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Convergence And Conflation In Online Copyright, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson Jan 2019

Convergence And Conflation In Online Copyright, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is showing its age. Enacted in 1998, the DMCA succeeded in its initial goal of bringing clarity to wildly inconsistent judicial standards for online copyright infringement. But as time has passed, the Act has been overtaken—not by developments in technology, but by developments in copyright’s case law. Those cases are no longer as divergent as they were in the last millennium. Instead, over time the judicial standards and the statutory standards have converged, to the point where the differences between them are few.

At first glance, this convergence seems unproblematic. After all, uniformity ...


Higher Education And The Dmca, James Gibson, Christopher A. Cotropia Jan 2018

Higher Education And The Dmca, James Gibson, Christopher A. Cotropia

Law Faculty Publications

The nearly twenty-year history of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provisions has been marked by criticism from content owners, online service providers, and end users. Content owners complain about the cost of monitoring online content and sending takedown notices. Online service providers complain about the cost of receiving and processing the notices. And end users complain about their legitimate use of copyrighted works being subject to DMCA takedown. Colleges and universities have been at the forefront of this controversy; as providers of online services to their students, they have been a focus of both Congress and copyright ...


Finding And Using Images, While Respecting Copyright, Roger V. Skalbeck Jan 2017

Finding And Using Images, While Respecting Copyright, Roger V. Skalbeck

Law Faculty Publications

Text plays a central role in nearly every lawyer’s life. From cases to codes to contracts, words matter tremendously. At times, words alone are insufficient. A well-selected image can evoke emotion and attract attention. While there are literally millions of images online available for use without cost, a well sourced and properly referenced image should recognize and respect the creator’s intellectual property rights. Here are tips for finding and using images, while respecting copyright.


Commentary To The U.S. Copyright Office Regarding The Section 512 Study: Higher Education And The Dmca Safe Harbors, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson Jan 2016

Commentary To The U.S. Copyright Office Regarding The Section 512 Study: Higher Education And The Dmca Safe Harbors, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The nearly twenty-year history of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provisions has been marked by criticism from content owners, online service providers, and end users. Content owners complain about the cost of monitoring online content and sending take-down notices. Online service providers complain about the cost of receiving and processing the notices. And end users complain about their legitimate use of copyrighted works being subject to DMCA take-down. Colleges and universities have been at the forefront of this controversy; as providers of online services to their students, they have been a focus of both Congress and copyright ...


Trademark Law As An Agency Problem - Part I, James Gibson Jan 2015

Trademark Law As An Agency Problem - Part I, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

A few months ago, my IP Issues entry demonstrated that the exclusive rights that trademark law provides are rooted in consumer welfare – in the need to ensure that consumers are able to distinguish one producer’s goods from those of its competitors. In this entry and the next, I will consider the implications of this point for modern trademark law.

If the consumer interest is really what trademark law is all about, then one conundrum that follows is that consumers do not have trademark rights. Producers do. A moment’s reflection explains why: When consumers are deceived by Producer X ...


Fair Use And The Faces Of Transformation, Part Ii, James Gibson Jan 2015

Fair Use And The Faces Of Transformation, Part Ii, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In my last IP Viewpoints entry, I discussed the origin of “transformation” as a major factor in copyright’s fair use doctrine. In particular, I focused on “expressive” transformation, in which the user changes the actual content of the copyrighted work. Taking old works and turning them into something new is the way that culture usually evolves, so it is no surprise that copyright law would sometimes allow users to engage in such conduct without needing to pay for the privilege.

Yet there is also a second kind of transformation, one that does not involve the alteration of the underlying ...


Google As Copyright Iconoclast, James Gibson Jan 2015

Google As Copyright Iconoclast, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

Google’s role as a copyright defendant has provided fodder for many an essay in this series, particularly with regard to the Google Books litigation. (Incidentally, that litigation celebrates its tenth anniversary next month – and it’s still going strong.) A more recent Google case, however, is probably just as important, and it provides another interesting lesson in the Internet behemoth’s copyright litigation strategy.

The case is Oracle v. Google. In early 2010, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, the developer of Java, the popular cross-platform programming language. Soon thereafter, Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement, alleging that Google’s Android ...


