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First off today, Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly reports that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling in the George State e-reserve case (Cambridge University Press v. Patton), which dealt with how administrators at the college allegedly encouraged educators to use content from textbooks to crease electronic resources rather than pay for coursepacks.
The publishers, which first sued in 2008, said that the use of their material far exceeded fair use. However, the lower court largely sided with the school, dismissing all but 5 of the 99 alleged infringements. The publishers were also ordered to pay some $3 million in legal fees. That decision prompted the appeal.
While the appeals court did overturn the lower court ruling, it isn’t being considered a sweeping victory for publishers. The court took issue with how the lower court determined fair use, saying it was inappropriate for the court to both weigh all four fair use factors evenly and establish bright line rules. However, the appeals court did rule that each case would have to be considered separately, preventing a blanket ruling that the e-reserve system is illegal. Still, the publishers get their $3 million back and the case goes back to the lower court with new instructions.
Next up today, Patrice Dougan at The New Zealand Herald reports that the Court of Appeal in New Zealand has upheld a lower court judgment ordering Kim Dotcom to reveal all of his assets to the movie studios.
Dotcom, along with several of his employees, were arrested in January 2012 in a joint action by New Zealand and United States authorities His site, a cyberlocker named Megaupload, was shuttered and, since then, he has been facing possible extradition to the United States on criminal charges. In the meantime, the movie studios have filed a civil lawsuit in New Zealand against Dotcom and, as part of that, want a disclosure of all his assets for fear that he is divesting them, including in the political party he founded.
The court also ordered Dotcom to pay the movie studio’s legal costs in fighting the appeal, noting that he did not have to seek the appeal as he had no grounds had already provided such an affidavit to the court. The studios are concerned that, though much of his assets are frozen in the criminal case, that he has assets outside of the purview of New Zealand courts that he is seeking to rid himself of.
Finally today, Joshua Weiss at NBC 7 San Diego reports that the lawsuit against the band Led Zeppelin over the song “Stairway to Heaven” has survived its first challenge, one on the subject of jurisdiction.
Family members from the band Spirit claimed that the 1971 Zeppelin song was based on an earlier instrumental work entitled “Tauru” by Spirit. The lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania and Zeppelin’s attorneys claimed that none of the members had no interests or assets there and that the lawsuit needed to either be dismissed or moved.
However, the court ruled that, since Zeppelin had exploited their track there (and continue to do so) through CD, download and other music sales, that the jurisdiction is proper. The judge, however, did not rule on any of the merits of the case.
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.