Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!

Anthony Szulc writes:

I am sending you this case not for its gravity, but more for your amusement. In April, 2005, Judge Roberts writes the opinion for the Court of Appeals in a case where MGM & Universal are basically whining that the copyright office treated them unfairly by not accepting forms for royalty payments that the studios filed in an improper manner. The studios are required to have their claims into the copyright office by the end of July. If the forms get there late, the studios must prove with a USPS postmark or a receipt that they were sent in a timely manner. A Pitney Bowles office postmark machine WILL NOT DO, which is what the studios used in this case. They said they had a receipt, but they couldn’t locate it. Millions of dollars in royalty payments for cable TV rebroadcasts are at stake. The studios want a waiver for their irresponsibility, and the copyright office isn’t budging. The rules are the rules. Roberts and the Court uphold earlier ruling against the studios and Roberts concludes his opinion, “And under those regulations, the studios are out of luck.” Bang! Next case.
His use of Macbeth to bolster his opinion is at the top of page 7. In that the case is being brought by producers of drama, this is a nice touch. My only personal comment is that I’m glad Roberts wasn’t one of my professors!

The case to which Anthony Szulc refers is Universal City Studios v. Peters (PDF).

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