When does Copyright start? Copyright protection starts automatically 2

When does copyright protection start?  It starts automatically, as soon as you create an original work.  It’s like having a baby (ie your creative, brain child)… as soon as it’s in this world it’s yours and it’s covered by copyright protection.   You don’t have to DO anything… other than create it and put it in a fixed and tangible form.

What does this mean?  As soon as you have written a song down; typed out a manuscript; applied pen or paint to paper… copyright protection starts automatically.

Using the copyright symbol © and registering your copyright with the US Copyright Office are two extra steps that give you more rights in your copyrighted work if and when you want to sell it, transfer it or protect it from being abused, misused or copied by other folks.

There is 99.999% chance that you have created original works that are already covered by copyright protection… even if you didn’t know it.

For more info SEE:

–>    How and why to use the © copyright symbol?: http://t.co/iBjePPU

–>    Copyright registration only costs $35: http://t.co/ykPmZ3T

 

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

Copyright Law: Using quotes from someone else in your book, blog or website (part 2) 6

When quotes from copyright protected works can be used in other books, blogs or websites without permission of the copyright owner… is a popular topic… lets explore it further.

As I’ve mentioned before that this is a gray area.  Unfortunately, there are no set rules about how much or what percentage of a copyrighted work can be used for free (ie without permission of the copyright owner); however, here is a tip to keep in mind.  The HEART of a work is heavily protected by copyright law.  What does this mean?  This could be a famous and popular refrain that embodies the HEART of a famous speech; This could be 300 words out of an unpublished memoir that reveals the key (or HEART) of the story; This could be an original and unique part of a song or lyrics (ie the HEART of the work).

Courts use a sophisticated, multi-part test to evaluate when a portion of a copyrighted work can be used without permission.  For the rest of us… using common sense is a good place to start.  If you are copying the HEART of someone else’s work to use in your blog, book or website… permission is probably needed.

For more info on this topic see these other two posts:  http://t.co/2rhWznM and http://wp.me/p10nNq-fd AND for more info on PUBLIC DOMAIN works that are FREE to use and quote from —> 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

Licensing a Cover Song: simple music copyright licensing Reply

Securing a license to include a song that you cover (ie a song written by someone else that you record) on your CD is simple and more affordable than you might guess.  For example, if you have recorded a Bruce Springsteen song that you want to include on your ‘soon to be released album’ then you need to secure a license to use the song.  Clearing cover songs has become simple with online licensing and royalty service providers like RightsFlow.

RightsFlow offers an easy online service for licensing cover songs for use on physical CD’s, ringtones, digital downloads and interactive streaming.  So back to the Bruce Springsteen example, the price for licensing a Bruce Springsteen song for use on 500 CD’s and 500 digital downloads is less than $150.00.  If you are selling your CD’s for $10 and giving the digital downloads away for free on your band website… you only have to sell 15 CD’s before you have recovered the licensing costs.  (this is peanuts compared with possible fines and litigation that can be brought on by illegitimate use of a Springsteen song.)

Check out RightsFlow for simple music copyright licensing  –>  http://rightsflow.com/

Note, that RightsFlow offers discounts to ASCAP members.

For more information: @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

Opt-in vs. Opt-out: US Court Rejects Google’s Digitized Books Deal 4

For several years, Google has been working to scan millions of printed books and make them widely available in an epic, digital library.   This ambitious undertaking hit a setback this week when the US Court of Appeals rejected ‘the deal’ that Google negotiated with authors and publishers to actualize this plan.   A critical issue in the court’s rejection was that the agreement reached with authors and publishers was an ‘opt-out’ vs. an ‘opt-in’ deal.  This means that folks would have to proactively ‘opt-out’ of being included in Google’s digital library, rather than ‘opting-in’ to the library.  This decision is in line with standard licensing deals and contracts, where a signature (which is an official ‘opt-in’) is required to enter a binding agreement regarding the use of copyrighted works.

Why is Google pushing for the ‘opt-out’ deal instead of the ‘opt-in’?  For the obvious reason that more books will be included in the digital library if the automatic default is inclusion.  Additionally, an ‘opt-out’ deal would automatically include millions of books that are currently under copyright protection, but whose authors are unknown or can’t be found (these types of works are known as ‘orphan works’).

