Graffiti Artist Claims Copyright, Judge Allows To Move Forward

By Carla Vercellone For many years graffiti was seen as a delinquent activity and public disturbance made by outlaws of society who sprayed their work on subway cars and alleyways, hiding behind an alias while trying not to be pursued by the police. But nowadays, society’s view on graffiti has changed and it has been used by fashion labels and major corporations in their ad campaigns. Although the perception of it may be more accepting by society, the law hasn’t necessarily caught up to us just yet. Currently, the Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code, §102(a)) protects any “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device” [1] this includes: (1) literary works; (2) musical works; (3) dramatic works; (4) pantomimes and choreographic work; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and

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The Music Modernization Act: A Step Forward In Today’s Music Industry

By Carla Vercellone The “Big Music Bill”, also referred to as the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act, the Music Modernization Act (‘MMA’) or the Musical Works Modernization Act, is a piece of legislation that was introduced by Senator Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator Alexander (R-Tennessee) earlier this year. It was passed unanimously by both chambers this past month of September and was sent to President Trump’s office on September 25th , giving him 10 days to sign the bill after receiving it, or veto it, and turn it into law. If  he chooses not to sign the bill within these 10 days (including weekends), and Congress is in session, the bill will automatically become law. This act is a reform to the Copyright Act of 1976 §115 and §114 (i). The bill aims to solve the current problem of unmatched works, so that digital music providers are protected from liability and songwriters are given the royalties they deserve (more

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Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands – Supreme Court Ruling’s Impact

By Michael Small   In a recent Supreme Court case regarding the compatibility between clothes and copyright, Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, the justices ruled in favor of Varsity Brands in a 6-2 decision, holding that the Defendant’s cheerleading uniform designs are protectable under copyright because they were deemed conceptually separable[1] from the uniform.  This decision answered the question brought to them by Star Athletica’s petition,[2] to which they state the following regarding the compatibility of copyright on clothes using the conceptual separability test: A feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection only if the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article, and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work—either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression—if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.[3] When placed into

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Fair Use Doctrine

By Michael Small   The Copyright Office defines Copyright as the exclusive right for a person (mainly the author) to reproduce, publish, sell, or claim ownership of his or her original works of creation under Section 106 of the Copyright Act of 1976.[1]  The copyright symbol (©) identifies the work as protected to the copyright owner and the audience.  This intellectual property right grants protection to the author’s creative works such as literature, music, drama, arts, or architecture upon the creation of his or her product in a fixed media.  This protection remains valid until the owner’s death plus 70 years.  Afterwards, the work becomes public domain, which allows for anyone to use the work for any purpose.  However, to prevent potential conflict with the First Amendment’s grant of freedom of speech, religion, and the press, the court created the fair use doctrine as a check and balance to copyright’s power. The Fair Use Doctrine is a declaration that allows

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The Aereo Decision

By Evan Jensen The Aereo decision gives the impression of the Supreme Court twisting itself into knots to find a reason why Aereo is infringing. And ultimately the Court decided to help broadcasters kill off the competition, rather than push broadcasters to innovate. On June 25 the Supreme Court’s decision in the ABC v Aereo case came down.[1] The Supreme Court sided with ABC and the other broadcasters against Aereo. In its opinion, the Court held that Aereo’s transmissions are public performances and that therefore Aereo is infringing on copyrights owned by ABC and the other petitioners.

