Jordan Sigale, Dunlap Codding Director, Quoted Extensively in Bloomberg BNA
Bloomberg BNA’s Patrent, Trademark & Copyright Journal quoted Jordan Sigale in a May 22, 2015, article on copyrights and copyrightability, “En Banc ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Ruling Says Actor Didn’t Hold Copyright in Film.”
In Garcia v. Google, Inc., 9th Cir., No. 12-57302, 5/18/15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled 10-1 that the actor (allegedly tricked into appearing in an anti-Muslim firm) didn’t hold a copyright interest in her performance separate from the work as a whole. The court reversed a ruling by a prior judicial panel, saying that the YouTube posting ,which had led to death threats, was protected by the First Amendment. “The 2014 ruling by Judge Alex Kozinski had been widely criticized both by free speech advocates and by the motion picture industry,” noted Bloomberg, further observing that many copyright scholars and practitioners had predicted that Kozinski’s ruling would not survive. But Bloomberg said some practitioners were surprised by the scope of the en banc ruling.
Sigale noted that the recent court’s ruling was a surprise in terms of scope, and was quoted as saying, “The Ninth Circuit did not need to reach the merits of the copyright claim.” Sigale referred to a concurring opinion in the matter and noted that the court could have ruled based on the requirements for granting an injunction. “Kozinski’s prior ruling was immediately dissolved by the en banc panel’s ruling. However, Judge Kozinski and the unfortunate issues created by the majority opinion on copyright authorship are not going away…..Copyright law in the Ninth Circuit has been weakened by this decision. I hope with the passage of time, litigants will see this opinion as being limited to its specific facts and move past it.”
With regard, however, to Kozinski’s point that a musician is not required to record his own music in order to hold rights in it, Sigale agreed and said, “Moreover, copyright law recognizes the separate performance rights in the various members of a band (e.g. vocalists, guitarists, drummer) as well as the producer of the sound recording….Similar concerns can and should be raised by choreographers and the like, whose contributions to larger works had long been recognized. This opinion calls all of that into question.”