What will happen next?  It is possible that a substantially revised agreement could keep this ambitious digital project moving forward.  However, for now, the deal has been rejected for several reasons… including violation of copyright and antitrust laws.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com


 

Avoid Trademark Rejection for Descriptiveness Reply

Descriptiveness is a slightly unexpected and common pitfall when it comes to registering a trademark.  If your trademark is descriptive, meaning that your mark merely describes your goods and services in a common and generic way, then trademark registration will be difficult  unless modifications are made to enhance the uniqueness of your mark.

For example, if you have a Doughnut shop where you sell hot doughnuts and you submit an application to register the trademark ‘hot doughnuts’ …your application will likely be denied because, your mark merely describes your goods and services in a common way.  [i.e. – a Google search on ‘hot doughnuts’ returns over  1,740,000 results in 0.18 seconds and these results are linked to doughnut shops and bakeries all over the world that also use the phrase ‘hot doughnuts’ to describe what they sell.]  Since ‘hot doughnuts’ is commonly used to describe doughnuts, it is too literal of a description to be registered as a trademark for a shop selling hot doughnuts.

Fire up your creative juices and make your trademark unique and not merely descriptive.

See also: more info on recent disputes involving this issue: Coppola and his family trust have sued a small restaurant in Novato, CA –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-kz and designer Louboutin’s Red Sole Shoes–> http://wp.me/p10nNq-cy ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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

vk@kasterlegal.com

Recapture your Copyright After Signing a Harsh Publishing or Recording Contract 1

Often, dynamite musicians and authors are lassoed into harsh and unfavorable publishing and recording contracts long before they become famous.   This usually means that they have no bargaining power to negotiate more favorable contract terms (since they’re not famous or successful yet)… and once they become successful and famous, they have already signed and bound themselves and their copyrighted works to an unfavorable contract.

Is there a chance to recapture your copyright and negotiate better contract terms after you’re famous and have more bargaining power?  YES!  Although, it takes a few decades for this option to become available and it is subject to a specific and detailed, procedural obstacle course.

Depending on when a work was released and with certain exceptions, authors and musicians have a chance to recapture their copyrighted materials that have been assigned to publisher or producer and renegotiate contracts 28, 35 or 56 years after the work was created.  While this doesn’t give an immediate do-over… if the song, album, novel or comic strip is a hit …this can help recapture the copyright and revenue for the creator.

[the Legal term for this is Copyright Termination.  Although this name is slightly misleading since it doesn’t necessarily mean that the copyright is entirely terminated.. but rather assignments are terminated and the copyright can revert back to the creator.]

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.

Three Myths About Music Sampling Reply

MYTH:  sampling less than 6 seconds of someone else’s music is okay

MYTH:  sampling less than 5 words of someone else’s lyrics is okay

MYTH:  sampling from a church group is okay

ALL THREE OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE MYTHS.  None of these instances are an automatic green light when it comes to sampling someone else’s music without permission.

[For more on Music Sampling see —> http://wp.me/p10nNq-3A ]

‘NAME Brand’ – Using your name as a brand and trademark 3

It is not uncommon for businesses to be named after their founders… nor is it uncommon for famous celebrities and politicians to create businesses using their names.   In both instances, a person’s name can become their brand and trademark.  For a person’s name to be registered as a trademark it must be associated with goods or services in commerce (or soon to be in commerce).

For example, Sarah Palin recently filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register her name as a trademark.  The service that she is using her name to sell and promote is a website featuring political issues and motivational speaking.

Sarah Palin is certainly not the first politician to trademark their name.  In fact, one of the fist U.S. Trademarks was granted to Paul Revere as a trademark for his pots and pans.  The Revere cookware lives on today.

The only downside to using your own name as a trademark is that if you sell your business and trademarks… then you sell the commercial use of your name in association with the type of business you established.  (…This may not be much of a downside if you negotiate a good price.)

For more on the power of trademarks-> Owning a Trademark = Power (Exclusive Use of a Trademark)www.kasterlegal.com  and vk@kasterlegal.com

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

 

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