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.

Flaunt Your Originality (originality is key to copyright) 1

While speaking to a group of visual arts students recently, a recurring theme was to FLAUNT YOUR ORIGINALITY and savor using your original work.  We had a heart to heart moment that went something like this:FullSizeRender (2)

Y’all are an incredibly talented group of people.  You wouldn’t be sitting here in this room, in a prestigious art school, if you hadn’t already proven how talented and artistically creative you are.  When you create a montage or a creative work, make every bit of it original.  You want your work to show every person who sees it how talented YOU are.  Use your gifts.  Pitch your genius.  Tap into your creative talents and let your originality shine.

This heart to heart moment arose spontaneously in response to a question about originality being a fundamental element of copyright and the fair use exceptions to copyright.  (In my opinion, original work created by talented folks is always best.  Don’t even think about how or when a fair use exception may apply.  Just flaunt your original work).

Originality is key to securing copyright protection under U.S. Copyright Law.  Section 102 of the U.S. Copyright Law includes “original works” within the general definition of copyrightable materials.  Here is the text of Section 102(a):

(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories: (1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works. [Full text of U.S. Copyright Law is available at www.copyright.gov/title17/circ92.pdf].

Today I am flaunting my originality with a flower arrangement of daffodils and parsley on my desk.  (Pictured above).

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 An outline of the topics covered in my discussion with art students on copyright is available at http://www.kasterlegal.com/iplegalfreebies/2015/4/6/copyright-contracts-outline.html ; U.S. Copyright Office Circular 1 on Copyright Basics at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf; #valueyou, #valueyourart, #letyourIPshine @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright ≠ Confidential: Key to Tire Litigation & Wrongful Death Claims Reply

Copyrighted works that have been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office are not vested with the same confidential treatment as trade secrets because they are available to the tirepublic.  Each time a person or entity registers an original work with the U.S. Copyright Office, a copy of the work that the applicant wishes to register is submitted along with their application.  This submitted copy of a published, literary work (which is called a deposit copy) is often made available to the public via the Library of Congress and a national network of libraries.

The fact that copyrighted materials are public records and not confidential is a basic principle of U.S. Copyright Law.  This basic principle of copyright law may create big changes to tire litigation and the evaluation of wrongful death claims related to faulty tires.  To date courts have routinely held copyrighted reports containing data on tire safety is inadmissible in tire litigation because, the reports contain trade secrets and are thereby confidential.  However, it seems that the copyright notice on the reports and their availability (upon request) to the public in the stacks at the Library of Congress and other libraries has been routinely overlooked.

Proper application of copyright law in tire litigation could alter the evaluation, treatment and admissibility of copyrighted reports containing data on tire safety.  As a result, copyright law has the potential to impact public safety.

For more information on this topic, See the article titled “The Tire Industry’s Abuse of Copyright Claims and the Corresponding Defenses of Copyright Misuse and Fair Use of Smithers Documents” co-authored by me and my uncle, Bruce Kaster Esq.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: a full bio of Mr. Bruce Kaster who has extensive litigation experience against major tire manufacturers and vehicle manufacturers, including Bridgestone, Firestone, Goodyear, Continental General, Cooper Tire, Ford Motor Company and others at www.tirefailures.com and a copy of our article and other resources at www.tirefailures.com/helpful-resourses.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

 

How to use the trademark & copyright symbols: ®, TM, SM, © Reply

The ® Registered Trademark Symbol

Once a trademark is federally registered with the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office), the coveted ® symbol can be used. While use of the ® symbol is not required, it is highly recommend. Using the ® symbol lends credibility to a registered mark.  Additionally, it puts potential infringers on notice of the trademark owner’s rights and makes it easier for the trademark owner to collect certain damages in the event someone infringes these rights.

The TM and SM Trademark Symbolsphoto (1)

The TM and SM symbols can be used with an unregistered trademark or service mark to inform the public that a word mark, logo, or design mark is being used as a trademark and that the owner of the mark claims rights to it.  Using either of these symbols gives notice that the mark owner is intentionally establishing ‘common law trademark rights’ in the mark. For example:  MY TRADEMARK ™  or MY SERVICE MARK ℠    (For more information on how to use the TM or SM symbols click here).

