Category Archives: DMLA

Oracle defeats Google Fair Use Argument over Java Code Packets

No. 2017-1118, 2017-1202, 2018 WL 1473875 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 27, 2018)

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s ruling of fair use in Oracle America, Inc. v. Google LLC, and held that a verbatim and non-transformative taking in the presence of an actual or potential licensing market fatally undermined the defense. Oracle had sued Google for copyright infringement, alleging that Google had unlawfully used 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface – “pre-written Java source code programs” that serve as shortcuts for various computer functions to save programming time – in its Android-powered devices. Google copied verbatim 11,500 lines of Oracle’s copyrighted computer code as well as the structure, sequence, and organizing of the packages. After a second jury trial on fair use, Google prevailed on its fair use defense, and Oracle appealed after the district court rejected its post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law.

The Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court’s assessment, and analyzed each of the four fair use factors in 17 U.S.C. 107. In particular, under the first factor (nature and purpose of the use), the court held that Google’s use of Oracle’s code was both commercial and not “transformative” because the purpose of the software packages in Google’s Android operating system was the same as the purpose of the package in Oracle’s Java platform; Google did not change the expressive content or message of the code; and use of the code in smartphones as opposed to other computer hardware did not constitute “new context.” As many courts do, the Federal Circuit did not pay much heed to the second factor (nature of the copyrighted work), but emphasized under the third factor (amount of the work used), that the taking at issue here was more than was defensible. For instance, there was no dispute that only 170 lines of code were needed to write in Java programming language, but Google copied 11,500 lines.

The court spent considerable time discussing the fourth factor (effect on the potential market), focusing on harm to actual markets for the copyrighted work, as well as the market for potential and derivative uses. The court noted that the record clearly showed actual market harm in that Oracle’s copyrighted works had already been used in mobile devices, that Google directly competed with Oracle using Oracle’s own code, and that the existence of the free Android operating system caused significant damage to Oracle’s negotiating position with third parties like Amazon. The district court also had failed to consider potential market harm, including licensing Java “for smartphones with increased processing capabilities”; importantly, the court observed that just because Oracle had never built its own smartphone device was irrelevant “because potential markets include licensing others to develop derivative works.” Because factors one and four weighed heavily against fair use (factor two weighed in favor, and factor three was likely against), the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded for a trial on damages.

Even in industries unrelated to computers, mobile devices, software, and source code, the court’s broad pronouncement that “[t]here is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform” is both powerful and beneficial to creators and licensors of copyrighted content. DMLA’s amicus brief with the support of the coalition of Visual Artists– and one of many amicus briefs in this hotly contested case– helped explain to the court of appeals the importance of licensing markets in fair use cases in general. Ultimately DMLA supported the winning argument and contributed to the creation of appellate-level precedent that will help image licensors everywhere in responding to many infringement claims, as it turns on harm to the licensing market.


Ask Your Congressional Representative to Vote in Favor of H.R. 3945 – A Bill to Create a Small Claims Court!

Dear Creators and Friends of the Creative Community,

The time is now to support creators and the creator community! In early to mid-April, the House Judiciary Committee will likely consider and vote on H.R. 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE ACT) of 2017, a bill that will create a copyright small claims court for professional creators and small businesses. Your representative in Congress needs to know that you support the bill. If you haven’t contacted your representative, now is the time to do so. And if you have contacted them, now is the time to remind them that the creative community needs their support.

For many photographers, illustrators, authors, songwriters, and other creators and small businesses that own copyrighted works, enforcing their rights is simply not feasible. Litigation is expensive and most of these creators can’t afford to enforce their rights in federal court. In effect, the U.S. copyright system provides creators with rights but no effective remedies. To address this problem, the U.S. Copyright Office released a study recommending the creation of a simplified process for resolving lower value copyright claims.

On October 4, 2017, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA), as well as Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA), introduced H.R. 3945 to effectuate the Copyright Office’s recommendations. This bipartisan bill would create a voluntary small claims court within the U.S. Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to the expensive process of bringing infringement claims in federal court. This new court, called the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) would provide an easy and streamlined process for creators – including the ability to conduct proceedings remotely. Most significantly, participation in the court is 100% voluntary and inexpensive.

Organizations representing individual creators and small businesses have already voiced their support. Now it’s vital that legislators hear directly from creators about the importance of this issue.

