Internet On Trial

Internet On Trial

Modern Day Litigation, Cyber Defamation, and Law in Sports & Entertainment

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Registering copyrights: Is it really worth the $35?

Posted in Copyright

When copyright protection was created in the late 1700s, it was for books, poetry, and other written works. After all, Thomas Edison didn’t invent the phonograph until almost a century later, and sound recordings weren’t commonly made until the 1900s. But as technology allowed new ways of disseminating creative material, copyright law has evolved to… Continue Reading

Don’t Become a Statistic: Fight Copyright Trolls Now

Posted in Copyright, Internet & Media Law

Copyright trolls like Malibu Media, Voltage Pictures, Dallas Buyers Club, TCYK, and Manny Film LLC now account for over 40% of all copyright infringement lawsuits in the United States. Over the last half decade, these and other vexatious litigants have devised a scheme to outmaneuver the legal system by exploiting the nexus of antiquated U.S. copyright… Continue Reading

NJ Court Rules In Favor of Copyright Trolls

Posted in Computer Crimes, Copyright, New Jersey, Privacy Law

For a while, it’s seemed like the tides had turned on copyright trolls, as federal court judges appear to be more and more skeptical of the (lack of) merits to the concept and strategy behind mass copyright litigation. But a recent decision by a New Jersey federal court magistrate judge seems to send the opposite message–for copyright trolls not to give up, that the courthouse doors are still very much open. At least that’s the message I inferred from the headline in the New Jersey Law Journal “Multiple John Doe Defendants Permitted in BitTorrent Case” (subscription required).… Continue Reading

Jersey Boys’ Use of Ed Sullivan Show Clip is ‘Fair Use’

Posted in Copyright, Entertainment Law, New Jersey

The penalties for copyright & trademark infringement can be substantial, even crippling. Don’t ever assume that you can borrow someone else’s material based on the fair use doctrine. Before you “borrow” something for your movie, song, advertisement, website, blog, photograph, etc., speak to an attorney who is familiar with the fair use doctrine.… Continue Reading

Who Knew this was Copyright Infringement?

Posted in Copyright

Today on CBS Sunday Morning, they did a piece on rock-n-roll photographer Bob Gruen, who has apparently photographed every significant mainstream musical artist in the last half century. What, you’ve never heard of him? Neither had I. But you’re undoubtedly familiar with his work. During his tenure as John Lennon’s personal photographer, Gruen shot this iconic… Continue Reading

Tweet this…

Posted in Intellectual Property, Trademark

Who knew that the word tweet wasn’t even owned by Twitter? Apparently, since 2008, a little-known advertising agency named Twittad has owned the exclusive rights to what has become a household phrase. Twitter has finally laid its hands on trademark rights to the word “tweet,” but the case provides yet another lesson in why companies… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Gives Green-light to Google AdWords’ Use of Competitors’ Marks

Posted in New Jersey, Trademark

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently departed from the 30-year-old standard by which federal courts evaluate trademark infringement claims. The issue in that case, Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced Sys. Concepts, Inc., No. 10-55840 (9th Cir. Mar. 8, 2011), was whether a company infringes on another’s trademark by purchasing the competitor’s registered name or mark to… Continue Reading

Trademark Protection Isn’t Available for ‘Merely Descriptive’ Marks

Posted in Trademark

Here is an example of a poor judgment with regard to spending money on legal fees. In a nutshell, a popular legal blogsite filed suit to invalidate two trademarks registered by another popular legal site, Technolawyer. The trademarks in question are “BigLaw,” and “SmallLaw,” which Technolawyer uses as nicknames to classify AmLaw 100 law… Continue Reading

Witness Examination at a Deposition is Different from Trial

Posted in Copyright, Entertainment Law

The Oscars are happening this weekend, so it’s a good thing that I finally got around to seeing The Social Network (the one about how Facebook started), which is one of the best-picture nominees. What a great film. Great acting (Justin Timberlake notwithstanding). Great directing. Great cinematography. But bad depiction of what is called the discovery process, in pre-trial… Continue Reading

USPTO Denies Sarah Palin’s Trademark Application. WTF?

