3 Count: Skip to My Loo

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1: Ex-Plaintiff Cannot Use Copyright Law to Bar Remaining Plaintiffs From Using Documents

First off today, Anandashankar Mazumdar at Bloomberg BNA reports that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a former plaintiff can not use copyright law to prevent remaining plaintiffs from using filings in later proceedings.

The case stemmed from a class action lawsuit in which Bernard Gelp was the principal. Gelp’s case as thrown out at the district court level but, prior to his appeal, he had a falling out with his attorney, Alan Kaplan. Gelp acquired new counsel but Kaplan remain the attorney for other named plaintiffs in the case. Gelb eventually withdrew from the case though Kaplan and the other plaintiffs went on to win their appeal.

Gelb, however, registered his initial complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office as he had written the complaint and given it to Kaplan to use. He then sued Kaplan when Kaplan used the original complaint in later filings. However, the 2nd Circuit has ruled that by submitting the work to be used in the case, he gave a license to Kaplan and the other parties involved in the case, to use it in future filings. The court went on further to say that “The needs of the court prevail over the copyright holder’s selfish interests.”

The three-judge panel was unanimous in its ruling.

(To be clear, as the story is a bit convoluted, Gelp sued his former attorney for using a complaint that Gelp himself gave to him to use in this case.)

2: Data Miners Strike Gold on Copyright

Next up today, UK open access research publisher BioMed Central has announced that it will waive all copyright over the datasets it publishes, going beyond even the already open license applied to all papers it publishes.

Currently, the publisher uses a Creative Commons CC-BY license for all papers, as is required by the UK research councils, which allows all use of the papers so long as it is attributed. However, data miners were worried that even the attribution requirement could make their gathering of information illegal, prompting the publisher to apply a CC0 license to all datasets (though still using CC-BY for the papers).

The publisher did encourage data miners to acknowledge the source of their data “whenever it is technically possible to do so” but hoped that the move would maximize the “potential for data discovery and reuse”.

3: Portland Sues Over its Loos, Citing Copyright Infringement

Finally today, Jonathan Cooper at the Associated Press reports that the city of Portland, Oregon is suing Romtec Inc. over Portland’s popular public toilets, sometimes, dubbed the “Portland Loo”.

According to the lawsuit, Romtec’s product, “The Sidewalk Restroom”, is infringing the copyright and trademark of the Portland Loo, which Portland sells to other cities for $90,000 a piece. Portland says Romtec’s version of the public restroom infringes upon the architectural design and key features of their bathrooms and is also marketed in and marketed in a confusingly similar way.

The Portland Loo is famous within the for its steel walls, resistance to vandalism, and ease of maintenance. Portland wants Romtec to stop selling their version of the bathroom, destroy any restrooms they’ve made as well as any marketing materials they have on hand in addition to profits and damages.


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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