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Category Archives: Copyright

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Federal Circuit Again Reverses California Court in Oracle-Google Copyright Dispute over Java APIs – Releases a Major Ruling on Fair Use in the Software Context

In this long-running dispute that has been previously dubbed “The World Series of IP cases” by the presiding judge, Oracle America Inc. (“Oracle”) accuses Google Inc. (“Google”) of unauthorized use of some of its Java-related copyrights in Google’s Android software platform. Specifically, Oracle alleges that Google infringed the declaring code of certain Java API packages … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Issues Important Decision on Software Licensing Practices and Web Scraping

UPDATE: On September 27, 2018, the Supreme Court granted Rimini Street, Inc.’s petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court to review part of the multi-million dollar damage award against it for costs and resolve an apparent circuit split over whether so-called “non-taxable costs” may be awarded under the Copyright Act (which allows for … Continue Reading

Reflections on Technology-Related Legal Issues: Looking Back at 2017; Will 2018 Be a Quantum Leap Forward?

As we approach the end of 2017, it is a time to reflect on the dizzying pace of technology evolution this year, and the amazing array of legal issues it presented. Similarly, it is a time to look forward and anticipate what technology-related issues we will be thinking about in the coming year. For 2017, … Continue Reading

Controversial “Gripe Site” Protected (Again) by the Communications Decency Act and Defeats Novel Copyright Attack with Website “Browsewrap” License to User Generated Content

The controversial consumer gripe site, RipoffReport.com, is at it again.  The First Circuit recently affirmed a lower court’s ruling that RipoffReport.com was entitled to immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. §230(c)(1) (the “CDA” or “Section 230”) for defamation-related claims based on certain user posts on its site. (Small Justice LLC … Continue Reading

Auction House Accused of Scraping Competitor’s Web Listings

Screen scraping is a problem that has vexed website owners since the early days of e-commerce – how to make valuable content available to users and customers, but prevent competitors from accessing such content for commercial purposes.  Even in the advent of social media, mobile commerce, and advanced software, the issue remains relevant to today’s … Continue Reading

Craigslist Garners $60 Million Judgment against Radpad in Scraping Dispute

For years, craigslist has aggressively used technological and legal methods to prevent unauthorized parties from violating its terms of use by scraping, linking to or accessing user postings for their own commercial purposes.  In its latest judicial victory, on April 13, 2017, craigslist obtained a $60.5 million judgment against Radpad on various claims relating to … Continue Reading

U.S. Copyright Office Rolls Out New Electronic DMCA Agent Designation System

A service provider seeking to take advantage of certain of the safe harbors under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is required to designate an agent to receive takedown notices. The service provider is required to post the DMCA agent’s contact information on its website and to provide such information to the Copyright Office. On … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Finds Use of “Who’s on First” Routine Not Transformative and Not Fair

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a consequential opinion on the meaning and scope of what has become the “transformative use” factor of the fair use defense to copyright infringement. TCA Television Corp. v. McCollum, No. 16-134-cv-, __ F.3d __, 2016 WL 5899174 (2d Cir. Oct. 11, 2016). … Continue Reading

Know Thy Software Vendor: Website Operator Cannot Sidestep Copyright Infringement Claims over Link to Allegedly Infringing Software

Last month, a New York district court refused to dismiss most of the copyright infringement claims asserted against a website operator based on an allegation that the website linked to an infringing copy of plaintiff’s software stored on a third-party’s servers. (Live Face on Web, LLC v. Biblio Holdings LLC, 2016 WL 4766344 (S.D.N.Y., September … Continue Reading

Craigslist Files Another Suit against Data Scraper

For years, craigslist has aggressively used technological and legal methods to prevent unauthorized parties from scraping, linking to or accessing user postings for their own commercial purposes.  In a prior post, we briefly discussed craigslist’s action against a certain aggregator that was scraping content from the craigslist site (despite having received a cease and desist … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Affirms Lower Court Ruling on Meaning of “User” in DMCA §512(c) Safe Harbor

Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers safe harbors for qualifying service providers to limit their liability for claims of copyright infringement. To benefit from the Section 512(c) safe harbor, a storage provider must establish that the infringing content was stored “at the direction of the user.”  17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1).  The … Continue Reading

Website HTML Is Copyrightable, Even If Look and Feel Is Not

In a notable ruling last month, a California district court ruled that the HTML underlying a custom search results page of an online advertising creation platform is copyrightable. In Media.net Advertising FZ-LLC v. Netseer Inc., No. 14-3883, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3784 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2016), the plaintiff, an online contextual-advertising service provider, brought … Continue Reading

Who Exactly Is a ‘User’ under the DMCA Safe Harbor?

