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It’s Fashion Week at the Supreme Court!

It’s not often that the Supreme Court of the United States gets involved in a dispute over a dress, but that’s the case in Star Athletica LLC v. Varsity Brands. This long running case involves what parts, if any, of a cheerleader’s outfit are protected by copyright. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., walks through the majority, concurring and dissenting opinions and separates the functional from the fanciful.


New York Court of Appeals Says No Performance Rights for Flo and Eddie: “Poof” Goes Five Million Dollars

The Flo and Eddie settlement with Sirius XM guaranteed a payment of $25 million, but the remainder of the payments were contingent on the outcome of various pending court decisions in New York, California and Florida. Now, the New York Court of Appeals has weighed in, ruling against Flo and Eddie, and with the stroke of a pen made $5 million vanish out of the settlement fund. Even though the same Court had ruled that New York common law protected pre-1972 sound recordings, it now rules that this did not extend to the performance right. Why? Because they never said that it did. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the ruling and logic of the Court and asks, since when did not saying something make it the law?


Judge Takes Phaser off “Stun,” Disintegrates “Fan Film’s” Flimsy Fair Use Defense

On January 3, 2017, a Federal Judge granted the majority of Paramount Pictures grounds for summary judgment in the one year old lawsuit against supposed Star Trek “fan film” Axanar. Star Trek fans know that most of the time phasers are set on “stun.” Here, the Judge instead set his phaser to “disintegrate” broadly ruling against Axanar and its principal, Alec Peters, on a number of points. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes an in-depth look at the judge’s ruling in this important “fair use” decision.


The Copyright Small Claims Court: If You Build It, Will They Come?

An idea that has been bandied about for some time is now closer to becoming a reality: the Copyright Small Claims Court. This was first proposed by the Copyright Office itself back in 2013, followed by a bill proposed by Representative Jeffries and Marino in July of 2016. On December 8, House 2016 Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. proposed a Copyright Small Claims Court, and the very same day, Representatives Judy Chu and Lamar Smith filed a bill also calling for the creation of a Copyright Small Claims Court. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the good and the bad of the latest proposal and asks: “Is anyone really going to use this?”


Gentlemen, Hedge Your Bets! Inside the Flo and Eddie-SiriusXM Settlement

On November 14, 2106, literally “on the eve of trial” over the amount of damages SiriusXM might owe Flo and Eddie, Inc. due to the unauthorized use of its sound recordings, a motion was filed with the trial court announcing the parties had settled the case. What seemed curious at the time was that this trial was not the only fight going on between the two. Similar lawsuits were filed against SiriusXM in both New York and Florida. Plus, SiriusXM has long contended that it cannot change its programming to suit the laws of one state. So, how would this settlement affect the ongoing litigation? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains how the settlement will work and how it will affect your rights, and payments, as a copyright owner in a pre-1972 sound recording.


Have Great Minds Stopped Thinking Alike? The Split of Opinion within the Second Circuit on Copyright

There’s an adage that posits “If everybody’s thinking the same thing, then nobody’s thinking.” This line of reasoning seems to be on display at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. This blog recently reported on a remarkable Second Circuit opinion regarding transformative use that appeared to “walk back” the expansive view given this doctrine by a previous panel of the same circuit in Cariou v. Prince. Again, last week saw yet another panel walk back the extreme ruling of the same circuit in Capitol Records v. Vimeo with a ruling in the case of EMI Christian Music v. MP3tunes, LLC. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the two opinions and whether the Second Circuit is indeed pulling back from some of it’s more extreme positions regarding copyright.


Who’s On First? “Nobody” Says Court of Appeals

Abbott and Costello’s classic comedy routine, best known as Who’s On First?, was back in the spotlight this week as the centerpiece of an interesting ruling from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Unfortunately for the heirs of the great comedy duo, it was a good news, bad news joke: the Court ruled that fair use did not protect the verbatim copying of the comedy routine into a Broadway play, but ultimately the heirs failed to prove they owned the copyright to the routine, making the dismissal correct, albeit for the wrong reason. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J. D., explains why the Court’s decision against the copyright owners in this case is nevertheless an important statement on the intricacies of the “transformative use” test.


Florida’s Common Law Copyright Conundrum: Singing the “Repeal Me, Repeal You” Blues

There’s been a strange new twist in the Florida case Flo and Eddie brought against Sirius XM Radio. Previously, a Federal Judge had ruled that there was no specific Florida legislation covering the sound recording property right and that if the Court adopted Flo and Eddie’s position, it would be creating a new property right. But the Judge was wrong. Florida did recognize common law copyright in sound recordings all the way back in 1941, by expressly abolishing all such rights. Thirty six years later, in 1977, it then repealed the repeal. Now what? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., looks into the strange situation that happens when you repeal the repeal, and finds out “stranger things have happened.”


Objection Your Honor! Another Lawyer Has Copied My Brief!

Lawyers frequently make available sample contracts, license agreements and court filings to other lawyers, knowing full well that they are going to be copied. They probably have benefited themselves from other lawyers sharing their work with young attorneys and are simply paying back the favor. What is rare is not only for a lawyer to directly plagiarize a majority of another lawyer’s work without explicit or implicit permission, but for the offended lawyer to file a copyright infringement suit over it. And last week, a Federal District Court handed down an opinion in just such a case. NSU Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., discusses the problem of “legal thievery” and the case that sparked this unusual ruling.


European Union’s Top Court Rules That for Profit Linking to Knowingly Infringing Material Violates Author’s Rights

As we have seen before, nothing makes the internet spin faster than pictures of naked women. So much, that the Dutch website GeenStijl gleefully linked to pictures of Dutch model Britt Decker. Problem was, they belonged to Playboy and had not been published yet. Playboy kept getting the pictures taken down by the third parties that hosted them. Geenstijl kept linking to new sites hosting the files, taunting Playboy in the process. Playboy sued the website and the Court of Justice of the European Union has now ruled that the linking to known infringing material violated Playboy’s rights. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle J.D., explains the facts and the basis of the Court’s ruling and finds it’s not unlike what the Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled.