Photography / Arts / Design

Registration of Collective Work Registers Component Works, Says Ninth Circuit

Appellate Court Finds that Stock Agency Can Proceed with Lawsuit Involving Registered Works

On March 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Alaska Stock, LLC v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub. Co., 110 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1062 (9th Cir. 2014), determined that registration of a database of stock photographs as a collective work registered the component photographs within. Continue reading

Photo of Glass Sculpture Integrated in Ceiling a Fair Use

In Neri v. Monroe, 11-CV-429-SLC, 2014 WL 793336 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 26, 2014), the Western District of Washington smashed the hopes of a glass artist by sharply dismissing a pro se copyright action she brought against a design firm, among others, who displayed photos of an entrance hall of a private residence which incorporated her artwork.  The court found the photo display to be fair use.  The judge made his low opinion of the case abundantly clear, saying, “The bottom line is that, after the court has culled out plaintiff’s unfounded legal conclusions, rank speculation and unsupported assertions, the few material facts that remain fall far short of establishing their claim of copyright infringement.” Continue reading

Marshall Thompson v. Getty Images: Determining a “Commercial Purpose”

Decision Examines Illinois Right of Publicity Act

Getty Images successfully defeated a claim by Marshall Thompson, singer and sole living member of the “Chi-Lite”, alleging that the online posting of his photo for possible licensing, was a violation of his right of publicity under Illinois Right of Publicity Act (IRPA), despite a contrary ruling (in a factually similar case) in Illinois in 2007. Continue reading

Photographer William Eggleston Beats Claim By Collector For Creating New Prints Outside Of Edition

Case Interprets New York Arts and Cultural Affairs Law

On March 29, 2012, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts dismissed collector John Sobel’s complaint against celebrated fine art photographer William Eggleston. The lawsuit stemmed from allegations that Eggleston diluted the value of Sobel’s limited edition Eggleston prints when Eggleston created additional reprints derived from the same images, but of a different size, medium and print date. Continue reading

When Does Art Constitute Transformative Fair Use? It’s As Easy as “Red” and “White”

District Court for the Central District of California examines artist's uses of Sex Pistols photograph

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted in part and denied in part a photographer’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Morris v. Young, a case that explored the requirements for establishing an issue of triable fact regarding fair use (and particularly transformative use) of photographs. Continue reading

What 2013 May Ring In For New Copyright Legislation

2012 was a quiet year for any new copyright legislation that could affect those engaged in the creation, production and distribution of entertainment media. With the elections behind us, this could change in 2013. The Copyright Office has indicated that it is interested in tackling several issues that were identified as office priorities in a two-year plan under the new Register of Copyrights, Maria A. Pallante, filed in October 2011. As Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Committee on Copyright Legislation, I have been following these and other legislative issues and will continue to provide updates throughout the year. Continue reading

Court Finds That Use Of Registered Trademark to Identify Public Domain Cartoon Character is Not Infringement

Holding Could Have Impact on Trademark Enforcement of Famous Character Names and Logos

In the latest phase of a long litigation, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, following a remand from an amended Ninth Circuit opinion, held that a company that claimed to have acquired the intellectual property rights in the cartoon character “Betty Boop” could not maintain a claim for trademark infringement against a manufacturer of merchandise that includes or incorporates elements from vintage Betty Boop movie posters. In Fleischer Studios Inc. v. A.V.E.L.A. Inc., the defendant had argued that because the posters were in the public domain, using the trademark BETTY BOOP to describe the content of the posters was not a trademark use, but rather a use that was either an “aesthetically functional” use or a fair use. On remand, the court agreed. Continue reading

Eleanor M. Lackman Joins “IP Licensing Issues” Panel at PLI

Eleanor M. Lackman joins the “IP Licensing Issues” panel, part of Practising Law Institute’s IP Issues in Business Transactions 2013 program. The program runs for two full days, Thursday, January 3 and Friday, January 4, 2013, beginning at 9:00am, in New York City. Ms. Lackman’s panel, “IP Licensing Issues,” is on Thursday, January 3 at 2:15pm. Continue reading

Nancy E. Wolff – “What You Need to Know About Copyright”

CDAS partner Nancy E. Wolff joins the panel “What You Need to Know About Copyright, Licensing and Image/Footage Usage Trends” presented by Visual Connections, Wednesday, October 24, 10am, at The Altman Building, 135 West 18 Street, New York City. The panel will discuss a variety of copyright issues including fair use, orphan works, royalty free, managed rights, and copyright concerns in innovative uses of imagery. Please click here for more information and to register.

Monge v. Maya Magazines, Inc.: A Fair Use “Telenovela”:

Tabloid’s Publication of Copyrighted Photographs without Permission Not a Fair Use

On August 14, 2012, the majority of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Monge v. Maya Magazines, Inc., Nos. 10-56710, 11-55483 (9th Cir. 2012), reversed the decision of the District Court for the Central District of California and held that a tabloid’s publication of copyrighted photographs without permission was not a fair use under copyright law, rejecting a general newsworthy exception. Continue reading