What Can I Copyright? (Not Yoga Poses)

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in Copyright

You might wonder “What can I copyright?” There are several restrictions on individual works, but copyright protections for compilations of multiple individual works have been controversial, even among courts and agencies that regularly deal with copyright law and policy. Compilations have always been considered copyrightable, but recently, the requirements for a compilation to be copyrightable have been under question. Effective June 22, 2012, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a statement of policy clarifying copyrightable compilations. While it also clarifies the wider policy of the U.S. Copyright Office pertaining to compilations, the statement specifically addresses the controversy over whether sequences of exercises, such as yoga poses, are copyrightable. The statement by the Copyright Office was issued as a result of pending litigation in a California District Court over the use of a company’s yoga methods by former instructors. The lawyers for the former instructors pointed to a previous statement by the office that yoga routines were ineligible for copyright, and the office decided to issue a complete and detailed statement of their policy toward compilations, such as yoga pose routines. Compilations have been recognized as copyrightable in the past, but the U.S. Copyright Office issued the current policy statement to clarify a number of previous theories on compilation copyrights. The...

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Personal Right to Copyright Protection Under the Constitution

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in Copyright

While the current Supreme Court term will undoubtedly be remembered for the recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the court also issued an important ruling on Congress’ ability to reissue copyright protections for works currently in the public domain. The case, Golan v. Holder (132 S.Ct. 873), was decided in January and offers copyrights to previously unprotected foreign works. The dissent expressed concerns about the use of public domain works online and the spread of public domain knowledge across the world. The Supreme Court’s ruling comes as a result of efforts to synchronize U.S. copyright law with a variety of international laws and agreements. In 1994, the U.S. passed a federal law to implement a global trade agreement, the Uruguay Round Agreement. The court ruled 6-2 against a constitutional challenge of the law with Justice Elena Kagan not taking part. The challenge was based largely on an argument that placing public domain works back under protection violates the first amendment free-speech rights of individuals who used the work when it was unprotected in the public domain. The public domain includes works like books, songs, movies, and art that are no longer protected under intellectual property laws and are available for use without permission. Generally, works enter the public...

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What is a work for hire under U.S. copyright law?

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Copyright

The answer to the questions “Who owns my copyright?” and “Who holds the copyright to a work I created?” are far more complex than you might think. Copyrights are created when an original work becomes fixed in a tangible form, but sometimes it can be unclear who holds a given copyright. Usually, the person who generates the work is the copyright holder, but one exception to this rule is works made for hire or under a commission. If a work is created for hire, then it is the employer, be it a corporation or an individual, who holds the copyright rather than the employed creator. Under copyright law, work for hire generally includes: Work created within the scope of employment OR Work created under order or commission, including a variety of collaborative or collective works, if there is an express, written agreement between the parties. Copyright law also includes a variety of case law beyond merely the statutory language, and Stone Law can help you determine whether your work falls under the “for hire” exception. The statutory definition is not suitable to all situations, and yours may be unique. Whether you are an employee or an employer, Stone Law can help you gain control of your work or draft...

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How do I get a copyright? 0

How do I get a copyright?

Posted by on Jun 29, 2012 in Copyright

Many people wonder how do I get a copyright? The dirty little secret of copyright law is that you do not really need to do anything to obtain a copyright. Once you take that thought in your head and put it to paper you have already obtained a copyright in what you have written. It is not the legal process to register a copyright which gives the author the copyright but the process of creating the work in the first place. Granted, the protections offered from registering your copyright are much greater than the protection which is afforded to unregistered copyrights, however, unregistered copyrights are still able to be protected.

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DMCA – Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Posted by on Jun 29, 2012 in Computer Law, Copyright

In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which includes a variety of provisions to address intellectual property concerns including things like digital material and the Internet. In addition, the DMCA updated U.S. law to implement two World Intellectual Property Organization treaties from 1996. The DMCA strengthens penalties for digital piracy, including criminal penalties for tampering with anti-piracy measures in software. The manufacture of software or devices to circumvent copyright protection measures is also prohibited. There are several exceptions to these penalties, including law enforcement, libraries, and educational institutions, as well as a temporary exception for copying data while repairing your computer. Although it includes these new penalties, Title 1 of the DMCA specifies that there are no changes to the existing copyright infringement rights, remedies, or defenses. The DMCA also exempts foreign copyright holders from the U.S. law that requires copyrights to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before an infringement lawsuit can be filed. Stone Law can help you navigate the DMCA’s technological provisions and penalties and protect your rights. The DMCA makes a special provision for internet service providers that absolves them of copyright infringement liability provided they follow specified guidelines. ISPs can avoid liability if they follow the Act’s guidelines. One requirement is...

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Supreme Court Upholds Uruguay Round Agreements Act

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Copyright

On January 18, 2012 the supreme court upheld the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).  The decision was made 6-2 (with Justice Kagan taking no part in the decision). The URAA extends copyright protection to works which were once part of the public domain.  The musical works at issue in this case, having been in the public domain, were performed freely around the United States.  With the passage of the URAA orchestras must pay for something which they had enjoyed freely for many years; an “orchestra that once could perform ‘Peter and the Wolf . . . free of charge'” now much pay for such a privilege.  The act has had far reaching consequences within the orchestral community and has caused prices on some compositions to increase seven-times. It is feared (as mentioned in the dissenting opinion) that these restored copyrights will effect efforts of historical societies to gather and catalog aging films. Source: GOLAN V. HOLDER...

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