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First off today, Wendy Davis at MediaPost reports that a New York federal judge has reinstated a copyright infringement claim by a photographer against the website Mashable, saying that her earlier ruling dismissing the case was premature.
The case pits photographer Stephanie Sinclair against the tech website Mashable. When Mashable wanted to include Sinclair’s photo in an article, they offered her $50 to include it. She declined but Mashable embedded the image from her Instagram account instead. This prompted the lawsuit but the judge dismissed the case claiming that Mashable had obtained a sub-license through the Instagram terms of service.
However, since that decision, Instagram has come forward to clarify that its terms of service do not grant sub-licenses to those wishing to embed content and that those embedding images still need to get permission. As a result, Sinclair asked the judge to reconsider and the case has now been reinstated. According to the decision, the Instagram terms of service are “ambiguous” in this area and there is a need to look at the issue more closely.
2: ‘Enola Holmes’ Netflix Movie At The Center Of New Copyright, Trademark Infringement Lawsuit By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate
Next up today, Bryan Sullivan at Forbes reports that the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has filed a lawsuit against Netflix and others connected with the upcoming film Enola Holmes over alleged copyright and trademark infringement.
Much of the character and story of Sherlock Holmes has lapsed into the public domain. However, the lawsuit claims that the film pulls from elements later in the Holmes stories that are still protected by copyright. This includes a “warmer” version of the character that appeared in later stories. Specifically, the lawsuit focuses on Holmes’ emotions and how the human side of the character evolved in stories that are still copyright-protected.
In addition to the copyright claims, the estate is also claiming trademark infringement. However, those will likely have an uphill battle due to a 2003 Supreme Court decision that prevented trademark claims on public domain works.
Finally today, Aja Romano at Vox reports that, despite multiple reports that the lawsuit against the Internet Archive could be a lethal blow for the organization, the lawsuit is both limited in terms of what it aims to restrict the organization from doing and the damages it seeks.
The Internet Archive was sued on June 1st after the launch of the “National Emergency Library”, which made millions of ebooks available for unlimited digital lending. The Internet Archive has long claimed that, since it owns physical copies of the book, it has the right to lend digital versions of those books. However, with the National Emergency Library it took its debatable theory to an extreme by lending out books without restrictions, including lending unlimited copies of the books regardless of the number they own.
Several reports have made it seem as if the Internet Archive could be ruined financially by the lawsuit with 1.4 million titles and a potential maximum damages of $150,000 per work. However, only 127 books are actually involved in the lawsuit, with maximum damages of just $19 million. That’s an amount equal to about one year’s operating revenue for the organization and even that number is highly unlikely. The lawsuit is not seeking to end the Internet Archive’s preservation initiatives, only the practice of digital lending.