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The Copyright Licensing Office (CLO) provides assistance, services, tools, and resources to the faculty, staff, and students of Brigham Young University to successfully navigate the challenging landscape of copyright.

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The mission of the BYU Copyright Licensing Office is to ensure compliance with copyright laws by providing education and training, assuring effective licensing practices, resolving unauthorized use of copyright protected materials, and remaining current with copyright law and policy developments.

 

 

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Oct 06, 2017

College Football Coach Sued Over Retweet

Bell v. King’s College, et al., 17-cv-01725 (M.D. Penn.)
By Casey Mock

In September 2017, King’s College and its head football coach were sued for copyright infringement over a retweet. The complaint was filed by Dr. Keith F. Bell, a sports psychology and performance consultant, who authored a motivational book entitled Winning Isn’t Normal, which was first published in 1982. Dr. Bell alleges that Jeffery Knarr, the head football coach at King’s College, committed copyright infringement by retweeting the following image showing a portion of his book:

According to the complaint, the book has enjoyed substantial acclaim, distribution and publicity. Because of its success, Dr. Bell creates, markets, and sells derivative works featuring Winning Isn’t Normal, such as posters and t-shirts that display a portion of Winning Isn’t Normal. Knarr’s post was a retweet of a post by Northeastern State University’s baseball team, which removed the original post after receiving a cease and desist letter from Dr. Bell. Even so, Bell alleges that King’s College failed to direct Knarr to remove the infringing post.  Bell is also claiming trademark infringement for unauthorized use of his “Winning Isn’t Normal” trademark.

Sep 15, 2017

Cap and Gown Competitor Website Too Close for Copyright Comfort

Graduation Solutions, LLC v. Acadima, LLC, 17-cv-01342 (D. Conn)
By Casey Mock

A provider of academic regalia, Graduation Solutions, has filed a complaint alleging copyright and trade dress infringement by a competitor for using a very similar website format and product presentations.  Among the evidence of intentional copying is the verbatim lifting of language from the Graduation Solutions website, including a spelling error in the offering of a service.  Further language and styles appearing to have been replicated are presented in which Graduation Solutions claims to indicate intentional copying and making unauthorized derivative works, such as minor rearranging of words so that the websites are not exactly the same.

The use of another’s intellectual property in this manner has consequences that can greatly affect the original website owner.  The complain alleges that Acadima, the competitor, “purposefully intended to divert customers from [Graduation Solutions]’s website, unfairly poach sales . . . and trade upon [Graduation Solutions] goodwill.”  Acadima also purchased the Google Adwords “graduation source” to divert customers to their website. Graduation Solutions alleges that actual and potential customers have relied upon intentional confusion that has impacted their business.

Graduation Solutions also alleges false advertising.  The Acadima website recites: “WE OUTFIT OVER 500,000 GRADUATES A YEAR.”  This number is identical to that recited on Graduation Solution’s website.  Therefore, Graduation Solution alleges that the number is either literally false or is deceptive such that customers are confused as to Acadima’s experience and influence on the market.

Graduation Solutions is seeking an award of actual damages and an profits that Acadima that are attributable to the infringement damages.  Among other damages, they also seek an injunction to compel Acadima to take down their website and any infringing material.

Public Employee Data on Linkedin Available for Copying

hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., 17-cv-03301 (N.D. Cal)
By Casey Mock

On August 14, a California Judge issued an order granting a preliminary injunction motion that will allow hiQ to continue to sell information gathered through LinkedIn’s publicly available profiles to its client businesses. hiQ generates information about a business’ workforce through analysis of employee’s profiles and then sells that information to employers. It offers two products to its clients: “Keeper” tells the employers which of their employees have the highest risk of being recruited by others; and “Skill Mapper” provides a summary of skills that individual workers have.

In May 2017, LinkedIn sent a letter demanding that hiQ cease and desist mining data from the networking site, noting that its user agreement prohibits various methods of data collection from its website. LinkedIn restricted hiQ’s company page and stated that any further access to LinkedIn’s data would violate state and federal law. hiQ filed a complaint after the parties were unable to reach an agreement asserting the right to access publicly available profiles.

LinkedIn is concerned that this type of unauthorized “data scraping” harms the site because it threatens the privacy of LinkedIn users. Some users have an interest in preventing employers or other parties from tracking profile updates. LinkedIn states that “over 50 million members have used a ‘Do Not Broadcast’ feature that prevents the site from notifying other users when a member makes profile changes.” LinkedIn argues that the potential for compromising privacy significantly harms both it and its users. However, in granting hiQ’s motion for preliminary injunction, the court notes that LinkedIn’s professed privacy concerns “are somewhat undermined by the fact that LinkedIn allows other third-parties to access user data without its members’ knowledge or consent.” Marketing materials from LinkedIn to parties that subscribe to their Recruiter product to track other users inform potential customers “when they update their profile or celebrate a work anniversary, you’ll receive an update on your homepage. And don’t worry – they don’t know you’re following them.”

The Court granted hiQ’s motion for preliminary injunction and enjoined LinkedIn from preventing hiQ’s access, copying, or use of public profiles on LinkedIn’s website.