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Getty Images Upsets Photographers by Making Millions of Images Available for Free

By: Caitlin S. Hale*

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” That’s exactly the philosophy Getty Images has decided to take with 35 million of its photos.

Such images will now be available for free to online publishers, in part because Getty acknowledges that many of its images are already being copied anyway.

Getty Images | President Kennedy in 1961, surrounded by his father, mother, and wife Jacqueline.

Getty Images | President Kennedy in 1961, surrounded by his father, mother, and wife Jacqueline.

Getty is trying to establish “an alternative for people who otherwise would just copy and paste photos,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.

However, there is a catch: Getty will only allow “noncommercial” users, such as bloggers and Twitter users, to use its images for free. Furthermore, the image will still retain a Getty photo credit which will be linked to Getty’s website. There, viewers of the image can license the photo if they choose.

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SCOTUS hears arguments concerning birth control funding

By: Caitlin S. Hale*

Hobby_Lobby,_TrexlertownOne thing is clear in life: we don’t like to be told how to spend our money. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of our parents telling us to save our allowance money instead of spending it in the ever-appealing claw game to win stuffed animals at a local restaurant. The frustration grew as I got older and matured, and realized that the government was telling me how to spend my money through taxes. But, I imagine that frustration would be magnified by, well, a lot if I were forced to spend my money in a way that goes against my religious views.

That’s precisely what the plaintiffs in two appeals, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, are arguing in the Supreme Court. Continue reading »

The Trademarked Fans

By: Stephen DeGrow*

footballThe Seattle Seahawks finished the 2013 football season as Super Bowl champions. And, of course, a lot of the credit belongs to the fans. Throughout the football year, Seattle fans showed their reputation for passion by setting two world records for loudest crowd noise. The most recent record came on December 2, when the crowd clocked in at 137.6 decibels. And now that the NFLShop.com has released jersey sales figures for last season, it appears that Seattle fans put their money where their mouth is.

According to the espn.com and NFLShop.com, the Seattle Seahawks sold more jerseys than any other team in the NFL. In fact, four different Seattle jerseys are in the top ten most selling jerseys. Russell Wilson came in at number one. Not surprising. Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman came in at five and six, respectively. Not surprising either. And the fourth Seattle jersey in the top ten? A jersey with the name “FAN” and the number 12 on the back. Continue reading »

Facebook Looks to Remain King of Social Networks Long Into the Future

By: Rebeca Echevarria *

On March 25, 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his decision to purchase virtual reality company, Oculus, for $2 billion.  Oculus makes the Oculus Rift headset, which immerses its user in a responsive virtual world.

Photo courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin

Photo courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin

Software developers can purchase the rights to develop software for the technology for $350, and thus far Oculus has received more than 75,000 orders. Oculus is not the only virtual reality system in development, as Microsoft and Sony are working on virtual reality integration with their next generation gaming consoles, but according to Zuckerberg, Oculus technology is “years ahead” of its competitionContinue reading »

Act Now to Protect Your Trademark

By: Donna Essex, Reflect Digital*

The more successful you become, the more valuable your branding is, so if you are yet to register your trademark it may be wise to take action now. A valid trademark application doesn’t have to be expensive, yet it can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to stopping others from making money from your reputation. A trademark can come in the form of a logo, words, or both. Trademarks help your customers to recognise you immediately and assist them in distinguishing your products from those of others. However, trademarks cannot describe your goods or services.

Need a Trademark Attorney?

Trademarks also have to fit various other legal requirements. For instance, they have to be distinctive, cannot be deceptive, and must not be offensive. You can’t use a trademark to imply that you offer something that you don’t. If in doubt, you should always get a trademark attorney on the case to heighten the chances of your application being successful. Continue reading »

Disney’s Frozen Wins Trademark Lawsuit Against Similarly Titled Frozen Land

By: John Hodnette *

Frozen ScreenshotImitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to the film business companies like Disney are glad that trademark law exists to protect them from some imitators. The facts of this recent case could not be more indicative of classic trademark infringement. Here is what happened.

