Unleashing viral whiplash instead of a lawsuit 1

An online following of over 617,000 folks can be a powerful negotiation tool.  I read recently that a NY street-DKNY BKKphotographer leveraged his online following by “unleashing a viral whiplash” on DKNY for using some of his photographs in a Bangkok window display without permission.

Evidently, DKNY approached the photographer for permission to use some of his photographs… but the parties couldn’t agree on a price and the deal fizzled out.  Yet… some of the photographer’s photographs ended up being used anyway in the window display of a DKNY store in Bangkok.  Someone who happened to be familiar with the photographer’s work (possibly one of the 617,000 folks who follow the photographer online) saw the images in Bangkok and notified the photographer.

This is where it gets interesting!  In response, the photographer launched the following online campaign by posting this on Facebook at 9:01am on 2/25/13 [The Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK]:

I am a street photographer in New York City. Several months ago, I was approached by a representative of DKNY who asked to purchase 300 of my photos to hang in their store windows “around the world.” They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said “no.”

Today, a fan sent me a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok. The window is full of my photos. These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.

I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.

The online campaign quickly transformed into viral whiplash.  The Facebook post garnered over 4,500 comments the same day that it was posted and was noticed and “liked” by over 41,000 folks and was shared over 30,000 times.  Within four hours, DKNY issued a prompt apology and pledged to make a $25,000 charitable donation to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in the photographer’s name.  [Click to read DNKY’s statement issued at 12:52pm on 2/25/13 and the photographer’s response accepting the donation as a settlement issued at 1:18pm on 2/25/13].

Not the full $100,000 donation that was asked for… but a creative an interesting negotiation and resolution within FOUR hours.  In support of this creative negotiation I “liked” the Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK, becoming follower number 617,012.

See also, a creative resolution to a trademark infringement between Franklin & Marshall college and a hot European Brand at http://wp.me/p10nNq-lu; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Recording and posting concert clips: what’s legal… what’s not 5

Just because it is easy to use your phone to record a clip at concert doesn’t give you the right to do very much with the recorded clip. There are multiple sets of legal rights at play in every concert performance which include:

  • 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
  • Band’s right of publicity
  • Contractual rights granting you the privilege to attend the performance (often on the ticket stub, or posted signs at the venue, or the terms and conditions of a website)
  • License granted by ASCAP or other rights manager to the club or venue for the performance.

Each of these rights gives the holder a monopoly to do certain things or exclude others from doing certain things. Excluding others (ie you with the recording device) can be taken seriously by all the rights holders. For example, club or venue owners can exclude others from recording on their premises. This means they can confiscate your phone until the end of the performance or ask you to leave if you are caught recording a clip of the concert.

Technically speaking, recording a clip of a concert for your own personal use is probably considered fair use. If you post the recoded clip to a website, chances are that one of the rights holders listed above will contact the website and request that the clip be taken down. If this happens, the clip will come down and you may forfeit your right to access or use the website where you posted the infringing clip.

Rights holders generally try to maintain a balance when it comes to enforcing their rights; since, they don’t want to alienate their fans and patrons. Although, given the history of how aggressively the music industry went after folks who were targeted for illegally downloading music… this could change.

See also: Other posts on music copyright at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/copyright-music-copyright/; Music Law 101: Legal Issues Surrounding the Recording and Posting of Concerts, by R. Friedberg; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

Digital royalties waiting? Register before October 15, 2012 1

SoundExchange is the organization that collects and distributes digital royalties to musicians and record labels.  Just last month,dollar sign SoundExchange released a list of over 50,000 recording artist and record label names who are owed tens of millions of dollars in unclaimed digital performance royalty payments.  [Registration with SoundExchange is required in order to collect these unpaid and ongoing digital royalties].  The list released by SoundExchange also includes more than $31 million in royalties that are three or more years old.

**AN IMPORTANT NOTE** Any unclaimed royalties that are over three years old may be forfeited (and lost) if the artists and labels who are entitled to the $$$ do not register with SoundExchange by OCTOBER 15, 2012.

If you think that you, or someone you know may have digital royalties waiting to be collected from SoundExchange CHECK with SoundExchange.  You can check this out by searching through the database of unpaid artists and labels  on the SoundExchange website… or you can email SoundExchange at: connect@soundexchange.com.

