Copyright

Copyright Conflicts Between World of Warcraft and Its Players

By: Jamie Burchette *| Guest Writer

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

World of Warcraft (WoW) is an extremely popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) which boasts over 100 million accounts created and over 12.5 million subscribers at its peak. With so many players, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (Blizzard) faces countless copyright issues from profit-seekers and players who take their appreciation too far. Protecting their copyright requires constant vigilance, but there is a fuzzy line when it comes to the player community.

Continue reading »

Whose Name Is It Anyway?

By: Darius L. Lamonte *| Guest Writer

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People register trademarks in order to acquire exclusive rights over the use of something in commerce. These exclusive rights are acquired to prevent the unfair use of the trademarked item and sometimes to preserve a reputation from being tarnished by others. While trademark rights can also be acquired over signature items, they are most often acquired over logos, brand names (i.e. McDonalds), and even personal names. It is fascinating that something bestowed upon you for free could one day be used to generate millions of dollars. This is the case for personal names. Having trademark rights over your own name almost seems like it should be a birthright. However, there are even more stringent regulations over trademarking personal names. The use of personal names to identify and market goods and services has brought fortune to many, including some of our favorite celebrities. Because of the fortune that could come from the trademark rights of a personal name, there is often much dispute over the ownership of these rights.

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan’s positive reputation around the world has made his name a heavily-sought after commodity. As a result, Jordan has given permission to several brands to use his name to market their products. Jordan obtains royalties just from his name being attached to shoes, shirts, and several other products. “Nothing is more important than protecting your own name,” Michael Jordan stated, after winning a dispute overseas regarding his trademarked name.  A Chinese company, Qiaodan Sports, was selling and marketing shoes and other clothing items under the name “Qiaodan,” which translates to “Jordan” in Mandarin. The historically visitor-unfriendly court in China declared that Jordan did indeed own the Mandarin transliteration of his name.

Continue reading »

A Dispute over Master Tapes Ends in the Beatles’ Favor

By: Niti Parthasarathy*| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/beatles-famous-people-band-1295244/

On July 26, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC, which represented Sid Bernstein, a late businessman and promoter. Bernstein promoted the Beatles’ 1965 show at Shea Stadium and produced the original 1966 film that used footage from the concert. Apple Corps Ltd., the band’s company, and Subafilms, acquired the rights to the footage through a contractual agreement with Bernstein. Though Sid Bernstein Presents noted the deal when filing the lawsuit, the company claimed that the rights to the master tapes remained with Bernstein and also claimed sole ownership over the footage. The sole ownership claim arose from Bernstein’s role as producer of the original film, and plaintiffs claimed that Apple Corps Ltd. infringed on Bernstein’s copyright when the footage was used in the 2016 documentary “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”

Continue reading »

“A Goldmine of Vapidity”: McMansion Wallpaper or Copyright Lawsuit?

By: Corri Hopkins *| Guest Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/mansion-house-home-real-estate-875094/

“This image has internet meme potential,” mocked a popular internet blogger. Shortly thereafter, McMansionHell author, Kate Wagner, learned that Zillow.com was not in on the joke.

McMansionHell is a popular blog known for sarcastic commentary on “ugly houses that became ubiquitous before (and after) the bubble burst.” Wagner is a twenty-three year old architecture student at Johns Hopkins University. Her blog superimposes witty commentary onto real estate listing photos “to educate the masses about architectural concepts, urban planning, environmentalism, and history by making examples out of the places we love to hate the most: the suburbs.” Think: Perez Hilton takes on an Architectural Digest tumblr. Many of the photos Wagner uses, however, come from the listing website Zillow.com.

On June 26, 2017, Zillow sent Wagner a cease-and-desist letter, which demanded that she stop using Zillow for any purpose, and that she delete all images from McMansionHell that originated on Zillow. Among other things, Zillow’s letter specifically alleged that, by using and modifying images downloaded from Zillow, Wagner infringed on the rights of the copyright holders of the images under 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Continue reading »

Rock Band Disrupts Intellectual Property Law

By: Andrew Homer *| Guest Writer

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade     This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By This image or media was taken or created by Matt H. Wade. To see his entire portfolio, click here. @thatmattwade This image is protected by copyright! If you would like to use it, please read this first. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) cannot deny the registration of a trademark because some may find the mark disparaging or offensive. The case that led to the ruling, Matal v. Tam, upended a 70-year-old tradition of federal trademark law found in 15 U.S.C. §1052 (a) and commonly named the disparagement clause. The Court holding that the disparagement clause is unconstitutional will have broad reaching effects to other aspects of intellectual property law and the nature of the corporation.

