#PETA Files Appeal in #Monkey #Selfie Case

By Joseph Mandour on August 4, 2016

monkeyLos Angeles – The legal saga over a monkey selfie continues. After a judge ruled against PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”) in its copyright case, the animal rights group has recently filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The history of the case goes like this. In 2011, British nature photographer David Slater left his camera unattended. A macaque monkey named Naruto pressed the camera’s buttons and snapped a selfie. This photo was included in a book Slater sold. Later online outlets ended up using the photo claiming that since it was taken by a monkey it was public domain. PETA sued on behalf of Naruto, claiming that Naruto is the owner of the photograph since the definition of authorship in the Copyright Act is broad enough to include animals.

The U.S. Copyright Office policy, however, states, “It will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants” and includes the example of “a photograph taken by a monkey.” This policy was one of the arguments used by the judge in his ruling that copyright law does not extend to animals.

But this didn’t deter PETA. They continue to argue the definition of authorship is not explicitly limited to human created works. They argue to uphold the intent of copyright protection, which is to advance society’s interests in increasing creative output, protection should depend on the originality of the work and not the humanity of the author.

PETA points to cases where authorship is not limited to humans. An organization can be seen as the author of a work created by its employees and non-humans such as motion picture studios filed cases of ownership reaching the Supreme Court. Since non-humans already can own copyright, they argue animals should be allowed to own copyrights as well. The case could also create precedent for future cases about whether original works created by robots or artificial intelligence should be granted copyright. Read the rest

PETA Sues to Give Monkey Copyright to his Selfie

By Joseph Mandour on September 30, 2015

monkeySan Diego – A monkey named Naruto is the plaintiff in a copyright lawsuit centering on selfies he took in 2011. The not-for-profit organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA), filed the lawsuit on behalf of Naruto and the other Macaques living in a reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

The photos at issue were taken by Naruto with a camera owned by British nature photographer David Slater. While Naruto pressed the button to take the photo, Slater claims he is the intellect behind the photos since he set up and held the tripod throughout the shoot.

Since then, various online outlets distributed the photos, arguing that because an animal took the photo no person can own the copyright. Generally the person that takes a photograph owns the copyright to the photo. The U.S. Copyright Office policy, updated last year, states it, “will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants,” even listing in its example “a photograph taken by a monkey.”

Slater has argued for his right to make money from the photos, but has also donated some of the proceeds to a conservation project working to protect Sulawesi’s macaques. He recently published a book, which includes the monkey selfies, titled Wildlife Personalities, through the San Francisco based company Blurb.

PETA argues that because the book is published in California, a US federal court there has jurisdiction over the case. The organization seeks a court order allowing it to take the proceeds from the photo, including from book sales, and administer it for the benefit of the monkeys living on the reserve. PETA argues that authorship defined under Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq is broad enough to grant a copyright to non-humans.

In the lawsuit, PETA uses quotes from Slater’s book. PETA argues that Naruto should be granted ownership and “Slater himself admits this proposition, w... Read the rest

Samsung Creates a New Function to Compete With Apple’s Pinch-to-Zoom Patent

By Joseph Mandour on March 14, 2014

touching screen on tablet-pc Los Angeles – A recent patent filed by Samsung looks to get around Apple’s patented pinch-to-zoom technology, which has been a source of major contention between the two tech powerhouses for years.  The issue goes back to before Apple was famously awarded $1 billion in patent infringement damages in 2012.  Though that award was eventually reduced to hundreds of millions, one of the major hot buttons in the litigation surrounded the pinch-to-zoom technology.  The presiding judge found that Samsung had infringed Apple’s pinch-to-zoom patent, dubbed the ‘ 915 patent, in over 20 of its devices.

After years of back and forth and later accusations by Samsung that the ‘915 patent was invalid and that there had thus been no infringement in the first place, the Korean-based Apple rival seems to have finally come up with a viable alternative to the pinch-to-zoom technology.   The new function would be compatible on all Samsung touch screen devices and would work with a stylus or human finger.  According to the patent, which was published last week, users would touch a finger to the device and move it in a small circular clockwise motion to zoom on an object.  Conversely to zoom out, they would perform the same operation, but in a counter-clockwise direction.

This technology differentiates from Apple’s foundation pinch-to-zoom technology, whereby users perform a pinching motion to zoom in and spread their fingers from close to further apart to zoom out.  Since this has become the standard gesture for zooming on mobile devices, partially due to several Samsung devices which employ the same technology (and were the subject of the landmark patent infringement loss suffered by Samsung), it is unclear how users will react.

Since the huge judgment was handed down in 2012, Samsung has been working feverishly to come up with something that effectively competes with Apple’s function while still remaining  different enough so as not to infringe.   For now, however, at least some are not impressed with Samsung’s pinch-to-zoom alternative, pointing out that it seems more like a gesture one would make to rotate an object rather than to zoom in or out on it.

... Read the rest

Sony Releases Bob Dylan Collection to Preserve Copyright

By Joseph Mandour on January 9, 2013

sony Los Angeles – Sony Music released a compilation of previously unreleased Bob Dylan recordings in a handful of record stores across Europe shortly after Christmas in order to take advantage of a change in the European copyright law.