Please contact your representative to ask them to support H.R. 3945. We’ve provided a sample letter here that you can send, or feel free to modify it (or use your own letter).
You can also call your representative using the list of phone numbers here.
And you can tag or direct message him/her on Twitter. Please click here, and then click on the twitter icon for your representative.

The important thing is to let your voice be heard on this important issue!

For more information, please see the following:
A copy of the bill can be found here.
A summary of the bill can be found here.
Statements of support and other information about the bill can be found here.

Please join the Copyright Alliance, DMLA and all creative community to support this important bill. Information courtesy of the Copyright Alliance.

2018 DMLA Conference Help Wanted

DMLA Conference 2018 Los AngelesDear DMLA Members,

Throughout the years you have been participating in our annual conference as an attendee. This year we are in Los Angeles and as part of the change in locale, I would also like to open to all of  you to the opportunity to participate in the programming for the conference.
Los Angeles is on the Pacific Rim, a city of creativity that is the epicenter of entertainment, music, motion and still and the producers of much of the content for the US and beyond, this opens up many topics for panels and speakers.  What would like to talk about?  What issues do you think are important for this year’s meeting?
We are just beginning our Program Committee’s work and could use a few more volunteers too.
I look forward to working with you all to bring your passion and ideas to our conference October 21-23, 2018.
Please reach out to Cathy Aron at as soon as possible with your suggestions.
All the best,
Ophelia Chong, Stock Pot Images
DMLA Program Chair

New Slate of Officers for DMLA Board Presented

The DMLA Nominations and Elections Committee is pleased to announce the following slate of Officers for approval for the 2018 through 2020 DMLA Board:

  • DMLA President – Geoff Cannon, Masterfile
  • DMLA Vice President – Leslie Hughes,
  • DMLA Secretary – Candice Murray, Shutterstock
  • DMLA Treasurer – Chris Carey, Minden Pictures
  • DMLA Officer-at-large   (4) positions
    • Tawnya Crawford, Getty Images
    • Rick Gell, Consultant
    • Nuno Silva, Stocksy United
    • Julie Zentmaier Sloane, Science Source
  • DMLA Past President – Sarah Fix, Blend Images

Ballots for Election will be sent out next week. Should you have any questions, please contact Sonia Wasco – DMLA Nominations and Elections Committee Chair, Sonia Wasco at 717-626-0296 or



Boston, MA – ImageRights President and CEO Joe Naylor has been appointed Chairperson of Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) Technology Committee. The announcement was made by DMLA President Geoff Cannon.

As the global leader in copyright enforcement services for photo agencies and professional photographers, Naylor will investigate, discuss, and address issues involving technology that have an impact on the business of digital licensing. Naylor will aid in fostering an environment of growth and collaboration utilizing member’s technical resources and expertise as well as manage and lead technical initiatives to evolve DMLA’s digital presence and value for the membership and potential members.

“DMLA is going through a transformational period in which it is expanding its focus from just that of the U.S. photo licensing industry to the broader digital licensing industry overall, including motion, archival footage and media companies worldwide. With these new initiatives, it is an exciting to time to start my new role as chairperson of the technology committee,” said Naylor. “I look forward to working with the members to shed light on the technology that is influencing our growing industry.”

“ImageRights has always been on the forefront of technology and copyright and we are thrilled to have Joe lead our committee and to lend his expertise to our members,” adds Geoff Cannon, DMLA President.

About ImageRights

ImageRights International provides intelligent image search and copyright enforcement services to photo agencies, professional photographers and media companies worldwide to ensure that their intellectual property rights are protected and that they are compensated for the unauthorized use of their copyrighted works. ImageRights, the only company to have fully automated copyright registration with the US Copyright Office, has made copyright enforcement a truly integrated component of its clients’ daily workflow. Through its in-house license compliance team and global network of copyright attorneys, ImageRights has recovered more than $8 million in settlements and awards on behalf of its clients.

Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC: The Embedding Balance Has Tipped

On February 16, Judge Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC – one of a pair of cases pending in Manhattan federal court concerning the practice of “embedding” copyrighted content – issued a ruling in favor of the plaintiff, photographer Justin Goldman, holding that embedding (or framing) content from another website does not immunize content users from copyright infringement claims.

Read the entire article here.

Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC: The Embedding Balance Has Tipped, per U.S. District Court

By: Scott J. Sholder and Nancy Wolff

On February 16, Judge Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC – one of a pair of cases pending in Manhattan federal court concerning the practice of “embedding” copyrighted content – issued a ruling in favor of the plaintiff, photographer Justin Goldman, holding that embedding (or framing) content from another website does not immunize content users from copyright infringement claims. The court declined to adopt the Ninth Circuit’s “server test” as set forth in Amazon v. Perfect 10, holding that the location of the allegedly infringed work does not determine whether a defendant has “publicly displayed’ that work in violation of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. Put another way, “the fact that the image was hosted on a server owned and operated by an unrelated third party . . . does not shield” defendants from a finding that a plaintiff’s display right had been violated.

As background, this case is one of a pair of cases pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, that Justin Goldman has brought against various online media outlets to determine whether embedding images on a website through in-line linking without authorization constitutes copyright infringement. A website embeds an image using an in-line link when it uses HTML code to direct a user’s browser to an image file hosted on and transmitted from a server controlled by a third-party (usually another website) yet it appears as if the image resides on the website the user is actually viewing. The allegedly infringing website effectively opens a “window” allowing the user to see an image hosted by a third party, yet never actually copies, stores, or serves up the image itself.

Because of the 9th Circuit ruling in favor of the server test in Amazon v Perfect 10 (which DMLA filed an amicus brief opposing the server test) many digital media companies will use this technology. Many content owners and their representatives, believe this type of embedding harms the image licensing market by permitting the display of content without proper licensing.

The defendants in both the Breitbart cases lost initial motions to dismiss and moved in each instance for partial summary judgment on the question of the legality of embedding under the Copyright Act (a motion complete with amicus briefs). Goldman’s companion case, Goldman v. Advance Publications, Inc., et al., is pending in the same court but before a Judge Carter , and is at an earlier procedural stage.

At issue in the Breitbart summary judgment motion is whether the defendants’ embedding of a photograph posted on Twitter constitutes unauthorized “public display” of that photograph in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 106(5). The defendants, including Time, Inc., Yahoo, Inc., and Vox Media, own media outlets that reported about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s meeting with members of the Boston Celtics in the Hamptons – a newsworthy occurrence in the context of NBA player trades. Goldman captured a photograph of the athletes, which several Twitter users posted on the social media platform. The defendants then embedded tweets containing Goldman’s photograph using in-line linking. Goldman sued for copyright infringement, asserting that this display in connection with thestory violated his rights under copyright.

The Defendants, in moving for summary judgment opposing Goldman’s direct copyright infringement claims, rely heavily on Perfect 10 v. Amazon in which Google’s in-line linking of the plaintiff’s copyrighted images of nude models was not copyright infringement because the images were stored on the servers of third-party sites. Goldman counters that Perfect 10 was wrongly decided because the user still displays the photo; that there are significant technological differences between what Google did in Perfect 10 and embedding content from social media platforms; and that Perfect 10 does not apply because it is not precedential in the Second Circuit.

The court agreed and chiefly relied on the language of the Copyright Act, including § 101’s definition of “display,” which includes showing a copy of a work by any “device or process,” and transmitting or communicating a display by means of any “device or process.” The court explained that the Copyright Act does not require a user to possess, or to store at their own physical location, a copy of the work to display it within the meaning of the statute. The court further looked to legislative history and the 2014 decision in Aereo to note the application of the Copyright Act to new technologies.

Consequently, the district court found that the defendant websites engaged in processes that resulted in transmission and “display” of the photograph at issue even though the photograph was stored on Twitter’s servers, noting the seamless presentation of the photograph on their websites from the perspective of a website visitor. Moreover, the court expressed skepticism that Perfect 10 correctly interpreted the Copyright Act’s display right, but that, even so, there were key factual and technological differences that distinguished it from the Breitbart case. Specifically, in Perfect 10, the defendant, Google, operated a search engine that indexed web content for easy reference and facilitation of access, and users made active choices to click on images before they were displayed, whereas in Breitbart, users simply viewed a webpage that displayed an image regardless of whether the user specifically looked for it or clicked on it. Moreover, the court found that very few cases followed the “server test,” and so was unconvinced that there was an “unbroken” line of cases supporting the position set forth in Perfect 10.

Goldman’s companion case against Advanced Publications, Inc., is still pending, with Judge Carter staying discovery and requesting immediate notification of a decision in the Breitbart case as of January 19, 2018. It remains to be seen whether Judge Carter will be influenced by Judge Forrest’s decision, and whether any appeals will be forthcoming.