Continue reading »

“Fearless Girl” Not Cowed by “Charging Bull”

By: Cara Katrinak*| Guest Writer

Gabriele Giuseppini [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gabriele Giuseppini [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Big things come in small packages. After reigning over Wall Street for nearly 30 years, the 3 ½-ton bronze sculpture “Charging Bull” is facing off against a 4-foot adversary in Lower Manhattan. “Fearless Girl,” commissioned by State Street Global Advisors to commemorate International Women’s Day, features a bronze girl, hands-on-hips, blocking the path of the famous bull. While “Fearless Girl” was designed to be the Financial District’s symbol of women in leadership, Arturo Di Modica, the artist behind “Charging Bull,” wants “Fearless Girl” to promote her message somewhere else.

Continue reading »

Cher Knows You Can Copyright This Font, But Not This Typeface

By: Brandy Nickoloff*| Staff Writer

https://pixabay.com/en/cher-cherilyn-sarkisian-entertainer-509344/

Moshik Nadav designer behind Moshik Nadav Typography brought suit against Cher in the Southern District of New York for unauthorized use of his “Paris Logo”. Nadav claimed that Cher, her label Warner Bros. Records and other defendants copied the artistic elements of the logo for Cher’s 2013 album Closer to the Truth.

Nadav has a passion for design and sees typography as a distilled form of design. He has described his work as typography that composes high-end, lush typefaces that perfectly suit any premium design. The Moshik Navdav website displays Nadav’s different typefaces which include Lingerie, Paris, and Paris Pro, among others. Visitors of the website are able to purchase the fonts for use through different types of licensing structures. The right to use the fonts is given directly through the website with the terms of use policy acting as a “binding legal agreement” between the Nadav LLC and the web user. Nowhere on the site is there any symbol or language amounting to a federal copyright.

U.S. copyright laws protect “original works of authorship” in categories such as writings, art work, and music. The copyright gives the owner the right to control the way his work is used by others. A copyright exists from the moment that an original work is created. Registration of the copyright is not required for protection, but is recommended because it creates a public record of the copyright, can create eligibility for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation, and, if an infringement happens within the first five years of publication, it could be considered evidence of a prima facie case in court.

Continue reading »

Coachella Sues Urban Outfitters for Trademark Infringement

By: Maria Pigna*| Staff Writer 

https://pixabay.com/en/coachella-ferris-wheel-big-wheel-1083735/

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, commonly known as Coachella, is a three-day event known for its musical performances of top artists, delicious food, world-class art, and its celebrated commitment to sustainability. Aside from the global attention this event receives every year, it has given itself another reason to make headlines. Coachella filed a trademark lawsuit against Urban Outfitters in the U.S. Central District Court of California on March 14, 2017.

Continue reading »

SCOTUS is Talking Fashion, Cheerleader Fashion

By: Doriyon Glass*| Staff Writer

http://images.clipartpanda.com/cheerleading-clipart-stunts-xTgnKpjqc.png

The Supreme Court’s decision in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., may have huge implications on the fashion industry.  Varsity Brands (Varsity) is one of the largest cheerleader uniform suppliers, they claim their uniforms contain something unique: copyrightable works of art.  Varsity received U.S. copyright registrations on five designs in which it claims that Star Athletica’s (Star) cheerleading uniforms infringe on.  The issue is whether these designs on cheerleader uniforms can be protected by the Copyright Act. Continue reading »

“Ooh, it makes me wonder” … Did Led Zeppelin Steal “Stairway to Heaven?”

By: Meredith Pace*| Guest Writer 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Jimmy_Page_with_Robert_Plant_2_-_Led_Zeppelin_-_1977.jpgFor nearly half a century, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has touched the souls of guitar shredders across the globe.  The masterpiece is regarded as the “cut that was to FM radio what The Godfather was to cinema.”  Released in 1971 on Led Zeppelin IV, the eight-minute composition truly captures the psychedelic vibes of early rock and roll.  Yet, in later years, the mystical tune will surface not music charts, but court dockets. Continue reading »