3 Count: Led Balloons

The case went over like one...

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1: Led Zeppelin Cleared of Plagiarism in Stairway Case

First off today, the BBC is reporting that the jury has returned in the Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven case and found that the band did not commit copyright infringement when it created the iconic song.

The lawsuit was filed by the estate of Randy Wolfe, who write the song Taurus while he was with the band Spirit. The estate claimed that, when creating the intro to Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin’s members, including Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, lifted chord progressions and other elements from Taurus.

However, the jury found that the works were “not intrinsically similar” and that no copyright infringement had taken place. The ruling is in contrast to the recent Blurred Lines case, which found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had infringed Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up when they created the song.

2: Digitizing Public Domain Images Creates a New Copyright, Rules German Court 

Next up today, Glyn Moody at Ars Technica UK reports that, in Germany, a court has ruled that digitizing a public domain work creates a new copyrighted work, even if the digitized version is intended to be as faithful to the original as possible.

The case pitted the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland against the Reiss Engelhorn Museum (REM), an art museum in Mannheim, Germany. At issue are 17 images taken by the museum that appeared in Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s media library. The REM sought to have the images removed but the Wikimedia Foundation claimed that the images were public domain and that they had no right to make such a request.

However, the judge has sided with the museum, saying that the act of digitizing a work creates a new copyright that it can enforce. The judge dismissed the case against Wikimedia Deutschland, saying that the responsibility for the images is solely with the Wikimedia Foundation, for whom the case continues. The foundation has already said it intends to appeal the ruling.

3: How Not to Get Sued Over Your ‘Star Trek’ Movie

Finally today, Jacob Gershman at The Wall Street Journal reports that Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios have teamed up to release a set of guidelines for Star Trek fan fiction and fan films, one that they hope will add clarity to those taking on such projects.

The guidelines come as the two companies press their lawsuit against the makers of Axanar, a planned fan film project that raised over $1 million on crowdfunding sites. J.J. Abrams, the director of the most recent official Star Trek films, recently claimed that the lawsuit would be coming to an end but it now appears that CBS and Paramount are continuing to press the case, though a spokersperson for Paramount said that they were still hopeful about a settlement.

The new guidelines require that fan films be no longer than 15 minutes for a self-contained story or part and no more than 30 minutes in total. Though the guidelines allow fan projects to fundraise, they can not exceed $50,000 total. Axanar‘s team has posted on Facebook saying that these rules make it impossible to create fan films the way they have been previously.


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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