3 Count: Thinking in Turn

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1: Judge Declines to Dismiss New Ed Sheeran Song-Theft-Litigation that Relies on Newly Registered Marvin Gaye Copyright

First off today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Updates writes that a judge had declined to dismiss a third copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Ed Sheeran over his 2014 song Thinking Out Loud, but has agreed to pause it pending the outcome of two earlier and similar lawsuits.

The case began in 2016 when the estate of Ed Townsend, one of the co-writers of the Marvin Gaye song Let’s Get it On, filed a lawsuit against Sheeran claiming that Sherran’s 2014 hit was an infringement of that earlier work. Shortly after that, a company named Structured Asset Sale filed its own litigation claiming that it too had a stake in the copyright of the song.

However, as the case was unfolding a ruling in the Stairway to Heaven lawsuit found that, with older songs such as Let’s Get it On, songs could only be protected as they were presented on the sheet music. That is because, before 1972, there was no way to register sound recordings with the U.S. Copyright Office. As such, Structured Asset Sale re-filed its lawsuit using a 2020 registration of it, one that Sheeran sought to get tossed. However, the judge has agreed to let the case stand but has paused it pending the conclusion of the other two cases.

2: Posting Manga Dialogue Online Without Permission Is Copyright Infringement, Says Tokyo Court

Next up today, Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku reports that the Tokyo District Court has ruled against a “spoiler site” that posted nearly all of the dialog verbatim from the manga Kengam Omega over the course of more than a year.

It was the first time such legal action was taken against someone who uploaded the text, but not the artwork, from a manga series. However, the court ruled that the uploads were a copyright infringement and ordered the web host to release information about the suspected uploader.

The site in question had leaked some 63 volumes of the series between January 2019 and May 2020.

3: Police Bust ‘World’s Biggest’ Video-Game-Cheat Operation

Finally today, the BBC reports that a collaboration between Chinese police and the gaming company Tencent has resulted in what they say is the closure of the world’s largest video game cheat operation.

Named “Chicken Drumstick”, it reportedly brought in approximately $76 million in revenue and from users that paid up to $200 per month for cheats to various games including Overwatch and Call of Duty Mobile. However, Kunshan police found and arrested 10 people in connection with the ring and have seized assets worth $46 million.

In countries such as the UK and US, cheat makers are often targeted under copyright laws, with forbid the making of selling of goods designed to circumvent copyright protection tools. However, in China, the arrests appear to be connected to the cheat making itself, not to a specific copyright issue.

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