In addition to obvious examples of original art such as paintings, music and poetry, copyright protection can, inter alia, also extend to nonfictional literature such as technical reports and expert opinions. In several cases, the District Court and the Higher District Court of Cologne as well as the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed that even scientific expert opinions or military mission reports which merely reproduce facts or findings can be subject to copyright protection.
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On 29 July 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on the copyright implications of sampling in music and established criteria as to when sampling falls within the scope of artistic freedom. Sampling is taking a portion of a sound recording and reusing it in a different song. The case was brought before the CJEU following a two-decades-long legal dispute between German electro-pop band Kraftwerk and German producer Moses Pelham.
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After the EU Copyright Directive was passed by the EU Parliament last month (see our original blog post for further details), it was formally approved by the Council of the European Union on April 15, 2019. Nineteen EU member states, including Germany, France and the UK, voted in favor. Six member states – namely Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden – voted against the Directive, while three countries abstained from the vote.
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On 26 March 2019, following a lengthy process, the European Parliament has given final approval to the Copyright Directive, aimed at the modernization of the EU copyright regime. Members of parliament voted 348 in favor of the law and 274 against. Before voting on the reform proposal, a vote was held on whether or not to address proposed amendments – notably the exclusion of the law’s most debated clause, Article 13 or the “upload filter.” Members of parliament opposed a decision on the proposed amendments, in a close vote with 312 in favor but 317 against addressing any amendments.
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On 20 December 2018, the German Federal Court of Justice confirmed that photographs of public domain paintings ‎are, in principle, protected by a copyright-related right in section 72 of the German Copyright Act (Case No. I ZR 104/17). The case involved a request to take down several pictures hosted on Wikimedia Commons—an online database of works distributed under Creative Commons licenses—as public domain images. All pictures featured art on display at the Reiss Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim, Germany.
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On 13 November 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that the taste of a food product could not be classified as a ”work” within the meaning of Directive 2001/29/EC and that national member state legislation could not be interpreted differently (Case C-310/17). While the CJEU did not deny the copyrightability of tastes in principle, it
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On 11 October 2018, the Music Modernization Act (“MMA”) was signed into law. It effects a sweeping overhaul of the compulsory mechanical license mechanism set forth in 17 U.S.C. §115—among other significant changes. While many in the industry have been closely following the bill as it worked its way through the legislature, the following provides an overview of key terms regarding the mechanical licensing procedures under the new law that every
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As automobiles are becoming part of the Internet of Things, “connected” technologies are increasingly deployed to enhance the safe operation of autonomous vehicles. These “intelligent” vehicles rely on an ecosystem of proprietary and third-party components to gather, analyze and react to data from both inside and outside the vehicle. In order to reduce costs, accelerate development and enhance the interoperability of connected technologies and applications, automakers
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On 22 March 22 2017, in the case of Star Athletica LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., et al, No. 15-866, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in a 6-2 decision, that design elements of a cheerleading uniform may be protected under copyright law, even though the uniform has a utilitarian function.

It is a well-known tenet under United States copyright law that apparel is outside the scope of the Copyright Act of 1976, which bars protection for works of authorship that possess utilitarian functions.  However, §101 of the Copyright Act carves out a limited exception, namely that “pictorial, graphic or sculptural features” of the design of a useful article are entitled to copyright protection if they “can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”

Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands involves copyright infringement of cheerleading uniforms designed by Varsity Brands, considered to be the leader in the market, copied by its rival, Star Athletica.  The majority opinion, written by Justice Thomas, sided with Varsity Brands, and ruled that the two-dimensional pictorial design, consisting of chevron, zigzags, stripes and colorful shapes, applied to Varsity Brands’ uniforms was deserving of copyright protection under §101 of the Copyright Act.

This case has elicited microscopic scrutiny by the fashion industry.
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On 12 January 2017, the German Federal Court of Justice has handed down its second landmark decision on cheat software within three months. After clarifying the question under which conditions cheat software may constitute copyright infringement in October last year, the Federal Court of Justice has now decided that cheat software can constitute an act of unfair competition, too.

To be able to play online games, e.g. World of Warcraft (WoW) or Diablo III , it is necessary to download a client software and install it on the computer. Achieving progress within the game regularly takes several hours. To save time and to easily achieve the goals of the game some companies develop software, so-called cheat- or buddy-bots, allowing the player to overcome the challenges of the game automatically. Online game developers are not pleased by this fact, which is why they try to prevent the distribution of such cheat bots up front.
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