This week, the Supreme Court resolved a split in the circuits regarding an issue in copyright law that affects copyright owners in California. Until now, the law in the Ninth Circuit was that a copyright owner could file suit for infringement as soon as they filed a copyright application in the Copyright Office. However, in
Recently, a client asked why we included a short form option agreement and a short form assignment agreement as an exhibit to a long form literary option agreement. I am sure that many a corporate transactional attorney has similarly wondered why a short form copyright assignment agreement is included within the package of numerous M&A…
The Copyright Act provides that “Registration” of a copyright is a precondition to filing suit for copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 411(a). We are still trying to figure out exactly when registration occurs.
While copyright registration is voluntary, the Copyright Act provides several incentives for a copyright owner to register a copyright, one of…
North Jersey Media Group Inc. is the copyright owner of the iconic photograph of three firefighters raising an American flag at the ruins of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2013, a Fox News producer posted a photograph that juxtaposed the 9/11 photograph with a World War II photograph of four U.S. Marines raising an American flag on Iwo Jima on the Facebook page for the Fox News’ television program Justice with Judge Jeanine. North Jersey Media Group sued Fox, claiming that the posting of the combined image infringed its copyright. Fox news argued that the use was protected “fair use” and moved for summary judgment. The court denied Fox’s motion and Fox is now appealing to the 2nd Circuit.
Fox’s appeal centers around the lower court’s analysis of the first fair use factor: the purpose and character of the use. The purpose of this factor is to test whether the allegedly infringing work is “transformative.” A work is transformative when it adds something new to the work allegedly infringed, with a further purpose or different character, altering the original work with new expression, meaning, or message. A work is transformative if it does something more than repackage or republish the original copyrighted work. A transformative work is one that serves a new and different function from the original work and is not a substitute for it. As the Supreme Court noted in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc, “the more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, … that may weigh against a finding of fair use.”
Continue Reading Is Fox News Proposing a New Standard For Determining Fair Use?
In March 2014, this column analyzed a decision by a Ninth Circuit panel in Garcia v. Google, Inc., in which the Court held that an actress, who believed she was appearing in a minor role in an Arabian adventure movie, could maintain a copyright infringement claim against the producers when they used the footage instead in an anti-Islamic film that resulted in her receiving death threats. As the prior column surmised, it appeared that “bad” (although entirely sympathetic) facts were making “bad” law.
This week, the Ninth Circuit ruled that it would rehear the matter en banc and ordered that its previous decision “not be cited as precedent by or to any court of the Ninth Circuit.” It remains to be seen whether the entire Ninth Circuit will take a different position this time (and hold that the lower court properly denied the injunctive relief) or take the opportunity to emphasize just how limited the scope of its prior ruling was intended to reach.
Below is the original column analyzing the Ninth Ciruit’s original ruling in this case.
A Bit Part, A Fatwa and Copyright Infringement
Most law students learn early in law school the old maxim: “Bad facts make bad law.” A recent Ninth Circuit case, Garcia v. Google, Inc., seems certain to test this proposition with its incredibly sympathetic facts.
Continue Reading 9th Circuit Agrees to En Banc Rehearing of Garcia v. Google, Inc.