Not So Happy Together – The Turtles vs. SiriusXM Copyright Case

2021-09-03T13:54:49-04:00August 31st, 2021|Contracts, Copyright, Intellectual Property|

What happens when Congress is unable - for almost 50 years - to figure out how to protect recorded music? Specifically, music recorded before 1972? Messy litigation involving the Turtles is what happens. First, some background. Almost 50 years ago, Congress passed the Sound Recording Amendment to the 1909 Copyright Act, which provided copyright protection to sound recordings created on or after February 15, 1972. However, there was no Federal law requiring that royalties be paid for works created before that date until Congress unanimously passed the Music Modernization Act in 2018. This law included a provision that required digital [...Read More...]

The Washington Football Team vs. Trademark Squatters – The Sequel

2021-08-04T23:38:18-04:00July 30th, 2021|Intellectual Property, Trademark|

On July 13, 2020, the era of the NFL's Washington Redskins ended (following pressure from the public and from corporate sponsors) and a new era began. Unfortunately, it was - and remains - an unnamed era. The team currently is called "The Washington Football Team" - it's better than "The Washington Insert Name Here" but not by much. Why the delay in getting a new name? Part of it could be related to the issues discussed in our article a year ago. Over the years, trademark applications have been filed for dozens of potential replacement team names. To protect its [...Read More...]

Supreme Court Fights Abuses of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

2021-06-29T14:42:15-04:00June 29th, 2021|Contracts, Intellectual Property, Privacy, Trade Secrets|

For 35 years, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has been a powerful weapon in law enforcement's arsenal against computer hackers. Essentially, it criminalized the standard definition of hacking - accessing information on a computer, where the user lacks authorization to do so. But what happens when someone is authorized to access the information, but then misuses the information? For example, a police officer who accepted a bribe and then accessed a vehicle database for non-law-enforcement purposes? This was the situation in Van Buren v. United States, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 3, 2021. [...Read More...]

What Is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?

2021-05-28T14:23:28-04:00May 28th, 2021|Copyright, Intellectual Property|

Over the past few years, you may have heard various people express support for or opposition to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. While President Trump and others have accused Internet content publishers of using it to discriminate against conservative points of view, the reality is quite different and actually not political at all. While people will often disagree about specific examples of political speech online, the irony is that political speech would have a hard time existing on the Internet without Section 230. Some quick history: Prior to the World Wide Web, Internet content was only easily accessible [...Read More...]

Where Have All the Soundtracks Gone?

2021-05-02T14:41:05-04:00April 30th, 2021|Contracts, Copyright, Intellectual Property, Licensing|

When fans of the TV show “Dawson’s Creek” watch it on Netflix, it will sound very different. This is because the theme song (Paula Cole’s "I Don't Want to Wait") has been replaced by Jann Arden’s "Run Like Mad" due to lack of streaming and DVD rights to the Paula Cole song. Dawson’s Creek has plenty of company in this area. Before the rise of streaming services, TV shows could save money by paying for a limited-time license for music rights, to cover the expected life of the show. The cost would be a fraction of the cost of perpetual [...Read More...]

You Can’t Copyright That?

2021-08-31T17:59:48-04:00March 31st, 2021|Copyright, Intellectual Property, Trademark|

Copyright law often isn't as well understood as, for example, criminal defense, or family law. Most people may know that if you write a book, perform a song, or take a photograph, you can obtain copyright protection for those works. But what about items that you can't protect through copyright?  Here are some examples of items that aren't eligible for copyright protection: Ideas.  To be eligible for copyright protection, works must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression." This can be on paper, on a computer drive, etc. Ideas and concepts don't qualify. This can include business practices, [...Read More...]

U.S. v. Arthrex: A Battle for Power over Patent Judges

2021-08-31T17:49:02-04:00February 26th, 2021|Intellectual Property, Patent|

One of my favorite aspects of the law is that something can be standard practice, or settled law, until a creative lawyer or court pulls it apart, turns it on its head, and a new paradigm is born. Think of Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, or Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Each of these decisions upended the prior paradigm. A new case may be joining this list: United States v. Arthrex Inc. At issue is where the administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office fall within the U.S. Constitution: are they “principal officers”, [...Read More...]

Third Party Cookies Crumble. Is Google’s Replacement Any Better?

2021-08-31T17:50:03-04:00February 1st, 2021|Intellectual Property|

As a scrappy Silicon Valley startup, Google's motto was "Don't Be Evil".  The phrase was part of the employee Code of Conduct and was even the Wi-Fi password for its company shuttles.  The phrase disappeared from the Code of Conduct in 2018, long after Google had become an Internet search giant and had begun acting the part.  This includes aggressively collecting as much data as possible from users of its services and global users of the Internet generally.  An important piece of this data collection is the use of "third party cookies".  Google may now be rendering these cookies obsolete, [...Read More...]

New Copyright Laws: Tougher Enforcement and New “Small Claims Court”

2021-08-31T18:02:50-04:00December 30th, 2020|Copyright, Intellectual Property|

At the end of December 2020, Congress passed an "omnibus" bill which justifiably received significant attention for funding the military and providing financial relief during the coronavirus pandemic. Included in the legislation were new laws relating to copyright: the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act and the Protecting Lawful Streaming (CASE) Act. The CASE Act The CASE Act is a new mechanism for handling copyright claims. The new law creates a Copyright Claims Board within the United States Copyright Office, which can hear cases involving total damages of up to $30,000. The purported benefit is that parties save money [...Read More...]

Keeping Up with Fast-Changing Privacy Laws

2021-08-31T17:50:47-04:00November 24th, 2020|Intellectual Property, Privacy|

How much personal data do you collect from customers, and what privacy laws apply to your business? Recent privacy violations have resulted in penalties of thousands or millions of dollars, with Facebook paying a record FTC fine of $5 billion. Every business needs to know its compliance requirements and potential exposure. Yet the current proliferation of privacy laws has made this increasingly expensive and difficult. The nexus of these laws is the need to protect the ever-increasing amount of data that businesses collect from customers. While certain categories of data are already highly regulated (for example, banking or health records), [...Read More...]

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