University of Michigan Law School
4 hours - Jessica Litman
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- Julie E. Cohen, Lydia Pallas Loren, Ruth Gana Okediji & Maureen A, O'Rourke, COPYRIGHT IN A GLOBAL INFORMATION ECONOMY (4th edition 2015)
- A copy of the Copyright statute available to purchase (for $8) here; available to download for free (but you will need to print it out, and it’s long) here, here, or here; and available to read online here
Copyright reference sources on the Internet:
- The copyright statute: Title 17 of the US Code (current as of July, 2015)
- United States Copyright
- Another copy of the copyright statute (current as of December, 2011) and recently enacted amendments
- The Compendium of Copyright Office Practices (3d edition 2014)
- Recent Copyright Office Studies:
- Copyright and the Music Marketplace (February 2015)
- Orphan Works and Mass Digitization (June 2015)
- The Making Available Right in the United States (February 2016)
- Resale Royalties: An Updated Analysis (December 2013)
- Copyright Small Claims (September 2013)
- List, with links, of current, ongoing studies
- Primary Sources on Copyright: 1450 to 1900
- Professor Laura Gassaway's Chart: "When Works Pass Into the Public Domain"
- Terry J. Carroll's 2002 Copyright F.A.Q.
- Rob Kasunic's Copyright Law and Litigation Resource (including a copy of the 1909 Copyright Act)
- Authors Alliance Guide to Understanding Open Access
- Spider Robinson's 1983 short story: Melancholy Elephants
- U.S. Government Executive Branch resources:
- U.S. Department of Justice Intellectual Property Task Force
- White House Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator
- U.S. Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force 2013 Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Digital Economy with links to comments submitted in response to the Report, and 2016 White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages
- U.S. National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center("Protection is Our Trademark")
- U.S. Trade Representative Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation
- Resources hosted by universities:
- USC/Columbia Music Copyright Infringement Resource collection of MIDI files, MP3 files, and partial scores from songs involved in infringment cases
- Stanford University Library Copyright & Fair Use Site
- Stanford University Library Copyright Renewal Database
- Columbia Law School's KeepYourCopyrights.org resource for creators
- yin and yang: The University of Michigan Library Copyright Information site and the University of Michigan Digital Copyright Compliance site
- Duke Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain
- Harvard Berkman Center’s Lumen project
- Berkeley Law Scholarship Repository: Copyright Principles Project: Directions for Reform (2010)
- University of Pennsylvania Digital Library Online Books Page: Information about the Catalog of Copyright Entries
- University of New Hampshire IP Mall (scroll to the bottom) and Antique Rare Copyright Book Reading Room
- University of Nottingham Center for Research Communications
- International Copyright Resources
- The World Intellectual Property Organization Home Page
- The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
- The WIPO COPYRIGHT TREATY
- The WIPO PERFORMANCES AND PHONOGRAMS TREATY
- Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled
- WIPO Lex (searchable database of national IP laws)
- Wittem Project Model European Copyright Code
- EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations)
- European Commission Communication: Towards a more modern, more European copyright framework (December 9, 2015)
- UNESCO's collection of national copyright laws
- International Intellectual Property Alliance Home Page
- Comparative Copyright Resources
- Australian Copyright Council
- Australian Digital Alliance
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office Copyrights page.
- Lehman, Lee & Xu's Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations in China
- Government of India Copyright Office
- Japan Copyright Research and Information Center
- U.K. Intellectual Property Office
NEWS & OTHER INTERESTING THINGS...
- 3/20/16 UPDATE: Naruto has appealed.
- 1/12/16 update: Justin Bonfiglio (J.D. 2013) found the renewal record for volume 2 of Mein Kampf here. Neither one of us has yet found the renewal record for the initial volume registered in 1925.
- 4/18/16 update --The Supreme Court has denied the petition.
- 2/9/16 Update: The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner reports that, under the settlement, Warner-Chappell will pay $14 million and stipulate that that song is in the public domain. $4.62 million will go towards attorneys fees; the balance will be distributed to businesses and individuals who paid more than $50 million in license fees for "Happy Birthday" in the three years preceding the suit.
