Tag Archives: Copyright

Playwright Prevails in Challenge to Parody of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Last week, Judge Hellerstein ruled that a parody of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” constituted fair use and did not infringe on the defendant’s copyright or related trademarks.  The plaintiff, New York playwright Matthew Lombardo, brought the suit against Dr. Seuss Enterprises over his “one actress 75-minute comedic play featuring a rather down-and-out 45 year-old … Continue Reading

Judge Rakoff: “KinderGuides” to Literature Infringe Copyrights of Original Works

In an opinion last week, Judge Rakoff ruled that children’s illustrated versions of classic novels called “KinderGuides” infringed the copyrights associated with the original works.  He rejected the defendants’ arguments that the removal of adults themes and addition of commentary rendered the publishing of the Guides “fair use”:… Continue Reading

Judge Cote: First Verse of “We Shall Overcome” Not an Original Work Subject to Copyright

Last week, Judge Cote granted a motion for summary judgment challenging the copyright for the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”  Plaintiffs, the We Shall Overcome Foundation, argued that the similarities between the copyrighted song and a 1948 version in the public domain meant that the first verse of the famous song was not sufficiently original … Continue Reading

Judge Kaplan: Plaintiff Who Live-Streamed Childbirth Must Pay News Networks’ Attorneys’ Fees for Dismissed Copyright Suit

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Kaplan awarded attorneys’ fees to news networks that broadcast brief excerpts of the plaintiff’s live-streaming on Facebook of his partner’s childbirth.  Alongside the broadcasts, the networks offered “social commentary about the phenomenon of someone publicly live-streaming a life event that traditionally is considered personal.”  Judge Kaplan dismissed the plaintiff’s copyright claims on fair … Continue Reading

Judge Pauley: Drake’s Sampling of Spoken Word Excerpt from Jazz Album is Fair Use

In an opinion last week, Judge Pauley granted Drake and his co-defendants summary judgment in a case accusing them of copyright infringement.  The case arose from the fact that Drake’s song “Pound Cake” opens with about 35 seconds of spoken words that are similar to a spoken word recording called “Jimmy Smith Rap,” by the jazz artist … Continue Reading

Judge Wood Dismisses Preemptive Copyright Action Brought By Internet Service Provider

Yesterday, Judge Wood dismissed an attempt by internet service provider (ISP) Windstream to secure a declaratory judgment that its status as an ISP meant that it lacked the necessary knowledge and ability to secondarily infringe copyrights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  The defendant, music publisher BMG, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to issue … Continue Reading

Paul McCartney Seeks to Reclaim Rights to Beatles Songs Under the Copyright Act

Sir Paul McCartney aims to reclaim his rights to popular Beatles songs in a complaint filed yesterday.  The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that his copyright termination notices are valid ahead of the 2018 expiration of the Copyright Act’s term for pre-1978 copyrights – 56 years after McCartney and John Lennon began composing together in 1962.  Sony/ATV … Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Answers Question First Raised by Judge McMahon: No Common Law Right of Public Performance For Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Today, the New York Court of Appeals, in response to a question certified from the Second Circuit (after being certified for interlocutory review by Judge McMahon), held that New York common-law copyright law does not recognize a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings predating the 1972 federal Copyright Act.  The question was certified … Continue Reading

Challenge to “We Shall Overcome” Copyright Survives Motion to Dismiss

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Cote granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a case challenging the copyright to “We Shall Overcome,” the unofficial anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement.  (See our prior post on the case here.) The defendant copyright owners argued that the copyrighted song was sufficiently different from … Continue Reading

Judge Rakoff, with Nod to Taylor Swift, Dismisses Copyright Claims Against Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”

Yesterday, Judge Rakoff dismissed claims that Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” infringed on the short film “Palinoia” through similarities in images, audio, and “total concept and feel.”  According to the plaintiff, elements such as a character with his or her head down near a wall with graffiti (elements that appear in scenes from both films, though with many other differences … Continue Reading

Judge Castel Dismisses RICO Claims in Case Over Alibaba Selling Counterfeit Goods

