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.

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Harper Lee sues over ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ copyright infringement – Entertainment Weekly (blog)
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Usher and Justin Bieber in $10 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Usher and Justin Bieber
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Usher and his pop protege Justin Bieber have been hit with a $10 million lawsuit over their chart-topping tune ‘Somebody to Love.’

According to the Wrap, two Virginia songwriters, Devin “De Rico” Copeland and Mareio Overton, claim that Ursh and the Biebs jacked their song. They say they penned the track in 2008, and released it the same year on De Rico’s album ‘My Story II.’

Usher and Justin also claim they passed along the album to scouting company Sangreel Media, who said they would let Usher hear the LP. De Rico and Overton even talked to Jonetta Patton, who is Usher’s off and on “momager.” She apparently told them that her son listened to the album and wanted to work with De Rico.

Furthermore, Usher and Justin allege that Usher posted a demo version of ‘Somebody to Love’ on YouTube. Then the song appeared on Bieber’s album ‘My World 2.0.’ Usher appears on the remix.

The lawsuit cites many similarities between their song and the Usher-Bieber track including the same title, time signature, chords, choruses and “call and response” chants.

Basically, De Rico and Overton are saying it was a straight jack move and now they are looking for compensation.

Attorneys for Usher and Justin Bieber had no comment on the matter.

Next: Ultimate Atlanta Guide for R&B Fans

Watch Justin Bieber’s ‘Somebody to Love Remix’ Video Feat. Usher


Usher, Justin Bieber Embroiled in $10 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – TheDrop.fm

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Curb Records Sues Tim McGraw for Copyright Infringement

Curb Records Sues Tim McGraw for Copyright Infringement 



on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Truck no!

According to a story first reported by our sister publication The City Paper, former Music Row bedfellows Tim McGraw and Curb Records are at it again. The “Truck Yeah” singer and his former label finally settled (or at least, so everyone thought) a two-year legal battle back in September, with The Court of Appeals of Tennessee upholding a 2011 decision to let McGraw sign with Big Machine. Well, that didn’t sit well with Curb, as they’ve just lobbed another law bomb at the Indian Outlaw. From The CP:

The lawsuit, filed Monday, claims that the copyright to McGraw’s aptly titled Big Machine album “Two Lanes of Freedom” should actually belong to Curb Records. The label alleges that McGraw recorded the songs while he was still under contract with Curb.

The controversy centers around McGraw’s previous album “Emotional Traffic,” which he maintained was his fifth and final record for Curb. But Curb argued in a breach of contract suit filed in 2011 that McGraw recorded those songs during an unauthorized period of time in an attempt to quickly fulfill his contract obligations.

Curb is now asking the federal court to determine that “Two Lanes of Freedom” belongs to them. Further, the suit maintains that McGraw also owes Curb a sixth album due to a 2001 settlement agreement regarding “greatest hits” albums that weren’t fulfilled.

“The lawsuit also asks for compensatory and punitive damages,” CP goes on to report, “as well as an injunction to prevent McGraw from recording material until he has fulfilled the Curb contract.” Well that stinks.

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Curb Records Sues Tim McGraw for Copyright Infringement – Nashville Scene

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Desmond Howard Sued By Photographer For Infringement

This has the potential to be loooooong story but I’ll try to keep it short. It involves multiple counts of alleged [The phrase “origin of goods”] by some pretty big names in the business, but the real story is [The phrase “origin of goods”].
Brian Masck is a photographer whose claim to fame is the [The phrase “origin of goods”] of Desmond Howard striking the “Heisman pose” after scoring a touchdown for Michigan.

Twenty-two years later, Desmond Howard, along with Sports Illustrated, Getty Images, Fathead, Nissan and a host of others, are being sued for copyright infringement by Masck.

There’s a [The phrase “origin of goods”] included. If you’re tired of reading boring legal filings filled with boring legal language, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Masck’s lawsuit, which spends more than 60 paragraphs recounting the story of this photo. Much of it reads like a painfully earnest biography and includes plenty of extraneous details rarely found in lawsuits, including the photographer’s years as a college student and relevant darkroom experience.

Masck, who had already learned to take his camera with him everywhere, was the only photographer on site when Kelly was arrested. And that is why he was able to sell his photograph to the national media…
When Brian refused to stop taking pictures of the incident, he was arrested, along with the Daily’s editor, who was protesting Brian’s arrest. All charges were eventually dropped, but you could say Brian, who had just turned 20 years old, was earning his photojournalism credentials…
Little did either of them anticipate before the game that the foresight, perceptive planning and skill of one of them would facilitate the creation of a college [The phrase “origin of goods”], let alone a broader cultural touchstone.

And so on.
That’s just a couple of the filing’s finer moments. There’s plenty more where that came from, as well as some color photos to break up the wall of biographic text.
Here’s a few of the details actually relevant to the case at hand.
– Masck didn’t actually register the copyright on the photo until 20 years after he took it. He blames this on some bad legal advice from “his counsel at the time,” who told him that SI’s publishing of the photo (along with crediting the source) was as good as registering the copyright. It obviously isn’t and this puts Masck in the position of proving actual damages and prevents him from collecting statutory damages.
– After registering the photo, Masck subtly altered his original in order to track its unauthorized use. (You can see a MS Painted version of the photo pointing out the changes on p. 32 of the filing.) He removed the logo from one glove and slightly extended the lettering on the football. He found this altered version posted at Desmond Howard’s website and among the products being sold by Fathead.
– [The phrase “origin of goods”]. If you’re looking for anything related to this specific “iconic shot,” Masck probably has it for sale. It’s a very singular website that [The phrase “origin of goods”] with various Desmond Howard “trophy pose” merchandise. Unfortunately, this probably limits his potential audience to Desmond Howard, [The phrase “origin of goods”] dedicated to all things Desmond Howard. (There’s more to this story as well, but we’re getting to that.)
– Masck also drags the Lanham Act (something usually associated with trademark violations) into the lawsuit, claiming “unfair competition.” [The phrase “origin of goods”].

