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A FEW TIPS re managing copyright, trademarks and intellectual property  [Please note, the postings on this blog are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice]   ...follow and subscribe to this blog on wordpress

Entries in Copyright (99)

Wednesday
Jan142015

SELMA: Bravo for the Movie & Creative Script (mixing original text & public domain works)

Two enthusiastic thumbs up for the movie SELMA and the creative script that uses accent, aura, scripture, lyrics of gospel songs and original text instead of historic speeches.  Before seeing the movie, SELMA, I read that the speeches given by Dr. King in the film were written by [the talented writer, producer, director and distributor] Ms. DuVernay and were not the historical speeches given by Dr. King.photo from wikipedia.org

Dr. King’s heirs did not grant permission for his speeches to be quoted in “Selma,” and while this may be a blow to the film’s authenticity, Ms. DuVernay turns it into an advantage, a chance to see and hear him afresh. Mr. Oyelowo, a British actor of Nigerian background, has mastered the Southern inflections and preacherly cadences that have become part of the permanent soundtrack of our educational system, and the script offers credible paraphrases of his character’s unmatched eloquence.

[--BRAVO, Ms. DuVernay, for turning this into an advantage].

It is not uncommon for permission to use famous copyrighted works, like Dr. King's famous speeches, to be unattainable or denied.  (Obtaining permission to use a famous copyrighted work is often cost prohibitive).  Whatever the reason that permission to use a famous work is unattainable or denied, creating an original work is a brilliant solution.  After seeing the movie SELMA this past weekend, I was impressed with the use of bible verses and gospel lyrics in Ms. DuVernay's script.  Bible verses and gospel lyrics are often in the public domain and free to use.  Intermixing public domain material and original text in a movie script works.  For example, Ms. DuVernay's script uses the lyrics of the "Battle Hymn of The Republic" in a final scene with Dr. King.  The lyrics of this old hymn (written in the 1860's and now in the public domain) were a powerful, spoken finale.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord..."

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: An earlier blog post on Copyright Law & Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech at http://wp.me/p10nNq-3R; Free tickets for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students at http://selmastudenttickets.com; the SELMA website at www.selmamovie.com; www.paramount.com/movies/selma; www.avaduvernay.com/about; movie review by Kenny Miles at http://themovieblog.com/2015/ava-duvernays-masterful-selma-is-the-timely-movie-america-needs/; quote above is from the NY Times article titled, "A 50-Mile March, Nearly 50 Years Later. In 'Selma,' King Is Just One of Many Heros" by A.O. Scott on Dec. 24, 2014 available at www.nytimes.com; NY Times article titled, "The Man Who Would Be King.  David Oyelowo's Pivotal Role in 'Selma' by Felicia R. Leedec on Dec. 18, 2014 available at www.nytimes.com; information on the Battle Hymn of the Republic at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_Hymn_of_the_Republic; NY Times article titled, "An Unsettled Chapter in Martin Luther King's Legacy" by Richard Fausset on Jan. 12, 2015 at http://mobile.nytimes.com; Wikipedia photo credit at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches; @iplegalfreebies and www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com.

Thursday
Nov062014

Copyright ≠ Confidential: Key to Tire Litigation & Wrongful Death Claims 

Copyrighted works that have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office are not vested with the same confidential treatment as trade secrets because they are available to the tirepublic.  Each time a person or entity registers an original work with the U.S. Copyright Office, a copy of the work that the applicant wishes to register is submitted along with their application.  This submitted copy of a published, literary work (which is called a deposit copy) is often made available to the public via the Library of Congress and a national network of libraries.

The fact that copyrighted materials are public records and not confidential is a basic principle of U.S. Copyright Law.  This basic principle of copyright law may create big changes to tire litigation and the evaluation of wrongful death claims related to faulty tires.  To date courts have routinely held copyrighted reports containing data on tire safety is inadmissible in tire litigation because, the reports contain trade secrets and are thereby confidential.  However, it seems that the copyright notice on the reports and their availability (upon request) to the public in the stacks at the Library of Congress and other libraries has been routinely overlooked.

Proper application of copyright law in tire litigation could alter the evaluation, treatment and admissibility of copyrighted reports containing data on tire safety.  As a result, copyright law has the potential to impact public safety.

For more information on this topic, See the article titled “The Tire Industry’s Abuse of Copyright Claims and the Corresponding Defenses of Copyright Misuse and Fair Use of Smithers Documents” co-authored by me and my uncle, Bruce Kaster Esq.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: a full bio of Mr. Bruce Kaster who has extensive litigation experience against major tire manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers, including Bridgestone, Firestone, Goodyear, Continental General, Cooper Tire, Ford Motor Company and others at www.tirefailures.com and a copy of our article and other resources at www.tirefailures.com/helpful-resourses.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com.