Introducing Stein IP LLC Fall 2012 IP Training Program October 1-19, 2012

 Stein McEwen LLP is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an intellectual property training program from October 1-12 with an add-on session from October 15-19, 2012 in Washington DC.  The purpose of the Stein McEwen LLP Fall 2012 IP Training Seminar is to provide an overview of U.S. Intellectual Property Law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. The lectures will cover fundamentals of patent procurement, with optional sessions extending to the scopes of trademarks and copyrights, IP licensing, and IP litigation. A series of lectures will be presented by Stein McEwen LLP attorneys regarding these subjects, including workshops for the participants to receive hands-on experience.  These workshops will include activities such as reviewing disclosures of an invention and drafting sample claims to cover the subject matter of the invention. Tours of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and a U.S. District Court will allow the participants an opportunity

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President of Restaurant and Lounge Is Found Personally Liable For Unlicensed Public Music Performance

By Evelyn Li The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a California district court’s granting of a summary judgment in favor of plaintiff-appellees for a total of $203,728.22. The judgment included a statutory infringement damage of $4,500 for each of the 8 infringements ($36,000), and attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $167,728.22. Plaintiff-appellees, Range Road Music, Inc. together with Sony/ATV harmony, Williamson Music Company and several other music companies (“Music Companies”) sued East Coast Foods, Inc.(“East Coast”) and its president Herbert Hudson for copyright infringement after collecting evidence through an independent investigator, Scott Greene, on unlicensed public performances of music owned by the Music Companies. Scott Greene was retained by American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to visit the restaurant “Long Beach Roscoe’s” owned by East Coast to investigate whether copyright infringement was likely occurring at the venue. Greene’s report identified eight songs, which were later confirmed by ASCAP as owned by

read more President of Restaurant and Lounge Is Found Personally Liable For Unlicensed Public Music Performance

President of Restaurant and Lounge Is Found Personally Liable For Unlicensed Public Music Performance

By Evelyn Li The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a California district court’s granting of a summary judgment in favor of plaintiff-appellees for a total of $203,728.22. The judgment included a statutory infringement damage of $4,500 for each of the eight infringements ($36,000), and attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $167,728.22. Plaintiff-appellees, Range Road Music, Inc. together with Sony/ATV harmony, Williamson Music Company and several other music companies (“Music Companies”) sued East Coast Foods, Inc.(“East Coast”) and its sole officer and director Herbert Hudson for copyright infringement after a collection of evidence through an independent investigator, Scott Greene, on unlicensed public performance of music owned by the Music Companies. Scott Greene was retained by American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to visit the restaurant “Long Beach Roscoe’s” owned by East Coast to investigate whether copyright infringement was likely occurring at the venue. Greene’s report identified eight songs, which were later confirmed

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eBay Reseller of OEM Software Denied First Sale Defense

By Zi Wang In Adobe Sys. v. Hoops Enter. LLC (N.D. Cal. 2012), the court rejected the first sale defense asserted by an eBay reseller of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) copies of software, drawing a distinction between licenses and sales of copyrighted works. Adobe sued the defendants for copyright infringement, alleging that the defendants sold OEM copies of Adobe software through the use of eBay and other websites.  The defendants countersued Adobe for a declaratory judgment of copyright misuse.  In particular, the defendants contended that Adobe’s assertion of copyright protection contravened the first sale doctrine, as codified in 17 U.S.C. § 109.  The defendants also asserted the first sale doctrine as an affirmative defense. The defendants obtained OEM copies of Adobe software that had been unbundled from the hardware with which they were originally packaged, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard computers.  The defendants then re-bundled the software with items such as a piece of photo paper, a blank DVD, or

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“Sharing the Sandbox”

By Dan McPheeters and Michael D. Stein In our previous posts, we covered the pitched-battle between content producers on the one hand, and content distributors and access providers on the other. Specifically, we focused on an element in the enforcement provision of the Stop Online Piracy Act that was almost singularly responsible for the outrage among the latter group and spurred the internet blackout on January 18th. Roots of this battle date back to the middle of the last decade, and SOPA itself may have been the direct result of the enormously influential decision from the Southern District of New York in Viacom v. YouTube. In our fourth and final post (for now) on this topic, we look to whether this battle shows any signs of abating, and whether that would be a good thing for consumers. One of the truly unique features to the outcome of the SOPA debate (at least thus far) has been the identity of the

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