Copyright's Topography: An Empirical Study Of Copyright Litigation, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson Jan 2014

Copyright's Topography: An Empirical Study Of Copyright Litigation, Christopher A. Cotropia, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

One of the most important ways to measure the impact of copyright law is through empirical examination of actual copyright infringement cases. Yet scholars have universally overlooked this rich source of data. This study fills that gap through a comprehensive empirical analysis of copyright infringement litigation, examining the pleadings, motions, and dockets from more than nine hundred copyright lawsuits filed from 2005 through 2008. The data we collect allow us to examine a wide variety of copyright issues, such as the rate of settlements versus judgments; the incidence of litigation between major media companies, small firms, and individuals; the kinds ...


Trademark Law And Consumer Centrality - Part I, James Gibson Jan 2014

Trademark Law And Consumer Centrality - Part I, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The conventional wisdom provides two traditional justifications for trademark law. The first is the “consumer protection” rationale. If there were no trademark law, an unknown soft drink manufacturer could freely use Coca-Cola’s COKE trademark on its goods. If it did so, consumers would be defrauded; they would buy the unknown’s products thinking that they were Coca-Cola’s. Trademark law prevents this sort of fraud from occurring and thereby protects consumers from fraud.

The second justification is the “producer incentive” rationale. In the preceding COKE example, it is not just the consumer who is happy that fraud has been ...


Small Fry In Copyright Litigation, James Gibson Jan 2014

Small Fry In Copyright Litigation, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In two of my earlier entries in this series, I discussed the results of an empirical study of copyright cases that I have been doing with my colleague Chris Cotropia. One of those entries focused on how hard the parties in copyright lawsuits fightagainst each other, and the other focused on the role of major media companies in copyright litigation.

In this entry, I will continue to talk about the parties that we observed in our study, but instead of discussing major media companies, I will concentrate on the other end of the spectrum: the individual as a party. This ...


Transformation, Copyright Infringement, And Fair Use, James Gibson Jan 2014

Transformation, Copyright Infringement, And Fair Use, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

A small copyright decision out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last month has gotten a big reaction from copyright experts. The case is Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation, and it involves an entertaining set of facts.

In the 1960s, there was a young University of Wisconsin student named Paul Soglin, who had an anti-authoritarian streak. He led a number of demonstrations on issues ranging from civil rights to the Vietnam War. Indeed, one particular Vietnam protest, in May 1969, led to his arrest for failure to obey a police officer. That same protest became an ...


Cease, Desist, And Laugh, James Gibson Jan 2014

Cease, Desist, And Laugh, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

Anyone who teaches intellectual property law knows how exciting the subject matter can be for students. They inundate professors not only with questions about the classroom material but also with news about emerging technologies, cutting-edge litigation, and legislative initiatives. And the attentive professor will seek to turn these exchanges into teaching moments.

One favorite of students involves a classic intellectual-property mechanism, the cease-and-desist letter. It’s a favorite, I think, because such correspondence can be over the top, and the responses can be quite funny – making this a perfect topic for this April Fool’s edition of IP Viewpoints. [...]


Fair Use And The Faces Of Transformation, Part I, James Gibson Jan 2014

Fair Use And The Faces Of Transformation, Part I, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The recent Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation case has been the focus of three recent posts in this Intellectual Property Issues series – from me, Doug Lichtman, and Rod Smolla. In Kienitz, the defendant changed a photograph of the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, into a stylized, high-contrast image, printed on t-shirts that mocked the mayor’s policies. The U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the new image constituted a fair use and therefore did not infringe the photograph’s copyright. (The original photo and the stylized version on the t-shirt can be seen here.) In doing so ...


The Top Three Copyright Cases Of 2012, James Gibson Jan 2013

The Top Three Copyright Cases Of 2012, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In my last entry in this series, I examined three important patent law cases from 2012 – one at the Supreme Court level, one at the appellate level, and one at the trial court level. I’ll now do the same thing with regard to copyright cases.

My Supreme Court choice is Golan v. Holder, in which the Court upheld a statute that restored U.S. copyright protection to certain foreign works, thus removing them from the public domain. Such works had lost their protection – or had never acquired it in the first place – because of their failure to comply with ...


How Hard-Fought Is Copyright Litigation?, James Gibson Jan 2013

How Hard-Fought Is Copyright Litigation?, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

As I mentioned in my last essay, my colleague Chris Cotropia and I have recently completed a data collection project in which we examined pleadings from approximately 1,000 copyright cases filed in federal court over a four-year period. We are still evaluating the data, but our preliminary findings indicate that copyright litigation differs from other federal civil litigation; it takes longer and appears to be contested more – yet ends up in much the same place.

A little background first. During the period we studied (2005-2008), the cases fell into three broad categories. The first comprised those cases in which ...


