Judge rips lawyers in IP rift over viral Facebook childbirth video

A year ago, the US Supreme Court announced guidance to lower courts in determining whether the prevailing party in a copyright lawsuit should be awarded attorney fees. Under US law, the losing side of a copyright suit can be ordered to pay the legal costs to the winners—no matter which side originally brought the case.

The Supreme Court said that the imposition of a fee award against a copyright holder should be denied if the rights holder held an “objectively reasonable” belief that there was infringement—even if the copyright holder loses the lawsuit.

Today, we’re seeing another example in practice on how that ruling is playing out. A New York federal judge on Wednesday ruled that no “reasonable attorney” would have sued news organizations for broadcasting or publishing seconds-long clips from the 45-minute live Facebook video of a childbirth. Hence, the media outlets that were on the receiving end of the lawsuit are entitled to recover what may amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs.

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