Judge Forrest’s decision is seen as a victory for content owners, creators, and licensors who believe that the technological machinations behind how content is posted should not serve as a workaround to proper licensing. Presumably the case closes a perceived loophole against IP licensing, and its scope would apply to the display right of any content. While the blogs (and particularly the tech writers) were a buzz about how this case ruins sharing online, the Breitbart court did not believe that the resultant impact of its decision on the Internet at large would have as “dire consequences” as predicted by the defendants and their amici, and noted that in this case, strong defenses to liability separate from the “server test” still exist, including proper ownership, licensing/authorization, fair use, the DMCA safe harbor, and innocent infringement. Nonetheless, these defenses only come into play once a claim or action is asserted, so proper instruction on licensing is still important.

DMLA supported Getty Images and other visual artists associations in filing an amicus brief supporting Goldman in opposition to the server test. A copy of the amicus brief is here and the decision is here.

DMLA mourns passing of Ellen Herbert.

The industry lost one of its finest advocates recently when Ellen Kasemeier Herbert suddenly passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. Beloved by so many who worked with her over her long career spanning more than four decades in the business, she leaves a huge void. Known for her kindness, work ethic and passion for photography, she touched the hearts of all who knew her.

Her first job in the stock photography business in the mid 1980’s was at After-Image in Los Angeles where she worked under the direction of Ellen Boughn, who remembers her fondly…“as a spinning light of energy and passion. Her commitment to her work and to family was stellar…ever loyal and loving. Some of my best memories are from when she was a young mother, delighting in her life with Blake. Finally, I remember her sense of humor and the many times she made me laugh out loud.”

Her list of adventures in the visual media industry also included stints with Adventure Photo, Picture Arts, Punchstock, Ignited Minds, and JupiterImages. She is best remembered for her enthusiasm for the world of photography and the many photographers she tutored and mentored along her journey. She established Neat Production in 2009 a visual professional offering creative trend research, art buying, creative briefs, full production services and support, image, document and content research, rights clearances to agencies, publishing and design firms, film and documentary companies and photographers. Clients included GAIA, deviantART, the designory, British Vogue, Clos du Bois, Frommers, High, Wide and Handsome, Visual Connections and Audi.

One of Ellen’s proudest accomplishments was her participation in the 2005 Oscar winning documentary “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” where she researched and created the archival database of over 2,000 still photos, film clips and interviews for Tell the Truth Pictures. She often spoke about how this civil rights documentary was a life changing experience for her.

Ellen was active in both PACA/DMLA and ASPP where she held committee and board positions with both organizations. In recent years she’d worked with Visual Connections, editing their blog and programming their events. Deborah Free, co-owner of Visual Connections, remembered Ellen’s contributions, “Ellen was truly an inspiration. Her positivity, her energy and the support she extended to all are greatly missed. She always gave of herself freely and willingly and could be counted on completely for any project she took on. I consider myself incredibly honored to have been her friend.”

Ellen’s passion for her work and extraordinary willingness to share her experience, knowledge, ideas and creativity made her a very special and unique member of our community. Michael Masterson, former ASPP President, shared his remembrances of Ellen, “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Ellen as both a colleague and friend for 30 years. She was the consummate producer both professionally and personally. When you worked with Ellen, you never had to worry – she got the job done and done well. Her love of imagery, passion for whatever she was tasked with and incredibly high ethical, moral and professional standards endeared her to anyone who ever worked with her. Her dazzling smile always lit up a room and my heart which is irrevocably broken by her loss.”

Her husband Simon and son Blake survive Ellen.  The world is a little darker without her light.

A Memorial For Ellen has been set for February 25, 2018 ttps://

A tree will be planted in her name per her wishes



The DMLA Executive Board is pleased to announce that the 2018 Annual Conference will be held on October 21-23, 2018 at the Marriott Marina Del Rey Hotel in beautiful Marina Del Rey, California.  The hotel is walking distance to Venice Beach (a quick 10 minutes) and a short drive to Santa Monica Beach.

We’re excited to bring the conference to some California sunshine and to look at the future of licensing content in streaming online shows and television.  With companies like Buzzfeed, Hulu, Amazon and Snapchat located on the west coast, we’re looking to have some lively sessions.

Mark your calendars and look for more information to follow.