Intellectual property roundup

  • “At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit” — court dismisses handwritten challenge to originality of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” [Lowering the Bar]
  • After nastygram from George Orwell estate, seller withdraws t-shirts bearing slogan “1984 is already here” [The Guardian] But see comment below from reader Gitarcarver (episode attributed more to CafePress over-reaction than to estate’s letter);
  • “Anne Frank’s Diary Now Has Co-Author, Extended Copyright” [Christopher Klein,]
  • “What the history of Eskimo Pies tells us about software patents today” [Charles Duan, Slate]
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, has put online a gold mine of 10,000 early recordings from the cylinder era, which ended in the 1920s [Hyperallergic] But could there be a copyright snag even on material this old? [Brian Frye, Prawfsblawg]
  • Judge says company must pay $684K for pursuing “exceptionally weak” patent case [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
  • More: “That Irell & Manella would let itself get played by PETA for a stupid publicity stunt that serves no purpose other than to waste the court’s time…” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; earlier on monkey-selfie case]


  • RE: “After nastygram from George Orwell estate…”

    There appears to be a lot more to this story than just the nastygram and the seller removing the items.

    It appears that the seller on CafePress was violating copyright laws and the Orwell estate sent him and CafePress a request to take down items that displayed Orwell’s image and or Orwell’s copyrighted quotes.

    CafePress went bananas and removed everything that had to do with Orwell throughout the site. The removals included things that the estate knows and says are not copyrighted and they did not ask to be removed.

    Some sites have said that the estate did not send a “proper” DMCA takedown notice, but I am not sure that a DMCA notice would have been required and not a simple violation of copyright notice. (Someone smarter than I will have to answer that one.)

    No matter what, it seems the “villain” here is not the Orwell estate or the seller, but CafePress itself for going far beyond what the estate asked for.

    See here for more information:

    • Thanks for flagging that. I’ve updated the entry above.

  • 1984 is so 30 years ago.

    • 31 years ago.

  • Does anyone know the history of the California legislation that granted old audio recordings copyright until 2047? I smell a special interest.

  • @GC–
    The commenters on the Techdirt article are less willing than the writer to deride CafePress for crying wolf. They point out that the takedown letter from the Orwell estate’s attorney was vague about which material was infringing. Under our current unbalanced copyright law, CafePress could suffer ruinous liability for deleting too little, while the Estate would almost never suffer loss from pushing too far.