Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harvard shocker: Crimson rails against piracy, endorses university 'three strikes' penalty

It's less than a mile from Harvard Law School's Berkman Center to the offices of the Harvard Crimson. But it doesn't seem that the Berkman Center's ideas have made that short journey south. From a Crimson editorial that ran Monday:
Recently, the Motion Picture Association of America began sending thousands of letters to colleges and universities across the country, reminding them of their obligation to set up a "written plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyright material by users of the institution's network" under the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. Because we believe that intellectual property rights are important and the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted music, movies, and television programs is wrong, we applaud this move and hope that universities abide by the guidelines set down in the HEOA.

Our support for the MPAA’s actions is based on our belief that the unauthorized downloading of music, movies, and television programs, although easy, is questionable at the most basic level. In our postindustrial economy, the protection of intellectual property rights is important for several reasons. First, these rights must be safeguarded in order to provide an incentive for innovation. Without any guarantee of legitimacy, entrepreneurs will have no motivation to create new intellectual property, as it could be stolen at any time. Second, at a broader level, intellectual property rights are important because each person has a fundamental right to enjoy the fruits of his or her mental labor. Intellectual entrepreneurship requires a broad societal commitment to the rule of law and the importance of private enterprise.
Read the whole, excellent, thing.

Washington Legal Foundation: 'The Supreme Court Left Most Copyright Litigants Wanting in 2010'

On the Washington Legal Foundation's blog, Brad R. Newberg of Reed Smith LLP has a good summary of the Supreme Court's action (and inaction) on copyright in 2010. Here's the intro:
It has been a busy month for the Supreme Court not tackling copyright issues. On November 29, 2010, the Court denied certiorari in two copyright cases, Harper v. Maverick Recording Co., No. 10-94, and Bryant v. Media Right Productions, No. 10-415. Then, on December 13, it announced that no decision would be issued in Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega, S.A., No. 08-1423, due to a 4-4 split (Justice Kagan was recused). Along with the Court’s decision back in March to avoid the Section 411 registration/application issue in Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 2010 will end with the Supreme Court having missed some opportunities to clarify parts of the Copyright Act that have real-world ramifications for copyright owners, users, and legal practitioners.
Definitely read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New House Judiciary Chaiman Smith vows to protect IP

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), currently the ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, announced today that he will serve as chairman in the next Congress. And he made clear that he will continue the committee's strong support for intellectual property rights:
As Chairman of the Committee, I will focus on efforts to strengthen national security, protect intellectual property, prevent frivolous lawsuits and keep children safe from Internet sex predators. The Judiciary Committee will support industries that employ millions of Americans by protecting their patents and copyrights.
(h/t TechDailyDose)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thomas-Rasset: I owe nothing; labels seek injunction; court to Nesson: you're no amicus of mine

Several developments in the case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset following the third jury's award of $1.5 million to the major record labels in their copyright infringement suit:
  • Thomas-Rasset is seeking to have the award reduced to zero, on constitutional grounds. She is explicitly forgoing an argument based on common-law remittitur, the means by which the court reduced the second jury's award of $1.92 million down to $54,000. The court's decision on this motion -- which I expect him to grant, at least in part -- will allow one or both sides to appeal immediately to the Eighth Circuit, mercifully sparing all parties a fourth trial.
  • The labels are seeking an injunction against further infringement by Thomas-Rasset via peer-to-peer or other means.
  • The court told Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson "thanks, but no thanks," rejecting his proposed amicus brief attacking the jury's award. "The proposed brief would not be of assistance to the Court," ruled Chief Judge Michael Davis of the District of Minnesota. " "Not so much as a thank you for the effort," lamented Nesson, adding, ":<("