I spoke to Corynne McSherry, Intellectual Property Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed a brief joined by the ACLU and others in support of Google. McSherry told me that Garcia’s copyright claim is ultimately unpersuasive. "A five-second performance responding to the direction of somebody else in a much larger video does not give you a copyright interest in that work," McSherry explained. "Copyright law is vague enough, but not that vague."

McSherry said this issue goes back to the Constitution, which grants Congress power to secure exclusive rights to artists and inventors. Copyright claims have always involved someone doing something creative tied to a tangible work, rather than a minor recital of a line, or something more inchoate. "There can be circumstances where an actor might exercise sufficient creative control and that person might have a copyright interest," McSherry said. "So it’s not to say that an actor can never have a copyright interest in the work, but this isn’t one of them."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The Verge