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First off today, Ben Sisario and Noah Smith at the New York Times reports that the jury has returned in the Blurred Lines case and has awarded the Marvin Gaye estate more than $7.3 million including some $4 million in damages and $3.3 million in profits derived from the song.
The case began when when the Gaye estate began questioning the similarities between Blurred Lines and Gaye’s Got to Give it Up. This prompted Thicke and Williams to file a suit proactively, seeking a declaration of non-infringement. However, after the Gaye estate countersued, the case wound its way to a trial where the jury heard about the alleged similarities and ruled that Blurred Lines was indeed an infringement.
The case was limited to just the composition of Got to Give it Up because it’s the only portion of the song the Gaye estate holds a copyright on. However, even with just that, they were able to prove their case to the jury. Still, the jury declined to rule that the infringement was willful though it also didn’t say it was innocent. The Gaye estate has said they are going to seek an injunction barring further sale of the song while lawyers for Thicke and Williams are said to be considering an appeal.
Next up today, Matt Kamen at Wired reports that Sky, the UK’s second-largest ISP, has been ordered by a court to turn over the identities of individuals suspected of pirating copies of the movie The Company You Keep.
The case is being pushed by a company named TCYK LLC, which owns the right to it and several other films. They have gathered IP addresses of suspected infringers and requested that Sky turn over the identities of those who were owners of the connections involved. It is unclear if Sky had fought the request, which began in September 2014, but now a court has ordered Sky to turn over the data.
TCYK is commonly referred to as a “copyright troll” meaning that they obtain the information and use it send threatening letters to the customers involved. They then offer a chance to settle the case for a small amount of money or risk legal action down the road. Many comply with the letter and pay up.
Finally today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that Windermere Cay, an apartment complex in Orlando, FL, recently forced its tenants to sign a “Social Media Addendum” that not only bans the posting of negative reviews on social media sites, but also grants the copyright in any reviews or photos to the complex, not the person taking the images.
The story was reported by an unnamed resident who shared the addendum with the media after he refused to sign it. However, the apartment complex says that the addendum was put in there by the previous owners and that they have “voided” it for all residents, even though it was on existing paperwork being sent to renters.
The use of copyright transfers to block negative reviews is nothing new and was actually a semi-regular practice in the medical field for a time. However, recent action by states have found this practice to be in violation of anti-competition laws and the contracts have never been successfully upheld in court.
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.