In this week’s episode of the Briefing by the IP Law Blog, Scott Hervey and Josh Escovedo discuss recent news stories reporting that police officers played copyrighted music during filmed encounters, ostensibly to keep the videos from being uploaded to the Internet. Scott and Josh discuss how copyright law, the DMCA, and fair use

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of news articles and stories about police officers playing popular music during a citizen/officer interaction that is being filmed by the citizen.  For example, Vice reported on a Beverly Hills police officer breaking out his phone and playing over a minute of Sublime’s “Santeria” when the officer discovered that his interaction with a well-known LA-area activist was being live-streamed by the citizen via Instagram.  Similarly, Mashable reported that an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy played a Taylor Swift song during an encounter.  Why is this happening?  There seems to be a belief that police service, when paired with a musical interlude, will prevent a recording of the interaction from being posted on social media due to algorithms that detect and remove videos incorporating copyrighted music (among other types of content).

Continue Reading Don’t Film So Close To Me: Can Copyrighted Music Keep Vids of Police Encounters Off The Internet?

In Kirk Kara Corp. v. Western Stone & Metal Corp. et al, 2-20-cv-01931 (CDCA 2020-08-14, Order) (Dolly M. Gee), the Central District of California denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims for copyright infringement, finding sufficient substantial similarity between the copyrighted works and the accused works had been alleged. However, the Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s DMCA § 1202 claim because plaintiff failed to allege Defendant’s works were exact copies of Plaintiff’s, thus reasoning substantial similarity was not sufficient under the DMCA because DMCA violations exist only where the works are identical.

In the case, Plaintiff Kirk Kara Corp. asserts it is the owner of three registered copyrights for jewelry designs (“Subject Designs”), and alleges they were widely disseminated in the jewelry industry. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Western Stone and Metal Corp., doing business as Shane Co., distributed and/or sold four engagement rings (“Subject Products”) that are substantially similar to Plaintiff’s copyrighted jewelry designs. Plaintiff alleged copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), 17 U.S.C. § 1202 against Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss all claims.
Continue Reading District Court Applies Different Requirement for Similarity of Accused and Asserted Works Under DMCA Versus the Copyright Act

Scott-Hervey-10-webIn July, this author wrote about Lenz v. Universal which, at the time, was pending before the 9th Circuit.  On September 14, 2015 the 9th Circuit came down with a ruling which answered whether a copyright owner must consider fair use before proceeding with a takedown notice under the DMCA, and, if so, what are the consequences for failing to do so.

The facts of Lenz are fairly simple. Lenz posted to YouTube a very short video of her young child dancing to a Prince song playing in the background. At the time, Universal Music Publishing was managing Prince’s music publishing. An attorney at Universal manually reviewed the posting but acknowledged that he did not consider whether the Lenz video was fair use. Universal sent a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube and YouTube removed access to the video. Most normal takedown situations end there; however, Lenz was upset, and, after trying and failing to remedy the situation herself, sought the aid of attorneys at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Clarifies Copyright Holder’s Responsibility When Sending A Takedown Notice Under The DMCA