Tag: Fair Use (page 1 of 3)

Back to the Basics with Copyright Law

Today is the 9th anniversary of the Copyright Corner blog, with the first post (Why Copyright Education?) published back in August of 2009. Since then, we’ve had posts covering a wide-range of issues; from copyright protection for patterns and DMCA exemptions to copyright issues faced by units across OSU Libraries and tips on finding a copyright owner. For this post, we are going back to the basics and looking at some of the fundamentals of copyright law in the United States.

Why do we have copyright?

There are a number of theories on the purpose of copyright. Countries may have laws that encompass one or more of these theories.

One common theory for the purpose of copyright is utilitarian. Under this theory, we provide authors a copyright in the works they create as an incentive to create and disseminate new works. The law is organized to promote the collective welfare of society, but recognizes that unless creators can recoup the costs involved in the creation and dissemination of their works, they won’t produce the works. Copyright gives to authors and creators exclusive rights in the works they create, which in turn allows them to suppress competition for a limited time.

Much of U.S. copyright law seems to align with this theory, with Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution granting Congress the power “to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Rights to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Another theory for the purpose of copyright is the author’s rights theory. Under this theory, the primary purpose of copyright is to recognize and protect the emotional bond between artists and their creations, acknowledging creative works as manifestations and extensions of their author’s personality. Countries whose laws are influenced by this theory may provide moral rights for authors and creators that exist separately from economic rights.

What exactly is copyright and how do you get it?

Copyright is a legal right that allows creators and authors the ability to control certain uses of their works. The owner of a copyright has a number of exclusive rights that are provided under the law (these rights are discussed below).

In the U.S., copyright protects original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression and copyright exists at the moment of fixation. In other words, copyright protection is automatic.

Including a copyright notice (e.g., © 2018 The Ohio State University) is optional for works created today but there can be some advantages to including a notice on your copyrighted work. And registration with the U.S. Copyright Office? That’s also an optional step that provides some important benefits to copyright holders.

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Articles of Interest: July-December 2017

This post highlights articles published in the second half of 2017 with a focus on copyright, especially as it pertains to libraries, higher education, and scholarly communication. Links to the full-text articles are provided when available; [OSU full-text] links will connect authenticated users through The Ohio State University Libraries, while [OA full-text] links point to an open access version of the article that should be available to all users.

Did we miss an interesting article? Please share the citation in the comments!

Copyright

Bailey, J. (2017). How Copyright Law Works for YouTube. Copyright & New Media Law21(4), 5-7. [OSU full-text]

Christou, C. (2017). Copyright in 2018. Information Today34(10), Cover-29. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

McCord, G. (2017). A Few Secrets About Fair Use. Copyright & New Media Law21(4), 8-10. [OSU full-text]

Myers, C., Taylor, T., & Wesolek, A. (2017). An Interview with Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law, Faculty Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship. 2(1), 1‒8. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v1i2.6970. [OA full-text]

Perez, J. E. (2017). Images and the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. Reference Librarian58(4), 229-237. doi:10.1080/02763877.2017.1346495. [OA full-text]

Pike, G. H. (2017). NAFTA and its IP provisions at risk. Information Today, 34(10), 18. [OSU full-text]

Russell, C. (2017). The latest on H.R. 1695/S. 1010. College & Research Libraries News, 78(7), 398. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

Libraries

Butler, B., & Russell, C. (2017). Section 108 revision: Nothing new under the sun. Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship. 2(1), 1‒37. doi.org/10.17161/jcel.v1i2.6972. [OA full-text]

Oltmann, S. s. (2017). Intellectual freedom in academic libraries: Surveying deans about its significance. College & Research Libraries, 78(6), 741-760. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

Vargas, M.A., & Bright, J. (2017). Rev your engines: Racing ahead with mass digitization. Computers In Libraries37(7), 4-8. [OSU full-text]

Publishing & Scholarly Communication

Narayan, B., & Luca, E. (2017). Issues and challenges in researchers’ adoption of open access and institutional repositories: a contextual study of a university repository. Information Research22(4), 1-14. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

