photo from wikipedia.org
Two enthusiastic thumbs up for the movie SELMA and the creative script that uses accent, aura, scripture, lyrics of gospel songs and original text instead of historic speeches. Before seeing the movie, SELMA, I read that the speeches given by Dr. King in the film were written by [the talented writer, producer, director and distributor] Ms. DuVernay and were not the historical speeches given by Dr. King.
Dr. King’s heirs did not grant permission for his speeches to be quoted in “Selma,” and while this may be a blow to the film’s authenticity, Ms. DuVernay turns it into an advantage, a chance to see and hear him afresh. Mr. Oyelowo, a British actor of Nigerian background, has mastered the Southern inflections and preacherly cadences that have become part of the permanent soundtrack of our educational system, and the script offers credible paraphrases of his character’s unmatched eloquence.
[–BRAVO, Ms. DuVernay, for turning this into an advantage].
It is not uncommon for permission to use famous copyrighted works, like Dr. King’s famous speeches, to be unattainable or denied. (Obtaining permission to use a famous copyrighted work is often cost prohibitive). Whatever the reason that permission to use a famous work is unattainable or denied, creating an original work is a brilliant solution. After seeing the movie SELMA this past weekend, I was impressed with the use of bible verses and gospel lyrics in Ms. DuVernay’s script. Bible verses and gospel lyrics are often in the public domain and free to use. Intermixing public domain material and original text in a movie script works. For example, Ms. DuVernay’s script uses the lyrics of the “Battle Hymn of The Republic” in a final scene with Dr. King. The lyrics of this old hymn (written in the 1860’s and now in the public domain) were a powerful, spoken finale.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: An earlier blog post on Copyright Law & Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at http://wp.me/p10nNq-3R; Free tickets for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students at http://selmastudenttickets.com; the SELMA website at www.selmamovie.com; www.paramount.com/movies/selma; www.avaduvernay.com/about; movie review by Kenny Miles at http://themovieblog.com/2015/ava-duvernays-masterful-selma-is-the-timely-movie-america-needs/; quote above is from the NY Times article titled, “A 50-Mile March, Nearly 50 Years Later. In ‘Selma,’ King Is Just One of Many Heros” by A.O. Scott on Dec. 24, 2014 available at www.nytimes.com; NY Times article titled, “The Man Who Would Be King. David Oyelowo’s Pivotal Role in ‘Selma’ by Felicia R. Leedec on Dec. 18, 2014 available at www.nytimes.com; information on the Battle Hymn of the Republic at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_Hymn_of_the_Republic; NY Times article titled, “An Unsettled Chapter in Martin Luther King’s Legacy” by Richard Fausset on Jan. 12, 2015 at http://mobile.nytimes.com; Wikipedia photo credit at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
William Shakespeare turns 450 today. His masterful use of language keeps his plays popular, relevant, in production and available to us all as literary treasures in the public domain. Public domain works, like Shakespeare’s plays, are available for the public to use, copy, distribute, perform, quote, sample and make derivative works from… for free. Shakespeare’s plays are in the public domain because they are nearly 400 years old. (Here in the United States, works published before 1923 are in the public domain).
It’s important to note that newer productions, translations or works based on Shakespeare plays may still be covered by copyright protection… and may NOT be in the public domain. For example, movies of Shakespeare plays are “new” enough to still be covered by copyright. The length of time that a play or other creative work is protected by copyright, and the timeline for when works enter the public domain varies country by country.
Happy Birthday Shakespeare! Thank you for your stellar intellectual property! “…can one desire too much of a good thing?”
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: earlier blog posts on the topic of “public domain,” https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/public-domain/; other copyright and public domain resources, http://www.copyright.gov, http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/; ending quote from, As You Like It; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
Last week, The US Supreme Court mandated copyright restoration for foreign works that are covered by copyright protection in their country of origin or the country where copyright protection is claimed. This renewed respect for foreign works, removes a bulk of works out of the public domain and vests them with copyright protection. This means that many foreign works will no longer be free to perform, record, copy or make derivative works of here in the US. For example, Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ which has been free to use in the US since it has been in the public domain, has had its copyright restored and will require the same permissions and usage fees as Copland and Bernstein…. who are Prokofiev’s contemporaries and who still enjoy copyright protection of their music. (Now an orchestra could be expected to pay approximately $800 per performance of Peter and the Wolf). Evidently, J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings, Alfred Hitchcock’s films and Pablo Picasso’s paintings are also among the foreign works with newly restored copyright protection.
The reasoning behind this copyright restoration is largely based on international foreign policy. As the court points out in its holding… the US has taken a ‘minimalistic approach’ to complying with the Berne Convention for the past two decades… and this copyright restoration of foreign works is a significant step toward US compliance with the treaty. There are 164 counties signed onto the treaty and the one of the many terms of the Berne Convention is that member states offer reciprocal copyright protection. Interestingly, this could be a significant step towards an international copyright system.
