Tag Archives: Copyright

EU Parliament Approves New Copyright Rules for the Internet

We had been following on this blog the heated debates around the proposed EU Copyright Directive. These debates now belong to history since on March 27, 2019, the European parliament adopted the Directive with 348 votes against 274 and 36 abstentions.

The two most controversial provisions are Article 15 (previously 11) and Article 17 (previously 13).

Article 15: Creation of a New IP Right for Publishers of Press Publications

Article 15 addresses the issue of press publications that are circulated on the internet.… More

Supreme Court: Copyright Owners Must Wait For Registration Certificate Before Suing

On March 4, 2019, the United States Supreme Court held that, with certain exceptions, a copyright owner must obtain a copyright registration certificate from the Copyright Office  before filing a copyright infringement suit. The unanimous opinion in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.Com, LLC, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affirmed the Eleventh Circuit and resolved a split among the circuit courts of appeal.… More

Cultural and Intellectual Property Appropriation: Disputes Over Culturally-Inspired Fashions

If you haven’t heard already, New York Fashion Week is here! As usual, a lineup of awe-inspiring shows is expected to roll out over the next several days, as it does every September and February, highlighting the latest fashion trends of some of world’s most famous designers.  One of the big stories surrounding New York Fashion Week this year is the amount of cultural diversity expected to appear on the runway. … More

Copyright Protection for Creative Product Packaging

If you have ever been tasked with considering what types of intellectual property protection were available for a new packaging design, copyright may not be the first thing that came to mind. After all, it is trademark law that is designed to protect the public’s association with a commercial name or logo, and in some cases the distinctive look (or “trade dress”) of a product and/or its packaging.… More

“Let’s Get Ready to Register!” Or not. Supreme Court Entertains Oral Argument Rumble on Copyright Circuit Split

Is copyright registration required before you can bring a copyright infringement suit?  Everyone agrees that the answer is yes.  But not everyone agrees on the definition of “registration.” That’s the question that will be under consideration by the Supreme Court at oral argument on January 8, 2019, in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, LLC.

Registration is not required for valid copyright ownership,… More

Yes, We Have No More Extensions! Copyrighted Works Age Into Public Domain for First Time in Twenty Years

While scholars and pundits are busy listing the most important copyright rulings of 2018, a development that arguably beats them all is about to occur just as 2018 turns into 2019. On January 1, 2019, copyrighted works will start to age into the public domain for the first time in twenty years, beginning with works published in 1923.

Why did we go twenty years without anything aging into the public domain?… More

Second Circuit: Sales of Pre-Owned Digital Music Infringe Copyright

A copyright owner’s exclusive rights, codified at Section 106 of the Copyright Act, include the right to control both the reproduction and the distribution of a work. The exclusive distribution right is tempered by the “first sale doctrine,” codified at Section 109 which provides that, once you lawfully obtain a copy of something, you usually can resell the physical object (e.g., a used book) containing that copy.… More

Is Your Turkey Wishbone Protected By Copyright?

The use of a bird’s furcula, or “wishbone,” for divination purposes dates back to the ancient Etruscans, and the ritual of two people pulling on the furcula to determine who would get married first has its origins in late medieval Europe. From there, some version of the custom likely was brought to America by the pilgrims, who would have referred to the bone as a “merrythought.” Given all that history,… More

European Union Copyright Directive’s Back on the Radar

We previously commented in early July on the proposed European Union (“EU”) Copyright Directive. At that time, the proposed Directive had just endured a setback before the Parliament, which decided to revise it.

After the summer break, on September 12, 2018, the EU Parliament finally adopted its “revised negotiating position.” The Parliament announced in its press release that it had added to the text “safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of expression”.… More

Copyright Office Finds “Ballooned Droplet” is Really Just a Fat Apostrophe

In theory, a corporate logo should stand just as good a chance at being eligible for copyright registration and protection as any other kind of visual art. Section 913.1 of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices expressly provides that a logo may be registered if it satisfies “the requisite qualifications for copyright,” that is, if it “embodies some creative authorship in its delineation and form.”

But in practice,… More

National Geographic “Iceberg” Photo Stirs A Copyright Controversy, But No Lawsuit As Of Yet

The National Geographic Society is an interesting organization.  Since 1888, it has published the iconic magazine National Geographic, recognizable to many by the trademark yellow border on the cover page.  And yes, that border is literally a registered trademark.

Like any other magazine publisher, “Nat Geo” (as they like to call themselves these days) encounters a wide range of IP issues. … More

Everybody Dance Now! Actually, Don’t … That Choreography May Be Copyrighted

‘Tis the season of summer stock, music festivals, and outdoor performances. For my own part, I took in Jacob’s Pillow in the Berkshires, one of the country’s preeminent dance festivals. While an amazing piece of dance can make everyone want to join in, there are some dances no one should mimic without authorization, at least not as part of a commercial “public performance,” as that term is defined by 17 U.S.C.… More

“Forest of Light” Trade Dress Claim Nixed; Trademark Claim Survives

Picture yourself at dusk along the river, walking through a massive outdoor art installation featuring tens of thousands of individually-placed spheres of light on short stalks, reminiscent of blooming flowers. Ok, now stop and answer this: what kind of intellectual property would you use to protect this installation?  If you answered “trade dress,” you get a frowny-face sticker, at least according to the Eighth Circuit’s recent opinion in Munro v.… More