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First off today, Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times reports that “rogue archivist” Carl Malamud has been sued by the U.S. State of Georgia for providing a free, publicly available copy of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, basically the laws of the state complete with annotations.
Malamud is an activist who specializes in open access to laws and other public documents. However, this is the first time a state has gone as far as to sue him for his activities. Georgia says it has no issue with the code itself being made publicly available. However, the state says it has an exclusive deal with LexisNexis to provide the annotations, which Malamud says are necessary to truly understand and parse the laws.
The state says that Malamud’s efforts endanger the state’s arrangement with LexisNexis, which bears the cost of publishing the annotations so the state and taxpayers don’t. However, Malamud claims that limiting access to the annotations harms the public, making it more difficult to understand the laws the public is expected to follow.
Next up today, Charles Toutant at The New Jersey Law Journal reports that a judge has ruled against Vernon Hill, the founder of Commerce Bank, ruling that his recently-published book is a copyright infringement of a manuscript that he wrote, but that is owned by TD Bank.
Hill, with a collaborator, wrote the 2007 manuscript while employed by TD Bank, which purchased Commerce Bank that same year. Hill sought to publish the book after his departure but TD Bank declined to allow him. Hill then produced a new manuscript and published that but TD Bank claimed that the new work bore too many resemblances to the original and, after a thorough analysis, showed that 16% of the new manuscript matched the original, including whole paragraphs that were copied verbatim.
The judge in the case ruled that Hill had violated TD Bank’s copyright, dismissing Hill’s arguments of fair use, copyright misuse and co-authorship of the original manuscript. However, the judge also denied the bank a permanent injunction and for profits from the book, saying that the bank had failed to provide adequate evidence of harm or damages. Those issues will be taken up at a later hearing.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that writer and Twitter user Robert “Alex” Kaseberg, has filed a lawsuit against Conan O’Brien, TBS and others involved with the Conan show over alleged joke plagiarism.
According to the lawsuit, O’Brien used several jokes Kaseberg posted on Twitter on his late night show, often nearly verbatim. To that end, Kaseberg is seeking both actual and statutory damages.
Kaseberg says he a professional comedy writer, having contributed to The Tonight show with Jay Leno for 20 years. On his blog, he called the reuse of his jokes, “The most disappointing thing in my comedy writing career.” Andy Richter, the sidekick on Conan, has responded on Twitter jokingly saying that, “There’s no possible way more than one person could have concurrently had these same species-elevating insights!”
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.