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Apple hit with Apple TV, iTunes lawsuits

updated 09:30 am EDT, Thu July 5, 2007

Apple photo/iTunes suits

Apple is facing a pair of potentially expensive lawsuits relating to intellectual property, according to reports. The first of the two relates to the Apple TV, and specifically its promotional campaign, which has used an iconic image of the product surrounded by dozens of small video screens. This, however, bears a striking resemblance to an earlier image (seen below) by photographer Louis Psihoyos, who filed the eight-page suit with the state of Colorado.

Psihoyos alleges that he and Apple had actually been negotiating a license prior to the Apple TV campaign, but that Apple pulled out, while continuing with its marketing plans regardless. Apple is thus accused of ignoring the "rights and feelings" of Psihoyos, and effectively robbing him of potential profits.

In a second suit, Apple is only one of five parties targeted by James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar who say that the Avril Lavigne song "Girlfriend" bears too strong a resemblance to their 1979 track, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." Apple is being sued for selling the song, as are the record labels Almo Music and RCA Records; Lavigne and songwriter Lucasz Gottwald are accused of the plagiarism. A victory for Gangwer and Dunbar would either collect damages and lost profits, as per normal suits, or reap $150,000 for every infringment, with the bonus of interest on the pre-judgment period. This latter option, though unlikely, could be especially expensive if agreed to by a judge.

Neither the Apple TV nor music lawsuits have advanced to court hearings.





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    bullshit...

    While the first case may have merit... The second is BS! why the h*** would u sue Apple for selling a song that someone else wrote? Apple just has rights to distribute the song, which was given to them by the record company. The suit should be limited to the record company or Avril herself.. Apple cannot be held liable!

  1. ttrostel

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    No picture either

    Rights and feelings don't constitute a grounds for trademark or copyright infringement. It is unlikely he registered this picture as a trademark which means the only grounds would be on copyright infringement. If this is a new image which simply bears resemblance to the other then that doesn't work either.

    Neither case has obvious merit and it would not be surprising if Apple makes no statements about such cases.

  1. dli_

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    You're Both Off-Base...

    @eldarkus: in copyright law, there's what's called "contributory infringement." You don't have to knowingly sell something that's infringing in order to be held secondarily liable. If Apple were indeed put on notice, then, liability can also arise under "willful infringement" doctrines. All depends on the specific facts of the case, of which we have virtually none. @ttrostel: (1) the violation of an author's feelings is indeed a cognizable action - beyond just copyright law - in many countries, and vindicating "rights" are what lawsuits are all about! (2) you cannot register a photographic work as a trade designator under US trademark law. (3) the author of this picture could indeed have a copyright suit, ESPECIALLY if the later work bears sufficient similarity (look & feel) to the original. (4) Liability for infringement can result, EVEN IF the author hadn't registered the copyright at the time of the alleged infringement.

    I'd recommend that we all leave the expert opinions those who specialize in it. There's a reason that it takes three years of school and a bar exam. At the very least, a good rule of thumb: don't make wild assertions without first doing some legitimate research. We all give the readers of this fora and others very misleading information when we do otherwise...

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Cocka to both suits!

    There both off base and have no legal grounds. Just because it may look close doesn't mean it's a copy. Apple looks like it uses it's own images and therefore there is no grounds for that suit. The other suit if Apple got permission to use the song then there is also no case period!

  1. Sondjata

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    3 years

    Don't mean jack to the innocent folk in prison. Nor does it mean Jack for the screwy Supreme Court decisions of late.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    @dli_

    i'm aware of contributory infringement - "contributory infringement, requires (1) knowledge of the infringing activity and (2) a material contribution -- actual assistance or inducement -- to the alleged piracy."

    So in this case, they would have to prove Apple had knowledge of the illegal activity by the record company. Good luck with that!!!! :)

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    LOL

    Someone must REALLY de desperate for a buck! I think they'd have better luck on the street!

  1. ttrostel

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    where does it end then?

    Copyright covers form but not idea. It applies to the tangible artistic result -- known as the "form of material expression" -- not the underlying concept. So your photograph has copyright, but not the idea or viewpoint behind it. For example, if you take a great photo of some natural thing, such as a beach or Yosemite Valley, you can't stop other people from taking the same photo.

    This is copyright law as written in the United States. I cannot comment on laws of other countries.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    @ttrostel

    I think youre right. The photographer holds the copyright to the photo and not the idea. I have seen the same ideas regurgitated over and over in many photographs.. hence why the word cliche is used so often (think girls naughty bits wrapped in caution tape as a prime example.)

    and besides.. isn't the whole wall of TV thing from Matrix anyways? :)

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    LOL

    Ok my creative thought is breathing so everyone on the planet better pay up because they are infringing on my creative rights on "breathing".

    Avil wrote a song that seems simular to another and Apple is held liable just because they distributed it? So they would also have to include Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and every record store that carries the album as well since they also sell this widely popular album.

    It is truly sad that in the end laziness is popular that people are still trying to come up with far fetched ways to be a millionare and not have to work.

    Fat? Sue McDonalds. Burn yourself on Hot Coffee out of stupidity? Sue McDonalds. Drop a toaster in the bathtub and fail to kill your self? Sue someone.

    Bah what a waste. These lawsuits will never make it because they are really too far fetched.

    This could be a good campaign to get off of crack though. Maybe I should sue for that since it is my "creative idea"

    ROFLMAO

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