3 Count: Blackbeard’s Revenge

Finally. A chance to talk about piracy and copyright...

3 Count LogoHave any suggestions for the 3 Count? Let me know via Twitter @plagiarismtoday.

1: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Vimeo Copyright Infringement Case

First off today, the JURIST reports that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the Capitol Records v. Vimeo case and, in doing so, will allow a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stand that keeps pre-1972 sound recordings under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for the purpose of safe harbor.

The lawsuit began when Capitol Records sued Vimeo for copyright infringement of its songs on their video sharing site. Among the allegations, they alleged that, since pre-1972 sound recordings are not covered under federal law (instead protected by state law) that the DMCA, which is a federal law, did not apply to them. As such, Vimeo could have been held liable for hosting the songs, even if they complied with DMCA notices and removed them.

However, the courts have consistently found in favor of Vimeo with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the fact much of the music was pre-1972 did not shift liability. As such, Vimeo is still protected under DMCA safe harbor. The Supreme Court denying the appeals makes that the final word on the case.

2: Elsevier Wins Summary Judgment Over Use of 3-D Medical Animations in Copyright Case

Next up today, Lawrence Weinstein and Daniel Werb at the National Law Review reports that textbook publisher Elsevier Inc has won a summary judgment in their battle over 3D medical animations.

The lawsuit was brought by Archie MD, Inc., a company that specializes in 3D medical animations. Between 2005 and 2015 they licensed a catalog of such animations to Elsevier’s online learning system to be given as a free supplement for nursing students using Elsevier textbooks. However, after the deal expired Elsevier continued to make some of the animations available and began creating their own animations for future use.

Despite that, the judge ruled that the contract between the two parties granted Elsevier limited use of the animations after termination and that there’s no evidence Elsevier did anything out of bounds. In doing so, the judge dismissed all but one of Archie’s 50+ copyright claims and also dismissed the contract law claims finding them duplicative to the copyright ones. The court also ruled that Elsevier’s new animations are sufficiently different as to not be infringing.

3: Judge Allows Lawsuit Over Blackbeard’s Shipwreck to Proceed

Finally today, we talk about a different kind of piracy. Paul Woolverton at The Fayetteville Observer reports that photographer Rick Allen an continue his lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over what he says was illegal copying of Blackbeard’s wrecked pirate ship.

In 1996 the company Intersal found and successfully dived to the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s pirate ship. Under NC law the company was supposed to split any treasure it found with the state but the ship had little valuable on it. So, the state granted Intersal a 15-year contract to have exclusive access to the site for diving and photography/videography. That that end, Intersal hired Allen’s company who made multiple dives to the site.

However, the initial agreement ended and when Intersal tried to use its renewal option, the state declined. That has prompted a separate lawsuit between Intersal and the state but the state is accused of making illegal copies and unawlfully distributing Allen’s videos, prompting the state to pass “Blackbeard’s Law” that would have (retroactively) made such copying legal. However, Allen now has permission from the court to challenge the legality of the law and sue the state for copyright infringement of his work.


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.