On December 19, 2020, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals definitively ruled that the Dr. Seuss-Star Trek “mash-up” titled "Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go" was not fair use. Specifically, the 9th Circuit ruled that Boldly was not a “parody” of multiple works of Dr. Seuss, was not a “transformative” use and that all four fair use factors favored Dr. Seuss. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a detailed look at this important decision.
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Copyright in a Technical Drawing Protects the Drawing, not the Technique
If someone copied your technical drawings, that would be copyright infringement, since drawings are protected by the Copyright Act. But what if they didn’t copy your drawings? What if they made devices based upon your design contained in the drawings? Would this be infringement? This was the question before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last week. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines the law and the facts of this highly unusual case and finds that once again, in the realm of copyright, “it’s not what you said, but how you said it” that gets the necessary legal protection.
It’s My Copyright…And I’ll Do What I Want To
Why is there the constant push by anti-copyright forces to assert that regardless of the fact that a copyright is your personal property, and something you should absolutely control, that for various absurd reasons, you should not 100% control how it is used? The latest is a proposal from a Stanford Law Professor that argues that works that are not being actively exploited should be available to the public under the doctrine of fair use. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., reviews the case law on the assertion of “use it or lose it” as it applies to copyright, and asks how is the forced divestiture of rights by copyright owners congruent with the concepts of property rights and personal freedom?
Facts Are Facts, And We Mean It!
The 9th circuit has come firmly down against one of copyright’s more curious dilemmas: namely, claiming that a purely “factual” work nevertheless contains some elements of fiction. This admission is necessary to sue for copyright infringement, since facts are not protected by copyright under 17 USC 102, but works of original expression are. The Court has now issued a bright line ruling: If the Work is held out as being true, the author cannot later claim the contrary. The Court calls this principle the “asserted truths doctrine.” Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines this controversy over the Broadway play "Jersey Boys," and finds that once you say "it's a fact," you're stuck with it.
What Makes This Song Valuable?
Streaming was supposed to save the music business. It hasn’t. Fourteen years into the Spotify experience, music industry revenues are still stuck at half the amount they were in 1999. Spotify provides millions of songs at your fingertips, all for free. Is this why the public thinks all music should be free? Does the public know how much works goes into creating a great song? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., tears apart a great song, Maroon 5's "Misery," track by track, to show why all this hard work should make the song valuable, not just a trifle.
Buzz Kill! Court Affirms Buzzfeed’s Liability for Removing Copyright Information from Photograph
You would think that an news organization as well known as BuzzFeed, and a reporter with over 1,000 stories to his credit, would know how to do something as simple as licensing a news photograph. For whatever reason, in one case they did not get a license, and removed the photographer's credit in the process. For its part, BuzzFeed contends that the portion of the DMCA that prohibits the removal of this information does not apply to them. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., explains this novel "case of first impression" and why the decision is important to artists of all kinds.
Can My Co-Writer Copy from Our Joint Work?
It's not often that a songwriter is accused of ripping off one of their own songs. But Grammy winning artist Lizzo is accused of just that. The case of Jefferson v. Raisen has brought the issue to the forefront, in a battle over who are the writers of the Grammy winning hit “Truth Hurts.” It is claimed that Lizzo co-wrote a song titled "Healthy," parts of which were later incorporated into the Grammy winning song "Truth Hurts," without crediting the original writers. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., examines this very unusual case, and the equally surprising ruling.
Sorry, but Downloading Porn Does Not Give You Additional Legal Rights
What if a Judge refused to hear your copyright infringement case because he didn't like your movie? Or that he thought you filed "too many" infringement lawsuits? This is the exact situation that happened recently in a District Court in Washington D.C. But now, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has heard the appeal and reversed the District Court. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., details the major points of the Court's ruling that "[b]asic copyright principles establish that a plaintiff’s ability to defend its copyrights cannot turn on a court’s subjective view of the copyrighted material."
From Russia, With Piracy: Russian Website Operator Must Defend U.S. Lawsuit
Many pirate sites operate outside the United States, though they traffic in huge amounts of U.S. works. They know that U.S. Copyright law does not have any extra-territorial effect. By setting themselves up in a foreign country, they attempt to insulate themselves from the ability for U.S. companies to drag them into court in the U.S. At the same time, they make their websites attractive to U.S. residents, accept plenty of traffic from them, and sell advertising directed at U.S. residents. But, after this important court ruing, this may change. Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a look at the ruling in UMG Recordings v. Kurbanov, and why the old adage of "follow the money" allows the U.S. courts to rope in foreign pirates.
A Deeper Dive into the Copyright Office’s Section 512 Report
When the Copyright Office released its report on Section 512 of the DMCA on May 21, 2020, it largely concluded that the law was not working as intended, and that “Congress’ original intended balance has been tilted askew.” This conclusion did not sit well with the websites, ISP’s and OSP’s. And at 198 pages and 1041 footnotes, it’s a lot to unpack. In the intervening month, plenty has been written about the report. But what about the parts that didn't make the headlines or the bullet points? Nova Southeastern University's Copyright Officer, Stephen Carlisle, J.D., takes a "deeper dive" into the report to discuss "submission bots," standardizing the take-down process, and why nobody can figure out what "red flag" knowledge really means.