Bill Introduced to Create U.S. Copyright Small Claims Court Reply

CR Small ClaimsProposed legislation seeks to create a voluntary small claims court within the Copyright Office to provide copyright owners with an alternative to battling copyright infringement in federal court, which is expensive and often cost prohibitive for many creators.   The proposed small claims court limits claims to $15,000 (for works that are registered timely), $7,500 (for works that are not registered timely) and $30,000 for total monetary recovery (exclusive of attorneys’ fees and costs that may be awarded).  Promoted as a much needed avenue for independent artists to pursue infringement claims and enforce their copyrights for smaller claims at a reasonable cost.  The goal is to reverse the trend of creators being forced to forfeit their rights.

For a copy of the bill H.R. 3945: CASE Act of 2017 and to track its progress: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3945

For more information: http://copyrightalliance.org/news-events/copyright-news-newsletters/copyright-small-claims/

 

What does Copyright Protect? (Great Question Eddie!) Reply

Asking what copyright protects is a great question!  Thanks, Eddie, for asking me Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.35.17 PMyesterday in a blog comment. You have inspired this post.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects “original works of authorship” including literary, musical, artistic and dramatic works, such as photographs, articles, novels, sound recordings, sheet music, lyrics, jewelry designs, artwork, graffiti, poetry, screen plays, children’s books, user manuals, website content, movies, computer software, and architecture. [THE KEY is that the material (or work) is ORIGINAL].

Can I copyright a name, title, slogan, or short phrase? In most cases, No.  These things may be protected as trademarks. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.

Can I copyright the name of my band? No. Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law.

Can I copyright my domain name? No. Domain names are not protected by copyright law. Some domain protection may be available under trademark law.

Can I copyright my idea?  No.  Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description (for example, a user manual), but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

Excerpt from the U.S Copyright Office at: www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html.

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; blog posts on trademarks and trademark registration at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k; “Copyright Basics” at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf ; “Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases” at www.scireg.org/us_copyright_registration/circs/circ34.pdf ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

USPTO Trademark Registrations can be updated due to New Technology Reply

Cassette tapes are one example of outdated technology that has prompted the USPTO tocassette tape issue a new pilot program to allow the identification of goods and services in trademark registrations to be amended due to technology evolution. Many moons ago it was important to have a trademark registration for the sale of music that included the sale of music on cassette tapes.  However, today the sale of music on cassette tapes is obsolete due to the evolution of technology.  The sale of music has shifted away from cassette tapes and toward digital formats and streaming services.

Having this new pilot program allowing for amendments to identification of goods and services in trademark registrations due to technology evolution is important, because, it allows trademark owners/brands to keep their trademark registrations alive longer.  Otherwise, extending the life of a USPTO trademark registration could be impossible due to changes in how registered trademarks are used (trademark use corresponds to the types of products or services a trademark is used with).

For example: If I obtained a USPTO trademark registration to use my logo to sell music on cassette tapes nineteen years ago and now I no longer sell music on cassette tapes but instead use my logo to sell a music streaming service, the pilot program could be a lifesaver for my USPTO trademark registration.  USPTO trademark registrations have ongoing filings due throughout the life of the trademark and without this pilot program, changes in how a trademark is used (music streaming vs. music on cassette tapes) can cancel a USPTO trademark registration.  As a result a new USPTO trademark application would have to be filed to cover music streaming.

Currently, requests for revising trademark registrations due to changes in use based on new technology requires filing two forms with the USPTO and a processing time of approximately 3-4 months. The cost is $200.  (Each form has a $100 fee).  USPTO Announcement of Technology Evolution Pilot Program

The sports car in the photo above had a tape deck!

