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 Concertconnection 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.