Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New German Copyright Law


Despite its "Defend Your Net" campaign last year, Google was unable to prevent changes to German copyright law that may mean it has to pay up for news excerpts it indexes. The company announced that unlike the other 60 countries where Google News operates by relying on sources to opt out of inclusion by request, robots.txt file or meta tags, it's requiring German publishers to opt-in.

According to Google, it's providing six billion visits per month to publishers worldwide as a free service, not something it should have to pay for. As TechCrunch points out, the issue comes as a result of the new German law that allows search engines to continue to publish snippets of news without paying, but isn't clear about just how much information that can include.

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Black Flag v. Flag: The Battle of the Reunited Bands


Two versions of the seminal hardcore punk band Black Flag have reunited and are playing the band's songs on tour. Greg Ginn (of Black Flag and SST Records) has filed a lawsuit against FLAG (the Black Flag band featuring Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson and Chuck Dukowski.)

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ginn filed a lawsuit on August 2, claiming that the name Flag, along with that band's use of the iconic four bars logo, was a copyright infringement.

Ginn claims that he and his label SST Records own the rights to the name and logo, and that "Flag" is a "colorable imitation" that's "likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers."

Henry Rollins is also named as a defendant, even though he has nothing to do with either of the current Black Flag lineups.

You can check out the full lawsuit here.

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SDNY Court Says Music Downloads Cannot Be Resold


It is a common problem we all face at some point. You stumble across a song or album in your music library and think, "Why did I buy this? There is no way I will ever listen to this again." If the music is in a physical format, such as a CD or vinyl record, the solution is very simple: take it to your local resale shop and walk away with a little extra cash in your pocket.

This practice is legal thanks to the first-sale doctrine, which was established by the Supreme Court in 1908 in Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus and codified in the Copyright Act of 1976. The first-sale doctrine allows a person who has obtained a copyrighted work, such as a CD, by legitimate means to dispose of the copyrighted work. This happens every day at your local book, music, and movie resale shops.

But what happens if you want to get rid of a digital copy of that embarrassing pop album? You can simply delete it, but that seems like a waste. Why not resell it? Isn't it just like a CD? A Southern District of New York court provided the answer this week in Capitol Records v Redigi: No, at least not in the manner Redigi provided to users.

Redigi lost its most recent appeal after being accused of copyright infringement by Capitol Records. Redigi allows users to sell strictly digital music to others on the internet. While the startup tries to keep traders honest by forcing them delete originals after a resale, the process, because of its digital nature, still involves making a copy of the track without Capitol's permission, according to the court. There is no indication what damages Redigi may have to pay, but there is enough legal precedent in the case that it is doubtful others will follow in Redigi's footsteps.

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After 5 years in court, end of the line for the Download Martyr


Today, the Eighth Circuit upheld a jury verdict awarding statutory damages to a group of major record labels in the file-sharing case of Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset. The defendant in the case, Thomas-Rasset, became the face of those who the RIAA pursued through litigation and was given the nickname, "the Download Martyr." The companies Thomas-Rassett fought include Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, InterscopeRecords, and Warner Bros. Records, among others.

The original trial dates back to 2007. It began after music companies accused Thomas-Rasset of willfull infringement of 24 songs by posting them on the former file sharing site Kazaa. After the initial trial, the court raised the issue of whether jury instructions where in error when they stated that “making available” a work online was sufficient to show distribution, or whether evidence of actual distribution to another person must be proven. The court granted a new trial, which resulted in a jury verdict of $1,920,000 against Thomas-Rasset. The judge lowered the jury award to $54,000. The record labels rejected this, and a third trial, solely on the amount of damages, was held in late 2010. The jury entered a much higher verdict of $1,500,000 against Thomas-Rasset, which the judge subsequently reduced the award to $54,000 on constitutional grounds. The most recent trial is the result of appeals by both parties.

The most interesting issue to come out of this case deals with the ruling on the "making avaliable" issue. District courts are divided on whether "making avaliable" amounts to distribution. It becomes difficult for plaintiffs, here the copyright holders, to prove that a particular person actually passed the particular file along to another user. The music companies wanted the court to equate distrubution with a broad definition of "making avaliable," thus making it easier to find damages against file sharers. The court, however, kept silent and declined to review the “making available” issue.

Although Thomas-Rasset's attorneys have indicated they will appeal to the Supreme Court, it is unlikely she will convince them to review her case.

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