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First off today, Bill Rankin at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a case that may determine whether the annotated legal code can be protected by copyright or if it should be released for free access to the public.
The lawsuit pits the State of Georgia against Carl Malamud, the operator of Public.Resource.org. Malamud was publishing the Georgia annotated code, which is the text of the law with references and summaries of court decisions for extra detail, on his site for free. The state sued him saying that, while the raw text of the law is free for all to use, the annotated code is protected under copyright law.
Though works by the federal government can not be protected by copyright in the United States, states can and many, including Georgia, sell access to their annotated code. Previous courts have ruled that the annotated code should not be protectable under copyright but Georgia has appealed that matter to the Supreme Court, which has taken the case and is hearing it today.
Next up today, Dunja Djudjic at DIY Photography reports that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has overruled a lower court’s decision and found that a dentist’s photos can be protected by copyright.
The case centers around Dr. Mitchell Pohl, who took photos of his patients’ teeth to showcase his work. However, when he performed a reverse image search for those photos, he found the images on at least seven other websites, all of which were connected by the same healthcare marketing company.
However, when Pohl filed the lawsuit, the lower court ruled that his photos lacked adequate creativity to be protected by copyright. He appealed that decision and the Appeals Court has overturned that, sending it back to the lower court for a possible trial.
Finally today, Ben Beaumont-Thomas at The Guardian reports that fashion designer Marc Jacobs has filed a counter lawsuit against Nirvana, saying that the original lawsuit has several deficiencies and should be tossed and that his legal costs should be paid.
The original lawsuit was filed by representatives for the band Nirvana, which claimed that a smiley face t-shirt released by Jacobs was an infringement of the iconic Nirvana smiley face logo. Jacobs attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed by arguing that his work was different enough and that the original did not qualify for copyright protection.
That attempt failed but he has now filed a countersuit that alleges the original complaint has multiple deficiencies. The largest of those alleged issues is that there is uncertainty of just who created the original smiley face and when, with bandmembers admitting that they don’t know who created. According to the original registration, it was created by the late Kurt Cobain “in about 1991” though no one else seems to be able to speak to that. As such, Jacobs is asking for the case to be dismissed and for his legal costs to be recovered.