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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Copyright Doctrine: IPSC2016

IPSC - Breakout Session II - Copyright Doctrine

Summaries and discussion below the break. If I didn't know the questioner, I didn't guess. If you asked a question and I missed you, feel free to identify yourself in the comments.

Copyright State of Mind – Edward Lee

Reforming Infringement – Abraham Bell & Gideon Parchomovsky

Authorship and Audience Appeal – Tim McFarlin

Free as the Heir?: Contextualizing the Role of Copyright Successors – Eva Subotnik

 Leveraging Death: IP Estates and Shared Mourning – Andrew Gilden

 

Copyright State of Mind – Edward Lee

Offering a descriptive taxonomy about how state of mind is used in copyright law.

2d Circuit in Prince v. Cariou: transformative use, the first factor in the fair use test: objective state of mind

9th Circuit in Lenz v. Universal: DMCA 512(f) violation: subjective state of mind

State of mind re: copyright liability - it is often said that copyright infringement strict liability. This differs from criminal law, where mens rea (criminal intent) typically matters.

If we look beyond liability, state of mind figures prominently in many different copyright doctrine. For example, authorship, including intent to be joint authors (both objective indicia and subjective intent). We haven't considered the intent of the lawsuit - are we protecting copyright or privacy, for example, but Judge McKeown on the Ninth Circuit recently argued we should. For ISPs, we have the red flag cases which have both subjective and objective elements.

Dave Fagundes: Property also deals with intent. Adverse possession and first possession have a whole mess of intent-related doctrines. Perhaps the ownership intent doctrines might help conceptualize these issues.

Pam Samuelson: Think about remedies as well. Innocent infringement, as well as willful infringement. It can play out also in relation to injunctive relief. Plaintiff's state of mind might matter with regard to obtaining injunctive relief. See also the new Kirtsaeng attorneys' fee case.

Ed Lee: Perhaps I should also look at the Supreme Court's patent cases.

Matthew Sag: If there is a universal theory about what state of mind should be for any of these doctrines, is there a logic that connects us to why we have copyright in the first place?

Ed Lee: I'm skeptical of a uniform theory. See, for instance, DMCA which is a negotiation between stakeholders.

Dmitry Karshtedt: My understanding is that civil liability more objective than subjective, while for criminal liability, intent is more subjective. and should we see the same play out in copyright?

 

Reforming Infringement – Abraham BellGideon Parchomovsky

We have an immodest goal of reforming remedies in copyright, more systematically including culpability in the analysis. Under the reformed regime, we would treat inadvertent infringement (where the infringer was unaware and couldn't reasonable become aware) and willful infringement (blatant disregard of copyright law) different from standard infringements (with a reasonable risk assumption).

The close cases are in the middle category of standard infringement. The default is standard infringement. Compensatory damages should be awarded in every case. Injunctions would be rare and no restitution for lost profits awarded in the inadvertent cases. We are trying to preserve statutory damages only for cases where it is difficult to prove actual damages. So the defendant in the standard infringement case could argue that statutory damages exceed actual damages.

Why bring it in? 1) Information forcing - incentivize owners of copyright to clarify ownership and terms of licenses. 2) Avoid overdeterrence of follow-on creation. 3) Increase fairness.

Ted Sichelman: In the patent context, we worry about transaction / licensing costs. It may matter for copyright as well. For example, if the work is an orphan work, why should I face huge potential liability?

Abraham: The inquiry should account for the difficulty of finding the copyright owner.

Ian Ayres: Does any kind of negligence go to willfulness because there is no reasonable basis for non-infringement?

Abraham: It's not clear how we would calculate such a thing: What is a reasonable risk, re: evaluation of risk of law. We're treating standard as a residual category. But we are still arguing about this point.

Pam Samuelson: Have you been thinking about remedies re: secondary liability? The framework appears to deal with direct liability, but secondary liability cases may be the more complicated cases, where we wonder how culpable is the platform? The statute tries to grapple with through 512.

Abraham: We didn't think about secondary liability until we talked with Lisa Ramsey last week.

Pam: Secondary liability is the area that needs the most reform!

Abraham: We'll have to bracket this right now. Secondary seems to follow primary, and we don't have a better model right now.

