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First off today, Darren Rovell at ESPN (how often does ESPN appear as a source here?) reports that photographer Jacobus Rentmeester has filed a lawsuit against Nike for copyright infringement.
Rentmeester is the photographer behind the photograph that was later used to create the iconic “Jumpman” logo. He snapped the photo of Michael Jordan during an Olympic warm up in 1984. In 1985, after Rentmeester threatened to sue Nike, he reached a deal where he granted a two-year license on the image and was paid $15,000 for it. However, according to the lawsuit, Nike continued to use the photo long after the license to it expired.
While many will note that Rentmeester’s lawsuit comes some 28 years after the alleged contract expired, Rentmeester notes that Nike only registered the photo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office this year. Furthermore, a recent ruling by the Supreme Court granted defendants like Rentmeester, who may have missed their initial three-year window to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, a chance to collect on damages from the previous three years of misuse if the misuse is ongoing.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Zenbu Magazines, the owners of sound recordings for a variety of bands including The Flying Burrito Brothers, Hot Tuna and New Riders of the Purple Sage, have filed a lawsuit against Google, Apple, Sony, Rdio, Escape Music (The owners of Grooveshark) among others over their use of pre–1972 sound recordings.
Due to a quirk in U.S. copyright law, pre-1972 sound recordings are not protected under federal law but, instead, are covered under state protections. Recently, Flo & Eddie of The Turtles have been engaging a similar fight in several states against Sirius XM, alleging that the satellite radio provider has failed to pay royalties for the use of their music. Following on the heels of success in California and New York, Zenbu has filed a similar lawsuit against other music streaming services.
Notably absent from the list is Spotify, the largest music streaming provider. It is unclear why Spotify was omitted, but it may have reached a separate deal over pre-1972 sound recordings. This lawsuit is seeking class action status, the same as The Turtles lawsuit against Sirius.
Finally today, Zack Wittaker at ZDNet reports that Apple has filed for a patent that will allow users to share multimedia content while avoiding piracy.
The idea is that, once a video or audio file has been downloaded to one person on an account, the file would be then shared with other devices on the account via peer-to-peer file sharing rather than a repeat download from iTunes. The result, in that instance, should be faster sharing of content and lower bandwidth costs for Apple. For users who don’t have legitimate access to the work, they will also be able to download and play the content, but only once they have paid a (possibly reduced) license fee.
While the computers would use peer-to-peer connections to share the file, the copies could only be played on authorized devices and would require digital rights management (DRM) to work.
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.