3 Count: Not Inspiring

A not-so-inspirational story...

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1: Appeals Court Asks If Sound Recording Rights Can Be Divested Like Magic Tricks

First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has certified two questions in the ongoing dispute between Flo & Eddie of the Turtles and SiriusXM. One of those questions aims to look at the performance right to music in Florida and whether it can be divested through repeated performances.

The lawsuit centers around the issue of pre-1972 sound recordings, which are protected under state common law rather than federal copyright law. Flo & Eddie sued Sirius alleging that they were not paid royalties for the use of their music. In California and New York, they’ve won significant victories but, in Florida, the court ruled against them and the matter is now heading to an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit.

Regarding that appeal, the court certified two questions. The first is whether or not there is a public performance right under Florida common law and the second is whether repeated performances of the songs had been effectively publication, which would divest them of that public performance right. The most relevant case law deals with a 1943 copyright dispute between two magicians, where the court ruled that, while there was a public performance right for a magic trick, the repeated performances of it resulted in publication and, therefore, dedication to the general public.

2: HBO Faces Lawsuit Over Courtroom Sketches in Documentary

Next up today, Anandashankar Mazumdar reports that two courtroom sketch artists have filed a lawsuit against Home Box Office (HBO) and the production company behind the documentary Newburgh Sting. 

The artists, Andrea Shepard and Shirley Shepard, claim that the documentary used several sketches that they created without permission. The documentary focused on an FBI investigation into an alleged 2009 terrorist plot. The four suspects, however, claim that they were entrapped.

HBO used sketches created by the two artists as part of the documentary but the plaintiff’s say that the use was without a licenses and was an infringement. They are seeking $150,000 for each infringed work and an injunction barring HBO from showing the documentary again or otherwise profiting from it.

3: Amazon Inspire Removes Some Content Over Copyright Issues

Finally today, Natasha Singer at The New York Times reports that just one day after announcing Amazon Inspire, a free platform for teachers to share lesson plans, Amazon has had to remove three items due to copyright issues, including two items it had included in screenshots sent to journalists.

Two of the items involved were created by authors on teacherspayteachers.com, a similar lesson plan exchange site where educators offer to sell plans and materials they’ve created.  Additional works from the site have been spotted on Amazon Inspire, signaling that more takedowns are likely in the near future.

Amazon Inspire is currently in limited beta with a public release scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the school year. Amazon says that users are not supposed to upload copyright infringing material and that they have a process in place to swiftly remove any that are discovered, but educators are wanting more proactive action, including monitoring of uploads for duplication.


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.

The 3 Count Logo was created by Justin Goff and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

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