Government’s Power to Regulate the Internet

Estate of Denial:  The Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez provides important perspective regarding public outcries over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) by reminding of how the FBI already has significant power when it comes to internet regulation. That certainly doesn’t mean that apparently successful protests over these two acts weren’t a good thing, but Sanchez uses a Justice Department action that took place just last week to illustrate his point. From FBI Reminds Us Government Already Has MegaPower to Take Down Websites:

Online activists were still busy celebrating a successful day of protest against proposed (and now shelved) Internet censorship legislation when the Justice Department pulled the popular cyberlocker site Megaupload offline Thursday, and indicted its owners on charges of criminal copyright infringement. It was a serendipitously timed demonstration of two important facts.

Continue reading about the government’s power to regulate the internet.

Wikipedia Protests Proposed Piracy Legislation With Blackout

ABA Journal:  Wikipedia is planning to protest anti-piracy legislation with a 24-hour blackout of its English-language website on Wednesday.

The nonprofit that operates the online encyclopedia written by its readers said in a statement that the legislation would harm the free and open Internet, report Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Several other websites were also planning a blackout the same day, including Reddit and BoingBoing, the Times says.

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Rights to Song “YMCA” Sought By Village People Singer Under Obscure Copyright Law

ABA Journal:  The Village People had one word of advice for a young man in need of some dough and somewhere to go: Y.M.C.A.

Now the man who wrote the song is a little older and seeking to cash in through a little-known copyright provision that allows musicians and songwriters to regain control of their work after 35 years, the New York Times reports.

Victor Willis, the Village People’s original lead singer, has filed papers to regain control of the rights to “Y.M.C.A.” and 32 other songs, the story says. The termination-rights provision applies to work registered with the U.S. Copyright Office after Jan. 1, 1978, too late for the group’s other big hit, “Macho Man.”

Mattel Hit With $225 Million in Punitive Damages For Copyright Case

ABA Journal:  A federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif., today nearly trebled the $88 million that Mattel Inc. was earlier ordered to pay a competitor in a hard-fought case over the rights to the popular Bratz doll line.

Mattel must pay MGA Entertainment Inc. $85 million in punitive damages and $2.5 million in attorney’s fees and costs in addition to the earlier $88 million verdict in the trade-secrets case the Bratz maker filed against the renowned toymaker, ruled U.S. District Judge David Carter. Plus, Mattel owes MGA another $137 million in attorney’s fees and costs for forcing it to defend an unreasonable copyright case, Bloomberg reports.

Does Fashion Design Deserve Copyright Protection?

ABA Journal:  It was the fall of 2003 when Giacomo Corrado purchased his very first pair of “stripper shoes.” Strolling in the Soho neighborhood of New York City, Corrado spotted a divine pair of Prada pumps and just had to have them.

But Corrado wasn’t stocking his personal shoe collection; he was scouting the latest style trends for the Italian fashion house Fornarina, where he worked at the time as the company’s American chief executive officer…

Superhero Copyright Fights

Estate of Denial:  The comic book industry began life in the early 20th century as the province of con men who stripped artists of their creations, then moved on to the next mark. The artists who were paid virtually nothing for work on characters that are now worth billions at the movies are nearly all dead.  But their heirs are beginning to speak for them through a federal copyright law that practically invites descendants to sue for ownership interests in characters whose current value could never have been imagined at the moment of creation.

The Music Copyright Enforcers

The New York Times: has an interesting article on what it is like for employees of performing rights organizations who work in the trenches of enforcing music copyrights.  “Broadcast Music Incorporated, otherwise known as BMI. The firm is a P.R.O., or performing rights organization; P.R.O.’s license the music of the songwriters and music publishers they represent, collecting royalties whenever that music is played in a public setting. . . . Performing rights organizations in the United States came into being in 1914, when a group of musicians, including Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and John Philip Sousa, founded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, otherwise known as ASCAP, the nation’s first P.R.O., in 1914.”