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.

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.

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.

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.

It is a MYTH that Copyright Registration is Expensive Reply

News of Target copying a t-shirt design from SandiLake Clothing (a small business started by a creative and entrepreneurial young woman) …broke my heart because the designer, Ms. Lay, evidently stated that she did not have her design copyrighted due to the “high cost” of copyright.

IT’S A MYTH that copyright registration is expensive!  Applying for Copyright Registration is not expensive folks.  Applying for for Copyright Registration costs $35-$55Instagram design CR.

My heartbreak is somewhat abated by the fact that Target has pulled the copy-cat shirts off their shelves.  Evidently, Ms. Lay launched a clever social media flurry by posting a photograph of herself in a Target Store wearing her original shirt and holding a copy-cat shirt being sold at Target and appealing for support of mom-run businesses.  (The photo is inserted to the right).

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35″ or As of 5/1/14 “Some Basic Copyright Claims now cost $55; “How to Write a Copyright Notice And Why To Use It“; “How to use the ®, TM, SM, © symbols for trademark and copyright“; “Copyright Is Valuable, ‘The Birthday Song’ Earns $2 Million a Year In Royalties“; #smallbiz #valueyou #valueyourart; @ iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright Infringement: may not feel illegal but it is Reply

Three truths about copyright infringement:copyright

  • Making bootlegged copies of copyrighted movies available online for other folks to download and stream is a crime: copyright infringement
  • The Motion Picture Association of America and other associations, artists and content owners spend time and money tracking down folks who are infringing their copyright
  • Comments posted to an online forum acknowledging copyright infringement can be incriminating (despite a gleeful or playful tone).

According to a recent article in the NY Times, one of the founders of NinjaVideo served 16 months in prison for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. For more details on the NinjaVideo story, see the NY Times Article titled, “The Unrepentant Bootlegger” by Jenna Wortham on 9/28/14.

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

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

@iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Unleashing viral whiplash instead of a lawsuit 1

An online following of over 617,000 folks can be a powerful negotiation tool.  I read recently that a NY street-DKNY BKKphotographer leveraged his online following by “unleashing a viral whiplash” on DKNY for using some of his photographs in a Bangkok window display without permission.

Evidently, DKNY approached the photographer for permission to use some of his photographs… but the parties couldn’t agree on a price and the deal fizzled out.  Yet… some of the photographer’s photographs ended up being used anyway in the window display of a DKNY store in Bangkok.  Someone who happened to be familiar with the photographer’s work (possibly one of the 617,000 folks who follow the photographer online) saw the images in Bangkok and notified the photographer.

This is where it gets interesting!  In response, the photographer launched the following online campaign by posting this on Facebook at 9:01am on 2/25/13 [The Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK]:

I am a street photographer in New York City. Several months ago, I was approached by a representative of DKNY who asked to purchase 300 of my photos to hang in their store windows “around the world.” They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said “no.”

Today, a fan sent me a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok. The window is full of my photos. These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.

I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.

The online campaign quickly transformed into viral whiplash.  The Facebook post garnered over 4,500 comments the same day that it was posted and was noticed and “liked” by over 41,000 folks and was shared over 30,000 times.  Within four hours, DKNY issued a prompt apology and pledged to make a $25,000 charitable donation to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in the photographer’s name.  [Click to read DNKY’s statement issued at 12:52pm on 2/25/13 and the photographer’s response accepting the donation as a settlement issued at 1:18pm on 2/25/13].

Not the full $100,000 donation that was asked for… but a creative an interesting negotiation and resolution within FOUR hours.  In support of this creative negotiation I “liked” the Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK, becoming follower number 617,012.

See also, a creative resolution to a trademark infringement between Franklin & Marshall college and a hot European Brand at http://wp.me/p10nNq-lu; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

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

 

Summary for Photographers of IP Legal Freebies: Reply

And a few lagniappe topics:

This post is a valentine for my mom… who will be lecturing on this topic for other authors and photographers over the weekend.

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

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

 

Recording and posting concert clips: what’s legal… what’s not 5

Just because it is easy to use your phone to record a clip at concert doesn’t give you the right to do very much with the recorded clip. There are multiple sets of legal rights at play in every concert performance which include:

  • 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
  • Band’s right of publicity
  • Contractual rights granting you the privilege to attend the performance (often on the ticket stub, or posted signs at the venue, or the terms and conditions of a website)
  • License granted by ASCAP or other rights manager to the club or venue for the performance.

Each of these rights gives the holder a monopoly to do certain things or exclude others from doing certain things. Excluding others (ie you with the recording device) can be taken seriously by all the rights holders. For example, club or venue owners can exclude others from recording on their premises. This means they can confiscate your phone until the end of the performance or ask you to leave if you are caught recording a clip of the concert.

