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Copyright infringement case
Learning Copyright Law through Copyright Infringement Cases
Copyright infringement cases can be both costly and time consuming. Considering copyright infringement is something that isn?t as easily defined as theft or speeding, there are numerous copyright infringement cases that are changing the way copyright law is viewed in the United States of America. By reviewing a few of these copyright infringement cases, you?ll be able to get a better idea of what is, and is not, acceptable use of copyrighted works.
As a forward, however, you?ll need to know a little bit about copyright law. Most copyright lawsuits are brought to the courts because a copyright owner has found their copyright is being used outside the copyright laws. This usually means that the copyright holder hadn?t been asked for permission to use the work, or if they had, that the work is not being used in an agreed-upon context or they have not been paid royalties. The copyright infringement cases, listed below, give a sampling of what goes to the Supreme Court in copyright infringement.
Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Co (6th Cir. 1996)
This copyright infringement case was brought upon the Supreme Court in 1996 regarding the copyright of a database. The supreme court, in this instance, decided that compilations of data (such as in a database) are only protected by copyright when they are ?arranged and selected in an original manner.? Although the level of originality needed to make the database copyright-able is not very high, the pages of a directory such as a phone book are not protect-able because the data contained therein is arranged geographically, then alphabetically. Because of this, the data was not original enough to warrant a copyright infringement charge, and the competing telephone company was allowed to tap into their competitors? database and use that data in their own work without liability.
Princeton University Press v. Michigan Document Services, Inc (6th Cir 1996)
This case has to do with the ?fair use? law, which is defined in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107. In this case, a photocopying service was sued for copyright infringement for making ?course packs? for the University of Michigan. In this case, a course pack was a group of reading materials assigned by a professor ? then the course pack was bound together by a professional copy shop.
In the fair use system, there is a system available for payment of copyright fees to publishers whose works are used in course materials, the printing shop owner refused to pay the copyright cost. When it went to the Supreme Court, they analyzed the fair use code and found that it was NOT fair use, and the printing shop had to pay the copyright costs.
As you can see, copyright infringement cases are cases in which someone violates the rights of a copyright owner, as provided by 17 USC §106, or of the author as provided in §106A. These copyright infringement cases can be taken to either criminal or civil court, and can carry with it a hefty fine.
Copyright infringement cases are brought upon people who violate copyrights every day. In recent times, you?ll find many copyright cases in relation to electronic copyrights ? such as those you?d find on a website or PDF file, as well as other digital media such as music and audio files.
It?s probable that you?ve seen copyright cases brought against the common person ? such as a child or family ? for downloading digital music in the form of MP3s. In the current internet age we?re in, it?s not surprising to see so many music and video copyright cases brought to us because of peer to peer file sharing made possible by the internet. You can be certain that until people know the rules of copyright, and downloading copyrighted material from the internet that we?ll see many more copyright cases.
Software Copyright Laws Software Copyright Laws Fail to Provide Adequate Protection Software copyright laws are among the most difficult to enforce among the masses. Many companies and corporations are also well known for overlooking these laws, which were designed to protect the makes of software from not earning their worth. Perhaps one of the biggest hitches leading so many software businesses to go out of business is the fact that they have a great deal of difficulty actually enforcing the software copyright laws that are in place and getting the money that is owed them according to the agreements that have been made with those on the using end of the software. Software developers, particularly in the corporate world design software that makes other companies run more efficiently. The software allows these companies to save millions of dollars each year. Software copyright laws protect the interests of the software developers that create these massive programs. These programs are often designed specifically for that one company and are very expensive. The agreement often consists of a certain number of users with the company purchasing more licenses or copies of the software during expansions or paying some sort of royalties for the use of the software. The purchasing companies agree to this and then more often than not fail to honor that agreement. The agreement is what allows this company to use that software, this agreement is what allows that permission. When companies aren't living up to their end of this agreement they are not only guilty of breaching that agreement but also of breaking software copyright laws. The trouble always lies in proving that they are not honoring the contract and the extent and duration of the breach. Some of the ways that companies will argue in defense of them not paying the royalties, additional fees, purchasing additional software, etc. is that they upgraded computers and reused the old software (they did actually purchase the rights to use the original software and by doing so feel that they have broken no software copyright laws) the problem lies in the fact that adding ten new computers and placing the software on those should mean that you remove it from or get rid of 10 old computers. This is rarely how it works. So now they've basically stolen ten copies of software that can be well worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Multiply this by 10, 20, or 100 companies trying this or worse each year and the offending companies are costing software developers millions of dollars in profits. This is when software copyright laws are not as far reaching in their scope as they really need to be. Software copyright laws exist to protect the software companies from this type of abuse and misuse, however, the hands of the companies are almost unilaterally tied when it comes to proving that software copyright laws have been broken in court. There are always exceptions to every rule. In this case big business software developers that abuse the software copyright laws to the point of breaking make the exceptions rather than miserly consumers that do not wish to pay for the products they are consuming. The big boys are able to do this by offering licenses for their software and claiming that these laws do not apply to their situation because they are not actually selling the software only 'renting' out permission for people or companies to 'use' that software. The true irony is that these practices began as a response to the corporate irresponsibility mentioned above. It's amazing that the very software copyright laws that were created to protect these companies can't protect their consumers from the greed of the developing companies.