Sterman, L. (2017). The enemy of the good: How specifics in publisher’s green OA policies are bogging down IR deposits of scholarly literature. College & Research Libraries News78(7), 372-401. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

Yeates, S. (2017). After Beall’s ‘List of predatory publishers’: Problems with the list and paths forward. Information Research, 22(4), 1-6. [OSU full-text] / [OA full-text]

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By Maria Scheid, Copyright Services Specialist at Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries

Copyright in CarmenCanvas Guide: New resource demonstrates best practices for sharing copyrighted content in Carmen courses

Does your course include movies, text, pictures, or audio that you did not create? Are you planning to share materials you created with your students? To help instructors in the creation of their Carmen courses, we’ve put together the Copyright in CarmenCanvas Guide.  It will help readers understand copyright law, specifically in the context of creating Carmen courses.  While it is not legal advice, it is both a wealth of information and a multi-media demonstration of copyright best practices for sharing content through Carmen.

Readers can begin with the syllabus, gaining a topical overview of the information in each module of the Guide.  The modules in the Guide are in order from most open (materials that may be used in a course without copyright limitation), to most restrictive (materials and uses that will require permission from the copyright owner).  Each module begins with an introduction page describing the topics to be discussed in the module.  After the introduction, each page within a module contains an explanation and one or more demonstrations of best practices relevant to the topic at issue.   A listing of helpful resources is also included within each page, for those seeking more information on the topic. The introduction page of the Guide provides additional resources for those who wish to improve their general understanding of copyright and related issues.

Modules do not need to be completed in any particular order.  However, we do encourage readers to explore all the modules to become familiar with the many options available to course creators as they pull content into their courses.

Whether a reader visits one page, or reviews the entire Copyright in CarmenCanvas Guide, it is a great resource for anyone creating courses at The Ohio State University.

Contact our office with additional questions.

Website: go.osu.edu/copyright

Email:  LIBCopyright@osu.edu

Twitter:  @OSUCopyright

Phone:  614-688-5849

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By Maria Scheid, Rights Management Specialist at  Copyright Services, The Ohio State University Libraries

Articles of Interest: July-December 2016

This post highlights articles published in the second half of 2016 with a focus on copyright, especially as it pertains to libraries, higher education, and scholarly communication. Links to the full-text articles are provided when available; [OSU full-text] links will connect authenticated users through The Ohio State University Libraries, while [OA full-text] links point to an open access version of the article that should be available to all users.

Did we miss an interesting article? Please share the citation!

Copyright

Bailey, L. (2016). How Copyright Law is Promoting Cultural Amnesia. Copyright & New Media Law20(2), 1-5. [OSU full text]

Kristof, C. (2016). Data and Copyright. Bulletin Of The Association For Information Science & Technology42(6), 20-22. [OA full text]

Matulionyte, R. (2016). 10 years for Google Books and Europeana: copyright law lessons that the EU could learn from the USA. International Journal Of Law & Information Technology24(1), 44-71. doi:10.1093/ijlit/eav018 [OA full text]

Menard, G. (2016). Copyright, digital sharing, and the liberal order: sociolegal constructions of intellectual property in the era of mass digitization. Information, Communication & Society19(8), 1061-1076. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1069872. [OSU full text]

Price, D. (2016). Stop Using Our Songs!. Copyright & New Media Law20(3), 5-9. [OSU full text]

Reymond, M. J. (2016). Lenz v Universal Music Corp : Much ado about nothing? International Journal Of Law & Information Technology24(2), 119-127. doi:10.1093/ijlit/eav021 [OA full text]

Tehranian, J. (2016). Constitutionalizing Infringement: Balancing Copyright and Free Speech. Copyright & New Media Law20(3), 1-4. [OSU full text]

