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Kirtsaeng v. Wiley: Supreme Court Creates New Class of Business Venture

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Copyright, First Sale Doctrine

The Supreme Court decided this week the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The opinion will undoubtedly have a large impact on intellectual property law. This case deals with a Thai national who was subsidizing his college tuition in the U.S. by having his relatives in Thailand buy textbooks for cheap, shipping them to him in the US, and then selling the text books to Americans on sites such as eBay. He made about a $100,000 profit off this enterprise. Eventually, the publisher caught wind, and sued. This enterprise is known as the “gray market”. Exploiting the price differential between the US and overseas can be quite profitable. The legality of this practice differs depending on the type of good being sold. Prior to this ruling, on copyrighted goods purchased overseas, most judges were ruling against the gray marketeers. Kirtsaeng argued that the ‘first sale doctrine’ creates an exception that validates his actions. The “first sale doctrine” in copyright law permits the owner of a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work to resell it. Once you buy a copy of something, you own that copy. You can do as you wish with it. This is codified at 17 U.S.C. § 109(a) of the Copyright Act of...

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Importing Copyrighted Works, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley and Your Rights to Your Property

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Copyright

The Supreme Court has recently heard arguments in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. The opinion is expected soon, and regardless of how the court rules, it will have a large impact on intellectual property law. This case deals with a Thai national who was subsidizing his college tuition in the U.S. by having his relatives in Thailand buy textbooks for cheap, shipping them to him in the US, and then selling the text books to Americans on sites such as eBay. He made about a $100,000 profit off this enterprise. Eventually, the publisher caught wind, and sued. This enterprise is known as the “grey market”. Exploiting the price differential between the US and overseas can be quite profitable. The legality of this practice differs depending on the type of good being sold. At trial, and on appeal to the 2nd Circuit, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng, 654 F.3d 210, (2d Cir. 2011), Kirtsaeng argued that the ‘first sale doctrine’ makes his actions legal. The “first sale doctrine” in copyright law permits the owner of a lawfully purchased copy of a copyrighted work to resell it. Once you buy a copy of something, you own that copy. You can do as you wish with...

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NASA DMCA Takedown 0

NASA DMCA Takedown

Posted by on Aug 6, 2012 in Copyright

If you missed last night’s NASA landing and tried to check it out this morning, you may have had some trouble. NASA posted a 13 minute excerpt of the Curiosity Mars rover’s landing on their official YouTube channel. Within a matter of minutes, the video was taken down with a message explaining the video contained copyrighted material claimed by Scripps Local News. NASA’s video should not have been removed, since, not only did they create it, but it’s also public domain content. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows YouTube to escape liability if they remove content when someone claims to hold a copyright to it. The DMCA then allows users to submit a counter claim if they believe their content does not infringe on an existing copyright and was wrongfully removed. It’s unclear exactly how or why Scripps filed the complaint, or whether YouTube took it down automatically because their system believed it copied an existing video. Scripps Local News released an apology for the problem through a spokesperson for their parent company, E.W. Scripps Company. This is not the first NASA video that has been taken down on a claim by Scripps. Bob Jacobs, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications said that DMCA complaints routinely disrupt NASA’s online...

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Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone? 0

Electronic Arts v. Zynga: Is it a clone?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright

Video game publisher Electronic Arts  (EA) has challenged video game creator Zynga in California Federal Court.  It appears that Electronic Arts suspects Zynga has been borrowing a few too many elements from its game, The Sims Social, and incorporated those elements into the Zynga game, The Ville.  From EA’s complaint it appears that various design elements of The Sims Social were copied directly into the Zynga game.  A few months ago it would have seemed that EA had an uphill battle on their hands but a recent case may have shifted the verdict in EA’s favor.  That recent case involved cloning the popular game Tetris (See Cloning Tetris).  It would be wholly unsurprising if EA’s recent action was spurred by the verdict of the Tetris case, firstly because of the many common elements with EA’s case against Zynga and the Tetris case and secondly and more importantly, the connection that EA has with the owner of the rights to Tetris.  It may be that EA’s actions against Zynga were started as a result of the Tetris case or it may be that the Tetris case was a result of some agreement that EA has with the owners of the rights to the Tetris game. The Tetris case and the...

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Google Seeks Dismissal of Google Books Lawsuit 0

Google Seeks Dismissal of Google Books Lawsuit

Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright, Fair Use

On July 27, Google Inc. asked U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin to dismiss a lawsuit from the Authors Guild over the company’s plan to digitize books and provide excerpts through their search engine service. Google filed a motion seeking dismissal and arguing their actions fall under fair use and also provide a benefit to the public and the authors themselves. The Authors Guild also filed for summary judgment. Both parties’ motions are set for oral argument on Oct. 9. The case has been ongoing since The Authors Guild, along with The American Society of Media Photographers and other parties, sued Google in 2005 claiming the company’s plan to create an online literary database was carried out without permission from copyright holders. Google estimated it has already scanned more than 20 million books and posted excerpts from over 4 million. The process began when Google entered agreements with public and university libraries to digitize and upload information for their Google Books service. So far, Google says works have been scanned from Harvard University, Oxford University, Stanford University, the University of California, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library. Judge Denny Chin began hearing the case as a trial judge and has retained jurisdiction after being elevated to...

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Using the FBI seal to Combat Copyright Infringement 0

Using the FBI seal to Combat Copyright Infringement

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Copyright

Starting this August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has decided to expand their Anti-Piracy Warning (APW) Seal for use with any work protected by criminal penalties under federal copyright law. Previously, the use of the FBI seal was only available to five entertainment associations: the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Software & Information Industry Association, the Business Software Alliance, and the Entertainment Software Association. The seal is used to remind consumers of the criminal penalties for copyright infringement and the FBI’s role in investigating infringement. Formerly, the seal’s use was governed by a variety of financial and administrative restrictions including a written agreement. The FBI’s update now allows the seal to be downloaded for free from their website. Under the new regulation, the Anti-Piracy Warning Seal is available for use by all copyright holders who meet specific conditions. Unlike the original APW Seal program, which restricted the Seal’s use to five associations, the new regulation will enhance the Seal’s availability. The new regulation includes the following conditions: The APW seal is authorized for use on copyrighted works including films, audio recordings, electronic media, software, books, photographs, etc. The APW Seal shall only be used on copyrighted works subject to U.S. Criminal Code...

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