Over the past couple of days there have been a couple of interesting news and commentary articles about copyright and intellectual property issues that folks might be interested in.
First, it turns out that the ‘enforce copyright enthusiastically’ folks have been playing a little fast and loose with the facts on unemployment caused by illegal downloading of movies:
It seems the ‘millions of workers’ thrown out of work because someone downloaded a bootleg copy of Prometheus weren’t actually thrown out of work after all. In fact they weren’t even in that line of business. And they weren’t (necessarily) unemployed, either.
Not that I’m condoning illegal downloading. I’m just pointing out that the MPAA and their ilk (and their friends, the Department of Commerce) might be exaggerating the amount of damage that it causes.
Second story: The guys at South Park produced a parody of a music video and the owners of the original video sued, claiming copyright infringement. South Park defended themselves by claiming fair use (parody being one of the official escape clauses). The lawsuit was denied. It’s nice to see freedom of speech getting a little boost these days. The plaintiffs then appealed the original judgment, and the appeals court not only upheld the decision, but made the plaintiffs pay court costs. If you don’t mind wading through some of the legalese, the Appeals Court decision is rather fun to read (it’s clear the judge was enjoying himself). Here’s the news article covering the decision:
Attorney Fee Awarded in ‘What What (In the Butt)’ Case
A company that unsuccessfully sued the producers of the “South Park” television program for copyright infringement must pay the defendants’ attorney fees, a federal judge in Milwaukee ruled. The makers of the “What What (In the Butt)” music video had claimed that a “South Park” parody of the song infringed the copyright. The court found that the parody fell into copyright law’s “fair use” provisions, and rejected all of the claims of Milwaukee’s Brownmark Films LLC.
In his attorney-fee award order, U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadmueller said he thought Brownmark’s motivation in filing the suit was “questionable” and demonstrated an attempt to use the threat of litigation to force a licensing agreement. He said that awarding attorney fees to the defendants — which included Viacom Inc. — “would defer future action that is similar to Brownmark’s.”
The judge did cut almost $13,000 from the fee award, saying that some of the billed hours were duplicative of earlier work by the firm. The case is Brownmark Films LLC. v. Comedy Partners, 2:10- cv-01013-JPS, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
And here’s a link to the actual decision: