An original work of authorship is accorded copyright protection when the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression (17 U.S.C. §102). However, a copyright owner cannot sue for infringement of the copyrighted work until either 1) “registration has been made” of the work to the Copyright Office, or 2) the work is refused registration by the Copyright Office and the required deposit, application, and fee have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form (17 U.S.C. §411).

The phrase “registration has been made” has been interpreted differently by different federal appeals courts. Some courts have ruled the phrase means that the application has been accepted and registered by the Copyright Office. Other courts have ruled the phrase means that a properly filed application for copyright has been received by the Copyright Office. These other courts find support in their interpretation from other statutes where the same phrase is understood to mean properly applying for registration. Supporters of both interpretations point to part 2) of the statute for support of their respective interpretation.

This conflict among federal appeals courts has been recognized in the highest courts, and now the Supreme Court has agreed to settle the dispute in the case, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, et al. Does the phrase “copyright registration being made” require only a properly filed application to be received by the Copyright Office? Or does that phrase require an action to be taken by the Copyright Office—either acceptance or refusal—in response to receipt of a properly filed application? The Supreme Court will soon answer that question.

Published in Copyright

Public Domain Day, January 1 in the U.S., marks the end of term of copyright protection for all copyrights expiring within the year. For the last 20 years, however, Public Domain Day in the U.S. has been largely uneventful, as there has been an effective freeze on copyright expiration since 1998. January 1, 2019 will be the first Public Domain Day since then that copyrighted works see their expiration and transition into the public domain in the U.S. 

Published in Copyright

David Zindel has filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against Fox, director Guillermo Del Toro, and others, for copyright infringement of a play penned by his father in 1969 titled Let Me Hear You Whisper, regarding the recent movieThe Shape of Water .  Spoilers follow the break.

Published in Copyright

Recognizing that it was taking an unusual step, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit deliberatley broke from Sixth Circuit precedent in VMG Salsoul, LLC v. Madonna Louise Ciccone when it determined that the 0.23 second sample of horns which was copied from an earlier song titled "Love Break" was de minimis, and therefore, did not constitute copyright infringement. 

Published in Patent

Google has won a major victory in its ten-year legal fight with authors over its Google Library Project, which digitizes and indexes millions of copyrighted books for an online library without consent from the copyright owner. Since 2004, as part of the Google Library Project, Google has scanned, rendered machine-readable, and indexed more than 20 million books, which includes both public domain and copyrighted works, for its Google Books search engine. The search engine allows users to search words or terms that yields a list of all books in the database in which those words or terms appear, as well as the number of times the word or term appears in each book. The search also provides a brief description of each book which gives some basic additional information, such as a list of the words and terms that appear with most frequency in the book. Users are also allowed a limited viewing of the text of the book to see “snippets” of text containing the searched-for terms. The search sometimes provides links to buy the book online and identifies libraries where the book can be located.

Published in Copyright

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has declared that copyrighted materials are crucial to the Patent System and should not be threatened as copyright infringement. These remarks come in at an opportune time as the USPTO sought to intervene in a copyright infringement suit against Defendant McDonnell Boehnen Hubert & Berghoff LLP, whose patent prosecution attorneys have been sued by Plaintiff Publishers for using their copyrighted material in  patent applications.

Published in Copyright
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 23:38

No More Monkeying Around

An entertaining case emerged at the United States Copyright Office recently in regards to a "selfie" taken by a crested black macaque in Indonesia in 2011. British wildlife photographer David J. Slater was on a mission to Indonesia to raise awareness on endangered species via wildlife photography.  While attempting to take an ideal picture of the endangered crested black macaques in their habitat, a female macaque grabbed Slater’s camera and proceeded to take some selfies of herself. One of the images was a highly animated and grinning selfie, which became an instant viral hit.

Published in Copyright

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States held that Aereo “performs” the copyrighted works “publicly” as those terms are defined by the Copyright Act, thus infringing the copyrights of the content owners.

Published in Copyright

The Government of Antigua is preparing to excercise its right to compel treaty obligations after attempts to negotiate the decade long dispute over online gambling have failed. In January, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body voted to allow Antigua to suspend its obligations to the U.S. under the TRIPS Agreement. As a result, the Government of Antigua announced plans to launch a platform to "[exploit] the suspension of American intellectual property rights" according to a recent press release by the government of Antigua.

Published in Copyright
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 18:26

Video Games — Serious Business

Once considered a mere novelty, video games may have nonetheless evolved into a multi-billion dollar, international industry many find worthy of intellectual property protection.

Published in Copyright
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