Even Lawyers Are Confused About What's Legal Or Not In The Prince/Radiohead Spat

from the wait-a-second... dept

We were just discussing how copyright has been stretched and twisted so many times that it really just isn't designed properly to handle internet communications -- and a good case in point may be the funny little spat we covered a few weeks back between Prince and Radiohead. If you don't recall, Prince performed a cover of a Radiohead song at a concert. Someone in the audience videotaped it and put the video on YouTube. Prince's representatives demanded that the content be taken down under a DMCA request -- raising all sorts of questions. After all, Prince didn't own the copyright on the song. That's owned by Radiohead, whose lead singer wanted the video back online. Prince didn't own the copyright to the video either, since he didn't take it. So how could he use the DMCA to take down the video?

But, it's not that simple, apparently. As Ethan Ackerman details, as lawyers began to think about the situation, the more confused they got, noting that maybe there was a right under anti-bootlegging laws. Only, then things got more confusing, because it turns out that anti-bootlegging laws aren't actually a part of the copyright act (though it does fall under the same "title" just to add to the confusion), and the DMCA (under which the takedown occurred) only applies to copyright law.

However, again, we're left in a situation where the "law" is hardly clear at all, and even those who follow the space were somewhat confused over whether or not Prince had any sort of legal standing here. A law is not useful if the boundaries of that law are not clear, and if someone has no clue if their actions go against the law. In the internet era, copyright certainly falls under that category of laws in which it is no longer clear what is and is not legal -- and that should be seen as a problem.

Filed Under: confusion, copyright, prince, radiohead


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2008 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bootlegger

    Since you clearly are familiar with copyright law, then perhaps you can help me understand an issue that has been particularly vexing. Under the Defense Supplement to the Federal Acquisiton Regulations (DFARS) at 252.227-7013, as modified in 1995, a change was made to incorporate prior separate licenses pertaining to trade secrets and copyrights into a single clause. Might you be able to elaborate on whether or not you believe the current definition of "unlimited rights in technical data" is effective in achieving its stated goal that the full panoply of rights under copyright law have actually been licensed in accordance with the terms of the new clause?

    Moreover, and assuming that the provisions of the clause are effective as a broad, all-encompassing, license of copyright, does that license grant sublicensing rights. I say the answer is clearly "no", but am always open to opposing views with a clear summation of why.

    Furthermore, and assuming that the a work is subject to the provisions of either the Export Administration Act or the Arms Export Control Act, can such a work be registered and are there any limitations of what can appear in the deposited best editions of the work?

    I look forward to your response.

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