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First off today, a judge has tossed out a lawsuit by the heirs of Stephen Slesinger over the iconic Winnie the Pooh character.
Slesinger was a television and film producer who, in the 30s, purchased the merchandising rights to the character and then sold them to Disney in 1961 in exchange for a royalty. However, Stephen Slesinger Inc., a company that represents his estate, accused Disney of accounting trickery to lower the royalties paid.
The initial lawsuit was thrown out after thirteen years of litigation due to misconduct by a private investigator. However, the heirs sued Disney again, this time for copyright infringement, only to now have this suit thrown as well.
The litigation has been going on since 1991 and is actually continuing as the heirs still have a claim against Disney pending before the U.S. Patent Office.
Next up today, The Copyright Alliance, a non-profit coalition of artists who support stronger copyright law, has created an online petition asking for President Obama to “pursue policies supportive of the rights of artists.”
The petition stops short of saying exactly what those policies are or would be, but goes to great lengths to portray copyright holders as “the essence of America” and contributors of $1.52 trillion to the GDP.
The petition currently has over 7,500 signatures from artists and copyright holders of all stripes and is growing rapidly.
Finally today, something a bit different. If you’ve been sued by the RIAA and you’ve missed your chance to settle, should you: A) Defend yourself in court? B) Ignore it.
Well, according to a recent article by Nate Anderson, the answer is that you’ll come out much cheaper if you do the latter. Judges in four cases gave defendants who didn’t respond to lawsuits, and thus lost automatically, got the minimum amount per song $750. For ten songs that amount came out to $7,500 for the entire suit. Compare that to the per-song awards by the juries in the two Thomas cases, which were $9,250 and $80,000 respectively and the difference is clear.
Though the cheapest route is to still settle the case, which usually costs about $3,000, ignoring the case does appear to be cheaper than the alternative.
This is what happened to Joel Tenenbaum, who narrowly avoided a default judgment being entered against him when he showed up in court and the judge located attorney Charles Nesson “Help” him and wound up making him liable for $22,500 per song.
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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