The next year already promises plenty of legal and legislative developments in copyright law, a few of which I want to highlight.
The Supreme Court will release its opinion in first sale case Kirtsaeng v John Wiley. I’ve written about Kirtsaeng before, see also More on Kirtsaeng v John Wiley, What Kirtsaeng Won’t Answer, The United States “Odd” Kirtsaeng Argument, and Overturn Quality King? The Court is likely to release its opinion sometime between February and June.
The popular SCOTUSBlog does not include any other copyright-related petitions on its petitions to watch list (the list has a strong track record of selecting which petitions are granted by the Court), but there are several copyright petitions I’ll be keeping an eye on, including the one in Jammie Thomas-Rasset v Capitol Records, dealing with due process review of statutory damages, and Library of Congress v Intercollegiate Broadcasting System, which involved an Appointments Clause challenge to Copyright Royalty Judges (though a cert petition there has not been filed yet). Check out my most recent posts on these lawsuits: End of the Road for Jammie Thomas-Rasset? and Copyright Royalty Board Unconstitutional.
In the lower courts, a group of cases involving broadcast television retransmission and the impact of the Second Circuit’s 2008 Cablevision decision are wending their way through the judicial system. Leading the pack is Aereo, where oral arguments were heard in front of the Second Circuit late last November for an appeal of the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction, meaning a decision could come later this year. See Aereo takes its tiny antennas to Opposite Town. And just last week, on the west coast, a federal district court came to the opposite conclusion and granted a preliminary injunction against FilmOn, a similar service.
Meanwhile, a set of cases against Dish Networks relating to its Autohop service are in their early stages. The furthest along involves Fox, which a few weeks ago appealed the denial of a preliminary injunction by a New York district court. I wrote a background on these cases at Skipping commercials isn’t infringement, but copying is.
A lawsuit against YouTube for widespread infringement during its early days is back at the district court level, after the Second Circuit ruled on a number of DMCA issues this past April. Most recently, YouTube moved for summary judgment against the various plaintiffs.
Little has been said about Hotfile so far, but developments should be expected this year in the lawsuit filed by major motion picture studios against the filelocker. A ruling on dispositive motions is currently pending in a Florida district court, and a trial date is tentatively scheduled for March. See Copyright Liability for Filelockers: Disney v Hotfile.
On the criminal side, expect slow movement on the US case against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload. An extradition hearing has recently been pushed back to no earlier than August 2013. My last post on this topic came last July in a Megaupload Megaupdate. Be sure to check out TorrentFreak for breaking coverage of every single thing Dotcom tweets.
In Congress, it would appear that the major issue this next year will be royalty rates for webcasting. The next ratesetting proceeding at the Copyright Royalty Board, to set rates for 2015-2020, is fast approaching. Last fall, Pandora backed the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which, among other things, would have changed the standard used by the Board to set rates. At a hearing in November, the House Judiciary Committee appeared skeptical of the bill’s approach, but also expressed a desire to take a broader look at the issue of digital performance of sound recording royalties, seemingly frustrated that the compulsory licensing scheme has required so much legislative attention over the past decade. Some members of the Committee also hinted that the issue of a broader public performance right for sound recording owners was on the table, something that has eluded such copyright owners for decades. See A Brief History of Webcaster Royalties for more background.
What else can we expect from Congress? There have been rumblings of a renewed push for orphan works legislation, and recent events from several conservative-leaning institutions hint at increased attention toward general copyright reform — aided by current European Commission efforts to modernize copyright law.
Much more is obviously in store for the upcoming year. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to Copyhype’s RSS Feed, sign up for email updates, follow me on Twitter, or Like me on Facebook. Here’s to 2013!