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*** Transformation: A marked change in appearance or character, especially for the better.
Everyone knows there is competition, hype and controversy over nominations and awards at each year’s contest run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The competition culminates in an annual show broadcast around the globe and endearingly referred to as the “Academy Awards,” or simply the “Oscars” – referring to the golden statuette given out during the broadcast and evidencing the winners. In recent years, the hosts of the Oscar broadcasts – some controversial and others not – have changed almost as often as the tidy-whities displayed by Michael Keaton in this year’s Best Picture winner Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). But do you know the legal controversy surrounding the Oscars?
Here are the facts:
Ellen DeGeneres wanted to take a “selfie” together with some of the most famous people in Hollywood, and by “tweeting” the photo, it become the most re-tweeted Twitter post ever. The camera used for the selfie was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung is one of the advertisers with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Samsung gave it to Ellen for promotional purposes at the event. We don’t know of any agreement between Samsung and either the Academy or Ellen DeGeneres regarding the device or any photos or messages using the Galaxy Note 3. We do know Ellen did not actually take the picture. To get everyone she wanted to fit into the picture, Ellen passed the camera to Bradley Cooper, who had longer arms. He got everyone in the frame and pressed the shutter.
Here is the photo and tweet that resulted, and which immediately went viral when posted on Twitter.
which she then ‘Tweeted’
Continue reading “…and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)”
A United States District Court for the Central District of California has granted plaintiffs Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, MGM and Saul Zaentz – the motion picture studios and producer behind the forthcoming film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" – a temporary restraining order against Global Asylum (also known as The Asylum of Burbank), blocking the release of "Age of the Hobbits." The plaintiffs previously filed suit against Global Asylum (Warner Brothers Entertainment, et al. v. The Global Asylum, Inc.; CV 12 – 9547 PSG (CWx)), seeking an injunction against infringement and damages for trademark dilution, false designation of origin, copyright infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and violations of California’s Business and Professions Code. The Peter Jackson film, a motion picture adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book slated to open tomorrow, December 14, continues the successful "middle earth" franchise created by the success of The Lord of the Rings film series. The motion picture epic trilogy reportedly has gleaned more than $3 billion to date.
Asylum has a history of creating relatively low-budget films with parodied titles of Hollywood blockbusters (e.g., "Snakes On A Train," "Transmorphers: Fall of Man," "American Warships"). The studios pointed out these alleged parodies are always timed to coincide with release of each major motion picture counterpart and use "confusingly similar titles."
In granting the restraining order, Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez said the plaintiffs satisfied the legal standard requiring a plaintiff to demonstrate it has a valid copyright infringement claim, that there would be imminent danger to the plaintiff if the order is not granted, that the plaintiff would suffer more and that the order would advance the public interest. The judge’s decision specifically notes that: "The evidence of the advertising and promotion for ‘Age of Hobbits,’ as well as the media coverage the film has received, provides support for Plaintiffs’ contention that Asylum intended to deceive consumers by associating its movie with Plaintiffs’ works." You can read the Order in its entirety right here, Order Granting Plaintiff’s Ex Parte Application for a Temporary Restraining Order.
As always, if you need help or more information, contact me, Joseph I. Rosenbaum (email@example.com), or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work.
Some of you may remember the 1969 disaster film, "Krakatoa: East of Java" (which, coincidentally ties nicely to a recent Useless But Compelling Fact topic). Well today, Legal Bytes is happy to alert you to the results of jury deliberations – yet another copyright law disaster – just unfolding out West (West Coast of the United States, that is). Just hours ago (and providing more evidence that confusion reigns and continues to increase under existing copyright law), the jury has rendered its decision in the copyright phase of yet another intellectual property trial relevant to the online and mobile world. As you may recall, just last month we reported another copyright flip-flop winding its way through the courts in our post entitled, Appeals Court Vacates Summary Judgment in Viacom v. YouTube.
Today, a jury in California, deliberating in a case brought by Oracle against Google and alleging that Google infringed Oracle’s Java copyrights, concluded that Google did use the Java interfaces, but couldn’t reach any conclusion if that was protected use under the copyright "fair use" exception ("fair use" is a defense to copyright infringement). The jury did find separately that Google infringed some of the Java code and used it in developing the mobile phone platform, Android. However, before Oracle celebrates prematurely, Judge William Alsup noted that because only a minimal amount of code was actually used, Oracle’s request for $1 billion in damages or some share of Google’s profits was essentially ridiculous, and that only statutory damages, ostensibly a relatively nominal amount, would likely be applicable.
Indeed, these cases bolster a growing argument that as digital technology and innovation move forward, current copyright law is either inadequate or irrelevant, or both. Legal Bytes will continue to monitor developments in this evolving and convoluted intellectual property dilemma. I encourage you to take a look at an opinion piece I wrote separately entitled, A Contrarian’s View of Copyright: Much Ado About Nothing. But that’s just my opinion; the jury’s verdict is fact!
If you would like further information or need help making sense of the legal issues arising in our digital online and mobile world, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.
Back in December of 2010, after a previous ruling against Viacom in the billion-dollar copyright infringement case brought by Viacom (Viacom Appeals Google/YouTube Ruling) Legal Bytes reported that three legal scholars filed a brief in support of Viacom’s appeal, stating that “the central issue in this case are the legal tests for contributory and vicarious liability for copyright infringement from the use of Internet sites – in this instance, the YouTube site – to reproduce and disseminate large amounts of copyrighted material without authorization from copyright owners.” The U.S. District Court had previously ruled in favor of YouTube and Google, holding them protected against claims of copyright infringement by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Today, in ruling on the appeal, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals essentially breathed new life into Viacom’s case, remanding it back to the lower court and instructing the District Court judge to determine whether YouTube had knowledge of specific infringing material and willfully blinded itself to that knowledge.