Copyright Education

Estell, A., & Saunders, L. (2016). Librarian Copyright Literacy: Self-Reported Copyright Knowledge Among Information Professionals in the United States. Public Services Quarterly12(3), 214-227. doi:10.1080/15228959.2016.1184997 [OA full text]

Jaszi, P., Remington, M., Ivins, O., & Dyas-Correia, S. (2016). Copyright and Intellectual Property: What You Need to Know. Serials Librarian70(1-4), 34-43. [OA full text]

Libraries

Ensign, D. (2016). What is Kirtsaeng and Why You Should Care. Kentucky Libraries80(3), 27-28. [OSU full text]

farrelly, d. (2016). VHS Copyright and Due Diligence. Library Journal141(20), 16. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Miller, R., & Homol, L. (2016). Building an Online Curriculum Based on OERs: The Library’s Role. Journal Of Library & Information Services In Distance Learning103(3/4), 349-359. doi:10.1080/1533290X.2016.1223957 [OSU full text]

Peet, L. (2016). Sci-Hub Sparks Critique of Librarian. Library Journal141(15), 14-17. [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Publishing & Scholarly Communication

Bennett, L., & Flanagan, D. (2016). Measuring the impact of digitized theses: a case study from the London School of Economics. Insights: The UKSG Journal29(2), 111-119. doi:10.1629/uksg.300 [OSU full text] / [OA full text]

Laakso, M., & Lindman, J. (2016). Journal copyright restrictions and actual open access availability: a study of articles published in eight top information systems journals (2010-2014). Scientometrics109(2), 1167-1189. doi:10.1007/s11192-016-2078-z [OA full text]

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By Maria Scheid, Rights Management Specialist at the Copyright Resources Center, The Ohio State University Libraries

 

Copyright Roundup, Part III

Continuing in our copyright roundup series, we will review some of the most recent legal cases and developments in copyright law and policy.

More Fair Use Victories:

Cambridge University Press v. Becker

Fair use has once again prevailed in the most recent decision of the Georgia State e-reserves case. The case, originally filed in 2008, involves Georgia State University’s electronic reserve system, a system through which professors made small excerpts of copyrighted books available to their students for free. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, GSU modified their policy to provide professors with a fair use checklist to assist in selecting excerpts. In 2012, the district court found most of the uses in question to be fair uses. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit held the district court erred by adopting an arithmetic approach to their fair use analysis.  The 2012 trial court ruling was vacated and sent back to the district court with instructions for a more holistic approach to fair use.

On March 31, 2016, the most recent decision from the district court was published, again finding the majority of claims (44 out of the 48) to be fair uses. The court’s analysis was specific to instances of nontransformative and nonprofit educational purposes of teaching. For an analysis of the decision and what it may mean for libraries going forward, see Krista Cox’s post “A Deeper Dive Into the New Georgia State Decision.”

Oracle v. Google

Oracle, owners of the Java programming language, sought $9.3 billion in damages for Google’s reproduction of the structure, sequence, and organization of 37 packages in the Java application programming interface (API) within Google’s Android operating system.[1] After three days of deliberation, a jury found Google’s use of Java APIs to be a fair use, notwithstanding Google’s commercial nature and evidence of internal emails questioning the need to obtain a license.

But what exactly is an API? Defining “API” has been a challenge for both sides throughout the litigation. Google received attention for wheeling in a physical file cabinet labelled “java.lang” in their opening arguments during May’s jury trial, while Oracle previously took the approach of constructing a hypothetical situation referencing Harry Potter. Earlier in its 2012 opinion, the district court outlined the package-class-method hierarchy of the Java programming language, analogizing APIs to a library.  In this analogy, Google replicated the names and functions of the API packages (bookshelves in the library) but wrote their own code to replicate the classes (books on the bookshelves) and methods (how-to chapters of the books).

