3 Count: 1977 Blues

Should there be a statue statute?

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1: Ending a Seven-Year Dispute, a US Court Rules That Artists Aren’t Entitled to Royalties for Artworks Resold at Auction

First off today, Eileen Kinsella at Artnet News reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the US Copyright Act preempts claims under the California Resale Royalties Act (CRRA), a California law that attempted to grant artists a 5% royalty when their work was resold at auction.

The ruling dismisses a class action lawsuit filed by a group of artists seeking to obtain royalty payments from various large auction houses as well as eBay. According to the ruling, federal copyright law overrules state law on this issue. This is because, in the Copyright Act of 1976, which took effect January 1, 1978, precluded any state copyright law outside of narrow exemptions (including pre-1972 sound recordings).

However, since the CRRA took effect on January 1, 1977, there’s a one-year window where paintings that were resold must pay royalties. However, any art resold either before or after that window is not eligible for royalties as the United States does not recognize droit de suite, which is a right to royalties when a painting is resold. That right is recognized in many other nations but not the United States, despite it being a signatory to the Berne Convention.

2: In World First, Danish Court Rules Stream-Ripping Site Illegal

Next up today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that a Danish court has ruled that the site Convert2MP3 should be blocked, marking the first time that a court has ruled such stream ripping sites are illegal.

Stream ripping sites allow users to download audio from various sources, most prominently YouTube. Though the sites are violations of the streaming site’s terms of service, there’s never been a court ruling labeling them as illegal from a copyright standpoint. One popular site, YouTube-MP3 was sued but the case was settled before a verdict was reached.

In this case, the Danish court ruled that Convert2MP3 was indeed infringing and ordered local ISPs to block access to the it, as per the nation’s law. It is unclear if this will be an isolated case or just the first of many such attempts to target stream rippers with site blocking laws.

3: Statue of Liberty Stamp Mistake to Cost Postal Service $3.5 Million

Finally today, Amanda Svachula at The New York Times reports that a mistake by the U.S. Post Office will cost it $3.5 million as it mistook a Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty for the original when making a 2010 stamp to highlight the statue.

In 2010 the USPS debuted its Lady Liberty “forever” stamp. The Post Office had found the photo on Getty images and, after cropping it to fit the stamp, began printing it. However, the statue in the image was not the original Statue of Liberty but instead was a modified replica by sculptor Robert Davidson, which sits in front of the New York-New York Casino in Las Vegas.

Davidson filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in 2013 and a federal court has now agreed, awarding him some $3.5 million in damages after determining that his work was unique enough to be protected. The Post Office did not respond to the ruling and it is unknown if it plans on appealing.


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.

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