Why should humans own all the world’s copyrights? The question is prompted by a photograph that’s made worldwide news. In Indonesia, a female crested black macaque monkey picked up a camera owned by photographer David Slater. I won’t focus much on the story of the monkey and her selfie because that topic has already been well-discussed in the media. Yet the story sets the table for more intriguing and ultimately more important issues.[Read More]
18 Aug · Mon 2014
Are Copyrighted Works Only by and for Humans? The Copyright Planet of the Apes and Robots
17 Aug · Sun 2014
Blockbusters, Behemoths, and In-Betweeners – The Changing Entertainment Business
What are the most notable recent changes and trends in the entertainment business? Not all of the changes are due to our friend the Internet, although that is obviously playing a very big part. Many motion picture industry figures have commented that we are headed to a future of still more big budget movies dominating the marketplace at very high movie ticket prices. Are the big boys and girls of show business going to win the lion’s share of revenue in the future?[Read More]
08 May · Thu 2014
The Six Million Dollar Tweet
A tweet is limited to 140 characters, but a picture might be worth six million dollars. Actress Katherine Heigl, who rose to Hollywood stardom on the medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy, is suing the Duane Reade pharmacy chain for tweeting her image.[Read More]
07 May · Wed 2014
You Are Too Beautiful – Photoshop and Advertising
An article in Fashionista this week raises a provocative issue. Is it false advertising to use digital imaging software, such as Adobe's Photoshop, to enhance photographs of people modeling cosmetic products and services, making the models look even more beautiful than they do in real life in order to sell these products and services?[Read More]
04 May · Sun 2014
The Little Antenna That Could? Aereo in the Supreme Court
The Little Antenna That Went to the Supreme Court
Call it "the little antenna that could." Remember the classic rabbit ears that topped television sets? Now there is a miniature version that doesn't look like a rabbit but moves very fast. A new device developed by Aereo, Inc. provides access to live TV online for local channels within a given coverage area. Using an array of tiny dime-sized antennas, the system makes it possible to watch television without a television set. For a rate currently around $8-12 per month, subscribers can view and record live television broadcasts over the Internet through mobile electronic devices. Since its inception in 2010, Aereo's online television playback system has expanded into 11 major U.S. media markets and garnered the company nearly one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) in funding. This expansion has also earned the small startup company the enmity of major broadcasters and a date in the U.S. Supreme Court.[Read More]
02 May · Fri 2014
Whose Motion Picture Is It Anyway -- Does the Actress Own the Motion Picture?
It was the casting call that would make her name known, but it didn't bring the kind of fame for which she was hoping. In July 2011, Cindy Lee Garcia landed a minor role in a motion picture that was to be called "Desert Warrior." She received four pages of the script, performed her role, and was paid $500 for three days of acting. Little did she know, this brief performance would make her the center of an uproar in the Islamic world.[Read More]
30 Apr · Wed 2014
Do You Own Your Music Playlist?
Is a playlist as protectable and as valuable as a song? When I was on a panel at Harvard Law School a decade ago and first heard the notion that a DJ's playlist was just as valuable as a song, I couldn’t believe it. I recognized the value in a playlist but still felt that there was something especially creative and valuable in a song in contrast to the act of curating songs of others. Today the DJ electronic dance music culture is strong and growing stronger, making the question of playlist ownership even more relevant. Playlists are valuable but are they protectable under copyright law?[Read More]
20 Feb · Thu 2014
How Long Should You Wait to Sue for Copyright Infringement?
Suppose that you’ve created something copyrightable. You’ve gone through the process of registration with the Copyright Office and followed the renewal procedures (if they were necessary). You learn that someone is infringing your copyright. You seek the advice of your lawyer, who sends a cease and desist letter to the infringer. How long can you wait before you have to sue? The answer, it turns out, is a complicated one.[Read More]
18 Feb · Tue 2014
All’s Fair in Copying the World’s Books
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have all the world’s literature scanned and available for search in text online? Well, something along those lines is already here.
Google’s Book Project (or “Google Books”, as it has come to be called) is one of the enterprising tech giant’s ambitious ventures. Google Books itself consists of two smaller components. First, the Partner Program, in which Google hosts books on its website licensed from publishers with whom it has entered into agreements. Second, the Library Project, via which Google hosts scanned books from various libraries and collections without obtaining permission of the respective authors or publishers. Since beginning in 2004, Google has scanned over twenty million books as part of the Library Project. The goal is to make the text fully searchable through Google’s search engine.[Read More]
14 Feb · Fri 2014
Sherlock Holmes and the Public Domain
03 Feb · Mon 2014
Is the Doctor on TV Playing the Part of Your Doctor?
Real and fictional doctors have been staples of television for decades. Viewers can tune in and listen to remedies offered by The Doctors, Dr. Drew on Call, and The Dr. Oz Show, among many other real and fictional healthcare providers.[Read More]
13 Aug · Tue 2013
Is Copyright Working Well for the Copyright "Middle Class"?
Is copyright a good thing or is copyright just in the way? Ok, I'm a copyright lawyer so you might be able to guess what I'll say. Thanks to changing and less-protective copyright laws and the Internet, there is so much more content available than ever. But it’s tough for copyright creators to be in the middle of the economic changes – and to make money.[Read More]
12 Aug · Mon 2013
Hangman Lives to Pursue a Copyright Claim
You wouldn't think that there was much protectable intellectual property in the classic "Hangman" word game. In Hangman, as you probably know, one player thinks of a word or phrase and the second player tries to figure out what it is. The word or phrase is initially represented by a fixed number of dashes, which comprise the number of letters that it contains.[Read More]
04 Aug · Sun 2013
The T- Shirt Found No Love – Rihanna Wins in Court
International singing star Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty to the court) won a lawsuit in July in England against the Top Shop stores over the manufacture and sale of an unauthorized T-Shirt bearing her image. Merchandise (such as T-shirts, jackets, buttons) is a very big business; so the respective rights of celebrities and merchants are important. I frequently work on licenses and litigation in this area and know firsthand how valuable these rights are – and how seriously infringements are taken.
28 Jul · Sun 2013
Good Deeds and Minimal Unauthorized Copying of Copyrighted Works