Female Watson: Great for many reasons including Copyright Reply

WatsonFabulous, smart, strong, witty, problem solving female characters are always great.  Recently, Hollywood has been recasting some traditionally male characters like Watson (from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes stories) as women.  Additionally, Hollywood has been developing new central characters from the Doyle’s classics.  For example, Watson’s wife (barely mentioned or developed in Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) is becoming a featured charter in the new BBC series based on the literary classic.  Also Lucy Liu is featured as Dr. Joan Watson in Elementary, a new series set in NYC.  This is a great trend for developing new, dynamite leading ladies.

Interestingly, this tend also has potential copyright advantages for the creative folks writing these new leading ladies based on traditionally male roles.  The “copyright advantage” is that creating new original characters by definition creates new character traits, storylines and crime solving adventures which the owners of the new TV series can potentially own, control and monetize to a greater degree than if the stories, characters and adventures are taken from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.  This is because some of the original story elements and characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books and stories, like Holmes and Dr. John Watson, have entered into the public domain and others are still under copyright protection and must be licensed from Doyle’s Estate.  (See this earlier post,  http://wp.me/p10nNq-z8 , for more information on this topic).

I love Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson!  How about a lady Holmes, next?  Holmes

Happy Halloween!

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

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/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Can I copyright my website’s content? 3

Yes – copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship copyrightincluding content on a website. For example, original text, videos, graphics, animation, photographs, music, sound recordings, illustrations, translations and other original content featured on a website can be copyrighted.

Two ways to use copyright to protect original content on a website are: 1) to use a copyright notice on the website, and 2) copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

A few points to keep in mind regarding copyrighting website content:

  • Using a date range in the copyright notice may be beneficial if new content is posted periodically.  For example, © 2011-2014 Ima Starr.  All rights reserved.
  • An application for copyright registration only covers the original content that is submitted with the application and will not include future updates.
  • If content on the website is updated frequently, it may be a good idea to file new applications for copyright registration periodically, as needed.
  • The author, creator, and owner of the content may or may not be the same person. This is an important component to consider and sort out before applying for copyright registration.
  • If the website features original creative content such as books, music, jewelry designs, photographs, architectural designs, fabric designs, photographs or other original works of authorship it may be a good idea to also register these works with the U.S. Copyright Office before making them available on the website.
  • Note, that copyright does not protect names, logos, titles or slogans. In some cases, these may be protectable as trademarks.

Here are links for more information on how to write a copyright notice, adding a copyright notice to a website and applying for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 66 titled, Copyright Registration for Online Works at http://copyright.gov/circs/circ66.pdf and U.S. Copyright Office on “What does copyright protect” at http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#idea; @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.

vk@kasterlegal.com

@iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Inheriting Copyright – Who is Vivian Maier’s closest living relative? Reply

Copyright can be inherited and passed onto heirs just like other assets and property.  For example, the copyright in books, plays, music, photographs, speeches and other original, copyrighted and copyrightable materials may be bequeathed by will or pass at the death of the copyright owner as personal property by the applicable laws of intestate succession.   (Copyright does extend beyond the death of the author, photographer, playwright or creator of the work for a limited term – often life of the author plus 70 years).

As per a recent article in The New York Times, a court battle over the copyright to the recently discovered photographs taken by the deceased photographer Vivian Maier has begun.  Evidently, the young entrepreneur who has begun promoting, printing, displaying and using Vivian Maier’s photographs (after purchasing boxes of Vivian Maier’s negatives at auction) may not have tracked down, gotten permission from and paid the appropriate heir/s of Vivian Maier.  Who is Vivian Maier’s closest living relative?  This question will be key to the litigation.

