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First off today, Conor Risch at PDNPulse reports that Montana photographer Erika Peterman has filed a lawsuit against the Republican National Committee (RNC) alleging that they used a photo she took without permission in creating a mailer that criticized democratic candidate Rob Quist.
Peterman took the photo of Quist, who is also a musician, at a concert he performed and Peterman was hired to shoot. Quist is certainly the democratic candidate to fill Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Though Quist had given her employers, the Quist campaign, a limited license to use the images, she had not assigned the copyright.
The RNC has said that they obtained the image from a promotional video for Quist. However, according to the lawsuit, the image was never used in a video. Either way, Peterson may not be eligible for statutory damages as the photo was not registered until after the infringement took place.
Next up today, Nick Whigham at News.com.au reports that Wikipedia has joined the call for a broad fair use exemption in Australia, throwing its weight behind the cause as the country works to revise its copyright laws.
In Australia, a series of government reports have recommended that the nation adopt broader fair use exemptions, similar to those in the United States. Currently, the country uses a much more narrow fair dealing exemption, that many feel limit country when it tries to compete internationally for tech business.
The government is working on its response to the fair use recommendations as part of an effort to update its copyright laws. However, major content creators say that such broad rules are not needed and that they could actively hurt creators whose work is reused without permission.
Finally today, Ann Maher at the Madison St. Clair Record reports that Prenda Law attorney and noted copyright “troll” John Steele has been formally disbarred by the Illinois state Supreme Court.
Steele became well known for his role at Prenda Law, which itself was famous for its copyright trolling efforts. The company would obtain the IP addresses of alleged copyright infringers, petition the court to force ISPs to reveal their identities and then seek small but lucrative settlements with them. However, the efforts fell apart as it was revealed that Prenda attorneys were the owners of the films and had uploaded the content to pirate sites themselves as a means of snaring potential infringers.
Steele has already pleaded guilty to a series of crimes related to this effort including mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He faces a sentence between eight and ten years. He has also been ordered to pay $3 million in restitution. The disbarment was more or less a foregone conclusion but it does mean that Steele can not practice law and that his career as an attorney is over.
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.