Shyam Balganesh: How much of your proposal unravels other parts of the system? Are you accounting for systemic effects? For example, if information forcing matters, why not deal with that through a heightened notice requirement? Do you think infringement is independently problematic, or is it the best place for achieving information forcing goals?

Abraham: Unlike information forcing, overdeterrence is harder to fix with levers in other places. This isn't the only way to accomplish these goals, and we don't claim that, or that it's the best way.

Jerry Liu: Is it necessary, from an overdeterrence standpoint, to distinguish between willful and standard infringement? Google Books was arguably willful infringement, but it was also efficient infringement.

Abraham: I think Google probably was a standard infringer, from a culpability standpoint. They took a fair use gamble, and they won.

Jerry: How about the MP3.com case?

Abraham: You can make an argument that format change / transferring medium is fair use, so standard.

 

Authorship and Audience Appeal – Tim McFarlin

Recent projects have looked at disputes between Chuck Berry and his piano player, and Orson Welles and a script-writer. In both cases, questions of audience appeal have been nagging at me, and I want to explore that further.

Can we better use audience appeal in the infringement context than the authorship context?

Audience appeal, from the Aalmuhammed v. Lee case (9th Cir 2000), is an important factor. Audience appeal turns on both contributions, (by potential coauthors), but "the share of each in the success cannot be appraised," citing Learned Hand.  If that's right, and we can't evaluate audience appeal in the authorship context, is it a junk factor? If we can, how do we do it? And if we can, should we?

What do courts do with audience appeal? Mentioned in 21 cases, but 9 ignored it in reaching the decision. 9 found it weighed in favor of joint authorship, and 3 found it weighed against joint authorship?

How do we appraise it? If we find evidence of audience appeal from both contributions, at what point is the smaller contribution too small? 60/40?

Might audience appeal help with questions of infringement, for example in the Taurus / Led Zepellin case? Might we consider the appeal of Stairway to Heaven v. the appeal of Spirit's Taurus as a reason for public interest to weigh against injunctive relief? See Abend v. MCA (9th Cir. 1998).

Jake Linford: Perhaps talk to Paul Heald about his research on how musicians copy from each other. There is some potential danger in using audience appeal to decide infringement, injunctive relief, or damages, because that leads to a copyright regime where the party who is best-placed to take advantage of the works gets to use and make money with it, even if that party doesn't pay.

Peter DiCola: You are right to challenge Learned Hand. Audience appeal can be appraised. The question is whether it can be appraised convincingly. The part about in general where does audience appeal matter may be too general, and may not be at the heart of your paper.

Pam Samuelson: Some works have audience appeal, some don't, and it might not be relevant for unconventional expressive works For example, the internal design of computer programs are not appealing. You may need to unpack works where appeal matters and where it doesn't.

Jani McCutcheon: Watch where trademark and copyright protection overlap on this issue.

 

Free as the Heir?: Contextualizing the Role of Copyright Successors – Eva Subotnik

This paper is inspired by two recent controversies surrounding Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird: the appearance of Go Set a Watchmen, and the decision by her estate to pull the student-priced paperback from the marketplace. Both of these stories are murky. Lee may not have been in her right mind when Go Set a Watchmen was released, and the announcement from Hachette about the student-priced paperback suggest both the estate and Lee wanted the low-priced version discontinued.

Should motivations of the author or the heir matter for copyright decisions? Eva argues that it should. The law should be tougher on post-death copyright successors. We should treat them more like stewards, and require some duties on their part. If copyright ownership limits post-mordem access, heirs should be encouraged to take care.

What might stewardship mean? It has its origins in theology, traditionally applied to land. It's taken on a secular cast today. Stewardship suggests that the owner has duties as well as rights. Stewardship has something in common with commons advocates - copyright should be forward looking, and concerned about future generations. Bobbi Kwall has argued that authors are stewards, and I think it should be applied to heirs as well. Unlike authors, publishers, and distributors who did work with the work, stewardships step in as recipients of a gift, and perhaps they should step into some duties.

Application: Eva doesn't argue for a statutory change, and it's not clear stewardship would change the analysis of the Harper Lee issues, but stewardship could change fair use analysis, for example with biographers and scholars. When the heir has the ownership of a sole copy, stewardship could matter [JL: unclear to me how]. Perhaps stewardship could allow authors to better shape stewardship of their legacy. [JL: Doesn't the termination provision already exclude wills?]

