Argument analysis: Justices wade deep into the copyright weeds — On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp v Wall-street.com, a case that will determine when a copyright owner has satisfied the registration prerequisite for filing an infringement lawsuit—can she go to court as soon as she has sent the registration materials to the US Copyright Office, or must she wait until the Copyright Office has either issued a registration certificate or refused the registration? Courts have split on the question, and University of Michigan law professor Jessica Litman recaps the Supreme Court’s discussion. A full transcript of the oral arguments is available here.
Argument preview: Justices to consider limits on awards of “costs” to prevailing parties in copyright cases — Two copyright cases at the Supreme Court in two weeks! On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Rimini Street v Oracle to determine what types of court costs a court may award a prevailing party in copyright litigation under 17 USC § 505. Columbia law professor Ronald Mann previews the issue, which he considers “a textbook problem of statutory interpretation.”
Does it pay to be a writer? — From the New York Times, “’In the 20th century, a good literary writer could earn a middle-class living just writing,’ said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, citing William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever. Now, most writers need to supplement their income with speaking engagements or teaching. Strictly book-related income — which is to say royalties and advances — are also down, almost 30 percent for full-time writers since 2009.”
It’s Still All About the Music… And Labels Remain at Its Heart — A new report from Musonomics highlights the transformation record labels have undertaken over the past two decades. “In today’s environment, it’s no wonder that artists seek to partner with label teams to achieve their dreams and succeed both creatively and commercially. This report shows why artists of all stripes seek to collaborate with a label instead of taking any of a multitude of other paths available, and why the most listened-to artists are backed by labels.”
Tech Expertise in Congress, Additional Thoughts — The question of whether policymakers can benefit from additional tech expertise is sometimes raised in the copyright sphere. William Rinehart cautions that the answer is not an unqualified yes: “Let’s assume for the moment that legislators do become more technically proficient by any number of means. If policymakers are normal people, and let me tell you, they are, the result will be overconfidence of one sort or another. In psychology research, overconfidence includes three distinct ways of thinking. Overestimation is thinking that you are better than you are. Overplacement is the belief that you are better than others. And overprecision is excessive faith that you know the truth.”