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First off today, Kevin Melrose at Comic Book Resources reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, bringing an effective end to the long-running dispute over the rights to the iconic character.
Copyright termination provides creators and their heirs the opportunity to terminate any licenses or agreements after a number of years. The estate had signed a new deal in 1992 with DC but claimed that it shouldn’t reset the clock on their termination rights as they had not termination rights to exercise at the time. That didn’t come until the law changed in 1998 to allow siblings to exercise such rights.
The lower courts, however, have ruled that the attempts by the estate to terminate their agreements were preempted by the 1992 agreement. The estate appealed to the Supreme Court after a loss in the 9th Circuit but the Supreme Court has declined to take the case, bringing the matter to a likely close for the Shuster estate.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Raymond Teller, the silent half of the magic/comedy duo Penn & Teller, has won damages in his case against Belgian magician Gerard Dogge, who posted a video on YouTube of an illusion similar to one performed by Teller and offered to sell the secret for $3,050.
In March the court ruled that Dogge was infringing. In 1983, Teller had registered the illusion “The Rose & Her Shadow” with the U.S. Copyright Office as a pantomime. When Dogge posted a similar trick on YouTube with the offer to sell the secret, Teller sued but struggled to serve Dogge papers in the case. The judge granted summary judgment on the infringement but didn’t rule on whether the infringement was willful.
The judge, noting Dogge’s lack of participation in the trial, has found that the infringement was willful and not only granted Teller $15,000 in statutory damages, he also granted nearly half a million dollars in attorneys fees, approximately half of what Teller wanted. The judge also granted an injunction that bars Dogge from using anything that would cause confusion with consumers and the video will be removed from YouTube. However, Teller did fail to block the sale of a prop used in Dogge’s version of the illusion, the judge saying that even though it may be possible to use it to create another infringing work, it could be used in other ways as well.
Finally today, Leo Barraclough at Variety reports that Sergey Semenov, the legal counsel to the Russian Film and TV Producers’ Association has said that he believes the government is preparing to pass even more stringent anti-piracy legislation, one that would work to close sites that are engaged in infringing activities.
The country only recently passed new legislation to require those who host content to remove infringing works following notification. The law has been widely used to remove infringing material in the country, but has failed to tempter the overall piracy issue.
According Semenov and other panelists at the St. Petersburg International Media Forum, where the comments were made, there needs to be a push by the Russian government to make its sites more proactive, like YouTube, in detecting and removing infringements before they are uploaded.
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.