Matthew Epstein : April 8, 2014 4:13 pm : METAfeed

Megaupload, what use to be one of the largest sources of online file-sharing, was shut down in 2012 by U.S. law enforcement and responsible for $175 million in criminal proceeds while costing U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars. Now, two years later, Megaupload is being sued jointly by six of the largest film production companies for copyright infringement. Kim Schmitz, founder of Megaupload, now spends his time in New Zealand fighting attempts to extradite him back to the United States to face these charges.

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Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin . . . and Winter Sports Preference?

Eric Rogers : April 7, 2014 10:47 am : BeyondMETAfeed

Being a Michigan native, I have fond memories from years past of time spent learning to snowski. Though I am a skier, I hold no animosity toward snowboarders. I have attempted to snowboard several times, but spent more time on the ground than gliding down the mountain (with some great bruises to match).  Most skiers I have met share my open-mindedness about snowboarding.

Yet, there are a few resorts that still bar snowboarders from their slopes. Alta in Utah is one.

A group of snowboarders recently brought suit against the ski hill, alleging illegal discrimination in violation of several laws. This suit is complicated by the fact that Alta is operated on Federal land leased from the United States Forest Service.

Read more here.

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Finally, the Case We’ve All Been Waiting For

Matthew Peterson : April 1, 2014 1:07 pm : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

In a case that will be of interest to software developers and companies around the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l yesterday. After dodging the issue for years, the Court will ultimately decide whether the Patent Act authorizes patent protection for software, and if so, at what stage of development. Read the opinion below here and browse the transcript from the oral argument before the Court here. For a summary of the proceedings, click here.

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Selfie: But Whose?

Geoffrey Mcaleenan : March 31, 2014 11:44 pm : Arts & EntertainmentIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeed

Ellen Degeneres selfie at the OscarsI’ll begin by apologizing for using the word “selfie.” However, it is what the kids are calling it these days when somebody takes a photo of himself either alone or with a group, and there happens to be a popular celebrity “selfie” circulating around the internet.

At the Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres gathered a few famous faces together and handed her cell phone to actor Bradley Cooper. Cooper snapped the photograph, and by so doing nearly broke Twitter. Plenty of news outlets have requested Ellen’s permission to use the photo, but is she the rightful copyright owner?

The law tells us that copyright protection applies to original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. So, let’s see: for a work to be original, it has to have a minimal degree of creativity, so we’re good there, and it has to be fixed in a tangible medium, and we know it is because the picture is a photograph. But what about who’s the author? It seems straightforward: the author is the creator of the original expression. So then it’s Cooper because he took the photo…or is it DeGeneres because she got all the celebrities together for the photo in the first place? Or is it the Academy because it hired DeGeneres, and she caused the photo to be taken during the scope of her employment? Brush up on your case law, and post your answer in the comments!




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Food Selfies v. IP Rights

Priscilla Nduro : March 31, 2014 10:50 pm : METAfeed

foodselfie It is undeniable that the advent of social media has led to an obsession with documenting and sharing our lives, especially our food, through photographs.  Food “selfies,” as they are known in social media land, are ubiquitous on applications like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Arguably, food selfies have become an art form not just on social media, but to the chefs who create the recipes and the various foods.  But does the world’s obsession with photographing food in restaurants infringe on the intellectual property (IP) rights of the chefs who create the original recipes and original presentations of the foods? Some chefs believe that photographing their original creations infringe on certain IP rights, and some chefs have even gone as far as creating a “no camera” policy at their restaurants.  But can these chefs really claim any IP rights to food, despite the intrusive nature of food selfies? Read more about the issue here

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Championing Copyright Through Compilation – Scranton Style

