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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that ReardenLLC has re-filed it’s lawsuit against Disney, Paramount and Fox but, this time is testing a new legal theory that may sound more familiar to those who read stories about anti-piracy lawsuits.
Rearden is a company that created the MOVA Countour application, which motion captures actors’ faces to animate them on screen. They claimed to have had their technology stolen by two other companies and successfully sued to prove that. However, after targeting those companies, they turned their attention to the film studios that used the infringing software. First they tried to claim that films created with the stolen tech were their property but the judge recently threw out that argument, saying that the bulk of the creativity was done by the actors, not the software.
Undeterred, Rearden has refiled its case but, rather than claiming ownership in the output of the software, they are claiming that the studios are liable for vicarious and contributory copyright infringement. According to Rearden, the studios were aware of the infringement, had the right and ability to control or limit it and did not. As such, instead of seeking ownership of the films, they are seeking to have them impounded and destroyed. This argument is frequently used in anti-piracy cases where websites are held liable for encouraging piracy even if they don’t upload or host any content themselves.
Next up today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that the judge in the ISP Grande Communications case has issued a report and recommendation filing that offers mixed news to both the ISP and the RIAA.
The RIAA sued Grande alleging that the ISP was not doing enough to stop piracy on its network. They took specific issue with Grande ignoring copyright notices sent by Rightscorp on the behalf of record labels. Grande claimed that the notices were not adequate to take action on and that they were right to ignore them.
The judge in the case has issued a report and recommendation filing in response to a motion to dismiss. The judge recommends dismissal of the claims against Grande’s parent company, citing lack of evidence in their involvement, and recommends dismissing the vicarious infringement claim against Grande. However, the filing also keeps the contributory copyright infringement claim alive and, citing the ongoing case between BMG and Cox, says that Grande’s defenses are not nearly as clear cut as the ISP claimed. This would set up a possible trial on the contributory copyright infringement claim.
Finally today, Lawrence Abrams at Bleeping Computer reports that Project Gutenberg, a U.S.-based site that distributes public domain books online, has blocked access to German visitors in response to ruling in a German lawsuit.
Project Gutenberg is a site that transcribes and distributes public domain books via the Web. However, the site uses U.S. law to determine when books are in the public domain. Because of that, they were sued over 18 books that, while in the public domain in the U.S., were not in Germany and were part of the project’s library. On February 9th, a judge ordered Project Gutenberg to block access to those 18 works, provide a list of users who downloaded them and pay some of the plaintiff’s legal costs.
In response to that ruling, the project opted to simply block all access to Germany as it avoids any further lawsuits from German rightsholders. According to Project Gutenberg, they are a volunteer-driven organization that can not afford getting involved in litigation, making this the only practical step they could take.