Malibu Media — online porn producer and copyright troll — has filed more copyright lawsuits than most of the other trolls combined, most of them against anonymous “Doe” defendants whose identities are currently nothing but IP addresses for their Internet service. Malibu and others have tried to use geolocation tools to more precisely identify these alleged porn pirates, but two judges recently told Malibu that this simply isn’t good enough. [More]
The Supreme Court has decided not to get involved with a fight over whether or not the Batmobile is entitled to copyright protection, rejecting an appeal by a California man who makes and sells replicas of the caped crusader’s vehicle. [More]
2 Live Crew may be best known for its raunchy 1989 hit “Me So Horny” and the group’s public spats with family values groups and censors, but 22 years ago today, Luther “Luke Skywalker” Campbell and the Crew scored an important victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in a ruling that affirmed that parody constitutes a protected “fair use” of copyrighted material. [More]
Today’s teenagers live in a time where technology gives them the tools to create, share, and publish just about anything they can conceive, and enables and encourages them to use and remix existing content from TV, movies, music, and games. At the same time, they are repeatedly reminded that their creations can be shut down, removed, or monetized by others who simply claim to have a copyright. So they know how to snag a clip from The Walking Dead, set it to “Yakety Sax” and post it on YouTube, but what they may not know — because most schools are failing to teach them — is under what circumstances the law actually protects the fair use of copyrighted material, and when it doesn’t. [More]
Last year, a decades-old battle over the rights to one of the most famous songs in the world finally came to an end when a federal judge ruled that the “Happy Birthday” song is in the public domain, meaning that its publisher, Warner/Chappell, has been improperly charging hefty sums for its use. The terms of a settlement in the case show that Warner will now fork over up to $14 million to people who should not have had to pay to use the song. [More]
The years-long saga of the “monkey selfie” may have rolled to a quiet end in a federal court in San Francisco yesterday after a judge tentatively ruled that Naruto the macaque photographer does not hold the copyright to images he snapped on a stolen camera more than four years ago. [More]
A week ago, Warner Bros. home video folks announced they would be catering to the growing number of 4K TV owners by releasing 35 recent titles — including Mad Max: Fury Road and The LEGO Movie — on ultra-HD BluRay discs. Two days later, the entertainment giant was in court, suing to stop a company from selling devices that would let users get around the digital copyright protections on these, and other, 4K titles. [More]
If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you’re no doubt familiar with the method employed by other characters to soothe uptight scientist Sheldon when he gets upset: a lullaby about a soft, nice kitty that helps him settle down to sleep when he’s having trouble. That “Soft Kitty” song has also turned into big merchandising bucks, money the show doesn’t deserve according to a new lawsuit that claims the lyrics are a ripoff. [More]
Weeks after a court ruled that Cox Communications had deliberately ignored repeat piracy offenders and put up roadblocks to prevent certain copyright holders from filing infringement claims, a jury has handed down a $25 million verdict against the cable and Internet provider. [More]
Grumpy Cat (real name: Tardar Sauce) isn’t just a feline with a perma-frown; it’s also the face of a multimillion-dollar merchandising brand. Now the sourpuss cat is involved in a legal dispute with a company that sells Grumpy Cat coffee beans. [More]
This morning, it seemed like Disney had realized that sending copyright takedown notices for legally obtained and posted photos of Star Wars action figures was maybe not a good idea. But the Dark Side apparently has Mickey in its grips, as Disney continues to send takedown notices for copyright claims the company had already retracted. [More]
UPDATE: Within hours of issuing the retraction on the copyright claim, Disney re-sent the same claim to Facebook, this time demanding the removal of the entire post (which didn’t violate copyright to begin with). Not only is the original post gone, but the Facebook user who took the photo is currently under a three-day ban from posting anything to the site. [More]
The next time you decide to perform a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday To You” on TV, or in a movie or on your debut album, you won’t have to worry about paying anyone for the right to do so: after two years of legal wrangling over who owns the copyright to the classic tune, the parties involved have agreed to settle their differences.
Earlier this year we told you how apparently innocent Cox cable/Internet customers had gotten caught up in a piracy lawsuit filed against the company by a music publisher. While some of those customers were able to remove themselves from the dispute, a judge has ruled that Cox knowingly allowed pirates to continue using their broadband accounts in violation of the law. [More]
The grainy bootleg tapes and even DVDs of yesteryear are gone, gone, gone. Among today’s daily signs that we all are, indeed, now living in a bright, shiny future: Even pirated video is apparently now in pixel-perfect ultra-HD.
Did you miss last night’s episode of The Walking Dead (where they finally reveal that Glenn shot J.R., but didn’t kill Laura Palmer) because you don’t have cable and just plan on grabbing a pirated version of it from the Internet? If you’re a Comcast customer who has been flagged a potential copyright violator, your web-browsing experience may be interrupted with pop-up warnings. [More]
Copyright is pretty murky territory. We all know you can’t steal someone’s stuff, but there are times when you’re allowed to use it. Unfortunately, some copyright holders don’t seem to get that “fair use” exists, and respond with takedown claims and legal threats. For some YouTube users facing threats over legal work, though, that fight may just have gotten a little easier.
The internet can be very weird sometimes, as can the massive patchwork of regulation and case law that holds the world together. And so it came to pass this summer that we found ourselves looking at an otherwise-obscure court case about braces — yes, the teeth kind — that could upend the way the entire internet works in the name of preventing media piracy. Happily, it looks like the internet, in all its chaotic and sometimes illegal glory, gets to keep marching on for the time being.