Court Rejects Gossip Site’s Fair Use Defense–Barcroft v. Coed Media

30 11 2017

This is a copyright lawsuit by owners of celebrity photos against a gossip and entertainment website. It’s noteworthy because it went to trial and the plaintiffs prevailed, but the damage award is modest.

The court finds that plaintiffs owns or validly acquires various celebrity and public interest photos—in this case photos of Salma Hayek, Amanda Bynes, Selena Gomez, Zooey Deschanel, and others. The defendant runs a range of pop culture websites that receive approximately four million unique users per month. Apparently, the defendant has lost money every month but one.

Case citation: Barcroft Media v. Coed Media Group, 2017 US Dist LEXIS 182024 (SDNY Nov. 2, 2017)

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Zazzle Loses Copyright Jury Verdict, and That’s Bad News for Print-on-Demand Publishers–Greg Young Publishing v. Zazzle

30 11 2017

Greg Young Publishing licenses images for posters, many of which are beach- or surfing-themed. Zazzle users posted item listings that included the copyrighted images. Greg Young Publishing sued Zazzle. In a prior ruling, the court held that Section 512(c) applied to the photos in the online product listings, but not to the manufacture of goods bearing the image. Without Section 512 protection for the latter, the case proceeded to a jury trial.

The trial did not go well for Zazzle. It lost on all 35 counts of copyright infringement, and the jury awarded over $460,000 in statutory damages in amounts ranging from $200 to $66,800 per work. Five of the statutory damage awards were more than $30,000 per work, which is allowed only for willful infringement. In post-trial motions, Zazzle moved to limit those 5 statutory damages awards to $30,000 each because the plaintiff didn’t prove willfulness. The judge agreed, knocking those 5 awards down to $30,000 each.

 

Case citationGreg Young Publishing, Inc. v. Zazzle, Inc., 2017 WL 5004719 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2017)

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The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2017/11/zazzle-loses-copyright-jury-verdict-and-thats-bad-news-for-print-on-demand-publishers-greg-young-publishing-v-zazzle.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



This lawsuit against a Cosby rape documentary is why fair use exists

6 11 2017

The production company that made The Cosby Show has sued the BBC (.pdf) over a documentary the British network aired about the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Carsey-Werner, the production company that is the plaintiff in the case, says that the documentary is infringing its copyright because it uses eight audiovisual clips and two musical cues from The Cosby Show.

The documentary, titled Bill Cosby—Fall of an American Icon, was broadcast on a BBC channel in the United Kingdom on June 5 of this year. That was the same day that Cosby’s prosecution for one assault began in Pennsylvania. (The trial ended in a hung jury.) The UK production company that made the documentary, Sugar Films, is also named as a defendant in the case.

The complaint lists eight video clips that are used in the documentary. All are between seven and 23 seconds long, except for one clip that lasts 51 seconds.

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/11/bbc-makes-a-doc-about-bill-cosby-rape-allegations-gets-sued-over-copyright/ and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



A Photographer Sued a Student Over a School Project. Guess How That Turned Out–Reiner v. Nishimori

31 10 2017

In 1997, TC Reiner worked with SuperStock to create a photo entitled “Casablanca.” If I understand it correctly, Reiner and SuperStock put significant time and money into creating the photo on spec, with the hope that a future advertiser would license it. You can see the photo as Exhibit A to the complaint. It’s not 100% clear if Reiner or SuperStock own the photo, but that issue proves immaterial. SuperStock advertised the photo for licensing through its catalog.

Judith Sweeney O’Bryan was an adjunct at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film in Nashville (she’s now an associate professor there). She required her students to create a mock ad using a set of photographs she designated “by cutting stock photographs out of magazines and stock photography catalogues and scanning them on her computer.” [Before you get too snarky, note this incident took place nearly a decade ago.] The photo set included Casablanca. “O’Bryan did…contact her Dean at Watkins to ask whether using any of the photographs would infringe a copyright, and the Dean assured her that it would not.” A student, Ryon Nishimori, used Casablanca to create a mock ad for Dr. Scholls (see Exhibit C of the complaint). The scanned version of the photo included some metadata from SuperStock, but Nishimori edited it out. Nishimori subsequently uploaded the mock ad to his Flickr account as a form of cloud storage. Watkins subsequently changed its policy to use only Creative Commons-licensed photos for this class project.

 

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Case citation: Reiner v. Nishimori, 3:15-cv-00241 (M.D. Tenn. April 28, 2017). The complaint.

The content in this post was found at http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2017/05/a-photographer-sued-a-student-over-a-school-project-guess-how-that-turned-out-reiner-v-nishimori.htm and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



How much of a photo do you need to alter to avoid copyright infringement? Hint: Cheshire Cat

31 10 2017

Bloggers and artists often ask, “how much of a photo do you need to alter to avoid copyright infringement?”   Five changes? Fifteen?  The Seventh Circuit addressed the issue in the Kienitz v Sconnie Nation case recently. According to the court, Sconnie Nation made t-shirts displaying an image of  Madison Wisconsin mayor Paul Soglin, using a photo posted on the City’s website that was authored by photographer Michael Kienitz.

The court looked to the Cariou v Prince decision, but complained that its approach to appropriation art looked only at whether a work is “transformative” and doesn’t fully address a copyright owner’s derivative rights under 17 U.S.C. Sect. 106(2).  This court analyzes the market effect, looking to see if the contested use is a complement to the protected work (allowed) rather than a substitute for it (prohibited).

The photographer in this case did not claim that the t-shirt was a disruption to his own plans to license the photo for t-shirts or tank tops. He did not argue that demand for the original work was reduced.

And as for Fair Use factor three, the amount and substantiality of the portion used … the court wrote “Defendants removed so much of the original that, as with the Cheshire Cat, only the smile remains.”  The original background is gone, its colors and shading are gone, the expression in the eyes can no longer be read, and the effect of the lighting is “almost extinguished.”  “What is left, besides a hint of Soglin’s smile, is the outline of his face, which can’t be copyrighted.”

Kienitz v Sconnie Nation

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The content in this post was found at https://fairuse.stanford.edu/2014/12/22/much-photo-need-alter-avoid-copyright-infringement-hint-cheshire-cat/and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com. Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.