3 Count: Supreme Indecision

3 Count: Supreme Indecision Image

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1: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Oracle v. Google Case Over Software Copyright

First off today, Tante D’Orazio at The Verge reports that the U.S. Supreme Court, in the midst of major decisions on marriage equality and the Affordable Care Act, also announced a major copyright indecision by refusing to take the Google/Oracle API case and allowing the appeals court ruling to stand.

The case centers around Google’s Android mobile operating system, which was built on a modified version of Java, a programming language owned by Oracle. Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement but it was revealed Google only copied the application programming interfaces (APIs) of Java and not the language itself. Copying the APIs made it so that existing Java developers could easily write applications for Android without significant changes.

The district court sided with Google on the issue and ruled that APIs, which are a set of instructions, could not be copyrighted as they were functional. However, the appeals court overturned that prompting Google to appeal to the Supreme Court, which has declined to hear the case. Now the case goes back to the lower court to rule on whether or not the use of APIs is a fair use or otherwise non-infringing.

2: Appeals Court Rules Producer, Not Director, Gets Film Copyright

Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it is the producer (or production company) of a film that owns the copyright to it, not the director.

The case centers around a short film entitled Heads Up, which was directed by Alex Merkin and was produced by a company named 16 Casa Duse. Though everyone else involved in the picture had waived their rights, Merkin had not and completed the film without doing so. Merkin registered the film with the U.S. Copyright Office after negotiations broke down and when 16 Casa Duse began to show the film at festivals, Merkin made threats that caused 16 Casa Duse to proactively sue.

The district court ruled in favor of the producer but Merkin appealed and that decision was recently upheld by the Second Circuit. The case comes on the heels of the Innocence of Muslims dispute, which looked at whether an actor could claim a separate copyright in their performance. The appeals court in that case, after initially ruling in favor of the actor, reheard the case and decided that the actor had no such copyright interest in the work.

3: AC/DC, a Longstanding Holdout, Agrees to Stream Music

Finally today, Ben Sisario at The Boston Globe reports that not only is today the launch day for Apple’s new music streaming service, Apple Music, but that the popular rock band AC/DC has announced that it will be making it’s music available on the service as well as its competitors.

The band has been a long-time hold out from streaming music, not allowing its albums to be made available on any of the major streaming providers. However, following today’s announcement, AC/DC will be found on Spotify, Rdio and Apple Music as early as today.

Though AC/DC won’t be Apple Music exclusive, other albums albums including Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Taylor Swift’s 1989 will both be available exclusively for streaming on Apple Music. Other popular artists that withheld their music from streaming include Metallica, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, all of whom began allowing their music to be streamed within the last five years. (Note: After getting Apple Music set up on my phone, it appears AC/DC’s catalogue is included.)


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.

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