Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C&C again named to ABA Journal's top 100 law blogs

I'm pleased to report that for the second year in a row the editors of the ABA Journal have named Copyrights & Campaigns one of the top 100 legal blogs. Thanks to all who have read, commented, tipped, passed along documents, and otherwise contributed to this effort. Posting hasn't been as frequent this year because of my day job, but I'm still blogging, as well as writing a regular legal column for Billboard.

If you're so inclined, you can vote for C&C as the top blog in the IP category here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Supreme Court denies cert. in Harper 'innocent infringer' case

The Supreme Court today declined to hear a case challenging a lower court's decision that the "innocent infringer" defense under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(2) does not apply in a case of peer-to-peer infringement where the copyright owner had affixed proper notices on physical CDs embodying the work at issue. See 17 U.S.C. § 402(d) ("If a notice of copyright in the form and position specified by this section appears on the published phonorecord or phonorecords to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in the last sentence of section 504."). The High Court's action leaves in place the Fifth Circuit's decision in in Maverick Recordings v. Harper, one of the major record labels' cases against an individual p2p user. In Harper, the defendant, a teenage girl, argued that she qualified for the defense -- actually, a limitation on statutory damages to $200 per work -- because she was not aware that she was engaged in infringing activity. Accord BMG Music v. Gonzalez, 430 F.3d 888 (7th Cir. 2005).

Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissent to the denial of cert., questioning whether Section 402(d) was meant to apply to a digital file, as opposed to a copy made directly from a physical object like a CD. See Order at 26.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CLE event to explore uses of music in political campaigns

Next Wednesday, Nov. 17 I'll be participating in a CLE event that will explore various legal issues related to the use of music in political campaigns. Anyone can participate (for a fee) via telephone conference or live webcast hosted by the ABA. Details below:

The Politics of Fair Use:

A Practical Discussion of Fair Use Principles Using Recent Examples of Popular Music in Political Campaigns

Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Format: Teleconference and Live Audio Webcast
Duration: 60 minutes


The American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law, Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries and the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education

12:30 PM-1:30 PM Eastern

11:30 AM-12:30 PM Central

10:30 AM-11:30 AM Mountain

9:30 AM-10:30 AM Pacific

Program Description

Recently, high profile politicians including John McCain, Charlie Crist, and Chuck DeVore have had lawsuits brought against them for using the music of famous musicians such as Jackson Browne, David Byrne, and Don Henley in their campaigns without receiving the necessary permissions and licenses. What rights do politicians have to use popular music at their live events and in advertisements? Are such uses a "fair use"? Our expert panel will discuss these issues and use them as a means to review principles of the Fair Use doctrine.

Program Faculty

Robert Clarida (Moderator) is the partner in charge of the copyright practice at the New York firm of Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C., which was named “Copyright Firm of the Year” for both 2008 and 2009 by Managing Intellectual Property magazine. He has conducted jury trials, argued federal appeals, and served as lead litigation counsel in a number of reported federal copyright cases. He also counsels clients on non-litigious copyright matters, and has been the principal drafter of amicus curiae briefs on copyright matters in the U.S. Supreme Court and a number of Circuits, on behalf of organizations including the AIPLA, the Motion Picture Association of America, the New York City Bar Association, and the Recording Industry Association of America. Mr. Clarida speaks and writes frequently on copyright issues, is the author of the treatise Copyright Law Deskbook (BNA 2009), and the principal author of the annual review of copyright decisions published each year by the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA.

Jacqueline C. Charlesworth is of counsel in the litigation department in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster LLP. Ms. Charlesworth's practice focuses on copyright law in the digital environment. She represents media, entertainment, and other clients in litigation, legislative, regulatory, and transactional matters. In addition to handling infringement matters, she has negotiated industry-wide licensing agreements to facilitate the development of online music services. She advises on copyright-related legislation and appears in proceedings before the
U.S. Copyright Office.

Ben Sheffner is a copyright/First Amendment/media/entertainment attorney and former journalist. Currently senior counsel, Legal Affairs in the NBC Universal Television Group, Mr. Sheffner has also worked as senior counsel, Content Protection Litigation at Twentieth Century Fox, as litigation counsel in the NBC Universal Television Group, and as an associate in the Century City office of O'Melveny & Myers LLP. From July-November 2008, Mr. Sheffner served as special counsel on Senator John McCain's presidential campaign where, among other responsibilities, he handled the campaign's copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property issues. Mr. Sheffner blogs at http://copyrightsandcampaigns.blogspot.com/, which was recently named as one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association, and writes a regular column on legal issues in the music industry for the Billboard.

Andrew Sparkler is the associate director, Legal Corporate at the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers ("ASCAP") where he focuses on legislative and international issues, as well as providing legal support to ASCAP's internal departments and The ASCAP Foundation. He is a co-chair of the New York Chapter of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. In 2009, he was named the New York State Bar Association's "Outstanding Young Lawyer." Mr. Sparkler received his law degree from the Fordham University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Brown University.

CLE Credit

1.0 hours of CLE credit in 60-minute states/1.2 hours of CLE credit in 50-minute states have been requested in states accrediting ABA teleconferences and live audio webcasts.*

NY-licensed attorneys: This non-transitional CLE program has been approved for experienced NY-licensed attorneys in accordance with the requirements of the New York State CLE Board for1.0 total NY CLE credits.

The following states accept ABA teleconferences for CLE credit:

*States currently not accrediting ABA teleconferences: DE, IN, PA, KS, OH

Click here to view a map of MCLE states

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Third Thomas-Rasset verdict: $1.5 million

The third time was not the charm for Jammie Thomas-Rasset.

The jury in the third copyright trial of the Brainerd, Minnesota woman has just returned a verdict of $1.5 million in statutory damages, or $62,500 for each of the 24 songs that she downloaded and "shared" over the KaZaA peer-to-peer network.

The award is significantly higher than the $222,000 award in her first trial (which was thrown out when the judge determined the jury instructions to be flawed), and a bit lower than the $1.92 million award in the second, which was reduced by the judge to $54,000 under the common-law doctrine of remittitur. After the second trial, Thomas-Rasset -- who denied downloading any music over peer-to-peer networks -- rejected a settlement offer of $25,000 from the record label plaintiffs, who said they would donate the amount to a music-related charity.

The RIAA said in a statement after the verdict:
We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant's misconduct. Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions.
This is far from the end of the road in this case. Thomas-Rasset is expected to challenge the size of the award again, and the judge has already determined that $54,000 is the maximum acceptable size for an award given the evidence in the case.

I'll update as more information becomes available.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset Verdict