In a decision closely watched by the visual arts community and content creators alike, the U.S. Supreme Court held on May 19, 2023, that pop artist Andy Warhol’s orange silkscreen portrait of the musician Prince (“Orange Prince”), adapted from photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s original photograph of Prince, was not “fair use” under copyright law. Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, 598 U.S. _ (2023).Read More
Generative AI systems like ChatGPT and DALL-E have been attracting media attention for their potential to cause disruption across a range of industries. In a recent report, Goldman Sachs estimated that generative AI systems could impact 300 million full-jobs globally. In the same report, Goldman Sachs found that the same AI systems could also boost global productivity and lead to a 7% increase in annual global GDP.Read More
A clear cut case of copyright infringement involving Twisted Sister’s hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (WNGTI) has demonstrated the Court’s willingness to award significant financial penalties where intellectual property rights have been “flagrantly” infringed.
In Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd v Palmer (No 2)  FCA 434, Justice Katzmann of the Federal Court ordered Australian businessman and United Australia Party (UAP) founder Clive Palmer to pay AU$1.5 million in damages after finding that he had infringed copyright in WNGTI. Katzmann J notably awarded AU$1 million in additional damages, two-thirds of the total award, under section 115(4) of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Act).
The action was brought against Mr Palmer by joint applicants Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd and Songs of Universal (collectively, Universal), which are the exclusive Australian licensee and copyright assignee respectively.Read More
On Monday, 21 December, U.S. Congressional leaders passed a spending bill that included government funding and folded in several controversial intellectual property provisions that will expand the rights of intellectual property owners. These provisions include the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforce (CASE) Act, the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), and a law to make certain illegal streaming a felony. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on 27 December 2020.Read More
In the recent judgment State of Escape Accessories Pty Limited v Schwartz  FCA 1606, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia found a fashionable neoprene tote bag was not a “work of artistic craftsmanship” and therefore not an “artistic work” for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (the Act). Since the Court found that copyright did not subsist in the State of Escape bag (the Escape Bag), there was no finding of copyright infringement.Read More
In April, we wrote about the judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability)  FCA 535 (Decision), in which Glass Candy and Air France were found to have infringed the copyright in the well-known 1970s hit song “Love is in the Air” (Love).
Now, in the recent judgement Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Scope of Injunction)  FCA 1413, the Federal Court of Australia has finalised the injunctive orders necessary to give effect to the Court’s earlier conclusions on the issue of liability in the Decision, amongst other matters.Read More
On September 2, 2020, a California federal judge denied musician Taylor Swift’s motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims related to the lyrics in Swift’s hit song Shake It Off. On remand from the Ninth Circuit, the district court held the merger doctrine did not apply at this stage and that plaintiffs Nathan Butler and Sean Hall sufficiently alleged a protectable sequence of creative expression and substantial similarity in the lyrics at issue. This ruling comes nearly three years after Hall and Butler originally filed suit, and nearly one year after the Ninth Circuit breathed new life into the case by reversing the district court’s prior dismissal of this lawsuit.Read More
In its recent judgment (Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability)  FCA 535), the Federal Court of Australia has found that an American electronic musical duo copied the celebrated Australian disco song ‘Love Is In The Air’. The decision confirms that the sound of lyrics as sung forms part of a musical work. Furthermore, a short sung lyric with attending music can be the ‘essential air’ of a song.
While determining only “modest” levels of copyright infringement occurred and dismissing most claims for damages, Justice Perram described the copying as “flagrant” and indicated there will be a further hearing to assess damages.Read More
Who owns a celebrity’s tattoo, and the extent to which that tattoo can be displayed in a commercial context, raises right of publicity, copyright, and trademark issues. A district court in the recent Solid Oak case found no copyright infringement where a video game incorporated tattoos as inked on professional NBA players. Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. 2K Games, Inc., No. 16-CV-724-LTS-SDA (S.D.N.Y. March 26, 2020).
This case considered use of tattoos as part of lifelike depictions of professional athletes in video games, however the ruling easily relates to individuals with tattoos who commodify their likeness such as celebrities, social media influencers, and musicians.Read More
Late last year, Judge Baird of the Australian Federal Circuit Court handed down a decision in the case of Henley Arch v Del Monaco, a copyright infringement matter in respect of a project home design.
The claim was brought by well-known Australian builder Henley Arch, who readers might also recall from the 2016 decision in Henley Arch v Lucky Homes. The respondent in this case was an individual who owned a property in Pakenham (Melbourne), Victoria.Read More