A Renter Uses Your House to Film Porno Movies – Can You Sue For Copyright Infringement?

I can’t let a decision on this case pass by, both because the facts are so bizarre and because the case is in my backyard, the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The plaintiff, Leah Bassett, owns a house on Martha’s Vineyard. She entered into a several-month long lease with Joshua Spafford. Spafford allowed the house to be used to film a number of pornographic movies. Ms. Bassett sued everyone involved, and one of her claims is copyright infringement.1 She claims that the movies include shots of paintings, slipcovers, wall hangings and the like (over 50 works in total), all of which were created by her.  She asserts that their appearance in the movie scenes violate her copyright rights (reproduction, distribution and public display).

This case received a lot of attention when it was filed. See, for example,What if your house was used in a porn shoot?Read the full article

The odds of Oracle coming out on top in the Supreme Court appeal of Oracle v. Google just took a turn for the worse.

On May 4, 2020 the following entry appeared on the Supreme Court docket in the long-pending Oracle v. Google copyright case:

The parties are directed to file supplemental letter briefs addressing the appropriate standard of review for the second question presented, including but not limited to the implications of the Seventh Amendment, if any, on that standard. The briefs, not to exceed 10 pages, are to be filed simultaneously with the Clerk and served upon opposing counsel on or before 2 p.m., Friday, August 7, 2020. (Emphasis added)

The “second question presented” is Google’s appeal of the Federal Circuit’s decision reversing a trial jury’s fair use finding in favor of Google. The “standard of review” is a reference to the “de novo” standard used by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the opinion under review.… Read the full article

Does Your Lawyer Have Emotional Intelligence?

by Lee Gesmer on March 4, 2020

Does Your Lawyer Have Emotional Intelligence?

“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.” Abraham Lincoln.

Does your lawyer have emotional intelligence? Or if you’re a lawyer, do you?1

Listening to a couple of doctors on radio interviews talk about how important emotional intelligence is for the doctor-patient relationship got me thinking about emotional intelligence in the context of lawyering.

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)? Howard Gardener describes it this way –

Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist. Five major categories of emotional intelligence skills are recognized by researchers in this area.

He goes on to describe the five major factors, one of which is empathy:

The ability to recognize how people feel is important to success in your life and career.

Read the full article

Oracle v. Google: Will The Best Analogy Win?

by Lee Gesmer on January 17, 2020

Oracle v. Google: Will The Best Analogy Win?

Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home – Sigmund Freud

One good analogy is worth three hours discussion – Dudley Field Malone

Oracle v. Google, now before the Supreme Court, is a complicated case in more ways than one. The copyright law issues are difficult, but the case is made even more challenging by its subject matter, which involves highly technical and abstruse computer technology. Judges have a hard enough time applying copyright law to traditional media like music, novels and photographs, but software copyright cases add another order of magnitude of complexity.

The legal briefs now before the Supreme Court are overflowing with computer jargon. You can read all about the “Java language,” the “Java virtual machine,” the “Dalvik virtual machine,” “application programming interfaces (APIs),” “packages,” “classes,” “calls,” “declarations,” “methods,” “implementing code” and “declaring code,” and much more.

Nor did the Federal Circuit pull any punches in its 2014 decision (one of two under appeal.)… Read the full article