The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Copyright Case Against Taylor Swift Heads Back to District Court

For observers of such things, there's nothing quite so confusing or maddening as the minds that make up the minds of the U.S. federal court system on matters of intellectual property law. (Though that feeling undoubtedly spreads to other areas, depending on your interests.) Although it's the nature of the beast that not every decision be one that you agree with, one would hope that the logic used to arrive at those decisions would at least hold up to scrutiny. Even as rulings might fall against your desired outcome, you want to at least think that the most basic precepts of law still apply, even as they are interpreted in a manner less to your liking.

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A Music Streaming Service on the Blockchain? What Could Go Wrong?

If there's one thing that I hope regular readers have noted, it's that I enjoy a story about the unintended consequences of decisions and actions. Perhaps enjoy is too strong; I highlight them to hopefully serve as an example of the perils of not fully thinking through one's choices, perhaps as a way to justify my own ponderous nature, if you were to take the thought to its logical end. Regardless, this is a space where you can see many an individual or business go astray because they simply thought about the good that might come of their choices without considering the bad that might accompany it.

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A Google Play Copyright Case: When Can We Blame Tools For How They're Used?

To what extent can creators be held responsible for the ways in which their creations are used, particularly if those uses fall outside of what is legal or ethical? It's a worthwhile question to consider these days. We've more technology in our hands —quite literally in the case of smartphones— than could have been dreamt of by technologists of yore, and yet all of that tech and all of those tools being readily available to so many means that there are those who would use them for less than legitimate means. You can think of identity theft and the dark web and any number of other nefarious enterprises and wonder how much blame is apportioned to those who helped to create the internet, a consideration that's probably unfair given how unlikely it was for anyone to imagine what the internet would become.

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Does 'Terminator' Copyright Case Portend the Future of Film Rights?

For all of the machinery and marketing behind the big franchise movies we see on weekends, it's easy to forget how much of this is owed to writers who come up with these ideas in the first place, and who often don't get due credit and compensation for what they're ultimately making possible. There's a new case and a newly-resurfacing law that might chance our estimation and the power of writers in Hollywood, however.

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Google Drops News Links in France in EU Copyright Battle

The newly enacted copyright laws in the EU have already been the source of no small amount of contention by parties who feel the regulations are too restrictive and onerous to those required to adhere to the guidelines. The laws have already faced a challenge from a country within the bloc, and there has been plenty of rumbling from the tech giants who find themselves now largely responsible for adjusting their practices to be in compliance. It's an incipient battle that might now be seeing its first volley.

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The Copyright Battle Over Lost Interview Tapes

Copyright can occasionally delve into some tricky, murky areas that raise questions about ownership and legalities and who has control over what. The cases are always interesting as observers with no skin in the game, as you get to see courts rule on questions you might never have considered and situations few would have imagined. Much of it circles around issues posed by new technology and the challenges it presents to the idea of copyright as we understand it, but occasionally there's a case that is purely analog and strictly offline that can still serve to raise those yet-unsettled questions.

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Peloton Hit With Copyright Lawsuit From Music Publishers

Some of us are more intrinsically motivated to work out, more inclined and apt to stay healthy and in shape and disciplined to a diet that allows them to be the best version of themselves. More of us, however, are not that person; we're jealous and more than a little resentful of that person, if we're honest, provided that we've seen one of them in the real world. For the vast majority of us, exercise is a slog, and there's an entire industry that's cropped up to make it easier and more convenient for us to do something that we still nevertheless don't want to do. In recent years, the tricks involved in getting us on these machines have gotten even more advanced: TVs built in, music playing, even immersive experiences that simulate an outdoor bike ride. It's enough to make you consider exercise as near-entertainment, which is rather the point.

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Mercedes-Benz Seeks to Invalidate Artists' Copyright Claims for Instagram Ads

There's a pair of arcs that most stories involving intellectual property, big companies and artists fall into: in the first, said individual or business uses a trademark or copyright of a big brand in a way that the brand's parent company can't abide, the corporate behemoth lurches into action and pursues legal remedy against the perceived injury, and the case is more often than not adjudicated in favor of the august multinational conglomerate — a David and Goliath in reverse, minus the slingshot and the beheading. (The beheading always gets left out in the metaphor, understandably.)

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YouTube Hits Copyright Troll With Lawsuit

YouTube is not short its problems, not least of which are its handling of copyright claims. Given the size of the platform, administering any element of the site is going to be a unique challenge, and the lure of DIY options has to cry out to staff that feel overwhelmed and overtaxed to keep up with the manifold problems that seem to be introduced every day. Their method, or one of them, for reporting copyright infringement —allowing users to flag offending content— seems perfect, unless you've spent a day or an hour on the actual internet. Not surprisingly, the system is ripe for exploitation by bad-faith actors looking to exploit others. It would be too simple to think that YouTube might simply do away with what is clearly a flawed notion, but they do seem to be taking some action to try and stem the issue, at least in miniature.

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Amazon's New Audiobook Feature Draws Publishers' Ire

New technologies, and the subsequent advances in those new technologies, present new problems, particularly for laws drawn up and passed years, if not decades ago. In fairness, it's hard to plan for a future that you can't predict, and you only have to take a look at the portrayals of the future (now our present) in the movies of the past to see how bad we are at guessing how things will shake out. Largely we've exceeded our own wildest dreams, though I'm still waiting on my hoverboard from Back to the Future Part II.

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"Baby Shark" Heads to Court (Do do do do do do.)

In this space I cover a lot of stories pulled straight from the day's news, often involving multinational corporations and the equivalent level of stars from the entertainment business. All big deals, to be sure, but none could hope to approach the level of status on offer to artists geared to kids. While we as adults have tempered our ideas about the artists themselves, and moderate our consumption of their work, kids have no such notions, and love with a fervor and constancy that many artists could only dream of with their own fans.

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A Copyright Hoax Runs Wild

We've all spent enough time on the internet to have seen our share of hoaxes over the years. Maybe we've fallen prey to one or two, although we'd never admit it in public, and maybe not ever to ourselves. P.T. Barnum's dictum of " a sucker born every minute" applies to those other folks sharing our birth-minute, but not us, certainly, savvy minds that we are. But the truth is that we're all susceptible to get got if we don't keep a jaundiced eye to the trends sweeping the world wide web and its component apps, a cynical bend that might make us miss out on a bit of fun but at least protects us from looking the fool on occasion.

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Lady Gaga Facing Copyright Claims For "Shallow"

There's no greater harbinger of potential legal issues than success. In a reading more generous to plaintiffs in the scores of lawsuits that pop up around successful artists, creators and businesses, you could assert that it's the success that brings the infringement to light; the aggrieved doesn't know they've had their idea infringed upon until they see its likeness in the news or on their screens or devices. You could just as easily say that some see a chance at a possible payday in those same stories. Both are undoubtedly true, but the determination of the measure of each is a matter of your outlook on the state of the legal system and the world as a whole.

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The Future is Deepfakes. Can Copyright Save Us? (Probably Not.)

The idea of the future as equal parts wonder and nightmare is an old one. It's all over our science-fiction, in particular the notion that the same advances that push us forward could serve as the seeds of our own destruction. Robots built to serve humanity ultimately enslave us, and technology binds us and restricts us in the name of transparency and security, civic-minded ideas masking an authoritarian agenda at its heart. Grim stuff, I know, but not so grim as to prevent us from propelling ourselves ever onward toward a version of that same future close enough to be functionally indistinguishable from what we've seen on page or screen.

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Congress Contemplates Calamitous Copyright Law

Finding a balance between accused and accuser in cases of intellectual property law has been one trick the U. S. legal system has yet to get quite right, although lawmakers and administrators continue the endeavor to find that elusive point that serves all involved equally. Too far one way, and you're stifling the ability of rightsholders to take action to protect their IP; too far the other and you're opening the floodgates for cases brought before the court, including those lacking any real validity. But a fear of making things worse has never stopped the United States government before, and it certainly won't be deterred in this instance.

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Controversial Copyright Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Bad Behavior

The questions of good faith and intent can be hard to divine, and the line between earnest zeal and cynical gaming is a fine one. Lawyers are tasked with the vigorous defense of their clients' interests, and no one would begrudge an attorney for taking on as many as they feel they can responsibly handle. But does that ambition, if it can be termed that, cross at a certain point into a ploy to extract as much money from a flawed system as possible? At what point do certain behaviors cross that line from proponent of the law to one who violates and exploits that which they're meant to hold sacred?

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Supreme Court to Hear Case on Copyright for State Laws

The question of how much the government remains a body comprised of and belonging to the people it governs, or to what extent it exists as an entity now wholly separate, is a pressing matter, but one too big for the purview of this particular blog. That broader question does beg itself in the copyright case that is heading to the Supreme Court, however, in addition to the more immediate concerns that will be addressed in the decision.

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Mechanical Licensing Collective Chosen by USCO to Manage Digital Music Royalties

One thing about technological change is that it forces many of our old, dated institutions to update and adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. The internet and the attendant changes it has brought has been particularly effective in highlighting the cracks in the facade, the holes in the boat, or any other metaphor you might choose to illustrate the shortcomings in many of the laws and bodies that govern us when it comes to an era where the physical has given way to digital.

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Andy Warhol Estate Wins Copyright Case

The question of copyright in cases of addition and transformation of one artist's work on the part another is a perpetually challenging question. Art, as we are frequently told, is subjective, and the extent to which changes must be made to an original work for it to be deemed an entirely new thing is again subjective. Certain cases make the matter clear, but in more subtle alterations, it falls to others to make the final determination as to whether something is in violation of a copyright, or is significantly different as to escape any such offense.

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