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

Copyright Law: Using quotes from someone else in your book, blog or website 3

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s speech ‘I Have a Dream’ is one of the most recognizable speeches in US history and it is covered by copyright protection.  Dr. King registered the speech for copyright protection in 1963.   This leads to the question, when can quotes from his famous speech or other copyright protected works be used in other books, blogs or websites without permission?

The answer to this question is vague, ambiguous and needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis.  Generally speaking, it is possible to use limited portions of a copyright protected work for news reporting, commentary, criticism and scholarly reports under the fair use doctrine of the US copyright law.  However, there are no legal rules permitting ‘free use’ of a certain  number of words or percentage of a copyrighted work.  Additionally, there are several factors that weigh heavily into the analysis: 1) the purpose and character of the use, 2) how much money will be made from the use, 3) the nature of the work, 4) the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and 5) the effect of the use on the potential market and value of the copyrighted work.

Unfortunately, there is not a clear rule regarding when and how much of a copyright protected work can be used without permission.  Dr. King’s heirs have the legal right under copyright law to monetize the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech that they inherited and to treat it as commercial property.   (The safest bet when quoting from copyright protected work is to seek, pay for, and get permission to use the material.)

Note, that crediting the source does not substitute getting permission to use or quote from the material.

Note 2, any work published in the US before 1923 is likely in the public domain and is FREE to use and quote from. (Copyright protection of these older works has likely expired).

For more information on Copyright and Dr. King’s speeches see this post –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-FD; for more information on using quotes from someone else see these other two posts –> http://t.co/rLurDnX and http://wp.me/p10nNq-fd  AND for more information on PUBLIC DOMAIN works that are FREE to use and quote from —> http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm; http://wp.me/p10nNq-ft  and http://wp.me/p10nNq-gn; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com