The Traklight Blog

Explore the world of intangible assets and IP with guest blogs, business owner interviews, and more.

Freelance Writers Win Copyright Suit Against Publishers

The business of freelance work can be fraught with complications not otherwise experienced with employees, especially when intellectual property is involved. Contracts have to be specific about ownership of the work created once it is transferred from the creator to the contracting party. And use beyond what was originally agreed can complicate matters, as a recent long-running class-action lawsuit proved.

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Copyright Lawsuit Against HBO Dismissed

Television can be fertile ground for copyright lawsuits, given the amount of creative work that goes into producing a single episode of original programming, to say nothing of the hundreds of scripted programs that now exist across the largest number of channels and streaming platforms that have ever existed in the history of the medium. But not all lawsuits are the same, and not every case is an example of an entertainment company taking advantage of a creator (though those undoubtedly exist in substantial numbers.)

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Is Copyright Automatic?

So many people have unique creative ideas, but a lot of those ideas never come to fruition. Part of that is due to the fleeting nature of inspiration, and people simply throwing out ideas without any serious thought to trying to make more of them. But a number of people are held up from capitalizing on their ideas because they don't know how to and don't understand what rights they may or may not hold to any idea or work. Too many people fail to bring these terrific ideas to fruition, and those who do are often at a loss as to how to combat having their work misappropriated by others. Understanding the basics of intellectual property protection is the foundation for artists and creators to receive the credit and compensation they are owed.

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Students Lose IP Rights in Art and Writing Contest

Young artists are always looking for opportunities, and are often willing to make sacrifices and compromises in their search for a break. And for many, a lack of expertise can lead to mistakes that deprive them of a full share of any profits derived from their work. While some businesses are dealing in good faith with artists, there are others that are seemingly willing to take advantage of young, inexperienced creators without the power to demand a better, more equitable deal.

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Grumpy Cat Wins Copyright Suit, Remains Displeased

pete-nowicki-49759.jpgOur internet culture hurtles ever forward, bringing our global conversations forward while simultaneously leaving more of us beyond a certain age behind. I'm talking, of course, about memes. Internet memes have become the common language that we never knew we needed, and perhaps didn't want. Nevertheless, it is upon us, and people from around the world have singular images to serve as touchstones in communicating with others on the other side of the globe, relaying an idea through a single image that has a collectively understood context.

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Spotify Faces Another Copyright Lawsuit

For music listeners, Spotify has become almost ubiquitous. The service offers users access to a vast catalog of songs on demand and at their fingertips. And fans of music and podcasts are overwhelmingly taking advantage of the easy-to-use service — a recent story puts their subscriber base at 7o million users. But if the streaming era of media has taught us anything, it is that digital rights can prove problematic in the relationship between artist and platform, and music has proven no exception.

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Spotify Faces Copyright Lawsuits

By any measure, streaming accounts for a large part of how people listen to music now; in a world that is increasingly cloud-based, it only makes sense that our music should move on from the realm of the tangible as well. Digital music has faced a bumpy road to get where it is today, from the earliest days of Napster, but it has largely reached a place of relative peace between artist, publisher, and service, if not quite happiness between the three. But a recent case against Spotify illustrates the cracks that still exist in the current system and the ongoing struggle to ensure fair compensation to those making the music we stream.  

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Beyond Infringement to Rights Monetization

In her latest Forbes article, Mary speaks with Ray Young of RightsIn. RightsIn is a startup seeking to help artists monetize their creations by providing an avenue for licensing their films and music through an online marketplace. Ray talks about how the RightsIn marketplace offers creators more control of the licensing and monetization of their work, the process of how the product was developed, and his experience with IP in the entertainment industry.

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Supreme Court Considers Fashion Copyrights

In looking at cases involving intellectual property rights, it's important to consider the wider implications that can cascade from one court decision. A precedent set in one patent or trademark case can have a ripple effect that shapes an entire industry. And if a matter rises to the Supreme Court, the decision handed down therein can provide a definitive stamp on a previous decision that fundamentally changes the course of the U.S. economy in some slight degree.

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Can TV Spoilers Violate Copyright?

In this time-shifted age of television viewing, spoilers have become the bugaboo of many people's entertainment existence. It wasn't that long ago that missing an episode of television meant that it was simply gone, with no chance for you to catch up. VCRs changed the way people could watch their favorite programs, and in the age of DVRs and streaming and on-demand, there's no reason you can't watch episodes of your favorite shows anytime and anywhere and hop on social media to discuss what happened. But these online forums for TV fans can also be a minefield of spoilers for fans not caught up or, event more perilously, for episodes yet to be released.

