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First off today, a judge has ruled in favor of the TV show South Park and its owners, Comedy Central and Viacom, saying that their use of the YouTube sensation “What What (In the Butt)” was a clear fair use. The lawsuit, which was brought by Brownmark Films, who made the original video featuring the artist Samwell (who is not involved in the lawsuit), after South Park in an episode entitled “Canada on Strike” did a parody of the video with South Park characters singing the song. According to the judge, who had previously dismissed the suit in July, the use was a clear cut case of fair use and has now ordered Brownmark to pay Viacom’s legal bills, totalling over $30,000 in the case. However the judge has offered to reduce the fees further if Brownmark can show it is unable to pay. That being said, Brownmark is appealing the ruling so those fees could actually rise.
Next up today, in Germany, the law firm Urmann has been very active in suing and seeking settlement from suspected file sharers. However, in an attempt to extract some revenue from defendants that haven’t settled, the company is looking sell the “debt” to a collection agency. At stake is some 70,000 defendants who, according to Urmann, owe 1286.80 Euros each, meaning about 90 million Euros ($120 million) in total if every case is settled. This would be the first such sale of its type though there is no indication as to how much Urmann is hoping to get for the sale but it seeking bidders among debt collection agencies.
Finally today, photographer Matti Matikainen took a photo of Teija Vesterbacka, the wife of Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka wearing an Angry Birds-themed dress in honor of Rovio’s popular game. However, Matikainen’s photo ended up being spread far and wide, including appearances on Techcrunch, LA Times, Dailymail and Mashable among others, all without licensing or payment. Matikainen’s friend and colleague, Kari Kuukka, took to his blog to talk about the issue and about how the free exchange of photos online is kiling the licensing market, hurting many photographers.
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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