Archive for: May, 2013

Kim Dotcom might sue Twitter, Google and Facebook over copyright infringement

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom. File photo via AFP.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said Thursday he was considering taking legal action against tech giants such as Twitter, Google and Facebook for infringing copyright on a security measure he invented.

Dotcom, who is on bail in New Zealand as US authorities seek his extradition in the world’s biggest copyright case, said he invented “two-factor authentication”, which many major sites have adopted as a security feature.

Twitter became the latest major player to introduce the measure on Wednesday following a series of cyber-attacks which saw hackers take over the accounts of high-profile targets such as media organizations and send out fake tweets.

“Twitter introduces Two-Step-Authentication. Using my invention. But they won’t even verify my Twitter account?!,” Dotcom tweeted.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc. offer Two-Step-Authentication. Massive IP (intellectual property) infringement by U.S. companies. My innovation. My patent,” he added.

To back his claim, the 39-year-old posted a US patent describing the authentication process filed in 1998 by Kim Schmitz — Dotcom’s name before he legally changed it — and published in 2000.

Dotcom said he had never sought to enforce copyright on his invention but was now reconsidering in light of the US case accusing him of masterminding massive online piracy through his now-defunct Megaupload file-sharing site.

“I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge & ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the U.S. did to me,” he said.

However, he said a more productive approach would be if the tech giants helped cover his legal bills to fight prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which he estimated would exceed US$50 million.

“Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help fund my defense,” he tweeted.

“All of our assets are still frozen without trial. Defending our case will cost US$50M+. I want to fight to the end because we are innocent.”

The authentication process works by sending a text message containing a verification code to the user’s mobile phone when they login, which must be entered to gain access to the account.

The US Justice Department and FBI want Dotcom to face charges of racketeering, fraud, money-laundering and copyright theft in a US court, which could see him jailed for up to 20 years.

He denies US allegations the Megaupload sites netted more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than US$500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

The German national is free on bail ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for August and launched a successor to Megaupload called Mega in January this year.


Kim Dotcom might sue Twitter, Google and Facebook over copyright infringement – Raw Story

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Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy sued by Composer for copyright infringement

Is Young Jeezy guilty of copyright infringement?
Brian Smith (Smith), who describes himself as a music producer and songwriter specializing in urban music, filed his complaint seeking an injunction, damages, and attorney fees against Jay W. Jenkins d/b/a Young Jeezy Music (Jenkins), Demetrius L. Stewart d/b/a Shawty Redd Songs (Stewart), UMG Recordings, Inc. (UMG), Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ), Universal Music Group Distribution, Corp (UMGD), EMI Music Publishing (EMI), and EMI April Music, Inc. (EMIA) (collectively, Defendants).According to the complaint, Smith wrote an original song entitled “Roll On Em” and obtained registration No. SRu872-428 after filing on May 27, 2008.  Smith’s manager, Jasmine Norwood, provided an electronic copy of the song by email to Stewart in 2009.  The work “Jizzle” was released by Defendants in July 2010 and Smtih first heard it the following month – August 2010.Thereafter, on October 28, 2010, IDJ registered a copyright of the sound recording of Jizzle.  The complaint asserts that as a result, Smith lost substantial revenues, good will, and relationships with future clients, precluding Smith’s ability to expand his goodwill.  The nature of the goodwill that Smith alleges has been lost may be better understood by listening to Young Jeezy’s performance of the song.  Warning:  The lyrics are not intended for classroom dissection.

The lawsuit targets relief from copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq, including, injunctive relief, expenses of litigation, and a declaratory judgment on ownership of the derivative work.

The case is Brian Smith v. Jay W. Jenkins et al., No. 1:13-cv-1235-RLV, filed 4/16/13 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Vining, Jr.

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Orphan Works, Droit D’Auteur, Where to Sue in Copyright Cases

Snippets from issue 1, 2013 volume of The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter:

Publishing and distributing content in today’s environment means working within a variety of models. An article or a series of articles published in a newsletter or website may become a mini e-book, the basis for a webinar or online course, or part of an online subscription-based database. These various models of monetizing content presume one thing—that ownership of the original content is clearly established when that original or first version of the content is written.

– Editorial by Lesley Ellen Harris

Orphan Works:

Because museums operate as stewards of collections with a mission and responsibility—on the one hand to educate and communicate with their public and, on the other hand, to care for their collections—museums hold a unique perspective on rights issues. One of the most significant legal issues facing the contemporary museum is the orphaned works issue.  The issue of orphaned works, that is, works determined to likely still be in copyright where the copyright owner cannot be identified or found, is not new.  Historically museums have been involved in determining provenance or attribution of works of art.

