In this week’s episode of The Briefing from the IP Law Blog, Josh Escovedo and Scott Hervey discuss an update to the litigation over Andy Warhol’s series of portraits of the artist Prince (Andy Warhol Foundation v Goldsmith). They provide a recap of last week’s episode, which covers the Second Circuit decision

Finding Google’s copying a fair use, the Supreme Court ended Oracle’s decade-long attempt to recover copyright damages.  The battle began between these tech giants when Google designed its Android software platform for mobile devices, such as smartphones.  The platform allows “computer programmers to develop new programs and applications” for Android-based devices.  In designing the mobile platform, Google independently developed most of the code but copied what the parties referred to as “declaring code” for 37 application programming interfaces, or APIs.  The declaring code in APIs “enables a set of shortcuts for programmers.”  A programmer can select a particular task from the API’s task library without having to learn anything more than a simple command, thus allowing the programmer to use a library of prewritten code to carry out complex tasks without having to write the code from scratch.

At the time Google was developing the Android platform, many software developers were using Sun Microsystems’ Java programming language and its popular Java SE platform.  Oracle, shortly after acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2010, accused Google of taking critical portions of the APIs in the Java code for unauthorized use in its Android platform.  While Google independently developed the underlying code for the tasks, Google copied the declaring code for certain tasks “useful to programmers working on applications for mobile devices.”  “Without that copying, programmers would need to learn an entirely new system to call up the same tasks.”  With the “structure, sequence, and organization” of the APIs so similar, Oracle alleged Google infringed its copyrights.
Continue Reading Fair Use Shields Google in Its Copyright Battle with Oracle

With the proliferation of social media and the ready access to images on the Internet and on any number of platforms, it’s just so easy to copy an image or video that moves you and post it on your social media accounts.  Easy to imagine how this can happen.  However, it’s important to remember that just because an image is posted on the internet or on a social platform doesn’t mean one can copy it and post it as your own.  Over the past two years, Justin Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, Katy Perry, Gigi Hadid, Khloe Kardashian, LeBron James, Deshaun Watson and others have found themselves being named in lawsuits for copyright infringement arising out of just that; posting a photo of themselves on their social media accounts where the photo was taken by someone else.  While the majority of these cases settle, a few celebrities have decided to fight back.

In 2019 model and actress Emily Ratajkowski was sued over one of her Instagram stories featuring a photo of her that was taken by a paparazzi.  The photo showed her holding a vase of flowers covering her face while she was walking in NYC.  In October 2019, she filed a motion for summary judgement, attacking the plaintiff and his counsel, Richard Liebowitz, claiming that they “have brought this case in bad faith, attempting to turn a critical internet post that was available for only 24 hours into an unsubstantiated payday”, and raising a potentially viable defense – fair use.
Continue Reading Copyright Risks of Posting a “Non-Selfie”

One of the last books written by Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” is one of the bestselling books during graduation season each year.  The copyright for this book, like all of the works of Dr. Seuss, belongs to Dr. Seuss Enterprises, LP, which issues licenses for the creation of new works under the Dr. Seuss brand.  It also works closely to oversee licenses of its work, which it carefully vets.  As any parent (and even non-parent) knows, there are tons of Dr. Seuss-licensed works such as toys, video games and books.

In 2016, a group attempted to produce and market a book that would be a “mash up” of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places” and Star Trek, in which the crew of the USS Enterprise would be sent through the world inhabited by the characters of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  A “mash up” is essentially a work that is created by combining “elements from two or more sources,” such as having specific movie characters inhabit a literary world, etc.

The plan was to create a new work called, “Oh The Places You’ll Boldly Go,” a play on words from the old Star Trek series that the crew was “boldly going where no man had gone before.”
Continue Reading It’s No “Fair Use” Trying to Parody Dr. Seuss

Scott-Hervey-10-web6/25/16-  At the 7th Annual  VidCon in Anaheim, CA , Weintraub Tobin Shareholder Scott M. Hervey and Rian Bosak, Head of Network Operations Full Screen, presented  “Fair Use and Youtube- A Creator’s Take” to a standing room only audience of digital media creators and industry professionals.  Check out their presentation below: