First off today, Alison Frankel at Reuters reports that the 9th Circuit has ruled against the blogging platform LiveJournal and exposed the company to liability for copyright infringement despite Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbors that, according to LiveJournal, should protect it.
At issue is the site Oh No They Didn’t! (ONTD), a gossip site hosted on LiveJournal. Originally managed by volunteer moderators. LiveJournal hired one of those moderators to take more direct control so they could better sell ads. When the celebrity photo agency Mavrix sued the site for hosting copyright infringing photos, they also argued that this relationship made LiveJournal an editor of the site and, thus, it wasn’t simply content uploaded by third parties.
The 9th Circuit agreed, overturning a lower court decision. Since the DMCA only protects content uploaded at the direction of 3rd parties, the court felt that LiveJournal simply had too much direct control to qualify for safe harbor protection. Though the court went out of its way to note that automated monitoring (such as Content ID) did not amount editing, the ruling could have a major impact on communities that rely heavily on human editing but user uploads.
Next up today, the World Intellectual Property Review reports that the WWE has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a group of BitTorrent users that they claim infringed the copyright of the WWE-produced film The Eliminators.
The lawsuit, which targeted 14 different “John Doe” defendants, only identified the alleged infringers via their IP address. Though the lawsuit asks for a jury trial and up to $150,000 in damages per defendant, similar lawsuits have been used to have the court compel ISPs to turn over information identifying the suspected infringer so they can be approached directly for a much smaller settlement.
Though the type of litigation has been common in the past, it’s largely fallen out of favor with major copyright holders. This is the first time, to my knowledge, the WWE has undertaken such an action, even if it was not over their primary content.
Finally today, the BBC reports that Ed Sheeran has reached a settlement in his lawsuit over his hit song Photograph, bringing an end to a $20 million claim against the track.
The lawsuit was filed by composers Thomas Leonard and Martin Harrington. They alleged that Photograph was too similar to their song Amazing and cited identical notes and structure along the way.
However, they recently filed a motion to dismiss, saying that they have reached a settlement in the case. The terms of the settlement are not known.
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.