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First off today, Marcia Coyle at the National Law Journal reports that the Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will hear a lawsuit involving the State of Georgia and whether or not it can use copyright to protect the annotated version of their state legal code.
The lawsuit pits the state against Public.Resource, an organization that aims to make the full legal code accessible to all. However, the State of Georgia has long used copyright to protect the annotated code, which includes information about rulings and decisions that impact the laws, and when Public.Resource published volumes of the annotated code on their site, the state sued.
In the United States, the federal government cannot hold copyright in works created by it but state governments can. However, the appeals court ruled against Georgia, saying that the annotated code could not be protected under copyright law. Both sides asked the Supreme Court to take the case and that is exactly what it is doing. It is expected to hear the case some time later this year.
Next up today, Bruce Haring at Deadline reports that several prominent musicians and musical estates have filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group alleging that UMG not only hid the damage done in a recent warehouse fire but is not paying artists an appropriate share of the money UMG received in compensation.
In 2008 a fire at the Universal backlot severely damaged a warehouse that held hundreds of thousands of works by Universal artists. This includes master recordings, unreleased works and much more. Initially UMG minimized the losses in public statements but also reached a quiet settlement with Universal Studios and filed lofty insurance claims.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which includes the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac Shakur as well as the bands Hole and Soundgarden, claim that UMG not only misled them but also is withholding owed royalties in the form of insurance payouts and settlements.
Finally today, David Jolley at Automotive News reports that, in Germany, Volkswagen has won a copyright infringement case that was filed by someone claiming to be an heir to the original designer of the iconic VW Bug.
The case was filed by the daughter of Erwin Komenda, a man who claimed to have helped design the original VW Bug. The lawsuit claims that Komenda provided drawings and design that predates the KdF, a VW car that was a predecessor to the Bug. Proof of this was provided by several drawings that the plaintiff claimed were by her father that predated the Bug.
While the court did agree that the drawings did predate the KdF, they could find no proof that it was Komenda that made the drawings or that he was involved in the KdF. The court also noted that the drawings resembled other cars that were on the road at that time, further weakening the case.