Terry Reese, Head of Digital Initiatives at University Libraries provides clarification on what exactly an API is and how the restrictions on the use and reproduction of APIs may impact the Libraries. Terry shares, “APIs act as a common language between developers enabling faster and more efficient development.  In essence, they are the bridges between systems and services that allow the tools and technology that we use to simply work.  Take for example, the simple task of printing this blog post.  Think about what’s really happening.  The application (your browser) is communicating with the operating system, which in turn, communicates with a printer device driver to pass the data to the printer.  Very likely, the browser, the operating system, the printer — these are all created by different developers and different companies.  However, the applications and services can communicate together due to the utilization of a common set of APIs.”

The use and reproducibility of APIs supports interoperability between programs and services, and as Terry notes, the fair use of APIs is “hugely important for the long-term health of IT and open development.  Within today’s technology environment, integration between services, applications, standards, etc. drive innovation and integration.  This integration is possible due to the availability of common APIs.”

Oracle has stated their intention to appeal the decision.[2]

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Google Launches YouTube Fair Use Protection Program

On November 19, 2015, Google announced  the launch of a new Fair Use Protection Program, promising to provide legal support for a select group of videos determined by Google to represent “some of the best examples of fair use.”[1] Videos selected for inclusion in the program will be kept live on YouTube in the U.S. and will be featured as strong examples of fair use in YouTube’s Copyright Center. In addition, should the selected videos be subject to a lawsuit for copyright infringement, Google will provide up to $1 million to cover legal fees.[2] In celebration of Fair Use Week 2016, we are looking more closely at the videos Google has selected for inclusion in its Fair Use Protection Program and discussing what impact the program may have for content creators on YouTube.

The Four Factors of Fair Use

Fair use is found in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act and functions to limit the exclusive rights of a copyright owner. If the use of a work is a fair use, no permission is required from the copyright owner to use the work—the law states that a fair use of a copyrighted work is not an infringement of copyright. The law provides a number of different illustrative examples of potential fair uses, including use of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Ultimately, however, it is up to a court to decide if a use is a fair use. Courts consider and weigh four factors in light of copyright’s purpose of promoting science and the arts, in order to make a fair use determination. These four factors include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

You can learn more about these four factors by visiting go.osu.edu/fairuse.

Looking at the Selected Videos

Google selected an initial four videos for inclusion in the Fair Use Protection Program. In viewing the videos, what are some of the factors that may make these four videos stand out to Google as strong examples of fair use?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH6WuBGUkUf8Z_w5jO87qcT4]

 

1. “Raging Citizens/The Simplest Game- Everything is Not Perfect,” a 5 minute video uploaded by Jim Sterling, includes complete trailers from two video games released by MOO Tech: Raging Citizens and The Simplest Game. Included with the two trailers is audio commentary, provided by Mr. Sterling, and a screen shot of negative comments made against MOO Tech on a user forum.

Factors favoring fair use:  Mr. Sterling’s own video served as a criticism of both MOO Tech video games, making his use of the works transformative. The previously published trailers were shown in their entirety in order to comment on the inappropriate inclusion of content, the ambiguous directions provided, and the overall ineffectiveness of the trailers to garner interest in the video games or support the asserted simplicity of the product. While this criticism may cause harm to the market for the video games, this is not the type of harm courts are concerned with under the fourth factor—courts focus on the harm caused by usurping demand rather than the harm caused by suppressing demand.

2. “Speedebunking: Mister UFO,” uploaded by UFOTheater, is a video that features a video clip originally uploaded to YouTube by Mister UFO. The clip in question is alleged live footage of UFO activity. The original clip from Mister UFO, approximately 18 seconds long, is shown multiple times and is accompanied by audio commentary from UFOTheater.

Factors favoring fair use: Like other videos posted on its YouTube channel, UFOTheater used the previously published Mister UFO clip in order to provide criticism of a work they identified as a UFO hoax. While a large majority of the original work was used, such an amount was necessary to support the criticism that the original video was a 100% computer generated shot and not actual live footage. In the new video, clips from the original video were paused and enlarged as UFOTheater directed the viewer’s attention to elements of the recording requiring further analysis. In addition, the name of the original video was provided in the original box, making it easier for others to locate the work.