Masck also brings unfair competition claims alleging that the defendants caused confusion as to the origin of the Heisman Pose photo. The problem with these claims is that they are effectively trying to emulate copyright protection by stretching the language of the Lanham Act.

In [The phrase “origin of goods”], the Supreme Court struck down such an attempt:
[The phrase “origin of goods”] refers to the producer of the tangible goods that are offered for sale, and not to the author of any idea, concept, or communication embodied in those goods . . . To hold otherwise would be akin to finding that § 43(a) created a species of perpetual patent and copyright, which Congress may not do.


The Court stressed that the “creative talent” embodied in the work was not left without any protection–if it had qualified, it could still have been protected by copyright. This same reasoning should also apply to Masck’s work, because his claims are based on the defendants copying his photograph, not passing off his physical copies of the photograph as their own.

Masck filed his suit in January. McGowan’s coverage of the filing in February contains this prescient note:

See the photo in question, and the plaintiff’s attempts to merchandise it, at his “store.” (Check out the number of times the site stuffs the phrase “Desmond Howard”–I could see why this might raise some issues of its own).

That’s exactly what it’s done. The name “Desmond Howard” is used liberally throughout Masck’s site. Desmond Howard isn’t too happy with this, especially as he’s been named in a lawsuit concerning a photo of himself.

It turns out that Howard is a bit upset that he’s be sued over his own likeness — especially since he claims that he has never sold the photo or made any money off of it. So Howard and his lawyers have decided to file a massive countersuit against Masck, claiming that the photographer unlawfully used his image by selling merchandise featuring it online.

Howard is referring specifically to Masck’s website TheTrophyPose, which sells everything from life-sized cutouts to framed prints of the famed photograph. Howard also cites Masck’s facebook page “Desmond Howard’s ‘Trophy Pose’ 1991 Photo by Brian Masck,” which the lawsuit claims uses Howards name, likeness and photo, all without permission.

According to Masck’s lawsuit, he discussed a partnership with Desmond Howard on more than one occasion. Howard apparently decided to go his own way (his personal site has a shop advertised on the front page but there’s no live link yet), but he did post Masck’s photo (the one with the telltale alterations) on his site, hence the copyright infringement allegations.

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Copyright infringement cases implicate at least 250000 consumers

In the previous two years, a special kind of copyright infringement case has proliferated across the country, and the companies filing them have become known as “copyright trolls.”

The pejorative has come as these companies troll so called IP addresses that individual modems are put to get the internet. They locate IP addresses linked with downloads of their customers’ pictures and after that require Internet providers to deliver customer information.

The suits offer to settle, usually $7,500, up to from $2,500 front . If defendants are not amenable, attorneys threaten to seek damages of $30,000 to $150,000, the maximum under copyright law.

The first such cases were filed over the previous two months in Oregon. Here’s how similar cases have played out in federal courts nationally:

California: Judge Bernard Zimmerman of the Northern District of California dropped a suit in 2011 that identified because, defendants 5,011 he said, their individual situation were not similar enough to be joined together . The plaintiff’s attorneys were permitted to carry on against one of the defendants.

“If I let this issue to go with about 5,000 defendants,” Zimmerman wrote, “it’ll create a logistical nightmare with hundreds if not thousands of defendants filing distinct motions… each raising exceptional factual and legal problems that will have to be examined one at a time.”

Indiana: On March 26, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued a default judgment in excess of $150,000 against Gerald Glover, who was identified in a case and failed to react. The suit alleged he often downloaded films that were shielded by CP Productions Inc.

Ohio: Judge James S. Gwin ruled last week that Voltage Pictures, which is the plaintiff in four Oregon cases, improperly linked 197 defendants in four cases. The judge said the cases must be filed separately, each with its own filing fee.

In his order, Gwin including snippets from other court judgements:

“Courts are troubled by what amounts to be a fresh business model used by generation firms ‘misapply the subpoena powers of the court, seeking the identities of the Doe defendants only to ease demand letters and coerce resolution, as opposed to finally function procedure and litigate the claims.'”

“It’s in this environment where courts must take every care to ensure that the keys to the doors of discovery aren’t blithely given to parties with other objectives.”

Oregon: In response to the case with 371 “Does” filed by attorney Carl Crowell, a Salem mom wrote a letter explaining that her adult son had illegally downloaded “Maximum Conviction” from BitTorrent while at her house.

The son “said he used a blocker so no one else could download files from his computer. Enclosed is a money order for $12.99, the price now recorded for this film on Amazon.com.

“Please offer my apologies to Voltage Pictures for not paying more attention,” she wrote, “I now consider this problem worked out.”
Laura Gunderson

Copyright infringement cases implicate at least 250000 consumers nationwide… Read the rest