For this week’s blog post, we will be discussing a recently decided copyright law case, in which a foreign broadcaster was held liable for violating the Copyright Act when they allowed United States users to access copyrighted material through a video-on-demand website. The specific case is Spanski Enterprises, Inc. v. Telewizja Polska, which was decided on appeal by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
In this case, Spanski, who is a foreign broadcaster, uploaded copyrighted television episodes to its website, and then projected the episodes onto computer screens in the United States for visitors to view. The court held that in doing this, Spanski was in violation of the Copyright Act.
Taking a step back, we will briefly discuss what makes a work copyrightable. In order for a work of authorship to be copyrightable, the work must: (1) be fixed in a tangible medium of expression; (2) be original and not a derivative work; and (3) display some level of creativity (i.e., typically just slightly more than a trivial amount).