3. “Questionable questions,” uploaded by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, features short clips of Ohio Channel’s footage of an Ohio House Finance Committee hearing. The clips include testimony from two sixth-grade girls speaking on the issue of funding for arts programs in their school district, as well as responses from select representatives. Clips from two representatives include comments and questions related to the “recruiting” of the girls for potential dating relationships with representatives’ grandsons.

Factors favoring fair use: The clips are used to comment on the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of questions posed by representatives to the girls testifying before the Committee. The clips were punctuated with still frames of text explaining what is happening in the hearing in order to direct the viewers’ attention to the content of the questions being asked. The video ends with a final question; “Can’t girls come before the Ohio General Assembly without facing questions on their marriage prospects?” The hearing video was previously published on the Ohio Channel website and is likely to be considered a more factual-based work. In addition, Ohio Channel’s entire hearing video totaled over five hours, approximately three minutes of which was included in the video uploaded to YouTube by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. A link to the original video was also provided.

4. “Rachel Dolezal White NAACP President Passing As Black,” uploaded by KevOnStage, features a number of pieces of media, including interview footage, copies of photographs, and screenshots of Instragram and Facebook posts. These works are featured alongside video and audio commentary from KevOnStage explaining recent allegations that Rachel Dolezal, a local NAACP chapter president, had lied about her race.

Factors favoring fair use: KevOnStage’s use of previously published copyrighted content was done for the purpose of news reporting, education, and commentary. The inclusion of all of the media was used to establish a pattern of false representation from Ms. Dolezal—she had continuously presented herself as black though it had been revealed by her own parents that she was born white. Use of entire photographs or written posts was needed in some instances to show the full context of the image or message. In other instances, only clips or cropped versions of works were presented, including 30 seconds of a 9 minute interview. KevOnStage also used the content as a basis for future discussion, prompting viewers to provide their own thoughts on the issue.

How Are Content Creators on YouTube Impacted?

YouTube is a platform that provides a way for content creators and users to share creative works that include music, images and videos. The Fair Use Protection Program serves as a useful educational tool for copyright owners whose content has been used by others. As Google acknowledges in their Copyright Center, sometimes takedown requests target videos that are more obvious examples of fair use. While copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights in their copyrighted works, the law carves out many authorized uses that do not require permission from the copyright owners. A fair use of a work is a use that is authorized under the law. And as held recently by the Ninth Circuit, copyright owners must consider fair use before sending a DMCA takedown notice.

Google’s actions are an acknowledgement and affirmation of the importance of fair use in U.S. copyright law and are motivated by the recognition that potential litigation and takedown processes can be confusing and consequently frightening experiences for creators faced with accusations of infringement.

With the large amount of videos uploaded to YouTube every day, Google cannot provide legal protection to all videos that are likely to qualify as a fair use. Google’s selection of a handful of videos, however, provides content users and creators more information and direction on their rights under U.S. law and the important role fair use plays in promoting the purpose of copyright. While fair use is ultimately decided by the court, users may refer to the videos as visual examples of works that encapsulate factors courts have regularly held to favor fair use.

Check out the many Fair Use Week 2016 events by visiting fairuseweek.org and join us on Twitter (@OSUCopyright) for a celebration of fair use throughout the week!

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By Maria Scheid, Rights Management Specialist at the Copyright Resources Center, The Ohio State University Libraries

[1] Fred von Lohmann (2015, Nov. 19). A Step Toward Protecting Fair Use on YouTube. Retrieved from http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2015/11/a-step-toward-protecting-fair-use-on.html.

[2] YouTube’s Fair Use Protection. Retrieved from https://youtube.com/yt/copyright/fair-use.html#yt-copyright-protection.

Copyright Roundup, Part II

In Copyright Roundup Part I we discussed the fair use of an “aesthetically displeasing” photograph, copyright protection for cheerleading uniforms, and copyright ownership for non-human authors. In this post we will discuss the latest development in the Google Books litigation, fair use considerations in issuing DMCA takedown notices, and the public domain status of Happy Birthday to You.

