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SCOTUS Getting Schooled on Netflix

Male hand holding TV remote control.
By George Khoury, Esq. on June 18, 2019 11:30 AM

A recent amicus brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court in the controversial ReDigi case spends a good chunk of the brief explaining why Netflix is no good for film buffs.

The relatively brief brief, filed by OmniQ, explains that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong when it affirmed that ReDigi’s services, which allow users to sell old digital music files on a secondary market, violated copyright law. 

What's an OmniQ?

The company filing the brief, OmniQ, explains that they are a company that has basically figured out how to transfer digital media files in a way that would comply with copyright laws. From what can be gathered from their filing, their process does not copy the original file from one user, then delete it before pasting it to the new user, as ReDigi did; rather, it cuts from one and pastes to the other.

OmniQ explains that transferring digital files with their patent-pending method should be permissible under the Copyright Act’s first sale doctrine, but the Second Circuit's ruling would make their process a violation.

What’s the Deal About Netflix?

As Eriq Gardner aptly notes on the Hollywood Reporter, OmniQ talks quite a bit about how Netflix and other streaming services aren't making things any better for consumers. There's definitely some nostalgia for the video stores of bygone days in the brief, but the gist of it is that streaming selections are often hampered by the current misinterpretation and enforcement of copyright laws in regard to digital files.

The example making headlines involves the allegation that there are no movies from 1960, at all, on Netflix. This is blamed on the way copyright law is being used to stifle selection for consumers and force them into making less economically beneficial choices.

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