Articles Tagged with copyright


blueprintLast week, Public.Resource.Org, through their counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed an action for declaratory judgement against the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, Inc. [SMACNA]. In its complaint, asserts that since SMACNA’s copyrighted standards were explicitly incorporated into federal and state law, they have become part of the public domain and are no longer subject to copyright restrictions.

This saga began when Carl Malamud of Public.Resource.Org began buying copies of privately issued, copyrighted building codes and putting them up online. These codes were incorporated by law into federal and state statutes, so Carl believed that they should be publicly available – a  proposition we agreed with.

When Attributor, an agent for SMACNA, discovered the codes on Public.Resource.Org, they sent a DMCA takedown notice. Public.Resource.Org now seeks a declaratory judgment from the federal courts that it is not infringing. It asserts that since these standards were incorporated by reference into federal law, the manual is now “the law of the United States and compliance with the 1985 manual is mandatory,” and thus is part of federal law – which is not subject to copyright.


On Monday, in the shadow of then-Hurricane (now-Superstorm) Sandy, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a case involving the applicability of U.S. copyright law to copies of works created and legally acquired abroad and subsequently imported into the United States.

In the case, Supap Kirtsaeng, a college student from Thailand studying in the United States, launched a small online business selling textbooks. His family in Thailand bought foreign edition textbooks printed by Wiley Asia and mailed them to Kirtsaeng. Kirtsaeng then sold the textbooks online on sites such as and reimbursed his family for the costs of purchase and shipping, retaining the remaining profits from the sale.

John Wiley & Sons subsequently sued Kirtsaeng in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition under New York state law. As to the copyright claim, the district court judge determined that the language in 17 U.S.C. § 109(a), known as the “first sale doctrine,” does not include copyrighted goods manufactured abroad.

Posted in: Copyright, Laws

Apple was sued for copyright infringement on Wednesday by Swiss fashion and beauty photographer Sabine Liewald. Her lawsuit (below) charges the technology company with unauthorized use of her copyrighted “Eye Closeup” photo in an advertising campaign for Macbook Pro computers, related materials, and a keynote speech, without first obtaining legal rights to license it from her New York City agent.

According to the complaint, Apple actually “requested a high-resolution file” of this specific photograph “for ‘comping’ (or layout) purposes only.” After reviewing it, Liewald maintains, the Cupertino-based company told her agent “that it did not intend to use the photograph” in its Macbook Pro ad campaign, but went ahead and did so anyway.

Tagged: Apple, copyright

Photographer Christopher Boffoli has filed a lawsuit against Twitter in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, claiming infringement of copyrighted photographs. The complaint alleges that “Twitter users copied numerous photographs from the Disparity Series without license or permission from Boffoli . . . . [and] were hosted either on Twitter or on third-party servers.”

Boffoli claims that Twitter could have removed the copyrighted photos from its own servers or “disable[d] each Tweet advertising or linking to” the photographs on its own or third-party servers.

Twitter’s Copyright Policy states that “We will respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable law and are properly provided to us.” However, according to Boffoli’s complaint, despite repeated requests that Twitter take down the copyrighted materials, “Twitter has not removed or disabled access to the [copyrighted photos].”


In October, we blogged about a lawsuit against the editors of tz info, the time zone database for Unix. The editors were sued by a company called Astrolabe, Inc., who claimed a copyright interest in data used to populate the database.

The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff this week. It turns out the EFF got involved. According to their statement,

“In January, EFF advised Astrolabe that Olson and Eggert would move for sanctions if Astrolabe did not withdraw its complaint. Today’s dismissal followed.”

Posted in: Legal News

Here is a rundown of October’s highest scoring lawyers on Justia Legal Answers, along with a look at which Onward blog and Facebook posts readers viewed the most.

Justia Legal Answers’ Top 10 Legal Answerers for October 2011

  1. Dennis Chen, 1,360 points, 28 answers
  2. Tanner Woods Pittman, 500 points, 10 answers
  3. Rodney John Alberto, 910 points, 21 answers
  4. Andrew Bresalier, 475 points, 17 answers
  5. David Philip Shapiro Esq., 450 points, 9 answers
  6. Paul Stanko, 400 points, 8 answers
  7. J. Richard Kulerski Esq., 300 points, 6 answers
  8. Evan Guthrie, 250 points, 5 answers
  9. Jennifer Doerrie, 200 points, 6 answers
  10. Lenore Tsakanikas, 200 points, 4 answers


An interesting copyright suit has come across the wires:  Astrolable, Inc. v. Arthur David Olson and Paul Eggert. The complaint alleges that Defendants infringed on the Plaintiff’s copyright assignment to historical time zone information with their Timezone (tz or zoneinfo) database. The Timezone database, also called the Olson Database, is a library of historical timezone information. It is intended primarily for use with computer systems, notably UNIX (from which Mac OS X is derived). That means that time zone information for computers running UNIX and Mac comes from this library, which is included in the operating system.

The tz database was originally compiled by Arthur David Olson at the NIH, and has been edited and maintained by Paul Eggert at UCLA. Olson and Eggert are the named defendants in this complaint. The database was housed on NIH servers until the complaint at issue was filed. ICANN has since taken over the database. This suit is important because UNIX systems rely on updates to the tzdatabase to run time zone information. The complaint was filed by Astrolabe, Inc., a company that sells astrology software. Astrolabe asserts that it is the copyright assignee for the ACS Atlas. It appears that the heart of the complaint is that defendants used ACS’ historical time zone data to populate the tz database.


Today, the Food and Drug Administration published its final rule on Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements, 76 Fed. Reg. 36628 (June 22, 2011). In general, the FDA opted for a shock-and-awe approach by requiring graphic images with accompanying warning statements on cigarette packaging.

Currently, cigarette packages must bear the following required warnings:

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.

Posted in: Laws

In Mexico, a common line of thought is that projects funded with government money must be a public good. However, Mexican copyright laws challenged this perception after the government-funded Enciclomedia project failed due to fuzzy contracts, political conflicts and a lack of infrastructure.

Initially, the goal of Enciclomedia was to incorporate content from several different government educational programs and Microsoft Encarta into an educational multimedia resource for Mexican public schools. After the project closed, an ex-developer on the Enciclomedia team created Encicloabierta, which published the Enciclomedia content online.

Posted in: Technology

Attention spans are getting shorter.  You can only tweet 140 characters. Courts have pleading length restrictions. Judges’ case dockets are packed.

So, how can you get your case to seize the attention of the judge?

If you can use an image that makes a powerful, effective statement about your client’s stance in the case — e.g., putting a picture of your copyrighted work next to the allegedly infringing work — you could grab the judge’s (or her law clerk’s) attention.