2020 IP Law Year in Review: Copyrights

By , and on February 2, 2021
Posted In Copyrights

Executive Summary

Copyright jurisprudence in 2020 was, in many ways, a study in the scope of copyright protection. While certain courts brought century-year-old precedent to the forefront to interpret the scope of copyrights, other courts ruled overruled 40 years of precedent to even the playing field between popular works and works that are less known.

In the wake of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s pivotal copyright decision in the Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit, several district courts, within and outside California, have relied on the en banc decision to resolve similar issues related to copyright infringement. The defining scope of the Zeppelin decision will have long-lasting effects within the music industry and beyond.

Copyrights

  1. Unprotected Subject Matter
  2. Copyright Infringement – Damages
  3. Music – The Scope of Protection
  4. Music – Royalty Rates for Digital Transmissions
  5. SCOTUS Update – Google v. Oracle

2021 Outlook

There is plenty to look forward to in 2021. We are certain to see big ripples from the Supreme Court decision in Google v. Oracle; whether it will “upend the world” is another story. Certainly the Court may rule on the extent to which software should be afforded copyright protection and the degree to which fair use applies to software copyrights. One thing is for sure—both sides agree that the future of software innovation is at stake. We are also certain to see a rising tide of cases relying on Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, as we have already seen with the Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran cases. With the elimination of the inverse ratio rule, less popular songs will have a fairer day in court. Finally, once the vaccines allow for the courtroom doors to open again, we expect to see a flood of copyright infringement jury trials that were put on hold in 2020. Indeed, 2021 is looking like a very busy year.

Read the full report.

AvatarTina Martini






Jodi BenassiJodi Benassi
Jodi Benassi focuses her practice on litigation and investigations. Jodi has experience in federal court district actions in California, Texas, Florida and Michigan and actions before the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She has also conducted internal investigations on behalf of audit committees from high profile Fortune 500 organizations to Silicon Valley start-ups. Jodi Benassi's full bio.


AvatarCecilia Choy



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