Ninth Circuit Construes Family Movie Act and Affirms Injunction Against Streaming Service

By Jacob C. Jones and David G. Barker In December 2016, a California federal court issued a preliminary injunction against VidAngel, Inc.’s custom-filtered video streaming service.  Thursday, in Hollywood Studios v. VidAngel, Inc., a Ninth Circuit panel affirmed the injunction, agreeing that Disney, Fox, and Warner were likely to prevail on their copyright infringement and technology circumvention claims and that VidAngel’s fair use defense would fail. VidAngel provided customizable filters that enabled users to skip scenes or silence objectionable content streamed to their devices.  The end-user purchased a newly-released DVD or Blu-ray disc from VidAngel, who would hold the physical media   Read More »

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Supreme Court: Courts Must Take into Account “Relevant Factors” Before Awarding Fees in Copyright Cases

Supap Kirtsaeng realized he could buy cheaper, identical textbooks in Thailand and resell them for a profit in the U.S. John Wiley & Sons, the publisher of some of these textbooks, sued him for copyright infringement.  Kirtsaeng prevailed on his fair use defense, but the court denied him attorney’s fees under § 505 of the Copyright Act, because Wiley’s claim was not “objectively unreasonable.”  Kirtsaeng appealed to the Supreme Court. A unanimous Court agreed with Wiley that this was not the kind of “objectively unreasonable” case that warranted attorney’s fees, particularly because the fair use issue resulted in a previous   Read More »

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Cheerleaders and Laches

Monday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear cases on patent laches, SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC et al., and copyright protection for clothing, Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. In SCA Hygiene, the Supreme Court will review the Federal Circuit’s decision that laches remains a viable defense in patent cases, despite the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. In Petrella, the Supreme Court held that laches cannot bar copyright claims that accrued within the three years from commencement of suit, except in extraordinary cases for equitable relief.  In   Read More »

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Ninth Circuit: Copyright Holders Must Consider Fair Use Before Sending DMCA Takedown Notices

The Ninth Circuit held last week in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. (the “dancing baby” case) that a copyright holder must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Without first considering fair use, the copyright holder cannot have formed the required subjective good faith belief that the use was infringing. Stephanie Lenz and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued Universal Music Group in 2007 after Universal sent Lenz a takedown notice for a 29-second video she posted to YouTube of her son dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Lenz claimed the video was   Read More »

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Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop Unlikely to Infringe Fox’s Copyrights

Dish Network offers its customers the “Hopper”—a set-top box that combines video on demand (VOD) and digital video recorder (DVR) functionality.  The Hopper uses “PrimeTime Anytime” and “AutoHop” to automatically record TV shows and skip commercials in those shows.  Fox sued Dish, claiming these services infringed Fox’s copyrights, and moved for a preliminary injunction.  The Central District of California denied the injunction, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, ruling Fox was unlikely to succeed in proving copyright infringement. PrimeTime Anytime automatically records primetime TV shows on the four major broadcasting networks once a user activates the service so the user can   Read More »

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