Litigation and Mental Models

by Lee Gesmer on February 6, 2019

Litigation and Mental Models

I’ve been reading about mental models. Everyone has these, whether they are aware of them or not. Doctors, engineers, sports coaches, electricians, architects, they all have them. Gary Kasparov has them for chess. Warren Buffett for investing. Nancy Pelosi for legislative politics. Bill Belichick for football (Tony Romo too). And, whether they are aware of it or not, lawyers have them.

Here’s Charlie Munger’s description of mental models:

you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

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Will the Supreme Court Review Oracle v. Google? Please?

This extraordinary software copyright case — Oracle v. Google — has been in the courts for eight years, and I’ve blogged about it almost every step of the way. After winning twice in district court and losing two appeals before the Federal Circuit the case is on appeal to the Supreme Court for the second time. In its petition to the Court Google’s “questions presented” are:

  1. Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface.
  2. Whether, as the jury found, Google’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.

The first question was the focus of the first trial and appeal by Oracle. Google asked the Supreme Court to decide this issue after losing the first appeal, but was rebuffed. The second question was the subject of the second trial, which Google won on a jury verdict and lost on Oracle’s appeal to the Federal Circuit.… Read the full article

Redigi - World's First Used Digital Marketplace - Fails "First Sale" at Second Circuit

I first posted on Capitol Records v. Redigi in March 2012 (Redigi Case Poses A Novel Copyright Question on the Resale of Digital Audio Files – Is “Digital First Sale Legal? Link), and posted a number of follow-up articles on this interesting case. Absent an appeal to the Supreme Court this long-running copyright case has finally come to an end with the Second Circuit’s December 12, 2018 decision holding that Redigi infringed the exclusive copyright right of reproduction with respect to the “second-hand” digital music files it sold via the Redigi system.

To understand this case it’s important to appreciate how Redigi’s system works. I explained this in detail in the post linked above, and the Second Circuit opinion describes it quite thoroughly as well. In short, Redigi acts as a broker for music files purchased and downloaded from iTunes. Redigi uploads a seller’s  music file to its own server and offers it for sale, deleting it from the seller’s computer, although the seller can continue to stream the file until it is sold.… Read the full article

An Introduction to the Music Modernization Act

by Lee Gesmer on December 13, 2018

An Introduction to the Music Modernization Act

Every few decades Congress enacts a major amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act. We are at one of those inflection points now. On October 11, 2018 the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”) was signed into law. (click here for full text of the law)

This is a massive, game-changing law for digital music distribution, and it may take years for it to be fully integrated with the complex U.S. music copyright system. But, if you’re at a holiday party this season and someone insists on discussing the MMA with you, this blog post will give you a few talking points.

From a 40,000 foot level the MMA does three things.

First, and most importantly, it completely revamps the U.S. mechanical licensing system for interactive digital streaming services and digital downloads by shifting the burden of identifying composers from the services to the composers themselves. This is a huge benefit to the digital music services, who in the pre-MMA era were responsible for locating composers entitled to royalties but often failed to do so, creating an enormous potential liability for copyright infringement.… Read the full article