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Copyright vs Copywrong

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Good news for IP owners last week, as a federal judge dismissed most of Cox Communications’ appeals to the massive, $1 billion fine levied on them by a federal jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. The $1 billion fine is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Big 3 in 2018, which alleges that Cox (a major internet service provider based in Atlanta) benefited from massive piracy committed by many of its subscribers. Which… okay, fair.

In other IP News, the longstanding lawsuit between Yeasayer and The Weeknd was dismissed at the request of both parties. While the details aren’t public, this outcome is consistent with The Weeknd paying a settlement to Yeasayer in exchange for a mutual statement that both parties “confirmed to their satisfaction that no copyright infringement occurred [against Yeasayer] as The Weeknd created the soundtrack for Black Panther”, which is a strange erasure of the soundtrack’s actual EP, Kendrick Lamar.

In related news, the US Copyright Office suggested modifying the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to better protect copyright holders (copyright holders who were most recently seen two paragraphs ago, being awarded $1 billion in damages under the existing protections).

The issue here isn’t whether piracy is ethical (it’s not), it’s the extent to which powerful industry groups like the RIAA are able to shape public policy to their benefit. As groups like the EFF have argued, overzealously protecting a record label’s interests has a real cost, both in terms of the rights of individual Americans, and to free expression on the internet more broadly.

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