Depending on your point of view, the settlement agreement reached last year between Flo and Eddie and Sirius XM is looking like sheer genius or fool hardy folly. On June 5, 2017, a Federal Judge in the Northern District of Illinois ruled that pre-1972 sound recordings did not have performance rights under Illinois law, joining New York in denying protection for scores of recording artists. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., analyzes the curious logic of the Court in ruling that the Plaintiff had rights, until they wanted to actually use them.
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A lot of people use the “Creative Commons” license, in which they waive some or all of their rights under the Copyright Act. This is of course, fine, as any author should be able to control the distribution of their work in any manner that they see fit, and those wishes should be respected. But as with regular copyright, what happens when the restrictions of a Creative Commons license are not respected? What happens then? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines a recent case and explains why the answer is “applying the principles of copyright law.”
If someone has infringed your copyright, you’d certainly like to be able to find out who they are and where they are. But since online pirates would rather not have you find out this information, various companies have sprung up that make quite a nice living in hiding people. The biggest is Cloudflare. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes an in depth look at this “Content Delivery Network” and how it works with copyright infringers to keep their locations hidden.
The latest twist in the 10 year old saga of the “Dancing Baby” case happened May 5, 2017. On that date, the U.S. Solicitor General responded to the Supreme Court of the United States' request last October for guidance on whether it should take up the case of Lenz v. Universal Music Group. The brief itself is a complete surprise. It contends that not only did the 9th Circuit get it wrong, but everybody got it wrong. On top of that, the brief contends the SCOTUS should not fix it by taking up the case. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes an in depth look at the opinion of the Solicitor General and asks: "You mean it’s broke, but we’re not going to fix it?"
A recently introduced bill in the current session of Congress would, for the first time, require radio stations to pay a fee for the performance of sound recordings. Any radio station that refused to pay the fee would allow the owner of the sound recording to prohibit that station from playing the sound recording. Three companies control 87% of all commercially available sound recordings. They wouldn’t choose the nuclear option, and give up all that “free promotion,” would they? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the arguments on both sides and the possible ramifications of the proposed bill.
Typically, websites use moderators to keep their websites clean of spam, trolling, pornography and harassment. This certainly makes for a better internet experience for the user. But, does this moderating activity amount to “content control” that might cause a website to lose its DMCA “safe harbor” from copyright infringement? A new appellate court decision rules this is indeed possible. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines this recent court ruling and what it might mean for operators of websites across the internet.
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.
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?
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.
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?”