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: USPTO website at https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/filing-online/petition-forms; USPTO website for sample G&S that have been revised https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/trademark-updates-and-announcements/proposed-amendments-identifications-goods-and-services; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Filing USPTO trademark applications is an unusual birth announcement for Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s twins Reply

The USPTO trademark database is the source of prized celebrity news … the names ofRUMI SIR CARTER Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s newborn twins (drum roll) RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER.   The names RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER were no longer secret after USPTO trademark applications were filed for both names in over a dozen classes of goods and services.  The products and services covered in the applications range from baby gear & toys to hair accessories, moisturizers & picture frames to fan clubs, music, movies & video games.

The filing of USPTO trademark applications for RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER can serve a dual purpose: 1) act defensively to block or prevent other trademarks for the same or similar names being filed for the same types of goods and services; and 2) act as place holders in case the twins develop brands or products as they grow.  [USPTO Serial Numbers: 87506224, 87506186, 87506188]

Not surprisingly, similar USPTO trademark applications have been filed for Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s other child, BLUE IVY CARTER. [USPTO Serial Numbers: 86883293 and 85526099]

Why aren’t we all doing this?  Because it’s expensive.  The filing fee for each of the USPTO trademark applications for the kids names cost over $4,000 due to the large number of “classes of goods and services” included in the applications.  (The USPTO filing fee for each class of goods and services is $275).  Additionally, there are ongoing filing fees to maintain “intent to use” trademark applications and depending on how long it takes these wee ones to launch brands and products, new applications will need to be filed once the prescribed time limit for “intent to use” trademark applications expires.

I’m already a fan of RUMI CARTER & SIR CARTER, because, the filing of USPTO trademark applications for their names seems to have occurred shortly after their first breath!

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Do You Have a Right To Use Your Own Name As A Trademark?“;NAME Brand’ – Using your name as a brand and trademark; Blog posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Earning Music Royalties 2

Music royalties are earned and collected in different ways depending on the artist’s Concertconnection to the song and how the song is used or played.

For example, if you hear Miley Cyrus’s rendition of Dolly Parton’s classic ‘Jolene’ played over internet radio, the royalty payments are paid to both Miley as the performer (paid to her by SoundExchange) and to Dolly Parton who wrote the song (ASCAP pays Dolly Parton).  However, if you hear Dolly Parton’s original version over internet radio then she is compensated for both the original composition, and also for the sound recording (ie both ASCAP and Sound Exchange pay royalties to Dolly.)

Here are a few types of royalties that an artist might receive:

Performance Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by Performance Rights Organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC here in the USA) from fees collected for broadcasting or publicly performing copyrighted music in a variety of ways including: over the radio, in TV shows, in concerts, in elevators, as ring tones and on YouTube.

Digital Royalties – paid to the artist/s who performs on a recording and to the owner of the sound recording from fees collected for digitally streaming music by providers such as Pandora, Sirius XM, iTunes and various webcasters.

Mechanical Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Artist/Record Royalties – paid to the artist who performs a song by the person/company who released a record (typically a record company).

Synchronization Royalties – paid to the artist who wrote the song by a movie producer, TM show, or advertiser for use of the song in a movie, TV show, or ad.

It’s important to remember that artists must register with Sound Exchange and Performance Rights Organizations to receive royalties from these entities.

This post is dedicated to the composer Danilo Guanais.  I was honored to be able to sing in a choral performance of his Missa de Alcacus last month at Carnegie Hall.

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

See also: blog articles on digital music royalties at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/royalties-digital-music/page/2/; blog articles on using the copyright notice and registering your music with the U.S. Copyright Office at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18 and http://wp.me/p10nNq-13; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

Happy World Intellectual Property Day! Reply

FullSizeRender (3)April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day!  Let’s celebrate the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, & copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.  Innovation and creativity makes our lives healthier, safer, more comfortable and more fun, turning problems into progress. Intellectual property systems support innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, and encouraging creators to develop their ideas.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, brand names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.  [Text is from the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) website http://www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/ and http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/]

I’m celebrating today!

Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: “How to write a © Copyright Notice and Why to Use it” at http://wp.me/p10nNq-18; Posts on trademark topics for new businesses: https://goo.gl/xqJrOA; #valueyourart, #valueyou; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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.

