Today in Copyright History: 4/29

On April 29, 1802, the Copyright Act of 1790 act was amended to include “historical and other prints” and to require, for the first time, copyright owners to include a prescribed notice on every copy of a work distributed to the public.  Reposted from the History of Copyright Timeline at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Public domain, via Library of Congress ( http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a06218/ ).

Public domain, via Library of Congress (http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a06218/).

Today in Copyright History: 4/27

Ten years ago today, on April 27, 2005, the Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act allowed for preregistration of certain works being prepared for commercial distribution.  As the U.S. Copyright Office explains, “[p]reregistration is a service intended for works that have had a history of prerelease infringement.  It focuses on the infringement of movies, recorded music, and other copyrighted materials before copyright owners have had the opportunity to market fully their products.”  However, “[p]reregistration is not a substitute for registration.  Its purpose is to allow an infringement action to be brought before the authorized commercial distribution of a work and full registration thereof, and to make it possible, upon full registration, for the copyright owner to receive statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in an infringement action.”  In order to take advantage of the benefits of preregistration, a copyright owner must formally register the work within one month after the copyright owner becomes aware of infringement, and no later than three months after first publication of the work.  Reposted from the History of Copyright Timeline at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Jay Z Now Has Only 98 Problems

The Hollywood Reporter reports that hip hop mogul Jay Z has prevailed in a copyright ownership lawsuit brought by Chauncey Mahan, a sound engineer who worked on some of the artist’s early recordings.  Mahan’s case, filed in the Southern District of New York, was dismissed earlier this week on the grounds that Mahan’s claims were time-barred by the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations, as the recordings in question were created in 1999 and 2000.  Mahan was asserting that his participation in and creative contributions to certain early recording sessions with Jay Z entitled him to a co-ownership interest in the recordings.  The court disagreed, finding that plaintiff Mahan “had reason to know of his alleged injury in 2000, if not earlier,” due to the constructive notice provided by Jay Z’s copyright registrations of the works, the commercial success of the recordings, and the conspicuous absence of any royalty payments, and thus could and should have brought suit within the three-year statute of limitations.  Because Mahan sat on his rights for fourteen years before making his claims, he effectively waived any ownership interest that he might have been entitled to under the Copyright Act.  Read the full article here, and the court’s decision here.  Reposted from The Hollywood Reporter.

Today in Copyright History: 4/15

On April 15, 1912, the Royal Mail Ship Titanic sank on her maiden voyage after running afoul of an iceberg in the North Atlantic.  The disaster sent more than 1,500 people to their watery graves, and, like many events of widespread public interest, gave rise to countless copyrighted poems, songs, books, dramas, and artworks.  Reposted from the History of Copyright Timeline at the U.S. Copyright Office.

Public domain ( http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Titanic.jpg ), via Wikimedia Commons.

Public domain (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Titanic.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons.

Rand Gets Banned

The Washington Post reports that “YouTube’s copyright system has taken Rand Paul’s presidential announcement offline” due to an allegation of copyright infringement by Warner Music Group.  Senator Paul’s announcement speech featured audio clips from the John Rich song “Shuttin’ Detroit Down,” the copyright to which is controlled by WMG.  The alleged infringement was flagged automatically by YouTube’s Content ID system, which allows copyright owners to “easily identify and manage their content on YouTube.”  According to YouTube, “[v]ideos uploaded to YouTube are scanned against a database of files that have been submitted to us by content owners.  Copyright owners get to decide what happens when content in a video on YouTube matches a work they own.”  After discovering the alleged infringement, WMG apparently elected to have the accused video taken down—the YouTube page for the video now simply states, “This video is private.”

As the article notes, “Rand Paul’s spirited cry against government intervention has been blocked from view because YouTube lets huge music companies preemptively apply copyright law.”  It will be interesting to see whether the libertarian Paul views WMG’s actions as a violation of free speech or a triumph of private property rights.  Read the full article here and decide for yourself.  Reposted from The Washington Post.

By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Today in Trademarkwise® History

On April 1, 2014, one year ago today, the law firm of Trademarkwise LLC was born.  Originally conceived as an elaborate April Fools’ Day prank, the firm now represents a geographically and commercially diverse array of clients in their trademark, copyright, dispute resolution, litigation, entertainment, and contractual matters.  On behalf of David Payne and Trademarkwise®, many thanks to all who helped to make the firm’s first year a success.

By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.