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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner has filed a follow up to his earlier opinion on the character of Sherlock Holmes and has come down even harder on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate, ordering it to pay more than $30,000 in legal fees and likening its practices to extortion.
Posner previously upheld a lower court ruling that the character of Sherlock Holmes was, almost completely, in the public domain. This was because all but ten of the short stories involving the iconic character had seen their copyright expire. The Conan Doyle estate had argued that Holmes was a “complex character” and was not finished until the last story, the lower court and Judge Posner disagreed, giving clearance to author Leslie Klinger to publish her book of unofficial Holmes stories that she was editing.
Posner has now ordered the estate to also pay her legal fees and hints that the estate might have violated antitrust laws by telling booksellers, including Amazon, to enforce its copyright claims against Klinger. He goes on to thank Klinger performing a “public service” and says that she “Deserves a reward but asks only to break even.”
Next up today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that Prenda Law has suffered a costly setback with an Appeals Court upholding a $287,000 sanction against them and accusing the accused copyright “troll” of playing legal “shell games”.
Brenda Law became famous for filing massive lawsuits against suspected file sharers. The aim was typically to file subpoenas with ISPs in order to compel settlements. However, as some defendants began to fight back, it was revealed that Prenda Law was often the same company as the clients it claimed to represent, a violation of the law.
As Prenda began to back away from cases, one defendant, Anthony Smith, sought attorneys fees, which were granted in October. Prenda appealed that ruling on various grounds but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (yes, again) shot down all of the reasons and has ordered Prenda to pay the full amount. Smith’s case was not technically a copyright case but was a “hacking” case with Prenda accusing Anthony, and other co-conspirators, of sharing a porn site password rather than copyrighted files. This meant the case began life in state courts rather than federal ones.
Finally today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), a UK-based anti-piracy group, has secured the closure of Torrentshack, a long-running private BitTorrent tracker that specialized in illegal movies.
The site’s operator announced over the weekend that he has been under investigation by FACT for some time and is closing the site to avoid being dragged into court and forced to pay high legal fees. As part of that, he is handing over the site’s domain to the organization with the understanding that, if he does so, the charges will be dropped.
The administrator did assure users that, while the site would be closing, the site’s database and user information would remain safe and would not be handed over. “There is no reason for anyone to worry,” he said.
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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