Google Books: Game, Set, But Not Match, James Gibson Jan 2013

Google Books: Game, Set, But Not Match, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

It’s back: Google Books, our favorite topic in this Intellectual Property Viewpoints series. Google Books is the project through which Google has brought its search capability to the text of more than 20 millions books (with the number still growing). To do so, Google must scan the book and convert the scan to readable text. And there’s the problem: Scanning is copying, and copying raises the question of whether the massive project is a massive violation of the copyrights in all those books. Thus the Authors Guild v. Google class action brought by authors and publishers against Google ...


Four Ways In Which Kirtsaeng Might Be Undone, James Gibson Jan 2013

Four Ways In Which Kirtsaeng Might Be Undone, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In my previous entry in this series, I discussed the Supreme Court’s long-awaited decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, involving the unauthorized resale in the United States of textbooks purchased overseas. Indeed, the Kirtsaeng case and the issue it presented have been a popular subject of IP Issues commentary; before the Supreme Court ruling, I wrote on the issue here and here, and Randy Picker had some commentary both beforeand after the opinion came down.

You can read those earlier entries for the details, but the outcome of the case is clear: U.S. copyright law does not prohibit the buyer of any lawfully made good from reselling it, even if the good was made abroad, and even if the owner of the copyright in the good objects to ...


Finally, An Answer On Copyright, First Sale, And The Gray Market, James Gibson Jan 2013

Finally, An Answer On Copyright, First Sale, And The Gray Market, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In two past entries in this series, here and here, I discussed whether copyrighted goods manufactured abroad may be resold in the United States without having to get a new license from the copyright owner. When the goods are pirated – manufactured illegally – the answer is clearly no; that’s a classic black-market sale. But when the goods were manufactured abroad with the copyright owner’s consent, well, that’s different. In that case, the resale is what we call a gray-market sale. And there, the answer is less clear.

Or at least it was. But at long last, and after ...


Big Media In Copyright Litigation, James Gibson Jan 2013

Big Media In Copyright Litigation, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

What role does Big Media play in the courtroom?

Major media companies are often portrayed as aggressive drivers of expansive copyright, dominating every aspect of the legal landscape. When it comes to litigation, however, the truth is more nuanced. My colleague Chris Cotropia and I have recently completed a data collection project in which we examined pleadings from approximately 1,000 copyright cases filed over a four-year period (a statistically significant sample). We are still crunching the numbers, but what we’ve learned so far indicates that record labels, film studios, major software companies, and other behemoths of the copyright ...


What Is Transformative? An Explanatory Synthesis Of The Convergence Of Transformation And Predominant Purpose In Copyright Fair Use Law, Michael D. Murray Jul 2012

What Is Transformative? An Explanatory Synthesis Of The Convergence Of Transformation And Predominant Purpose In Copyright Fair Use Law, Michael D. Murray

Law Faculty Publications

ABSTRACT

What is Transformative? An Explanatory Synthesis of the Convergence of Transformation and Predominant Purpose in Copyright Fair Use Law

The transformative test has risen to the top of the agenda of the copyright academic community with no less than two major studies of copyright fair use and the impact of the transformative test released in 2011 by Professors Matthew Sag and Neil Netanel that follow up on three recent comprehensive studies of copyright fair use published since 2008. The lessons learned from these two 2011 statistical studies are significant, in that both studies confirm the importance of the transformative ...


Copyright's Gray Market, Redux, James Gibson Jan 2012

Copyright's Gray Market, Redux, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In an earlier entry in this series, I discussed an important issue in copyright law – whether the first sale doctrine applies to goods manufactured abroad. The Supreme Court was set to decide the issue in Costco v. Omega, but the Court split 4-4 and so left the matter unresolved.

Now the issue is back before the Supreme Court, in a case for which certiorari was granted this month: Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons. Supap Kirtsaeng is a native of Thailand who moved to the United States to attend college. To subsidize his tuition, he began importing textbooks that John Wiley ...


Trademark Tension, Part Ii, James Gibson Jan 2012

Trademark Tension, Part Ii, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In the previous entry in this series, I discussed the narrow foundations of trademark law and its more recent expansion – in particular, how new approaches to trademark liability have departed from the law’s traditional focus on disputes about the source of competing goods. I continue that theme now by considering a tension that emerges from this expansion. Although trademark liability has expanded beyond source-identification, other aspects of trademark law have not, and these more traditional aspects can rise up and trap the unwary mark owner, or at least turn its expanded rights into expanded costs.

