Copyright

Musicians Fight for a Change in Law to Stop Streaming from Cutting into their Royalties

By: Charity Barger*| Guest Writer

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Adelitas_Way.jpg

By Concerttour – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Over the last several decades, the ways in which music has become available to the public have been numerous: records, 8-track tapes, compact cassettes, CDs, downloaded music, and, now, streaming.  Nowadays, it is rare for a teenager to race to the music store to buy the latest CD from their favorite band.  In fact, CD sales have dropped 84 percent in the last decade.  Downloads, which were thought of as the “industry’s savior,” have been in a three-year decline. These changes are all due to the efficient trend known as streaming. Efficiency aside, streaming has started a fight between musicians and streaming providers.  YouTube has been accused of paying too little in royalties. “Last year, YouTube and sites like it generated $385 million in  royalties. In comparison, vinyl records . . . brought in $416 million.”  With an 84 percent decline in CD sales, the streaming statics are hardly comforting to musicians. Continue reading »

The Intellectual Property Behind “Real Women” Advertising

By: Dana Sisk*| Staff Writer 

https://americaneagleoutfitters.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/aerierealpoem.jpg?w=672&h=672

From blog.ae.com

During the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of companies that feature untouched images of “average sized” women, rather than the highly edited images of tall and slender supermodels.  This movement toward promoting body positivity and positive body image in young women has garnered a lot of praise throughout the advertising and modeling world, and more and more companies are jumping on board. Continue reading »

Fair Use Fashion? Or Stolen Street Art?: Examining Copyright Protection for Graffiti through Katy Perry’s Moschino Gown

By: Alex Braverman* | Staff Writer

“The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit.” – Banksy

Photo by ivabellini via Flckr

Photo by ivabellini via Flckr

At the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in May, Katy Perry walked the red carpet in a stunning Moschino gown bearing a graffiti print strikingly similar to a 2012 mural painted by street artist Joseph Tierney in Detroit.  Since the appearance, Tierney has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Moschino, a well-known Italian fashion house, for replicating his art without consent.  Tierney claims that graffiti qualifies for copyright protection as an original work fixed in a tangible medium, which if true, precludes reproduction and replication for commercial use.  Continue reading »

Snack Subscription Services, Thinking Inside the Box?

By: Alexandra Braverman* | Staff Writer

Subscription snack and food box businesses are popping up everywhere, hoping to cash in on America’s insatiable appetite for novelty, convenience and munchies.” – The New York Times 

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Fancy Food Box Subscription

Since the introduction of Birchbox in 2010, the demand for specialized goods via subscription has boomed.  With the option of having personalized boxes delivered monthly, customers are now choosing to buy beauty products, clothes, and food through online subscriptions.  According to the New York Times, the competition among the subscription snack market is particularly fierce.  Entrepreneurs have exploded into every corner of the food box market, introducing variations on the original box that feature regional, organic, portion-controlled, and novelty-themed options. Continue reading »

‘Never Say Never’: Bieber and Usher Dragged Back into Copyright Battle

By: Valerie Mock* | Summer Guest Writer

In April of 2010, Justin Bieber released “Somebody to Love,” an upbeat urban pop song that peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).  The track received positive critical reception from industry standards like Rolling Stone, and was so popular that Bieber eventually re-recorded the song with his superstar mentor, Usher, for distribution both as a remix and as part of Usher’s 2010 EP “Versus.”

Author=[http://lorenwohl.com/ Loren Wohl] |Date=2010-12-13 |Permission= |other_versions= }}

Author=[http://lorenwohl.com/ Loren Wohl] |Date=2010-12-13 |Permission= |other_versions= }}

Continue reading »

Another Battle in the Patent War of Apple and Samsung

By: Tyler S. Hood* | Staff Writer

On September 17, the federal circuit decided Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the latest patent case decision in a protracted series of smartphone patent infringement battles between the two electronics giants.  The case concerned Samsung’s alleged infringement on a few Apple smartphone patents, perhaps most notably the patent for the swipe-to-unlock feature. The District Court had ruled that Samsung had infringed on the Apple patents in question, but the court denied to issue a permanent injunction on the grounds that Apple  failed to demonstrate that the infringement resulted in irreparable harm.

Transferred from Flickr by User:Fæ

Transferred from Flickr by User:Fæ

Continue reading »

Offensive Penalty: The Cancellation of the Redskins Trademark

By: Sarah Remes* | Summer Guest Writer

This summer, the Washington Redskins lost.  Although defeat is nothing new to the infamous franchise, this time it came off the field when a federal judge upheld the cancellation of the team’s federal trademark registrations, finding that the term “redskin” was disparaging, and therefore that the mark had been registered in violation of the Lanham Act.

