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First off today, Adam Liptak at The New York Times reports that Supap Kirtsaeng returned to the Supreme Court on Monday, the second time his case has made it there. However, this time the highest court in the land is attempting to determine if he deserves attorneys fees for his lengthy legal battle over publisher John Wiley & Sons.
The case centers around Kirtsaeng’s importation of textbooks from Asia to the United States for resale. John Wiley & Sons sued him claiming that it violated their right to control imports of copyrighted works but Kirtsaeng argued that the right of first sale meant that he could legally resell any legitimately-purchased works. The case made it before the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Kirtsaeng.
But now Kirtsaeng wants his attorneys fees paid. He asked the court for some $2 million in fees but has been denied because, according to the lower courts, the losing side had a reasonable position. Now the question of whether he’s entitled to attorneys fees is before the Supreme Court. Currently, different circuits apply different standards when awarding such fees and the hopes are that the Supreme Court will harmonize the different rules.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that, in the Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven case, the defendants have won some key victories that will prevent the jury from hearing about past drug use, allegations of serial plagiarism and the allegedly infringed sound recordings all barred from the upcoming trial.
The case centers around Led Zeppelin’s iconic song Stairway to Heaven, which many claim borrowed elements from Spirit’s song Taurus. Heirs to the estate of some of Spirit’s members have filed the lawsuit and the case is headed for a trial. However, according to the judge, the claims made by Spirit’s heirs are limited to just those in the composition, which was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, not unprotected elements in the recording.
Because of that, not only will sound recordings of Taurus not be allowed during the trial, but all of Spirit’s expert witness testimony is also barred since it was based on the sound recordings. The plaintiffs now have just five days to submit new expert witness reports that are “purged” of what is unprotected.
Finally today, George Howard at Forbes reports that, while the world is enjoying the release of Beyoncé‘s new album Lemonade, behind the scenes she seems to be working both to give credit (and likely compensation) to artists she samples.
In the song Hold Up by Beyoncé, the song uses a chorus that is very similar to the song Maps by the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. However, a quick check of the album credits reveals that Beyoncé has credited two members from the band as songwriters, likely coming with it songwriter royalties.
The move is likely, at least in part, an attempt to avoid a fate similar to Robin Thicke and others who have recently been sued for borrowing song elements from others. As for Lemonade itself, the album is available for sale on iTunes and Amazon, it’s currently only available for streaming on Tidal.
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.