Legal Blog

Seventh Circuit Nips Brownmark Films’ Copyright Claim “In the Butt”

South Park, the long running television show, is no-stranger to parodies, spoofing everything from High School Musical to The Passion of The Christ. But their humor was not appreciated by Brownmark Films, LLC, (“Brownmark”), who sued the comedy show for copyright infringement when it made fun of its dance video What What (In the Butt) in a 2008 episode. The case is Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners, No. 11-2620 (7th Cir. 2012). Continue reading

Louis Vuitton’s ‘Hangover 2’ Case Knocked Off Without Giving Judge a Headache

A filmmaker’s rights under the First Amendment to use well-known trademarks for artistic and expressive purposes will be protected against a challenge from the trademark holder so long as the use has genuine relevance to the film’s storyline. On June 15, 2012 the District Court for the Southern District of New York, on a motion to dismiss, ordered Louis Vuitton’s lawyers to pack up their bags, dismissing the fashion company’s claim that a short scene in the Warner Bros’ film The Hangover Part II caused millions of dollars of damages to the company and confusion among its customers. Continue reading

Artist Wins Touchdown Against University for his Paintings

An artist’s right to incorporate trademarks in expressive works pits the artist’s fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment, against the desire of a trademark owner to aggressively control the licensing of merchandise based on its trademarks. And when the artwork involves a much-loved college sports team, the tension runs deep. On June 11th 2012 the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reached a decision in the much anticipated University of Alabama Board of Trustees v New Life Art Inc. case. The case chronicles the legal saga between the University of Alabama and Daniel Moore, a long time sports painter of football scenes for the University in which the Artist came out the victor, essentially winning a touchdown for advocates of art as expressive work, free from the restraints of trademark law. Continue reading

Decoding Rosetta Stone: Trademark Lessons and Unanswered Questions From The Fourth Circuit’s Decision Regarding Google’s Keyword Advertising Program

On April 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down its decision in Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google Inc. At issue in the appeal was whether Google’s sale of “Rosetta Stone” keywords for use in Google’s AdWords advertisements constituted primary (direct) or secondary (contributory/vicarious) trademark infringement or diluted Rosetta Stone’s trademarks. Continue reading

The Clock is Ticking to Take Action Against Infringement

The recent case of Urbont v. Sony Music Entertainment, 11 Civ. 4516 (S.D.N.Y. March 27, 2012), highlights the disagreement among some federal courts as to when the three-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement claims begins its countdown. Directly at issue is whether the clock starts ticking when the infringement starts (the “injury rule”), or when the plaintiff discovers the infringement (the “discovery rule”). Continue reading

Pinning Down the Copyright Issues in Pinterest

By Eleanor M. Lackman & Jennette Wiser

The newest trend in social media, with over 10 million members and drawing 11.7 million viewers each month according to comScore, is the virtual scrapbooking site Pinterest. Pinterest allows members to upload their favorite images from the Internet or their computers and share them immediately with other members. Continue reading

White House Releases Framework for Consumer Data Privacy

On February 23, 2012, the White House released Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy (the “Framework”). The Framework is meant to improve consumers’ privacy protections without stifling the sort of innovation and economic growth that companies seek via the digital space. At its core, the Framework consists of four overarching elements: (i) the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights; (ii) multi-stakeholder processes to develop enforceable codes of conduct; (iii) post-development enforcement by the FTC; and (iv) promoting international interoperability. As the Framework cannot itself be used as a basis for holding those who violate its principles accountable — there is no law stating that companies are required to adopt these policies. The developments in the coming months of enforceable codes of conduct and the adoption of such codes by companies will be especially telling of the Framework’s effectiveness.

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Google Books Case Developments: Google Responds to ASMP and Authors Guild

In a new turn in the Google Books case we have been following, Google filed its responses on February 17, 2012 to the American Society of Media Photographers’ (ASMP) and the Authors Guild’s oppositions to Google’s motions to dismiss ASMP and the Authors Guild for lack of standing. Google took issue with the Plaintiffs’ assertions. Continue reading