- S. 23 & H.R. 238, Copyright and Marriage Equality Act
- H.R. 862, You Own Devices Act
- S. 662 & H.R. 1283, Songwriter Equity Act
- H.R. 1426, Public Access to Public Science Act
- H.R. 1457, Allocation for Music Producers [AMP] Act
- H.R. 1477, Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act
- H.R. 1587, Unlocking Technology Act
- H.R. 1733, Fair Play Fair Pay Act
- H.R. 1587, Unlocking Technology Act
- H.R. 1881 & S. 977, American Royalties Too [ART] Act
- H.R. 1883 & S. 990, Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation Act
- S. 2044, Consumer Review Freedom Act
- H.R. 4241, Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act
5/5/16 -- The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Varsity Brands v. Star Athletica, a Sixth Circuit case upholding copyright protection for the graphic elements of cheerleading uniforms. The Court agreed to decide, "What is the appropriate test to determine when a feature of a useful article is protectable under § 101 of the Copyright Act?" Oral argument will be sometime next fall.
4/13/16 -- Congress first added sound recordings to the list of works eligible for federal stautory copyright in 1971, with an effective date of February 15, 1972. Sound recordings made before then were and still are protected, if at all, under state law. The Turtles were a moderately successful rock group in the 1960s. Their most famous song was one titled "Happy Together." The owners of the rights (whatever they are) in the Turtle’s recordings filed a class action suit against Sirius XM claiming that Sirius’s broadcast of sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972 violated class members rights under state law, and arguing that the statutory licenses in section 114 do not apply to works unprotected by federal copyright and therefore do not permit the performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. The trial court ruled in plaintiffs’ favor on the question of liability, but permitted Sirius to pursue an interlocutory appeal. This morning, the Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: "Is there a right of public performance for creators of sound 4 recordings under New York law and, if so, what is the nature and scope of that right?"
4/12/16 -- Eriq Gardner reports that the legal team that successfully established that Warner-Chappell does not either own a copyright in the song Happy Birthday has filed a class action seeking a declaration that the song We Shall Overcome is in the public domain. Gardner has posted a copy of the complaint.
4/7/16 -- The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner reports that Capitol Records and Redigi has reached an agreement of the amount of damages Redigi would be liable for, if it is indeed liable for copyright infringement. The agreement allows Redigi to appeal the question whether it is liable to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit will have the opportunity to decide whether, when, and how it is legal to resell purchased digital copies.
3/24/16 -- Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski are Denver photographers who took this photograph in 1980. Yesterday, they sued the Donald Trump campaign for copyright infringement for using a very similar image for campaign posters and merchandise. Read the Complaint.
3/14/16 -- Eriq Gardner reports on new developments in Paramount’s suit against the making of a crowd-funded Star Trek fan movie titled \Axanar. The amended complaint alleges that Axanar will infringe Paramount’s copyrights in the shape of Vulcan ears, the colors of Star Fleet uniforms, and the Klingon language.
2/17/16 -- The Copyright Office has released its Report on the Making Available Right in the United States. The Report is somewhat less even-handed than some other recent reports. The Report notes that courts’ rulings differ on whether "making available" violates the § 106(3) exclusive right "to distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending." The Copyright Office argues that it would be good to construe the § 106(3) distribution right to include making a copy available for others to copy, whether or not any copy changes hands or any copying occurs. In support of that goal, the Report concludes that we should ignore the courts that have ruled to the contrary and be guided instead by the courts who have given 106(3) a broader construction. It nonetheless urges Congress not to enact clarifying language. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick has posted a succinct critique.
2/18/16 -- Music Publisher PK Performance, owner of the copyrights of the late Perry Kibble, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Timberlake and will.i.am, claiming that their 2006 recording of wil.i.am’s song, Damn Girl infringes the copyright in Kibble’s 1969 song, A New Day is Here (at Last). The copyright statute of limitations is three years, but PK alleges that Timerlake, wil.i.am, and their record labels have continued to record, license, distribute and publicly perform Damn Girl, and that PK Music didn't discover the infringement until last year. You can read the complaint here, and listen to the songs here.
2/10/16 -- NYU law professor Christopher Sprigman and Carl Malamud of PublicResource.org have released an open-source manual of legal citation as an alternative to the expensive proprietary BlueBook. After concluding that the claimants of the copyright in the Bluebook had failed to renew the copyright in the 1958 edition, and that that edition was therefore in the public domain, Sprigman and Malmud worked with NYU law students to devise a Bluebook-compatible but open-source citation guide. Sprigman and Malamud decided to call their manual "Baby Blue’s Manual of Legal Citation." The Harvard Law Review Association, which publishes the Bluebook and collects the lion’s share of the royalties from its sale, read about the project and sent an overreaching cease-and-desist letter last fall. That letter has inspired withering responses from news columnists and law bloggers (for example, here, here, here, and here). Meanwhile two Yale law librarians have discovered that Harvard Law Review’s longstanding claim that its editors were the primary authors of the original Bluebook is false; they apparently copied most of the manual from a style manual created by law students at Yale.
