Copyright

Our copyright lawyers counsel clients in a broad range of industries around the world on copyright issues in both traditional and new media. One of our lawyers literally wrote the book on copyright law.

Copyright enforcement and litigation issues have exploded in recent years, fueled by two parallel circumstances: technologies have evolved rapidly in their ability to share information, and intellectual property owners have become more sophisticated in their efforts to monetize those technologies’ value in their portfolios. We work alongside our clients to protect these valuable assets across a range of counseling activities: we prepare demand letters and pursue takedowns; we sue for damages and/or injunctive relief; and we take cases through trial or arbitration, oftentimes on landmark, precedential copyright issues.

From the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to the European Union Directive on Copyright, we maintain a truly global knowledge of copyright legislation and its impact on our clients’ businesses. We understand how each country’s laws and precedents can protect a copyright owner’s rights in an age where infringement can be increasingly difficult to detect and defeat, as well as understanding and supporting market players exploiting and distributing copyright-protected intellectual property in a progressively more regulated era.

We are deeply involved in the complex issues surrounding computer software, including issues relating to the scope of copyright protection and business arrangements for research and development, consulting, and licensing. We have counseled companies on developing products that are compatible with products of other vendors. When these issues proceed to trial, our stellar IP litigation team has the legal and technological savvy to understand these complexities and, equally as important, to explain them to lay judges and juries.

We also bring extensive experience with copyright protection in the publishing industry and the arts to the table, including literary works, theater works, visual artwork, sound recordings, and even multimedia products that combine high technology with traditional forms of expression. We have also represented clients in licensing-related matters, as well as litigation over copyright protection for commercial items such as toys, games, and educational materials.

Our film and entertainment copyright practice has been supporting various major Hollywood studios, television channels, and video-on-demand platforms for almost two decades on all copyright relevant matters relating to the motion picture development, production, and distribution. Some of our recent credits include the Academy Award-winning “Grand Budapest Hotel” and the acclaimed TV series “Homeland” and “Berlin Station.”

Finally, we’re honored to have Paul Goldstein on our copyright team. Serving as Of Counsel to MoFo, Paul is a professor of law at Stanford University and a nationally recognized expert on copyright and related intellectual property issues. He wrote the authoritative four-volume treatise, Goldstein on Copyright, now in its third edition.

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Experience

  • We represented Paul McCartney in a landmark copyright lawsuit against music publisher Sony/ATV regarding the rights to hundreds of Beatles songs. The case was resolved in a settlement and avoided a legal battle that would have had wide ramifications for the music industry.

  • We represented Oracle in an action for copyright and patent infringement based on Google’s inclusion of Java platform technology in the Android software platform and operating system. The jury returned a mixed verdict, finding for Oracle on certain aspects of its copyright claims and for Google on the issue of patent infringement. The trial court then vacated the jury verdict on a copyright claim on legal grounds. The Federal Circuit recently reversed a ruling that Oracle’s Java software can’t be copyrighted and reinstated a verdict that Google Inc.’s Android operating system infringes.

  • We represented LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc., in a putative class action involving copyright infringement claims by attorneys who authored legal briefs filed in court that were available on the lexis.com online database. On a motion to dismiss, we successfully defeated claims of the proposed subclass of authors who had not registered their briefs with the Copyright Office; the plaintiff subsequently dropped the class allegations. Later, we succeeded on a motion for summary judgment on the remaining individual claims by proving that LexisNexis’ use of the works at issue constituted fair use.

  • The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of our client, Autodesk, against a reseller of its software. The reseller asserted that his resales of Autodesk software were protected by the first-sale doctrine and did not infringe Autodesk’s copyright. The Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiff was not entitled to assert the first sale defense against Autodesk because he acquired the used software subject to Autodesk’s license agreement and did not have ownership rights. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Vernor’s cert petition, preserving the Ninth Circuit court’s ruling.

  • The Regional Court of Berlin ruled in favor of our client, the well-known artist (painter) Martin Eder, and in favor of the freedom of the art as guaranteed by the German Constitution in an alleged copyright infringement matter. The court found that the use of the cherry tree image in the oil painting created by our client was a permitted free use covered by the freedom of the art that is guaranteed by the German Constitution. The Court also shared our view that there was no urgency to initiate a preliminary injunction, as the plaintiff himself made copies of the work in question available on the Internet on his social media pages and by way of an Instagram video.

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