Re:Create Recap – Week of December 7

Happy Birthday Song Enters The Public Domain. According to court papers released on December 8, a settlement was reached in the lawsuit over the rights to the iconic “Happy Birthday” song, which will release the song into the public domain. The agreement was reached between Warner/Chappell and a group of artists and filmmakers who have paid millions of dollars in fees to use the song. As Reuters writes in Settlement over “Happy Birthday” copyright puts song in public domain, once the settlement is finalized the song will be “free for all to use without fear of a lawsuit.”

EU Announces Plan To Modernize Copyright Rules.
On December 8, European policymakers announced plans to overhaul its copyright system under a digital single market. New rules would allow Europeans to view digital movies and videos that they purchased throughout the EU bloc. “We’ve already created a physical market in Europe, so why can’t we do it again digitally?” Andrus Ansip, digital chief at the European Commission, asked The New York Times in the article, Europe Plans to Ease Copyright Rules on Using Digital Content. “We’re working to allow people to have access to content whenever they want to pay for it.” The complete plan will be announced in the early part of 2016 with rules expected to go into effect in 2017.

Piracy Rates Go Down As Innovative Streaming Services Grow.
A new report finds that video and music streaming services comprise more than 70% of Americans’ Internet usage during evening hours, per The Christian Science Monitor article, How streaming video is squeezing out online piracy across the globe. As services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and iTunes take over the overwhelming majority of Internet usage, file-sharing services often used for illegal downloading have simultaneously plummeted in usage. BitTorrent handled 31% of total Internet traffic in 2008, but this year it only occupies 5% of total Internet traffic. Journalist Max Lewontin adds that these change in usage rates “[point] to a changing definition of the role of the Internet–once thought of as a provider mainly of Web browsing and e-mail services, it’s increasingly become a way for people to access a wider variety of media.”

Pepperidge Farm Sues Trader Joe’s Over Milano Cookie Look-Alike. Pepperidge Farm filed a complaint in federal court last week, alleging Trader Joe’s “Crispy Cookies filled with Belgian Chocolate” look too similar to the Milano cookie and are creating confusion for consumers, according to Reuters article Pepperidge Farm sues Trader Joe’s over Milano cookie. The Trader Joe’s cookie uses a different name but similar shape, style and packaging. Pepperidge Farm seeks a permanent halt to sales of the cookie in addition to compensatory and punitive damages. Columbia Law Professor Jane Ginsburg commented to Marketplace in Can you copyright a cookie?: “You can copyright your literary expression of the recipe, but you can’t copyright the cookie and the ingredients or steps necessary to make the cookie.”

Appeals Court Rules Chiropractic Procedure Can’t Be Copyrighted.
In an important victory for fair use and another case of extreme copyright litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that copyright law does not protect a chiropractic procedure to examine and diagnose a patient. Anandashankar Mazumdar writes in Bloomberg BNA’s Copyright Can’t Be Asserted in Chiropractic Procedure that the appeals court upheld the earlier federal decision that an Arizonan-based chiropractor could not assert copyright over a “procedure, process, system or method” of examining and diagnosing a patient for a certain condition.

Entertainment Industry Targets College Students In Copy Infringement Lawsuits. According to the December 5 article Copyright Sleuths May be Targeting Universities in Hacked, copyright enforcement companies backed by Hollywood movie studios and recording companies issued thousands of copyright infringement lawsuits to college students. Central Michigan University, for instance, received 1,192 complaints by the end of October 2015. At some schools, students receive a warning for the first infringement before subsequent infringements call for fines or even loss of Internet privileges. In one instance, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) proposed a $3,750 settlement with one student, telling her to “drop out of school” if she couldn’t pay the amount.

Jay Leno Uses 3D Printers To Build And Repair Cars.
TV host and car collector Jay Leno recently showcased the first 3D printed car on his new series, Jay Leno’s Garage. Leno has been using 3D printers to restore damaged or old car parts since 2008, according to 3DPrint’s Scott Grunewald in Jay Leno Takes Local Motors’ 3D Printed Strati for a Spin. This time, he test drove a 3D printed and assembled car to “prove that a 3D printed car is easier to build and assemble than a traditionally manufactured car.”

How Hollywood Appropriates Young Creators’ Social Media Content. Most people don’t know that the phrase “on fleek” entered the American lexicon from a popular Vine created by a young teenager from South Chicago. The Fader’s December 3 post How Corporations Profit From Black Teens’ Viral Content explores how young creators, particularly minorities, have innovated new slang, dance moves and other cultural content on YouTube and Vine that are, in turn, taken by corporations for advertising and marketing materials. Meanwhile, the same young creators are penalized by the entertainment industry for using songs or video clips without explicit legal permission. Copyright lawyer Dana Nelson explains, “Copyright law and intellectual property in America does not follow the creative production of artists. Rather, it protects the interests of companies. I think it is now harder to distinguish a non-commercial [fair] use from a commercial one.”