Today, Judge Castel dismissed RICO claims brought against Alibaba Group Holding by a group of luxury goods makers including Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.  The complaint accused Alibaba of providing services and a market platform to merchants that Alibaba should have known were selling counterfeit goods. Judge Castel specifically considered the plaintiffs’ claims that Alibaba’s … Continue Reading

Judge Swain Dismisses Infringement Claims Concerning Video Game Featuring LeBron and Kobe’s Tattoos

Yesterday, Judge Swain dismissed claims by Solid Oak Sketches, LLC alleging that Take-Two Interactive Software and other defendants infringed Solid Oak’s copyrights by prominently featuring eight tattoos of five NBA players (including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant) in Take-Two’s popular NBA 2K16 video game (see previous coverage here). Judge Swain held that the plaintiffs could not recover under … Continue Reading

Judge Failla Rejects “Fair Use” Defense for Gossip Website’s Screen Grabbing of Photos

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Failla found that the website Gossip Cop was liable for posting screen grabs of copyrighted photos from other websites, and rejected Gossip Cop’s argument that doing so was “fair use.”  Gossip Cop’s fair use argument was premised on the fact that it commented on whether the underlying news stories associated … Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Will Hear Copyright Issue Judge McMahon Originally Certified for Interlocutory Appeal

The New York Court of Appeals has accepted a certified question from the Second Circuit regarding whether New York copyright holders for pre-1972 recordings (governed by state copyright law, and not the federal Copyright Act) have a right to exclusive public performance of those recordings.  The case, initially before Judge McMahon, arose after Sirius XM played songs by The Turtles (including the … Continue Reading

Class Action Suit Challenges Copyright for “We Shall Overcome”

Last week, the We Shall Overcome Foundation filed a complaint on behalf of a purported class challenging the copyright of “We Shall Overcome,” the unofficial anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement.  The We Shall Overcome Foundation attempted to use the song in a documentary film, and the defendant copyright holders denied the request.  The complaint argues that the song has the same lyrics … Continue Reading

Complaint Alleges Copyright Infringement for Video Game Featuring LeBron and Kobe’s Tattoos

In a complaint filed yesterday, Solid Oak Sketches, LLC alleges that Take-Two Interactive Software and other defendants infringed Solid Oak’s copyrights by prominently featuring eight tattoos of five NBA players (including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant) in Take-Two’s popular NBA 2K16 video game.  Solid Oak Sketches entered into copyright license agreements with each of the artists … Continue Reading

Judge Swain Rejects Artist’s Copyright Claim Against Starbucks Over Ad Campaign

In an opinion yesterday, Judge Swain dismissed artist Maya Hayuk’s claim that, after she rejected a request from Starbucks for her to create material for a new ad campaign, Starbucks simply copied the “core” of her art for the campaign anyway.  Below is one example of the actual campaign compared to the plaitniff’s art: More are here.… Continue Reading

Judge McMahon Grants Interlocutory Appeal of Case Challenging Sirius Radio’s Right to Broadcast Songs Predating 1972 Copyright Act

In an opinion today, Judge McMahon granted an interlocutory appeal on the following question: Under New York law, do the holders of common law copyrights in pre-1972 sound recordings have, as part of the bundle of rights attendant to their copyright, the right to exclusive public performance of those sound recordings? She concluded, under the … Continue Reading

Judge McMahon: Turtles’ Appearance as Guests on Sirius Radio Does Not Waive Copyright Claims

In an opinion  yesterday in the case challenging Sirius satellite radio’s ability to broadcast songs predating the 1972 copyright act (see prior posts here), Judge McMahon rejected Sirius’s argument that two members of the band the Turtles (known for “Happy Together” and other songs) gave Sirius and implied license, or otherwise waived their rights, by … Continue Reading

Judge McMahon Rules Against Sirius in Copyright Class Action Regarding Songs Predating 1972 Copyright Act

In an opinion Friday, Judge McMahon denied the satellite radio company Sirius’s motion for summary judgment in a proposed class action by members of the band The Turtles asserting New York common law copyright claims for songs recorded prior to the 1972 federal Copyright Act, which preempted later state law claims.  Further, since it appeared … Continue Reading
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