Mailing yourself a copy of your creative work DOES NOT protect your copyright. Reply

Please be advised that there is no provision in the copyright law or the practices of the  Copyright Office regarding any type of protection known as the “poor man’s copyright.” The mere act of placing a copy in the mail addressed to oneself does not secure statutory copyright protection for the work, nor will it serve as a substitute for registration of a claim to copyright in this Office in terms of legal and evidentiary value.

Quote above is from the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-infringement.htmlmailing-myth

It only costs $35-$55 to protect your creative work by registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35; “It is a MYTH that Copyright Registration is Expensive“; “How to Write a Copyright Notice and Why To Use It“; and the U.S. Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

New trend of Phone-Free Concerts has many benefits Reply

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-33-01-pmFans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr’s form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible for them to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.  (quote from NY Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show)

Not surprisingly performing artists reportedly enjoy playing phone-free concerts.

When the rocker Axl Rose reunited with his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, for the first time in 23 years, the concert was phone-free. “God, it was wonderful,” Mr. McKagan said of the first reunion show in April, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “It was the old-school feeling, where people were dancing and getting down. It was really cool.”

In addition to increasing the fun “old-school feeling” at a phone-free concert, decreasing the likelihood of intellectual property infringement may be a hidden benefit of a phone-free concert. While it’s not uncommon for audience members to record and post concert clips, this can infringe a bundle of intellectual property rights including:

  • Copyright in the music compositions and lyrics (often controlled by the publisher or sometimes the artist)
  • Copyright in the performance (often controlled by the label)
  • Trademarks of the band, club or venue

I haven’t met a Yondr case yet; although, I’m looking forward to using one sometime soon at a phone-free concert.

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

See also: Previous blog post Recording and Posting Concert Clips: what’s legal… what’s not at http://wp.me/p10nNq-os; The New York Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. by J. Morrissey at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/your-phones-on-lockdown-enjoy-the-show.html?_r=0; Yondr website at http://overyondr.com/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Interesting facts in lawsuit filed against Richard Prince for Instagram based works Reply

The fine art photographer Donald Graham filed a complaint against the artist Richard Prince earlier this year for infringement of Mr. Graham’s exclusive rights in the acclaimed photographic work of art titled “Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” a copyrighted photograph.pic

An interesting twist to this lawsuit and claimed infringement is that the infringing use was part of a controversial show of Prince’s work at the Gagosian Gallery consisting of enlarged screenshots of people’s Instagram photos used without warning or permission – reportedly selling for $90,000 a piece.

After reading the complaint filed by Mr. Graham against Prince, here are a few interesting points that may factor into the next stage of this lawsuit or settlement:

  • Graham is a famous photographer whose work may have been known to Richard Prince before he included it in his show “New Portraits” (ironically titled) at the Gagosian Gallery.
  • Graham did not post his photo at issue to Instagram. (This is significant because by posting the photo to Instagram a user agrees to Instagram’s Terms of Use.)
  • Graham has never licensed the copyrighted photo at issue or made it commercially available for any purpose other than for sale to fine art collectors.
  • Prince and Mr. Graham’s wife exchanged tweets regarding the unauthorized use of the photo at issue. The Twitter exchange in a nutshell: Mr. Graham’s wife stated in a tweet that Prince appropriated Mr. Graham’s photograph & Prince tweeted a reply, “you can have your photo back. I don’t want. You can have all the credit in the world.”

Take a look at the images included in the “New Portraits” show (a small sampling above and a link below).  The photo at issue is clearly not your average profile picture or social media post. To me it stands out from the other images and seems possible that Prince might have known this image was Mr. Graham’s.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: The complaint Graham v. Prince. Artist Donald Graham’s website featuring the photo at issue: http://donaldgraham.com/PORTRAITS/5/caption/; a virtual tour of Prince’s exhibit New Portraits at http://www.richardprince.com/exhibitions/new-portraits_1/#/detail/10/; earlier posts on this controversial exhibition featuring Instagram photos http://wp.me/p10nNq-I0 and http://wp.me/p10nNq-En; more information on Instagram’s Terms of Use at http://wp.me/p10nNq-En; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

User Generated Content (love & hate) Reply

Star wars

Seeing and using the Star Wars Crawl Creator (available for free at http://www.starwars.com) is an interesting example of a shift in the approach to user generated content.  Here the content owner is giving fans an easy tool for creating a Star Wars Crawl… according to the Terms on the starwars.com website and via a sharable link to starwars.com.  This seems like a win, win, win — giving fans access to a use the famous crawl in a way that links back to the content owners website and subject to the content owners rules.