Posted in Trademark

                          The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), in Washington, D.C. has temporarily foiled Sarah Palin’s plans to receive trademark protection for her name. (See U.S. Trademark Application No. 85170226 pdf file). The reason for the agency’s disposition: She (or her attorney)… Continue Reading

Expunged Conviction Doesn’t Confer a Right to Sue for Defamation

Posted in New Jersey, Privacy Law, Right of Publicity

First Amendment proponents are applauding yesterday’s NJ Supreme Court decision, which dealt an apparent blow to privacy advocates by holding that the fact that a conviction was expunged does not negate its truth for the purposes of using it as a defense to defamation. As I explained here, defamation claims are not common because they are… Continue Reading

West Moves to Overturn $5M Defamation Verdict

Posted in Defamation, Right of Publicity, Trademark

Follow-up: Jury Awards Professors $5M in Defamation Suit Against West   No surprise here; West Publishing has filed a motion to set aside the jury’s $5,000,000 verdict in the case brought against them by the two law professors whom West defamed by selling books bearing the professors’ names, which contained out-of-date and erroneous statements of… Continue Reading

Camera Phones, Copyright Infringement & The Fair Use Doctrine

Posted in Copyright

Apple says the iPhone changed everything. Be that as it may, garden variety cell phone–camera devices have been around about a decade longer than Apple’s iconic iPhones, and conceptually speaking, these devices have had a greater impact on our at-large social habits, news, criminal justice system—and even our society—than Steve Jobs could ever dream of.… Continue Reading

“Big Four” Record Companies Headed Back to Court on Price-Fixing Allegations

Posted in Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property

Sony BMG, Universal, Warner Bros. and EMI (a.k.a. “the big four” record labels) are all headed back to court over price-fixing allegations, after Monday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, denied their petition for certiorari in Sony Music Entertainment v. Kevin Starr, No. 10-263. Denying the certiorari petition (this is a fancy term for “request… Continue Reading

Law Firm X’mas Cards

Posted in Copyright, Media Law

  Because of the fact being that I’m in the process of opening a second office—in another state, no less—my office won’t be sending out “holiday” cards this year. It’s not that I don’t have the time. I could easily plug something into my word processor, send it through mail merge, and they’d all pop… Continue Reading

Jury Awards Professors $5M in Defamation Suit Against West

Posted in Defamation, Intellectual Property, Media Law, Right of Publicity, Trademark

  For everyone who says that juries aren’t giving out mega-verdicts anymore, here’s your exception: Last week, a federal jury in Philadelphia gave a $5,000,000 early X’mas present to a couple law professors in a defamation suit.† (Jury’s Verdict pdf file). Outside of legal contexts, the term defamation gets thrown around a lot, and although… Continue Reading

GoDaddy Domain Thief to Spend 5 Years in Prison

Posted in Computer Crimes, Cybersquatting, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, Internet & Media Law, New Jersey, Sports

This is not cybersquatting. In fact, it’s being called the first legal case of its kind—theft of an Internet domain name. A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to felony theft by deception in connection with his admission that he stole a company’s Internet domain name, and then sold it on eBay for $111,211. The domain… Continue Reading

“Sports Law” Doesn’t Really Exist: Part III, Intellectual Property

Posted in Copyright, Intellectual Property, Right of Publicity, Sports, Trademark

Given the way in which sports—even collegiate sports—have become so heavily branded, merchandised, and televised, another area of law that routinely intersects sports is intellectual property—namely copyright, trademark, licensing, and the all-but-forgotten right-of-publicity. For example, the University of Alabama sued the artist who painted this picture commemorating the Tide’s 2010 BCS National Championship. The artist,… Continue Reading

“Sports Law” – Why it Doesn’t Really Exist: Part I, Introduction

Posted in Intellectual Property, Media Law, Right of Publicity, Sports

If criminal law is the body of law that governs criminals and the commission of crimes, and labor law is that which governs wages, employment, and labor unions, shouldn’t it follow that sports law is the body of law that governs athletes and athletic competition? Although attorneys, law students, and the media refer to sports… Continue Reading