Category Archives: Intellectual Property

Copyright Issues for Artists Discussion & Reception

The UW Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, in collaboration with Absolutely Art, is sponsoring a discussion on copyright issues for artists on Tuesday, June 28th, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.  The discussion will be followed by a reception showcasing five talented local artists.

Featured artists include: Doug Hoffman, Jesy Grose, The Moxie League, Dane Arts Mural Arts & SAIL West Students, Monica Urbanic and Magda Bowen. There will also be a jewelry trunk show featuring Phrannie Lyons.

The Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic is located in the @1403 building at 1403 University Ave, 2nd floor.  Please RSVP on this event page.  Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

CA District Court Invalidates “Happy Birthday” Copyright

Yesterday, a U.S. District Court for the Central District of California judge ruled that the long-claimed copyright in the song, “Happy Birthday” is invalid.

From the New York Times:

The decision, by Judge George H. King of United States District Court in Los Angeles, is a blow to the music publisher Warner/Chappell and its parent company, the Warner Music Group, which have controlled the song since 1988 and reportedly still collect some $2 million annually in licensing fees for it.

If the judge’s ruling stands, “Happy Birthday to You” would become part of the public domain. “Since no one else has ever claimed to own the copyright, we believe that as a practical matter, this means the song is public property,” said Mark C. Rifkin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.



Lenz v. Universal ruling: Fair Use must be considered…even with a dancing baby.


Today the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in favor of Stephanie Lenz in a Fair Use case that may have long-reaching consequences.

In 2007, Lenz posted a 29 second video to Youtube of her baby dancing and bouncing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy”. Universal, at the time the owner of the copyright on that song, sent Youtube a request to have it removed since they claimed it violated copyright.

Now, after an extended legal tussle, the 9th circuit has come down with a pro-fair use decision,  with Circuit Judge Richard Tallman writing (for the 3-0 panel) that:

“Copyright holders cannot shirk their duty to consider in good faith and prior to sending a takedown notification – whether allegedly infringing material constitutes fair use,”

Copyright holders, following this ruling, may be held much more accountable (and perhaps legally liable) if they do not take fair use into account when issuing take-down orders. It seems that there may be a smaller amount of these orders sent out in the future if this decision holds up.

For more on the ruling and it’s potential implications, read Thomson Reuters review of the case and decision.

Click here to read or download the decision itself.


Search for Fair Use Cases using the US Copyright office’s new index

Copyright and it’s component Fair Use, are two of the stickiest and (at least for me!) most headache-inducing areas of law. There are so many shades of gray and changes that it can be difficult to follow whether the use of an image or video is allowed or not and under what circumstances something can be used.

Hopefully the US Copyright’s office new Fair Use Index will help make the issue a little bit clearer. Users can search cases that deal exclusively with Fair Use and quickly see how the decision has been rendered (if Fair Use was found or not). You can narrow your search by jurisdiction and, importantly, by format (text, audio, computer, etc).

You can check out the Fair Use Indexes searching capabilities here on their website and read the US Copyright Office’s press release here.

Remember that the use of the index does not constitute legal advice, but does give users a better idea of the recent developments in Fair Use. Thanks to the UW Law Library’s Government Documents librarian, Margaret Booth for alerting us to this new resource!

Is It Protected By Copyright?

Unsure whether a work is protected under copyright or is available in the public domain?
Check out the nifty slider in which tells you the copyright status by year and whether permission is needed. The slider is published by Michael Brewer & the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
Cornell University offers more detail in its table, Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States. It is organized by Type of Work and Copyright Term.
Hat tip to my colleague Nancy Paul and Luther College.

A Fair(y) Use Tale – Copyright Explained by an Unwitting Cast of Familiar Characters

From Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society:

Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.

I thought that this was great – a nice little lesson on copyright delivered in a fun, albeit ironic, fashion. Thanks to my husband for passing it on to me.