Copyright Office Extends Deadline for Reply Comments in Inquiry on Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

From the Library of Congress NewNet Issue 412 - February 18, 2011 The Copyright Office is extending the deadline for filing reply comments in response to its Notice of Inquiry requesting public input on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. Reply comments must be received in the Office of the General Counsel of the Copyright Office no later than April 13, 2011, and should be submitted through the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/comments/comment-submission-index.html. Initial comments (including one comment that was received late and that was only recently posted) are available for review on the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/comments/initial/. For more information, go to the Office’s website at www.copyright.gov/docs/sound/ ...
Read More

I am NOT a Gleek – Glee on Copyright

First off, I am not a "Gleek"; however after watching a recent episode with my family, I got to thinking about what a great illustration about copyright law that the show and the production of the show provides. The first issue that came to mind was - beside the producers of Glee, who is making money off the music?  Under US copyright law, royalties for music generally fall into three categories: (1) For reproductions (CD, downloading), (2) Grand Performance Rights (commonly known as sync rights), and (3) performance rights (radio play). There are other categories but rest assured sure I doubt that copies of "Glee for ukulele" sheet music is making ton of money. So let's use a hypothetical, let's say I have a band and we record and make popular a new song written solely by our bassist. The bassist is the sole copyright holder. Under our recording agreement, all the band members get a percentage of all sales...
Read More

SPNN Workshop: Copyright Myths

When: Sat, March 5, 1pm – 3pm Where: SPNN - 375 Jackson Street, Suite 250 Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101 Description: What is a copyright and how does it affect you as a video producer? Kenneth Kunkle of Kunkle Law Office will go over common questions creative people may have concerning copyright issues. Kenneth is a Minnesota lawyer and a graduate of Hamline University School of Law. Kenneth has been providing legal services to the Twin Cities business community, and focuses on issues affecting the technology, graphic and fine arts, and entertainment (music, film, and publishing) industries. Cost: $25 for current members, $40 for non-members, $15 fimited income. Call (651) 224-5153 for more information....
Read More

New Copyright Rules on Registering Photo Databases

In a nod to the reality that most photographers have gone digital and use databases to store and display their work,  the Library of Congress (where the Copyright office is) recently announced an interim rule concerning registration of databases of photographs and group registration of published photographs (previously electronic group registration was limited for unpublished photos).  In summary, the Copyright Office noted in the the Federal Register: The Copyright Office is adopting interim regulations governing the electronic submission of applications for registration of automated databases that predominantly consist of photographs, and applications for group registration of published photographs. This interim rule establishes a testing period and pilot program during which the Copyright Office will assess the desirability and feasibility of permanently allowing such applications to be submitted through the Copyright Office’s electronic filing system (‘‘eCO’’). Persons wishing to submit electronic applications to register copyrights of such photographic databases or of groups of published photographs should contact the Visual Arts Division...
Read More

Gray Market Goods in Legal Gray Area

In what is perhaps a fitting end to the only copyright case before the Supreme Court during this term, the Court sitting without Justice Kagen issued its first split decision of the term – leaving the issue of “gray-market” goods in a gray area. ‘Gray-market’ goods, or ‘parallel imports,’ are genuine products possessing a brand name protected by a trademark or copyright. They are typically manufactured abroad, and purchased and imported into the United States by third parties, thereby bypassing the authorized U.S. distribution channels.” Parfums Givenchy, Inc. v. Drug Emporium, Inc., 38 F.3d 477 The case centered on Costco’s sale of imported watches manufactured in other countries.  The watches manufacturer alleged that the unauthorized sale of the watches constituted a violation of their rights to control importation under 17 USC 602(a).   Costco’s defense rested on the “first sale doctrine” The case centered on Costco’s sale of imported watches...
Read More
Tattoo Copyrights