The DMCA was enacted in 1998 to preserve “strong incentives for service providers and copyright owners to cooperate to detect and deal with copyright infringements that take place in a digital networked environment.”  As part of this implicit bargain, Title II of the DMCA offers safe harbors for qualifying service providers to limit their liability … Continue Reading

Emergence of Live Streaming Apps Brings Up Copyright, Privacy, Legal Concerns

The big fight may be over, but the implications of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao with respect to real-time, one-to-many streaming of video through apps like Meerkat and Periscope are still rippling through the media industry. In short, livestreaming apps allow anyone with a smartphone to effortlessly broadcast live video to social media followers and the wider … Continue Reading

U.S. Dept. of Commerce Releases Multistakeholder Guidance on DMCA Notice and Takedown Best Practices

On Tuesday, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force released a guidance containing a list of best practices (and notable “bad” practices), all designed to improve the DMCA’s notice and takedown system for both senders and recipients of notices [See “DMCA Notice-and-Takedown Processes: List of Good, Bad, and Situational Practices”]. The document was … Continue Reading

Virginia Court Dismisses Webcaster’s Suit Concerning Geofencing Workaround to Copyright Royalty Obligations

We previously wrote about a Virginia federal magistrate judge’s report recommending dismissal of a declaratory judgment action brought by several radio stations asking the court to rule that webcasts limited in scope via geofencing technology to 150 miles from the site of the transmitter should be exempt from liability for copyright royalties under section 114 of the … Continue Reading

Music Publishers Bring Contributory Copyright Claims Against ISP for Infringing Activities of Subscribers

In a novel lawsuit that tests the bounds of service provider liability, two music publishers brought suit against an ISP for contributory copyright infringement for allegedly facilitating infringement by failing to terminate the accounts of broadband subscribers who were purportedly repeat infringers that had unlawfully downloaded copyrighted music from BitTorrent sites. (BMG Rights Management (US) … Continue Reading

Landmark Oracle-Google Android Copyright Dispute May End Up In Supreme Court

While many smartphone users were gazing upon their new iPhone 6 Plus’s 5.5-inch screen with wonder, there was another notable development in the mobile/tech world – the ongoing software copyright dispute between Oracle and Google over the development of the Android mobile platform just heated up again. This past week, Google filed a petition for … Continue Reading

Emerging Technology and Existing Law: Can Geofencing Provide Radio Webcasters a Workaround of Digital Performance Royalties?

New technology continues to generate business models that test the limits of intellectual property laws enacted before such technologies were ever contemplated.  The latest example is the use of “geofencing” in an attempt to avoid certain obligations to pay certain digital performance royalties. In February 2014, VerStandig Broadcasting, the owner of several radio stations in … Continue Reading

Staving Off Scrapers of User-Generated Content with Electronic Copyright Transfers… A Legal (But, Perhaps Not a Practical) Solution

It’s a problem that has vexed website owners since the days of the dot-com boom – how to make certain user-generated content available to users or subscribers, but also prevent competitors and other unauthorized parties from scraping, linking to or otherwise accessing that content for their own commercial purposes. The law on scraping and linking … Continue Reading

Infringing Copyright? Think Twice Before Removing the Copyright Notice–It Could be Deemed “Copyright Management Information” Under the DMCA

A simple copyright notice (e.g., “© [Year of First Publication] [Owner]”) on a website can imply an assertion of ownership in individual elements of the website and constitute “copyright management information” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a Texas district court held.  A Texas investment company learned this lesson the hard way when it … Continue Reading

Assignment of Copyright through Terms of Use: Does E-Sign Make It OK? A Tool for B2B Sites Dealing with Unauthorized Access to Their Content?

It is a common practice for Web site providers who accept submissions of user-generated content to include a license provision in their “Terms of Use” to obtain rights to use the content. Rather than relying on the uncertain scope of an implied license, the provider can clarify, and hopefully avoid disputes over, the scope of … Continue Reading
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