Thursday, October 20, 2011

Supreme Court Updates

Golan v. Holder
A few weeks ago, arguments were held before the Supreme Court in the Golan v. Holder case. The case challenges whether Congress has the ability to grant copyright protection to works that were previously in the public domain (See my previous post on case).

A copy of the transcript is available on the Supreme Court's website.

The Court seemed very engaged in the questioning for this matter which contained numerous hypotheticals, questions of First Amendment scrutiny and whether the government had already granted copyright protection to works that previously did not have any with analogies to 1790’s law and a moment of levity from Justice Breyer.

Vernor v. Autodesk
Back from its summer vacation, the Court denied certification to another copyright case Vernor v. Autodesk.

The case was summarized in previous blog entries:
Battles in Seattle Part 2 of 3: Vernor v. Autodesk
Battles in Seattle Vernor v. Autodesk Decision

This means that the Ninth Circuit decision will stand, thereby making software licenses not subject to the first sale doctrine under Section 109 of the Copyright Act.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Princeton Moves to Open Access for Scholarly Works

Given my previous blog entry on Princeton University and its copyright policy, I thought it fair to show the recent change on Princeton’s policy with respect to copyright for scholarly works for faculty. The university approved a change to its copyright policy to encourage open access. Under the policy, the university is granted a non-exclusive right to make the faculty articles available. The university claims its intended purpose is to prevent faculty from giving away all of their rights in publishing the articles in scholarly journals (which charge fees for their works). It is interesting to note that the university claims that the faculty maintains their exclusive rights in all of their works. (Which seems somewhat contrary to the university’s actions with other works – see previous blog entry.) Of course, faculty members may seek waivers. The university makes it seem that they are following in the footsteps of other universities and hopes that it will force journals to amend their publishing contracts thereby preventing granting full rights to the publishers. This is an interesting concept. I do not know how successful it will be or who stands to benefit the most. The FAQ at the end also provides some insight into the potential impact.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Damages: $1 Billion Dollars Off

In a follow up to the damages awarded in Oracle v. SAP, the court has determined that the $1.3 billion (yes, with a B), awarded by the jury was excessive and contrary to the evidence. The judge presiding over the case believes that $272 million was the amount proved. The judge has indicated that there may be a new trial if Oracle does not accept the lower award. Early indications were that Oracle may consider challenging the ruling. It is extremely rare that copyright damages amount to $272 million dollars but I guess when you consider that the judge is offering $1 billion dollars less, $272 million does not seem as much. What will Oracle decide? Will it be worth the effort to go after a billion?