Music Modernization Act to Reform Copyright Law with Regard to Streaming Music Services

By Rachael Peters Pugel and David G. Barker Last week, President Trump signed into law the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act. The Act modifies existing law under the Copyright Act, and largely affects only those who deliver digital music content or collect royalty payments from it. The Act, which was passed unanimously by the Senate and the House—an occurrence which has become seemingly more rare—modernizes copyright law, specifically with regard to how royalties are paid, to account for the rise in popularity of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. The Act creates a newly established   Read More »

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SCOTUS to Consider Copyright Registration Circuit Split

By Peter R. Montecuollo and David G. Barker The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Fourth Estate Public Benefit v. Wall-Street.com to resolve a long-standing split among the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals concerning whether copyright owners must wait to file infringement suits until the United States Copyright Office has registered their works.  For instance, the Fifth and Ninth Circuits apply the “application approach,” which permits copyright owners to file infringement suits once upon applying for copyright registration.  Other circuits, including the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits, apply the “registration approach.”  In those circuits, failure to secure   Read More »

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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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