Every year on January 1st, various copyright skeptics assemble to sing the praises of works going into the public domain, and indeed call for celebrations! Because of this phenomenon you can now thrill to the sight of Winnie the Pooh in a swimming pool, decapitating a screaming young girl with an axe. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the so-called “benefit” of works passing into the public domain and asks: Does the new author actually “build” on the work they are copying from? Or do they merely use the famous work as an attention getting device and avoid, as the Supreme Court has said “ the drudgery of having to work up something fresh”?
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We are instructed from the earliest age that you can’t compare apples to oranges. Yet, in the never-ending quest to grant copyright to artwork created by artificial intelligence, we get just that argument– and more. A piece of fruit, or in the alternative, a calf birthed by a cow, is compared to an intangible intellectual property right, in this case, a copyright. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes on this novel argument as well as the contention, that despite not being a sentient being, a machine can transfer a copyright to the machine’s owner.
It’s about time for the myth of the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” to take its final bow. Of course it was never true, but that did not stop people from ginning up publicity by declaring that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, passed in 1998, was all about protecting the property of Disney and particularly Mickey Mouse. And when that expired, they claimed that Disney was fully prepared to DO IT AGAIN, and receive a further extension. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains why the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” was a myth, and continues to be a myth, and that “Steamboat Willie” will enter the public domain on January 1, 2024, right on schedule.
When visiting the Sistine Chapel in Rome, visitors are told two things: no talking and no photographs. Yet, just up the road in Milan, visitors are allowed to take pictures of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which is in much worse shape than the Sistine Chapel ceiling. So why the “no photos” edict? According to our tour guide, the Vatican in part paid for the restoration of the artwork by assigning the copyright in the Sistine Chapel ceiling to the restoration company. Really? Copyright? In a series of paintings that are 500 years old? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., digs into this story to find out what’s fact and what’s fiction about this most famous series of paintings.
Choreography is protected by the Copyright Act. Yet, lawsuits alleging copyright infringement in dance routines are rare. Perhaps the reason why was revealed last week where a recently filed suit over dance moves incorporated into the video game Fortnite failed to make it past a motion to dismiss. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains the reason why it is that the copyright extends to the entire work, not individual dance steps or poses.
If you’ve led a particularly interesting life, perhaps you have written a memoir or completed an autobiography. Later on, much to your horror you discover someone has now taken the facts of your life and turned them into a movie or TV series. “Wait! It’s my life!” you might say. But do you “own” the facts of your own life? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains why the copyright principle of “no one can have a copyright on a fact” limits your legal recourse in this instance.
Suppose that as a building owner you discover an entire side of your building is now covered in graffiti. When you try to paint over it, the graffiti artists object contending that you have no right to do so, and their “art” is protected by the VARA or Visual Artists Rights Act section of the Copyright Act. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines two cases involving graffiti, and explains why two courts came to very different conclusions.
Suppose you discover that someone is infringing your copyright. Suppose further, much to your horror, they have been doing so for years. The copyright statute has a three year statute of limitations, of which your infringements stretch far beyond that period. Are you out of luck? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines a new ruling from the 9th Circuit and discovers: it depends where you file suit.
Last week, Senator Josh Hawley introduced a bill to vastly reduce copyright terms, in the future, and most surprisingly, retroactively. The bill was quickly denounced as unconstitutional, since its “too clever by half” structure insured that only one company would be affected: The Walt Disney Company. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the text of the bill and its Constitutional flaws, and finds that Senator Hawley had failed to take into account one huge factor: if successful, his bill would put the American taxpayer on the hook for billions, if not trillions of dollars of “just compensation” payable to the Walt Disney Company.
On April 26, 2022, the District Court in the Southern District of New York issued a rather remarkable ruling. Unremarkable was the amount of damages that was awarded, also unremarkable was that a permanent injunction was issued. What was remarkable was that the injunction also ordered ISP’s to block access to the site, now and in the future to all new URL’s the pirate site might hide under. It also ordered VPN’s (virtual private networks) and CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) like the notorious Cloudflare, not to assist the Defendants in avoiding the injunction, and most remarkably ordered credit card companies and payment assisters, like PayPal, to withhold money due to the pirate site and pay it to the Plaintiffs. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a deep dive inside the precedent setting ruling.