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First off today, Andrew Chung at Reuters reports that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in the case of Allen v. Cooper, a case that seeks to determine when and if states can be held liable for copyright infringement.
The case deals with video and images shot of the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The state of North Carolina, where the wreck is located, used content from the documentary on state-run websites without permission, going back on at least two deals that authorized the filming in the first place. When the filmmakers sued, North Carolina passed a law that placed all footage of the wreckage in public record, essentially stripping away their copyright.
Normally, states can not be sued in federal court under a concept known as sovereign immunity. However, the plaintiffs argue that a 1990 act that aimed to hold states liable for infringement should be upheld as constitutional. To that end, the Justices expressed doubt at those arguments but also expressed doubt that the status quo was acceptable as states can hold copyrights and sue for infringement but, currently cannot be sued for infringement. The ruling is expected in June.
Next up today, Dominic Rushe at The Guardian reports that members of the (fictional) band Spinal Tap have reached a deal with Universal Music over royalties and credits they claimed they were owed for creating the music from the 1984 film that featured them.
The film, This is Spinal Tap, featured music performed by the quartet of Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, each playing characters from the fictional band. Shearer took the lead on the lawsuit, claiming that they had received just $98 in soundtrack royalties since the film’s release and only $81 in merchandise royalties. He was joined by his bandmates and the amount of their claim increased to $400 million.
However, the two sides have now resolved the matter amicably, at least when dealing with future sales. Though the terms are not being disclosed, Universal will continue to distribute the music though the rights “will be given to the creators” eventually. However, the lawsuit over the previous royalties from the film is still ongoing.
Finally today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that PopcornTime.sh is down and that it is likely due to the site’s registrar deactivating its DNS, making the site impossible to find.
PopcornTime, as a concept, was launched in 2014. It is an open-source platform that allows individuals to create a Netflix-like experience using the BitTorrent protocol. However, when the original iteration was shut down, PopcornTime.sh became the de facto successor. However, that site is now down as well due to DNS issues that are being caused by the domain’s registrar ordering the DNS deactivated.
The site was working as recently as November 3rd. There is speculation that the downtime could be connected to an unconfirmed arrest in Tunisia. Either way, the site is completely inaccessible though the open-source nature of the platform means that others can easily create clones of the system.