3 Count: Pandemic Trial

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1: No Encore for Music Publishers Who Say COVID-19 Wrecked Copyright Trial

First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that music publishers will not be able to gain a second trail against William Sagan despite the jury’s indication that they rushed their verdict due to COVID-19.

Sagan operated Wolfgang’s Vault, which was an online collection of concert recordings and rock memorabilia. However, music publishers claimed that Sagan never obtained the rights to the compositions shared on the site and had infringed the copyright in some 197 works. The case made it to a trial in March but, on March 12, a juror expressed concern that that the case was taking too long and was exposing them to danger. The jury came back shortly thereafter awarding only $189,500 in damages, which is less than $1,000 per work.

Publishers expected to much higher damages and have asked the judge for a retrial on the grounds that the conclusion of the case was rushed due to the pandemic. However, the judge has denied that request since the case was already in the jurors’ hands when the question was raised. The judge also trimmed an award for legal fees taking the plaintiffs’ request for $6 million in fees down to $2.4 million.

2: GitHub Defies RIAA Takedown Notice, Restoring YouTube-dl and Starting $1M Defense Fund

Next up today, Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch reports that code hosting site GitHub has restored the YouTube-dl project, an application that allows users to download YouTube videos, despite a DMCA notice filed by the RIAA demanding its removal.

Back in October, the RIAA sent the GitHub a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice demanding the removal of the project, saying that it was being used to violate copyrights that they own. Specifically, they claim that the software is used to circumvent digital rights management tools that are used to protect authorized videos on YouTube.

However, GitHub claims that the notice was mistaken saying that YouTube-dl does not violate any encryption or protection and merely “watches” the video and then saves it. As such, they have restored the YouTube-dl project and has launched a $1 million developer defense fund to fight false takedowns as well as made promises to continue its lobbying efforts.

3: City Selects New Bayfront Site for Unconditional Surrender

Finally today, David Conway at YourObserver.com reports that, in Sarasota, Floriday, the city commission has agreed to keep a public sculpture despite some citizen’s concern about the copyright in the piece.

The sculpture in question is Unconditional Surrender, a sculpted version of the famous photo of a Navy sailor kissing a woman on V-J Day in Times Square. Since 2009 the sculpture has been a part of the city’s bayfront area though many have questioned the inclusion of the sculpture due both to its representation of a nonconsensual kiss and the fact the original rightsholder has not given permission for the sculpture.

The city did opt to move the sculpture but only a short distance away but is keeping it in the general area. The city felt that their efforts to reach out to the rightsholder in 2006 meant that the statute of limitations had expired on case and that most residents wanted it displayed.

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