The fact that the Supreme Court has asked the Obama Administration (via the Office of the Solicitor General) to comment on Google’s application for certiorari in Oracle v. Google* has focused renewed interest on this case – not that it needs it. The case, if the Supreme Court accepts it, could be a replay of Lotus v. Borland, an important software copyright case the Supreme Court tried but failed to decide in 1996, when the Court deadlocked 4-4 (one justice abstaining).
For detailed procedural and substantive back ground on this case see these earlier posts: How Google Could Lose on Appeal; Oral Argument in Oracle v. Google: A Setback for Google?; CAFC Reverses Judge Alsup – Java API Declaring Code Held Copyrightable; Google Rolls the Dice, Files Cert Petition in Oracle Copyright Case. I also made a presentation to the Boston Bar Association on this case before the CAFC decision, slides here.
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On October 22nd I wrote a detailed post discussing Flo & Eddie’s (owner of the Turtles’ pre-1972 sound recordings) suit against Sirius XM, and specifically the holding of a California federal district court that Sirius’s satellite radio broadcast and webcasting of these recordings was subject to a claim under California state law. (See The Kerfuffle Over Copyrights in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings). As I noted in that post, when sound recordings were added to the federal Copyright Act in 1972 pre-1972 sound recordings were not included – these works were not preempted by the federal copyright statute, and were left to be regulated under state law until (drum roll ….) 2067.
I also mentioned that Flo & Eddie had a separate case pending in federal court in New York, claiming copyright infringement of their pre-1972 recordings under New York common law.
On November 14, 2014, the federal judge handling the New York case issued a decision similar to that reached by the court in California.… Read the full article
Over the last 100 years the musical licensing business has evolved into a complicated system! This is a consequence of the evolution of technology, business practices and copyright laws. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I’ve been meaning to post this attempt by the U.S. Copyright Office to create a graphic that illustrates how music licensing operates. The copyright office published this graphic earlier this year, as part of its Musical Licensing Study – one of three active policy studies in progress at the Copyright Office. Click on the image to expand it.
Here is Professor Fisher’s attempt to illustrate some of this in his 2014 CopyrightX course. This is a screenshot at approximately 11:00 in this CopyrightX video.
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One of the thorniest issues under the present U.S. copyright system is the law’s failure to accommodate the problem of “orphan works” – works whose owners can’t be identified or located. In many cases copyright holders have died, gone out of business or simply stopped caring. This makes it difficult or impossible to obtain terms for the use of works that likely represent the majority of 20th century cultural artifacts, including songs, pictures, films, books, magazines and newspapers.
Mass digitization technologies and the Internet have created opportunities to make these works widely accessible, but they have also created risks for copyright owners – for example, many digital photos that should be protected have had their metadata stripped before being posted on the Internet, creating a risk that protected works may be mistakenly misclassified as orphans.
No one knows for sure how many bona fide orphan works there are, but estimates range between 25% and 40% of all books eligible for copyright.… Read the full article