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Creative Commons in Action – Applying non-commercial and derivative work provisions

Mark Sableman March 30, 2017

As Creative Commons licenses are more widely used, questions are developing about how to use them, and how they apply in particular situations. READ MORE

Photographer hits retailer over photo of player hitting Joey Bats

Mike Nepple March 20, 2017
Rougned Odor hitting Jose Bautista

A Texas-based photographer has sued a sports media website for allegedly selling copies of his copyrighted photo of an infamous scuffle at second base between pro baseball players Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista. READ MORE

When good copyright laws go bad: Indictment lays out porn ‘trolling’ scheme

Mark Sableman March 8, 2017
illustration of a man with money held over his mouth

What happens when you use legitimate means to achieve despicable ends? In the case of two attorneys at the center of a high-profile copyright enforcement scheme involving pornographic movies, you end up on the receiving end of a federal indictment. READ MORE

9th Circuit opens door to damages against retailers carrying infringing works

Justin Mulligan November 29, 2016
large boom box

Under copyright law, “statutory damages” are generally limited to a single award per infringed work, regardless of how many copies were made. Under a recent 9th Circuit decision, however, multiple damage awards per infringed work are permissible in some cases. READ MORE

Trump Skittles tweet illustrates photo copyright hazards

Mike Nepple October 31, 2016
Halloween candy

Even Halloween candy and political messages can implicate copyright law, as Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles tweet illustrates. The actions taken by the photographer illustrate the two most common steps available to photographers whose works are infringed on the Internet. READ MORE

Beyoncé’s copyright case was destined for dismissal

Mark Sableman September 29, 2016
Beyonece 2016 Formation Tour

A famously learned federal judge sprinkled his high-profile dismissal of a copyright claim against Beyoncé with pop culture references to Taylor Swift, "Ghostbusters," and Oscar Wilde, along with some hard lessons for plaintiffs who overreach with their copyright claims. READ MORE

In Pegasus-related copyright suit, judge sidelines as art critic

Mark Sableman September 19, 2016
Pegasus by James Croak

The analysis in an art copyright case can sound like a class discussion in Art Appreciation 101. Take the case of Croak v. Saatchi & Saatchi, which could also be called Pegasus I v. Pegasus II. READ MORE

Street artist’s copyright infringement claims against Starbucks dismissed

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An artist’s copyright infringement suit alleging that a Starbucks Frappuccino advertising campaign infringed her copyrights has been dismissed, on the ground that the campaign didn’t appropriate the “total concept and feel” of the artist’s works. READ MORE

Fox News fair use claim for Facebook post of 9-11 image remains unresolved

Mike Nepple July 7, 2016
In Focus_default blog

Earlier this year, just hours before beginning jury selection, Fox News settled a copyright dispute regarding its use of Thomas Franklin’s iconic photograph, “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero,” thus leaving its fair use argument unresolved. READ MORE

Is appropriation art ‘fair use’?

In Focus_default blog

The artist Richard Prince, who is sometimes known as the #PrinceofAppropriation, claims that copyright law protects the artistic style he calls “appropriation art.” Photographer Donald Graham filed suit against Prince, alleging Prince infringed the copyright in Graham’s photograph. READ MORE

Signer with remorse seeks to avoid ‘unrestricted’ photography release

Mark Sableman June 2, 2016
In Focus_default blog

We’ve handled multiple cases of photographers who signed releases or licenses, but nonetheless later claimed that use of his or her photograph, by the licensee, constituted copyright infringement. READ MORE

Can you make an infringement claim over thumbnail images?

Mike Nepple May 12, 2016
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In an interesting twist, the publisher named the law firm that gave them a fair use opinion letter as a third-party defendant. Essentially, the publisher claims that if it is liable to the Times because the thumbnails weren’t fair use, then its law firm is liable for giving it bad fair use advice. READ MORE

Illegality doesn’t negate copyright protection

Mark Sableman April 21, 2016

Given the breadth of copyright protection, which was established more than a century ago in a Supreme Court case involving low-art circus posters, courts do not evaluate the merits of art or other creative content, so long as it meets a fairly low threshold of creativity. READ MORE

Tank-topped photos subjects don’t meet standard of ‘substantial similarity’

Mark Sableman April 21, 2016
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How much of a photo must be taken in order to meet the copyright standard of “substantial similarity”? According to a district court in New York, you need more than a man standing in front of a crowd, wearing a white tank top, with his arms stretched out to the side. READ MORE

Done properly, can a Creative Commons license make for an easy defense?

Mark Sableman April 21, 2016

An infringement claim can be easy to assert – the plaintiff just shows ownership of a valid copyright, and the copying of his or her work. But in some cases the defense can be even easier. READ MORE

Has Jeff Koons learned to play fair with copyright works?

Justin Mulligan April 21, 2016
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Koons is no stranger to allegations that his art infringes others’ copyrights. He often uses pre-existing images to comment on contemporary culture, and that kind of work carries inherent infringement risks. READ MORE