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First off today, Sarah Jeong at The Verge reports that, despite the case being settled and all parties agreeing to bury the issue, the monkey selfie case lives on as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to dismiss it.
The case began in 2011 when photographer David Slater had his camera taken by a macaque named Naruto that managed to snap a “selfie” using his equipment. When the photo went viral Slater tried to claim copyright in it but most copyright experts felt the image was public domain because an animal can not hold copyright. However, PETA sued Slater over his use of the photograph claiming to represent Naruto. PETA lost in the lower court and appealed but the case was settled before the court could rule.
Normally, when a case is settled the court simply dismisses it but the Ninth Circuit is under no obligation to do so. In this case, they’re opting not to and will issue a ruling on the case despite the settlement. Given previous cases heard by the court, it’s widely believed it will side against PETA but we won’t know for certain until the court issues its decision.
Next up today, Darren Heitner at Forbes reports that tattoo artist Catherine Alexander has filed a lawsuit against the WWE and 2K Games, the publisher of the WWE video game franchise) saying that her tattoos were used in the game without her permission.
Alexander, who has done work on wrestler Randy Orton, filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of Illinois. According to the lawsuit, in 2009 she contacted the WWE about the issue and said that the company offered her a $450 fee for licesning the use of the designs both in the game and on other WWE products.
The case mirrors similar lawsuits over the use of tattoos in video games. In 2016, Solid Oak Sketches, a tattoo company, also targeted 2K Games over the inclusion of tattoos they hold the rights to being included in various NBA video games. None of the cases involving similar tattoo-oriented litigation have made it to trial so serious questions remain about the protections such tattoos enjoy and whether their use in a video game may constitute a fair use.
Finally today, Alison Frankel att Reuters reports that a judge has denied Taylor Swift’s motion to receive attorneys fees in one of the cases dealing with her hit song Shake it Off.
The lawsuit was filed by the writers of the song Playas Gon’ Play by the group 3LW. They claimed that Shake it Off used various lyrics from their song without receiving a license. The judge, however, ruled that the overlapping content was too insignificant to qualify for copyright protection and dismissed the case. The songwriters are appealing that decision.
In the meantime, lawyers for Taylor Swift filed a motion to recover some $75,000 in attorneys fees but that was denied to. According to the judge, even though the case was quickly dismissed, it wasn’t completely unreasonable or frivolous, making it improper to award such fees.