Category Archives: Newly Filed Cases

Cruz for President Cannot Avoid Copyright Infringement and Breach of Contract Claims

In May of 2016, “Cruz for President” and its ad agency (together “Cruz”) were sued by a music downloading website and two artists (collectively “Leopona”) for breach of contract and copyright infringement. Cruz downloaded two songs from Leopona, “Lens” by Sarah Schachner and “Fear of Complacency” by Brad Couture. Leopona, Inc. v. Cruz for President, 2016 WL 3670596 (W.D. Wash. July 11, 2016).  Cruz agreed to a Small Business License agreement at the time of download. The license expressly  prohibited either song from use “for political purposes” and “in any broadcast.” Further, the license provided for a payment of $25,000 in liquidated damages for each breach. Cruz used the songs in two campaign ads, both of which were published on YouTube, accumulating thousands of views. The “Lens” ad was also broadcasted on Fox Business News 86 times. Continue reading

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Contributory Copyright Infringement Liability Avoided in Tarantino v. Gawker Media, LLC

Authors: Margaret A. Esquenet, Danielle Wright Bulger

If an online news-blog provides a hyperlink to—but does not itself post—a leaked script, could the blog be liable for contributory copyright infringement? Not necessarily, according to a recent opinion by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

In Tarantino v. Gawker Media, LLC, Oscar-winning writer and director Quentin Tarantino brought suit against ten unidentified individuals claiming copyright infringement of his screenplay The Hateful Eight, and against Gawker Media Group alleging contributory copyright infringement. The dispute started in January 2014 when Tarantino discovered the screenplay he intended to produce had been leaked to the public. After Tarantino revealed in an interview that the production would be canceled, and that he suspected six individuals who had copies of the screenplay of leaking it, Gawker picked up the story. Shortly after Gawker published its story, another website, The Wrap, disclosed plot points from The Hateful Eight script and reported about a link to the script. The same day, a copy of the script was posted on AnonFiles.com and Scribd.com, both file sharing websites. As a follow-up to its original story, Gawker reported that “a document that appear[ed] to be the script ha[d] been made public online.” The Gawker article included hyperlinks to the script on AnonFiles.com and Scribd.com. On January 27, 2014, Tarantino brought suit, claiming that Gawker was liable for contributory copyright infringement on the basis that its story about the script linked to the allegedly unauthorized copies posted on AnonFiles.com and Scribd.com. Gawker responded with a motion to dismiss the complaint.

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