A Massive Overhaul of Music Copyright Law is Just Around the Corner

By: Matthew Hooker, Summer Blogger laws may be getting a major overhaul soon. On June 28, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a revised and amended version of the Music Modernization Act. The Act, if passed, will likely bring about the most dramatic changes to U.S. music copyright law since the Copyright Act of 1976. The House of Representatives already passed the bill in April 2018, so passage by the full Senate is the last big step before it lands on the president’s desk.  Continue reading »

Don’t Pay the Tool: Artificial Intelligence is a Creative Tool, Not a Creative Entity

By: Daniel Norton, Summer Blogger the past decade, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has been used to create artistic works as well as news articles. For example, A.I. has created works which can imitate famous artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, as well as generating articles for newspapers like The Washington Post. These recent innovations have led some people to ask whether A.I. should be eligible to receive a copyright for its creations. Current Copyright Law does not classify A.I. works as copyrightable creations, however, A.I. might one day achieve a level of intelligence to warrant such accreditation to be protected under United States Copyright Laws.

Since 1973, it has been the official policy of the United States Copyright Office to deny any copyright claims if the work was not created by a human being. In fact, The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices states that in order for a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be “created by a human being.” In one instance, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals seems supported the requirement that a human must be the creator for a work to receive copyright protection. In the case Naruto v. Slader, the court denied the monkey, Naruto, standing to bring an action under the Copyright Act. This holding from one of the primary goalsof Intellectual Property Law: to benefit society by incentivizing innovation by allowing creators and innovators the right to profit from their creations for a set period. Continue reading »

President Trump Selects Pro-Business Nominee With Experience in Intellectual Property

By: Whitney Hosey, Editor-in-Chief

On Monday, July 9, President Trump announced his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nominee, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh, has served as a federal appeals court judge since his appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006. In that time, Judge Kavanaugh has “written almost 300 opinions.” Among those opinions are several involving both business law and intellectual property law.

On the business end of things, Kavanaugh has consistently ruled in favor of businesses in pivotal cases. For example, in Verizon New England Inc. v. NLRB, Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion overruling the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) decision in favor of an employees’ union. Instead, the Court determined that the union had violated a collective bargaining agreement with Verizon by “displaying pro-union signs in their vehicles.” On the whole “Kavanaugh is considered pragmatic.” The biggest business law and telecom related case which may come before the High Court is determining “whether a proposed nationwide class of consumers can sue Apple, Inc. for allegedly monopolizing the iPhone app market.” The lower court has already granted the plaintiffs standing on the anti-trust claims, whether Kavanaugh would choose to overrule that determination is unclear. Continue reading »

Are American Institutions the Breeding Ground for Intellectual Property Theft?

By: Phillip Jester, Summer Blogger recent White House report accused China, the world’s second-largest economy, of engaging in aggressive “acts, policies, and practices that fall outside of global norms and rules.” The report highlights a new threat posed by China: the presence of “Chinese Nationals” serving as “Non-Traditional Information Collectors” at American universities.  The White House alleges that the Chinese State has created educational programs which encourage science and engineering students to master important military technologies in order to share such technologies with Beijing.

More than 100 American universities currently collaborate with Confucius Institutes, educational organization that are sponsored by China’s Communist Party.  Lawmakers and intelligence officials are now speaking out against the role of Confucius Institutes as possible “spying outposts.” In February, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Director Christopher Wray stated that Chinese spies are being planted in American schools in order to exploit “very open research and development” environments.  The exploitation of open educational environments may already be paying off.  Chinese Scientists returning from American laboratories have played a key role in the development of hypersonic glide systems, systems capable of penetrating any current missile defense. Continue reading »

From Napster to Spotify: How the Music Industry is Winning the Legal Battle Over Music Streaming

By: Christopher Lewis *| Staff Writer

Photo by Gavin Whitner

Photo by Gavin Whitner

The arrival of cheap music streaming services like Spotify has created a growing discontent between the music industry and those wishing to stream the music; however, this started long before Spotify became the predominant streaming service. Napster changed how people around the world accessed music on the internet, consequently, the music industry had to derive a new way to profit from these services. Instead of buying physical CDs, people were listening to music on the internet, and the music industry was missing out on a valuable source of income. While Napster was not technically a streaming service, it did help propel the music industry into this new age as people began to realize the immense potential that the internet contained in the music industry. However, the problem has now gone beyond artists simply trying to receive a wage for their work as artists now are tasked with obtaining a fair wage. The music industry has only slowly begun to realize the immense power that they hold within these discussions, as can be seen through their petitions to then President-elect Trump where they asked for tougher intellectual property laws in the music industry.

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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 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kuba Bożanowski from Warsaw, Poland (World of Warcraft card game) [CC 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.

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Whose Name Is It Anyway?

By: Darius L. Lamonte *| Guest Writer

By Steve Lipofsky [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Steve Lipofsky [GFDL ( or CC 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.

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A Dispute over Master Tapes Ends in the Beatles’ Favor

By: Niti Parthasarathy*| Guest Writer

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.”

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

By: Corri Hopkins *| Guest Writer

“This image has internet meme potential,” mocked a popular internet blogger. Shortly thereafter, McMansionHell author, Kate Wagner, learned that 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

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.

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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 (], 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 (], 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.

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