For the music and the full crawl: http://www.starwars.com/games-apps/star-wars-crawl-creator?cid=56f1b130e4b06eec3bba29e9 (AND to create your own: http://www.starwars.com/games-apps/star-wars-crawl-creator)

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on website Terms Of Use at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/website-terms-of-use/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

When Monkeys Sing & Pigs Fly (Copyright news update) 1

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.14.46 PM

monkey selfie is available on wikipedia.org

It’s been quite a week for U.S. Copyright law!  This week a judge in California ruled that the popular (and commercially valuable) song “Happy Birthday to You” is not protected by copyright.  If the judge’s ruling stands the Happy Birthday song will become part of the public domain.

Also in California, a lawsuit was filed by PETA claiming that the copyright of photographs taken by a monkey (monkey selfies) should belong to the monkey. Presumably PETA should be allowed to collect and administer royalties from the photos on the monkey’s behalf.

It will be interesting to follow this monkey’s business… and these lawsuits.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com and www.kasterlegal.com

See also, another post on the monkey selfies at http://wp.me/p10nNq-b5; more posts on copyright law at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t; the “Happy Birthday Case” is Marya v. Warner/Chappell available at https://www.unitedstatescourts.org/federal/cacd/564772/244-0.html; The Washington Post article titled, “Monkey wants copyright and cash from ‘monkey selfies,’ PETA lawsuit says” by J. Moyer at http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/23/monkey-wants-copyright-and-cash-from-monkey-selfies-peta-lawsuit-says/; New York Times article titled, “’Happy Birthday’ Copyright Invalidated by Judge” by B. Sisario at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/media/happy-birthday-copyright-invalidated-by-judge.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

New Rules for Creative Revenue Reply

Creative revenue streams – Here are a few of my favorites:FullSizeRender (8)

  • Inexpensive monthly subscription fees for access to video tutorials (for example teaching folks to use photography equipment or to play an instrument)
  • Parlaying social media followers into an eager audience for a book launch.
  • Composing music scores for videos and films. (It’s often much more economical for film and video makers to commission original compositions than to try and get rights to popular songs.  When I saw a preview of the documentary “Doing It In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball New York City” one of the filmmakers shared that he wished he’d commissioned an all original score from the outset).
  • Demonstration YouTube videos that include a retailer affiliate link. (Retailer affiliate links make money when folks click the link and make a purchase).

I believe that smart, creative, entrepreneurial folks can rise to the top, get noticed and make money (if they want to).

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; Posts on trademark topics for new businesses: https://goo.gl/xqJrOA; #creativerevenue, #valueyourart, #valueyou; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Positive PR Spin (The Silver Lining To Controversial Use of Instagram Photo) Reply

A Positive PR Spin appears to be the outcome of choice for at least one of the folks who appeared in Richard Prince’s controversial display at the Frieze Art Fair in NYC earlier this summer. (The controversial artwork consisted of enlarged screenshots of people’s Instagram photos used without warning or permission – reportedly selling for $90,000 a piece. Blogged about here at http://wp.me/p10nNq-I0).

Lo and behold, the Instagram photo of Ms. Deere (pictured to the right) that Richard Prince put up for Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.38.40 AMsale at the Frieze Art Fair was a photo that Ms. Deere posted to Instagram to promote a friend who makes beautiful, hand-crafted dolls (notice the doll in the photo to her right). The silver lining to Richard Prince’s use of Ms. Deere’s Instagram photo is that the photo was seen by even more folks… garnering more attention and notoriety… which Ms. Deere has been able to spin and re-share on social media for additional promotion of her doll maker friend.

Below is a photo and text shared by Ms. Deere recently on Instagram to refocus folks attention to the promotion of her doll maker friend. (As of today, Ms. Deere has 348K followers on Instagram).  Fingers crossed that Ms. Deere and her doll maker friend each make at least an additional $90,000.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 9.54.47 AM

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: earlier posts on this controversial exhibition featuring Instagram photos http://wp.me/p10nNq-I0 and http://wp.me/p10nNq-En; more information on Instagram’s Terms of Use at http://wp.me/p10nNq-En; Observer article: “Hey Doll, the Instafame of Pidgin at http://observer.com/2015/05/meet-the-doll-maker-and-instagram-star-hacked-by-richard-prince/; Washington Post article: “A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000″ at http://wpo.st/XXOJ0; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

I like Taylor Swift’s Voice (and she sings great too). Reply

This week the musician Taylor Swift spoke out against Apple’s proposed plan NOT to pay music royalties during the 90-day free vlaueyourarttrial they are offering to customers who sign up for the new Apple Music streaming service. In a savvy and effective move, Taylor Swift asked Apple (in a letter posted online) to change their policy and refrain from asking musicians to provide their music without compensation during the 90-day period. The letter begins with a threat to not release her new album on Apple Music streaming service due to the 90-day-no-compensation period.

