Copyright Office Proposes Rule to Establish a Group Registration for Unpublished Works

NewsNet Issue 686 October 12, 2017 Copyright Office Proposes Rule to Establish a Group Registration for Unpublished Works The United States Copyright Office is proposing to create a new group registration option for a limited number of unpublished works. The proposed rule would replace the current “unpublished collections” registration option. Among other things, applicants would be required to submit an online application and upload their works to the electronic registration system, although the Office may waive these requirements in exceptional cases. The proposed rule offers a number of significant benefits compared to current practices: it would allow the Office to more easily examine each work for copyrightable authorship, to create a more robust record of the claim, and to improve the overall efficiency of the registration process. The notice of proposed rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment are available here. Written comments must be received no later than November 13, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time....
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Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers – Q&A

Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers – Q&A

I'm a Teacher, so copyright laws don't apply - Right?? Answer "Face to Face" exception Well - sometimes.  While it is true that there are exceptions to the rules regarding use of copyright protected works by teachers , they are limited. When setting up the copyright laws, Congress created the "Face to Face" exception which allowed use of protected works for "Performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction." (17 U.S. Code § 110, Emphasis Added).  Notably, this exception is loaded with qualifying language that requires the exception to be interpreted pretty narrowly. Fair Use Guidelines However, teachers have another option.  Like the general public, the rules governing Fair Use  can be applied to teaching activities - in fact teaching is specifically called out by the statute as a limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright owners.  17 U.S. Code § 107 .   The challenge, of course,...
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You Own Devices Act proposed

You Own Devices Act Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) recently reintroduced to committee H.R.862, You Own Devices Act (YODA), to amend title 17, United States Code.  If enacted, the bill will provide that the first sale doctrine applies to any computer program that enables a machine or other product to operate.  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr5586/text  Expect opposition to come from...
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Copyright Office Releases Comprehensive Music Licensing Study

LOC NewsNet Issue 567 February 5, 2015 Copyright Office Releases Comprehensive Music Licensing Study The U.S. Copyright Office has released a comprehensive study, “Copyright and the Music Marketplace,” detailing the aging music licensing framework as well as the ever-evolving needs of those who create and invest in music in the twenty-first century. In addition to providing an exhaustive review of the existing system, the report makes a number of recommendations that would bring both clarity and relief to songwriters, artists, publishers, record labels, and digital delivery services. “Few would dispute that music is culturally essential and economically important to the world we live in,” said Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights, “but the reality is that both music creators and the innovators who support them are increasingly doing business in legal quicksand. As this report makes clear, this state of affairs neither furthers the copyright law nor befits a nation as creative as the United States.” There is broad consensus across the music industry on...
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Copyright Office Announces Public Roundtable Discussions for Music Licensing Study

From the United States Copyright Office NewsNet 542 May 5, 2014 The U.S. Copyright Office will hold a series of public roundtables to gather input for its music licensing study. The roundtables will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on June 4 and 5, 2014, in Los Angeles, California, on June 16 and 17, 2014, and in New York, New York, on June 23 and 24, 2014. The roundtables will offer an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the music licensing issues set forth in the Notice of Inquiry issued by the Office on March 17, 2014. Those seeking to participate in the roundtables should complete and submit the online form. Requests to participate must be received by the Copyright Office by May 20, 2014....
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The Vivian Maier Dilemma

Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was a nanny living in Chicago and New York during the 50's and 60's.  She was also a photographer whose work involved sizable numbers of photos taken of street scenes.  She was not publicly recognized as an artist until after her death and upon the discovery/purchase of her storage locker which contained over 150,000 unprinted negative, hundreds of rolls of un-developed rolls, along with a few thousand that had  been printed (leaving open the question of what she wanted produced).  Subsequently, the negatives were acquired by a handful of entrepreneurs, and select works are now being exhibited and sold as prints.  What is left out of this story is that she died largely without funds of her own, and that she died without any heirs.   The storage locker was sold because no one paid the storage fees.  So who owns the copyright in these photos? Vivian died in Illinois a couple...
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Authors Guild v. Google

After eight years of a trail and the appeals process, on Nov. 14, 2013, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Denny Chin, dismissed a suit by the Author's Guild against Google for its’ digital scanning project where they began scanning millions of books and making snippets (not full books) available in its search results. His full opinion can be read here. The Author’s Guild has filed an appeal. The Author's Guild claim is that this scanning alone violates those authors’ copyright. Google's defense -- the one that Judge Chin agreed with -- was that it fell within the scope of Fair Use. Chin says in his opinion that, "...Google Books provide significant public benefits." Section 107 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code determines the nature of Fair Use. Fair Use allows for the use of copyrighted material for a variety of purposes -- education, criticism, research, etc. The most relevant portion of the criterion to be met in this case was...
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Garcia v. Google, Inc.

Garcia v. Google, Inc. “While answering a casting call for a low-budget amateur film doesn’t often lead to stardom, it also rarely turns an aspiring actress into the subject of a fatwa.” is the mild understatement of the Appeals court decision in Garcia v. Google, a case rooted in the anti-Islamic “film” that sparked riots in the middle east a few years back. Ms. Garcia was one of the unfortunate soles who was originally hired to act in what seemed like a vanity project of Mark Basseley Youssef. The film project was originally entitled “Desert Warrior” and while it is not clear what it was originally about, what is known is that the footage was reedited and dubbed over with new dialogue. The resulting project was entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” and the reaction to it is thought to have resulted in over 50 deaths. Following the riots and subsequent calls for her death, Ms. Garcia filed eight DMCA...
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Sometimes They Don’t Quite Get It.

Courts sometime get the right answer for the wrong reason. In a recent case in the US Tenth Circuit (Enterprise Management Limited, Inc. v. Warrick); the court discussed a diagram of a basic idea which was the basis of the defendant copying a similar diagram to explain the same concepts.    While the end result was correct in this circumstance, the reasoning used falls short. Where concepts or ideas are being presented there is a general rule that expression and ideas are sometimes merged and therefore the copying is allowed to not allow the copyright owner to weld exclusive rights to the idea.   The Enterprise Management court articulated this by noting: “In short, the copyright law is not a patent law: it protects the expression of ideas rather than the underlying ideas themselves. Feist Publ’ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 344-45 (1991) (“The most fundamental axiom of copyright law is that no author may copyright his ideas or the...
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Of Flesh Eaters and Copyright

Of Flesh Eaters and Copyright

How Copyright Law Influenced Halloween Have you ever seen Night of the Flesh Eaters?   Probably, though you probably know it as the 1968 George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead.  Now ask yourself why have you seen it (besides it being a fun little romp about zombies) – because it has been pervasively shown on broadcast television and other media for decades.   While we now view this film as a classic, when it came out it was simply a B movie.  The reason it received so much initial air time, however, probably had more to do with the formalities of copyright law than the artistic vision of George A. Romero and John Russo. Up until March 1, 1989, in order to maintain a copyright in a film, a copyright notice was required somewhere on the work – in films this usually consisted of a listing on the title card showing the copyright symbol, the year, and the owner’s name.  When the...
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