Small copyright disputes and how to resolve them.

The Copyright Act protects a wide variety of works of authorship, from individual articles or photographs that may not have a high commercial value to motion pictures worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the marketplace.

Copyright owners can file lawsuits under the copyright law for unauthorized use of the owner’s work.

However, not all copyright owners have the same resources for bringing a lawsuit, which usually requires substantial time, money, and effort.

Sometimes a copyright owner may want to stop a small infringement that has caused a relatively small amount of economic damage.  The owner might not file a lawsuit because of  a modest recovery versus the potentially large expense of litigation.

In some cases under the copyright act, owners can receive statutory damages and attorney’s fees, but these amount may not be recovered until after the copyright owner has engaged in a long court battle at a significant cost.

So Congress has asked the Copyright Office to study the current system for a means to resolve small copyright claim disputes, as well as possible alternative systems.

To conduct this study, the Office has undertaken a variety of activities to learn more about small copyright claims issues. The Office has published three Notices of Inquiry requesting public comments on the challenges faced under the current system as well as possible alternatives to the current legal system.

If you would like to add your voice to the study, you can enter your comments here.

How Can I Help?

Copyrights can be a source of great income, or great liability.  If you have a work that needs protection, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

No Routine Copyrights.

At least no copyrights for a Yoga Routine.

A sequence of yoga poses is not eligible for copyright protection, according to new guidance provided by the U.S. Copyright Office. The policy statement was required following a series of legal decisions and erroneously awarded copyrights. It also acknowledged that the question of whether a sequence of “preexisting exercises, such as yoga poses” can be copyrighted has “occupied the attention of the Copyright Office for some time.”


The policy statement clarifies that for a “compilation” to be protected by copyright, the work as a whole must constitute “an original work of authorship.” It subsequently lists the eight categories of works that the federal copyright law explicitly protects, including “pantomimes and choreographic works.” However, because “exercise is not a category of authorship,” the Copyright Office concludes a “compilation of exercises” cannot be copyrighted.

The Copyright also explains that yoga poses generally do not qualify as choreographic works. The statement notes that “choreography” does not include “social dance steps and simple routines.” Thus, “although a choreographic work, such as a ballet or abstract modern dance” incorporate “simple routines, social dances, or even exercise routines as elements of the overall work, the mere selection and arrangement of physical movements does not in itself support a claim of choreographic authorship.”
The Copyright Office was also clear to point out that it was not announcing a new rule, but rather clarifying its existing position.

How Can I Help?

If you need help with a copyright, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Jailbreaking Is Still Legal In The U.S.

Every three years, the U.S. Copyright Office reconsiders exclusions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) provisions prohibiting the circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.

The Copyright Office states that “the purpose of this proceeding is to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make non-infringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention of access controls.”

Since the passage of the DMCA, the Copyright Office has granted numerous exceptions. One of the major exceptions was granted in 2010, the Office decided that cell phone “jailbreaking” — the popular term for removing built-in restrictions on the use of a device — should be

In recent hearings, the Copyright Office heard arguments in favor of expanding the exemption as well as arguments in favor of eliminating it altogether.

Jesse Feder, director of international trade and intellectual property for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), spoke out against jailbreaking, arguing that the practice enables piracy.

“Jailbreaking is a precondition for installing pirated software,” he said. “Technological protection measures are central to a distribution system that benefits consumers, independent app developers and third-party content creators, as well as developers of mobile operating systems.”

Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called for expanded protections for jailbreaking.

“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement last year after the EFF filed comments with the Copyright Office. “Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law.”

The Copyright Office upheld the controversial practice this past year.  However, tablet computers have not been granted the same broad exemption.  The Federal Register says that since the category of tablets is difficult to define it would be dangerous to issue a blanket exemption.  With the ever-increasing size of phones (I personally own a Galaxy Note II) it seems arbitrary to make the distinction based on whether a device has a radio and earpiece or not.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help to figure out if your copyright is being infringed, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Copyright Offices Proposes Federal Protection for Pre-1772 Recordings

The U.S. Copyright Office recently recommended that sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 be brought under federal copyright law. Under the current copyright regime, recordings made before that date are protected under state law.

This has resulted in various, and often unclear, legal protection of pre-1972 sound recordings. There have been many arguments that the current system has hampered efforts to preserve historical sound recordings and make them accessible to the public.

“We believe that bringing pre-1972 sound recordings into the federal copyright system serves the interests of consistency and certainty, and will assist libraries and archives in carrying out their missions while also offering additional rights and protection for sound recording right holders,” Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante stated.

Below are a few highlights from the office’s report on Federal Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings:

  • Federalization would best serve the interest of libraries, archives, and others in preserving old sound recordings and in increasing the availability to the public of old sound recordings.
  • The principal objection offered by certain right holders – that federalizing protection for pre-1972 sound recordings would cast a cloud over existing ownership of rights in those recordings – can be addressed by expressly providing that the ownership of copyright in the sound recording shall vest in the person who owned the rights under state law just prior to the enactment of the federal statute.
  • The term of protection for sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 should be 95 years from publication or, if the work had not been published prior to the effective date of legislation federalizing protection, 120 years from fixation.
  • In no case would protection continue past February 15, 2067, and
in cases where the foregoing terms would expire before 2067, a right holder may obtain extended protection for any pre-1972 sound recording by making that recording available to the public at a reasonable price and, during a transition period of several years, notifying the Copyright Office of its intention to secure extended protection extended protection.

The full report is available here.

On the other side of the debate, strangely enough, are groups normally on opposite sides, like the RIAA and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  They, and other groups in the commercial music industry, are united in their opposition to federal copyright protection of pre-1972 recordings.  Opponents fear possible negative effects on record labels, artists, broadcasters, and publishers from federalization and see no need for change.  These groups don’t want to “upset the apple cart.”

The music industry’s business model depends on the existing system and the proposed changes worry these companies. Federalization could disrupt their businesses by creating doubt about whether the companies own the  rights to the recordings.

The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) argues that bringing sound recordings recorded before February 15, 1972 under federal copyright protection is good for the American public, including musicians, and will not unduly constrain owners of pre-1972 sound recording copyrights.

If you need help sorting out a copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman