November 12th, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Criminal
New York City police have arrested 20 people for trying to enter an abandoned subway station (around the G stop in Brooklyn) housing the formerly secret exhibition of underground street art. Most of those arrested were charged with trespassing and a few were caught carrying spray cans and other graffiti paraphernalia. More via the paper of record.
November 11th, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Copyright
According to Twitters new terms of service, the photographer distributing her content does. Easy enough, right? Not so, says the Agence France-Presse.
According to paidcontent, “a lawsuit over photos of the Haiti earthquake may prove to be an early test of what kind of rights users of Twitter and related services retain to their content.” The Agence France-Presse wire service (“AFP”) has insisted that it has the rights to use a photographers images of the Haiti earthquake without the photographer’s approval, simply because the photographer used TwitPic and Twitter to promote and sell his work. AFP argues that Twitter’s terms of service allow third parties broad re-use rights to their content, and thus the photographer’s selection of this mode of digital distribution gave AFP a broad license to redistribute the photographer’s images without consent from the photographer.
Is this possible? Can anyone grab images you’ve uploaded elsewhere and made available via hyperlink through Twitter or any other tweet source? I don’t think so, and neither does Venkat Balasubramani over at Eric Goldman’s blog. But certainly a major case for photographers.
November 8th, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Copyright
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a copyright case that could have major implications for art museums and institutions in the U.S. I mentioned this case this past July, writing a brief review of a keen observation made by Cornell’s Peter Hirtle. You can read the July entry here.
The U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) will hear Costco v. Omega, a “first-sale doctrine” decision from the Ninth Circuit that upheld Omega’s right to prevent Costco from selling legitimate Omega watches it had purchased from a gray-market importer. SCOTUS will consider whether Omega’s copyright strategy holds water.
The implications go far beyond manufactured goods. At the core of the dispute is the so-called “first-sale doctrine,” dating back to a 1908 Supreme Court decision involving publisher Bobbs-Merrill, which tried to use its copyright to prevent the sale of its books for less than $1. The Supreme Court rejected that idea, saying once the publisher had sold a book, the new owner could resell it for whatever price he wanted, or even lend it out for free (see: public libraries). Congress later wrote the first-sale doctrine into copyright law[.]
The bottom line in this case is whether the “first sale doctrine” means the copyrighted work has to be made in the U.S., or whether it means the copyrighted work could be made abroad? In other words, does U.S. copyright law have extraterritorial powers? Tough call. My prediction: SCOTUS upholds the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
Forbes Magazine has a good article on this mess here, including what this would mean to Netflix lovers like myself.
UPDATE: December 13, 2010.
With Justic Kagan recusing herself, SCOTUS went 4-4 over this issue, so we still have 9th Circuit decision that holds water.
November 6th, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Free Speech
Chinese Ai Weiwei alleges he was placed under house arrest by Chinese authorities in order to prevent him from holding a party commemorating the demolition of his newly built million-dollar studio in Shanghai. According to the BBC, Shanghai had imposed a six-month moratorium on large-scale building and demolition projects during the World Expo, in a bid to improve air quality, but reports say these have resumed since the Expo ended.
A bit more via the BBC here, and via The Independent here.
November 5th, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Trademark
Just eight days after filing a lawsuit over Alexander Mcqueen’s designs featuring the Hells Angels trademarked name and “death head” skull logo, the Hells Angels have settled with McQueen as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos.com. The three defendants have agreed to pull all merchandise referencing the Hells Angels, including knuckle-duster rings, clutches, the “Hells Angels Jacquard Box Dress” and a pashmina from their websites and stores. The three defendants are also recalling the merchandise that’s already been sold, and promised to destroy it. The Hells Angels have also demanded financial damages.
A bit more via New York Magazine. Thanks to my friend UTLawGirl for the heads up on this.
November 3rd, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Repatriation
The “paper of record” reported today that Peru’s president, Alan García, has made a formal request for President Obama’s intervention in a long-running dispute between Peru and Yale University over the ownership of a large group of artifacts excavated in 1912 at Machu Picchu by a Yale explorer. Why not send Nancy Pelosi; she’ll have plenty of free time on her hands.
November 2nd, 2010 by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento in Copyright
Can it get any worse for my beloved Texas? (See: Longhorns, Rangers)
A photographer is suing the state of Texas, alleging a cowboy image on millions of vehicle inspection stickers is being used without his permission. David K. Langford of Comfort says he shot the picture and owns the copyright, and is asking a court to block the Department of Public Safety from further use of his image and from issuing more stickers. He also wants damages and legal fees.