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Internet Provider Penalized In Copyright Violation Cases

When it comes to piracy and copyright violation, one would reasonably assume that the entirety of culpability lies with the offender. After all, there isn't much in the way of excuse for doing something that most know to be wrong in misappropriating copyrighted material (and ignorance is a poor defense.) You might see characters on television or in the movies forced to hack computer systems and steal sensitive information under duress, but likely no one is at your house making you torrent "Vice Principals." However, a recent court ruling could bring cable providers into the mix in cases of customers' copyright infringement.

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Electronic Freedom Foundation Goes to Court Over Digital Millenium Copyright Act

When we purchase something, we assume that the item becomes ours, to do with it as we so choose. That is the understanding and agreement that exists between buyer and seller in most transactions that take place. If you go to your local department store and buy a toaster and decide to run over it with your car in the driveway, that's your prerogative; the store certainly doesn't care, as they've achieved their goal of moving merchandise and collecting your money. But the digital age has ushered in a new type of product that now comes with rights and safeguards that go beyond the point of sale.  

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Italian Festival In Trouble for Improper Attribution

The internet can seem at times a terrible, negative place, but it can also be a tremendous resource for collaboration and sharing. People the world over are willing to take the time and effort to create fantastic works of art, photography and video, and many are willing to share them with everyone with no desire for compensation. Others ask simply that users attribute the material they use and follow a licensing agreement. While that may not seem a particularly onerous requirement for the free use of others' works, many companies and individuals still manage to get themselves in trouble by not reading those agreements. 

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Google Wins Key Decision in API Fair Use Case

Given the omnipresence of technology in our lives, tech giants like Google manage to touch almost every aspect of society to some degree. And you can't be as big as a Google or an Apple without running into a few issues. We've previously written about the copyright case that Oracle had filed against Google, in which a court had ruled in favor of Oracle in the company's assertion that APIs are copyrightable and that Google had violated their copyright in using parts of Java APIs of their Android platform. The ruling allowed for Google to mount a fair use defense for their usage of the APIs, and the matter headed back to district court for a ruling that was issued late last month.

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Rock Band Upsets Cartoon Creator With Potential Copyright Infringement

In the world of films both short- and long-form, you can often see the influence of other works in what a particular artist brings to the screen. Many artists craft original works that still manage to evoke the look or sound or feel of a piece of art that influenced them in some way. In its purest form, many would cite that evocation as homage rather than copying. But in certain cases, mimicking a particular style in your work can be seen as copyright by the original artists, and that can cause an unpleasant dispute.  

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Supreme Court Rejects Fair Use Challenge Against Google Books

In the modern marketplace, consumers like to be able to have an idea of what they're purchasing. From free samples at the grocery store to free 30-day trials for software and apps, the though is that being able to try something before you have to put down hard-earned money will make consumers more willing to try something and hopefully like it enough to eventually pay for it. For book lovers, the idea of sampling before purchasing is a long-standing tradition. Walk into the few remaining brick and mortar bookstores and you'll see people sitting in chairs and benches reading books and magazines from off the shelves. Find a book that you might be interested in buying and you'll inevitable skim a page or two to see if the prose appeals to you. And online book shoppers will still be able to enjoy the same sampling thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision.

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Facebook Introduces Rights Manager to Combat Infringement

technology-785742_1280.jpgSocial media is a great way to connect to a large audience. It allows for individuals and companies to share content with people all over the world. But the inherent danger that comes with such a large audience is the increased number of people who might misappropriate your creations. The relative anonymity that you can find online emboldens many to steal video, audio and pictures from others. Now Facebook is introducing a tool to try to combat copyright infringement on the platform. 

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Google Copyright Takedown Requests Increase Yet Again

In the modern age, Google has become the repository of almost all knowledge. There's hardly a fact or story or video that can't be tracked down with the right search. Given how much is online these days, it comes as no surprise that Google and other content hosts have to deal with copyright issues. But recent reports on the number of complaints is both shocking and concerning. 

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Warner Music Reaches Settlement over "Happy Birthday" Lawsuit

Birthdays are a special time for most people. They offer the chance to celebrate another year, and for people to celebrate you as well. There's usually gifts, cards, a cake, and the traditional singing of "Happy Birthday." Generally speaking, songs like "Happy Birthday" have been around so long that most of us don't give much thought to where they originated, almost assuming that somehow they've always just existed. But those songs and others that exist in the collective consciousness have an origin, and a writer somewhere back in time. And understandably, the estates of those writers want to make sure that the legacy of those songs is protected. 

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