Another fair use win for Google in most recent Google Books lawsuit.

Many of our readers are familiar with the Google Books litigation which began in 2005 when a number of publishers and the Authors Guild brought separate lawsuits against Google for Google’s Library Project.[1]  As part of the project, Google partners with research libraries to digitize works in the participating libraries’ collections. Digital scans of books are indexed and added to Google Books, providing the public with the ability to do full-text searches of terms within the books. Users can use the full-text search function in Google Books to determine how many times a particular term appears in any book within the Google Book collection. Absent an agreement with the copyright owner, Google does not provide the full scans to the public. Users can, however, see snippets of text containing the searched-for terms. Additionally, Google provides a digital copy of the scanned book back to the submitting library.

On October 16, 2015, the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding Google’s digitization activities to be a transformative fair use. In analyzing the fair use factors, the court identified Google’s new purpose in providing otherwise unavailable information about the books, allowing users to identify works that include (and do not include) terms of interest. The court also found the snippet view to add important value to the search function, providing users with the context necessary to determine if the book fell within their scope of interest. While Google is a for-profit company, the Google Books project is provided as a free service without advertising. The court found Google’s ultimate profit motivation was not enough to deny a fair use finding in light of other factors, including its transformative purpose in using the works.

The court held that use of the entire work was reasonably appropriate to achieve the transformative purpose of enabling a full-text search function. For the snippet view feature, Google had a blacklisting process in place to permanently block about 22% of a book’s text from snippet view. In addition, researchers for Authors Guild were only able to access an aggregate of 16% of a text. The fragmented and scattered nature of the snippets results in an insubstantial amount of the work being displayed.

The court held the search and snippet view functions did not serve as a competing substitute for the original works. While snippet view may cause some loss of sales it did not rise to the level of meaningful or significant effect upon the potential market or value of the copyrighted work required to tilt the fourth factor in favor of the Authors Guild.

Finally, the court held that providing library partners with the digital copies of the works in their own collections was not infringing. Whether the libraries would then use the copies for infringing purposes was mere speculation and insufficient to place Google as a contributory infringer.

Why does it matter?

Despite ongoing litigation, Google continued their partnerships with libraries to digitize works in library collections, meaning they faced huge potential costs in damages. Consequently, this decision was a big fair use for Google, partnering libraries, and the public who use Google Books.

In his opinion, Judge Leval emphasized the goal of copyright to expand public knowledge and understanding, making the public, rather than the individual author or creator of a work, the primary beneficiary of copyright. Google’s activities served this goal. Public knowledge was augmented by making available information about the scanned books without serving as a substantial substitute for the copyrighted works.

The Authors Guild has indicated their intention to appeal the ruling but it will be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether they will hear the case.

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Copyright Roundup, Part I

The past few months have seen a number of interesting trials and developments in copyright law. We are providing a two-part Copyright Roundup to summarize those cases you may have missed and to let you know why they are important. In part I, we discuss embarrassing photos, cheerleading uniforms, and monkey selfies.

Blogger’s use of “aesthetically displeasing” photograph of Miami Heat investor still a fair use.

We first covered the facts in the Katz v. Chevaldina case in our blog post, “Copyright as an Instrument for Censorship?”, noting that Mr. Katz had filed an appeal of the district court’s finding that defendant Irina Chevaldina was entitled to summary judgement based on a fair use defense. On September 17, 2015, the 11th Circuit released their opinion, affirming the lower court’s decision. Analyzing the purpose and character of use, the court found every use of the Mr. Katz photo to be primarily educational, rather than commercial (educating others about the nefariousness of Mr. Katz) and use of the photo to be transformative (Chevaldina used the photo to ridicule and satirize Mr. Katz’s character). When considering the nature of the copyrighted work, the court found the previously published photo to be primarily a factual work (the photo was a candid shot and the court found no evidence to establish that the photographer attempted to “convey ideas, emotions, or influence Katz’s expression or pose”.[1] Finally, the use of the photo would not materially impair Katz’s incentive to publish the work—because Katz obtained ownership to prevent publication, there was no market for the original work.

