Public Domain

News & Analysis as of

Lawyer Sues DDTC Over "Public Domain"

A New York City attorney is suing the U.S. State Department over a proposed change to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The change pertains to how the regulations define “public domain,” and, if...more

Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl”: a Derivative Work with a Co-Author

On January 1, 2016, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Joseph Goebbels’ diaries will both enter the public domain in most of Europe, where the term of protection ends 70 years after the death of a work’s author. One of the Nazi’s...more

Happy Birthday to All

On September 22, 2015, a California district court issued an opinion that may change birthday celebrations forever. In Rupa Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., the court held that Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. does not own a...more

Monkeying with Copyrights: Who Owns the Monkey Selfies? A Lesson in Copyright Ownership

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of a crested macaque monkey, who famously snapped a smiling selfie of himself using wildlife photographer David...more

Intellectual Property: Happy Birthday to You (10/15)

If you have ever been to a Chili’s restaurant, odds are you have heard this birthday jingle. Perhaps you have also heard different birthday greetings at other chain restaurants. More likely than not, you have not heard any...more

Music Publisher Caught in Birthday Suit

In 2013, Good Morning to You Productions Corp., Rupa Marya and Robert Siegel (collectively “GMTY”) filed a class action suit against Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., one of the largest music publishing companies in the world and...more

Rupa Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music Inc. - USDC, Central District of California, September 23, 2015

District court grants plaintiffs summary judgment, holding that defendants never acquired rights in and do not own valid copyright to lyrics of “Happy Birthday to You.” In 1893, the Hills assigned their rights to the...more

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Post-Patent Expiration Royalties

Fifty years ago, in Brulotte v. Thys Co., the U.S. Supreme Court held that “a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement that projects beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se.” 379 U.S. 29, 32 (1964). On June...more

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US: Court Rules That Happy Birthday to You is In the Public Domain

In a prior blawg post, I wrote about the then-recently filed case of Good Morning To You Productions Corp. v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in which the issue was whether or not the song, Happy Birthday To You, is still...more

THIS IS JUST BANANAS: PETA Files Suit Over Monkey Selfie

In a prior blawg post, I discussed the strange case involving British nature photographer, David Slater, and his claims of ownership over a photo “selfie” that had been “taken” by a monkey (the “Monkey Selfie”) and were...more

Copyright Strategies for Start-Up Companies

As a leader of a start-up company, you are probably aware of the importance of protecting your company’s innovative products, services and technologies through patent filings. If you are savvy, you are also aware of the...more

District Court Finds No Valid Copyright in “Happy Birthday” Lyrics

A U.S. District judge for the Central District of California has determined that Warner/Chappell Music Inc. does not own a valid copyright to the lyrics of the song “Happy Birthday.”...more

California Court Rules No Copyright Protection for “Happy Birthday to You”

This week, in Rupa Marya, et al. v. Warner/Chappel Music, Inc., et al., No. CV 13-4460-GHK (C.D. Cal. Sept. 22, 2015), U.S. District Judge George H. King ruled that defendant Warner/Chappel Music has no enforceable copyright...more

It’s Illegal to Sing Happy Birthday?

Some years ago, Aaron Sorkin (bar none the greatest television writer of all time) spent a few minutes of an episode of Sports Night making light of the fact that the song “Happy Birthday” is outside the public domain....more

Does Arizona Have a Revenge Porn Law?

Modern technology has given birth to a host of crimes that did not exist just a decade ago. Revenge porn is one of those crimes. As an Arizona revenge porn criminal defense attorney, I am consistently asked whether or not...more

Upcoming EU Copyright Reform

It does not happen often to see European Institutions agreeing on a common strategy. Yet, the strong political will around the need to create a single market for digital content moved this item to the top of the agenda of the...more

Who’s on First? Depends if Fair Use is on Second and Public Domain is on Third

Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” brings back memories of my seventh-grade talent show where I performed the routine with Brandon Berry at Atascocita Middle School. I can’t remember if we won second or third place —...more

Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, Inc. v. Cole - USDC, D. Oregon, March 18, 2015

District court holds defendants willfully infringed plaintiff’s copyright in animated film, finding defendants acted recklessly by manufacturing film without searching Copyright Office’s records, and by concluding that film...more

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - and Maybe $150,000!: Helpful Hints and Guidelines on the Use of Internet Images

A bank manager decides to update the bank’s website. The IT manager assigned the project wants to include photographs and images to enhance the information on the website. The IT manager uses several photographs from the...more

Fourth Circuit Clarifies Meaning of False Claims Act’s “Public Disclosure” Bar

In an important decision regarding the False Claims Act’s much-litigated “public disclosure” bar, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently concluded that the disclosure of reports and audits to...more

Judge Posner Orders Sherlock Holmes Estate to Pay Attorneys’ Fees for “Form of Extortion”

Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. - In another scathing opinion against the Sherlock Holmes estate, Judge Richard A. Posner ordered the estate to pay attorneys’ fees for bringing “nonexistent copyright claims” as a...more

“Free Sherlock” Litigation Raises Specter of Antitrust Liability for Distributors Cooperating With Intellectual Property Owners

Leslie Klinger, noted Sherlock Holmes scholar and lawyer, has waged a nearly all-out legal offensive against the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle over the Estate’s assertion of a copyright in connection with certain works...more

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

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