Tattoo Copyrights

Can I Copyright my Tattoo? A while back someone asked me about writing a blog post on copyright law and tattoos. After thinking about it, I realized that the issue is one that provides a great opportunity to illustrate (no pun intended) some core concepts about copyright law that are often misunderstood by the general public and sometimes by creatives. At issue is who owns the copyright in that tat on your forearm. After all, a tattoo is really no different than other creative work and as long as it is an “original work of authorship” (Most likely) and “fixed in a tangible form” (most defiantly), US law states that the subject matter is subject to copyright protection. A person who originally creates something generally has the exclusive right to control how that “expression” is used by others – they can give it away, sell it, or just prevent anyone else from using it. Tats are no different. When a tattoo artist...
Read More

8th Circuit Adopts Fair Housing Council CDA Analysis.

When Cozy Kitten Cattery spotted what it felt was defamatory comments concerning their business on complaintsboard.com it raised their hackles and the fur started flying.  After a series of complaints were filed in state and federal courts, the district court dismissed the complaint against InMotion after raising, Sue Sponte (on its own), the issue of whether 47 U.S.C. 230 of the Communications Decency Act shielded InMotion as the ISP which hosted the offending website. (on its own), the issue of whether 47 U.S.C. 230 of the Communications Decency Act shielded InMotion as the ISP which hosted the offending website. Noting that the case was the first opportunity for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear a case involving Section 230, the court adopted the reasoning of of the 9th Circuit that it interpreted as holding that CDA immunity did not apply to websites that are designed to encourage or facilitate defamatory, or other wrongful speech, however, CDA immunity does apply...
Read More

Ringtone Copyright Royalty Rates

"Answer the phone, answer the phone" - that's what my cell phone screams in the voice of my daughter whenever someone tries to reach me. I recorded it a while back and it amuses me and everyone around me every time it plays. What happens, however, when you record someone else's creative work as your ring tone?Under US copyright law, users of compositions must pay copyright owners when recording a composition. When the recording party and the copyright owner do not negotiate a license, Section 115 of the Copyright Act provides that the Copyright Royalty Board can establish a predefined rate which allows the recording party to record the composition without the explicit permission of the owner of the composition's copyright. In traditional recording settings, this is often refereed to as a mechanical.In the recent decision DC Circuit decision Recording Indus. Assn. of Am. v. Library of Cong., No. 09-1075 ruled that the Copyright...
Read More

Magic Words for Copyright Transfer

Last week the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Minnesota) ruled in Thomsen v. Famous Dave's of Am., a case involving a copyright infringement claim by an independent signage designer that designed and built various signs and interior elements for Famous Dave’s Restaurant around the Twin Cities. Following a prior dispute between the parties, where Thomsen alleged infringement of his copyright (no work for hire agreement or other assignments were entered into), the parties entered into a settlement agreement. As a part of that settlement, the parties agreed that: Thomson ". . . is releasing all copyright, proprietary design and sign work to [Famous Dave's] in all other restaurants that he has worked on with the exception of . . ." Adopting language from the 9th Circuit, the Bench ruled that " A transfer of ownership requires no "magic words" to satisfy copyright law; even "a one-line pro forma statement will do." (citing, Radio Television Espanola S.A. v. New World Entm't, Ltd....
Read More

Does the Twitter ToS dedicate everything you post to public domain?? – NO!

I use to say that it was a myth that if it was on the Internet it was free to use. While still a myth, photojournalist Daniel Morela may have reason to question whether this in fact still true. Morla was recently sued by Agence France Presse (AFP) for “antagonistic assertion of rights” for accusing AFP of violating his copyright in several photos taken following the January earthquake - Morela has counter sued for copyright infringement. AFP has asked for summary judgment that it did not infringe on Morela's copyrights (complaint). AFP's claims are interesting because, in part, they note that since Morela used Twitter to distribute the photos (which he did not - he used Twitpic), the Twitter Terms of Service (ToS) granting Twitter the right to distribute the photos should be extended to AFP as well. Besides the fact that AFP appears to have little understanding of the facts of their own case, this reading of the Twitter ToS...
Read More