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Copyright Infringement

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Owners of Hit “Happy Together” Lose Copyright Case in Florida

Are recordings made before 1972 subject to copyright protection?

The owners of The Turtles’ hit song “Happy Together” sued Sirius XM Radio seeking enforcement of its rights in federal court in Florida.  Recently, Florida’s highest court ruled that the owners of the popular song could not force radio stations to pay for its use of the pre-1972 song.  The court held that Florida law does not recognize the exclusive right of public performance in pre-1972 recordings, which were made prior to the implementation of new federal copyright laws. This ruling echoes an earlier New York court ruling.


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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

House Bill Proposes Creation of Copyright Small Claims Court

How might a copyright small claims court benefit independent artists?

A House bill was recently introduced which would allow for the creation of a small claims court for copyright enforcement.  The bill, officially named the CASE Act, or Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017, could allow for more photographers and independent artists to enforce their copyrights in a low cost, efficient manner. Our NYC copyright infringement lawyers at Thomas Lancia PLLC discuss the potential new copyright claims court below.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Court Issues Novel Copyright Decision Based on Dr. Phil Videos

What is fair use?

A unique copyright infringement lawsuit involving television personality Dr. Phil recently lead to a novel copyright decision. The case started in 2015, when Leah Rothman, a director on Dr. Phil’s show, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil, accusing him of inflicting emotional distress and falsely imprisoning her.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Paul McCartney Settles Lawsuit with Sony/ATV to Reclaim Copyrights


Singer Paul McCartney recently settled his lawsuit against Sony/ATV Music Publishing which sought to reclaim copyrights to several Beatles songs.  McCartney had originally filed suit on January 18, seeking to be declared the holder of copyrights to several songs, including “Hey Jude.” “Yesterday,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  McCartney had previously been outbid by Michael Jackson for the Beatles’ Song rights, which later went to Sony/ATV.  Under new copyright laws, McCartney can reclaim song rights after periods of time have elapsed.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Fair Use Defense Explained


What is the fair use defense to copyright infringement?

A recent court case involving LeBron James’ tattoo could set important case precedent on the issue of the fair use defense.  In the case, Solid Oak Sketches, the owner of James’ prominent lion’s head tattoo, filed suit against Take-Two Interactive Software for copyright infringement after Take-Two used the tattoo on its virtual LeBron James in a video game.  Take-Two filed a counter claim seeking to have the court declare the video game’s display of the copyrighted tattoo was either fair use or de minimum use.
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Creator of the Wall Street Bull Accuses “Fearless Girl” of Copyright Violation


Does the “Fearless Girl” statute infringe on the copyright of the “Charging Bull”?

The 7,000-pound bronze statue of a charging bull has long been a part of New York City’s landscape.  Created in the 1980’s by artist Arturo Di Modica, the bull located outside of the New York Stock Exchange was intended, according to its creator, to be a symbol of strength.  Recently, the statue of a young girl appeared triumphantly standing a few feet from the bull.  This statue is known as the “Fearless Girl” and it was created by Kristen Visbal.  The “Fearless Girl” has attracted a huge fan base for its message of female empowerment, but now the creator of the “Charging Bull” is calling for its removal.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Virtual Reality & Copyright Protection


Do existing copyright laws protect virtual reality applications and works?

Virtual reality (VR) involves computer generated simulation of three-dimensional images or environments that users can interact with using special electronics, such as headsets or special gloves.  VR can be described as “near-reality,” and with recent innovations in the field of virtual reality, users are increasingly being immersed in fantastically realistic realms.  The year 2016 was considered a turning point moment for virtual reality due to the release of several new systems, including Oculus Rift.  While thus far virtual reality for video games has been the focus of most creators, several tech companies have indicated that VR will soon be applied far beyond.  In coming years, it may change the way we surf the web and use our computers.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Photographer Carol Highsmith Seeks $1 Billion from Getty for Copyright Violation


Are images in the public domain allowed to be sold by others?

Carol Highsmith is a celebrated photographer whose works have been featured in books, magazines, and even on two postage stamps.  Highsmith is also known for her willingness to share her images to the public, with thousands of her images currently available for free to citizens.  But when Highsmith was sent a letter accusing her of copyright infringement for using her own image on her web page, she took action.


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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Melania Trump’s Speech Raises Copyright Concerns


Are public speeches copyrighted?

Melania Trump, wife of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, spoke at the Republican National Convention to a massive crowd of enthusiastic voters.  Just moments after the speech ended, however, controversy erupted.  News outlets started reporting that a portion of her speech was strikingly similar to a speech delivered by Michelle Obama, wife of then Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. While the Trump campaign has denied that Melania Trump plagiarized any part of the speech, the hullabaloo does raise some important


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Monday, June 27, 2016

Your Work—How To Protect It With Copyright Registration


Are you a musician, artist, or writer and have an authentic work that you would like to protect?  

Your creation does not need to be published in order to file for protection.  However, it cannot merely be an idea.  An idea must, instead, be established in a “tangible medium of expression,” such as through a book, photo, drawing, or piece of architecture.  Moreover, you must be the true owner or author of the work in order to protect it.    

Copyright registration is optional and protection attaches to your work upon creation; however, registration is especially beneficial if you become involved in a lawsuit.


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Protecting Your Copyrights on Social Media

What are the copyright rules for social media?

As more businesses engage in the digital world, the risk of copyright infringement on the internet has become a significant concern for decision makers. In particular, businesses that rely on social media marketing tools to promote their products and services need to be aware of the fact that copyright laws are applicable on the web. 

In addition, companies that establish websites and conduct digital marketing need to be familiar with the existing protocols in place to protect domain names. The Domain Name System is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a government sponsored entity that coordinates the designation of registered internet domain names under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

 As for the use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, existing copyright rules must be followed as well. For example, a business owns the creative works that its employees create while they are working for their company. The creative of work of independent contractors and freelances can only be owned with a work-for-hire agreement in place. If your business posts comments on Facebook or Twitter, it is important to ensure that you own these works.

To some extent, businesses are protected from the potential of infringement lawsuits in certain circumstances. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides "safe harbor" to online service providers. It limits their infringement liability by requiring them to take down content that could violate a copyright if the owner sends a take-down request.

How to Protect Your Work from Infringement

In addition to avoiding infringement claims, business owners also need to protect their original content. In order to obtain maximum legal protection, it is essential to register your work with the Copyright Office.  By registering your work, you will have a number of rights, including the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of your work. In short, proper registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright. This grants you legal recourse to bring an infringement lawsuit and obtain statutory damages and attorney's fees.

If your business is engaged in social media marketing, it is essential to understand the applicable copyright laws. A qualified attorney can advise you on how to protect your work from infringement, as well as how to avoid an infringement lawsuit.


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