Just a note about searching the on-line database, try searching by your full name and also by each part of your name individually.  For some quirky reason, I have found that this can change the search results.  For example, on a whim I decided to search for the Native American Artist, Floyd Red Crow Westerman…. and searching “Westerman” didn’t return any results; however, searching for “Red Crow” found: FLOYD RED CROW WESTERMAN.  (I sent an email to the contact on Mr. Westerman’s website… hopefully they will reach out to SoundExchange asap!)

See also: an earlier post  http://www.soundexchange.com/2012/08/15/soundexchange-releases-list-of-recording-artists-and-record-labels-with-unclaimed-digital-performance-royalties/, http://www.soundexchange.com/2012/08/17/royalties-waiting-find-out-in-our-new-database/, http://www.soundexchange.com/performer-owner/does-sx-have-money-for-you; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Slicing up a copyright violation: Black Keys sues Pizza Hut & Home Depot over unauthorized song use Reply

The Grammy award winning band, Black Keys, has filed lawsuits in California against Pizza Hut and Home Depot for using their music in commercials without permission. Black Keys claims that a Pizza Hut commercial “prominently features significant portions” of their song “Gold on the Ceiling” and that a Home Depot commercial for Ryobi power tools uses parts of their song “Lonely Boy.”

Using portions of an original, copyrighted work requires permission from the copyright owner. Permission is required if part of the original sound recording is used, or if a section of the music is re-recorded. From what I was able to dig up on YouTube …it sounds like Pizza Hut used a recognizable portion of the song “Gold on the Ceiling” …the tempo and groove sound similar… there might be slight variations in the riff… although it certainly sounds like the jingle is trying to mimic the song (Take a listen: the ad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkaGEgjWdNI and the band’s video of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yCIDkFI7ew ). Facts about the portion of the song that has been used will play heavily into the development of this case and a possible settlement. This will include evaluating the originality, amount and specific portion of the misappropriated music. (Black Keys “wins/bargaining power increases” if, the music is original and has been copied). (Pizza Hut “wins/bargaining power increases” if, the music in question is not original or has not been copied).

As I’m sure you can guess, payment is generally a central issue in this type of dispute. Now that these lawsuits have been filed, it is likely that Black Keys and the two corporate brands, Pizza Hut and Home Depot, are already discussing a settlement payment and licensing arrangement for use of the music. (These types of cases often settle).

See also: The cases: Auerbach v. Pizza Hut, 12-05385, and Auerbach v. Home Depot, 2:12-cv-05386, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles), http://www.theblackkeys.com/, http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2012/07/02/pizza-hut-home-depot-sued-by-rock-stars/, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-22/black-keys-rock-duo-sues-pizza-hut-home-depot-over-songs.html, @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Newly Discovered Jazz Archive in a Copyright Tangle Reply

You might have heard that an archive of historic jazz recordings was discovered and donated to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem last year. Accompanying the hundreds of donated discs containing recordings of legendary jazz musicians of the late 30’s and 40’s… is a tangle of legal copyright issues.

THE MUSIC – This newly discovered jazz archive exists due to the technical genius of William Savory who was both a jazz aficionado and a technical wizard. Mr. Savory developed ways to make superior, longer and more durable sound recordings and recorded historic jazz performances during the golden era of American Jazz. Among the treasures in his collection are never released recordings of: Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Bobby Hackett, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.

This historic collection is currently being restored and digitized by the National Jazz Museum and can be heard in eight short clips on the museum’s website and by making an appointment to visit the museum’s listening room. (http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/savory/index.php or by calling 212-348-8300).

THE BIG QUESTION – is whether this historic collection will be made available to the public once digitized.

COPYRIGHT ISSUES ABOUND – Copyright law has changed and morphed over the years and the legal protocol for using, distributing, copying and making these digitized recordings (or any copyright protected work) available… requires identifying the musicians and copyright owners of the recordings and getting their permission to use the works. As you might guess, this is no small task. It can be difficult to identify and locate copyright owners especially since decades have passed since the recordings were made. Most of the musicians are no longer living and the business entities and companies that may hold ownership interests in the works have likely morphed and changed too.  (Note that copyright protection lasts for longer than the life of the owner.  The duration of copyright protection has changed over the years.  Currently, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author + 70 years and if owned by a corporation it lasts for 95 years from publication.)  If an organization wishes to use copyrighted works, but the copyright owner cannot be located… the organization has two choices: 1) not to use the work or 2) to use the work without permission, which is a risky gamble.

HOW BIG OF A GAMBLE IS IT TO USE A COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION? The short answer – Big. Using a copyrighted work without permission can put the user at risk of owing treble damages to the owner for willful infringement AND can prevent any further use of the work via an injunction. The risk of potential copyright liability for using works without permission is generally too high for most museums, filmmakers and libraries to take.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW? Evidently the National Jazz Museum in Harlem is in the process of restoring and digitizing the Savory collection. It will be interesting to see how the museum decides to use the works. Hopefully, tracking down the copyright owners and getting permission to use (and make available for distribution) at least some of the works will be possible. (I would like to hear these recordings!) Alternatively, legislation could change the penalty for using the works by reducing the fee from treble damages to ‘a reasonable licensing fee’ payable to the copyright owner retroactively once they resurface and make a demand for payment. These types of legislative changes to the current Copyright Law have been proposed but have not been adopted. For now, making an appointment to visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s listening room is the way to hear these historic jazz recordings.

See also: http://www.jazzmuseuminharlem.org/; http://jazzmuseuminharlem.org/the-museum/collections/the-savory-collection/; http://www.copyright.gov/; Orphaned Treasures: A Trove of Historic Jazz Recordings has Found a Home in Harlem, But You Can’t Hear Them, by S. SeidenbergFor more information on works in the Public Domain, see 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 vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Stamp of trademark approval for dripping wax seal on Maker’s Mark Bourbon 1

Did you realize that the red dripping wax seal on bottles of Makers’s Mark is a registered trademark of the brand?  Well, it is…  and the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (in Kentucky) upheld the famous trademark earlier this month.

The trademarked red dripping wax seal (US Registration No. 1370465) was challenged when tequila maker Jose Cuervo started using a similar red dripping wax seal on bottles of premium tequila.  Cuervo’s use of a red dripping wax seal prompted a lawsuit to determine the enforceability and validity of the trademarked seal.  In the case, Cuervo challenged the registration of the red dripping wax seal on the basis of “functionality.”  Interestingly, under US Trademark law, a registered mark may be found invalid if it is “functional.”  A trademark is functional “if it is essential to the use or purpose of the article or if it affects the cost or quality of the article.”  To evaluate functionality, courts consider if  “it would be difficult or costly for competitors to design around” the mark (comparable alternatives test) or if competitors are at a significant disadvantaged by being prevented to use a red dripping wax (the effective competition test).  In this case the courts held that the registered trademark was not “functional” and as a consequence is an enforceable trademark.

(The court also considered and evaluated several other factors including: the strength of the mark; the length of time the mark had been registered, relatedness of the two parties goods, assessed similarity of the wax seals used by both parties and actual confusion).

The court held that the trademarked red dripping wax seal was enforceable.  (Also included in the court’s opinion is an impressively romantic history of Kentucky Bourbon.  Including fun facts about Maker’s Mark… for example, did you know that the red dripping wax seal was first applied using the family deep frier?)

See also the case: Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc. v. Diageo North America, Inc. , 10-5819 (6th Cir. 2012); http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/12a0126p-06.pdf; http://courtlistener.com; www.uspto.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

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

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.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at 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.

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.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at 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.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

SoundExchange pays digital royalties to performers and copyright owners 1

SoundExchange pays royalties to performers and copyright owners when music is played on digital internet and satellite music dollar signproviders.

For example, if you hear Aretha Franklin’s famous rendition of ‘Respect’ played over internet radio, the royalty payments are paid to both Aretha as the performer (paid to her by SoundExchange) and to Otis Redding who wrote the song (ASCAP pays Otis Redding’s estate).  However, if you hear Otis Redding’s original version over internet radio then his estate is compensated for both the original composition, and also for the sound recording (ie both ASCAP and Sound Exchange pay royalties to Otis.)

If you own your own track and play on it, then you get paid twice (if you are registered with SoundExchange) when your track is played on Pandora, Sirius Radio and other satellite or internet radio streaming sites.

Register with SoundExchange –> https://www.soundexchange.com/artist-copyright-owner/does-soundexchange-have-royalties-for-you/

See other posts for more information on unclaimed SoundExchange royalties –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-np, and Digital Royalty rates –> http://t.co/Z0XvrRO; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com

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

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com