Copyright Infringement

In a recent Forbes article, Brad Newberg discussed in depth the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., and ways for businesses to adapt in light of the shocking decision. With its decision in Petrella, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that in the world of copyright infringement litigation, time is not always of the essence. The question presented was simple: “[W]hether the equitable defense of laches (unreasonable, prejudicial delay in commencing suit) may bar relief on a copyright infringement claim brought within § 507(b) [of the Copyright Act]’s three-year statute of limitations period.” And the Court’s answer was clear: “[C]ourts are not at liberty to jettison Congress’ judgment on the timeliness of suit. Laches, we hold, cannot be invoked to preclude adjudication of a claim for damages brought within the three-year window.” Yet, the implications of this case going forward are not quite as simple or clear.
Continue Reading Copyright Owners Go the Distance with ‘Raging Bull’ Victory

On June 5, 2014, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York awarded the Beastie Boys $1.7 million for copyright infringement and false endorsement committed by the beverage company Monster Energy. Since Monster Energy admitted to infringing on the band’s songs at the outset of the trial, the issue at trial was to determine damages.

In 2012, Monster Energy sponsored a video for a snowboarding competition, which featured a sampling of five of the Beastie Boys’ songs. The Beastie Boys responded by suing Monster Energy for copyright infringement. The focal point of the group’s action was a segment in the video that featured the words “RIP MCA,” in a manner resembling Monster Energy’s logo. According to the Complaint, the logo implied the group’s endorsement of the video and violated a provision in deceased Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch’s will, which prohibited any use of his name and/or likeness in promotional campaigns. In its defense, Monster Energy alleged that it received permission to use the sampling from Zach Sciacca (a.k.a. DJ Z-Trip), who originally created the sample with permission from the Beastie Boys. That allegation was later rebuffed in a third-party action brought by Monster Energy against DJ Z-Trip. Lacking the permission to use the sample, the federal jury ruled that Monster Energy should pay the Beastie Boys $1.7 million based on the jury’s determination that Monster Energy’s copyright violation was willful and in bad faith.
Continue Reading No Sleep ‘Til . . . Copyright Victory? The Beastie Boys Continue Their String of Successes with a $1.7 Million Award in Monster Energy Case

This post was written by Gregor Pryor and Elisabeth Hoffnell.

On 17 April 2009, the four men behind the popular Pirate Bay website were found guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced to one year imprisonment and payment of a fine of SEK 30 million (£2.4 million).

The defendants include the site’s operators Fredik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi. The prosecutor also charged the Swedish millionaire Carl Lundström, who has donated money to the organisation and has helped configure larger numbers of computers to host the site. The defendants have run The Pirate Bay since 2004 after it was set up a year earlier by the Swedish anti-copyright organisation “the Piracy Agency”.Continue Reading The Pirate Bay trial – the Swedish verdict

On Aug. 27, 2008, in the case Io Group, Inc. v. Veoh Networks [1] (Veoh), U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd granted Veoh’s motion for summary judgment, that it qualified for “safe harbor” protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. § 512. The Veoh decision has been hailed by some as a major victory for Internet service providers and proponents of the sufficiency of the DMCA in addressing copyright infringement issues over the Internet. Does this decision supplant Grokster as the current precedent of U.S. courts with respect to an analysis of the legality of websites featuring user-generated content (UGC)? The Supreme Court’s decision in Grokster established that a service provider that has provided a platform and has promoted its use to infringe copyright or foster infringement could be found liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties. [2] In other words, if the service provider’s website has been used, to a significant degree, as a hub of infringing content, then such service provider may not be able to raise the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA as a defense to secondary copyright infringement.[3] Precedential considerations aside, a closer look at the facts of Veoh reveals that the court’s holding is actually quite limited in scope. 

The plaintiff in Veoh, Io Group, Inc. (Io), a publisher of adult video content, claimed in the lawsuit that it discovered clips from 10 of its copyrighted films had been uploaded and viewed on without its authorization. Considering that the DMCA was created, in part, to provide a process for copyright owners to police and limit infringing activity, it would be paramount for any copyright owner seeking recourse for a claim of infringement to have complied with the procedures in place under the DMCA[4] prior to filing a lawsuit. Assuming that the website provided a copyright-infringement-claim designated agent to contact regarding infringement claims, a copyright owner would be required to have submitted DMCA-compliant notices of infringement to such designated agent, and have such agent fail to remove the allegedly infringing content, to have an actionable claim. In this case, Veoh had a designated agent assigned to review takedown notices, and maintained terms of use that set forth procedures that were compliant with the DMCA. Plaintiff Io, on the other hand, seemingly ignoring the DMCA procedures entirely, did not send a takedown notice to, or otherwise inform, Veoh that it had determined that its film content had been uploaded to the Veoh website without authorization. Actually, receipt of the complaint was the first notice Veoh received regarding Io’s infringement issues. Strike one.Continue Reading DMCA Alive and Well? An Analysis of the Veoh Decision

When the Republican Party recently ran an ad attacking Sen. Barack Obama’s energy policy, with Jackson Browne’s song “Running on Empty” playing in the background, long-time Democratic activist Browne punched back.

Browne sued John McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party for using his song in the commercial, which mocks the suggestion by Democratic Presidential candidate Obama that voters can conserve gasoline by keeping their car tires inflated to the proper pressure.

“[T]he [c]ommercial falsely suggests that Browne sponsors, endorses and is associated with McCain and the Republican Party, when nothing could be further from the truth,” states Browne’s complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

In fact, Browne supports McCain’s opponent. “Browne’s public support for the Democratic Party and its presumptive candidate for President of the United States, Senator Barack Obama, is well-known.” the complaint says.Continue Reading Rock Star Sues McCain Over Use of Song