A music video for the new Black Panther film features scenes of striking similarity to artist Lina Iris Viktor's Constellations series. Is this inspiration or infringement? Marvel Studios’ new movie Black Panther features the first black superhero to appear in mainstream comics. It has received widespread acclaim and press,
Computer programs are functional, but they are also “literary works” that may be protected under copyright law. In December 2016, Arista Networks defended itself against a $335 million copyright infringement lawsuit from Cisco Systems. Cisco is now appealing the decision.Cisco Systems, the largest networking company in the world, is trying to prevent Arista Networks from building ethernet switches which partially rely on technology copied from Cisco. Now on appeal before Federal Court in California (9th Circuit), the legal question is whether aspects of the particular technology deserves copyright protection in the first place. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] ethernet switches connect devices together on a network[/caption] Copyright protects creative expressions of an idea, but not the idea itself. This "idea–expression dichotomy" therefore limits the scope of copyright protection. In an earlier blog post, The Copyright Between Oceans, I explained how the scène à faire doctrine was used as a successful defence in a copyright lawsuit regarding the novel The Light Between Oceans, and its subsequent film adaptation. When scène à faire (French for "essential scene") is applied, common or typical plot developments are denied copyright protection. This means that broad themes, storylines and ideas which are common in a particular genre remain free for use by authors, screen writers, and other artists. In the United States, computer programs are considered "literary works" under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101. Accordingly, scène à faire may be applied to preclude copyright protection from aspects of a computer program which are common or otherwise "dictated by practical realities." Practical realities include hardware compatibility, manufacturer design, and industry practice. Arista's defence turns on this concept.
Union Des Associations Européennes De Football (UEFA), whose members include 55 national football associations, organises some of the most famous and prestigious football competitions in Europe. Recently, UEFA obtained an injunction against the UK's main retail internet service providers. As a substitute for paid subscriptions to sport packages through Sky, BT and others, some football fans are instead using set-top box devices such as Kodi to connect directly to streaming servers via their IP addresses. A survey for the BBC found that 47% of adults have watched a football match through an illegal provider at least once, with 36% streaming matches at least once per month. Infringement in this way is on the rise for two key reasons. Firstly, an increasing proportion of UK consumers mistakenly believe using devices to access unauthorised streams is lawful. Secondly, most people know they personally won't face charges for pirating illegal streams. UEFA therefore applied for an injunction against the internet companies themselves, relying on the principle of "online intermediary liability." Online intermediaries are companies which provide the infrastructure and data storage to facilitate transactions over the internet. Examples of intermediaries are search engines, web hosts, and internet access and service providers ("ISPs"). Rather than go after private users, copyright holders - such as UEFA, movie stuidos and record labels - consider corporate intermediaries to be more viable targets for lawsuits. Accordingly, if online intermediaries have actual knowledge of the copyright infringement, they may be liable for the illegal behaviour of their customers and viewers.
Services of intermediaries may increasingly be used by third parties for infringing activities. In many cases such intermediaries are best placed to bring such infringing activities to an end. — Recital 59, Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC)
I've written previously about cease and desist letters (also known as letters before action) regarding Taylor Swift and Netflix: as evidenced in these two instances, the standard legal documents can be ridiculous, cheeky, or even rather funny. But Budweiser recently took things to a whole new level when it used a medieval town crier to deliver a cease and desist handwritten scroll to Modist, a Minnesota brewery.American beer company Budweiser launched Game of Thrones-like commercials set in the middle ages, with lords and ladies in authentic(ish) costumes repeating the nonsensical phrase “Dilly Dilly!” In one commercial, banquet invitees approach the king and queen to offer gifts. One man presents a six-pack of Bud Light to the king, who then exclaims, “Sir Jeremy, you are a true friend of the crown. Dilly Dilly!” The members of the royal court then all raise their Bud Lights in response, shouting “Dilly Dilly!” in approval. When the next guest presents a spiced honey mead wine instead of a Bud Light, the king tosses him into the pit of misery.
Imagine you’re an author trying to get your screenplay made into a film, but despite giving Miramax Studios and Working Title copies of your script, you have no luck. Ten years later, you discover the theatrical trailer for an upcoming movie starring Michael Fassbinder, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weiss. Your heart sinks as you realise that your story has been stolen. What do you do? If you’re Joseph Nobile, you call a lawyer and sue Hollywood for copyright infringement.
In 2012, Margot Watts (writing as M.L. Stedman) published The Light Between Oceans, a novel about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, and their desperate longing for a child. Set primarily in 1920s Australia, Tom and Isabel find an infant washed ashore in a lifeboat after a storm, together with the corpse of the baby’s father. The novel explores the psychological and moral consequences of the couple's choice to raise the baby as their own.