Copyright Owners Versus Car Makers on 1992 Digital Statute’s Meaning

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC) sued General Motors and other car manufacturers and parts suppliers for violating the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA).  The AHRA, which is included in the Copyright Act, sets copying technology control and royalty payment requirements for manufacturers, importers, and distributers of digital audio recording devices (DARDs).  AARC is a non-profit organization responsible for enforcing the AHRA and collecting and distributing the royalties to sound recording artists and copyright owners.  The AARC alleged that the car manufacturers installed DARDs in certain car models without complying with the AHRA or paying royalties.

The defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit or for judgment on the pleadings.  They argued that none of the devices at issue met the AHRA’s DARD definition and that the AHRA’s technology limits and royalty payment requirements do not apply.  The district court agreed with the defendant’s interpretation of the AHRA for the most part, but thought that the AARC’s allegations were sufficient to survive the defendants’ motions and denied the motions.

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Discovery Rule Bars Website Display Claims, But Not Other Copying Claims

Design Basics (DB) publishes and licenses architectural designs.  Carhart sells home building products and provides blueprint drafting services.  On February 24, 2010, DB’s senior designer investigated Carhart’s website for infringing elevations and printed parts of Carhart’s website containing elevations he thought looked substantially similar to DB’s designs.

DB sued Carhart for copyright infringement on April 18, 2013, alleging that Carhart infringed DB’s copyrights on April 20, 2010.  Carhart filed a motion for summary judgement, arguing that DB’s copyright infringement claims were barred by the statute of limitations.  The district court granted Carhart’s motion with respect to some of DB’s copyright infringement claims, but not others.

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Website’s HTML Code, But Not Look and Feel, Protectable by Copyright

Media.net Advertising is an online contextual-advertising provider.  Customers can use Media.net’s web based platform to create custom ads.  Media.net registered its copyrights for its Original Media.net Results Page and its Revised Media.net Results Page.  The registrations listed HTML Code and text as the type of work created. 

Media.net sued competitor NetSeer for copyright infringement, alleging that NetSeer directly copied Media.net’s HTML code, including the non-functional portions of the code, and that NetSeer created its own search results page using the code it copied from Media.net.  NetSeer moved for summary judgment Media.net’s copyright claims on that basis that Media.net’s copyright registrations did not contain copyrightable material.   NetSeer also moved to dismiss the complaint for failing to identify the portions of Media.net’s HTML code that NetSeer copied.

The district court ruled that Media.net’s copyright registrations contain copyrightable subject matter and are valid and denied NetSeer’s motion for summary judgment.

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