– Orphan Works from the Museum Perspective by Rina Elster Pantalony

French Copyright Law:

The French Intellectual Property Code not only expressly provides for the possibility to transfer moral rights on the death of the author (moral rights can be transferred only because of death), but also provides for the perpetuity of moral rights. The combination of this perpetual nature with the possibility of transferring a moral right only in case of death, offers a crucial tool to maintain control over the use of a work beyond the duration of patrimonial rights. As an example, the French courts (Paris Court of First Instance, September 12 2001) found that the moral rights over the works of famous author Victor Hugo had been transferred to his heirs up until today even thought the famous writer died in 1885.

– Copyright in France: The French System of “Droit D’Auteur” by by Jean-François Bretonnière and Thomas Defaux

Where to Sue for Copyright Infringement:

Personal jurisdiction is the court’s power over the parties in a case and is generally limited to a geographical area, such as a state.  More broadly, jurisdiction is the right or authority of a court to hear and decide a case.  Not every court has the right or authority to decide a particular legal dispute.  For example, a small claims court does not have the authority to decide a copyright case.  Only federal courts have that authority.  Personal jurisdiction is therefore the right or authority of the court to make a ruling that is enforceable against a specific party.  There are two kinds of personal jurisdiction: specific jurisdiction and general jurisdiction.

– Where to Sue in Copyright Infringement Cases by Tonya Gisselberg

Previous contents of The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter.

If you subscribe to the Copyright Community in 2013 you will have access to this issue and all issues of the Newsletter from 2009-2013. Choose the electronic subscription for $199 for 2013.

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Copyright for Publishers

Copyright for Publishers

Publishing in today’s environment means working within a variety of models. These models may entail the use of original content and may use republished, repurposed, adapted and recycled content. What does this mean in terms of copyright law? Since content is a key common denominator across models, publishers need to understand how copyright law protects that content. Key copyright issues include the nature of protected content; ownership of content; how that content is legally protected and what rights protect it; how to license and assignment content in order to monetize it and monitoring unauthorized uses of content. Proper copyright knowledge will ensure that you have maximum protection in the one constant in your various publishing models.

Three important copyright issues for publishers are:

  • ownership of content
  • using third party content
  • protecting publications

The issues affect both print and electronic publishers of all sorts of content.

Copyright Ownership

In copyright, the ownership rule seems straightforward: an author is the first owner of copyright in her work. However, in an employment situation, the employer owns the copyright in her employee’s work. A consultant on the other hand owns the copyright in her writings unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise. Written agreements can change the ownership of copyright materials; licenses can provide permission to use materials that you do not own.

Third Party Content

Third party content is content in which you do not own the rights. Some typical examples of third party works included in publications are: images, diagrams, tables, charts, and photographs. When using third party content, it is always best to begin with the presumption that the content is protected by copyright. Online content and images found through search engines like Google Images are often protected by copyright.

Protecting Publications

Using a copyright symbol and including copyright information (plus a link to obtain permission to use your online publications) is one of the simplest ways to start protecting your content. Watermarking, digital rights management, and license agreements may all be helpful as well.

More info at Member profile: Harris has the answers on copyright laws

See Copyright for Publishers session at SIPA on 5 June 2013

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Photographers in Copyright Infringement Suit Against Google

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) recently announced that it is joining the other cast of characters who have filed a class action suit against Google, claiming (as the other plaintiffs have) that Google’s “Google Book Search” program violates the copyrights of several photographers and visual artists. The other plaintiffs include individuals Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi, John Schmelzer, Simms Taback and Gail Kuenstler Living Trust, Leland Bobbe, John Francis Ficara and David Moser, and associations The American Society of Media Photographers, the Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, the Professional Photographers of America, and American Photographic Artists.

So what brought on this class action suit in the first place?  Well, it would seem that whenever someone conducts a search using the Google Books program, that search brings up images that are contained in both books and periodicals–images that are copyright protected. And apparently, this isn’t the first time Google Books has been under fire in litigation–even the writers of some of the books and periodicals that come up when using the search have also claimed copyright infringement.

