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First off today, Ashby Jones at The Wall Street Journal reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned its previous ruling allowing a controversial YouTube video, The Innocence of Muslims, to return to the site despite objections of the actors in the film, who had successfully gotten it removed over a copyright complaint.
The case centers around Cindy Lee Garcia, an actor who says that she was deceived into appearing in The Innocence of Muslims, a short anti-Islamic film. The video outraged many Muslims and Garcia, who says her voice was dubbed without her permission, received death threats over her appearance.
Garcia, who claims she never signed a release to be in the film, sought to have it removed on copyright grounds, but Google refused. Garcia sued claiming that, as an actor in it who had not waived her rights, she had a copyright interest in her performance. The district court sided with Google but the 9th Circuit overturned that, ordering Google to remove the video. However, the Circuit agreed to hear the case again en banc, meaning in front of a larger panel of judges, and that hearing has now overturned the court’s earlier ruling, allowing YouTube to republish the video.
Next up today, The Local in Sweden reports that a court has ruled that two domains associated with The Pirate Bay, both Swedish domains, be turned over to the Swedish government.
The government had been seeking the seizure of the domains for some time but had been opposed by the Sweden’s Internet Infrastructure Foundation, the organization that controls the the entire .se top level domain (TLD). However, a court has ruled that the domain, if used as part of a criminal act, can be seized like any other property being used in that manner.
The domains are still being used by The Pirate Bay pending a likely appeal. In the meantime, The Pirate Bay has said that it has plenty more domains available and will use them if needed and has already forwarded its site to the .vg TLD. Previously in Sweden, four founders of The Pirate Bay were successfully prosecuted and sentenced to approximately one year each.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at Billboard reports that the judge in the Happy Birthday lawsuit is asking for additional evidence that the original songwriters may have abandoned the copyright in their work, possibly placing the song in the public domain.
The class action lawsuit was filed by a filmmaker against Warner/Chappell music, who claims to hold the copyright in the song. According to the plaintiffs, the copyright in the melody and the lyrics to the song expired previously and Warner/Chappell should reimburse those who paid licensing fees for the song. The plaintiffs say that the song was widely performed and published before the 1935 copyright registration on the piano accompaniment. However, according to Warner/Chappell, the presence of previous publication and performances does not preclude their claim of ownership unless it can be shown that the original authors, The Hill Sisters, actively abandoned their copyright.
The judge has now said that he wants to hear more on the abandonment issue, hinting that he likely is siding with Warner/Chappell on this issue. The judge further noted that there is a distinction between abandonment and loss of a copyright due to failure to follow formalities, further indicating favor for the arguments put forth by Warner/Chappell.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.