What can the Hulk, Spiderman and the X-Men teach us about copyrights? Well, artists and authors alike must understand the terms under which they are creating their works, or potentially lose any copyrights they, and their heirs, might otherwise enjoy. IP Law360 recently reported on Marvel Worldwide v. Kirby from the Southern District of New York, which underscores the importance of such understanding.
On December 1, 2010, the latest version of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect. As part of the new rules, significant changes were made to Rule 26 regarding the discovery of information from experts retained to provide testimony. As of Wednesday, witnesses who were not previously required to provide a written report must now provide a summary disclosure of their opinion. In addition, draft expert reports and some communications between expert witnesses and counsel will no longer be discoverable, and expert reports will now only need to contain information regarding “facts or data considered by the witness in forming” an opinion.
On July 26, 2010, the Library of Congress ruled that “jailbreaking” of smartphones is a fair use under the Copyright Act. Under the Copyright Act, the Librarian of Congress is required to review classes of works every three years for exemptions to the ban against circumventing technological measures that control access to copyrighted materials. The purpose for the triennial review is to determine whether users of copyrighted works are adversely affected by the anti circumventing ban in their ability to make noninfringing uses of copyrighted work. As part of its decision making process, the Copyright Office provides notice of its rulemaking, solicits input from the public and makes a final recommendation to the Library of Congress.
In Barclays Capital Inc. v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com, 06 Civ. 4908 (S.D.N.Y. March 18, 2010), Judge Denise Cote issued a narrowly tailored injunction against republication of financial services firms stock recommendations. FlyOnTheWall.com (Fly) collected and published summaries of stock analyst reports within minutes after they were released by financial institutions to their clients. FlyOnTheWall sometimes included summaries of the research reports, but following commencement of the suit it only published headlines such as “EQIX: Equinox initiated with a Buy at BofA/Merrill.” Three financial institutions filed suit against Fly for hot news misappropriation and copyright infringement.
Last week, the Supreme Court issued its highly-anticipated decision in Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick. The decision arose out of a class action settlement between publishers and authors following the Supreme Court’s holding affirming copyright infringement in New York Times, Co. v. Tasini. The Southern District of New York certified the settlement, but the Second Circuit reversed, holding that pursuant to §411(a) of the Copyright Act, the Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to approve the settlement because the settlement covered both registered and unregistered works. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the registration requirement of §411(a) was a claim processing rule and not a jurisdictional requirement. It left open, however, the question of how strictly §411(a) should be applied.
Is a technology provider liable for direct copyright infringement when it provides the means for infringement instructed by its users? In the Cablevision case, Cartoon Networks LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 2008), the Second Circuit endorsed a line of cases holding that the provider is not liable absent “volitional conduct” that causes the copying to take place. Two recent district court decisions in the Southern District of New York appear to have applied this rule in seemingly inconsistent fashion.