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Copyright Law Archives

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

Ninth Circuit looks at copyright dispute over "The Shape of Water"

Anyone who saw the Best Picture winner "The Shape of Water" is likely to agree that it is a haunting film that uses elaborately detailed, blue sets with unexpected, random shots of water in a variety of circumstances throughout to create a mesmerizing visual story. While it seems like a unique movie, the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Zindel has sued Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., and others linked with the film alleging copyright infringement of his father's 1969 play "Let Me Hear You Whisper."

Radio station sued for $1.5 B for failing to pay to play songs

Making it as a songwriter is no easy task. Once a song becomes famous, artists rely on earnings from continued use of the songs, often on the radio. Radio stations who fail to pay artists for the use of their songs can face legal ramifications.

It makes us wonder, will "Stairway to Heaven" lead to a new trial?

Since 2014, Led Zeppelin and Michael Skidmore, trustee of the trust that owns rights in a song by a deceased musician, have been fighting in court about whether Zepp's iconic "Stairway to Heaven" infringes on the copyright for "Taurus." As we described in this space last year, the deceased writer of "Taurus" was Randy Wolfe, member of the 1960's band Spirit, which enlisted Led Zeppelin as an opening act before Zeppelin had made it big.

Skyline photo copyright infringement claim crashes in court

When you look at San Francisco’s skyline, you can immediately pick out the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, Salesforce Tower, 181 Fremont, California Center and other architectural landmarks. While the skyline of Indianapolis is not as well-known as ours, it is undoubtedly just as cherished to those who live there.

A lesson from another photo copyright claim against Scholastic

In January, we wrote about a copyright infringement case in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California that survived a motion to dismiss some of the claims because the court found that the photographer-plaintiff Peter Menzel alleged facts sufficient to allow his case against publisher Scholastic to proceed to trial. As we explained, the photographer alleged that Scholastic's use of his pictures exceeded the limits of a license the photographer had granted to the publisher.

Second Circuit: Songs for Italian movies not works made for hire

An August 21 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit illustrates the concept of the work made for hire in U.S. copyright law -- and the similar concept of commissioned works in Italian law. Ennio Morricone Music Inc. v. Bixio Music Group Ltd. looked at the nature of an agreement between a composer and a movie company to write musical scores for Italian movies.

Songwriter alleges copyright infringement by Lady Gaga

We have written recently in this space about the controversy over whether it is appropriate to allow copyright ownership for very small note combinations in songs. Some argue that a short progression of notes is just a basic, generic element of a musical composition and too basic to grant intellectual property rights to it.

We can buy technology to record TV shows ... thanks to Justice Stevens

On July 16, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed away at 99. He served on the high court almost 35 years. He regarded himself as a judicial conservative, but he gained a reputation over time for opinions viewed as liberal.

Copyright: Court finds Andy Warhol’s use of Prince photo was fair

The New York federal judge in a high-profile copyright infringement lawsuit found on July 1 that painter Andy Warhol did not infringe on Lynn Goldsmith’s copyrighted photograph of Prince when he based a series of portraits on it. The court concluded that Warhol did not infringe because of the “fair use” defense.

Texas school district owes $9.2 million for copyright violations

Last month, DynaStudy, a small, relatively new Austin, Texas, educational publisher of study guides was victorious in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Houston school district. According to the Houston Chronicle, the jury found "dozens" of district employees committed "hundreds" of copyright violations that prompted the large damage award.

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