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The Beat Goes On – and So Do the Royalty Payments

The late Sonny Bono now adds his name to another chapter of copyright law. The first, of course, was the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended copyright protections for an additional 20 years. Now, his name gets attached to a very novel copyright fight: can the copyright termination provisions of Section 304 trump the terms and conditions of a State marital property settlement agreement?


The Supreme Court Solves the Copyright Damages Question…Well, Half of It

On May 9, 2024, the Supreme Court definitively ruled that damages in a copyright infringement suit were unlimited. In other words, as long as the suit was timely filed, damages for infringement could be recovered, no matter how old they might be. What they failed to answer was when a copyright lawsuit was “timely filed.” Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the facts of the case and the ruling, and explains how the decision could easily be construed as only deciding “half” of the issue.


Why Should Artists Subsidize OpenAI’s Bad Business Model?

In a recent filing with the UK Parliament, OpenAI stated: “It would be impossible to train today’s leading AI models without using copyrighted materials. Limiting training data to public domain books and drawings created more than a century ago might yield an interesting experiment, but would not provide AI systems that meet the needs of today’s citizens.” Then, more recently, “If you were to do private negotiations for every piece of content that you need to train one of these models,” they wouldn’t exist… “Inherent in these statements is the assumption that the world is demanding AI created works, they need to exist and somehow artists are standing in the way. There are 100 million music tracks on Spotify, do we really need more? There are 3,600 movies and 1,800 television shows on NetFlix, do we really need more? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a look at the big picture, and discovers AI is just another bad business model proposed by big tech companies, who expect artists to subsidize their bad judgement.


AI Company to Pay Reddit $60 Million a Year to Scrape Data: Great! Where’s my Share?

News broke recently that an unnamed AI company was preparing to pay Reddit $60 million a year to be allowed to scrape the content off the popular website. The company, rumored to be Google, and the deal, according to Bloomberg Law is “…the first major public licensing deal between a US social media giant and an external AI company.” But Reddit does not own the copyright to the content that appears on its site. How can it strike this deal? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., gets to the details and finds just another tech slight of hand, but one that still doesn’t work. So where’s the money going to go?


“Lazy Appropriators” Beware: The “Warhol” Fair Use Standard Takes Hold

The Supreme Court’s decision in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith was a breath of fresh air that provided much needed guidance on the issue of fair use. Moreover, it reigned in the overbroad standard of “transformativeness” that had plagued court decisions for years. Never has this been more apparent than a recent Appellate Case reversing a finding of fair use. What was notable was that the case is virtually identical, as to the facts, as to the type of work copied, as to the type of use by the Defendant, brought by the exact same Plaintiff, that six years earlier had been found to be fair use. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the cases and explains why the Warhol decision is indeed a game changer in the realm of Fair Use.


The Curious Case of Kat Von D: How Is An “Identical” Image Not Substantially Similar?

January 26, 2024 saw a jury return one of the most head-scratching copyright verdicts in recent memory. It ruled that a photograph and resulting tattoo of jazz icon Miles Davis, despite being hailed by the Defendant as being “identical,” were somehow not substantially similar to each other. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes an inside look at the case, including the evidence and the jury verdict form, and finds what has emerged is confusing indeed.


Two Good Reasons to Register Your Copyright, Like Right Now!

Two recent court decisions highlight the wisdom of registering your claim for copyright as soon as possible. The reason being that while registration itself is not required for copyright protection, any meaningful enforcement of that copyright requires that registration be accomplished, and accomplished promptly. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains how prompt registrations carry with them two significant litigation advantages: the ability to recover statutory damages, and the ability to request an award of prevailing party attorney fees to be paid by your opponent.


The Public Domain Does Not Increase Book Sales – Copyright Does

One of the great “truisms” of anticopyright groups is that copyright is somehow this incredible drag on the publication and availability of works. And the remedy for this is to push works into the public domain as quickly as possible. But yet, like so many other “truisims,” once you dig into the reality of the situation, the assertion is simply not true at all. The proof lies in a recently released study that finds that books under copyright protection outsell books of the same vintage which are in the public domain by a ratio of almost 4 to 1. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., makes a detailed analysis of this remarkable study which proves that copyright is beneficial to both the public and authors.

Old books

Appellate Court Rules Copyright Book Deposit Requirement Unconstitutional…Sort Of

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia released a rather surprising decision regarding the Copyright Acts’ requirement that books published in the U.S. provide the Library of Congress with two copies of the work. Surprising in the fact that the deposit requirement has a long history in the Copyright Act and the requirement had not been challenged despite being on the books for some 40 years. The decision also caused some confusion in that the deposit requirement appears in two difference sections of the Copyright Act. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains the vital differences in the two sections, and why the Court’s decision may only have minimal effect.


Court Sends Fan Fiction Writer’s Suit Against Tolkien Estate to Mount Doom

One of the dangers of “fan fiction” is that the author of the work may suddenly decide that a subsequent work by the original author plagiarizes their work. That’s exactly what happened in a recent copyright case in California. The writer of an unauthorized sequel to “The Lord of Rings” sued the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and Amazon asserting that the streaming series “The Rings of Power” infringed upon his work. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a look at what is becoming a more frequent legal action, and what the law has to say about the rights of unauthorized “fan fiction.”