This scenario of determining who the closest living relative is to a deceased creator (whose creative work was secret or unknown during their lifetime) may become more common now that the internet can be used as a fast and easy way to disseminate creative content and generate an online following and market for previously unknown works.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: The New York Times article titled, The Heir’s Not Apparent, by Randy Kennedy on 9/6/2014; U.S. Copyright Office Circular 12 titled, Recordation of Transfers and other Documents at http://copyright.gov/circs/circ12.pdf; U.S. Copyright Office Circular 15a titled, Duration of Copyright at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.pdf; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Using my photo? Did I inadvertently give rights away by posting it online? Reply

It’s so easy and fun to share photographs online that folks often give away rights to their photographs without even realizing it.  HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?  The terms, conditions and licenses that the photographer agrees to when posting a photograph to various social media and photo-sharing websites often grant other folks broad rights to use posted photographs.  Keep in mind that every social media and photo-sharing website has different terms, conditions and licenses that are agreed to automatically simply by USING the website and POSTING photographs and other content.  These terms, conditions and licenses are modified and updated frequently.

Here is an interesting and fairly haunting example:  A photograph of a teenager was taken by her youth counselor and posted to his to Flickr account under a broad Creative Commons license that allowed others to use his work in any way, including for commercial purposes, if they credited the photographer. (See the inserted photo).  A slightly edited version of the photograph ended up in an advertising campaign for Virgin Mobil Australia. A lawsuit followed.

THE TAKE AWAY: Read the terms, conditions and licenses that you are agreeing to when using and posting photographs and other content to social media and photo-sharing websites.  Most popular social media and photo-sharing websites, including FACEBOOKPINTEREST and TWITTER have fairly broad terms, conditions and licenses that change frequently.  Websites post their terms, usually at the bottom of the webpage. These same terms that often give other folks broad rights to use posted content,  also contain the steps to follow if your photographs or other content are being used without your permission on the site and you want to request that it be taken down.

This post was inspired by my friend Mel and a host of social media comments about a photograph that ended up on a series of KEEP CALM shirts.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Articles about the Virgin Mobil example above from the Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times; photo of a Virgin Mobil Ad; Flickr’s Creative Commons licenses at https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/; other blog posts on photo copyright at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/copyright-photos; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Trademark: to keep bands called THE SUPREMES from popping up in every State Reply

“Yeah, I know and can appreciate what you do (as a trademark attorney working with musicians). Back in the day, different bands called THE SUPREMES were popping up in every State. You can’t have that.” A jazz musician friend said this to me the other day and it was music to my ears.

from the USPTO online database

from the USPTO online database

This is right on point. For a band like THE SUPREMES, who became the most popular female group of the Sixties, owning the trademark of their name grants the trademark owner (Motown Records and now Motown Records’ successor) the exclusive right to use the name “THE SUPREMES” for various music performance and recording services. [USPTO Reg. No. 1003076]. Owning the trademark rights in the name of your band grants the trademark owner the exclusive right to use the trademarked band name for specific uses – like music performance and recording services. This can be a tool to keep other bands or music groups from performing under the same name or a confusingly similar name without permission of the trademark owner.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: the USPTO TESS data base at http://www.uspto.gov/; a copy of the USPTO Certificate of Trademark Registration for THE SUPREMES, USPTO Reg. No. 1003076; The Supremes bio at http://rockhall.com/inductees/the-supremes/ ; Baby Love on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23UkIkwy5ZM; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Imitating Others On Social Media Reply

Social media sites generally frown upon users who imitate others and list impersonation as a no-no within their Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.  By using, joining or registering with a social media site, folks “agree to” and “accept” the terms and policies of the social media site.  Note, that the terms and policies of a social media site (that you should, although, may have never read) apply merely by the simple act of using the site, joining or registering.

