Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Judge Roberts, the internet and copyright

Yesterday, President Bush nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court. What effects might this nomination have on internet and IP law?

William Patry looks at Judge Roberts and Copyright. In Judge Roberts' tenure on the DC Circuit, he issued an opinion in one copyright case, Universal City Studios LLP v. Peters, 402 F.3d 1238 (D.C. Cir. April 8, 2005).
The Universal Case was an agency appeal, a staple of the DC circuit diet. MGM and Universal couldn't establish they had complied with the Copyright Office's regulation (37 CFR 252.4) for filing a claim to entitlement to royalties for cable and satellite compulsory license fees. The Office rejected the claims, meaning no royalties. The studios sued under the APA and the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment. The district court found no merit and Judge Roberts, writing for the panel affirmed.
Patry finds this opinion to be as "thorough, mainstream, and well-written."

Evan Brown examines Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and the law of the Internet and finds only one case where Roberts sat on a panel (but did not author the opinion),Recording Indus. Assn. of America, Inc. v. Verizon, 351 F.3d 1229 (U.S.App.D.C., 2003). In that case, the court reversed the district court and held that a copyright owner can issue a subpoena to an internet provider in order to disclose the identity of a subscriber under the DMCA only if that ISP actually stores infringing files on its servers. Verizon did not store any files on its servers, so it merely served as a conduit for data transferred between internet users, and the district court should not have issued the subpoenas.

More general discussion about the nomination is available at The Supreme Court Nomination Blog, Think Progress, TPM Café Supreme Court Watch, as well as Underneath Their Robes.


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