Tag: copyright

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I should begin by saying I have a love/hate relationship with the Copyright statute.  I love the fact that written and photographic work is protected; I hate the fact that the protection is limited for the average content creator by the need to hire and pay attorneys.  Sometimes the law fulfills its objectives, and sometimes […]

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On Copyright and Using Photos You Found on the Internet


Use of this copyrighted photo is covered by fair use. So there.

A Federal court recently ruled that the use of a photo some guy found on the Internet was covered by fair use. The newsworthy bit isn’t that you can now go grabbing photos willy-nilly, it’s that anyone at all got off by claiming fair use on an Internet photo. It makes for a pretty good vehicle for considering what fair use means and what it ought to mean. One quick note before I get into it: this article is really excellent and I scalped most of my links off of them.

Blurred Lines: Are Music Copyrights Becoming Patents?


Without patents or copyrights, “idea space” would be a commons. “Idea space” is the realm of potential ideas. A patent and a copyright both permit their owner to declare a region of “idea space” his own private property for a period of time, but under different terms. A copyright encloses a particular expression of an idea and was originally intended to prevent, well, copying during the duration of the copyright. A patent encloses not just one particular expression of an idea, but the idea itself, declaring all other expressions of the same idea, whether they’re copies or not, off-limits for the duration of the patent. A patent is thus a much broader right than a copyright, enclosing a far larger region of the intellectual commons than does a copyright; consequently, a patent inhibits others’ right to stake their own claim in idea space much more than a copyright does.

Copyrights have been expanding. Complaints about the increasing length of the copyright period are common. More problematic, though, is copyrights’ increasing breadth. As a copyright expands to inhibit expressions which aren’t fairly obviously copies, it becomes more like a patent in its scope, enabling rent-seeking and inhibiting creativity. This appears to be happening in the music industry. In March 2015, the creators of the hit “Blurred Lines” were convicted of infringing the copyright on Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” This is a blow to unoriginal songwriters everywhere. Worse, it does a lot of collateral damage in the process. As a “Blurred Lines” defense attorney put it, “This ruling elevates ‘groove’ and ‘feel’ to the level of copyright infringement.” Forensic musicologists and lawyers can expect to profit from such expansion, but artists – and listeners – can expect to suffer.

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I was showing the family an old comedy starring the inimitable Mr. Eddie Murphy. Then it was over; then came the news, where the local PM under indictment or in the environs thereof told some EU gathering about transparency in government. Then an advertisement on TV for a newspaper: Buy this rag / tabloid & you’ll […]

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Religious Bigotry on Parade in the Ninth Circuit


One of the worst copyright rulings in history, even by Ninth Circuit standards, has finally been reversed by an en banc decision written mercifully by Judge Margaret McKeown. This was a hot topic on my radio show when it first came down. You all know the story.

The White House’s false narrative about the cause of the Benghazi raid on the American Embassy resulting in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher J. Stevens. Sean Smith, Tyrone Snowden Woods, and Glen Anthony Doherty. Hillary Clinton and the White House of course blamed the disrespect of the prophet Muhammad in the film “Innocence of Muslims” for the action, which of course was a scandal because that was not the cause, and she and the White House knew this.

The “Blurred Lines” Trial as Redistribution of Wealth


The “Ick” Factor

Since I do Los Angeles radio show on entertainment law, I’ve been asked by a few news outlets to voice my opinion on the copyright infringement case pitting the Marvin Gaye Estate against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. But who cares about my opinion when we have Richard Epstein and John Yoo? I was thrilled when I heard Troy Senik introduce the topic on the most recent episode of Ricochet’s Law Talk podcast, but who got it right? Richard seems to be close to the age of the jurors in the case. This is the generation of “all this music sounds the same.” (Full disclosure: I’m close to joining that generation myself). John expressed the view that jurors shouldn’t even be allowed to decide these cases.

What’s the Proper Conservative Position on Copyright Duration?


Newspaper_advert_copyright_patent_and_trade_mark-318x330Who should conservatives side with in the battle between those who favor extended governmental protection for copyrights as the promotion of private property vs. those who believe that too much protection hurts consumers? Steven Tapp makes a strong argument in National Review that we should favor the former:

From the words and deeds of the Founders to the rulings of the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts, it is clear that the American free-market system is designed to promote private-property rights, including copyright, as the best engine of economic growth and freedom of expression.The public domain has its place as a venerable and valuable aspect of copyright law and reasonable people can and do disagree about the best way to write copyright law. But proposals to slash the duration of copyright to expand “public property” simply aren’t conservative.

Tapp is writing in response to a recent proposal by Derek Khanna, self-professed spokesman for conservatives on copyright issues: