Copyright

Copyright Law and The Da Vinci Code

by Lee Gesmer on November 9, 2005

Copyright. Copyright law is often called the “metaphysics of the law,” as judges labor to decide whether one work is enough like another to constitute copyright infringement. Often this involves arcane legal tests that few people, beyond copyright lawyers, care to think about. But, most of us read novels, and when one writer says, “your novel is so similar to my novel that it infringes my copyright,” we think, “that’s not so hard, I can decide that!” And, when one of the books is The Da Vinci Code (ranked 44th in books at amazon.com two and one-half years after publication), the chances are good that you, patient reader, have read one of the books that was the subject of just such a case. To see how a New York federal district judge decided the case in which Lewis Purdue, the author of Daughter of God and the Da Vinci Legacy, accused Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, of copyright infringement, click here.… Read the full article

Copyright. Sexy: Internet file sharing systems, Grokster, sampling, The Wind Done Gone, fair use, the legal standard for non literal infringement of computer source code.

Not sexy: copyright protection for parts numbering systems.

Yet, believe it or not, from time to time clients do ask whether parts numbering systems are protected.

Lewis Clayton at Paul Weiss has written an article (published in the July 8, 2005 issue of the National Law Journal), discussing several recent cases dealing with parts-numbering systems and the “merger doctrine” under U.S. copyright law.

  • Read the article here
Read the full article

The Wayback Machine and the DMCA

by Lee Gesmer on July 14, 2005

Copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Quick now, what’s a good legal strategy when you’re involved in a bitterly contested trade secret, copyright and trademark case? Sue the lawyers on the other side, accusing them of hacking, of course. At worst, you’ll distract them and knock them off their game; at best, you’ll force their disqualification, pushing them out of the case and making your opponent go to the expense and inconvenience (not to be underestimated) of hiring new counsel and and getting them up to speed on the case.

And, it doesn’t matter that your suit may be borderline or even frivolous. Every experienced lawyer knows that in the American legal system the risks of being sanctioned for bringing a frivolous suit are only slightly higher than finding a hundred dollar bill on a Times Square sidewalk during lunch hour.

So, what happened here? First, there is an underlying trademark and trade secret suit between the similarly named “Healthcare Advocates” and “Health Advocate” that is of no particular interest to anyone except the parties.… Read the full article

Following the Supreme Court’s June 27, 2005 decision in MGM v. Grokster I wrote a short article about the case, in the style of a client consulting a lawyer about a file-sharing system.

Attorney: Judy, what brings you to my office today?

Client: John, I have an exciting idea, and I want to run it by you to make sure it passes legal muster. I’ve been involved in indie music and film for years; I have hundreds of contacts in the entertainment industry. People don’t realize what a huge body of uncommercialized work is out there! I’ve developed the most radical peer-to-peer file-sharing software you can imagine. It makes Napster, Grokster, Morpheus and all of the others look medieval by comparison. I think that musicians and video producers will contribute their works to this network to get publicity. My revenue model will be based on banner advertising. It’s perfect!… Read the full article