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First off today, Ben Beaumont-Thomas at The Guardian reports that the United States Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in the Stairway to Heaven case, bringing an end to the long-running dispute.
The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by the estate of Randy Wolfe, who was the guitarist for the band Spirit and author of their song Taurus. According to the lawsuit, the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven was an infringement of Taurus. However, a 2016 trial found in favor of Led Zeppelin. An appeal initially found that the original verdict was faulty but a later appeal to the Ninth Circut reinstated the original jury decision.
The lawyers representing the Wolfe estate attempted to appeal to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court has denied that petition, bringing an end to the case.
Next up today, Foo Yun Chee at Reuters reports that Alphabet’s CEO has announced Google has agreed to pay news publishers $1 billion over the next three years for the use of their content as part of their search engine.
The move comes ahead of the launch of a new product, Google News Showcase, which will launch first in Germany where it has signed up a slate of local newspapers. Other countries, not including the United States, will launch soon thereafter.
The move comes after the European Union passed a new copyright directive that required search engines, such as Google, to pay for snippets, headlines and thumbnails of news content used in search results. It also comes amid a growing push to have antitrust regulators act against Google.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the music industry’s fight over copyright termination has gotten even more ugly as now Sony is attempting to file a countersuit alleging that the musicians involved are liable not just for distributing their own music, but for their lawyer using album art to promote the class action lawsuit.
Under the law, original creators are able to terminate copyright transfers and exclusive licenses after a set number of years. Many musicians are currently seeking to do just that in a bid to either reclaim the rights to their music or renegotiate their contracts. Currently, there are two class action lawsuits, one filed against Universal Music and one against Sony, over their unwillingness to accepts notices of termination. According to the labels, the music involved was work made for hire and doesn’t qualify for copyright termination.
In the case against Sony, the record label is asking the court for permission to file counterclaims against the lead plaintiffs. Those claims include copyright infringement for allegedly distributing their own music without authorization and, most oddly, for their attorney’s use of album art to promote the case and recruit others to join it. In their response, the plaintiffs have said that this is merely an attempt at intimidation and that the court should not allow it.