Four years after a shocker outcome on music and copyright: “The aftereffects of the “Blurred Lines” decision — which was upheld on appeal last year — have been felt most acutely by rank-and-file songwriters, who work in obscurity even as their creations propel others to stardom. The ramifications for them have been inescapable, affecting royalty splits, legal and insurance costs, and even how songs are composed.” [Ben Sisario, New York Times] Earlier on the case here and here.
- Sports betting: best to ignore the leagues’ special pleadings and let federalism work [Patrick Moran, Cato, related podcast]
- Everything you thought you knew about corporate personhood in the law is wrong [David Bernstein reviews Adam Winkler’s We the Corporations]
- Federal judge John Kane, on lawyer’s filings: “I have described them as prolix, meandering, full of unfounded supposition and speculation, repetitive and convoluted almost to the point of being maddening.” And he’s just getting started [Scott Greenfield]
- “Florida Voters Join Chevron Revolt And Strike A Blow Against Judicial Bias” [Mark Chenoweth, Federalist Society Blog] Plus video panel on “The States and Administrative Law” with Nestor Davidson, Chris Green, Miriam Seifter, Hon. Jeffrey Sutton, and Hon. Michael Scudder;
- Argument that Congressionally extended extension of copyright on (among other works) Atlas Shrugged violates Ayn Rand’s own ethical code [Edward Sisson]
- “More Legislation, More Violence? The Impact of Dodd-Frank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” [Nik Stroop and Peter van der Windt, Cato; our longstanding coverage of the conflicts mineral fiasco]
- A longtime progressive objects to the diversity pledge (applying to personal and professional lives alike) soon to be expected of Ontario lawyers and paralegals as a condition of their licenses [Murray Klippenstein with Bruce Pardy, Quillette]
- More on Cato’s First Amendment challenge to SEC gag-order settlements [Cato Daily Podcast with Clark Neily, Robert McNamara, and Caleb Brown]
- “Federal judge sanctions lead lawyer in Roundup trial for opening statement ‘misconduct'” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]
- Unanimous high court (Sotomayor concurring in judgment) rules Ninth Circuit may not count Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s vote in decisions issued after his decease: “Federal Judges Are Appointed for Life, Not for Eternity” [Eugene Volokh]
- Copyright law firm has “a pattern of making aggressive and, in many cases, unsupportable demands” for payment [Paul Levy, CL&P]
- “Genealogists shouldn’t have to become technophobes,” yet to spit in a cup is now to enter oneself and one’s relatives intoto a genetic panopticon for the benefit of law enforcement [Matthew Feeney, Real Clear Policy]
Atticus Grinch: “From Massachusetts to Utah, small community theater productions of To Kill a Mockingbird are being shut down under threat of a lawsuit by the producer of the new Broadway production.
“It doesn’t matter that the new version, penned by Aaron Sorkin, is completely different from the Christopher Sergel play that’s been performed by high school students and community theater actors for decades. Nor does it matter that the community theaters paid a licensing fee of at least $100 per performance to the Dramatic Publishing Company, which owns the rights to the earlier version of the play.
