Candidate Sued By Fox Notes That Much Of The Content Is Public Domain

from the keystone-copyright-cops dept

We recently wrote about News Corp.'s slightly odd decision to sue a political candidate, Robin Carnahan, who used a clip from Fox News (of Chris Wallace attacking Carnhan's opponent, Roy Blunt). Carnahan has hit back, and beyond just arguing the obvious fair use defense (which seems like it should win), Carnahan points out that, first, Fox failed to register the copyright on the 2006 program until after it filed the lawsuit. As has been discussed here many times, while you get copyright automatically, if you want to sue over it, you generally have to have registered the copyright (the law is a little hazy here). Even worse, Carnahan's lawyers point out that a large segment of the clip that was used actually comes from C-SPAN, whose works are automatically put into the public domain. In other words, Carnahan's lawyers appear to be accusing Fox of copyfraud, in claiming copyright over public domain materials. If this gets anywhere, Fox and News Corp. may end up regretting filing this lawsuit quite a bit...


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    "If this gets anywhere, Fox and News Corp. may end up regretting filing this lawsuit quite a bit..."

    Please, let's hope so. Seems like they're trying to stifle political speech more than protect their copyright.

     

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  2.  
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    Bill W (profile), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    +1

    @Pixelation your comment echoes my own but you beat me to it.

    One additional thought, though ... to the the supporters of never ending copyright, May your wishes be granted and come back to bite you in the ass!

    Unfortunately, there are too many incidences of "collateral damage" that would occur (there are enough already!) to have that wish be a True Wish.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:02pm

    Banzai News Corp

    We really need entirely more people with balls like News Corp. Because there's virtually 0 chance of getting idiotic laws repealed without somebody being so amazingly stupid as to try to prosecute politicians with said laws.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:21pm

    Sweet

    Go Ms Carnahan.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    SP, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:22pm

    What's hazy?

    Copyright is granted at the time of fixation. To my knowledge registration has never been a condition of copyright enforcement. I realize throwing Fox news under the bus is fun, but let's try to keep it honest.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:24pm

    Re:

    Can we add AP to this list of CopyFraudsters?

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Designerfx (profile), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: What's hazy?

    uh, have you ever read up on anything? http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090811/0130495836.shtml

    there's a recent example. Registration is a condition of enforcement.

     

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  8.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

    #2

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    It amazes me how the punishment for falsely (and intentionally) claiming something in the public domain is far less than the punishment for (intentional) infringement. Infringement is a greater crime than fraud.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), Oct 12th, 2010 @ 8:03pm

    What's the cost of copyfraud?

    What exactly would be the punishment of someone found to be falsely claiming a copyright on material that's in the public domain? I live in Canada, and a quick search of the Canadian Copyright Act does not turn up any mention of 'public domain', 'false' or 'mistake' anywhere in the text. This leads me to think that the worst the legal system here would do to a false copyright claim would be to dismiss the case.
    If that really is true, then there really isn't much of an incentive for companies to check carefully before accusing someone of copyright infringement.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 8:59pm

    Re: What's hazy?

    Copyright is granted at the time of fixation. To my knowledge registration has never been a condition of copyright enforcement.

    True, the work is copyrighted, but to bring an action for infringement you need to register the copyright first:

    Section 411. Registration and civil infringement actions (a) Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title.

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#411

    That exception in Section 106A(a) has to do with attribution and integrity, and it doesn't apply here.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that whether or not statutory damages and attorneys' fees are available depends on when the work was registered.

    This is explained in Section 412: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#412

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    Re: What's the cost of copyfraud?

    If the government don't initiate anything the punishment is nothing, copyfraud is a crime and need to be brought on by the attorney general(big chance of that happening).

    If that happens you can get a fine or imprisonment or both as stated on the books.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 9:15pm

    Re: What's the cost of copyfraud?

    There is no civil liability for copyfraud. If someone fraudulently sued you for infringement, you could ask the court to award you costs and fees.

    This article is awesome if you want to read more about copyfraud: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=787244

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 9:19pm

    Re: What's the cost of copyfraud?

    The justice department is only concerned in enforcing the law in a specific way, so there will be no consequences for people doing copyfraud even though it is a crime under the law and can get people in jail.

    Selective enforcement of the law is bad because it minimizes the bad on those laws creating a system ripe for abuse.

     

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  15.  
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    W Noxchi, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 10:31pm

    Heheh

    Ohh I reaally hope this gets somewhere then. Kudos. Your post made my day just a bit brighter.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 11:53pm

    Judge Judy is a TV show emotionalized for ratings. Just like Fox News

    This seems like a pretty good example of Fox stretching the truth, something they seem to do in the public opinion court.

    It would be great to see who wins in the court of the law, and if it affects their slightly distorted views.

     

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  17.  
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    Karl (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 12:42am

    Unregistered copyrights

    To be clear: copyright is automatic. However, copyrights that are unregistered are severely limited.

    You can only sue for two things: an injunction against future use, and actual damages (to be proven in court). You are ineligible for statutory damages, and you aren't awarded legal fees.

    Obviously this only applies to the Fox News footage (which is probably fair use anyway). It doesn't apply to the C-SPAN footage.

    If they are trying to sue over the C-SPAN footage, that would indeed be copyfraud. Unfortunately, the penalties for copyfraud are far less than the penalties for copyright infringement (which doesn't make any sense at all).

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Re:

    All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 13th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: Unregistered copyrights

    To be clear: copyright is automatic. However, copyrights that are unregistered are severely limited. You can only sue for two things: an injunction against future use, and actual damages (to be proven in court). You are ineligible for statutory damages, and you aren't awarded legal fees.

    True, but you still need to register the copyright before you can file suit. See: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#411

     

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  20.  
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    mike list (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 6:22am

    Re: What's hazy?

    the fact that much of the disputed copy originated on c-span, whose policy is to put its content in public domain, seems to give no leg for fox news to stand on.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    shutslar (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Time for the old fashion process

    I have pretty much tired of the ease of suing in a court of law when you feel you have been cheated, slandered, or slighted in any way. There is just so little to lose if you fail. I want to bring back the old fashion duel. By using the duel, you have to really think if what you feel slighted, offended, or cheated over, is really that important. If it is, then go for it. If you win, Congratulations! If you lose, we don't have to worry about your issues any further. And all of this can be accomplished with very little cost to society at large.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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