Led Zeppelin Ruling Overturns Ninth Circuit’s ‘Inverse Ratio Rule’

By Shalayne L. Pillar and David G. Barker On March 9, 2020, Led Zeppelin won a major copyright battle over claims that they stole part of their signature song “Stairway to Heaven.”  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling en banc, upheld a 2016 jury verdict that cleared the band of infringing a 1967 instrumental ballad titled “Taurus” by the band Spirit.  The ruling overturned a 2018 decision by a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges that held the trial judge failed to inform jurors that unprotectable elements could be protected by copyright law when arranged in creative ways (see   Read More »

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Google v. Oracle Heads to the Supreme Court

By Andy Halaby The Supreme Court’s cert grant on the Federal Circuit’s most recent decision in the long-running and highly publicized battle between Oracle and Google appears to confront policy questions as much as legal ones — such as whether the nation’s economy would be better or worse off, and under what circumstances, allowing software developers to copy others’ application programming interfaces without paying for them.  That the Court granted cert, notwithstanding the Solicitor General’s urging it not too, suggests the Court may be prepared to tackle those questions. Google’s petition challenges the Federal Circuit’s determinations that •  certain of   Read More »

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House Approves Legislation to Create Copyright Small Claims Board

By Shalayne L. Pillar and David G. Barker On October 22, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 410-6 in favor of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019, or CASE Act.  If passed into law, the CASE Act would create a voluntary small claims board within the U.S. Copyright Office, called the Copyright Claims Board.  Lawsuits filed under the CASE Act would allow recovery up to $30,000, with a cap of $15,000 for statutory damages per work infringed. The CASE Act seeks to address the high cost of copyright litigation, which often limits the ability of small   Read More »

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Supreme Court Copyright Decision Indicates Greater Proactivity by Would-Be Infringement Plaintiffs

Supreme Court Copyright Decision Indicates Greater Proactivity by Would-Be Infringement Plaintiffs

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SCOTUS: “Full Costs” Are Just Costs

By Mark Webb and David G. Barker Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Rimini Street v. Oracle USA that  “full costs” described in 17 U.S.C. § 505 of the (Copyright Act) are limited to the six categories of taxable costs set forth in 28 U.S.C.  §§ 1821, 1920. The decision reversed the district court’s award of, and the Ninth Circuit’s order affirming, $12,774,550.26 in additional costs to Oracle for litigation costs outside of those delineated in §§ 1821 and 1920, such as expert witnesses, e-discovery, and jury consulting. The Court determined, absent an explicit statutory instruction, a   Read More »

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