“What matters, lawyers for Broadway producer Scott Rudin say, is that according to the contract between Dramatic and the Harper Lee estate, most amateur performances can’t proceed now that a new version of the story is on Broadway.” [Matthew S. Schwartz, NPR]
- The two new heads of the judiciary committees in the Pennsylvania legislature are nonlawyers, and the legal community appears to be fine with that [Max Mitchell, Legal Intelligencer]
- Long after his downfall in one of the worst U.S. legal scandals in years, Stan Chesley was still listed as holding an honored position at a major charity until a reporter started calling [Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward, I’m quoted; update (Chesley’s name removed)]
- National security restrictions form an important part of regulatory practice these days for international business, discussed at a Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel with William J. Haynes II, Timothy Keeler, Randal Milch, Donald Rosenberg, and moderator Eric J. Kadel, Jr.;
- How seeking government intervention backfired on Silicon Valley [Drew Clark, Cato Policy Report]
- Are Baltimore schools underfunded? tales of the gun buyback, local adoption of Daubert, and more in my latest Maryland policy roundup [Free State Notes; plus redistricting updates]
- “Despite Losing Its Copyright Case, The State Of Georgia Still Trying To Stop Carl Malamud From Posting Its Laws” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt, earlier]
“No published works have entered our public domain since 1998.” Why the drought? “Works from 1923 were set to go into the public domain in 1999, after a 75-year copyright term. But in 1998 Congress hit a two-decade pause button and extended their copyright term for 20 years, giving works published between 1923 and 1977 an expanded term of 95 years.” Works from 1923 that became publicly available this week include (silent) films Safety Last, The Ten Commandments, and Our Hospitality, various novels by P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf, musical compositions Who’s Sorry Now, Charleston, and Yes, We Have No Bananas, and Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening.” [Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke Law] “And assuming Congress doesn’t interfere, more works will fall into the public domain each January from now on.” Among those in the next few years: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. [Timothy Lee, ArsTechnica; link fixed now] Earlier here, here, and here; given shifts in public opinion, trade associations for rights holders did not attempt to pass another extension this time.
The bikini entrepreneur used lawsuits vigorously in defense of what she said was her intellectual property. But was the garment design her invention? A story of a bikini, three lawsuits, and a cover-up [Katherine Rosman, New York Times]
From this summer: Playwright Matthew Lombardo’s comedy “Who’s Holiday!,” a raunchy tale set in the world of the Grinch years after the original story, wins a Second Circuit ruling as protected parody against the copyright claims of the Dr. Seuss estate [Greg Evans, Deadline Hollywood]
“A federal judge in Washington brought the hammer down on uber-litigious Fox Rothschild client Strike 3 Holdings, calling it a copyright troll that ‘treats this court not as a citadel of justice, but as an ATM.’… ‘Armed with hundreds of cut-and-pasted complaints and boilerplate discovery motions, Strike 3 floods this courthouse (and others around the country) with lawsuits smacking of extortion. It treats this Court not as a citadel of justice, but as an ATM.” Lamberth goes on to say his court declines “to oversee a high-tech shakedown,” and adds much colorful detail about the plaintiffs’ methods. Los Angeles-based Fox Rothschild partner Lincoln Bandlow, who is said to coordinate the Strike 3 Holdings campaign, said that an appeals court would “correct this anomalous decision.” [Roy Strom, American Lawyer] Earlier on the Prenda Law saga.
- Georgia woman jailed for three months after field drug test misidentifies contents of plastic bag in her car, which she had told disbelieving officers contained blue cotton candy [WMAZ] Related: Georgia “Drug Recognition Expert” officers sometimes arrest drivers who are sober [Brendan Keefe and Michael King, WMAZ in January]
- “What I call the four forces of the regulatory state — regulation by administration, prosecution, and litigation; and progressive anti-federalism—operate mostly independently of Congress, notwithstanding the legislative branch’s constitutional power to ‘regulate Commerce … among the several States.'” [Jim Copland, City Journal]
- Rights of associational privacy: Bradley Smith of the Institute for Free Speech comments on the ongoing relevance on the 60th anniversary of NAACP v. Alabama [Cato Daily Podcast with Brad Smith and Caleb Brown]
- “If you’ve flown on a major airline within the past 7 years, you might be cashing in” although the settlement website admits it’s “possible that ticket buyers will never get any money from the lawsuit” owing to fees and expenses [KMBC]
- To argue for freedom, sometimes it makes sense to argue for things other than freedom [Jonathan Rauch on same-sex marriage and medical marijuana controversies, quotes me; David Henderson/EconLib]
- “The Eleventh Circuit takes a tour through the history of copyright and the nature of authorship in exploring whether the state of Georgia can assert copyright in its annotated state laws and thereby prevent a nonprofit from making them available for free online. (It can’t.)” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit,” on Code Revision Commission v. Public.Resource.Org]