Although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Miley Cyrus has settled a $300 million lawsuit concerning the origins of her popular hit “We Can’t Stop.” Initially filed in 2018, Michael May, also known as Flourgon, accused Cyrus and Sony Corp’s RCA Records of negligently infringing upon the copyright of his 1988 song, “We Run Things.” While a similarity exists in one of the lyrics, the two songs are not identical, so is this really a case of copyright infringement? The two parties involved have not left the matter for the courts to decide. Continue reading
Netflix has had tons of success in the last few years, rising from the ashes to become a technology powerhouse. The business model is a low cost, subscription-based service providing content to consumers who love their tv shows and movies. One of the most successful pieces of original content is the Netflix-original Stranger Things, a sci-fi / fantasy series about kids in the 1980s who experience (you guessed it) “strange things”. Even stranger is that the now famous images used to promote the show, which an ominous thunderstorm system moving through the clouds, allegedly infringes on a Montana photographer’s copyright. As such, he is taking Netflix to court and seeking damages regarding this misuse of his image. Continue reading
Catherine Conrad makes a living as an inspirational speaker, personal motivator, and also delivers singing telegrams dressed in a banana suit. After several incidents with clients which ended up in Ms. Conrad filing multiple lawsuits, it seems the U.S. District Courts have had enough. A recent ruling against the Wisconsin-native claims that although those who receive the banana-grams take pictures and videos, Catherine has no copyright claim over the over-sized, yellow costume. Previously, she had filed infringement lawsuits of anywhere between $40,000 and $80,000. A jurist recently declared that her accusations and demands were “without merit” and an “abuse of the legal process”. Read more
Concluding an ongoing legal battle over a toy company’s potentially illegal use of a hit song created by the musical group Beastie Boys, the two parties have officially settled the lawsuit. According to a spokesperson for GoldieBlox, the settlement includes “the issuance of an apology posted to GoldieBlox’s website, [and] payment by GoldieBlox, based on a percentage of its revenues, to one or more charities selected by [the] Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls (Blistein, Rolling Stone, 2014). The Beastie Boys song “Girls,” was first released in 1987 and included lyrics such as “Girls to do to this dishes…Girls to do the laundry” (Blistein, Rolling Stone, 2014). GoldieBlox altered the catchy song’s original lyrics to help promote the company’s incentive of empowering young girls to become more involved in the sciences and engineering industries. GoldieBlox’s video for the Princess Machine was eventually removed from the internet but not before the video went viral and garnered over seven million views.
Limewire, the P2P file sharing software, has agreed to yet another settlement in copyright infringement litigation, this time with the indie label representative group Merlin. The software company, which allowed users to transfer music and other copyrighted files between each other, previously settled with major record labels for $105 million. As part of a court order, Limewire has been unavailable to download since October, 2010. Today’s announcement deals with the smaller labels, who represent such artists as multiple-Grammy winning Adele. In the much-publicized lawsuits against Napster, the indie labels were left out of the settlements due to a lack of resources, despite being affected just as much as the major labels. The Merlin group was created to offset this imbalance, representing a multitude of labels and boosting their ability to defend themselves against copyright infringement.
As the world moves beyond physical copies of records and towards direct digital downloads, what does the future look like for record companies and copyright? Napster and P2P networks of that ilk represented a new wave of interaction between people and music. Free digital copies of songs, despite being illegal, were an irresistible lure for many users. The fallout of litigation against the companies, though, did little to stop this proliferation of easy-to-use digital downloads. After Napster came Kazaa, then Grokster, then Limewire, all fallen by mountainous legal fees. However, a look at the current popularity and resilience of Bittorrent and the Pirate Bay reveals that free illegal downloads are not going away. So, the problem is not simply a matter of law. It’s a matter of customer preferences. Record companies now have to compete with free, which to them is impossible, leading to buckets of litigation as a solution. Another avenue is to make buying music easier and more satisfying than the free option — a solution that Apple has capitalized on with the popularity of the iTunes music store, and which Amazon and Yahoo are now starting to explore. Perhaps labels need to adapt to this change instead of fighting it. Surely their legal fees will go down, if nothing else.
Read more about copyright infringement:
- Spinning the Online Piracy Debate, via the Wall Street Journal
- A comic demonstration of the appeal of free, via the Oatmeal
- Pirate Bay Switches to Magnet Links, via ZDNet