Brad Greenberg: A potential disconnect between assignments and statutory heirs of termination rights. What if the author's assignee is a good steward, and the children are poor heirs, from a stewardship standpoint? Is Stewart v. Abend's analysis of the renewal right a problem for your analysis? Should we also apply stewardship duties to non-author copyright owners?

Eva: To my mind, a post-death successor gains enhanced prominence in managing the copyright after death, and I'm trying to say something specific to that group of copyright owners.

Dave Fagundes: I like the idea of stewardship, but it's still inchoate, and I can't tell to whom is the steward responsible? The work? The public? The author's intent? What if authors wanted their families to be taken care of?

Eva: You could also add the author's legacy, which may differ from author's intent. [JL: This reminds me of Mira Sundara Rajan's project from the first breakout session.] 

Ed Lee: Perhaps the moral rights of integrity literature could also be helpful, which is more about legacy than children.

Giancarlo Frosio: French case 2007 might be helpful. See also Kant.

 

Leveraging Death: IP Estates and Shared Mourning – Andrew Gilden

Scholars seem to distrust claims by estates and heirs, but the tend to succeed in advocating for statutory change, and winning cases before the courts. But I found some recent claims that sound in mourning and grief that perhaps we shouldn't discount in copyright and right of publicity cases.

IP Narratives that are traditionally invoked:

1) Anti-exploitation. Randy California was badgered for years to sue Jimmy Page, but his heirs stepped in to claim some recognition for him.

2) Family privacy. James Joyce / J.D. Salinger estates

3) Purity narratives. Limit downstream uses, especially those that raise potential sexual purity. 

4) Inheritance. It's all that the author left to the family.

5) Custody (like child custody). Children as caretakers of the work.

Copyright scholarship tends to ignore these types of claims, but we see them invoked successfully in cases like family businesses, bodily disposition, organs and genetic information, digital assets, like email, and succession laws dealing with omitted family members.

What would happen if IP took these interests seriously? Perhaps there is a desire for shared mourning and grief, both by authors' heir and fans. Fans circulate and disseminate broadly as part of public mourning, but mourning families look inward, seek silence, achieve some semblance of privacy. These interests might not be as irrational as we might think.

One solution might be to bring issues of estate planning more to the fore. Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra created a family business when they secured copyright, whether they meant to or not.

Rebecca Curtin: You've made a very sympathetic case, and you've repeatedly spoken about family. Do you mean family, or could you include designated heirs, like the Ray Charles foundation? What might that mean?

Andrew: We may need to think differently about those who inherit intestate and those who don't.

Brad Greenberg: The incentive theory of inheritance suggests that authors will create in part to benefit children. But there could be a labor theory of inheritance: this was the authors, like the children, and it goes to the children. In addition, is this really about IP, or just copyright?

Andrew: Copyright and right of publicity. My take is more of the labor than the incentive theory.

Q: Why does the right publicity survive death?

Andrew: Jennifer Rothman has a very good paper on this. Right of publicity is labelled as property, and property descends, so in some states it descends.

Peter DiCola: I enjoy the presentation, and I ask not to upset the applecart, but what might the First Amendment tell us about these arguments about importance of controlling meaning?

Andrew: I don't think these insights should change fair use outcomes, but my concern is that heirs' motivations are okay, especially in light of how they work in other cases. The emotional appeals are not inherently problematic. (Although I have some problems with the purity rationale).

Jake Linford: Is this project normative as well as descriptive?

Andrew: It started more descriptive, but normatively, I see no problem. Prescriptively, perhaps we could ask authors to be more clear about how their intent at registration / protection, for example.

Giancarlo: Is there space for a moral rights style argument here? 

Andrew: Perhaps attribution is the best moral rights claim.

Giancarlo: Is there a mechanism is the composers of Blurred Lines had said no? Can you make the heirs grant a license?

Andrew: Blurred Lines is a declaratory judgment action - the derivative authors brought the case to foreclose liability.

Tim: The estate's emotional appeal in the Taurus complaint may have been somewhat strategic, trying to deal with the perception of greedy, rent-seeking heirs by promising to give money to sick children.

 

 

Posted by Jake Linford on August 11, 2016 at 06:37 PM in Blogging, Criminal Law, Information and Technology, Intellectual Property, Legal Theory, Property, Torts, Web/Tech | Permalink

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