Hobbits, Lamps, Photographers and Google Books

Approximate Running Time: 01:03

Show notes… after the jump

Show Notes


  • Launchcast is NOT an interactive service

  • Launchcast is a webcasting service that provides users with individualized internet radio stations – the content of which can be affected by users’ ratings of songs, artists, and albums – is an interactive service within the meaning of 17 U.S.C. § 114(j)(7).  If it is an interactive service, the webcasting service would be required to pay individual licensing fees to those copyright holders of the sound recordings of songs the webcasting service plays for its users


  • Annie Leibovitz in legal hot-water – 1 case settled, 1 to go
    • Art Capital Group – Copyright as security for loans?
    • This dispute is between Annie Liebovitz and Art Capital Group over Ms. Leibovitz’s refusal or inability to pay back her $24 million loan by the deadline (9/8/09).  Currently, Art Capital Group and Ms. Leibovitz have reached an agreement: a new deadline will be set for the loan repayment and Leibovitz bought back the rights to sell her homes and copyrights.  The real dispute centers around money and is rooted in Ms. Leibovitz’s inability to manage her finances properly.  But, the interesting part is that it involves a celebrity/icon leveraging the future value of her intellectual property.
    • Annie borrowed a total of $24 million with her life’s work.  Annie’s financial mismanagement almost caused her to default, but Art Capital Group gave her more time and let her buy back her copyrights.  Art Capital is worried that Annie will file for bankruptcy and then they’ll have to deal with the courts handling all of her debt.  Where will they be in that line?
  • Art Capital also sued Getty Images for negotiating a contract that violated the loan agreement’s terms (confidentiality agreements) and making it difficult for Art Capital to sell Leibovitz’s archives
    • Getty announced earlier this year it would represent Leibovitz for some current assignments, a deal which Art Capital said violated confidentiality agreements it had with Getty.”


  • Ellen Degeneres Show music issue:   When record label representatives asked why the show failed to purchase licenses to use the songs, defendants responded that they “didn’t roll that way.”

  • Plaintiffs:  including Arista Music, Atlantic Recording Corp., Capitol Records, Motown Record Company, Sony Music Entertainment, Virgin Records America and Warner Bros. Records
  • Although the lawsuit did not specify damages, the show could be on the hook for a lot of money given the sheer number of songs it used.
  • Shows producers and crew should have known better. As part of a large corporation (Time Warner) with legal counsel at its disposal, there is no excuse for copyright infringement of this magnitude.
  • Considering Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesota mom, was found liable for copyright infringement to the tune of $1.92 million for illegally downloading 24 songs, just think what the record labels could get for 1,000 songs.



    • Tolkien’s estate sued New Line in February 2008 because although they received $62,500 for 3 films, they were still owed 7.5% of gross receipts.  They sought $220 million.
    • claims: breach of contract and fraud
    • Tolkiens argued that the material breach of nonpayment of royalties allowed them to terminate the license

films grossed $6 billion 1/2 at BO. 1/2 in ancillary mkts.

      • confidentiality agreement
      • +$100 million (estimate/undisclosed) from New Line Cinema to Tolkien’s estate for “The Lord of the Rings”
      • goes to Tolkien Trust, a UK based charity controlled by the family
    • RESULT:
      • resolves situation bw Warners and MGM on “Hobbit” planned to be released in 2011
      • payment of more than $100 million from Warner to Tolkien Trust


  • Google Book Settlement – a quick rundown.
  • This class action suit is between the Authors Guild/publishing industry and Google over Google digitally scanning copyrighted material without permission.  Currently, a settlement was reached on October 28, 2008:  Google agreed to pay $125 million to copyright owners of the books they had scanned, cover Plaintiff’s court costs, and create a Book Rights Registry.  The settlement must be approved by the court on October 7, 2009.  The real dispute centers around copyright law.
    • FACTS:
      • Google sued by publishers over Google Library Project
        • digitally scanning a whole lot of copyrighted, out of copyright, and orphaned works, mainly from university libraries without permission from copyright owners to make indexed, searchable, scanned works available worldwide to the public via online search
      • online, worldwide access for:
        • in-copyright works, including books out of print
        • orphaned works
        • public domain works
        • 7 million books can be searched – full text – today
        • copyrighted works show results as snippets
    • SETTLEMENT (http://www.googlebooksettlement.com/)
      • subject to approval by the US District Court for the SDNY
        • 8/28/08: settlement reached
        • 9/4/09: deadline to opt-out
        • 9/8/09: deadline to file objections
        • 10/7/09: Final Fairness Hearing
        • display 20% of copyrighted out-of-print works
    • to receive payment for copyrighted works, authors must complete claim form by 1/5/10
      • $60 per book; $5-15 for partial works
      • allows indexing and preview display of 20% of work
    • RESULT/Impacts
      • dramatic increase in works available online to the general public
      • perception of copyright law changing in the US
      • It’s Democratic:
        • unprecedented access to knowledge: major expansion of access by the general public to works previously limited to professors/students at the particular universities
        • further decentralizes the power academia has held
      • Culture/heritage:
        • preserves works that would be otherwise lost or inaccessible to the public
      • Usefulness:
        • useful for the general public and academics to be able to search an enormous database of digital, indexed works, especially works that would have been unavailable because they are out of print or orphaned
    • AGAINST:
      • End-run around the law:
        • violates copyright law en masse: circumvents Congressional standards with a court approved settlement…can any private party agree to ignore/work around copyright law?


  • Southeastern Conference (NCAA football) has issued rules prohibiting fans from publishing photos, videos, etc. in realtime, for commercial use.
    • League says the rules are aimed not at the casual fan who might post a few pictures of Saturday’s football game on a personal Web site, but rather those who copy television broadcasts, create their own highlight reels and post them on sites charging for access or advertising.
    • The executive director of the Media Law Resource Center says they’re a  “continuing effort to put a stranglehold on objective, third-party news organizations.”
    • SECfootballblogger.com– “now that Big Brother ESPN is in the picture everything has to be corporate and very ‘NFL’ish.”
    • Conference officials said they were not trying to prevent fans from sending personal messages or brief descriptions of games to their Facebook pages or on Twitter.
    • But “the line is drawn at game footage video, (ESPN/CBS Contracts)” Mr. Bloom said. “We want to protect our rights to have video between the conference and its members, and ban the commercial sale of photo images. Fans can post photos on their site or Facebook page, but they can’t be for sale.”
    • http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/sports/ncaafootball/20rights.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
    • Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, fined for comments on Twitter. http://www.usnews.com/money/blogs/luxe-life/2009/3/30/dallas-mavericks-owner-mark-cuban-fined-for-twitter-comments