Sadly, Jack Kirby’s estate lost its claim to reclaim copyright in his artwork. Too bad copyright law before 1978 recognized implied work-made-for-hire agreements. I guess the “Hulk Smash!” argument probably wouldn’t work either, at this point. Thoughts?
SLAPP suits came to national attention when Justin Kurtz was sued for allegedly defaming a Kalamazoo towing company (T&J) on a Facebook page. Both parties have now agreed to dismiss their claims against one another. I think this outcome illustrates perfectly how wasteful SLAPP lawsuits are. Business owners who are overly sensitive to criticism should toughen up and either improve their service or ignore online complaints unless the commentary reaches a level that is truly defamatory. Nonetheless, thin-skinned business owners appear more than willing to file SLAPP suits that generally end in stalemate. This underscores that the suits are likely filed only to intimidate and harass those expressing protected opinion speech. The irony is that by filing the lawsuits, businesses tend to draw even more unwanted attention to themselves, creating more suspicion than if they had simply ignored the online griping. The result here is hopefully the beginning of a trend.
Great SF writer and BoingBoing contributor Cory Doctorow notes a scary consequence of ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) here, if it is adopted by one’s government. Part of the agreement would allow ISPs to shut down sites based on unproven allegations of trademark infringement. I predict that the agreement would cause ISP’s to unfairly shut down web pages, even if there is clear fair use or another exception to using a particular mark.
When I saw “Disturbia” a few years ago, it sure seemed like an updated version of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” Well, it was close enough to attract a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Not close enough to survive dismissal by a New York federal court. Read about the ruling here.