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October 2019
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Jerry Seinfeld Wins BS 'Comedians In Cars' Copyright Suit That Was Filed Way, Way Too Late

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Copyright statute of limitations cases are relatively rare, but we have written about a few such cases at times. Still, here's a new ruling that tosses out a case based on the statute of limitations, involving a guy suing Jerry Seinfeld claiming infringement over the latter's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series. Though, it seems like the case could have been defeated other ways as well, even if it had been filed within the statute of limitations.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan of the Southern District of New York ruled Monday that the suit by Christian Charles, a writer and director who worked with Seinfeld on the show’s pilot, was barred under the three-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement claims.In a nine-page ruling, Nathan said that Charles knew about his potential claim for ownership as early as 2011, when Seinfeld twice rejected his request for back-end compensation on “Comedians in Cars,” making it clear that Charles’ only involvement was on a work-for-hire basis.But Charles, who claimed to have pitched the idea of two friends “driving and talking” to Seinfeld, did not file his lawsuit until February 2018.
Which was roughly around the time that Seinfeld took the show from its fun little origins on Crackle and inked a lucrative deal for the series with Netflix, where it now resides. Suddenly Charles asserted a copyright claim, stating that it was his idea to have a comedian hosting a talk show of sorts by driving around in a car and getting coffee. And if you're thinking that such a claim would be defeated by the idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law, well, you're right. It almost certainly would have. Such a concept is plainly a broad idea and not the kind of specific expression over which one can successfully sue on copyright grounds. Add to all of that that Seinfeld claims that Charles' work on the pilot was work for hire, for which he was paid a six figure sum, and the lawsuit sure seemed like a loser from the get-go.But the suit didn't even get that far, as the judge tossed it over the 3 year statute of limitations instead.
“Even if all inferences are drawn in favor of Charles, a reasonably diligent plaintiff would have understood that Seinfeld was repudiating any claim of ownership that Charles may have,” Nathan wrote.“Because Charles was on notice that his ownership claim had been repudiated since at least 2012, his infringement claim is time-barred,” she said.
Charles' attorney states they intend to appeal on the grounds that the judge is misinterpreting the statute of limitations. As to what that misinterpretation might be? Well, ¯\_()_/¯.

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California Police Department Wants Five Days Notice And The Personal Info Of Requesters Before Turning Over Misconduct Records

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The thing California cops never thought would happen happened. On January 1, 2019, a new law took effect that opened up police misconduct and use of force records to the public for the first time in ever. Needless to say, cops were not pleased.Multiple lawsuits were filed in an attempt to block the law from taking effect -- or at least prevent the public from accessing records created prior to January 2019. Multiple lawsuits and legal challenges were rejected by California courts, which read the law as being retroactive.As those efforts failed, the state's district attorney, Xavier Becerra, decided to go against the courts and the law's author to claim it was not retroactive. Of course, he was no more correct about this than the law enforcement unions being handed losses by the state's courts.The "smart" law enforcement agencies read the writing on the wall, took the wall down, and ran it through the shredder before the law took effect. There were a few cooperative standouts following the law's enactment, but most law enforcement agencies decided to comply with the new law as antagonistically and slowly as possible.The Long Beach Police Department is the latest to flip the bird to the public over public records. As Tony Saavedra of the Orange County Register reports, the PD is preemptively buying time. Or, more accurately, it's hoping to steal it. What the PD wants is nearly a week's-worth of heads up if the city plans to release officers' misconduct and use of force records.

Long Beach police officers want five days advance notice before the city releases their individual misconduct and use-of-force records to the public under a new state transparency law.
The city, being the subservient ass it is, has acquiesced. And it's made this five-day advance notice policy even worse.
City contract negotiators have recommended the notification provision, along with the requirement that officers receive the names of individuals and organizations requesting their files.
How's that for a chilling effect? Officers whose files have been requested will know who has been requesting their files. That's going to make things uncomfortable for requesters, who may suddenly find themselves interacting with law enforcement officers far more often than they'd like to.The boss of the local police union has of course showed up to say something stupid in defense of this heinous bullshit.
James Foster, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, said the provision is merely an effort to even the field for police officers.Foster said officers often don’t know the contents of the administrative investigations done on them.“It would be grossly unfair for the officer to see this for the first time on the front page of the newspaper,” he said.
"Even the playing field?" Your guys have badges, guns, and a whole lot of power. The playing field is nowhere close to even. Accessing public records doesn't suddenly put citizens on equal footing with people with the force of the law behind them. Let's see how well a cop responds to a citizen stopping him for no reason, insisting the officer explain where he's going, what he's doing, and why he's in such a shady neighborhood, all while checking the contents of his pockets and groin area. Let's see a peace officer sit through a pretextual traffic stop while the citizen kills time with probing questions in hopes of getting a free pass on a vehicle search, with or without Officer Paws and his magical nose.And, if officers are concerned about appearing on the front page of the newspaper, maybe they shouldn't engage in the sort of misconduct that creates paper trails. Just a suggestion.This is a bad policy and it's bad news for Californians. No doubt other police unions are asking for the same special treatment, hoping to deter people from obtaining records they're now allowed to obtain.

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