Public Domain

News & Analysis as of

Why FLYING MONKEY WINE Never Got Off the Ground

Continuing our primate theme for this month's newsletter, we thought this would be as good a time as any to remind our readers as to the important distinction between copyrighted artistic works, and use of elements from those...more

The Next Time Your Pet Takes a Selfie...

It has been two years since British nature photographer David Slater first asked Wikimedia Commons to remove several photos of a crested black macaque from its online collection of public domain images. Slater claimed to own...more

Markit to Market - August 2014

The August issue of Sterne Kessler's MarkIt to MarketTM newsletter is all about monkey business, including an analysis of the copyright debate between British photographer David Slater and Wikimedia Commons over "selfies"...more

Judge Posner, I Presume

Over the past several months, Judge Posner and the Seventh Circuit has handed a couple of rare, but well-deserved wins to the public domain. On June 16, 2014, the Court issued an opinion holding that the primary characters...more

Wizard of Oz Celebrates 75th Anniversary & Victory in Copyright and Trademark Dispute Over Film Characters

This August will mark the 75th anniversary of the release of the classic film The Wizard of Oz. As Warner Bros. celebrates the iconic status acquired by the film and its characters during the past seven-plus decades, the...more

Conan Doyle Estate’s Quixotic Attempt to Protect Sherlock Holmes

Led by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently refused what Posner called a “quixotic” attempt to extend copyright law. While the holding was perhaps to be expected, the opinion introduced a...more

The Scope of Copyright Protection over Sherlock Holmes Characters Is Far from “Elementary”

The copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution incentivizes the creation of original works of art by granting authors exclusive rights in such works for “limited Times.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8. The idea is to strike a...more

Plaintiffs Get “Caught Up” in Dismissal of Copyright Lawsuit

These are his “Confessions!” Usher has emerged victorious in a copyright lawsuit involving the song “Caught Up.” In Edwards et al. v. Raymond et al., Plaintiffs Zacharia Edwards, Mitch Moses, and Vince McClean alleged that...more

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the split copyright personality

Between Benedict Cumberbatch’s sly smile on the BBC’s “Sherlock” and Johnny Lee Miller’s haunted recovering drug addict on CBS’ “Elementary,” there’s no shortage of possible Sherlock Holmes’ in modern culture. (Add in Robert...more

US District Judge rules on Sherlock Holmes copyright dispute

On 23 December 2013, US District Judge Ruben Castillo ruled that some key characters in the Sherlock Holmes series created by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle are free for the public to copy without infringing the copyright of Conan...more

Advertising Law -- Jan 16, 2014

FTC Makes New Year’s Resolution to Target Deceptive Weight-Loss Claims - While many Americans made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or get in better shape, the Federal Trade Commission resolved to eliminate...more

Federal Judge Declares Sherlock Holmes Characters in Public Domain. Sort of.

Comedian Dmitri Martin has a great joke about the expression “sort of.” Although normally a fairly meaningless expression, saying “sort of” after certain things suddenly becomes very important. Such as after the phrase “I...more

Felications On The Anniversary Of Your Natal Date

How many times have you sung “Happy Birthday” in your life? Or heard it sung? Now, have you ever wondered whether you (or the hundreds of millions of other people who sing the song) are infringing someone’s copyright in the...more

Happy Birthday…You’re Being Sued!

Have you ever noticed how people rarely sing “Happy Birthday to You” in movies and television? Instead, people usually sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” even though no one actually sings that song in real life. ...more

Why Did Godzilla & James Bond Need Congress' Protection? [Video]

March 18 (Bloomberg Law) -- The Constitution lays it out. "To promote the progress of science and useful arts" we give creators an incentive; an opportunity to profit from their work for "limited times." After that, the...more

New Happy Birthday Song, Copyright-Free  [Video]

That's "It's your Birthday!" by Monk Turner and Fascinoma. If New Jersey radio station WFMU and the Free Music Archive have their way, it will soon replace the most recognized song in the English language, "Happy Birthday...more

2012 Media Year in Review Media Law Bulletin - January 2013

Now that 2013 has arrived, we look forward to a new year of media cases. However, in order to orient ourselves for 2013, it is important to stop and take a look back at some of the relevant entertainment and media cases of...more

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