Amicus Briefs

An amicus brief, also known as an amicus curiae brief, is a legal document filed in a specific court case for the purpose of persuading or educating the court on a legal issue before the court in the case. Amicus briefs are submitted by a person or entity that is not involved in a court case but who has an interest in the legal issues at stake. In determining whether to file an amicus brief, we consider how the court’s ruling could impact not only the particular parties involved, but also the impact the ruling may have on copyright law as a whole and the creative community more broadly. This is just another way in which we advocate for strong copyright laws that effectively protect the rights of creators and copyright owners.

March 23, 2024

Hachette v. Internet Archive


The Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of Hachette Book Group and other publishers in the Internet Archive’s appeal of a district court decision finding that the Internet Archive’s actions unequivocally do not qualify as fair use. The brief expresses support for the district court’s fair use and first sale analysis, while also warning of the harm to copyright owners and the creative industries that would occur if the decision was overturned and the Internet Archive’s manufactured “Controlled Digital Lending” theory was legitimized. The brief also explains that the limitations on liability found in section §108 of the Copyright Act does not apply to the Internet Archive’s wholesale copying and digital distribution, and that only Congress has the authority to expand copyright’s limitations.

December 8, 2023

UMG v. Grande


The Copyright Alliance filed a brief in support of Universal Music Group (UMG) and other record labels in an appeal by internet service provider, Grande Communications Network, of a $46.7 million willful contributory copyright infringement jury verdict. The brief explains that overturning the jury’s verdict and reversing the district court’s judgment would upend decades of well-established law confirming that a knowing, material contribution to copyright infringement gives rise to secondary liability. The brief also explains that the jury properly awarded statutory damages based on each individual sound recording (regardless of whether they were registered as part of a compilation).

May 11, 2023

Yout v. RIAA


The Copyright Alliance filed a brief in support of the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) in a case stemming from a declaratory judgement action brought by Yout, a stream-ripping service that allows users to make unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted content on YouTube. Yout claimed that its service does not violate section 1201 of the DMCA, and after RIAA prevailed on a motion to dismiss, it appealed the district court’s decision to the Second Circuit. The Copyright Alliance brief describes how section 1201 was enacted in the early days of the internet to ensure that copyright owners can distribute their works while being protected against online piracy, and it goes on to detail how 1201 has been successful in encouraging the creation and dissemination of expressive works. Explaining that the district court was right to dismiss Yout’s claims, the brief makes clear that similar fair use and First Amendment based arguments were recently rejected in another high-profile section 1201 case, Green v. United States Department of Justice

October 28, 2022

American Society for Testing and Materials, et al. v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc.


The Copyright Alliance filed a brief in support of Plaintiffs-Appellants American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and other standards development organizations in an appeal challenging Public.Resource.Org’s unauthorized reproduction and distribution of their copyrighted works. The brief urges the court to reject Appellee’s manufactured carve-out for copyright protection that it advances in defense of its actions, while explaining that only Congress has the power to decide whether and under what circumstances to expand exceptions to copyright law. Ultimately, the brief warns that no private entity, including Appellee, should be allowed to rewrite the law in a way that would strip copyright owners of their rights surrounding valuable standards and codes that Congress has deemed worthy of protection.

August 12, 2022

Hachette Book Group, Inc., et al. v. Internet Archive


The Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of Hachette Book Group and other publishers in their suit against the Internet Archive (IA) challenging its so-called “Controlled Digital Lending” practice. The brief explains that the IA’s unauthorized scanning and distribution of massive amounts of copyright protected works does not qualify as fair use, nor is it covered by the first sale doctrine. Differentiating the IA from libraries engaged in legitimate archival activity, the brief explains that the limitations on liability found in section §108 of the Copyright Act does not apply to its wholesale copying and digital distributions. The brief goes on to detail the substantial efforts of the creative industries to digitize and make their works available and warns of the devastating results that would result from the Internet Archive’s practice expanding to other types of works. Finally, the brief reminds the court that only Congress has the authority to expand copyright’s limitations.

