Use Google Alerts to monitor use of your trademarks, copyright & online presence Reply

IMG_1761 copyUsing  a “Google Alert” is an easy way to monitor how your trademark, copyright, business name or storybook (ie your intellectual property) is being used or written about on the internet.  Google Alerts are FREE and help track the pulse of your online presence.

Setting up a Google Alert is simple.  Click on http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the trademark, name or term you would like to track.   Putting your entry in quotation marks is a good way to refine the search results.  Additionally, a string of search terms can be used to further refine the results.  For example enter the search term as:  “your trademark”  OR  “storybook title”  and  “your name”.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.  –  vk@kasterlegal.com

 

House Passed Bill to Create Copyright Small Claims Court 1

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 2.11.18 PMThe CASE Act passed through the House of Representatives last night by a landslide vote 410 – 6.

The CASE Act creates a small claims court within the Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to battling copyright infringement in federal court (which is expensive and often cost prohibitive for many creators).  The bill still needs to pass through the Senate and be signed by the President.

The text of CASE Act H.R. 2426 is available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2426/text.  More information is available at: https://copyrightalliance.org/news-events/press-releases/house-pass-case-act/

Bill Introduced to Create U.S. Copyright Small Claims Court Reply

CR Small ClaimsProposed legislation seeks to create a voluntary small claims court within the Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to battling copyright infringement in federal court, which is expensive and often cost prohibitive for many creators.   The proposed small claims court limits claims to $15,000 (for works that are registered timely), $7,500 (for works that are not registered timely) and $30,000 for total monetary recovery (exclusive of attorneys’ fees and costs that may be awarded).  Promoted as a much needed avenue for independent artists to pursue infringement claims and enforce their copyrights for smaller claims at a reasonable cost.  The goal is to reverse the trend of creators being forced to forfeit their rights.

For a copy of the bill H.R. 3945: CASE Act of 2017 and to track its progress: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3945

For more information: http://copyrightalliance.org/news-events/copyright-news-newsletters/copyright-small-claims/

 

What does Copyright Protect? (Great Question Eddie!) Reply

Asking what copyright protects is a great question!  Thanks, Eddie, for asking me Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.35.17 PMyesterday in a blog comment. You have inspired this post.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects “original works of authorship” including literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works, such as photographs, articles, novels, sound recordings, sheet music, lyrics, jewelry designs, artwork, graffiti, poetry, screen plays, children’s books, user manuals, website content, movies, computer software, and architecture. [THE KEY is that the material (or work) is ORIGINAL].

Can I copyright a name, title, slogan, or short phrase? In most cases, No.  These things may be protected as trademarks. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.

Can I copyright the name of my band? No. Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law.

Can I copyright my domain name? No. Domain names are not protected by copyright law. Some domain protection may be available under trademark law.

Can I copyright my idea?  No.  Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description (for example, a user manual), but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

Excerpt from the U.S Copyright Office at: www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html.

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; blog posts on trademarks and trademark registration at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k; “Copyright Basics” at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf ; “Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases” at www.scireg.org/us_copyright_registration/circs/circ34.pdf ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

Earning Music Royalties 2

Music royalties are earned and collected in different ways depending on the artist’s connection to the song and how the song is used or played.

For example, if you hear Miley Cyrus’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘Jolene’ played over internet radio, the royalty payments are paid to both Miley as the performer (paid to her by SoundExchange) and to Dolly Parton who wrote the song (ASCAP pays Dolly Parton).  However, if you hear Dolly Parton’s original version over internet radio then she is compensated for both the original composition, and also for the sound recording (ie both ASCAP and Sound Exchange pay royalties to Dolly.)

Here are a few types of royalties that an artist might receive:

Performance Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC here in the USA) from fees collected for broadcasting or publicly performing copyrighted music in a variety of ways including: over the radio, in TV shows, in concerts, in elevators, as ring tones and on YouTube.

Digital Royalties – paid to the artist/s who performs on a recording and to the owner of the sound recording from fees collected for digitally streaming music by providers such as Pandora, Sirius XM, iTunes and various webcasters.

Mechanical Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Artist/Record Royalties – paid to the artist who performs a song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Synchronization Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by a movie producer, TM show, or advertiser for use of the song in a movie, TV show, or ad.

It’s important to remember that artists must register with Sound Exchange and Performance Rights Organizations to receive royalties from these entities.

This post is dedicated to the composer Danilo Guanais.  I was honored to be able to sing in a choral performance of his Missa de Alcacus last month at Carnegie Hall.

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

See also: blog articles on digital music royalties at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/royalties-digital-music/page/2/; blog articles on using the copyright notice and registering your music with the U.S. Copyright Office at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18 and http://wp.me/p10nNq-13; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

Happy World Intellectual Property Day! Reply

FullSizeRender (3)April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day!  Let’s celebrate the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, & copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.  Innovation and creativity makes our lives healthier, safer, more comfortable and more fun, turning problems into progress. Intellectual property systems support innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, and encouraging creators to develop their ideas.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, brand names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.  [Text is from the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) website http://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/ and http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/]

I’m celebrating today!

Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

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; #valueyourart, #valueyou; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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.

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.

 

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.

vk@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.

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.