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Two April 2019 circuit court cases clarified copyright infringement of photographs on the Internet. In a case of first impression before the Ninth Circuit, the court opined on the degree of financial benefit required to prove vicarious liability for copyright infringement. In addition, the panel examined jury instructions regarding willfulness in the context of statutory damages. In the Fourth Circuit, the court examined how the infringer’s motives could affect the affirmative defense of fair use. Both cases serve as cautionary tales for those who takes photographs for their websites from the Internet without investigating copyright rights.
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By Stan Soocher
To survive preemption under §301 of the Copyright Act, courts consider whether a state law claim in a lawsuit has an “extra element” that qualitatively distinguishes it from a federal copyright claim. Courts typically find that state law claims, such as breach of contract, have an extra element. Other state law claims, such as conversion, get varying court determinations as to whether they are preempted.
By Darin Snyder, Brad Garcia, Amy Liang, and Daniel Silverman
In the past year, the Federal Circuit has repeatedly required the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer patent infringement suits from that district to more convenient venues, and in doing so it has provided increasingly specific — and often pointed — guidance to courts and litigants on the appropriate analysis for transfer motions.
By Robert W. Clarida and Robert J. Bernstein
The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Unicolors v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz to address the following question: “Did the Ninth Circuit err in breaking with its own prior precedent and the findings of other circuits and the Copyright Office in holding that 17 U.S.C. §411 requires referral to the Copyright Office where there is no indicia of fraud or material error as to the work at issue in the subject copyright registration?”
By Scott Graham
The agency announced that the Department of Commerce has applied to register the USPTO’s marks in a bid to crack down on scammers who are impersonating the agency.