New trend of Phone-Free Concerts has many benefits Reply

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-3-33-01-pmFans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr’s form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible for them to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.  (quote from NY Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show)

Not surprisingly performing artists reportedly enjoy playing phone-free concerts.

When the rocker Axl Rose reunited with his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates, Duff McKagan and Slash, for the first time in 23 years, the concert was phone-free. “God, it was wonderful,” Mr. McKagan said of the first reunion show in April, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. “It was the old-school feeling, where people were dancing and getting down. It was really cool.”

In addition to increasing the fun “old-school feeling” at a phone-free concert, decreasing the likelihood of intellectual property infringement may be a hidden benefit of a phone-free concert. While it’s not uncommon for audience members to record and post concert clips, this can infringe a bundle of intellectual property rights including:

  • 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

I haven’t met a Yondr case yet; although, I’m looking forward to using one sometime soon at a phone-free concert.

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

See also: Previous blog post Recording and Posting Concert Clips: what’s legal… what’s not at http://wp.me/p10nNq-os; The New York Times article titled, Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. by J. Morrissey at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/your-phones-on-lockdown-enjoy-the-show.html?_r=0; Yondr website at http://overyondr.com/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Michael Phelps’s swim cap: winner trademark placement Reply

Have you noticed the MP logo front and center on Michael Phelps’s swim cap?  Visible on the starting block and many close-ups, MP is a trademark for Michael Phelps’s brand of swim gear (USPTO Serial No. 86966342).  According to a press release on www.michaelphelps.com; Michael Phelps, coach Bob Bowman and swimming equipment manufacturer Aqua Sphere have collaborated to design a line of premier swim gear and training equipment for the MP brand.  Outfitting Michael Phelps in MP gear for the Rio Olympics – including adding the MP logo front and center on Michael Phelps’s swim cap is brilliant trademark placement and likely required a savvy negotiation.  Three cheers for Michael Phelps, the MP trademark and the negotiator who secured the trademark placement.

Don’t be fooled into thinking trademark placement like the MP on Michael Phelps’s swim cap wasn’t negotiated for.  Brand promotion at the Olympics (and almost anywhere) is big business.  Official partners of the Olympics pay big bucks to share the spotlight with Olympians.  Did you notice the tape and American flag stickers placed on Olympic swimmers’ headphones to cover the BEATS trademark?  Evidently Beats gave Michael Phelps and other high-profile Olympians free headphones but did not pay to be an official Olympic partner… hence tape and stickers over their trademark.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: Previous blog posts on trademarks at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k/; The Wall Street Journal article titled, Rio 2016: Michael Phelps’s Golden Change to Rebuild His Brand by M. Futterman and R. Bachman at http://on.wsj.com/2bdgnW1 ; Reuters article titled, Phelps Challenges Former Sponsor Speedo With New Brand by L.B. Baker at http://reut.rs/1Sa6c47 ; Business Insider article titled, Michael Phelps was forced to cover the logo of his Beats headphones and he did a lackluster job with the tape by C. Gaines at http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-phelps-beats-olympics-headphones-2016-8; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

PRIVACY -fabulous play at The Public Theater about privacy online  Reply

If you have a smart phone, use apps and share content online, seeing the play PRIVACY at privacyThe Public Theater is a must.  The talented cast engages audience members in exploring the hard to grasp topic of privacy (or lack there of) online.

Who are we online? How much information do we give away about ourselves when we connect online?  Who can see us online?  

Is our location tracked each time we use a transportation app or log into a wifi network?  Is our first social media post still visible?  What privacy terms are we agreeing to each time we use an app or social media website?

The play PRIVACY is entertaining, informative, interactive and at times a bit spooky.  I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

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

See also: Previous blog posts on website privacy policies at  https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/website-privacy-policy; blog post on imitating others online at http://wp.me/p10nNq-Cg; The Public Theater’s website for information about the play and ticket sales at www.publictheater.org/en/Public-Theater-Season/Privacy/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.