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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the ongoing dispute between musician Rick Ross and the band LMFAO has taken an unexpected turn as the U.S. Copyright Office has said that all three registrations for Rick Ross’ song Hustlin’ were defective.
Ross sued LMFAO in late 2013 alleging that their song Party Rock Anthem was an infringement of Hustlin’. At issue was the line in Party Rock Anthem “Everyday I’m Shufflin'”, which mirrored Ross’ line “Everyday I’m Hustlin'”. The judge had previously ruled that the three-word phrase did not qualify for copyrightability on t-shirts but the issue over the song was moving toward a trial when the Copyright Office released its statement.
According to the Copyright Office, all three of the registrations for Hustlin’ should have been denied, the first because of an issue with it actually being published though the registration listed it as unpublished and the other two because they were duplicative. The two sides have since filed statements with Ross arguing that the registration doesn’t confer copyright and the registration certificate it what gives them the right to sue. LMFAO claims that the burden of proof of ownership is on Ross and that the statement by the Copyright Office undermines their claims.
Next up today, Brian Boucher at ArtNet news reports that Richard Prince has responded to the lawsuit against him over his Instagram exhibit claiming that his use of a photographer’s image was transformative and should be protected as fair use. Thus, he says, the lawsuit should be dismissed.
The lawsuit was filed by photographer Donald Graham who claims that prince took his photo of a Rastafarian lighting a joint and used the image as part of an Instagram-themed exhibit Prince put on. According to Graham, Prince used nearly the entire photo, with only light cropping, and blew it up to a large size, edited only by adding fake comments below and a fake Instagram username at the top. Prince, however, argues that those transformations make the use transformative.
The lawsuit has echoes of a previous lawsuit against Prince, filed by photographer Patrick Cariou over Princes “Canal Zone” show. In that case, Prince’s use of the photographers work was found largely to be a fair use though the court did not rule on several images before a settlement was reached.
Finally today, Claire Reilly at CNet reports that rapper Kanye West has found himself in another copyright controversy as a screenshot he posted to Twitter appears to show him downloading software from The Pirate Bay.
West recently took to Twitter to share an image of his YouTube listening habits, namely Sufjan Stevens’ Death with Dignity. However, he failed to crop out his browser tabs and it was noticed that one of the background tabs appeared to be a page affiliated with The Pirate Bay for downloading the Serum sound editing software by Xfer Records.
The image was brought to light by fellow musician Deadmau5 who posted about it on his Twitter and followed up with an offer to launch a Kickstarter to help West pay for the software. The timing of the revelation is especially awkward for West, who recently was outraged by rampant piracy of his latest album Life of Pablo and had mentioned the possibility of suing The Pirate Bay over it.
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.