“It’s against the law to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ on television?”
– Dan Rydell (Josh Charles), Sports Night Season 1 Episode 4 (“Intellectual Property”)
There was news this week in the long saga that has been the federal copyright lawsuit over the song “Happy Birthday”: Warner/Chappell has agreed to pay $14M to members of a class action who were wrongfully charged royalties for using “Happy...Read More
Dispute resolution is commonly looped in with other “Fine Print” clauses, is usually placed at the end of a written agreement, and is often categorized together in a “Miscellaneous” section. Notwithstanding, however, dispute resolution clauses can be deployed in various forms to achieve strategic impact.
Contracting parties can use a dispute resolution clause to allocate risk and incentivize...Read More
If you have a phrase, song, book, movie, invention or other work that you plan to sell or share, you need to protect it. But how do you protect it? Many Americans assume (incorrectly) that copyrights and trademarks are one and the same. Let’s explore the differences.
What do copyrights and trademarks protect?
Copyrights protect tangible works in physical form (i.e., works of art fixed in a...Read More
A question came in to my office recently. Someone asked if they could use a photograph on their website. The catch? They did not know who took the photograph or who owned the photograph. Nor did they know the copyright status of the image, i.e., whether it was in the public domain or usable under a Creative Commons license.
Generally speaking, the answer to that question is necessarily going...Read More
We here at The Fine Print Blog were up late last night watching the Oscarsawards show. Were you? It’s certainly exciting to see talented filmmakers recognized for their spectacular achievements.
Before I became an attorney, I studied film and worked in the film industry. As a film student, winning an Academy Award was a dream shared by all my peers.
Today, it has never been easier to turn...Read More
One of the top best practices I can think of for anyone involved in a creative enterprise is this: budget for legal fees at the start of your project, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need to hire an attorney.
As you can imagine, I get a lot of calls from independent producers and other creative professionals who have completed a project successfully but are facing a legal challenge that...Read More
I like to tell my clients they are in the driver’s seat. As their attorney, I am the navigator. My job is to advise them on the law, make the best recommendations I can, and provide the most lucid explanations for those recommendations. But, ultimately, the client is in control. It is client’s business. The client’s passion. And so, I believe the client should feel empowered to direct the...Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected a petition for certiorari in a slightly-under-the-radar case, Towle v. D.C. Comics. The case involves unauthorized copies of the Batmobile that Mr. Towle built and sold. In this instance, Mr. Towle was building replicas of the Batmobile, but he had not asked for permission from DC Comics, the copyright holder of the underlying intellectual property....Read More
As an entertainment lawyer, I represent artists, photographers, authors, screenwriters, scriptwriters, playwrights, designers, lyricists, songwriters and other creative professionals. One commonly-asked question I get all the time is “how do I copyright my work?”
The answer is easy—once you have written, or painted, or sculpted, or recorded, or otherwise permanently “fixed” your work in a...Read More
Today’s question is whether a “band”, that is a group of musicians playing together, can sign a contract with a venue and be bound by it.
Like the answer the many legal questions, the answer to this question is: it depends.
Picture a four piece band composed of a guitarist, vocalist, bassist, and drummer. Let’s imagine a couple of different scenarios.
In the first scenario, the band...Read More