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Michael Jackson’s estate sues over alleged copyright infringement

Michael Jackson’s estate is suing the Walt Disney Company and ABC TV over federal copyright infringement from the airing of the documentary, The Last Days of Michael Jackson.

According to Rolling Stone, the estate alleges that dozens of copyrighted works, like the songs “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” were used without the estate’s consent. The copyrighted material also included large portions of Jackson’s music videos, video of live performances, documentary footage, and images from the film, Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

Tattoos and IP rights: Whose ink is it anyway?

For tattoo artists whose work appears on people who later become famous, should they be compensated for the use of their art? Or does that opportunity end when the client leaves the studio?

Tattoos are becoming more prevalent, making it more likely that the tattoo someone is creating today could be on a movie poster tomorrow.

What is a copyright?

You may be a painter, songwriter, author, photographer, director or even an architect. No matter what form of art you choose to express yourself, you take great pride in it.

What if someone came along and just took it right from under your nose? What? That would never happen to you, right? Unfortunately, it happens every single day. That is why copyright laws exist: To protect people just like you and your ownership rights. So, what is a copyright exactly? What does it do, and more importantly, how can it protect you?

An experienced attorney can advise you about the copyright laws and your particular rights. However, in general, a copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution. It is granted by law for original works of authorship, fixed in a tangible medium of expression. It covers both published and unpublished works.

A copyright is not the same as a patent or a trademark. The difference is that a trademark protects symbols, designs, words or even phrases, while a patent protects discoveries or ideas.

On copyright, publishing and nom-de-plumes

What do Mary Ann Evans, Eric Blair and Ted Geisel have in common? They are all the real people behind famous pseudonyms (George Eliot, George Orwell and Dr. Seuss respectively.) The pen name is a classic strategy for writers who want to keep their public lives and personal lives separate. However, if you are using a nom-de-plume, what does that mean for copyright?

Although copyright law has grown and changed over the years, writers are always going to be judicious and protective of their privacy. With a pen name to hide behind, a writer can work in anonymity allowing them greater freedom from backlash. It’s a strategy that’s worked for years, and the internet makes anonymity even easier, but there is a huge caveat:

Is graffiti art protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act?

By its very nature, graffiti art is often public, immovable and temporary. And the artists that specialize in this medium frequently believe that these characteristics make graffiti art exempt from copyright protection. However, a recent ruling issued by a U.S. District Court judge could signal a major shift in the way that graffiti art and the artists that create it are protected under federal law.

In the ground-breaking case decided on February 12th, 21 graffiti artists in New York were awarded $6.7 million in statutory damages  when the owner of the building that the graffiti art adorned painted over the artworks. U.S. District Judge Frederic Block held that the 45 pieces of graffiti on Queens' 5Pointz warehouses were subject to the protections offered by the Visual Artists Rights Act thanks to their "recognized stature."

Emojis, emoticons and intellectual property law

From t-shirts to movie posters to print advertisements, emojis and emoticons have made their way into a wide variety of commercial applications. The creative and marketing potential offered by these eye-catching and youthful images and text strings may be vast, but their newness also means that intellectual property lawyers are facing unique copyright and trademark issues regarding their use.

What exactly are emojis and emoticons?

Will Congress once again extend the copyright term?

Want to protect your intellectual property or make use of someone else's IP for artistic purposes? If you're planning on doing so in California or another U.S. state, Congress could end up making things harder than you anticipate. Here's a quick look at the term (or length) of a copyright, the evolution of the copyright term and how another change in the copyright term could impact you.

The copyright term in simple terms

Nondisclosure Agreements In Light Of The Weinstein Scandal

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal-as well as other recent sexual harassment accusations against a wide range of public figures-non-disclosure agreements have come under scrutiny. While NDAs can be used for good-protecting company secrets, for instance-they can also have a chilling effect on an employee's willingness to report instances of harassment and abuse at the hands of senior executives.

After avoiding such allegations for years, companies are now facing closer scrutiny for allowing these practices to continue in secret under the guise of enforceable NDAs. Indeed, there is now movement to place clearer restrictions on the use of NDAs in California workplaces. 

3 Questions To Ask When Licensing Your Intellectual Property

Companies interested in leveraging market trends rely on intellectual property licenses to protect their rights and interests. These IP licenses constitute the very backbone of entrepreneurial and corporate profitability. Unfortunately, far too many IP firms base their client's needs on lazily constructed templates that may not fully articulate the nuances of the specific intellectual property.

This cookie-cutter approach cannot appreciate the full breadth of the rights, exclusivity, length of agreement or how to realize the client's goals. Creating a formidable IP license agreement requires individualized and strategic planning by legal counsel. Consider these three critical questions when crafting an IP license. 

Are Ideas Getting More Expensive?

In terms of U.S. productivity growth, optimists and pessimists may disagree on a whether renewed resources and innovation are just around the corner. But the one thing they should agree on is that new ideas are getting more expensive.

Consider that during the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. and Europe enjoyed productivity prosperity to the tune of 4 percent annual growth. Those numbers took a nosedive in the 2010s, spiraling down to the 2 percentiles. Every time a pessimist declares that the finite amount of oil or another resource has been tapped, deep offshore and shale discoveries prove them wrong. But the glass half empty side of those discoveries is that these ideas and innovations seem to be coming at a higher cost.

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