To understand the tension ...


Copyright And Federal Supremacy, James Gibson Jan 2012

Copyright And Federal Supremacy, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The extent of federal power over our lives has been much in the news recently, what with the Supreme Court holding days of hearings on whether the Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. Like the ACA, copyright regulation is federal, but it derives its constitutional authority from a different part of the Constitution, known as the Patent and Copyright Clause, which gives Congress the power “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings ...


The Top Three Patent Cases Of 2012, James Gibson Jan 2012

The Top Three Patent Cases Of 2012, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

New Year’s Day prompts us to reflect on what the last 12 months have brought, so I’ve taken the opportunity to think back on 2012’s intellectual property developments. It’s been a busy year, with patent reform, new technologies, multilateral treaties, and more. To make my task more manageable, I’m going to focus on three important patent law cases – one at the Supreme Court level, one at the appellate level, and one at the trial court level. I’ll conclude with an extra-special bonus: the Case To Watch for patent law in 2013. Then, in my ...


Trademark Tension, Part I, James Gibson Jan 2012

Trademark Tension, Part I, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In this Intellectual Property Viewpoints series, we tend to focus on copyright and patent law – the “big two” IP regimes that govern innovation in the arts and sciences. But there is a third IP regime, a cousin to copyright and patent, which is important to almost any enterprise, even if its business has nothing to do with innovation. That’s trademark law.

Over the last several decades, trademark law has grown from its modest roots and experienced an expansion that rivals that of its more high-profile cousins. In this essay and the next, I will discuss this phenomenon, and in ...


Google Books: Finally, An Actual Fair Use Ruling!, James Gibson Jan 2012

Google Books: Finally, An Actual Fair Use Ruling!, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

One of our favorite topics in this Intellectual Property Issues series – perhaps the favorite – is Google Books, the massive project through which Google hopes to bring its search capability to the text of all books in the English language. To make a book’s text searchable, however, Google must scan the book. And scanning is copying. And copying usually means copyright infringement. Certainly the many authors and publishers who have sued Google take this view.

There are two ways to avoid infringement when copying a copyrighted book: get a license or prove that the copying constitutes fair use. Many publishers ...


Apple V. Samsung: A Primer, James Gibson Jan 2012

Apple V. Samsung: A Primer, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The jury verdict in the Apple v. Samsung case is in, and it is a whopper: $1.05 billion in damages, to be paid by Samsung to Apple for violating various intellectual property rights in the iPhone and iPad. In all likelihood, the court will follow that up with an order banning several Samsung products from the U.S. marketplace. So what is this case all about?

What Are Apple’s Claims?

Apple had several different theories of infringement here, and the jury bought almost all of them, at least with regard to certain Samsung devices. Here are the theories ...


The Dmca And Repeat Infringers, James Gibson Jan 2011

The Dmca And Repeat Infringers, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

The recent agreement between big media companies and big Internet service providers (ISPs) concerning online copyright infringement has the law and technology world abuzz. ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable have agreed to implement a system under which subscribers who repeatedly and illegally download copyrighted content will have their Internet access impeded and maybe even terminated.

This is big news, and it will probably receive more attention in this IP Viewpoints series. But the purpose of this column is to put this agreement in context, because much of what the companies have agreed to do appears to be ...


Will You Go To Jail For Copyright Infringement?, James Gibson Jan 2011

Will You Go To Jail For Copyright Infringement?, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

We’ve all seen it. Stick a movie in the DVD player, and up pops a scary message from law enforcement: if you infringe copyright, the feds will come after you. Indeed, this threat is so ubiquitous that it has worked its way into popular perception; as any copyright expert knows from cocktail party conversations, laypeople seem to view copyright infringement as mostly a criminal matter.

It’s certainly possible to go to jail for violating copyright law, as long as the violation is willful and involves specific kinds or amounts of infringement. And the good news for copyright owners ...


Contracting Away Copyright Privileges, James Gibson Jan 2011

Contracting Away Copyright Privileges, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

In copyright class, professors usually spend most of their time explaining the “public law” aspects of copyright – the exclusive rights that the law gives copyright holders (e.g., reproduction and public performance) and the privileges that the law gives to those who use copyrighted goods (e.g., fair use and first sale). But as they and their students know, many everyday encounters with copyrighted goods are governed not by this public law, but by the “private law” that sellers and buyers create through contracts.

Software provides the best example. If you somehow managed to legally purchase and install a computer ...