Technically speaking, recording a clip of a concert for your own personal use is probably considered fair use. If you post the recoded clip to a website, chances are that one of the rights holders listed above will contact the website and request that the clip be taken down. If this happens, the clip will come down and you may forfeit your right to access or use the website where you posted the infringing clip.

Rights holders generally try to maintain a balance when it comes to enforcing their rights; since, they don’t want to alienate their fans and patrons. Although, given the history of how aggressively the music industry went after folks who were targeted for illegally downloading music… this could change.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Other posts on music copyright at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/copyright-music-copyright/; Music Law 101: Legal Issues Surrounding the Recording and Posting of Concerts, by R. Friedberg; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Slicing up a copyright violation: Black Keys sues Pizza Hut & Home Depot over unauthorized song use Reply

The Grammy award winning band, Black Keys, has filed lawsuits in California against Pizza Hut and Home Depot for using their music in commercials without permission. Black Keys claims that a Pizza Hut commercial “prominently features significant portions” of their song “Gold on the Ceiling” and that a Home Depot commercial for Ryobi power tools uses parts of their song “Lonely Boy.”

Using portions of an original, copyrighted work requires permission from the copyright owner. Permission is required if part of the original sound recording is used, or if a section of the music is re-recorded. From what I was able to dig up on YouTube …it sounds like Pizza Hut used a recognizable portion of the song “Gold on the Ceiling” …the tempo and groove sound similar… there might be slight variations in the riff… although it certainly sounds like the jingle is trying to mimic the song (Take a listen: the ad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkaGEgjWdNI and the band’s video of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yCIDkFI7ew ). Facts about the portion of the song that has been used will play heavily into the development of this case and a possible settlement. This will include evaluating the originality, amount and specific portion of the misappropriated music. (Black Keys “wins/bargaining power increases” if, the music is original and has been copied). (Pizza Hut “wins/bargaining power increases” if, the music in question is not original or has not been copied).

As I’m sure you can guess, payment is generally a central issue in this type of dispute. Now that these lawsuits have been filed, it is likely that Black Keys and the two corporate brands, Pizza Hut and Home Depot, are already discussing a settlement payment and licensing arrangement for use of the music. (These types of cases often settle).

See also: The cases: Auerbach v. Pizza Hut, 12-05385, and Auerbach v. Home Depot, 2:12-cv-05386, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles), http://www.theblackkeys.com/, http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2012/07/02/pizza-hut-home-depot-sued-by-rock-stars/, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-22/black-keys-rock-duo-sues-pizza-hut-home-depot-over-songs.html, @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

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

 

Fiat pays for use of Graffiti Mural “I ❤ the Bronx” …in their commercial Reply

The exact amount that Chrysler has paid to TATS Cru, the Bronx based graffiti artist, for use of their mural in a Fiat commercial hasn’t been disclosed… although I applaud the two sides for coming to an agreement.

Is a Graffiti Mural protected by copyright?  YES, YES, YES!!  All it takes is ORIGINALITY to qualify for copyright protection… and in this instance there wasn’t any question about the mural being original.

Should Chrysler have known that the mural was protected by copyright?  YES, YES, YES!!  Because, there is a copyright notice painted into the lower right hand corner of the mural:  “©2010 TATS Cru” (I applaud TATS Cru for being diligent and including the copyright notice).  Even if there hadn’t been a copyright notice on the mural it still has copyright protection and Chrysler should have done some research.  The exact reason that Chrysler included the mural in their commercial (to give authenticity as to the commercial which features JLo in the Bronx singing about strength while driving through the neighborhood where she grew up) should have been a HUGE indicator that the mural is original and covered by copyright protection.  IT’S NO EXCUSE “not to know” a work is covered by copyright protection.  Using a copyright protected work without permission is copyright infringement – and ignoring a copyright notice on a work is even worse.  Both are illegal… and ignoring a copyright notice can triple the damages owed.

What do you do if your copyright is infringed?  In this case, TATS Cru reached out to Fiat/Chrysler via their lawyer and reached a settlement.  The exact amount that TATS Cru was paid hasn’t been disclosed, although both parties have announced that they are excited to be collaborating.  As part of the deal that was struck… a Fiat has been given to TATS Cru to paint and auction off to a charity of their choice.

I ❤ the Bronx, too!  A lot can be learned about the art of making a deal in the Bronx!

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

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

For more information: http://tatscru.net/commercial.  The mural is located at 1156 E. 165th St. in the Bronx.  Watch the commercial – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deNRiBQiQ3Q. http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/in-the-bronx-a-collision-of-cars-celebrity-and-copyright/; http://latino.foxnews.com; http://www.nypost.com; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.