Category Archives: Copyright

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2 Milly Sues Epic Games Over Fortnite Dance Moves – What In The Wide, Wide World Of Copyright Is Going On Here?

On Wednesday, rapper 2 Milly sued Epic Games, the creators of the wildly popular online game Fortnite Battle Royale, asserting two counts of copyright infringement, two counts of right of publicity, and unfair competition.  2 Milly claims that Epic stole his dance, the “Milly Rock,” by introducing it as part of downloadable content in Fortnite.  … Continue Reading

Did The Ninth Circuit’s “Blurred Lines” Ruling Just Quietly Move To Kill Off The So-Called Inverse Ratio Rule?

This week, on July 11, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued an order which both denied a petition to rehear its “Blurred Lines” decision en banc, which upheld the 2015 jury verdict that the hit song “Blurred Lines” by Pharrell Williams, Clifford Harris, Jr. (aka “T.I.”), and Robin Thicke infringed the copyright to Marvin Gaye’s “Got … Continue Reading

California’s Revenge Porn Statutes

Several members of the University of Central Florida chapter of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity were recently sued, along with the fraternity itself, by a woman claiming that the fraternity operated a secret Facebook group where members uploaded images and video of private sexual encounters for other fraternity members to see.  The case is Kathryn … Continue Reading

Embedding Tweets May Be Copyright Infringement

Most companies understand they should obtain a license before using a photograph in an advertising campaign or on printed materials.  And yet companies may not think twice about embedding images from a tweet or social media post into the company’s own social media feed or website. But embedder beware.  A federal judge in the U.S. … Continue Reading

Joy in Who-Ville? Playwright Wins Fair Use Copyright Dispute in Parody of “Grinch”

It’s not quite what Dr. Seuss envisioned: Kind-hearted and cheerful Cindy-Lou Who from the childhood classic “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” becomes a cynical adult who was thrown in prison after murdering her abusive husband, the Grinch.  Such is the premise of “Who’s Holiday!” – a play characterized by its playwright as “a dark comedic … Continue Reading

Central District of California Dismisses Copyright Infringement Suit Regarding Christian Film God’s Not Dead

The Central District of California recently dismissed a copyright infringement suit brought by the creators of the screenplay for Rise against the creators of the screenplay God’s Not Dead (“GND”) for failure to state a claim.  In doing so, the court concluded that the general premise of an atheist professor challenging a Christian student’s religious … Continue Reading

The Double-Edged Sword: Supreme Court Holds “Objective Reasonableness” Important But Not Dispositive in Copyright Act Fee Awards

It is a common misperception that a party will automatically recover its attorneys’ fees if it prevails in an action for copyright infringement. First, certain statutory requirements must be met in order to qualify for the recovery of “reasonable” attorneys’ fees. Second, even where such pre-requisites are met, an award of attorneys’ fees pursuant to … Continue Reading

In Copyright Dispute, New York Federal Court Decides: New York Was Not The Site Of Injury Just Because Allegedly Infringing Online Content Could Be Viewed On Computers There

On March 16, 2016, the Southern District of New York decided that, standing alone, the mere fact that allegedly infringing online content could be accessed via computers in New York did not make New York the “situs of injury” for purposes of establishing personal jurisdiction.  As a result, the court determined that it lacked jurisdiction … Continue Reading

In Recent Decisions, New York And California District Courts Agree That Prevailing Defendants In Copyright Infringement Lawsuits Are Entitled To Their Attorneys’ Fees

On March 9, 2016, both the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California awarded attorneys’ fees to defendants in two separate disputes after they successfully moved for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ respective copyright claims.  The New York case involved the Beastie Boys (and related parties), UMG, and Capital Records, while … Continue Reading

No Monkeying Around: Judge Rules That Animals Cannot Hold Copyrights, Do Not Have Standing to Sue

In a recent hearing, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III said he would dismiss a lawsuit brought by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on behalf of Naruto, a crested macaque monkey.  PETA’s suit accused British nature photographer, David Slater, of violating Naruto’s copyright because Slater used the monkey’s selfie in … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Rules That Movie Directors Generally Don’t Have A Copyright Interest In Their Individual Contributions To A Movie

