In two complaints filed last week, The Intercept Media, Inc, Raw Story Media, Inc. and AlterNet Media, Inc. became the latest companies to sue OpenAI for copyright infringement in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Intercept also included Microsoft as a defendant.

Both complaints were filed by self-identified “news organizations,” and allege that those organizations’ copyrighted works were used to train OpenAI’s generative AI systems, ChatGPT, on how to mimic human speech and writing. According to the news organizations, when deciding what information to include in the training materials fed to ChatGPT: Continue Reading Copyright Infringement Lawsuits Against OpenAI and Microsoft Are Mounting

In a decision Friday, Judge Koeltl ruled that the Internet Archive (“IA”), the nonprofit entity behind the popular “Wayback Machine,” committed copyright infringement through its program of scanning and lending digital copies of copyrighted books to the public. IA advanced a type of “fair use” defense that it called “controlled digital lending,” arguing that an

In an opinion last week, Judge Cote dismissed a copyright infringement case brought by the maker of certain “HomeGirl Hotline” TikTok videos against the comedian Michael Che, arising out of sketches on Che’s television show involving a fictional mobile app called “homegrrl.”

Both the plaintiff’s videos and Che’s sketches generally involved calling upon a “homegirl” to help in social situations, the former via phone call (the “HomeGirl Hotline”) and the latter via mobile app (“homegrrl”). In one TikTok video, for example, “the dispatched HomeGirl throws a cheating husband’s belongings out of the house,” and in one of Che’s television sketches, a “Homegrrl” is dispatched to assist a male driver who gets into a car accident with a female driver.
Continue Reading Judge Cote Concludes That the Concept of “Hiring a Homegirl” for Help in Social Situations Is Not Protectable Under Copyright Laws

In an opinion Thursday, Judge Swain granted judgement on the pleadings to the makers of the musical Vape, declaring that under the “fair use” doctrine, Vape does not infringe on the copyright in the classic theatrical work Grease.

Vape holds itself out as a parody of Grease. The copyright holders argued that rather than commenting on Grease itself, Vape merely ripped off elements of Grease in order to critique “society writ large.” Judge Swain disagreed:Continue Reading Judge Swain: Musical Parodying the Misogyny of Grease is “Fair Use”

In an important copyright ruling today, Judge Rakoff ruled that “embedding” material online — in this case, a news organization embedding in an article a video of a polar bear that the plaintiff posted on Instagram — could violate the copyright laws. He rejected the “server rule” by which there could only be infringement in cases where the defendant makes a copy of the image or video to display from its own server.  Under the server rule, merely embedding the material (essentially, displaying the material via the original source) cannot be infringement.

Judge Rakoff found that the server rule was “contrary to the text and legislative history of the Copyright Act”:
Continue Reading Judge Rakoff Finds that “Embedding” Photos and Videos Online Can Infringe Copyrights, Rejecting “Server Rule”

In an opinion today, Judge Swain concluded that it was “fair use” for to the makers of the NBA 2K video games to depict players’ tattoos (see our prior coverage here). Judge Swain had earlier concluded the fair use defense was not enough to dismiss the case on the pleadings, but, following discovery, today concluded that summary judgment was appropriate.  She found that the factors used in determining fair use all favored the video game maker.
Continue Reading Judge Swain: Depicting NBA Players’ Tattoos in Video Game Is “Fair Use”

Last week, seven major publishers filed a lawsuit claiming that a new captioning service offered by audiobook company Audible, Inc. violates copyright law.  The “Audible Captions” feature transcribes the narration from the audiobook and displays the text on-screen, so that listeners-slash-readers can follow along in real time.  Although previous Audible offerings have allowed users to

In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Engelmayer denied a motion by musician Kendrick Lamar (and other defendants) for partial summary judgment in a copyright case brought by an artist claiming that his work was displayed without authorization in the music video “All the Stars” from the Black Panther movie.

The plaintiff hadn’t registered his work and so wasn’t eligible for statutory damages.  The defendants argued that any actual damages — profits gained from the alleged wrongdoing — were inherently too speculative, and should be rejected even before discovery:
Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer: Copyright Damages from Brief Display of Plaintiff’s Art in Kendrick Lamar Music Video Are Not Inherently Speculative