Imbedded within these terms and policies are several common elements that relate to impersonation and the treatment of imitators.  Often, these are listed as things that a user is permitted to do and not do.  “Shall not” language is commonly used in these lists (perhaps modeled off the Ten Commandments).  Here are a few examples:

THOU SHALT NOT (as per terms and policies of various social media sites):

  • provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission [excerpt from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities]
  • create any account for anyone other than yourself without such person’s permission [excerpt from Foursquare’s Terms Of Use]
  • use a User Name that is the name of another person with the intent to impersonate that person [excerpt from Foursquare’s Terms Of Use]
  • post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law [excerpt from Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities]
  • upload, download, post, submit or otherwise distribute or facilitate distribution of any Content on or through the Service, including without limitation any User Submission, that:
    • infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, right of publicity or other right of any other person or entity or violates any law or contractual duty;
    • you know is false, misleading, untruthful or inaccurate;
    • impersonates any person or entity, including any employee or representative of Foursquare  [excerpt from Foursquare’s Terms Of Use]

These are short, illustrative excerpts from the Terms and Policies currently posted on the Facebook and Foursquare sites.  The Terms and Policies also include information on how to report imitators.  Generally, a valid imitation claim will result in the imitator being removed from the site and possibly forfeiting other privileges and use of the site as well.  While Terms and Policies are subject to change, discouraging imitation will likely remain standard protocol.  Social media sites have a vested interest in discouraging imitators on their sites, because, this keeps their sites user friendly for original celebrity users.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

The Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for various social media sites can generally be found with a Google Search or are available on the social media site, often at the bottom on the login page. 

See also: a related post on What to do if someone is using your stuff on social media sites; The Terms of Use and How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms and https://www.facebook.com/help/www/39922488347420; @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.

Federation Bells Call For Compositions (nice ring to their Terms & Conditions) Reply

The Federation Bells park in Melbourne has launched an open call for composers to submit compositions to be played on a fascinating instillation of 39 bells.

The Federation Bells are a (recently refurbished) collection of 39 bronze upturned bells mounted on poles in a grid arrangement at Birrarung Marr in central Melbourne. They can be played using a sophisticated electromechanical system, in which internal hammers strike the bells, triggered by simple MIDI commands.

Submitted compositions can be heard daily on an evolving weekly schedule that is posted online.  My friend Rob Waring’s composition titled, Daybreak at Birrarung Marr, is currently scheduled to play daily. (Bravo, Rob!)

To encourage folks to submit compositions, the Federation Bells website features an online composition tool that lets folks compose music for the 39 bells.  A composer’s manual and guide is also posted on their website at http://federationbells.com.au/media/Federation-Bells-Composers-Manual.pdf.

The Terms and Conditions for submitting a composition also have a nice ring to them.  By submitting a composition folks agree to: 1)  grant a license allowing their composition to be played on the bell instillation for one year (composer retains ownership) and 2) submit their composition freely without seeking any further consideration.  Additionally, some folks may earn royalties if they are a member of APRA (or an equivalent society) and there is no promise made that submitted compositions will be performed.  (Terms and Conditions are always subject to change).

Federation Bells Terms and Conditions

An image of the Terms and Conditions from the website

Evidently, over a hundred compositions have already been submitted.  As I type this, I am singing to myself, “ding dong merrily on high in heaven the bells are ringing.”  The melody and lyric of this carol are fitting.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Rob Waring’s website http://home.broadpark.no/~rwaring/; Information about composing for the Federation Bells at http://federationbells.com.au/play-the-bells/composing-for-the-bells; http://federationbells.com.au/media/Federation-Bells-Composers-Manual.pdf ; and http://composer.federationbells.com.au/FederationBells.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

US Copyright Fees increase tomorrow (5/1/14) 2

The US Copyright Office fees are set to increase tomorrow on May 1, 2014.  This increase includes some changes to the $35 fee for a basic copyright registration.  Currently, filing an online copyright registration for “an original work of authorship” via the US Copyright Office’s electronic filing system costs $35.  As of May 1, 2014 this basic copyright registration will be divided into two new categories. Some basic copyright registrations will still cost $35 and some will cost $55.  As of tomorrow, the $35 registration fee will be limited to apply only to works which have: a “single author, same claimant, [consist of] one work, not [a work] for hire.”

(Bargain hunters may want to take advantage of the lower fees today!)

new fees

image from US Copyright Office Website

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, the US Copyright Office website at www.copyright.govearlier blog posts on the topic of “copyright” at www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/ ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.