2/9/16 -- Andrew recommends some YouTube links that illustrate a couple of recent music copyright infringement lawsuits that settled quickly: In 2009, after fans called attention to the similarities, Joe Satriani sued Coldplay claiming that the grammy-winning Viva La Vida had been copied from his If I Could Fly. In 2014, again after fan commentary posted to YouTube, Sam Smith announced that he had reached out to Tom Petty and agreed to give him co-writing credit for Smith’s Stay With Me, which fans had noticed sounded a lot like Petty’s I Won’t Back Down.
2/2/16 -- This past fall, 2K Sports released NBA2k16, which it billed as "the most true-to-life NBA experience to date." The game, available on XBox, PS4, Android, IOS, and PC, allows gamers to play simulated NBA basketball as actual NBA basketball players or as user-created fictional players. The NBA stars are realistically depicted, down to the players' tattoos. Now, a business that claims to have copyright licenses from the tattoo artists who created tattoos for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, and Kenyon Martin has filed a copyright infringement suit alleging that the game infringes the artists’ copyrights in the tattoos.
2/1/16 -- Judge Orrick has released his opinion in the "Monkey Selfie" case, dismissing the complaint on standing grounds with leave to amend.
1/28/16 -- The U.S. Department of Commerce has release its White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages, which contains the Department’s recommendations as to whether it would be wise for Congress to consider any amendments to the current statute to address the copyright issues raised by remixes, the applicability of the first sale doctrine to copies in digital form, or the arguably excessive availability of statutory damage awards. Lobbyists for large copyright owners will find nothing to dislike in the Department’s recommendations.
1/18/16 -- Dimpy passed along this link to an article in Bloomberg Business about a Los Angeles banker who had the idea to do to the music royalty business what Wall Street did to the home mortgage business: he packages future royalty streams for multiple recordings into bonds and sells the bonds to investors. As with the mortgage example, the banker says that his firm has packaged so many songs that it has lost track of how many it owns.
1/15/16 -- Three years ago, in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons (Casebook p. 365), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the "first sale doctrine" in 17 U.S.C. § 109, which allows the owner of a lawful copy of a copyrighted work to resell that copy, applies to copies made outside of the United States as well as to copies made within it. That meant that it was not illegal to buy a book in Thailand and resell it in California. On remand, Dr. Kirtsaeng sought an award of attoneys fees under 17 U.S.C. § 505, which provides for an award of attorneys fees "to the prevailing party." The district court denied the petition on the ground that publisher John Wiley’s copyright infringement suit against Dr. Kirtsaeng for reselling textbooks had not been "objectively unreasonable." The 2d Circuit affirmed. Dr. Kirtsaeng petitioned for certiorari. On Friday, the Supreme Court granted the petition. Oral argument is likely to be scheduled for this coming March or April.
1/15/16 -- In another Detroit-street-art-copyright-infringment-litigation story, the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Garder reports that Italian Luxury fashion house Moschino has failed in its efforts to persuade U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson to dismiss the copyright infringment suit filed against it by street artist Rime. Rime claimed that Moschino’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection included garments that infringed the copyright in Rime’s 2012 mural, Vandal Eyes, painted on the side of a Detroit building. (The complaint calls out this gown, for example, later worn by Katy Perry at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art Met Gala.) The judge’s order is here.
1/15/16 -- Artist Maya Hayuk paints large, brightly colored murals and paintings, like this one, this one, and this one. In 2014, Starbucks got in touch with Hayuk to ask whether she would be interested in creating a design for a new advertising campign for its frappucino drinks. After discussions, Hayuk declined the commission. When Starbucks launched a rainbow-themed, woldwide advertising campaign for its mini-Frappucino (see, for example, here, here and here), Hayuk filed a copyright infringement suit. On Tuesday, Distict Court Judge Laura Swain dismissed the complaint, holding that Starbucks’ were not infringingly similar to Hayuk’s art as a matter of law.
