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First off today, Jonathan Stempel at Reuters reports that Solid Oak Sketches LLC, a New York Tattoo parlor, has filed a lawsuit against video game maker Take-Two Interactive over the use of eight tattoos Solid Oak Sketches drew for NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James among others.
According to the tattoo artist, eight of his works were reproduced by Take-Two for the game NBA 2K16, which was released last year. The company claims it offered Take-Two a perpetual license to the tattoos for $1.14 million but Take-Two declined.
The copyrightability of tattoos is an often-debated issue with no clear court rulings on the subject. However, many similar lawsuits have produced settlements, including one in 2011 over the use of Mike Tyson’s face tattoo in the movie Hangover 2.
Next up today, KC Vijayan at The Straits Times reports that, in Singapore, the publisher of The Yellow Pages has had its case dismissed against the publishers of The Green Book, a competing telephone directory, with a ruling that a simple list of names and numbers is not copyrightable.
The issue pit Global Yellow Pages (GYP) against Promedia Directories. In 2009, GPY sued Promedia, alleging had infringed their directories by copying information from them for their own. However, now Justice George Wei has ruled that copyright can not exist in individual listings because there is no requisite level of creativity. Wei also ruled that Promedia had not taken enough from other works to constitute infringement and that Promedia’s counterclaims should be weighed separately.
The case closely mirrors a similar 1991 Supreme Court in the United States, Feist Publications vs. Rural Telephone Service Company, which addressed the copyrightability of phone books in the U.S. There, the Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings and held that copyright was only vested in works of creativity and unoriginal works, even those compiled with great effort, are not copyrightable.
Finally today, Sarah Jeong at Motherboard reports that a judge has handed down his order to dismiss the “monkey selfie” lawsuit but has given People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) leave to refile the case if they can find an argument that works.
The case centers around Naruto, a macaque who, after taking a camera away from photographer David Slater, snapped a now-famous “selfie”. This led to who, if anyone, owns the photo involved since copyright usually vests with the photographer of an image. Slater has argued that it’s his photo since he set up the camera but others have argued that the image is in the public domain.
PETA sued Slater and a self-publishing company alleging that it was Naruto himself who owned the image. However, the court has ruled that, in the circuit where the case was filed, animals can not have standing to be plaintiffs unless the law specifically allows it. Since animals are not mentioned in copyright law (and the U.S. Copyright Office has stated it doesn’t believe animals can hold copyright) the judge dismissed the case. However, by granting leave to refile the case, the judge is offering PETA the chance to try again with the case, possibly giving it a second chance.
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.