The story begins last December, when Gardner wrote an article for Ars Technica that Described Righthaven’s copyright claims in a lawsuit against the DrudgeReport. In that case, Righthaven alleged that the DrudgeReport had reposted a photograph of a TSA Agent giving an airport traveler a pat down without authorization. In Gardner’s Ars Technica article about the DrudgeReport lawsuit, he reposted the photograph as it had appeared in the court filing: as a black and white, grainy image that (probably) had been printed out and attached to the complaint as an exhibit and then rescanned for the Ars Technica article.
Last Friday, Righthaven filed a complaint against Gardner claiming that his use of the photograph from the court filing in the Ars Technica article was an infringement of copyright(!). According to Ars Technica, which has a detailed post about the incident, Righthaven voluntarily dismissed the suit this morning, stating to Ars that the filing was the result of a “clerical error.”
It’s hard to imagine a set of facts that is a better candidate for a fair use defense. Aside from the fact that the image in question wasn’t even the original photograph, Gardner’s Ars Technica piece is a news article, with commentary on the DrudgeReport lawsuit. News reporting and commentary about ongoing cases has a long history of public policy support in the courts. Moreover, those activities are among the few explicitly mentioned as examples of fair use in the Copyright Act (use of a work “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting … is not an infringement of copyright”). This lawsuit looks bad for other reasons too, as one could seemingly perceive it as an attempt by Righthaven to quell commentary about its litigious activities.
Even more confounding, however, is that the majority of Righthaven’s lawsuits (that I am aware of, at least) come from its newspaper clientele. If we take a momentary trip to upside down world, where this lawsuit wasn’t dismissed and the fair use argument failed in court, Righthaven would have obtained a ruling that is rather antithetical to the same principle that its client-newspapers rely on for commentary and reporting in their own publications.
Every week, Ben, Dominik, David Lu, and I share technology, law, and policy news stories in an e-mail thread. Then, we select 2 or 3 stories for discussion on our weekly podcast and, time permitting, stories worthy of a blog post. More often than not, there are more stories in our e-mail thread than we have time to cover on the podcast or in blog posts. And, this was the busiest week we’ve seen in awhile!
This is the first post in a new weekly series where we will share “what’s on our radar” in a blog post each Saturday or Sunday with links to the stories in our e-mail thread. If we missed any stories, please feel free to note them in the comments.
AT&T / T-Mobile agree on acquisition deal for $39B. [via New York Times]
Apple sues Amazon over “AppStore” trademark. [via technically legal and Bloomberg]
Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble over Nook/Android. [via GrokLaw]
Appeals court Revives FISA lawsuit from 1983. [via Ars Technica]
Google was fined for collecting wifi data in France. [via Mac World]
Court orders Steve Jobs to answer questions in an antitrust case. [via The Loop]
The USPTO granted Google a patent (# 7,912,915) for doodling. [via Slashdot] [the patent]
NY Federal District Court rejects Google Book Settlement. [SDNY Opinion]
The New York Times tells Twitter to shutdown a retweeting stream. [via Slashdot]
After hacker posts his crime to YouTube, goes to jail. [via Slashdot]
Senators ask Apple to remove DUI checkpoint mapping App. [via The Loop]
Record companies sue Limewire for trillions. [via law.com]
Updates in the GeoHot/Sony case. [via Ars Technica]
HDD search and seizure: should there be more limits? [via Ars Technica]
A victory for plaintiffs (copyright) in class action P2P lawsuits? [via Ars Technica] [D.C. District Court Opinion]
Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has filed a compliant against Amazon for using “App Store” in the context of the “Amazon Appstore Developer Program,” (as of 10:42 EDT, Amazon still hasn’t taken down the reference) which will apparently be some kind of Android app
stor… err, online market for, well, “apps.”
You may recall that we discussed the issues associated with Apple’s application for the “appstore” trademark in some detail on Podcast 92. In sum, Microsoft thinks this mark is generic (and is separately challenging it before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board). I think there is a better argument that this mark is merely descriptive, without a strong secondary meaning. On the other hand, there are only so many ways to describe a online marketplace (a “store”) of software applications (“apps”) without implicating those two words together. So, it’s quite possible that a judge may hold Apple’s claimed mark to fail both for genericide and descriptiveness. Either way, it seems like a tough claim for Apple to defend.
Just about every major tech blog and news site is now carrying this story; but, I’ve yet to see the actual compliant. Once I find that I will post it back here.
3/22 update: Apple v. Amazon compliant added.
Sorry for the late post — I’ve been out of the country and Ben has been busy sharing the flu with Boston. This week we cover the Wisconsin Statehouse, some Smurfs apps and kids (dangerous combination), and the International Music Score Library Project.
Wisconsin Statehouse Accused of Blocking Access to Website
The FTC is Worried About Kids Buying Smurfberries Using their Parents’ iPhones
The International Music Score Library Project — pretty cool.
Comments Off Posted in: Podcast on March 2, 2011