This is the copyright section of our blog. Please check back frequently for news in the copyright field.

Are Silent Films Still Protected by Copyright? 0

Are Silent Films Still Protected by Copyright?

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Copyright

Film enthusiasts may be familiar with the silent film Safety Last!  Starring Harold Lloyd, this film debuted in 1923.  Even those who are not familiar with the movie may recognize the iconic scene where Lloyd is dangling from the hands of a giant clock. Cupecoy Home Fashion Inc. produces a 12” metal clock with a man dangling from the minute hand.  This clock drew the ire of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, who filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on March 11, 2014. Harold Lloyd Entertainment alleged the clock was a direct appropriation of the iconic clock scene.  It also highlighted that it had previously licensed the rights to create a derivative version of the clock scene before.  The movie Back to the Future obtained permission to film the scene of Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) hanging from the clock tower towards the end of the movie.  Most recently, Harold Lloyd Entertainment granted a license to Martin Scorsese to create a similar scene in the movie Hugo.  In fact, posters for the movie featured this scene. It may seem like a movie 1923 is too old to still be protected by copyright.  However, it is the edge of copyright protection.  If it debuted in 1922, it would be in the public domain.  1923...

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Dumb Starbucks: A Parody or Not? 0

Dumb Starbucks: A Parody or Not?

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Copyright

Earlier this month a new coffee shop opened in Los Angeles called Dumb Starbucks.  The outer appearance of the shop is an exact replica of a Starbucks coffee shop except the word “Dumb” appears in front of Starbucks.  Inside, everything is also an exact replica of a Starbucks with the word “dumb” inserted in front.  The cups have the Dumb Starbucks logo and the menu items are dumb as well.  Canadian comic Nathan Felder is the owner of the shop and announced plans to open a second location in New York.  Naturally, Starbucks is not amused and has pledged to protect its trademark. They have stated that they are “evaluating next steps” and have made it clear that “they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark.” Dumb Starbucks has potentially infringed multiple forms of trademark protection.  Starbucks is a protected word mark and using Dumb Starbucks in commerce can confuse consumers or dilute the Starbucks brand.  Similarly, the logo for Starbucks is also protected but Dumb Starbucks copied it and inserted the word “dumb.”  Since Dumb Starbucks also copied the colors of a Starbucks shop it may have infringed upon trade dress protection, the outside appearance of the coffee shops which help consumers identify they are Starbucks....

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Prince Filed a $22 Million Copyright Lawsuit, Then Revoked It

Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in Copyright

The music artist known as Prince has a prior history of filing lawsuits to protect his music and his name.  His most recent suit concerns videos from his concerts on videos and blog sites.  However, after receiving negative feedback from his fans over the lawsuit, Prince was dropped his lawsuit.  Nonetheless, examining his claims will be a useful exercise in understanding what video content on the Internet can constitute copyright infringement or anti-bootlegging violations. Prince filed this action in the Northern District of California on January 16, 2014.  He named 10 defendants, two by name and twenty John Does who are identified by their online identities.  He also cited to Google Blogger and Facebook pages which contained links to file sharing services where users could download unauthorized copies of Prince’s live performance.  Prince also accuses the defendants of working in concert to distribute the bootleg copies of the live performances. All of Prince’s songs were wisely registered with the United States Copyright Office.  In the complaint, Prince’s attorney methodically listed every defendant, the songs they shared, and the registration number for the copyright in each song.  Since the songs are registered, Prince had a choice of seeking statutory damages (up to $250,000 for each act of infringement) or actual...

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DMCA Takedown Used to Quash Negative YouTube Review

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Copyright

If you were to search YouTube for reviews of video games, you would hit countless results.  Some channels have been able to rise above the other in terms of subscribers and consequently can be targeted for their negative reviews.  This particular dispute involved a video game review uploaded by TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit, of the game Day One: Garry’s Incident, made by Wild Game Studios.  TotalBiscuit regularly reviews independent (indie) games, games which are developed outside of large studios and which typically have low budgets.  While major retail games are sold for $60 on video game consoles or computers, indie games typically are sold for $20 or less.  TotalBiscuit prefers to review indie games in order to inform consumers of games they should buy which they may never have heard of before.  He also wishes to warn gamers to stay away from games which he feels will be a waste of money.  In TotalBiscuit’s opinion, Day One: Garry’s Incident fell in the latter category. TotalBiscuit’s videos are monetized to receive advertising revenue.  Once a YouTube video is approved to receive advertising revenue, the uploader will receive 55% of the advertising revenue Google is paid by advertisers.  The types of advertising shown will change depending on many factors such as...

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Copyright Issues – Oz, The Great & Powerful

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in Copyright

You can learn a great deal about copyright law by analyzing the different copyright issues in the creation of the recent Disney movie, Oz the Great and Powerful.  The new Oz movie is a derivative work based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s book, The Wizard of Oz.  Elements created in the book were available for Disney to use, but anything created for the 1939 movie was not. The book was written in 1900, so its copyright protection expired in 1956.  Baum had written thirteen sequels continuing the Oz story and they all entered the public domain between 1960 and 1986.  Meanwhile, Samuel Goldwyn purchased the film rights from Baum in 1933 then sold them to MGM in 1938.  MGM still retains the copyright to the movie it produced until 2034.  Disney received the film rights to the other thirteen books in 1954, but MGM did not sell their right to the first book.  In fact, MGM and Disney had a few legal battles over the movie content. In 2011, the 8th Circuit of Appeals ruled that while the characters in Baum’s novels are in the public domain, their depictions in the 1939 movie are still protected.  As a result Disney, and anyone else looking to utilize the Oz characters,...

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Nintendo Claims Advertising for “Let’s Play” Videos on Youtube

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013 in Computer Law, Copyright

                Youtube users started reporting this week that Nintendo has started claiming revenue for advertisement on user-created Youtube videos which feature content from Nintendo games.  Nintendo confirmed this news stating they became a Youtube partner in February of 2013 and registered their copyright content in the Youtube database.  Unlike most infringement cases, Nintendo is not asking Youtube to take down potentially infringing videos.  Instead Nintendo is issuing content ID match claims to place its own advertising before, within, or at the end of the videos. Nintendo is targeted videos featuring Nintendo-owned images or audio of a certain length.  The most common videos affected are “Let’s Play” videos.  These videos are show gamers playing through video games and can vary from a few seconds of gameplay to entire playthroughs of a game.  People upload these videos for humor, to demonstrate how to clear a certain part of the game, or just to show off how good they are.  “Let’s Play” channels can boast over 100,000 subscribers and individual videos can reach over 1,000,000 views. As a copyright owner Nintendo has the exclusive right to reproduce their works and to create derivative works under Section 106 of the Copyright Code.  Even though Youtube videos...

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