Users of Free Video Apps Can Forget About Video Privacy Protection

Can a person who downloads and uses a free mobile app on her smartphone sue the app provider for invading her privacy when the app provider shares her viewing history with a third party?  No, says the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), 18 U.S.C. §2710, prohibits video tape service providers from knowingly disclosing personally identifiable information about a consumer to a third party.  Consumers whose rights have been violated under the VPPA can recover damages against the offending video tape service provider.

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Santa Song Reverts to the Author’s Heirs in Grant Termination Bid

J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie wrote the musical composition “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” (the Song) in the 1930s.  Through a series of grants, EMI came to own the copyright in the Song.  Coots’ heirs brought suit against EMI to terminate EMI’s copyright interests in the Song.  The district court ruled in EMI’s favor, determining that EMI owns the copyright until it expires in 2029.  My post Santa Claus Song Copyright Grant Not Terminated and Under Copyright Until 2029 details the district court’s ruling.

Copyright grant termination gives authors or their heirs a “second estate” in a copyright by allowing the author or heirs to reclaim the rights that the author previously assigned to someone else, usually a publishing company.  That way, the author or heirs can share more broadly in the financial benefits of a successful copyrighted work.

The Second Circuit concluded that Coots’ heirs’ 2007 termination notice will terminate a 1981 grant in 2016.  The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded for the entry of a declaratory judgment in favor of Coots’ heirs.

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No Copyright Protection for Hot Yoga Sequence

People engage in yoga training to achieve anything ranging from spiritual fulfillment to overall physical fitness.  Bikram Choudhury developed a sequence of twenty-six yoga poses and two breathing exercises (the Sequence), described in his book, Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class.  Choudhury’s Bikram Yoga studios offer instruction in performing the Sequence over a ninety minute session in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  Choudhury actively markets the health and fitness benefits the Sequence provides.  Mark Drost and Zefea Samson completed the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training course and later, in 2009, opened Evolution Yoga.  Evolution Yoga teaches a 26 posture and 2 breathing exercise routine performed in 90 minutes in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room. 

Choudhury and Bikram’s Yoga College of India, L.P. sued Evolution Yoga for infringing Bikram’s copyright in the Sequence.  The district court granted Evolution’s motion for summary judgement on the copyright infringement issue, ruling that the Sequence is a collection of facts and ideas that is not entitled to copyright protection.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

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Copyright Protects the Batmobile Better Than Even Batman Can!

Mark Towle built and sold unauthorized replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 Batman TV show and in the 1989 BATMAN movie.  DC Comics publishes and owns the copyright to the Batman comic books.  DC Comics sued Towle for copyright infringement.  Towle argued that the Batmobile was not subject to copyright protection, but even if it was, DC Comics did not own the copyrights to the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 TV show and the 1989 movie. 

The district court ruled that the Batmobile was a character entitled to copyright protection, that DC owned the copyright in the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 TV show and the 1989 movie and that Towle infringed DC’s copyright.  The district court granted DC’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claim.  I blogged about the district court’s decision in Batmobile Not Excluded From Copyright Protection As a Matter of Law, Rules District Court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s copyright decision.

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