1/14/16 -- It’s election season, so it’s also the season for owners of copyrights in musical works to sue political candidates for unauthorized use of their songs during campaign events. Mike Huckabee held a rally in support of Kim Davis, at which he played a recording of Eye of the Tiger. Rude Music owns the copyright in the song, and it sued Huckabee for copyright infringement. Last week, Huckabee filed his answer to the complaint, alleging that the suit should be dismissed on a host of different grounds, including the rarely invoked copyright exception in section 110(3) of the statute for "performance of a ... musical work... in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly."
1/7/16 -- Katherine Craig is a Detroit-based visual artist. In 2009, with funding from a grant and the permission of the owner of the building, she created a nine-story mural on the side of an abandoned building at 2937 E. Grand Blvd that she called "Illuminated Mural" and that others have dubbed the "bleeding rainbow." Meanwhile, the building has changed hands more than once. The current owner wants to convert the building into apartments, lofts, or office space, which would likely involve cutting holes into the mural wall to accomodate windows, and might require destroying the mural entirely. On Tuesday, Craig filed suit against the current building owner under the Visual Artists Rights Act, seeking an injunction forbidding any action to alter, deface, modify, mutilate, or destroy the mural. Read the Complaint. (For more pictures of Detroit street art, see this feature in the Detroit Free Press.)
1/7/16 -- Richard Prince, the appropriation artist whose work generated the Cariou v. Prince case (Casebook at 591), has again been sued for ripping off a professional photographer’s image of a Rastafarian. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick has the story and a copy of the complaint.
1/4/16 -- Two years ago, writers Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold sued Fox and the writers and producers of the television series The New Girl, claiming that the series had been plagiarized from their unproduced script, Square One. The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Garder reports that Judge Wilson has granted summary judgment on the copyright claim to defendants, holding that plaintiffs failed to present enough evidence to raise a triable issue of fact on defendants’ access to the script and infringing similairity between the script and episodes of the series.
1/1/16 -- Both Anne Frank’s original Diary and Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf entered the public domain in Europe at midnight this morning, 70 years after their authors’ deaths. In the United States, the English-language translation of Frank’s Diary was published in 1952, and its copyright was renewed in 1980. It will continue to be protected by copyright until December 31, 2047. The story for Mein Kampf is somewhat more complicated. Volumes 1 and 2 of Mein Kampf were registered for copyright in the United States in 1925 and 1926. The United States Government seized the copyright of the book in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act and assigned the copyright to publisher Houghton-Mifflin. Assuming that the copyrights were renewed under section 24 of the 1909 Act or restored under section 104A of the 1976 Act, protection should last until 95 years after registration or publication, or 2020 and 2021. (I can't find a record of renewal, but U.S. copyright renewal records are notoriously hard to search.)
1/1/16 --The Authors Guild has filed a petition for certiorari, seeking Supreme Court reversal of the Second Circuit’s decision that Google’s scanning of the full text of books in order to create an online index was fair use under section 107. Read the petition.
12/31/15 -- Axanar is a fan-created, crowd-funded Star Trek feature film unlicensed by Paramount and CBS, who own the copyrights to everything Star Trek. On Tuesday, CBS and Paramount filed a copyright infringement suit seeking an injunction, damages, and attorneys fees. Read Eriq Gardner’s story for the Hollywood Reporter.
12/31/15 -- The Copyright Office has announced a public study to "evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions" in section 512. Section 512 limits the liability of Internet service providers for infringing material posted by others. The motion picture industry, in particular, has been lobbying for sharp limits to the safe harbors for years. Written comments will be due on or before March 21, 2016. The Federal Register notice is here.
12/30/15 -- Billboard reports that musician David Lowery has filed a $150,000,000 class action against Spotify, alleging that it failed to secure licenses to reproduce compositions before streaming them under a license to perform the music publicly. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick has posted an explanation of the complicated basis for Lowery’s claims.
12/28/15 -- The Copyright Office has announced a public study of how well or poorly the anticircumvention provisions in section 1201 and the triennial rulemaking process for seeking exemptions are working. Written comments are due on or before February 25, 2016. The announcement notes that the Office will shortly initiate a separate study on the role of copyright with respect to software embedded in everyday products.
12/21/15 -- A jury has awarded BMG statutory damages in the amount of $25,000,000 in BMG’s lawsuit against Cox Communications for contributory copyright infringment, because its users downloaded infringing copies of copyrighted works using BitTorrent. Cox had claimed that it was shielded by the statutory safe harbor for Internet service providers in 17 USC § 512. Earlier this month, E.D.V.A. Judge Liam O’Grady held that Cox was not entitled to the protection of the safe harbor, because Cox had failed to implement a reasonable repeat infringer policy that terminated the accounts of individuals who repeatedly infringed copyrights.
