Real Properties and Intellectual Properties Case Briefs

Real Properties and Intellectual Properties Case Briefs United States Versus Alaska Facts United States v. Alaska, No. 128 Originally Argued January 10, 2005 and Decided June 6, 2005. This case was a dispute between the state of Alaska and the United States about whether Alaska or the Federal government had title to two areas of submerged land. The first consists of pockets and enclaves of submerged lands underlying waters in the Alexander Archipelago that are more than three nautical miles from the coast of the mainland or any individual island. Alaska claimed these pockets and enclaves qualified as inland waters. The second area consists of submerged lands beneath the inland waters of Glacier Bay, a well-marked indentation into the southeastern Alaskan coast. The case was tried in the U. S. Supreme Court. The Plaintiff was the United States Government and the Defendant the State of Alaska. (Thomson 1994-2006) Issue The issue in this case is the dispute of title to submerged lands which under the equal footing doctrine and the Submerged Lands Act generally entitle States to title of such land extending three miles seaward of their coastline. (Thomson 1994-2006) Ruling Summary judgment was granted to the United States with respect to both areas, concluding that the Alexander Archipelago waters do not qualify as inland waters either under a historic inland waters theory or under a juridical bay theory, and concluding that the United States had rebutted the presumption that title to the disputed submerged lands beneath Glacier Bay passed to Alaska at statehood. (Thomson 1994-2006) Analysis

Alaska tried to prove that the Alexander Archipelago’s waters were historic inland waters. To make a historic waters claim, a State must show that the United States exercises authority over the area, has done so continuously, and has done so with the acquiescence of foreign nations. This “exercise of sovereignty must have been, historically, an assertion of power to exclude all foreign vessels and navigation including vessels engaged in “innocent passage,” i.e., passage that does not prejudice the coastal State’s peace, good order, or security. Based on his examination of five different periods from 1821 to the present, the court found that Russia and the United States historically have not asserted the requisite authority over the waters of the Alexander Archipelago. The evidence that Alaska pointed to including incidents during Russian and early United States sovereignty is insufficient to demonstrate the continuous assertion of exclusive authority, with acquiescence of foreign nations, necessary to support a historic inland waters claim.

Nor do the Alexander Archipelago’s waters qualify as inland waters under the juridical bay theory Alaska advances in the alternative. The claimed juridical bays would exist only if, at minimum, four of the archipelago’s islands were deemed to form a constructive peninsula extending from the mainland and dividing the archipelago’s waters in two.

The United States rebutted Alaska’s presumed title to the submerged lands underlying the waters of Glacier Bay National Monument (now Glacier Bay National Park). The United States can defeat a future State’s presumed title to submerged lands by setting the lands aside as part of a federal reservation “such as a wildlife refuge.” Idaho v. United States, 533 U. S. 262, 273. To determine whether Congress has used that power, this Court first asks whether the United States clearly intended to include the submerged lands within the reservation. If the answer is yes, the Court then asks whether the United States expressed its intent to retain federal title to the lands within the reservation. The Court concluded that the monument, at the time of Alaska’s statehood, included the submerged lands underlying Glacier Bay has strong support in the precedents and whole record of the case, and Alaska does not take exception to it. As for the second question, the Alaska Statehood Act’s (ASA) provisions suffice to overcome Alaska’s ownership presumption arising from the equal footing doctrine and the Submerged Lands Act (SLA) and to reserve Glacier Bay’s submerged lands to the United States. (Thomson 1994-2006)

Minority Rationale(s)

Letter from W. C. Henderson, Acting Chief, Bureau of Biological Survey, Dept. of Agriculture, to Stephen T. Mather, Director, National Park Service (Nov. 4, 1926), Alaska Exh. AK-405 (noting that a colony of eider ducks in and near the Monument was “protected at all times by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Regulations there under”). It is thus unsurprising that States own submerged lands in other federal water parks, such as the California Coastal National Monument and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. See California, supra, at 37; Brief for National Parks Conservation Association as Amicus Curiae 30. (Thomson 1994-2006)


The decision of the Supreme Court to give title to the Federal Government set a firm precedent for future cases of submerged land title. Certainly this is extremely important when one considers the mineral rights of offshore drilling. Not to mention the preservation of underwater reefs and fisheries. Finally, an especially important point is title in relation to underwater right of ways in relation to pipes and communication cables etc. Facts

This section includes four or five sentences providing the key facts for the legal issue in the case. Discuss the name of case, the name of the court hearing the case, and the parties involved (plaintiff and defendant). The case brief should include just enough facts to recall the case and explain why the rule was applied. (Thomson 1994-2006)

Intellectual Property Case

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. et al. v. Grokster, Ltd., et al.


