Judge Alison J. Nathan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York recently issued an important decision involving copyright infringement and the availability of content on social media sites like Twitter. In Agence France Presse v. Morel, the court granted partial summary judgment to defendant and counterclaim plaintiff Daniel Morel, finding that the Agence France Presse (“AFP”) and the Washington Post (the “Post”) had infringed his copyrights in photographs he had taken after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Continue reading »
Category: Social Networking
• Material Girl Wars. Madonna is being sued for trademark infringement over her new line of “Material Girl” products. The plaintiff, Rwachsberg Holdings, claims it has been selling “personal care” and “household” products under the “Material Girl” mark since 1992. Evidently, Rwachsberg is not the first to claim ownership of the “Material Girl” mark. Madonna was sued for trademark infringement in August by clothing manufacturer, LA Triumph.
• People Will Say We’re in Business. Shirley Jones, star of “Oklahoma!” “Carousel” and “The Partridge Family,” has filed a federal class action lawsuit claiming a Nevada Corporation has been licensing her image – and the images of other California residents – without consent. According to the complaint, defendant Corbis Corporation offers images of Jones on several websites for purchase and download. As of posting time, a search of Corbis’s website returns over 100 images of Jones.
• Which One is the Evil Twin? An exclusive from our friends at THR, Esq.: Gerard Butler’s production company, Evil Twins, has been sued for trademark infringement by a similarly named company. The owners of Evil Twin Productions claim they have a registered trademark in the name “Evil Twin” and that Butler’s company is causing confusion in the marketplace.
• Thou Shalt Not Steal My Idea. Rapper 50 Cent is being accused of copyright infringement by author Shadrach Winstead. Winstead claims 50 Cent stole portions of his book “The Preacher’s Son – But The Streets Turned Me Into A Gangster” for an album and DVD film entitled “Before I Self Destruct.” According to the complaint, portions of 50 Cent’s album and film are “strikingly similar” in “content and word choice” to Winstead’s book.
• Sugarland Case Settles. Hit country-music duo, Sugarland, narrowly avoided going to trial this week against founding member, Kristen Hall, who is suing the group for her share of profits. The parties have reportedly reached a settlement of Hall’s $14 million lawsuit and have until December 13 to finalize the agreement.
• Court Says “Not Now” to Facebook Request. New York courts continue to weigh in on the discoverability of social networking information. In McCann v. Harleysville Ins. Co., the defendant sought photographs and account information from a personal injury plaintiff’s Facebook page. Characterizing the request as a “fishing expedition,” the court denied the discovery, but left open the possibility that a narrower request might be successful. Another New York court recently granted a similar discovery request in Romano v. Steelcase, finding that the defendant had established the relevance of the materials it sought.
- Nicole Hyland
Last week, Broadway star Marty Thomas asked a New York state court to order Twitter, Inc. (“Twitter”) to reveal the identity of “bwayanonymous,” a Twitter user who allegedly defamed Thomas with a tweet suggesting Thomas contracted a sexually-transmitted disease from an “Avenue Q” cast member.
This is not the first time a celebrity has been in court over an allegedly defamatory tweet. Last year, a fashion designer sued Courtney Love over an allegedly libelous tweet wherein Love ranted about how the designer billed her for custom clothing. Unlike Love’s case, however, Thomas’s case involves an anonymous tweet, requiring the courts to balance an internet user’s First Amendment right to speak anonymously against the right of an injured party to seek redress for the user’s misconduct.