The © Copyright Symbol

Another familiar symbol is the  copyright symbol.  Using the © symbol is an easy way to notify the world that copyright exists in your original, creative work.  While it’s not required by law to use the © to establish copyright in a photograph, piece of music or other original work, it’s simple to do and could save you a lot of headache down the road.  Use of the the © copyright symbol does not require permission from, or registration with the US Copyright Office.  (For more information on how to write a © copyright notice click here).

Many creative works may contain both a trademark symbol and a copyright notice.   A website, for example, will often contain the website owner’s trademark (registered or unregistered) and a copyright notice.  A novel may have the publisher’s registered trademark and the author’s copyright notice on it.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) resources at www.uspto.gov; www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/register.jsp; and www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp#_Toc275426682 ; US Copyright Office Circular 3 on Copyright Notice at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ03.pdf; US Copyright Office Circular 1 on Copyright Basics at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

An Artist’s LOVE – can extend to COPYRIGHT 1

LOVE

picture from Wikipedia

Have you read that the American Pop Artist Robert Indiana (famous for his “LOVE” with a tilted O) will be featured in a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum in NYC? Have you also read that he missed out on controlling all the rights to his famous “LOVE” work because he didn’t copyright it properly?

In a recent NY Times article, Mr Indiana spoke about being brokenhearted over not properly copyrighting his work:

…because ‘LOVE’ – with its tilted O – wasn’t properly copyrighted, it spread to all sorts of places and products [I] didn’t want. And that broke [my] heart. ‘Rip-offs have done a great harm to my own reputation.’

This is an important reminder to artists and creative folks to copyright your work! For a work to be eligible for copyright registration it must be original and “fixed in a tangible form.” This can include any original work, fixed in virtually any tangible form. For example, original copyrightable works can include: sculptures, drawings, photographs, artwork, music, poetry, graffiti, jewelry designs, motion pictures, video clips, translations, texts, manuscripts, recordings…. etc. And the requirement that the work be “fixed in a tangible form” can include traditional mediums such as paper, canvas, clay, DVDs, CDs… and less traditional mediums such as a napkin… scrap of paper… and probably even peanut butter.

Please take Mr. Indiana’s words to heart and copyright your work. For more information on how to copyright your work see my earlier post titled: “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See, The US Copyright Office Website at: www.copyright.gov; for more information on the upcoming exhibit of Robert Indiana’s work in NYC www.whitney.org/Exhibitions/RobertIndiana, @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

As a post script, I mentioned peanut butter above as a possible medium for fixing an original copyrightable work, because, there is a contemporary Double Mona Lisa work made out of PB&J – www.artnet.com/usernet/awc/awc_workdetail.

Sojourner Truth…. copyright owner (among other heroic acts) Reply

Sojourner Truth registered her historic image “I sell the shadow to support the substance” with the US Copyright Office08978_150px in 1864.   To me, it’s remarkable that in addition to Sojourner Truth’s famed work as an African-American abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights… she was also a copyright owner.

Back in 1864 when Sojourner Truth registered her image with the US Copyright Office, the copyright laws were different than they are today… and claiming copyright protection involved more formalities.  However, the basic principles of copyright protection were the same: controlling the copying, printing, reprinting and publishing of a registered work.  Evidently, Sojourner Truth sold copies of her image to raise money for the abolitionist movement. (ie a good motivation to control the use, copying, printing and reprinting of the image with copyright registration).

While I have always held Sojourner Truth in high regard for her historic advocacy work, I’m adding copyright owner to the list of her heroic acts.

(The copyright notice on Sojourner Truth’s historic image caught my eye while visiting a recent exhibition of Civil War Photography at the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

See also, www.nps.gov/wori/historyculture/sojourner-truth.htm; US Copyright Act of 1790 at www.copyright.gov/history/1790act; www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98501244/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

Saving America’s Recorded Sound Heritage Reply

It’s amazing to think about the vast treasure trove of sound recordings archived at the Library of Congress — historic speeches, music, radio

Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe listens to a cylinder recording of a Blackfoot song made by Frances Densmore (left), 1906. Library of Congress.

Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe listens to a cylinder recording of a Blackfoot song made by Frances Densmore (left), 1906. Library of Congress.

broadcasts and other recordings. Early recordings of Gershwin and Judy Garland; Alexander Graham Bell’s earliest sound recording experiments; a recording of a Blackfoot tribal song made in 1906; and a wire recording made in the cockpit of the Enola Gay during the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Evidently, these are just a few pieces of American history captured in sound recordings and archived within the Library of Congress.