The ruling vacates the District Court’s summary judgment against Viacom, noting the facts might be interpreted by a reasonable jury in a way that would not exonerate or exculpate YouTube from liability. In his opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Jose A. Cabranes wrote: "We conclude that the District Court correctly held that the 512(c) safe harbor requires knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity, but we vacate the order granting summary judgment because a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website."
As we have over the years, Legal Bytes will continue to monitor developments in this complex, high stakes litigation involving significant intellectual property issues in our online and digital world. If you would like further information, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.
Brad Newberg, in Rimon’s Virginia office, has authored a brief, insightful analysis of the copyright implications arising from the use of “bots” in gaming. Published in Legal Bytes initially, it has now (January 20, 2011) been published by the Media & Entertainment – USA newsletter of the International Law Office (ILO), written exclusively by Rimon lawyers and edited by Joe Rosenbaum, with the support of ILO.
This is a timely and important note, and you can read it either by using the link Bots in Game Play Questionable Under Copyright Law, or by downloading a personal copy for reading any time here: Copyright – Bots and Game (PDF). Of course, if you have questions or need help or more information, feel fee to contact Brad Newberg directly.
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, Rimon’s own Emily Kirsch and Brad Newberg will be presenting a seminar entitled: Practical Implications of Recent Developments in Digital Media. The seminar will provide practical, real-world guidance to content owners and users, ISPs – actually, any enterprise with a website and content (that’s all of you, right?), speaking about the rapidly developing law of rights, responsibilities and liabilities arising from activity on the Internet:
- Recent developments in safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- Copyright fair use and the Internet
- Keyword search advertising
- Morphing of trademark uses – what’s fair and what’s not – from metatags to invisible text
This CLE/CPD-eligible course (2.0 credits; Practice Skills and Knowledge) is available for attorneys (experienced and transitional) admitted in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Illinois, as well as in the UK. Those of you licensed in Delaware and Virginia, we can apply for you if needed – let us know. This course will only be presented LIVE in our New York office at 4 p.m., February 10; and since it will not be broadcast in either audio or video, you will need to be present to attend and get credit.
Of course, a reception for the attendees will follow the course. How good is that – wisdom, credit and munchies! So if you are a client of the firm (or are willing to become one) and you want to register, don’t call me. Contact Anna Farhadian by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +1 212 702 1399.
If you would prefer to register directly, just select this REGISTER link to be taken to the registration page. See you there!
In August we reported that Viacom intended to appeal the U.S. District Court ruling in favor of YouTube and Google in the billion-dollar copyright infringement case brought by Viacom (Viacom Appeals Google/YouTube Ruling). As you may recall, the federal court decided YouTube is protected against claims of copyright infringement by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you have not yet read the original text of the District Court decision, you can read and/or download it from Legal Bytes (Federal Court Awards YouTube Summary Judgment in Viacom Copyright Infringement Case).
Regardless of your perspective, this continues to be a closely watched legal battle, with significant implications in the determinations made by the court – not only because of the stature of the parties, but also because the issues implicate so much of the content-related activity on the Internet and the interpretation of the seminal U.S. statute that applies – the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Earlier this week, three academic legal scholars filed a brief in support of the Viacom entities, stating that "the central issue in this case are the legal tests for contributory and vicarious liability for copyright infringement from the use of Internet sites – in this instance, the YouTube site – to reproduce and disseminate large amounts of copyrighted material without authorization from copyright owners." The brief presents interesting and thoughtful insights into the law of copyright and protection of intellectual property rights in this age of digital information and content. If you would like to read the brief, you can download your own copy right here: Brief of Amici Curiae Stuart N. Brotman, Ronald A. Cass, and Raymond T. Nimmer In Support of Plaintiffs-Appellants.
Legal Bytes will continue to monitor developments and post significant materials that we hope will stimulate your thinking, and increase your appreciation of the complexity of the issue and the stakes in this intellectual property battle. If you would like further information, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.
The U.S. Media & Entertainment Newsletter of the International Law Office (ILO) has published an adaptation of the original Legal Bytes posting by Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum discussing the appeal by Viacom of the ruling in favor of YouTube and Google in the billion-dollar case brought by Viacom. You can download or view a copy of the ILO publication, "Viacom appeals Google/YouTube ruling", and you can view the original Legal Bytes posting, Viacom Appeals Google/YouTube Ruling.
Just over a month ago, Legal Bytes reported [Federal Court Awards YouTube Summary Judgment in Viacom Copyright Infringement Case] that a federal court ruled in favor of YouTube and Google in the billion-dollar case brought by Viacom on a summary judgment motion. The court decided YouTube is protected against claims of copyright infringement by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the “DMCA”).
We also told you that we haven’t heard the last of this case, since immediately after the ruling was announced, Michael Fricklas, Viacom Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, noted, “This case has always been about whether intentional theft of copyrighted works is permitted under existing law and we always knew that the critical underlying issue would need to be addressed by courts at the appellate levels. Today’s decision accelerates our opportunity to do so.”
Consistent with that announcement, Viacom has now filed its notice to appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Southern District of New York. Many legal scholars feel that in this case, the District Court opinion will be very persuasive; one never knows until the appellate court has rendered its decision. Stay tuned. If you did not read the original District Court decision, you can read and download it through the original posting on Legal Bytes: [Federal Court Awards YouTube Summary Judgment in Viacom Copyright Infringement Case].