If you are a regular viewer of the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory, then you probably are familiar with the loveable quirks of one of the main characters – Sheldon Cooper. One such quirk is Sheldon wanting people to sing the song “Soft Kitty” whenever he is hurt or sick.
In 2015, a claim surfaced that the show’s producers, Warner Bros. Entertainment, infringed on the copyright of nursery rhyme writer Edith Newlin. The lawsuit was brought forth by Newlin’s two children.
The work in question appeared in a 1930s songbook which carried a blanket copyright notice in the publisher’s name. The publisher renewed its copyright in 1964 but, based on the court’s reading of the 1909 Copyright Act that governed the case, there was no renewal effected for the copyright in the song individually held by the plaintiffs’ mother. The court therefore found that the song had passed into the public domain, and the copyright infringement case was dismissed.
This case clearly illustrates the importance of ensuring you have valid copyright protection for your authored work – whether is it song lyrics, books, films, photographs, designs, computer software, architectural designs or other creations.
The best way to establish copyright is with advice and guidance from an experienced intellectual property lawyer. Your attorney can help you to identify works that need protection and guide you through the registration process.