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 »

Princess Property: A Consideration of Copyright Laws and the Alteration of Disney Princesses


By: Katie Ott* | Staff Writer

Imagine: the Disney princesses, childhood heroes for many young American girls, featured topless with skin and scars for all viewers to see. Viewers of the art have described the images as “disgusting,” “terrifying,” and “propaganda.” But these critics miss the essential point: the princesses’ scars support breast cancer survivors with similar scars from the mastectomy procedure used to treat the deadly disease. The artist, AleXsandro Palombo, explains the paintings honor a woman’s pain connected to “the acceptance of [a woman’s] body mutilated by a mastectomy [which] is one of the devastating moments that is part of the disease.” Continue reading »

Spotify: Just “Shake It Off”


Spotify_logo_vertical_blackBy: Katie Ott* | Staff Writer

The recorded music industry, affluent throughout the 90s, has dropped dramatically in value the past 16 years, now pricing at only half its 1999 peak of $40 billion.  David Pakman, a cofounder of the Apple Music Group and CEO of eMusic, largely attributes the industry’s decline to the advent of streaming websites such as Spotify and Deezer.

Largely, music artists have responded to the new streaming medium through allowing streaming sites access to their music; the sites then compensate the artists roughly $.006 per song play.  This measly reimbursement has frustrated artists. Taylor Swift, one of the most powerful voices in the music industry, explains her frustrations: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable.  Valuable things should be paid for.  It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.  I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”  To prove her point, Swift pulled her music from Spotify, joining the small group of artists boycotting the streaming process.  Their decision, criticized as both unreasonable and inadequate, marks the only artist kickback to seriously rifle the music streaming industries. Continue reading »

Upcoming Publications: JBIPL’s Student Authors Discuss Their Work

By: Samantha Berner* | Staff Writer

One great aspect of the Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law is the opportunity for law students to get published. Each semester, the Journal picks a select few submissions from within Wake Forest to be published and featured within each issue. The following three students were selected from the Spring 2014 submissions and tell us a little about their note or comment, their inspiration, and a little bit about themselves.

From Left to Right: Hannah Nicholes, Rebecca Winder, Chase Smith

From Left to Right: Hannah Nicholes, Rebecca Winder, and Chase Smith.

  Continue reading »

Stand Up For Your (Copy)Right

By: Kirsten S. Dowell*

Austin Mahone, discovered on YouTube | Photo Credit: User Justinecote1 of Wikimedia Commons.

Austin Mahone, discovered on YouTube | Photo Credit: User Justinecote1 of Wikimedia Commons.

The platform from which rising artists launch their careers has changed dramatically in the last decade.  Since Justin Bieber opened the door for stars to be born on YouTube in 2008, many unknown artists are turning to social media as a way to gain free exposure.  YouTube is the world’s third most popular website, and is a natural choice for budding artists seeking fame.  One third of teens said being famous is important to them, and teens seeking fame use social media more frequently.  The Internet has changed the way people become famous.  By uploading songs and videos to YouTube, normal, everyday people, who have no connection to the music industry, have a shot at being discovered and signing a record contract.

While some of these hopefuls have become successful, other artists claim they have had their work used or copied by others without their permission.  Katy Perry was accused of stealing the idea for her music video Messages from a YouTube artist last year.  More recently, Seth McFarlane was accused of stealing the character Ted (of the movie with the same name) from a YouTube video.

Continue reading »

The End is Near: Why College Sports May Change Forever

By: Eli Marger

NCAA LogoStudent-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived.”- NCAA Division I Manual

College athletics may look simple.  It is just another facet of the education industry—for now.

Just like any business organization, a university’s athletic department has revenues and expenses.  The money comes in via donations, ticket sales, and conference revenue sharing; it goes out via coach and staff salaries, scholarships, and operational expenses.  All of this supports the student-athletes, the ones actually playing the sports.

These student-athletes have been the center of attention recently, and not just for what they do in their respective sports.  Currently, student-athletes receive payment in the form of “grant-in-aid” (GIA) scholarships, which is generally the sum of tuition, mandatory fees, housing, and textbook costs.  While some may argue that this is more than adequate payment for student-athletes, critics of the current system—including the plaintiffs in the NCAA litigation—say that students should be able to earn money above and beyond the scholarship amount based on their monetary impact on the university. Continue reading »

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.

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 »

Flappy Bird Taken Down

By: Samantha Berner *

FlappyBirdOn Sunday, February 9, the new hit game for iPhone and android users, Flappy Bird, was removed from the app stores. While ordinarily apps are taken out of commission for compelling reasons, such as legal issues, here, the developer Dong Nguyen appeared to do it voluntarily. Nguyen tweeted on Saturday, February 8, “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.” Although the game is still available for use for the 50 million users who downloaded the game prior to its removal, those who are just learning of the game and all of its hype are disappointed they no longer have the opportunity to experience it for themselves.

There has been much speculation as to what lead to the uncommon decision of removing the top-ranked game from the app stores, one that achieved similar levels of popularity compared to the infamous Candy Crush and Angry Birds games. Nguyen has since been pretty tight-lipped about his decision, but in an interview with Forbes, explained that while Flappy Bird started as a fun activity, it became an “addictive product,” which he believed became a problem. To solve the problem, he believed the best decision was to remove the game, a game he says is “gone forever.” Speculators also have trouble accepting this decision since it is estimated that he was receiving $50,000 a day from in-app advertising, and while Nguyen did not confirm that figure, he did admit he was receiving a lot of money through advertising. Continue reading »