“The Legend of Sarila” is Canada’s first 3-D animated film. The story draws inspiration from Inuit culture and legends, and involves blizzards, journeys though frozen tundra, sled dogs, and mystical shamans. This film had little in common with Disney’s blockbuster hit, “Frozen” about a land that magically send into eternal winter. In fact, the trailers of “The Legend of Sarila” and of “Frozen” share nothing in common aside from being animated films involving snow.

However, after a slow start in sales for “The Legend of Sarila” Phase 4 Films, a Toronto based distributor, decided to retitle the film and change the packaging for the U.S. DVD sales. The new name they chose was “Frozen Land” and the packaging bore such a striking resemblance to that of the logo of Disney’s “Frozen” that it is no shock that Disney immediately filed suit. Continue reading »

A BRAVE NEW WORLD: Second Circuit Expansion of the Parody Defense

By: Rebeca Echevarria *

At left, “Yes Rasta” by Patrick Cariou; at right, “Canal Zone” by Richard Prince.

At left, “Yes Rasta” by Patrick Cariou; at right, “Canal Zone” by Richard Prince.

Copyrights protect original creations from theft, but a recent Second Circuit opinion has raised new questions about what can fall under the § 107 fair use exception of the United States Copyright Act. Richard Prince is an artist well known for using famous photographs as the subject matter for his pieces. By altering portions of the photographs, Prince attempts to alter the context of the original images, and in 2008, Prince’s art sales of reworked photographs totaled over $10 million. When photographer, Patrick Cariou, discovered that Prince had used over thirty of his photographs as subjects for his works, including the cover photo for his book of a Jamaican Rastafarian, Cariou sued Prince for copyright infringement.

Copyrights grant their owners the exclusive right to use their works and make derivative works, which are creations that recast, transform or adapt the original. If Prince’s work is derivative of the original photographs, then he is required to get permission for that creation from the copyright owner, which he did not do. The fundamental question then turns on whether Prince’s work falls under the fair use exception, or more specifically, parody. Continue reading »

SILENT to BLACK & WHITE to COLOR: The Progression of Films into the Public Domain

By: Lindsey Chessum*

Library of CongressOne of the earliest films made is “A Trip to the Moon” by Georges Méliès. It is a silent film lasting only 12 minutes, cost 10,000 francs, and today, would be considered primitive. But upon its released in 1902, it was truly a marvel. Unfortunately, not long after its release in France, pirated copies appeared in the United States where no copyright existed.

Today, the film is freely available online to be replicated, duplicated, and sold without any prior approval from the filmmaker. It is in the public domain. This may not be too much of a surprise because the film is over a century old. What is a surprise is that the film has been in the public domain since its first appearance in the United States. Continue reading »

Patent Trolls: A Growing Concern

By: Samantha Berner *

Barack_ObamaIn a world that thrives on new ideas and innovation, the new-age issue of patent trolls has become a concern for many, including the President of the United States. In Barack Obama’s most recent State of the Union address, he mentioned his concern for the issues stemming from patent trolls, discussing the rapid increase in patent lawsuits. Patent trolls are defined as companies who purchase patents, not because they manufactured the product, but simply to subsequently charge companies licensing fees to use the product. Part of owning a patent also gives the patent trolls the right to enforce their ownership through lawsuits and litigation if they feel they are being infringed upon. There has been an increasing number of these patent infringement suits, with Apple, Google, and AT&T each facing over one hundred of them since 2009. These lawsuits not only cost the company time, but it is estimated that for a suit with ten to twenty-five million dollars at stake, the average cost of litigation is 3.3 million dollars. Continue reading »

“Dumb” Starbucks lives up to its name: possible trademark infringement

By: Caitlin S. Hale*

Peacock_CloseupAs law students, it’s likely that we have all been “that person” in a conversation. You know; that one annoying guy (or girl) that tries to come off as smarter than they really are, or even if they really are that intelligent, tries to flaunt intelligence in front of others. Let’s call this person the peacock. The peacock is often charismatic, always confident, and loves to strut his stuff.

I mean, we’re proud of what we’ve learned, so we have a good reason be a peacock, right? Wrong.

We all know how annoying it is to come across a peacock, flaunting knowledge and using big words. But you know what is even more annoying than encountering a peacock? Being called out for being one. Especially if you have built your whole personality around being a peacock, or even worse, your business. Continue reading »