Why does it matter? Katz’s conduct in initiating this lawsuit raised some big questions about the role of copyright law in censoring speech. In this case, Katz’s attempt to use copyright law as a shield against unwanted criticism ended up helping to strengthen Chevaldina’s fair use defense. The court’s central question under the fourth fair use factor was whether Chevaldina’s use of the photo would cause substantial economic harm that would impair Katz’s incentive to publish the photo. By obtaining the copyright in the photo and initiating a lawsuit to prevent publication of the photo, however, Katz demonstrated his desire to stop any use of and access to the photograph. The court held that Chevaldina’s use of the photo did not impair Katz’s incentive to publish the photo because Katz had no incentive to publish the photo and the likelihood of Katz changing his mind was “incredibly remote.”

The court also had an interesting analysis of the factual nature of the photograph. For a thoughtful discussion of this point, read Kevin Smith’s post, “Photography, Fair Use and Free Speech.”

Copyright protection for cheerleading uniforms: Varsity Brands v. Star Athletica

Varsity Spirit Corporation and Varsity Spirit Fashions and Supplies, Inc. (Varsity) designs and manufactures cheerleading apparel and accessories, having received copyright registrations for many of their design sketches. These designs included different combinations and arrangements of stripes, zigzags, chevron, and color blocks. The question on appeal was whether these elements were needed to make a cheerleading uniform or whether the design elements could exist separately from the uniform.

On August 19, 2015, the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision that Varsity’s designs were not physically or conceptually separable from the utilitarian function of the cheerleading uniform, holding that the graphic designs on Varsity’s cheerleading uniforms were separate and therefore copyrightable. The Court distinguished Varsity’s design from dress designs, which typically do not receive copyright protection.

Why does it matter? U.S. copyright does not protect useful articles. Useful articles are articles that have a utilitarian function beyond portraying the appearance of the article or conveying information. To the extent that a work includes a useful function, copyright will only protect those original elements of the work that can be independently separated from the useful function of the work.

Prior to this case, the Sixth Circuit (binding authority for Ohio’s federal district courts) had not adopted an approach for determining separability. After reviewing the approaches taken by other circuits, the Sixth Circuit decided to adopt a hybrid approach to determine if a particular design is a copyrightable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. To make this determination, the following questions must be asked:

  1. Is the design a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work?
  2. If yes, is it a design of a useful article?
  3. If the design is of a useful article, what are the utilitarian aspects of the useful article?
  4. Can the viewer of the design identify pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features separately from the utilitarian aspects of the useful article?
  5. Finally, can the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features of the design of the useful article exist independently of the utilitarian aspects of the useful article?

In answering these questions, the court identified a utilitarian function of a cheerleading uniform to “cover the body, wick away moisture, and withstand the rigors of athletic movements.”[2] The court found that the top and skirt of the uniform could still be identified as a cheerleading uniform even without stripes, chevrons, color blocks, or zigzags. Finally, the interchangeability of the designs indicates the graphic features can exist separately and independently from the utilitarian features of the uniform.

Can a monkey own a copyright?

The “Monkey Selfie” case has taken an additional twist with a new lawsuit brought on behalf of Naruto, the crested macaque. The monkey selfie case began in 2011 when photographer David Slater took a trip to Indonesia and left his camera unattended. A monkey (Naruto) used the camera to take a number of photos of himself grinning into the camera. One self-portrait was reproduced in publications around the world, eventually being added to Wikimedia Commons under the presumption that the work was in the public domain.[3] This prompted Mr. Slater to issue several DMCA takedown notices.