This week, the Library of Congress unveiled an extensive plan (called the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Plan) to help libraries and archives nationwide preserve historic sound recordings. Unfortunately, it seems that many of the oldest recordings which were recorded on cylinder records may have already been lost… although, hopefully this new preservation plan can help to save whats left of America’s recorded sound heritage for future generations. In a statement released this week, James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress stated:

The publication of this plan is a timely and historic achievement…. As a nation, we have good reason to be proud of our record of creativity in the sound-recording arts and sciences. However, our collective energy in creating and consuming sound recordings has not been matched by an equal level of interest in preserving them for posterity. Radio broadcasts, music, interviews, historic speeches, field recordings, comedy records, author readings and other recordings have already been forever lost to the American people.

Collecting, preserving and providing access to recorded sound requires a comprehensive national strategy. This plan is the result of a long and challenging effort, taking into account the concerns and interests of many public and private stakeholders. It is America’s first significant step toward effective national collaboration to save our recorded-sound heritage for future generations

The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute have been awarded a grant of $750,000 to preserve the irreplaceable sound recording treasures in their archives and they are trying to raise an additional $750,000 in matching funds. (for more on Save Our Sounds http://www.loc.gov/folklife/sos/index.html)

The vast treasure trove of America’s recorded sound heritage is awesome and awe inspiring. With any luck, the preservation efforts may also start making some of these historical recordings available to the public.

See also: News update from the Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/13-014.html; quotes from the National Sound Preservation Plan at http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/files/SoundPreservationPlanQuotes.pdf; the Save Our Sounds initiative at http://www.loc.gov/folklife/sos/index.html; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57569264/library-of-congress-unveils-plan-to-save-historic-recordings/; and www.kasterlegal.com

“Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its vast collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.”

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

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

@kast

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.

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.

ORIGINALITY is Key To Copyright Reply

Originality is key to securing copyright protection over a work.  This is true for literary works, sculptures, paintings, music and all varieties of creative output.  While this may seem obvious, in truth it’s a gray area.  Here are a few examples:

  • TELEPHONE DIRECTORY, WHITE PAGES:  not original; therefore, no copyright protection.
  • PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ARMFUL OF PUPPIES: is original; therefore, making a sculpture that is a deliberate copy of the photograph is a copyright violation.
  • A PAINTING: is original; however, making an engraving of the painting is not a copyright violation because of the engravers artistic use of light, shade, lines and dots.

MARDI GRAS INDIAN COSTUMES: possibly original works of sculpture.  At present the Mardi Gras Indians are seeking copyright projection for their elaborate costumes as works of sculpture.

What does this mean?  For the Mardi Gras Indians it will mean that photo releases, licenses and fees will need to be paid to the Indian sculptors before others copy, reproduce and sell their images as photographs, fine art, in calendars or on t-shirts.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

for info on copyright registration –> http://t.co/ynaHCbX; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Put the World On Notice of Your Copyright 2

Like all property rights, copyright is an asset.  Keeping track of your copyright copyrightprotected works and putting the ‘world on notice’ of your copyright is important.  Take the simple step to give the world notice of your copyright by adding a copyright notice to fixed forms of your original works.  For example, add a copyright notice to copies of all your manuscripts, sheet music, screen plays, comic strips, websites and other original, creative works.

It’s simple to do.  The general format for writing out a copyright notice in the USA is: ©; followed by the year that the work was created; followed by the name of the owner/creator of the work.  For example: “© 2011 Ima Star.”  Adding the extra phrase ‘All rights reserved’ to the copyright notice adds some international copyright protection in Central and South America.  For example: “© 2011 Ima Star.  All rights reserved.”  In either format, the notice is usually placed on the title page of a manuscript, and on the bottom of sheet music, comic strips and websites.

Registering your copyright protected works for copyright protection with the US Copyright Office is also a great idea; however, do know that you can use the copyright notice before registering for copyright protection.

© 2011 Ima Star.  All rights reserved.

To register your work with the US Copyright Office –> http://www.copyright.gov/forms/

See also:http://wp.me/p10nNq-1o for info on adding a copyright notice to your website;  http://www.copyright.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com