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z. Copyright Law: Frequently Asked Questions


September 24, 2013

Intellectual Property Theft: Prevention and Recovery

Matt: Hi, and welcome back to Copyright Law Radio! I'm Matt Plessner. The laws of copyrighting and theft on the internet can be very undefined sometimes. The internet is a medium that's still very young, and thus can be subject to, I guess, kaleidoscope of different legal issues. We've referred to the internet as the "wild, wild west" in many of the interviews past, and that is very true. One such issue is intellectual property theft. Today, we're going to be discussing what this means, as well as some preventive and recovery methods. And of course, at Traverse Legal, we work with COPYSHIELD.COM which is a site that helps with matters such as these. And to help us with these we are welcoming Copyshields's very own Justin Mikula. Justin, we appreciate you taking some time to talk with us today.

Justin: Thanks for having me.

Matt: Now Justin....Well, for those people who haven't heard, I guess, our other interviews, can you just give us a little brief overview of Copyshield and what you do exactly?

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July 19, 2013

Protection of and enforcement of Moral Rights

The issue of moral rights oftentimes comes up when the author of some kind of work assigns or licenses to a third party, who then adapts that work in such a way that the author is unhappy. Moral rights are oftentimes believed to be associated with copyright rights. However, moral rights are separate and distinct from copyright rights. Whether or not the United States affectively recognizes moral rights is not entirely clear based upon existing case law, but it is an area of law that deserves attention especially in light of the questions surrounding moral rights.

Generally speaking, moral rights are comprised of four different rights. These include the right of integrity, the right of attribution, the right of disclosure, and the right to withdraw work from the public. As noted above, the US has not recognized each of these rights to the extent that European countries have. In the event that the United States Court do recognize moral rights, they typically recognize them under the guise of other legal theories, such as unfair competition, invasion of privacy, defamation, and breach of contract. They may even be associated with copyright rights. For example, one of the most publicized cases involving moral rights related to a reliance upon copyright law and unfair competition principles to safeguard the integrity rights of the Monty Python group. In the case of Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Companies Inc from the Second Circuit, the court found that "although the law seeks to vindicate the economic, rather than the personal rights of authors...the economic incentive for artistic...creation...cannot be reconciled with the inability of artists to obtain relief from mutilation or misrepresentation of their work to the public, on which the artists are financially dependent". This court recognized, in the position that has been advanced since, that moral rights are distinct from economic rights. The creator of a work should be able to protect its moral rights in that particular work.

Ultimately, whether or not the author of a book, the creator of a piece of visual artwork, or other copyright owner may be able to claim moral rights is not entirely clear. That said, identifying when a moral rights issue may exist and determining enforcement efforts related to those moral rights can be a critical piece of any dispute, copyright or otherwise. Therefore, speaking with a copyright attorney who has experience with moral rights can help.

It is worth noting that the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), set forth in 17 US 106a, is the first federal copyright legislation to grant protection to moral rights. However, VARA is limited to works of art that meet certain requirements. Whether or not VARA will lead to additional legislation beyond paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, or still photographic images, remains to be seen.


November 28, 2012

How to Copyright a Song, Lyrics, and Music to copyright a song, lyrics, and/or music. It's important to recognize at the outset that those are three different things. A song is made up of both the underlying music or notes, along with the lyrics, that allow a song to be played. A song is essentially a sound recording that includes all of those elements. Whereas, music is put together by a composer. Whereas, lyrics are put together by a lyricist.

Continue reading How to Copyright a Song, Lyrics, and Music >>
November 13, 2012

How Similar Are Songs Legally Allowed to Sound

When a court has to look at two pieces of music and decide whether or not they're substantially similar, the cases are really all over the board.   One of the first cases on this issue wasn't a music case.   It was a case about a play with a particular plot about an Irish family and a Jewish family, and a similar movie was made not too long after.


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November 06, 2012

The Importance of Copyrighting Music

What registration for copyright does is it allows you the opportunity to actually enforce your copyright. In other words, to go after people who are infringing on your copyright and to protect it from illegal copying by other people. Before that, before registration, when you have the copyright from the moment that the work was created, that's an asset that you own. You can sell it. You can license it. You can make money off of it. But in order to actually go to court over your copyright when someone else is copying it, that's when registration becomes important.

Announcer: Welcome to Copyright Law Radio. We bring you the best in copyright news legal advice, and information. From copyright infringement claims and defenses to threat letter issues, DMCA takedown notice letters, copyright licensing and legal analysis of the latest copyright law cases, we have a copyright attorney who can answer your copyright questions.

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August 24, 2012

Film Title Search and Report

A film title search and the subsequent film title report is a search of several types of databases to determine whether or not your film title is clear for use. And, oftentimes, insurance companies will want such a search and report prior to issuing errors and omissions insurance with regard to your particular film project.

So, what is a film title search and report? Well, a film title search is a search of several different databases and other resources to determine whether or not there are any outstanding terms, names, or trademarks that may conflict with your potential film title. The first of these searches is a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database, as well as Common Law trademarks that may exist.

The purpose of this search is to ensure that there are no outstanding trademarks that may conflict with or cause a potential risk to your film title. The test for that is whether or not that trademark or trade name is identical or confusingly similar to your film's title.

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June 07, 2012

What the Business Software Alliance audit letter does, is it identifies that it represents various entities, such as Microsoft, Adobe, Acrobat and various others and the software that those manufactures create and produce. The letter goes on to state that the recipient has been identified as somebody that could be using those various pieces of software without proper licensing, As a result, they say that that person receiving the letter may be in violation of the copyright act in the United States. More specifically, that they are infringing a copyright. As a result, they point to the fact that malicious and willful copyright infringement may entitle them to statutory damages of $150,000.

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