In 2014, Mr. Slater published a book containing copies of the Monkey Selfies, continuing to assert himself as copyright owner of the photographs. Later that year, the Copyright Office revised the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, to clarify that the U.S. Copyright Office would not register works produced by animals, including, for example, “a photograph taken by a monkey.”[4]

On September 21, 2015, PETA filed a copyright lawsuit on behalf of Naruto against Mr. Slater, alleging that Mr. Slater falsely claimed to be the author of the photographs and made unauthorized copies of the works for commercial purposes. The lawsuit seeks an order to permit PETA to administer and protect Naruto’s rights in the photographs, declaring Naruto the author and copyright owner of the works.

Why does it matter? U.S. copyright law does not specify human authorship, though the U.S. Copyright Office has provided guidance on the issue through the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. This case raises a number of interesting questions around how we define, or should define, “author.” If non-human authors are recognized as eligible copyright owners, should lines be drawn? Should the law, for example, provide exclusive rights to machines? And if the author can’t communicate their preferences, should we allow someone to speak on their behalf?

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We will continue our Copyright Roundup in part two, where we will look at some important fair use developments in the Google Books lawsuit and Stephanie Lenz’s “dancing baby” case against Universal Music and answer the question, “is Happy Birthday to You finally in the public domain?”

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By Maria Scheid, Rights Management Specialist at the Copyright Resources Center, The Ohio State University Libraries

 

[1] Katz v. Chevaldina, No. 14-14525 (11th Cir. 2015).

[2] Varsity Brands, Inc. v. Star Athletica, LLC, No. 14-5237 (6th Cir. 2015).

[3] Wikimedia Commons refused to remove the photograph on the basis that Mr. Slater was not the author of the work. Without a human author, Wikimedia Commons argued, the work may not be protected by copyright.

[4] U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of the U.S. Copyright Office Practices (3d ed. 2014) § 313.2.

Copyright in Campaigns

Election Day may still be over a year away but the 2016 Presidential campaign is already underway. As a battleground state, Ohio will experience a lot of political activity over the next 14 months.  Among the anticipated barrage of political ads, full calendar of rallies, and around-the-clock media coverage of campaign activity, we will see our friend: copyright. Copyright protects a wide variety of works—speeches, websites, marketing materials, etc.—so long as the work is original and fixed in a tangible format. This blog will highlight some of the many areas you will see copyright pop up during the campaign season.

Political Speeches:

Original political speeches written by candidates (or speechwriters) receive copyright protection, meaning the author of the speech may exercise control over the reproduction, adaptation, distribution, and performance or display of the speech. Two categories of works are not covered by copyright, however: works that fail to meet the fixation requirement and works created by federal employees within the scope of their employment. This means that speeches made at town hall meetings or political rallies may not be protected by copyright, unless those speeches were recorded or transcribed. It also means that works created by incumbent presidents or U.S. Senators or Representatives, if made within the scope of their employment, lack copyright protection and are free to use. For example, a speech made and recorded by Bernie Sanders within his role as Senator or a report written by Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State may be used without permission. A work created by a non-federal employee (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Had a Dream” speech), however, may still be protected by copyright.

When speeches are televised, the broadcasting entity televising the speech (e.g., CBS, Fox News, C-SPAN, or CNN) may hold a separate copyright in the broadcast recording. This is true even if the speech itself is made by a federal employee within the scope of their employment or is otherwise in the public domain.

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Copyright in the Libraries: eReserves

Note: This blog has been updated to reflect the fact that the eReserves service within the University Libraries has been discontinued.

Copyright touches many library services because we collect, share and loan original works fixed in a wide variety of tangible media. The Copyright Resources Center conducted a series of informational interviews with faculty and staff from various areas of The Ohio State University Libraries to discuss the ways in which they engage with copyright issues. This blog series documents those conversations, and highlights how copyright law helps to shape services provided by the Libraries. See all available posts in the series here.

The Ohio State University Libraries previously provided an eReserves service to assist instructors with uploading supplementary course readings to Carmen (the learning management system used at OSU). Terry Camelford, the Program Coordinator for eReserves, met with me to discuss her team’s work and how they navigated the copyright issues related to eReserves.

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