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Court Dismisses Playboy’s Copyright Claims Against Boing Boing


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Court Dismisses Playboy’s Copyright Claims Against Boing Boing.

A California district court has dismissed Playboy's copyright infringement complaint against Boing Boing. Playboy's allegations that the popular blog induced or contributed to copyright infringement by publishing hyperlinks are not strong enough, Judge Olguin writes. The complaint is dismissed with leave, allowing the magazine publisher to file an improved version within two weeks.


Early 2016, Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin published an article in which she linked to an archive of every Playboy centerfold image till then.


“Kind of amazing to see how our standards of hotness, and the art of commercial erotic photography, have changed over time,” Jardin commented.




While the linked material undoubtedly appealed to many readers, Playboy itself took offense to the fact that infringing copies of their work were being shared in public. While Boing Boing didn’t upload or store the images in question, the publisher filed a lawsuit late last year.


The blog’s parent company Happy Mutants was accused of various counts of copyright infringement, with Playboy claiming that it exploited their playmates’ images for commercial purposes.


Boing Boing saw things differently. With help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) it filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that hyperlinking is not copyright infringement. If Playboy would’ve had their way, millions of other Internet users could be sued for linking too.


“This case merely has to survive a motion to dismiss to launch a thousand more expensive lawsuits, chilling a broad variety of lawful expression and reporting that merely adopts the common practice of linking to the material that is the subject of the report,” they wrote.


The article in question




Yesterday US District Court Judge Fernando Olguin ruled on the matter. In a brief order, he concluded that an oral argument is not needed and that based on the arguments from both sides, the case should be dismissed with leave.


This effectively means that Playboy’s complaint has been thrown out. However, the company is offered a lifeline and is allowed to submit a new one if they can properly back up their copyright infringement allegations.


“The court will grant defendant’s Motion and dismiss plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint with leave to amend. In preparing the Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff shall carefully evaluate the contentions set forth in defendant’s Motion.


“For example, the court is skeptical that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts to support either its inducement or material contribution theories of copyright infringement,” Judge Olguin adds.


According to the order, it is not sufficient to argue that Boing Boing merely ‘provided the means’ to carry out copyright infringing activity. There also has to be a personal action that ‘assists’ the infringing activity.


Playboy has until the end of the month to submit a new complaint and if it chooses not to do so, the case will be thrown out.


The order is clearly a win for Boing Boing, which vehemently opposed Playboy’s claims. While the order is clear, it must come as a surprise to the magazine publisher, which won a similar ‘hyperlinking’ lawsuit in the European Court of Justice last year.


EFF, who defend Boing Boing, is happy with the order and hopes that Playboy will leave it at this.


“From the outset of this lawsuit, we have been puzzled as to why Playboy, once a staunch defender of the First Amendment, would attack a small news and commentary website,” EFF comments


“Today’s decision leaves Playboy with a choice: it can try again with a new complaint or it can leave this lawsuit behind. We don’t believe there’s anything Playboy could add to its complaint that would meet the legal standard. We hope that it will choose not to continue with its misguided suit.”


A copy of US District Court Judge Fernando Olguin’s order is available here (pdf).



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4 hours ago, samuelthegreat said:

Kind of amazing to see how our standards of hotness, and the art of commercial erotic photography, have changed over time,

I came across photos of Playboy playmates over the years, and reached the conclusion that the early ones were prettier. The decline of playmate looks matches that of the magazine. Further, with so many of these and similar photos over the web, I'm surprised anybody buys the mag for them.

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The younger generation don't know nothing about what Playboy was about . Back  before  there was a Internet and pdfs .Back when we had to actually buy our media and if the  large corporations ever get there way,  we will be back in the 1980s again were we have to pay for it all , or at lest rent it.

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With the advent of Photoshop'd images, nothing you see in the magazines is real, and some of it is so obviously Photoshop'd it isn't even enjoyable to view.  Back when I was in high school I worked in a large drug store for a while.  While working there I found out about a gentleman who had a penthouse in a local hotel and would pick women up in the club in the hotel and take them up to his suite where he would take nude pictures of them.  He brought the film to the drugstore to develop.  The guys working in the photo area were nosy and would look at customers photos when they came back from printing.  When they saw what this guy was doing they automatically ordered two sets of prints every time he brought a roll in to have developed and printed so they would have a copy of all the photos.  They were much better than anything in Playboy.  Too bad we went to digital film.

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As regards print copies, more than just mags may be affected.


Newspapers could be dead in ten years suggests New York Times boss - as company plans for a future when 'print is over'


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