The namesake of the Redskins, William “Lone Star” Dietz

The namesake of the Redskins, William “Lone Star” Dietz

The Redskins began defending their trademark registrations in the early 1990s but until recently had been successful in fending off legal opposition.  The first major challenge was brought in 1992 when a group of Native Americans filed a petition to cancel multiple Redskins trademarks, claiming that their protection violated the Lanham Act, a federal law that prohibits protection of marks that “consist of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt.” That case was successfully appealed by the team on two grounds: first, that the theory of laches barred the petition, as one of the plaintiffs was only one year old at the time the Redskins trademarks were registered in 1967; and second that the plaintiffs had not provided enough evidence as to the “disparaging” nature of the trademark, which must have occurred at the time they were registered.  While controversy surrounding the name continued to grow – even President Obama couldn’t avoid commenting – legally the team appeared in the clear.

This time, the plaintiffs, led by Susan Blackhorse, were determined not to make the same mistakes.  In June of 2014, Blackhorse challenged six Redskins trademarks, again under the Lanham Act, which led to their cancellation by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  Not surprisingly, the team contested the decision, arguing instead that the name represents a strong and proud history that serves to celebrate and pay tribute to Native Americans, not degrade them.  “A Redskin is a football player.  A Redskin is our fans,” owner Dan Snyder explained.  “The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride.  Hopefully winning.” (This last part is definitely still up for debate).  On appeal, the court sided with Blackhorse, holding that the trademarks were disparaging at the time of their registration, and should not have received protection.

Continue reading »

Biggest Loser Host Hopes To Win Big In Court

By: Hunt Harris* | Summer Guest Writer

Jillian Michaels, the popular celebrity trainer and former host of “The Biggest Loser,” has filed a $10 million lawsuit against Lionsgate over YouTube videos posted to its channel.  Michaels, who recently quit the show for the third time in June 2014, claims Lionsgate has not compensated her for her workout videos that are used on the company’s YouTube channel.  The complaint states that “despite receiving millions of dollars in revenue from YouTube, and half of all views on the YouTube BeFit channel relate to Ms. Michaels’ Lionsgate (videos), Ms. Michaels has not received any compensation whatsoever.”  Lionsgate’s BeFit, which launched in 2012, has generated more than 200 million views to date and has more than 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube. According to Michaels, Lionsgate “did not consult her before they used her image and brand on the channel, and exceeded the number of videos posted to YouTube allowable under her contract.”

JM_11_016-RGB Continue reading »

Caught in the Web: SCOTUS’ Recent Decision Regarding Patent Royalties

By: Amanda Whorton* | Summer Guest Writer

Sketch by Art Lien

Sketch by Art Lien

Your friendly neighborhood U.S. Supreme Court laid down a crucial decision involving patent royalties and a Spiderman themed toy that has everyone’s spidey senses tingling.

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment involves a toy Stephen Kimble invented and patented called the “Web Blaster,” which consists of a glove with a valve and canister of pressurized foam, allowing kids to pretend that they are their favorite web-slinging superhero by having string shoot from the palm of their hands.  Kimble had previously sued Marvel for marketing a similar toy and their settlement included an agreement that licensed the patent to Marvel in return for royalty payments from its sale.  However, the agreement set no end date for these payments.  Neither side was aware at the time that a 1964 Supreme Court case, Brulotte v. Thys, made agreements for royalty payments after the expiration of a patent per se unlawful.  Kimble urged the Court to overturn this decision, while Marvel argued that Brulotte prevented them from having to pay royalties after the patent expired in 2010.  Marvel already paid Kimble $6 million for use of his patent. Continue reading »

Let the Rights to “The Wheel of Time” Ride Again on the Winds of Time

WoT01_TheEyeOfTheWorldBy: Blaydes Moore* | Staff Writer

On Monday, February 9, 2015, a strange thing happened.  The comedy-centric television channel FXX aired the pilot of a television show at 1:30 AM.  Normally these pilots air in primetime accompanied by fanfare nauseating to even a casual viewer of the station in question, but this pilot was a rush job by a studio that paid for the show to air on TV.

The pilot show, titled Winter Dragon and starring Billy Zane, was the latest ploy in a battle of intellectual property rights epic enough to rival the fantasy contained therein.  Winter Dragon is based on the prologue of The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time, a series of epic fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.  With the recent success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin’s fantasy epic novels, studios have been searching high and low for the next big thing, and Wheel of Time could be it.

Fans speculated that Winter Dragon was a hurried production intended to preserve the rights to Wheel of Time, and they were right.  Red Eagle Entertainment LLC claims to have struck a deal with James O. Rigney (Robert Jordan being a pseudonym) for the film and television rights to Wheel of Time.  Following a string of less-than-ideal agreements and productions including video games and comic books, the company tried to make a deal with Universal, but it fell through.  Later Red Eagle pursued a deal with Sony Pictures, but that deal failed to materialize as well.  Fearing that the rights would revert back to Bandersnatch Group, Inc., run by Mr. Rigney’s widow, Harriet McDougal, Red Eagle rushed the production and put out Winter Dragon, in all its glory, in order to preserve the film and television rights. Continue reading »