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First off today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case between NBC Universal (NBCU) and the parapsychologist Larry Montz, who claims to have come up with the idea for the company’s popular “Ghost Hunters” show. Montz, who claims to have pitched the show to NBCU for inclusion on their then Sci-Fi network (now SYFY) says that NBCU produced the show without him in violation of an implied contract. The case was dismissed but given a reprieve on appeal. NBCU appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court arguing that copyright trumped state contract law but the court, in refusing to hear the case, let the lower court ruling stand. The case now heads back to the district court for more hearings and a possible trial.
Next up today, the Meltwater News Service and the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) will get a chance to appeal part of their case against the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA) to the UK High Court. The NLA, which collects royalties for major newspapers in the UK, sued Meltwater claiming that the company, which locates and emails clips of relevant news articles to various PR agencies, had to pay licensing fees both for their use and for their client’s use. Meltwater and the PRCA objected to that, saying that the client’s copies were temporary copies and allowed under UK law. The court let stand other rulings in the case, including that headlines could be copyrighted and clients will still need licenses, but it wants to look closer at the temporary copying issue, which could greatly mitigate the other two. The PRCA is pursuing the appeal even as the Copyright Royalty Board is trying to determine royalty rates for these kinds of uses.
Finally today, St. Louis duo Aleric Banks and Monique Hines are suing SNL comedia Andy Samberg and NBC over two Saturday Night Live skits, namely for two songs “Shy Ronnie”, which features Rihanna, and “Like a Boss”, which featured Seth Rogan when it was performed on the show. The songs were recorded by the group The Lonely Island, which Samberg is a member of and originated on SNL. According to the lawsuit, Banks and Hines wrote the music for the songs and were promised royalties for the work but those promises were not kept, thus prompting them to sue.
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.