The Allegations in the Complaint

The amended complaint details the claims that are typical to the members of the Class, and it specifically notes several questions of law that are common to the Class, including, but not limited to:

  • Whether Google’s alleged conduct constitutes infringement of the visual works held by members of the Class and the individual plaintiffs;
  • Whether Google gains direct financial and related benefits from the infringing acts complained of;
  • With regard to the acts complained of, whether Google acted willfully;
  • Whether injunctive and/or declaratory relief is appropriate; and
  • Whether the individual plaintiffs, along with the Class, are entitled to receive damages for Google’s wrongful conduct.

The plaintiffs, who are representing the Class, first make it clear that they exclusively own the rights to all the visual works that have been, or potentially will be, “reproduced, distributed and displayed by Google without authorization.”

The common allegations begin with a discussion of Google’s general business, which, as we all know, is the Internet search business. The company eventually decided to build a database online of all the books in the world–lofty idea, right?  Well, they started their mission by obtaining agreements from several major U.S. university libraries, to include the Universities of Virginia, Michigan, California and Wisconsin, as well as Stanford University.  So you might be asking, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” The problem is that Google is collaborating with these libraries to “digitally copy and reproduce books and the visual works therein from their collections and distribute and display this content through Google Book Search.”

Additionally, Google has shared those digital copies with others, and the company provides the scanning technology that permits the aforementioned books (along with the soon-to-be added collections) to be copied, distributed and displayed.  In furtherance of Google’s mission, the company created a partner program whereby book publishers (and periodical publishers) can give Google either the hard or digital copies of books or periodicals (and the visual works that they contain) that they have published.

Google has conceded that it has already scanned over 12 million books and has identified 174 million books that it “might” seek to copy, distribute and display.  One of Google’s reasons for using the books and periodicals–to draw not only interested visitors but also advertisers to its site.  Given these facts, the plaintiffs and Class members reiterate that Google has already reproduced various books and periodicals that contain visual works that the plaintiffs and Class members own exclusively. Furthermore, Google has done so and continues to do so without the permission of the copyright holders and in violation of their exclusive rights under the Copyright Act.

Moreover, Google has made it clear that it intends to continue copying the books and periodicals in further development of their online database, sell subscriptions to the database to its institutional customers and general online consumers, and expand future revenue streams from sales of consumer subscriptions to its database, print on-demand services, PDF download services and other services.

The plaintiffs claim that Google’s actions have caused and will continue to cause damage and irreversible harm to the plaintiffs, unless Google is restrained.  The lead plaintiffs in this action stated that they decided to take on Google because they believe that it is their responsibility to support those artists whose copyrighted work is, in essence, being cheapened by Google.  Mike Borland, president of NPPA, agreed with Executive Director Mindy Hutchinson who stated in an interview that, “it was only natural for the association to join its peers in this suit.”  Mr. Borland added that it is crucial that they (meaning the plaintiffs) don’t “allow companies like Google to infringe upon our rights uncontested.”

Photographers in Copyright Infringement Suit Against Google –
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Jeweler Tiffany Co. Sues Cosco For Copyright Infringement

(PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Commons) Tiffany Co. is suing wholesale retailer Costco for allegedly deceiving customers by counterfeiting the company’s rings.

Costco and Tiffany Co. are currently in a legal battle regarding whether or not the wholesale warehouse misguided consumers by marking rings as “Tiffany” without consent from the jeweler.

Tiffany filed the suit Thursday in the U.S. Distrcit Court in New York, according to ABC News.

The suit alleges that Costco deceived consumers for years by marking certain rings at “Tiffany” that were “not manufactured by, approved by, licensed by, or otherwise in any way properly associated with Tiffany.

The jewlery store said that the issue came to their attention in November when a customer informed them that she disappointed with the Tiffany ring she bought at a Huntington Beach, Calif. Costco.

The Tiffany company’s lawyer, Jeffrey Mitchell, said that the wholesale store tricked hundreds, if not thousands, of customers into thinking they were buying genuine Tiffany merchandise.

Costco is not backing down, however, and filed a countersuit claiming that Tiffany is a ring style that does not fall under the copyright of the New-York-based jeweler.

“Tiffany is an eponymous name,” saying: “It’s like Phillips screwdriver, it’s like Murphy bed, it’s like Ferris wheel,” Costco’s lawyer James Dabney told the New York Post.

Costco also argued that it never brandished the Tiffany logo, nor did it use a trademark blue box like the jewelry store, which it maintains is sufficient enough to show buyers that its rings are not manufactured by the big name manufacturer.

Monica Riva Talley, an attorney who specializes in trademark law with Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, told ABC News that trademark violations become problematic and difficult to untangle when consumers are dealing with big retailers.

