It’s the trademark story that simply won’t go away and in which the legal system appears to get everything wrong. The saga of the San Diego Comic-Con’s legal adventures against what was formerly the Salt Lake Comic Con (now rebranded as FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention) has been brutally frustrating. The whole thing started when the SDCC decided somewhat out of the blue to begin enforcing a trademark it had been granted for “Comic-Con” against the Utah production. The trademark original sin of this story began all the way back with the USPTO, which absurdly granted the SDCC its trademark for a purely descriptive term, one which is only unrecognizable as such due to the shortening of the second word from “convention” to “con.” Despite that, the trademark suit brought against the Salt Lake Comic Con somehow ended in a win by jury for the SDCC, which was awarded only $20k. In the trial, SLCC had pointed out several times that the term “comic-con” was both descriptive in nature and clearly had been abandoned by SDCC, evidenced by the long list of other comic conventions going by the term carried out throughout the country.
Inadvertently highlights easy abuse of IP protection
The U.S. is recommending a 12.5 year prison sentence for Paul Hansmeier, one of the lead attorneys of the controversial law firm Prenda. The Pirate Bay played a crucial role in the case, since it’s where Prenda uploaded porn movies to extract settlements from alleged pirates. Hansmeier admitted his wrongdoing but is requesting a more lenient prison sentence of little over 7 years.
the German delegation had actually pushed back on the more extreme versions of Article 13 — and, in particular, had demanded that a final version have a clear carve-out for smaller companies, so as not to have them forced out of business by the onerous demands of the law. However, after some back and forth, Germany caved in to France’s demands, with many left scratching their heads as to why. However, some noted the “coincidence” in timing, that right after this, France also withdrew its objections to the pipeline which is very controversial in the EU (and the US, which is threatening sanctions).
As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that research produced by UC’s 10 campuses — which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output — would be immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. Under Elsevier’s proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university’s multi-million dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier.
Over the last few months, I’ve been hearing an awful lot about a copyright trolling operation that goes by the name Higbee and Associates. We had written about them years back when they (incredibly) threatened Something Awful for using a photo in a movie review (which was clear fair use). A few months back we wrote about them again when they (you guessed it) threatened Something Awful again over someone in its forums hotlinking a picture of Hitler that was actually hosted on Imgur.While that’s all we’ve written about the firm on Techdirt, Higbee’s name keeps coming up in other conversations — among copyright lawyers who have been seeing a massive increase in Higbee demand letters, and even from some friends who have received such letters (which nearly always involve clearly bogus threats). One thing that has happened over and over with Higbee claims that I’ve been privy to is that they are over unregistered images, meaning that Higbee is unlikely to actually be able to sue over those images, and even if they could, it wouldn’t be for statutory damages. And yet, the threat letters tend to allude to statutory damages are part of the scare tactic.Public Citizen’s Paul Levy has apparently seen enough of Higbee and Associates and their trolling activity that he’s done a pretty thorough investigation of Higbee’s activities and written up a long description calling out many of the sketchy practices of the firm and its principal, Mathew Higbee
The wholly-expected has occurred as a result of Eugene Volokh’s exposure of bogus takedown demands targeting unflattering content — like criminal complaints and factual news articles detailing criminal acts. The Volokh Conspiracy has been targeted by two bogus takedown requests by the same party who engaged in the bogus takedown requests Volokh previously wrote about.
Metal band Arch Enemy has banned photographer J. Salmeron from shooting any future gigs. The band’s management was not amused when he alerted a clothing sponsor about the unauthorized use of his work. Apparently, the band sees ‘exposure’ as sufficient compensation. But what about people who pirate their latest album?
If you can’t stand the heat, whip out the DMCA notices, I guess. Earlier this week, in response to criticism, a game developer hit a YouTuber with dozens of bogus DMCA claims. “Eroktic,” who has posted several videos of him playing Battlestate Games’ multiplayer shooter “Escape from Tarkov,” was on the receiving end of nearly 50 claims.Rather than pretend this is about copyright by claiming it didn’t give Eroktic permission to use footage of its game, the Russian developer has been surprisingly open about its abuse of the DMCA system. Comments given to Polygon’s Charlie Hall show Battlestate is well aware it’s misusing YouTube’s copyright claim process, but says that’s the only way it can protect its good name.
Here’s one you don’t see everyday. The RIAA is telling a court that it needs to be careful about too much copyright protection. Really. This is in the lawsuit over “Stairway to Heaven” that we’ve been covering for a while now. As we noted, the 9th Circuit brought the case back to life after what had appeared to be a good result, saying that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway” did not infringe on the copyright in the Spirit song “Taurus.” While we were a bit nervous about the case being reopened after a good result, as copyright lawyer Rick Sanders explained in a pair of excellent guest posts, there were good reasons to revisit the case — in part to fix the 9th Circuit’s weird framework for determining if a song has infringed, and in part to fix some bad jury instructions.