The goods news: Apple responded the same day with notice that they changed their tune and WILL pay artists for streaming during the 90-day free trial period.

Tis A “Swift” Change to benefit musicians! Bravo!

Here is the full text of Taylor Swift’s letter (also available at: http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor):

I write this to explain why I’ll be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music. I feel this deserves an explanation because Apple has been and will continue to be one of my best partners in selling music and creating ways for me to connect with my fans. I respect the company and the truly ingenious minds that have created a legacy based on innovation and pushing the right boundaries.

I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.

This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.

I realize that Apple is working towards a goal of paid streaming. I think that is beautiful progress. We know how astronomically successful Apple has been and we know that this incredible company has the money to pay artists, writers and producers for the 3 month trial period… even if it is free for the fans trying it out.

Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done. I hope that soon I can join them in the progression towards a streaming model that seems fair to those who create this music. I think this could be the platform that gets it right.

But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

Taylor

Thanks for your letter Taylor Swift. (You have a powerful voice!)  swiftchange

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Other blog posts on Music Copyright and royalties at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/copyright-music-copyright/; “Apple Changes Course After Taylor Swift Open Letter: Will Pay Labels During Free Trial” by S.Halperin at http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6605568/apple-changes-course-after-taylor-swift-open-letter-will-pay-labels-during; “Apple Responds to Taylor Swift’s Open Letter, Says It Will Pay Artists During Apple Music Free Trial Period: ‘We Hear You’” by J.Andriakos at http://www.people.com/article/taylor-swift-apple-music-open-letter-response; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Happy 225th Birthday – US Copyright Law Reply

Happy Birthday US Copyright!  This week is the 225th anniversary of the first Federal US Copyright Law, FullSizeRender (3)which was signed into law by President George Washington on May 31, 1790.  The 1st US Copyright Law was enacted less than 2 years after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and was modeled after the British Statute of Anne.  Kudos to the First Congress of the US!  Here is a bit more information on the 1st US Copyright Law:

The law was called “An Act for the encouragement of learning,” and it protected “maps, Charts, and books.” The decision to protect maps and charts indicates that the First Congress wanted to encourage exploration of the American continent, including its lakes, rivers, and harbors. The decision to protect books confirms that the First Congress also valued the creation and distribution of authorship, both for informational and artistic purposes. These objectives are reflected in the works that were registered in the first month after enactment, which included an atlas, a spelling book, a collection of court decisions, and a “comedy in five acts.”

The first federal copyright law established many of the fundamental principles that are a vital part of the law today. It stated that copyright initially belongs to the author—the person who conceived and created the work— rather than the publisher or the state. At the same time, it recognized that an author’s rights are not perpetual but instead should be limited in time. And it recognized that authors are part of a larger economic ecosystem, and that they often transfer their rights to publishers, retailers, or other parties. The first federal copyright law established the principle that authors should have rights to control the use of their works, such as how they are printed, reprinted, published, and sold. It recognized that authors should have meaningful remedies to encourage others to respect these rights and to provide appropriate compensation when those rights are infringed. And it recognized the central role a registration system plays in documenting a public record of creativity, ownership, term, and other legal facts.   [Excerpt from the US Copyright Office commemoration at http://www.copyright.gov]

US Copyright Law has changed a lot in the last two centuries including offering copyright protection to a broader spectrum of works.  For example, US Copyright registration and protection is now available for computer software and website content which were not conceivable in 1790. (Not even a figment in George Washington’s imagination).   The full text of the 1st US Copyright Law is available at http://copyright.gov/about/1790-copyright-act.html  and the current US Copyright Law is available at http://www.copyright.gov/title17/circ92.pdf.ACT

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Information on how to write a copyright notice at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; other blog posts on copyright at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/;  the US Copyright Office’s website at www.copyright.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Selling Someone Else’s Instagram Photo for $90,000 Reply

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.38.40 AMDiscussing the broad usage rights given away by posting original content to social media is discussed frequently on this blog and elsewhere.  Reading that the controversial artist Richard Prince recently sold enlarged screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos without warning or permission for $90,000 a piece at the Frieze Art Fair in New York is a case in point.

Be mindful of the Terms of Use on Instagram and other social media sites that you use and where you post your original photos, artwork and other content.

Mining social media content might be the new wild frontier.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also:  more information on Instagram’s Terms of Use at http://wp.me/p10nNq-En; Washington Post article: “A reminder that your Instagram photos aren’t really yours: Someone else can sell them for $90,000” at http://wpo.st/XXOJ0; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.