Josh Beurer : March 26, 2014 3:27 pm : ARTICLEPOSTMETAfeed

Joe Sabia, a New York-based artist and copyright advocate, has come up with a novel way The-Office-nbc-324594_1280_1024_to speak out for copyright reform. Sabia took every non-fiction cultural reference made throughout all nine seasons of the award-winning NBC sitcom The Office and catalogued each reference chronologically. He then placed this compiled footage on his website, The Office Time Machine, where viewers can select any year and view all the references in one place. The point of this project is to highlight the importance of fair use by showing how pervasive such references to copyrighted works actually are. Sabia notes, “This Time Machine is intended to show how much we rely on culture. So let artists bang it out without fear of being sued. (…that’s what she said)”

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When an Imaginary Town Became Real

Libby Busdicker : March 19, 2014 4:23 pm : Intellectual PropertyMETAfeed

To protect works made of compilations of facts, publishers sometimes use an old trick called a Copyright Trap–a method of sneaking in a few fictitious entries among many true facts. The trap allows publishers to catch copiers in the act when those fictitious entries are not-so-coincidentally reproduced.

A small telephone company used this trick in the landmark copyright case Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service when it inserted fictitious listings in its telephone directory, only to find those fictitious listings were later published in Feist’s telephone directory of the same area. Feist had clearly copied their directory. Unfortunately for the small telephone company, the Court said their alphabetically listed directory did not have the minimal degree of creativity to warrant copyright protection, so Feist had not infringed. But for the sake of catching copiers in the act, the trick worked.

This trick was also used by a map company back in the 1930s to accuse Rand McNally of copyright infringement. Maps are traditionally copyrightable, unlike an alphabetical telephone directory. However, the map company was unsuccessful in protecting their map for a different and strange reason–because the fictitious town the map company created, “Algoe,” actually became a real town for a short period of time. Read the whole story on

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Are you #McConnelling?

Nichole Kazimirovicz : March 15, 2014 6:46 pm : Arts & EntertainmentIntellectual PropertyMediaMETAfeedTech & Internet

After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released his 2:22 minute campaign ad, parodies of the ad began appearing left and right.  The campaign ad featured McConnell in random day to day activities, smiling, but no words are spoken for the entire ad.  Even McConnell’s opponent in the GOP primary, Matt Bevin, created a parody of the ad, superimposing text on the video to translate the silence.  Could all of these people be infringing on the video’s copyright?  Best of all is when The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart encouraged people to use different music to the McConnell ad and named this humorous phenomenon #McConnelling.

Parody can be considered as a fair use defense to copyright infringement.  The U.S. Supreme Court has said, “Like less ostensibly humorous forms of criticism, it can provide social benefit, by shedding light on an earlier work, and, in the process, creating a new one. We thus line up with the courts that have held that parody, like other comment or criticism, may claim fair use under § 107.” Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 579, 114 S. Ct. 1164, 1171 (1994).

Just keep smiling, McConnell.

Check out the full #McConnelling story here.  


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USPTO to host forum on DMCA Takedown Notice revisions

Eric Rogers : March 10, 2014 12:36 pm : Intellectual PropertyMETAfeedTech & Internet

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act has gotten a lot of flak over the years, largely for its introduction and implementation of “Takedown Notices.” In short, copyright holders who feel their rights are infringed can notify online content hosting sites such as YouTube that copyrighted material is being hosted without the copyright holder’s permission. The content host is required to remove infringing content in order to protect themselves from liability.

However, there have been widespread reports of companies abusing this power, and even non-copyright-holders issuing Takedown Notices to content hosts in direct contravention of the law and in spite of clear contrary directions.

In response, the USPTO is helping host a “multistakeholder forum” to address these putative problems with the law on March 20th. Will this help? Obviously, the USPTO has no power to directly change the law. However, such an influential organization allowing an open forum is a sign that the government recognizes that the DMCA may have flaws that need to be addressed. Thoughts?

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You Aren’t Stealing IP are You?

Matthew Peterson : March 10, 2014 9:46 am : BeyondIntellectual PropertyMETAfeedTech & Internet

Part of running a successful business is obtaining intellectual property (IP) protection to ensure that your original inventions, logos, and writings are protected from exploitation by less innovative competitors. However, it is equally important to the success of any company to avoid infringing upon the IP of others, which can lead to costly litigation. Read more about avoiding IP infringement here and here.

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