U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

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Free TV still exists, and some of the new digital antennae even resemble the bunny-ears of years past. However, just like stealing cable became a thing decades ago, stealing streaming subscription TV is becoming a thing in our 21st century digital world.

If you didn't know, there are numerous websites out there, with less than scrupulous regard for U.S law, that allow anyone to stream just about anything on TV or in the theaters, for free. A new-ish device, The Dragon Box, allows individuals to essentially watch everything available online from these types of websites, right on their TVs, regardless of legality. Not surprisingly, the legitimate streaming services, and other providers, have a problem with this new device and have filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for Central District of California. Plaintiffs include: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., and Columbia Pictures. 

Court Ends Steinbeck Family Feud

Another chapter in John Steinbeck's legacy is over -- at least until the next one.

Steinbeck died almost 50 years ago, but his heirs have been fueding over his estate ever since. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote another chapter in that sad story.

In Steinbeck v. Kaffaga, the appeals court closed the book on claims by the author's sons and daughter-in-law to movie adaptations of his literary work "Of Mice and Men."

Court: Fox Show 'Empire' Doesn't Infringe Trademark

Fox News is in the news these days largely because of fake news.

Discerning the real news is becoming as confusing as distinguishing trademarks, particularly where Fox News is concerned. In Twentieth Century Fox v. Empire Distribution, the company said its "Empire" show did not violate Empire's trademark.

In a word, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said, "correct." The explanation, like sorting out fake news, is a little more complicated.

'Comic Con' Gag Order Vacated by 9th Circuit

Did you hear the inside joke about the Comic Con case?

Didn't think so. That's because a judge issued a prior restraint in the pending litigation.

The joke's on the judge, however, because the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals didn't think that was funny in Dan Farr Productions v. United States District Court.

This past week, a three judge panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments for the Blurred Lines appeal filed by Pharrell and Robin Thicke. If you're just now learning of the case, it is more than just a relatively juicy piece of legal celebrity gossip, there's actually some fascinating IP law behind the pop star gravitas.

In short, a jury found that Thicke and Pharrell ripped off Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" in their song "Blurred Lines." Apart from the generational gap between the performers, there is a rather large and legal difference between music copyrighted prior to the mid-70s.

After a four-month wait, the Central District Court of California has finally issued its ruling on the motion to dismiss in the Spinal Tap v. Vivendi lawsuit. While the band's fraud claim has been dismissed, along with three of the four band members, the breach of contract claims and plaintiff Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel) still remain.

Fortunately for the band, the dismissal of both members and the fraud claim were without prejudice. Additionally, the members appear to have been dismissed on a technicality as their "loan-out" companies were not parties to the original contract, and therefore do not have standing as third party beneficiaries. Even though the case was dismissed, District Court Judge Dolly Gee left the door wide open for the members and the fraud claim to be amended back in properly.

'Selfie Monkey' Settles Copyright Case

There's a problem with the settlement in the selfie-monkey case: the monkey did not consent to it.

If the monkey took a full-on, toothy selfie, he ought to be able to put a signature on a simple agreement. Don't laugh. Elephants can do it.

Even a sloppy, banana smudge would do. Come on, is there no justice in the urban jungle?

Studios Win Against Streaming Movie Filters

You gotta respect video-streaming companies that clean up movies for family-friendly viewing.

After all, they are trying to to protect kids from profanity, sex, nudity, violence, and substance abuse depicted in original movies. Parents will pay to block those cringey moments when the family sits down for viewing.

But that's not a good reason to violate copyright laws, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. VidAngel, Inc. It was a victory for Hollywood studios and a benchmark in their battle against copyright piracy.

Monkey Can't Get Money From Selfies

It's hard to report this story with a straight face. I mean, even the monkey was smiling.

If you haven't seen them before, the pictures are definitely worth seeing. The macaque, who snapped his own selfies, has a great simian smile.

According to a federal judge, however, the animal doesn't have a copyright to the photos. It's not a joke, although more than a few lawyers say it is.

Urban Outfitters, the specialty retail chain geared towards hip teens, has a bit of a reputation for ripping off others' designs. It's not hard to find an artist who claims that the chain has picked up their designs -- sans permission, of course -- turning their art prints into miniskirts or their necklaces into knockoffs.

Now, at least one allegedly wronged party has gotten some justice. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court's ruling (on summary judgement no less) that UO had infringed on a fabric company's copyright, selling a textile that was a "near duplicate" of the original.