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There was much harmony along with a few discordant notes as an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took up the copyright case involving Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” All the judges who spoke during oral arguments in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, 16-56057, seemed to agree that sheet music deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office, not a sound recording of it, defines the scope of copyright for a musical work governed by the 1909 Copyright Act. That prompted bitter protests from Francis Malofiy, the attorney representing the estate of Randy Wolfe (p/k/a Randy California), which alleges that Led Zeppelin copied Wolfe’s 1967 song “Taurus” when the group wrote “Stairway to Heaven.”
By Stan Soocher
In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, under 17 U.S.C. §411(a), “registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright” — that is, acts on a registration application, rather than when an applicant delivers the registration materials to the Copyright Office.
By Karen Hoffman Lent and Kenneth Schwartz
In November, the DOJ asked a federal district court to terminate the Paramount Consent Decrees, a set of rules governing major film studios for the last 70 years. In effect, these rules prohibited movie studios from owning downstream movie theaters and banned a variety of vertical agreements, such as block booking — the practice of bundling multiple films into one theater license.
By P.J. D’Annunzio
A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a Philadelphia lawyer’s suit alleging that Los Angeles litigation boutique Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht acted in bad faith by failing to follow through with a $160,000 settlement in a dispute over attorney fees.
By Frank Ready
A new esports-centric survey released by the law firm of Foley & Lardner projects that esports revenues will climb above the $1 billion mark this year. But the increased stakes and growing sophistication of the industry will likely not be without their headaches.