This case involving Intellectual Property was tried in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Court Case number is No. 04-480 and the case was argued March 29, 2005 with the final decision on June 27, 2005. The ruling was applied to determine if a party provided intellectual property that could be used for illegal copyright infringement would such party be also at fault for illegal activity. The plaintiff was Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. and the Defendant Grokster Ltd.

This section includes four or five sentences providing the key facts for the legal issue in the case. Discuss the name of case, the name of the court hearing the case, and the parties involved (plaintiff and defendant). The case brief should include just enough facts to recall the case and explain why the rule was applied. (Thomson 1994-2006)


Respondent companies distribute free software that allows computer users to share electronic files through peer-to-peer networks, (so called because the computers communicate directly with each other, not through central servers) and such networks can be used to share any type of digital file, recipients of respondents’ software have mostly used them to share copyrighted music and video files without authorization. (Thomson 1994-2006)


The appeals court found that Grokster’s software to be capable of substantial noninfringing uses and because Grokster had no actual knowledge of infringement owing to the software’s decentralized architecture, the court held that they were not liable. (Thomson 1994-2006)


Discovery revealed that billions of files are shared across peer-to-peer networks each month. Respondents (Grokster) are aware that users employ their software primarily to download copyrighted files, although the decentralized networks do not reveal which files are copied, and when. Respondents have sometimes learned about the infringement directly when users have e-mailed questions regarding copyrighted works, and respondents have replied with guidance. Respondents are not merely passive recipients of information about infringement. The record is replete with evidence that when they began to distribute their free software, each of them clearly voiced the objective that recipients use the software to download copyrighted works and took active steps to encourage infringement. After the notorious file-sharing service, Napster, was sued by copyright holders for facilitating copyright infringement, both respondents promoted and marketed themselves as Napster alternatives. They receive no revenue from users, but, instead, generate income by selling advertising space, then streaming the advertising to their users. As the number of users increases, advertising opportunities are worth more. There is no evidence that either respondent made an effort to filter copyrighted material from users’ downloads or otherwise to impede the sharing of copyrighted files.

While acknowledging that respondents’ users had directly infringed MGM’s copyrights, the District Court nonetheless granted respondents summary judgment as to liability arising from distribution of their software. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. It read Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U. S. 417, as holding that the distribution of a commercial product capable of substantial noninfringing uses could not give rise to contributory liability for infringement unless the distributor had actual knowledge of specific instances of infringement and failed to act on that knowledge. (Thomson 1994-2006)

Minority Rationale(s)

Sony addressed a claim that secondary liability for infringement can arise from the very distribution of a commercial product. There, copyright holders sued Sony, the manufacturer of videocassette recorders, claiming that it was contributorily liable for the infringement that occurred when VCR owners taped copyrighted programs. The evidence showed that the VCR’s principal use was “time-shifting,” i.e., taping a program for later viewing at a more convenient time, which the Court found to be a fair, noninfringing use. (Thomson 1994-2006)


This case is very interesting in that the court’s finding shows that the laws governing intellectual property are similar to real property. Since Sony was not held liable for making VCR’s that could be used illegally neither could Grokster. In the same light a gun manufacturer cannot be held liable for illegal misuse of it’s guns. Certainly, the manufacture of guns knows that some people use it’s product for crime, but it does not know which person. This logic makes it very hard to pin down exactly what is copyright infringement. The truth is there has to be a common sense moral judgment rather than a hard line not to tread over or risk imprisonment style. If that were the case then overhearing music might become illegal and certainly watching a movie at a friend’s house would be a crime.


Thomson Copyright © 1994-2006 FindLaw, For legal professionals, Retrieved

November 26, 2006 from


Thomson Copyright © 1994-2006 FindLaw, For legal professionals, Retrieved

November 26, 2006 from


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