Friday, June 12, 2009

Jammie Thomas case: copyright registration issue defused?

Jammie Thomas' defense team recently raised a highly technical but potentially problematic issue for the plaintiffs, claiming that their "true and correct" but not "certified" copies of their copyright registrations were inadmissible at trial. I've thought that argument was a long-shot, but it worried the plaintiffs enough that they filed a motion seeking to prevent Thomas from objecting to the registrations at trial -- a motion that was denied by the court.

Well, it now looks like this will be a non-issue. Computerworld today reports that the plaintiffs (after what I'm sure was some real scrambling) have obtained the certified copies from the Copyright Office. But Thomas' counsel Joe Sibley insists the fight over admissibility isn't over:
"We are going to be objecting that it is too late," Sibley said. "They shouldn't be presenting this two business days before the trial."
But I think it's highly unlikely that the court would exclude these certified copies, which no one has suggested differ in any material respect (if at all) from the copies Thomas has had in hand for years. And it's a bit rich for Thomas' defense to be complaining about last-minute maneuvering, when (as the labels pointed out in their motion) her team first raised this issue June 1, 2009, and Thomas testified in May 2007 that she had no evidence to dispute the validity of the plaintiffs' registrations -- not to mention that the defense never raised the issue of certified copies at the first trial in 2007.

Also of note, Sibley tells Computerworld:
Going forward, "I don't know if we are going to present any evidence that is going to be different" from the first trial, Sibley said. "We are just going to tell a different story, really. I think Jammie was viewed by the jury in a less-than-favorable light in the last trial. That was unfortunate. We are going to bring the truth out in this case and make sure she wins."
But, as someone once said, "You can put lipstick...."


  1. They probably did more than "scramble."

    I'd say that was an outright, full-blown, no-holds-barred, holy-$&@# street riot...

    G.C. Hutson
    CEO for Sadien, Inc.

  2. (Tongue in cheek):

    Assuming that "certified" is removed as an issue, the defendant can now move on to the next "critical" issue(s). "Is the named 'author' in each registration in fact the current plaintiff, i.e., is 'Sony then' the "Sony now'?" "If the current plaintiff is an assignee, is the 'assignee then' the 'assignee now'? If 'then' and 'now' are proven to be one in the same, was the purported assignment legally valid under applicable state law?" "Since the assignment was executed, has the assignee engaged in business activities that place a 'cloud' on the assignees' right of title?" "Of course, the foregoing place a burden on the plaintiff to produce its 'articles of incorporation' and are the these 'articles' sufficient as a matter or state law?" "Your Honor, we must have this information to ascertain if the current plaintiff is in fact the plaintiff entitled to proceed with its claim of infringement. Moreover, your Honor, it is imperative to ascertain if the named plaintiff has engaged in any transaction that would implicate the doctrine of 'coyright misuse' or otherwise pursued a course of action in contradiction of antitrust law?" "Of course plaintiff will argue 'waiver', but even if this is true the law cannot be more clear that this suit can only proceed if the plaitiff is truly the 'owner', for otherwise it cannot establish it has standing?" Etc., etc., etc.

    One can play the 'nitpick' card ad infinitum., hoping to find along the way a "t" that was not crossed or an "i" that was not dotted.

  3. "One can play the 'nitpick' card ad infinitum.."


    If you can't argue the facts, and you can't argue the law... stall. ;)

    G.C. Hutson
    Sadien, Inc.


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