Browsing articles in "Fair Use"

SOFA Entertainment v. Dodger Productions: is use of a seven second video clip fair use?

A seven second clip of Ed Sullivan introducing the Four Seasons on The Ed Sullivan Show was used in the musical Jersey Boys about the group.  The defendants argued that it used the clip for its historical significance.  The district court agreed and the plaintiff appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals first reviewed the definition of fair use. 17 U.S.C. § 107 states, “[T]he fair use of […]


Harney v. Sony Pictures: Is a recreated photograph copyright infringement?

Plaintiff Donald A. Harney is a professional photographer who took a picture of a father, Clark Rockefeller, and daughter, Reigh Rockefeller, leaving church on April 1, 2007.  The photograph appeared on the front page of the local newspaper and Harney filed a copyright registration for the photograph. In July 2007, Clark Rockefeller kidnapped his daughter during a bitter divorce.  As it turned out, the name Clark Rockefeller was merely an alias and Mr. Rockefeller’s life, a […]


Oracle v. Google – Can you Copyright a Computer Language?

In Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., Case No. C 10-03561 (U.S. Dist. Court, Northern District of California, 2012), Oracle sued Google for copyright infringement for “replicating elements of the structure, sequence and organization of the Java application programing interface.” Like many lawsuits, this one started after negotiations broke down.  Back in 2005 Google attempted to license the Java operating language from Oracle for the Android platform.  When no deal was reached, Google decided to […]


Is the sale of “used” digital tracks music piracy? Capitol Records vs. ReDigi

ReDigi bills itself as the first “online marketplace for pre-owned digital music.”  Users upload their “used” digital music to the ReDigi marketplace for sale.  ReDigi then sells the “used” music for 79 cents, pays the user 10 cents, keeps 69 cents and (according to Capitol Records) pays the record companies nothing. According to the ReDigi website, ReDigi is the world’s first and only online marketplace for pre-owned digital music. Its genius is in its ability […]


Artist sues Green Day, Looses, Slapped with Attorney’s Fees

In 2003 artist Derek Seltzer created a work titled “Scream Icon” show below: Seltzer printed posters and stickers of his art and placed them around Los Angeles on buildings, street signs and other public places.  In 2008, Roger Staub, who would later become a set designer for Green Day, took a photograph of a graffiti wall in Los Angeles that included one of Seltzer’s posters.  The photograph taken by Staub is show below: In 2009, […]


Restricting Software to Certain Hardware is not Copyright Misuse – Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corporation

These days, software is not “sold” it is “licensed.”  Although you bought and paid for the software, you do not own the software and never will.  One of the primary reasons software is licensed is to get around the “first sale doctrine.”  The first sale doctrine allows someone who has purchased a copyrighted product to resell their copy of the product without restriction.  When software is licensed, you typically cannot resell it (which means the […]


Rival Photographer with Similar Style is not Copyright Infringer

Photographer Janine Gordon (“Gordon”) filed a lawsuit against rival art photographer Ryan McGinley (“McGinley”) claiming that McGinley infringed more than 150 of her photographs.  Gordon also sued three galleries that exhibited McGinley’s works and Levi Strauss & Co., which used certain of the McGinley photographs in advertising campaigns. Gordon alleged in her complaint that McGinley’s photographs are substantially similar to hers and, in fact, represent a pattern of infringement. Side-by-side examples were dissected in detail […]


Ninth Circuit Holds that Script Ideas and Concepts Protected by Implied Contract

Ideas and concepts for movies and television shows are not protectable under copyright law.  So if you approach a movie director with a script for the next summer blockbuster and the director takes the ideas and concepts from your script, but passes on the script itself, copyright law will not help you.  The best way to protect yourself is with a written confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement.  But what if you have nothing in writing? This was the […]


Righthaven loses on fair-use defense

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that Judge Mahan orally ruled on Friday March 18, 2011 that the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) was free to re-publish an entire thirty-three paragraph Las Vegas Review Journal article.  This ruling, is one of the first, if not the first, where verbatim copying, without criticism, of a written work in its entirety is allowed based on fair use. Does this mean that any non-profit organization is free to re-publish newspaper articles in their entirety? […]