Sony has said it planned the release in order to extend the copyright protection of the unreleased recordings.  Previously, Europe only allowed copyright protection for 50 years from creation.  The European Union revised its copyright laws in 2011, extending copyright protection to 70 years.

However, the law mandates that the copyrighted material be published before the 50-year term ends or the 20-year extension is invalid.  As the recordings from 1962 would have lost copyright protection with the New Year, the collections post Christmas release just made the deadline.

Sony appropriately named the collection “The 50th Anniversary Collection,” with the subtitle “The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol.1.”  The company will likely continue to release its archived Bob Dylan recordings in order to keep copyright ownership.

“The 50th Anniversary Collection” boasts 86 tracks, all of which are previously unreleased studio outtakes and live recordings from 1962-1963.  It contains session recordings that give a different take on popular songs such as “I Shall Be Free” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in addition to songs that never made the final cut and live recordings from various venues.

The collection is only officially available to European fans.  One hundred copies of the collection were sold in stores in Germany, France, Sweden, and Britain from as low as $39 to as high as $138 at a record store in Britain.

In addition to the 100 copies sold in stores, the CD is available digitally through the website bobdylan.com.  However, it can only be downloaded by those who log on to the site from France or Germany.

American fans will have to pay a hefty price to gain access to the collection.  Some of the original 100 copies have already shown up on eBay, with bids as high as $1,450.

Sony is one of the few record labels to adopt to the change of law in Europe.  However, Sony is not the only one.  Universal, which owns the right to Motown’s recordings, released “Motown Unreleased 1... Read the rest

Los Angeles Judge Rules Yoga Poses Cannot be Copyrighted

By Joseph Mandour on December 18, 2012

yoga Los Angeles – A Los Angeles judge dismissed copyright infringement claims against a chain of yoga studios that teaches classes based on Bikram Choudhury’s hot yoga system without obtaining his consent.

According to U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright of the Central District of California, Evolation Yoga LLC could not be held liable for copyright infringement for teaching and practicing Choudhury’s system, which consists of performing a sequence of 26 yoga positions in a room kept at 105 degrees.  Wright said that though Choudhury’s books and videos that describe his system are copyrighted and therefore protected, only things like the text and artwork of the books and videos can be copyrighted, the poses themselves cannot.

In his ruling, Judge Wright wrote “Plaintiffs assert that … anyone performing the sequence, as taught by Choudhury’s books and videos, commits copyright infringement, but this argument is tenuous — facts and ideas within a work are not protected; only an author’s expression of them is.”   This reasoning coincides with the U.S. Copyright Office’s policy paper it released in June regarding the copyrighting of yoga sequences.  The policy paper stated that yoga moves do not fall under one of the Copyright Act’s eight categories of authorship, and therefore any registrations for yoga moves should be rejected.  In a response to the ruling, Evolation co-founder Mark Drost made a statement in which he expressed that the ruling confirmed what he had believed all along, that yoga is something that belongs to everyone and cannot be owned.

Evolation Yoga is only one of several yoga studios who have been sued by Choudhury, who believes he has an exclusive right to teach his popular hot yoga system.  In the mid-2000s, a group of studios that practiced Bikram yoga asked for declaratory judgment that they were not infringing Choudhury’s copyrights.  The Copyright Office at that point did not have a policy on yoga poses and the studios ended up settling with Choudhury.

About five weeks ago, New York-based Yoga to the People Inc. agreed to stop teaching Bikram yoga in order to escape Choudhury’s litigation and several copyright cases against other yoga studios are still pending.

... Read the rest

Copyright Office Seeks Input on Visual Art Resale Royalty Bill

By Joseph Mandour on September 21, 2012

paint-palette Los Angeles – The U.S. Copyright Office said Wednesday it is kicking off an inquiry at Congress’s request into how current copyright law affects and supports visual artists, and how a federal resale royalty right for visual artists could affect the art marketplace.

The office will take comments from the public until Nov. 5 on the means visual artists have to exploit their works under existing law, as well as any issues and obstacles that may be encountered when considering the enactment of a federal resale royalty right in the U.S., the office said in a Federal Register notice.

The inquiry comes in response to a letter sent in May by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, in support of their proposed legislation to establish a resale royalty right in the U.S.

Artist resale royalties provide artists with an opportunity to benefit from the increased value of their works over time by by granting them a percentage of the proceeds from the resale of their original works of art. The practice arose in France in the 1920s and is widespread throughout Europe, but is not codified in current U.S. copyright law.

Artists, like other authors, are provided a bundle of exclusive rights under the Copyright Act, including rights to reproduce, distribute and create adaptations of the works. Federal copyright law, however, does not generally grant artists or authors rights to control the subsequent use of the original work. The first sale doctrine generally permits the lawful owner of a copyrighted work to display, sell or dispose of the work without the authorization of the creator under most circumstances.

“A sculptor or painter may spend months or years creating one work of art and when that work is completed it is a unique and singular representation of the artist’s intent,” the Copyright Office’s notice said. “Unlike books, DVDs or songs, the value of the work is based on its originality and scarcity. This means that over time, it may be a collector or other downstream entity that will derive the most financial benefit.”

California developed its own state law on resale royalties partially as a result of the indignation felt by many within the artistic community when Robe... Read the rest



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