3 Count: Unsafe Harbor

3 Count: Unsafe Harbor Image

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1: Rightscorp Wins Landmark Ruling, Cox Hit with $25M Verdict in Copyright Case

First off today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that a Virginia jury has ruled that U.S. ISP Cox Communications is liable for $25 million in damages to BMG Rights Management for its inaction on piracy taking place on its network.

BMG and its copyright enforcer, Rightscorp, claimed that Cox did not take adequate steps to disconnect repeat infringers. To highlight this, they introduced into evidence emails that showed Cox had a policy of not terminating repeat infringers and, when they did, quickly reconnecting their accounts.

Because of this, the judge had previously ruled that Cox does not qualify for Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor protection, the law that usually protects ISPs from liability for infringing customers. The case went to a jury trial and the jury found not only that Cox was liable for the infringement and hand down the damage award. Cox has said they are exploring their options and will likely appeal.

2: U.S. Warns Alibaba Again About Selling Counterfeit Goods

Next up today, Carlos Tejada at the Wall Street Journal reports that The U.S. Trade Representative has released its “Notorious Markets” report and, for now, has left the Chinese commerce site Alibaba off the list but with a warning it needs to improve its anti-counterfeit operations.

The notorious markets report is an annual report highlighting sites companies and even countries that are not doing enough to prevent copyright infringement and counterfeiting. However, this report is an “out-of-cycle” review that highlights some issues the USTR is working on, most notably Alibaba.

To that end, Alibaba was removed from the list in 2012 with the USTR noting the site’s progress against fighting infringements. However, in 2015, the USTR is now warning it that it needs to keep up and improve its efforts as there are still a large number of complaints against the company. Alibaba has said that it is committed to fighting counterfeits and will continue to work with rightsholders.

3: Abbott and Costello Heirs Lose Copyright Suit Against Broadway Play Over ‘Who’s on First’ Bit

Finally today, Larry Neumeister at the Associated Press reports that heirs to William “Bud” Abbot and Lou Costello, the famous comedy duo Abbott and Costello, have lost their lawsuit against the people behind the Broadway play Hand to God over their use of the iconic Who’s on First routine.

The original Who’s on First routine featured Costello attempting to learn the names of Abbott’s baseball team, all of whom had unusual names that caused confusion. According to the lawsuit, Hand to God mimicked the bit for over a minute in the play.

However, the judge felt the play’s use of the bit was transformative and a fair use. With that, he dismissed the lawsuit, even though the heirs claimed that the play copied “the very heart” of the original routine.


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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