2013 Anti-Piracy, Copyright and Trademark News


Accessibility of 3-D Printing Raises Copyright Questions

3-D printing is viewed by many as a magic potion that could bring about a manufacturing revival. In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama made a special mention of this new technology.

However, even as 3-D scanners and printers become cheaper, this young industry may soon be embroiled in intellectual property disputes.

It wasn’t long ago that a good quality 3-D scanner that could produce accurate digital models of real-world objects would set you back more than $10,000. Microsoft then released the Kinect—a video game controller that allows the user to play games by waving their hands

As Nicolas Burrus, co-founder of 3-D scanning firm ManCTL, explains, the Kinect was in fact a 3-D camera at a fraction of the price. Burrus’s company developed software that turns the Kinect system into a high-quality—and cheap—3-D scanner.

NPR, February 19, 2013 (Steve Henn)


Court Awards Angelina Jolie with ‘Blood and Honey’ Copyright Victory

Angelina Jolie has won the lawsuit that claimed she stole work by James Braddock, a Croatian journalist, to create In the Land of Blood and Honey, her directorial debut. In the ruling, a federal judge found that the film is not substantially similar to the journalist’s novel.

Jolie was sued in late 2011, weeks before Blood and Honey arrived at theaters. Braddock claimed that the film, which focuses on a love affair during the Bosnian Civil War, violates the copyright for his novel, The Soul Shattering. According to the suit filed, Edin Sarkic, one of the film’s producers who helped Jolie gain permission to film the movie in Sarajevo, had read Braddock’s book and discussed the possibility of creating a film adaptation.

However, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found in a tentative decision, which is now final, that the two works are not similar enough to constitute a copyright violation.

The Hollywood Reporter, March 29, 2013 (Eriq Gardner)


Hollywood Studios Victorious in Huge Hotwire Lawsuit

A Florida federal judge has ruled that Hotfile engaged in copyright infringement. This is the first time, according to the Motion Picture Association of America, that a cyberlocker has been held liable for infringing on copyright law by a U.S. court.

In February 2011, the MPAA filed a lawsuit on behalf of member studios. This controversial lawsuit took aim at the growing popularity of cyberlockers—it was alleged that this one stored thousands of copyrighted television shows and movies. During the legal action, Hotfile was deemed to be even worse at enabling copyright infringement than Grokster, Limewire and Napster. The judge found them to be no different than Megaupload.

This is an important case, from a legal standpoint, since Hotfile argued that it had no liability for what its users were doing and that it had safe harbor from copyright laws, as per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

MPAA is celebrating the outcome, which it hopes will send a warning to similar businesses that rely on stolen work.

The Hollywood Reporter, August 28, 2013 (Eriq Gardner)


Piracy Uses Nearly One-Quarter of Global Bandwidth

A report commissioned by NBC Universal has found that online piracy has surged, with 432 million users looking for pirated material in just one month.

In the regions of North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, where 82.6% of the world’s internet users use 95.1% of the world’s bandwidth, bandwidth use for piracy between 2010 and 2012 jumped by 159.3%. This amounts to 9,567 petabytes (up from 3,690 petabytes), representing 23.8% of bandwidth consumed by all internet users.

Data for the report was collected from various sources such as NetNames, Cisco, comScore and Sandvine.

Bittorrent was found to be the most frequently used peer-to-peer network worldwide, and it used the highest amount of bandwidth. In North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, bittorrent used 6,692 petabytes of data during 2012, a 244.9% increase compared to 2010. The same report found that legal action and other methods used to try to restrict copyright infringement were only occasionally successful.

Screen International, September 17, 2013 (Andreas Wiseman)


Can the NFL Use Photos Without Consent—or is it Copyright Infringement?

On October 21, 2013, a federal lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs are seven well-known sports photographers and the defendants–the National Football League (NFL), Getty Images, Replay Photos and the Associated Press. Allegedly, the NFL used their photos in news, advertisements, promotions and products, violating the photographers’ copyrights.

Photographers typically use third-party licensing agents to license their photos. However, the lawsuit claims that they did not transfer the copyrights of their photos to agents, and that they retain exclusive ownership of all copyrights.

Not paid salaries or rates for their services, photographers make their living from royalties by licensing their photographs to various entities. According to their lawyer, the NFL willfully engaged in copyright infringement, and the other parties named in the lawsuit are guilty of unethical misconduct.

The plaintiffs, who risk retaliation by agencies in filing this lawsuit, are asking for a permanent injunction against the NFL as well as various damages.

Forbes, October 23, 2013 (Darren Heitner)


Companies Grab Photos Off Twitter, Photographer Awarded $1.2 Million

On Friday, a federal jury found Agence France-Presse and Getty Images liable for copyright infringement and ordered them to pay $1.2 million in damages to a freelance photojournalist. The media companies were found to be in violation of the Copyright Act, for their unauthorized use of photos that Haitian Daniel Morel took during the 2010 earthquake and posted on his Twitter account.

This is the first court case that addresses images that people upload to social media and make available to the public, and whether they can be used for commercial purposes by third parties. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled in January that the media companies were liable for copyright infringement.

An AFP editor found Morel’s photos on another Twitter account and gave them to Getty, and the photos were disseminated to Getty’s clients such as the Washington Post and various television networks.

Initially, AFP maintained that Twitter’s terms of service allowed the use of the photos. However, it was found that company policies, while allowing users to post and retweet images, did not grant commercial rights.

Reuters, November 22, 2013 (Joseph Ax)

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