On the eve of Halloween, October 26, 2017, to be precise, the Supreme Court of Florida handed down its advisory opinion in the case of Flo and Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM. It concluded that the State of Florida did not recognize performance rights in sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972. For Flo and Eddie, this is more “trick” than “treat” because once again, $5 million dollars goes “poof” out of their hard won settlement with Sirius XM.
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Fredrik Colting is back in copyright court again. After being successfully sued for creating an unauthorized sequel to “Catcher In the Rye,” he has now adapted several widely famous novels into a series of “illustrated children’s books,” without taking the step of requesting a license to do so, including “Breakfast at Tiffany's” by Truman Capote, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, and “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke. He now claims that since these works were never adapted for children’s literary market, he can now tap this market without permission. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., walks through the Court’s opinion on this novel “use it or lose it” argument.
In the modern day era of the internet, it has become standard operating procedure for the latest tech sensation to figure out a way not to pay for or properly license the content that will make their service attractive. In the case of VidAngel, it was to stream, without a license, movies that had been stripped of “objectionable content” at the request of the consumer. This “legal parlor trick” did not go down well with the Courts, as a U.S. District Court issued an injunction against VidAngel which has now been affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes an in-depth look at VidAngel’s twisted legal logic and discovers that VidAngel acts more like the devil than an angel.
Sampling of musical compositions came into mainstream music with the rise of rap music as a genre. Due to a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over the Madonna hit Vogue, the practice still has uncertain legal ramifications. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a legal tour through the history of sampling, both of musical compositions and sound recordings, and explains where we stand nearly 40 years after “The Rapper’s Delight” hit the airwaves.
Beyond the hot topic of “fake news,” two recent controversies highlight the important distinction between what’s true and what’s fiction: it’s a lot easier to sue for copyright infringement if you made it up. Both the movie "The Conjuring" and "All Eyez On Me" supposedly depict true events. But, now, the authors of the underlying works say they made up the facts, making the works fictional and want to sue for copyright infringement. Can they really do this? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the cases of where fact becomes fiction, and reveals how the courts feel about this rather unique form of “gotcha.”
“We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.” With those incisive words, the Supreme Court of Canada finally called Google out for its long time practice of turning a blind eye to infringement of intellectual property, and ordered that Google block a pirate site, not just in Canada, but around the world. The case is landmark decision in the protection of intellectual property, and one that is going to instruct creators and artists on how to best protect their creations. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains this important ruling on protecting creator’s rights.
Cloudflare, the most notorious purveyor of internet peek-a-boo, found itself back in Court again, this time on the receiving end of a lawsuit brought by porn website ALS Scan. The allegations of the complaint are that by providing CDN services to 13 pirate websites, Cloudflare is guilty of contributory infringement of the copyrighted photographs of the Plaintiff. This poses some very thorny questions, namely, can one be contributorily liable if the website is located outside the U.S, is Cloudflare’s service fair use, and how does the display right figure into all of this? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., digs in deep to make sense of this very complex decision.
On June 9, 2017, a District Court Judge in California denied a Motion to Dismiss claiming that a “mash-up“ of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek was fair use. The book attempted to “mash-up” (or should that be “mind meld”?) Oh, The Places You’ll Go! from the legendary children’s book author with various elements of the fictional universe of Star Trek. What does the Judge have to say about this attempt to boldly go further than previous attempts at a Dr. Seuss “parody”? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle J.D., takes an in depth look at the opinion and finds once again, the “transformative use” test is causing big problems.
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.
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.”