12/13/15 -- The "Happy Birthday" copyright lawsuit has settled. Music Publisher Warner-Chappell has apparently agreed not to contest claims that the song entered the public domain years ago or to appeal a court decision that it never acquired the copyright in the song; documentary filmmaker Jennifer Nelson has apparently agreed to drop her demand that Warner-Chappell be ordered to refund millions of dollars in royalty payments that it has collected for use of the song.
New Bills in the 114th Congress:
(I warrant neither quality nor accuracy. If you explore these blogs, you will find a wide range of views on whether copyright law is essential to any just society, more trouble that it is worth, or something in between. Only some of the blogs are written by lawyers. Find one that speaks to you and check it weekly.)
- Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(b)log
- Terry Hart’s Copyhype
- The 1709 Copyright Blog
- Jonathan Bailey’s Plagiarism Today
- DisCo (Disruptive Competition Project)
- Michael Geist’s Tech Law Topics Blog
- Chris Castle’s Music Technology Policy blog
- Music Law Updates blog
- Creative Commons weblog
- David Newhoff’s The Illusion of More
- The MTTLR Blog
- Patrick Ross’s Copyright Alliance Blog
- Bill Rosenblatt’s Copyright and Technology blog
- Creative Future blog
- YouTube Creator blog
- The Trichordist
- Ellen Seidler’s Vox Indie
- That Song Sounds Like
- You Thought We Wouldn't Notice
- Bill Patry's Copyright Blog archive (2005-09)
News about copyright-affected industries
- Ars Technica
- Complete Music Update
- Digital Music News
- Hollywood Reporter (especially the THR Esq. blog)
- Publishers Weekly
Thoughtful documentary films about copyright law
- Citizen 3.0 (2010) (127 minutes)
- Copyright Criminals (2009)(53 minutes)
- Good Copy Bad Copy (2007)(59 minutes)
- Before the Music Dies (2006) (90 minutes)
- The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)(105 minutes)
- Downloaded (2013) (107 minutes)
A sampling of Internet sites raising copyright questions:
- Archive of Our Own
- calvin and hobbes: The Search Engine, by Mike Yingling
- CopySense Network Appliance
- The Dash, by Linda Ellis (scroll down)
- DJ Earworm
- Garfield minus Garfield
- The Gluten-Free Museum
- The Hawkeye Initiative
- HowItShouldHaveEnded.com and How It Should Have Ended YouTube Channel
- InfinityBox Press
- Internet Archive
- Kickstarter: Story Surgeon — The App for Fixing Someone Else’s Book
- Barry Kite’s Aberrant Art
- Musicless Music Videos
- The Office Time Machine
- Open Access Button
- Pack Rat Studios
- The Pirate Bay
- Pogo’s movie remixes on YouTube
- Prevuze (Days of Our Lives spoilers)
- Sci-Hub (Elsevier has apparently prevailed upon some domain name registrars to block Sci-Hub’s domain names. If that link doesn't resolve, try http://sci-hub.cc/ or the IP address: 188.8.131.52/)
- Semaphore Press
- StarWars Uncut
- Steven Soderbergh’s Re-Edit of 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Telebubby Fun Land
- Professor David Touretzky’s Gallery of CSS Descramblers
- Warriors of the Empire
Organizations and businesses heavily involved in copyright:
- A2K network.org
- American Library Association
- ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC
- Association of American Publishers
- Association of Research Libraries
- Authors Alliance
- The Authors Guild
- BSA | The Software Alliance
- Center for Copyright Information
- Computer & Communications Industry Association
- Copyright Clearance Center
- Content Creators Coalition
- Copyright Society of the U.S.A.
- Creative Commons
- Digital Media Association
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Entertainment Software Association
- Free Software Foundation
- The Future of Music Coalition
- Grammy Creators Alliance
- Hathi Trust Digital Library
- International Federation of the Phonographic Industry
- The Internet Archive
- Library Copyright Alliance
- MIC Coalition
- Motion Picture Association of America
- Music Matters Campaign
- National Music Publishers Association
- National Writers Union
- Open Media International
- Organization for Transformative Works
- Professional Photographers of America
- Project Gutenberg
- Public Knowledge
- Public Library of Science
- The Recording Industry Association of America
- Software & Information Industry Association
- YouTube Music Publisher Partner Guide
Return to the syllabus
Send an email message to me at jdlitman -at- umich.edu