Copyright is a form of protection offered to authors and creators of original works, which include such things as musical, artistic, dramatic, and literary and other intellectual creations, whether published or unpublished. Copyrights protect original and expressions of ideas, but not ideas themselves. For instance, when an author comes up with a theme of love where a girl is in love with a boy, but the parents disapprove the relationship, and after several years of sufferings, the love triumphs, such a theme cannot be monopolized and protected. However, the original work to the theme, such as a movie, book or even music cannot be monopolized. Copyright is crucial for businesses since it gives the creator of the work only exclusive rights to reproduce their works, prepare derivative works, distribute and sell any copies of the work, display and perform copyrighted work publicly. These rights can be assigned as a bundle or separately. This also allows owners generate revenue should any other person opt to reproduce the work.
Copyright infringement takes place when a person other than the copyright holder copies or reproduces the expressions of a work. This simply means that information or ideas are not protected, but protection is on the expression of the idea. Copyright infringement can also occur when a person does not exactly reproduce the work, but the expressed work is substantially similar to already illegally copied work. Copyright Infringement also occurs when a person makes use of any of the rights granted to a copyright owner without express consent of the owner.
However, there are exceptions to copyright infringement when a person can copy or reproduce copyrighted work without outright consent of the copyright holder. One of the exceptions is on Fair Use. This principle permits someone to reproduce copyright work for a limited purpose of reviewing, literary criticism and teaching. Without this principle, colleges and high schools could not be able to review movies and books. Fair Use, however, works on a case-by-case basis. The second exception is the public domain, which happens when the work is no longer covered by copyright law. In this case, the copyright is expired, and anyone can reproduce the work without paying any license fee. The third exception is the Non-Copyrightable Works, which happens when someone uses materials, which cannot be copyrighted like ideas or facts. However, if a person compiles the facts or ideas in the form of a book, then the exception ceases to be functional.
In the attached case, Groove shark is being sued for uploading music and allowing their users to listen to music uploaded by other users, regardless of whether the Groove shark has a license to distribute that song. Apparently, due to record labels' concerns, Google scrapped the Groove shark app from its Android market in 2011. This was approximately eight months after Apple Inc. removed from its App Store for iPhones and other devices, but reinstated it after a judge in a New York court allowed a separate copyright-infringement lawsuit filed only by Universal Music. The judge ruled in favor of ruled in Groove shark’s favor stating that taking down could not insulate the service from infringement claims, and thus the claims could not hold.
Case one: Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co
Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc, which is a telephone cooperative, was responsible, under statutory regulation, to assemble and compile a telephone directory free of charge for all its members in Kansas. Feist Publications, Inc was specializing in compiling phone directories from a wider geographical area other than Kansas. The company had licensed a directory for 11 other locals, with the only one being held-out being Rural’s directory. Rural denied a license to Feist, but the latter copied around 4000 entries from the former’s directory. Rural discovered these using phony entries used to detect copying. Rural sued Feist for copyright infringement (Bitton, 2011).
Before this case, the courts followed the sweat of the brow doctrine, which allowed anyone who invested a substantial amount of efforts and time into their work to acquire copyrights. The case favored that the standard of originality in this case was extremely low since Rural’s directory was only a mere alphabetical list of phone numbers, which the company was lawfully required to compile, and thus, there was no creative expression. The fact the company used a considerable amount to money and time collecting the data was not relevant, and the copyright claim could not hold.
Case 2: ProCD Inc. v. Zeidenberg
ProCD had more 3000 telephone directories compiled into a computer database through software called select a phone, which cost more than $10million to compile, and it is hugely costly to keep it updated. The company charged prices discriminately to its users to be able to recover such costs. Mathew Zeidenberg bought a directory produced by ProCD on CD-ROM as a non-commercial user, and thus paid less than what the commercial users pay. He then set up a website on his computer and started offering the information at a lower fee than what ProCD charged its commercial users (Scudder, 2011). Mathew may not have been aware of the prohibited use, but the package stated that there was a license attached, which splashed on the screen and one would only continue by clicking the acceptance button. Thus, the court held that he would have rejected the terms of the contract instead of accepting, and thus the contract was binding.
Case 3: The National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc. (2nd Cir. 1997)
Motorola manufactured and sold a sports trax device, which uses STATS games data to update users of the device on demonstrations, currents, statistics and final scores. In 1996, NBA won the exclusive rights to transmit scores. NBA claimed that Motorola infringed on them through information misappropriation and six other claims. The court ruled that sports are non-copyrightable since sports events cannot be authored in any common senses of the world (Scudder, 2011).
Case 4: Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc (6th Cir 1996)
This case deals with Fair Use Law. Princeton University sued Michigan Document Services, Inc for copyright infringement for compiling course study packs for the University of Michigan. The printing shop owner refused to pay copyright fees, but the course decided that this did not amount to fair use, and he had to pay the copyright fees.
Case 5: Computer Associates International, Inc. v. Altai, Inc.,
Computer associates created a program for job scheduling, which would control, run and sort various tasks given to a computer, on different operating systems. In 1982, Altai established its own scheduler for VSE operating system (Scudder, 2011). Altai then employed a staff from CA who came with the ideas form CA. they then changed the system with about 30% of CAs codes. CA discovered this and sued for copyright infringement. The courts ruled that there was copyright infringement and offered $364,444 to CA in damages and apportioned earnings.
Case 6: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. National Enterprises
Gerald Ford, former president had written a memoir comprising of an account of his decision to pardon Riched Nixon. He licensed Harper & Row to publish print the excerpts through Time. Instead, the Nation magazine published more that 300words of the excerpt without permission of the publisher of Ford. Consequently, Time withdrew from the contract and Harper &
Case 7: Playboy Enterprises v. Frena., (M.D. Fla. 1993)
Playboy enterprises are a global media and lifestyle enterprise and sell its contents and programs through bulletin board system. Star ware downloaded 9,611 photographs entitled private from the website, distributed and sold them Playboy submitted Undisputed Facts and provided registration certificates for over 53 photos issued by United States Copyright Office (Scudder, 2011). The photos provided by playboy were strikingly similar to the ones with Star ware. Star ware insisted they were not aware that the photos have copyrights. The court decided there was copyright infringement and awarded playboy $1.1 million.
Case 8: A & M Records vs. Napster (2001)
A& M Records, comprising a number of recording companies, filed a joint copyright infringement case accusing Napster of stealing music and availing it to people worldwide. Napster’s ease of accessing and getting music free attracted many users (Scudder, 2011). The court granted a preliminary order since the plaintiff demonstrated reasonable possibility of success.
Case 9: George Harrison vs. Bright Tunes Music Corp.
George Harrison released the song ‘My Sweet Lord’ on January 15 1971 and hit the charts by 23 January. The song was recorded under Apple Label. In 2002, another song, He is so Fine, by Chiffon moved under Bright Tunes Music Corp. The song attracted many fans in the US, but in UK. Harrison was sued for musical infringement and an out of court settlement reached of $587,000.00.
Case 10: Michael Bolton vs. the Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers and Michael Bolton share a song with the same name and some lyrics. Isley Brothere released the songs in 1966 while released his in 1991. Isley Brother sued Bolton for picking some their lyrics. The courts awarded the brothers historic 5.4 million dollars for plagiarism of music.