The Second Circuit was recently asked to decide whether a contributor to a creative work, whose contributions are inseparable from and integrated into the work, can maintain a copyright interest in his or her contributions.  Aligning itself with the Ninth Circuit’s en banc decision in Garcia v. Google, Inc., the Second Circuit held that, on … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules Fair Use Must Be Considered Before Sending A Takedown Notice Under The DMCA

In the closely-watched “dancing baby case,” the Ninth Circuit ruled this morning that copyright owners must consider the fair use doctrine before sending a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., et al., Nos. 13-16106, 13-16107 (9th Cir. Sept. 14, 2015).  The case concerns a 29-second video the … Continue Reading

Jay Z Awarded Attorneys’ Fees After Routing Plaintiff In Copyright Lawsuit: Now Plaintiff Has $253,409.99 Problems For Bringing An ‘Objectively Unreasonable’ Copyright Claim

On July 17, 2015, Judge Schofield sitting in the Southern District of New York awarded defendants Shawn Carter (a/k/a Jay Z), Roc-A-Fella Records and Roc Nation, LLC (collectively, “Roc-A-Fella”) $253,409.99 in attorneys’ fees as the prevailing parties in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Mahan v. Roc Nation, LLC, et al., Case. No. 14-cv-5075 (July 17, 2015 … Continue Reading

Establishing Access Through Widespread Dissemination

In January, a discussion with the editor of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (read interview here) about the difficulties that a plaintiff in a copyright infringement action may face when attempting to establish that a defendant had access to his work on the theory that the work was widely disseminated via the Internet. A recent article in Communications Lawyer discusses a … Continue Reading

Join Kelley Drye at the ABA Forum on Communications Law – February 5-7 in Scottsdale, Arizona

The American Bar Association will present the 20th Annual Conference of the ABA Communications Law on February 5-7, 2015, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference is geared towards attorneys and professionals in the entertainment, broadcast, online and mobile media, and telecommunications industries. Partner David Fink is on the faculty of the 2015 Media Advocacy Workshop, which … Continue Reading

Copyright Disputes in the Digital Age

A discussion with the editor of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel about the difficulties that a plaintiff in a copyright infringement action may face when attempting to establish that a defendant had access to his work through widespread dissemination via the Internet. At this time, there are few published cases addressing the question of what constitutes widespread … Continue Reading

Full Ninth Circuit Considers Garcia v. Google

On Monday, December 15, 2014, the Ninth Circuit en banc heard oral argument in Garcia v. Google, Inc., 766 F3d 929 (9th Cir. 2014), amending 743 F.3d 1258 (9th Cir. 2014).  In a controversial decision in February 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed the trial court and held that an actor owns … Continue Reading

Copyright Protection For Fictional Characters

What distinguishes James Bond from Sam Spade of The Maltese Falcon?  Both of these iconic fictional characters have appeared in numerous media formats – including books, radio, television and film – and have been portrayed by multiple actors in films since their creation.  Under copyright law, however, only one of these characters – James Bond … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Weighs In On Restitution Claim For Nazi-Looted Art

In Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, The Ninth Circuit recently affirmed its commitment to allow plaintiffs to pursue claims for the restitution of art looted by the Nazis in World War II.  The case concerns plaintiff Marei Von Saher’s attempts to recover two life-sized panels depicting Adam and Eve, painted by Lucas Cranach the … Continue Reading

With Petrella Ruling, Supreme Court Allows Copyright Plaintiffs To Bring Delayed Claims

Although everyone will be talking about the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision as the blockbuster copyright ruling of the 2013-14 term, a less publicized opinion, Petrella v. MGM, signals a small but important development in copyright law.  The case, arising from Martin Scorsese’s film Raging Bull, turned on whether MGM could defeat the plaintiff Paula Petrella’s claim for copyright infringement … Continue Reading

Making The Mark

Products and related trademarks commonly appear in various entertainment content, such as films and television programs.  Oftentimes, owners of the products and trademarks are delighted to see their productions featured in entertainment content.  Litigation can and does arise when a film or television program features a product or trademark in an unflattering manner without the … Continue Reading