“Most consumers realize that the designer handbags displayed at the local flea market are knock-offs, but it becomes more of a problem for brand owners when counterfeit products are sold – knowingly or not — through reputable outlets,” she said.

Counterfieting is a $600 billion a year problem for manufacturers. This is laregely in part to consumer demand for cheaper goods.

Tiffany Costco Dispute: Jeweler Sues Wholesale Retailer For Copyright … – Latin Times
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Harper Lee sues over ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ copyright infringement


Image Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, is suing her agent for copyright infringement. Lee claims that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her longtime agent, Eugene Winick, tricked her into signing over her copyright in 2007 when she was in an assisted-living facility after having suffered a stroke. Gloria Phares, Lee’s Lawyer, stated in the complaint: “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see.”

Lee claims that she had no idea that she had signed over the copyright. And although the copyright was reassigned to Lee last year after other legal action, the 87-year-old author filed an additional lawsuit on Friday, hoping to reclaim full ownership of the copyright to the 1960 novel, therefore taking any remaining commissions away from her agent. With this latest lawsuit, Lee aims to stop Pinkus from receiving any more royalties from the hit novel, which has sold more than 30 million copies to date.

Read more:
John Grisham sequel to ‘A Time to Kill’ to be published
‘How I Lost You’: Janet Gurtler talks new YA novel
‘Waiting to Be Heard’ by Amanda Knox: Read EW’s review of the $4 million memoir

Harper Lee sues over ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ copyright infringement – Entertainment Weekly (blog)
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GI Joe co-writers Sue Paramount, MGM for Copyright Infringement

“GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra” script co-writers David Elliot and Paul Lovett have sued Paramount, Hasbro, MGM and producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, seeking $23 million for copyright infringement. In the suit, filed in California federal court May 3, the writers allege that the studios and producers stole many of their ideas for the sequel to “Cobra,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”

That film, which opened March 28, has grossed $355 million at the worldwide box office. The defendants have engaged Elliot and Lovett to contribute to the sequel, assuring they would get the job if their work was satisfactory. The studios and producers did not hire Elliott or Lovett, but in a 113-page suit, the writers detail all of the ways in which they feel their work was used without any credit.

“Even the most cursory review of the Joe Retaliation Movie and the Plaintiffs’ Work reveals that they are substantially similar in every material way,” the suit claims.

Elliot and Lovett would have been guaranteed to write the sequel had they been the sole credited writers on the first movie. Stuart Beattie was also credited for his work on that screenplay, and the writers’ lawyers note in the suit that the finished “Cobra” film was markedly different from the writers’ script.

Yet the defendants still engaged Elliot and Lovett, who included much of the work they did for the studios as evidence of theft. Paramount declined to comment.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report

GI Joe Scribes Slap Paramount, MGM With Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – TheWrap
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Dr. Oz show launches copyright infringement campaign

Dr. Oz show launches copyright infringement campaign

US syndicated daytime series The Dr. Oz Show is launching an aggressive campaign to fight copyright infringement and illegal use of the Dr. Oz name, image and show.

The show alleges that rogue vitamin and supplement company marketing campaigns have been illegally using the Dr. Oz name. More than 11,000 complaints have been logged through the OzWatch portal on, which is devoted to detecting and enforcing infringement.

So, beginning 6 May, host Dr Mehmet Oz will end each show with a disclaimer that reads:

“If you receive an e-mail or any kind of direct marketing claiming to be from me selling a product with my name, my image or the show’s name, you need to know IT’S NOT ME! I consider anyone that uses my name or my picture to try to sell you a product or supplement reckless and dangerous. They are undermining my credibility with you and the trust you place in me. More importantly, it could be dangerous to your health. Please go to to report if you receive any messages that use me to sell you anything. To see a list of our trusted partners, please go to Dr.”

Over the past several years, banner ads featuring Dr. Oz endorsements have saturated the Internet, embedded in sites like Facebook, Google, Amazon and YouTube, targeting consumers with misleading advertising for products that may have been seen on the show, Oz said, adding that e-mail spamming, targeted ads and robo-calling have all been reported by viewers.

“Today I am taking back my name and protecting my viewers from people I consider dangerous, who try to mislead you into buying products I don’t endorse,”

said Oz. “Anything you see on this show is part of a conversation I am having with you about your health. We are always transparent about our trusted, official partnerships and a full list of these partners is available on our website.”


The Dr. Oz Show has produced close to 700 shows in four seasons that mention various supplements. “The largest organised fraudulent efforts include green coffee bean extract, raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia,” the show said.

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