If you are already using ‘Peter and the Wolf’ or other restored works, the court’s holding speaks to a grace period for parties who are currently using or exploiting the restored works and encourages negotiations to determine reasonable compensation.
(Tolkien’s heirs come to mind as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie extravaganza could lead to interesting negotiations if an agreement hasn’t already been made.)
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
More information: The US Supreme Court case is Golan v. Holder. The holding is also available at www.supremecourt.gov; The Berne Convention, Article 18 at http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/; Other articles on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com; http://online.wsj.com; http://www.legalnewsline.com/news/234980-peter-and-the-wolf-must-be-paid; http://orchestralworks.blogspot.com/2008/09/prokofiev-peter-and-wolf.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
Did you know that it’s possible to buy a “Cajun in your pocket” keychain? …that plays spoken Cajun phrases? GOOD NEWS – you can buy the keychain and use the sayings without violating copyright! Even though the toy manufacturers have copyrights that include the sayings on the keychain… there is no copyright violation for using the sayings in your own song, book, blog or website because, the phrases are not original.
A federal court in Louisiana held that the phrases at issue (see below) were common Cajun phrases and therefore, when the rap artist Mystikal included the exact word arrangements in his hit “Shake Ya As*” he did not infringe the toy maker’s copyright. (One of the necessary elements of a copyright infringement claim is that the parts of a copyrighted work that are copied without authorization must be original.)
- “We gon pass a good time, yeah, cher”
- “You gotta suck da head on dem der crawfish”
Another aspect of evaluating whether copyright protected works were copied without authorization is proof of access to the copyrighted work and similarity of the works. Interestingly in this case, it was proven that Mystikal’s nephew had a “Cajun in your pocket” toy… which was how the artist had access to the copyrighted work prior to the creation of his song. (By the way, it was estimated that the rap song had sold over six million units worldwide by the fall of 2000 and had also appeared in several movies and numerous CD compilations.)
When quotes from copyright protected works can be used in songs, books, blogs or websites without permission of the copyright owner… is a grey area and the facts and circumstances are fundamental to the case by case evaluation of copyright infringement.
Let the good times roll and stay clear of copyright infringement. “Laissez les bons temps rouler”!! (the “Cajun in your pocket” toy says this too.)
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: http://www.emanation.com/products/cajun-in-your-pocket and Emanation Inc. v. Zomba Recording, Inc., 72 Fed. Appx. 187 (5th Cir. La. 2003). Emanation Inc. v. Zomba Recording, Inc., 72 Fed. Appx. 187 (5th Cir. La. 2003).
When quotes from copyright protected works can be used in other books, blogs or websites without permission of the copyright owner… is a popular topic… lets explore it further.
As I’ve mentioned before that this is a gray area. Unfortunately, there are no set rules about how much or what percentage of a copyrighted work can be used for free (ie without permission of the copyright owner); however, here is a tip to keep in mind. The HEART of a work is heavily protected by copyright law. What does this mean? This could be a famous and popular refrain that embodies the HEART of a famous speech; This could be 300 words out of an unpublished memoir that reveals the key (or HEART) of the story; This could be an original and unique part of a song or lyrics (ie the HEART of the work).
Courts use a sophisticated, multi-part test to evaluate when a portion of a copyrighted work can be used without permission. For the rest of us… using common sense is a good place to start. If you are copying the HEART of someone else’s work to use in your blog, book or website… permission is probably needed.
For more info on this topic see these other two posts: http://t.co/2rhWznM and http://wp.me/p10nNq-fd AND for more info on PUBLIC DOMAIN works that are FREE to use and quote from —> http://wp.me/p10nNq-ft and http://wp.me/p10nNq-gn); @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contracts come in all shapes and sizes. Musicians, artists, photographers, graphic designers and all sorts of creative folk share their creative genius by taking paid gigs to make, create or share things that they have created with other (perhaps less creative) folks. Take a careful look at the nuts and bolts of the agreement that transfers the right to use your work to others, so that you are clear about what you are giving and getting out of the deal.
Are the use rights for ‘ALL MEDIA’ being given away? If yes, then you have an All Media contract, and it’s important to understand what ‘use rights for ALL MEDIA’ means. All Media contracts are common (virtually standard in the Music Industry)… and their mission is to transfer the rights to use the song or other creative work in ALL types of MEDIA. ‘All types of media’ sounds broad, and it is. For example, transferring the rights to use a music jingle in ALL types of MEDIA includes having the right to use, reproduce and sell it on DVD’s, CD’s, ipad applications.. and possibly any future media outlet that is yet to be developed.
The opposite of an All Media clause within a contract, is a clause that lists the approved types of media where the song or other creative work can be used. For example, contracts that were written to license music for TV sitcom broadcasts back in the 1970’s had to be renegotiated when the networks decided to re-release the sitcoms on DVD. Since the use of the media on DVD wasn’t accounted for in the original contracts, a new crop of contracts were required to cover this type of use.
Be clear about you are giving and getting out of the deal when you share your creative work.
Copyright protects the original expression of ideas but copyright does NOT protect ideas. More…