3 Count: Give it Up

3 Count: Give it Up Image

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1: Elementary, My Dear Watson: U.S. Court Rejects Sherlock Holmes Dispute

First off today, Lawrence Hurley at Reuters reports that The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, thus upholding a lower court ruling and confirming that the bulk of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, along with the character himself, are in the public domain.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Leslie Klinger, a Sherlock Holmes expert who was compiling a book of new stories about the character. However, her publisher was threatened by the estate saying they would sue and block sales of the book if a license fee wasn’t paid. This prompted Klinger to take legal action and she won in lower courts, confirming that all but 10 of the original stories were in the public domain.

The estate had argued, unsuccessfully, that Holmes is an evolutionary character that wasn’t finished until his final story. However, the lower courts ruled that the bulk of his character was established in the stories that are out of copyright and, while elements from the last ten are still copyright protected, the bulk of the character itself is also public domain. This was upheld in the 7th Circuit and the Supreme Court refusal lets those rulings stand.

2: Pirate Bay co-founder arrested in Thailand

Next up today, The Associated Press is reporting that Fredrik Neij, one of the four founders of The Pirate Bay convicted on criminal charges in 2009, has been arrested in Thailand and is expected to be deported back to Sweden to serve his sentence.

Neij and three other codefendants faced criminal charges over their role in the site. They were convicted and lost all of their subsequent appeals. However, before they could serve their sentences, three went on the run. One was arrested in Sweden and another in Cambodia. Neij was the last of the four to not begin serving his sentence.

Neij is now expected to be deported back to Sweden where he will begin serving his one-year sentence. He, along with his co-defendants, was ordered to pay approximately $6 million in damages, an amount Neij says he has no means to pay.

3: Robin Thicke & Pharrell Lose First Fight Against Marvin Gaye’s Family

Finally today, Eriq Gardner at Billboard reports that a judge has denied a motion of summary judgment in the “Blurred Lines” case, setting the stage for a possible trial, something Robin Thicke and his producer, Pharrell Williams had hoped to avoid.

The estate of Marvin Gaye made claims that “Blurred Lines” was an infringement of Gaye’s 1977 work “Got to Give it Up”. Thicke and Williams sued preemptively and were countersued by the estate over Blurred Lines and another song, “Love After War”, which the estate claims is an infringement of “After the Dance”. Thicke and Williams had hoped to get a summary judgment in the case, ending it without a trial, but the judge denied that request saying that the evidence presented by the estate warrants review at a trial in both alleged infringements.

However, the victory was not a complete one for the Gaye estate. The judge did limit the the estate’s claims to copyrightable material within the sheet music for the song. The estate could not prove that it had the necessary paperwork to establish copyright ownership of the sound recording, meaning certain elements of the original song are unavailable for the to sue over, including elements of the backup vocals.


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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