Friday
Oct312014

Female Watson: Great for many reasons including Copyright

Fabulous, smart, strong, witty, problem solving female characters are always great.  Recently, Hollywood has been recasting some traditionally male characters like Watson (from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes stories) as women.  Additionally, Hollywood has been developing new central characters from the Doyle’s classics.  For example, Watson’s wife (barely mentioned or developed in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) is becoming a featured charter in the new BBC series based on the literary classic.  Also Lucy Liu is featured as Dr. Joan Watson in Elementary, a new series set in NYC.  This is a great trend for developing new, dynamite leading ladies.

Interestingly, this tend also has potential copyright advantages for the creative folks writing these new leading ladies based on traditionally male roles.  The “copyright advantage” is that creating new original characters by definition creates new character traits, storylines and crime solving adventures which the owners of the new TV series can potentially own, control and monetize to a greater degree than if the stories, characters and adventures are taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.  This is because some of the original story elements and characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books and stories, like Holmes and Dr. John Watson, have entered into the public domain and others are still under copyright protection and must be licensed from Doyle’s Estate.

I love Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson!  How about a lady Holmes, next?  Holmes

Happy Halloween!

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier blog posts on the topic of “public domain,” https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/public-domain/; other copyright and public domain resources, http://www.copyright.gov, http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/; @iplegalfreebies and www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com.

Friday
Oct242014

Does Richard Prince’s New Exhibition Feature Instagram Photos?

Each piece in Richard Prince’s new exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue in NYC appears to be a screenshot of someone else’s Instagram post that Prince has commented on and then printed onto canvas …and is selling through the Gallery.  This novel exhibition is fascinating; because, it is an example of mining content posted to a social media website under broad licensing and terms of use.

Social media websites generally allow users to post content, including photographs, under the website’s terms of use that grant a broad license to the posted content. Users generally retain ownership to posted content under the terms of social media websites. However, monitoring who uses the content and whether or not permission is needed when other folks use content posted to social media can get murky and varies depending upon the website’s Terms of Use.

For example, the Terms of Use posted to Instagram includes the following language:

“you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service.”

“Any information or content that you voluntarily disclose for posting to the Service, such as User Content, becomes available to the public, as controlled by any applicable privacy settings that you set. To change your privacy settings on the Service, please change your profile setting. Once you have shared User Content or made it public, that User Content may be re-shared by others.”

Instagram and other social media websites do give users ways to report violations including copyright infringements and can (and often do) disable or delete accounts of users who repeatedly violate other users and the website’s Terms of Use. Back to Richard Prince, I read that his Instagram account has been turned on and off more than once. Evidently, this has become a flattering statement regarding the artist’s edginess. Since, Prince is a celebrity artist; Instagram may earn virtual cache by having him as a user. As far as the folks whose Instagram photos appear to be featured in Prince’s exhibit (New Portraits, at the Gagosian) I recognized a few celebrity faces and haven’t read about any objections or lawsuits.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: for more information about Richard Prince and his exhibition titled New Portraits at the Gagosian Gallery through October 25th, see: http://www.gagosian.com/artists/richard-prince, http://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/richard-prince–september-19-2014 and http://www.richardprince.com/bio/; for more information about the exhibit see: http://www.supertouchart.com/2014/09/23/first-look-richard-prince-new-portraits-at-gagosian-madison-ave/, http://hyperallergic.com/152762/richard-prince-inc/, http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/how-richard-prince-got-kicked-off-instagram.html; See also Instagram’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (note that the terms are subject to change): http://instagram.com/about/legal/terms/# and http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/#@iplegalfreebies and and www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com.

Tuesday
Oct072014

Can I copyright my website’s content?

Yes – copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship copyrightincluding content on a website. For example, original text, videos, graphics, animation, photographs, music, sound recordings, illustrations, translations and other original content featured on a website can be copyrighted.

Two ways to use copyright to protect original content on a website are: 1) to use a copyright notice on the website, and 2) copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

A few points to keep in mind regarding copyrighting website content:

  • Using a date range in the copyright notice may be beneficial if new content is posted periodically. For example, © 2011-2014 Ima Starr. All rights reserved.
  • An application for copyright registration only covers the original content that is submitted with the application and will not include future updates.
  • If content on the website is updated frequently, it may be a good idea to file new applications for copyright registration periodically, as needed.
  • The author, creator, and owner of the content may or may not be the same person. This is an important component to consider and sort out before applying for copyright registration.
  • If the website features original creative content such as books, music, jewelry designs, photographs, architectural designs, fabric designs, photographs or other original works of authorship it may be a good idea to also register these works with the U.S. Copyright Office before making them available on the website.
  • Note, that copyright does not protect names, logos, titles or slogans. In some cases, these may be protectable as trademarks.

Here are links for more information on how to write a copyright notice, adding a copyright notice to a website and applying for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 66 titled, Copyright Registration for Online Works at http://copyright.gov/circs/circ66.pdf and U.S. Copyright Office on “What does copyright protect” at http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#idea; @iplegalfreebies and www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com.