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First off today, Justin Wm. Moyer at The Washington Post reports that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and other members of Led Zeppelin will be facing a May 10th trial over their iconic song Stairway to Heaven and whether it is an infringement of the song Taurus by the band Spirit.
The stage is set after the judge denied a motion to dismiss filed by the band’s attorneys. According to the judge, though elements shared by the songs are common conventions, the similarities go beyond the core structure. The judge specifically looked at the descending bass line that is nearly identical between the songs, saying that the similarities are enough to put the issue before a jury.
The two sides disagree about whether or not Led Zeppelin and Spirit shared a stage or Led Zeppelin even heard Spirit’s music. According to Led Zeppelin, the two never performed together and they never heard any of Spirit’s songs when they did meet. Spirit, however, claims to have opened for Led Zeppelin for at least two music festivals.
Next up today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling halting an investigation by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood into the practices of Google.
Hood was investigating Google and its practices involving everything from illegal prescription drug sales to copyright infringement. However, it was revealed that Hood’s campaign was largely motivated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), who had contributed at least some of the demand letters that Hood used. Google sued in federal court to have the investigation stopped and the lower court agreed.
However, the appeals court has ruled that the lower court injunction is overly broad and premature. According to the court, Google did not have to comply with Hood’ subpoena’s and could have instead challenged them when Hood attempted to enforce them in state court. The court, however, did not rule on the validity of Hood’s investigation.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that, in a lawsuit that rings very familiar, GDC Technology has filed a lawsuit against Dolby Laboratories asking the court to rule that Dolby does not have copyright or any other intellectual property protection in interoperability codes that is used by movie theater hardware to project digital films.
According to the lawsuit, GDC Technology is one of the largest providers of hardware and software to movie theaters in the world. They rely heavily upon interoperability codes to make digital projection systems work. They claim that, until recently, Dolby, which manufactures audio equipment, freely provided its codes to the public but, after Dolby purchased a media server manufacturer named Doremi, the company began trying to assert copyright in its codes.
GDC is asking the court to rule that it doesn’t have any intellectual property protection in its codes, saying that they are mere facts and are not copyrightable. Failing that, they want the court to rule that their use is a fair use and is protected under the law. The case is similar to an ongoing one between Google and Oracle over Google’s use of Java’s API in their Android operating system. An appeals court there ruled APIs can be protected by copyright but the matter is heading to trial on the issue of fair use. Oracle has asked for over $9 billion.
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.