious Plan to Create a United States National Digital Library

By Vlad Vidaeff *

Glasses laying on a laptopAs technology continues to impact our lives, the book industry has seen a modern movement towards digitization.  A decade ago, the norm was to read books in paper form from your local library or bookstore.  Today, the popularity of e-readers such as Kindle, NOOK, iBooks, and Google Books has soared rapidly.  In fact, Kindle is Amazon’s number one selling product for two consecutive years and has received the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon’s website.  In terms of availability, Kindle boasts a selection of 670,000 copyrighted books and 1.8 million books that are in the public domain while NOOK offers 1 million copyrighted books and half a million books in the public domain.  The trend towards digitization has also given rise to a monumental and ambitious new project: a U.S. national digital library. Continue reading »

President Obama nominates the “Grokster killer” as U.S. Solicitor General

By Rob Abb *

Donald Verrilli, Courtesy of Jenner.com

Donald Verrilli, Courtesy of Jenner.com

In a move that is sure to disappoint the many advocates for copyright reform, President Obama nominated deputy White House counsel Don Verrilli as U.S. Solicitor General.  The position had been held by Neal Kaytal, who was named the acting Solicitor General after Mr. Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Verrilli’s role as Solicitor General is important for a number of reasons.  First, he will now be the government’s lawyer.  That means, for the foreseeable future, whenever the “US” is a party before the Supreme Court, he will be representing it.  One need only look back a few years to see how often these cases, in which the US is a party, have a profound impact on the legal world.  Continue reading »

Which One is More Dangerous: Knock-Off Handbags or Suppression of Free Speech?

By Lauren M. Tozzi *

IPRC Seized in 2010

At the end of November, after 90 days of investigation, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) shut down 82 websites for allegedly violating intellectual property rights.  DHS selected the sites, at least in part, based on rights holders’ complaints that the sites were stealing their intellectual property.  (CNN)  Despite the investigation and tips, the website owners did not receive any notice that their sites would become inoperable.  (To try to visit one of these sites now, click here.)  Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont called the seizure of these websites an “innovative use of the tools currently available to law enforcement,” and likened it to the tactics that could become law under the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (“COICA” or “the Act”). Continue reading »

The U.S. and Japan Differ in Court Analyses of Gray Market Goods, But Yield Same Results

By Lauren M. Tozzi *

“Gray market goods” or “parallel market goods” carry valid U.S. trademarks, but are imported without the U.S. trademark holder’s consent.  There are several ways this may occur, but here are three common examples: (1) A fictional company, American Goods, registers a U.S. trademark for widgets made abroad, but a third party resells them in the U.S.  (2) American Goods purchases the rights to a foreign company’s trademark, but a third party imports the trademarked goods into the U.S.  (3) American Goods licenses a foreign company to sell its widgets abroad, but a third party purchases them and resells them into the U.S.  Generally speaking, gray market goods increase competition and lead to lower prices for consumers, but companies are displeased when increased competition cuts into their profit margins.  Furthermore, these scenarios threaten intellectual property rights; so many countries have devised means of regulating gray market transactions.  One way of controlling gray market trading is to legislate against particular types of relationships, while another is to litigate particular relationships based on their potential for harmfulness.  A quick comparison of a landmark decision on gray markets in Japan with three critical cases on the same topic in the U.S. suggests that the two legal systems take strikingly different approaches to these issues, but reach the same end results. Continue reading »

Microsoft Allows Unilateral Software Licenses to Russian NGOs and Media Organizations

By Alayna R. Ness *

Microsoft announced a new policy for licensing copies of its software to NGOs following a September 2010 article by the New York Times.  The article reported several instances of Russian authorities harassing advocacy groups and journalists, by claiming these groups were using unlicensed copies of Microsoft software.  The article painted a very unflattering picture of the involvement of Microsoft lawyers in Russia helping the authorities suppress opposition voices under the guise of enforcing anti-piracy laws. Continue reading »