June 17, 2022

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Lynn Goldsmith


The Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of neither party, taking no position on the ultimate resolution of Petitioner’s fair use defense and addressing only the narrow transformative use standard proposed in the question presented. The brief focuses on the importance of interpreting the Copyright Act in a manner that draws a clear line between transformative uses and uses that violate a copyright holder’s exclusive right to prepare derivative works under Section 106(2). Further, the brief cautions against the increasingly elevated weight courts have afforded to transformative use analyses and emphasizes the continued importance of the other three factors of the fair use test. After describing the harm Petitioner’s overbroad transformative use standard would have on the creative community, the brief articulates a set of guidelines it urges the Court to take into account when considering what standard should govern a transformative use analysis.

April 20, 2022

Capitol Records, LLC v. Vimeo, Inc.


The Copyright Alliance joined an amicus brief filed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in support of plaintiffs-appellants Capitol Records and other record labels and music publishing companies against the video sharing service Vimeo. Arguing that the knowledge and activity of Vimeo’s employees should disqualify it from safe harbor protection under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the brief explains that music licensing is far too complex for a reasonable employee who understands the concept to assume that a user who posted a video including a hit song had obtained the many needed licenses to legitimately make use of a copyrighted song. Further, the brief explains that Vimeo’s employees’ detailed review and hands-on curation of users’ content is precisely the type of activity that constitutes substantial influence and a right and ability to control under the DMCA.

April 4, 2022

In re DMCA § 512(h) Subpoena to Twitter, Inc.


The Copyright Alliance filed a neutral amicus brief (in support of neither party), urging the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to adopt a magistrate judge’s ruling denying Twitter’s motion to quash a 512(h) subpoena on free speech grounds. The brief explains the legal framework behind Section 512(h) and the importance of the provision to copyright owners who seek to identify alleged infringers. In response to Twitter and its amici supporter’s claim that the burden of establishing an absence of fair use rests with the copyright owner, the brief explains that the burden is always on its proponent and that Twitter cannot raise a fair use defense on behalf of a user who declined to assert it themselves. The brief concludes by warning that if Twitter and its amici’s arguments are adopted, it would erect unnecessary and even insurmountable barriers to U.S. copyright owners who need to enforce their copyrights against anonymous infringers and leave them without effective protection for their valuable intellectual property.

March 14, 2022

Evox Productions LLC v. Verizon Media Inc. et al


The Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiff-appellant, Evox Productions, arguing that the Ninth Circuit should reverse a district court’s dismissal of copyright infringement claims against Yahoo! related to the unauthorized use of Evox’s digital photographs. The brief explains that the district court erred in dismissing the copyright claims, relying on an interpretation of the reproduction, distribution, and display rights that directly contradicts Ninth Circuit precedent. If left to stand, the brief warns that the district court’s decision to demand more proof at the pleadings stage than required by law would create an insurmountable burden for copyright owners and allow alleged infringers to have cases thrown out at an alarming rate. Further, the brief explains that licensing agreements—similar to the one that Evox and Yahoo! entered into prior to the infringing activity—would be rendered meaningless and the entire creative economy would suffer if the decision was left to stand.

August 10, 2021

Unicolors, Inc v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP


The Copyright Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of petitioner Unicolors, Inc., arguing that the Supreme Court should reverse a Ninth Circuit judgement that the plain language of Section 411(b) of the Copyright Act does not contain an “intent-to-defraud” requirement for invalidation of a copyright registration. The brief explains that the Ninth Circuit broke from years of case law precedent and the legislative history of the PRO IP Act of 2008 by lowering the knowledge standard required for invalidation, and in doing so, ignored the fact that the copyright registration system is designed to allow for unknowing errors on behalf of registrants. If left to stand, the decision would harm copyright owners by allowing culpable defendants to substantially delay or dismiss copyright litigation and by denying plaintiffs vital remedies such as statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.